When we are in the womb, our bodies undergo a kind of reliving of the evolutionary process. The womb is like the sea, and we re-live the story of life by first appearing as fish, then amphibian, reptile, etc. Just as we go through biological retelling of evolution, our consciousness can undergo its own birth process by reliving the evolution of the nervous system.
The image described in the previous article, bird-tree-snake, is symbolic of this transformation.
Each symbol represents the three brains: reptilian, mammalian and higher brain functions.
During the process of spiritual transformation, when the practitioner has cultivated their awareness, the process of what is often called "kundalini" begins. The human being relives in a microcosm the story of the macrocosm. The first thing they experience is the first brain, the reptile. This is a period of intense physical and sexual energy.
The process continues in the second stage, the mammalian brain. This is an old brain full of the world of emotions and senses. During this period, the practitioner might experience intense emotions and sensations. Particularly scent. They may relive childhood memories, emotions and experiences that have left imprints on them.
The serpent continues to climb the tree as we reach the third brain. The bird.
"In the place where the three roads cross," is the place of integration, the traditional third eye." For the eye is the light of the body, and if thine eye be single, then is they whole body filled with light." (Matthew 6:22)" - William Irwin Thompson, Blue Jade from the Morning Star
It is where where the "higher realms" are accessed after the third eye is open. Metaphysical and heavenly realities are open for the practitioner to explore and be aware of.
The contemplative practitioner undergoes this process in a setting that is carefully catered to guiding the initiate through. They are advised not to become stuck at any one stage in the process, but to continue to "be still" and allow it to naturally unfold. There are pitfalls and shadow sides to each stage and so the practitioner is advised to listen to the experienced masters to help them through successfully. Like physical birth, we need a little guidance during a spiritual rebirth!
"Except a man be born of water and of Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit... Ye must be born again." (John 3:1-7)
The theme of "rebirth," coming full circle, recapitulation occurs often in spirituality. It is an important, archetypal process that is evident in our personal lives, and in the bigger picture of evolution. While taken literally by modern religious practitioners, being born again is a mystical and esoteric experience of spiritual transformation. We are born once, but we are called to be born again, not in the flesh but in spirit. In divine illumination.
The ancients did not focus so much on evolutionary themes, thought it appears to be latent within their understanding.
They often described this world as the "least complete" and least real. The metaphysical realities, which the esoteric schools could reclaim by awakening the soul in the body, were the truer realities. It was about reclaiming our birthright, remembering Who we really were.
What I find most fascinating however, is that even though the Fall is described as an involution, a descent, the returning process itself is evolutionary. The symbol of bird-tree-snake has evolutionary themes from the get-go.
The practitioner, in other words, must experience evolution, the process of becoming, in order to "ascend" or "return." This is very telling. It means that although ancient practices were not aware of evolution explicitly, their description of spiritual awakening describes it implicitly.
This ties millions of years of macro-evolution into the micro-journey of self-transformation. "As above, so below."
The many wisdom traditions believed that the body was a sacred temple. There was a sacred architecture in the spinal column (trunk of the tree), the brain (dome of the tree), and the pineal gland (third eye). The circle at the center of a domed temple is the equivalent of the third eye, or "single eye" which, when activated, is able to see directly the inexpressible.
We can take this further, by understanding that the whole of life is very much a sacred temple, as much as the human being is. Without the billions of years of evolution, there would be no human beings experiencing spiritual awakening. It is for this reason that we may see the whole of life, the Earth itself as a temple stretched across the ages. Just as we experience a recapitulation of life, human beings themselves are a kind of unique microcosm of evolution itself.
Teilhard de Chardin saw humanity as the "axis" of evolution. Intuitively, his books describe the evolution of life as the evolution of the nervous system, the "one thread" that ties the whole of life as an emergent awakening to self-consciousness and, eventually, spirit. Although he was not a traditional gnostic, he was a mystic, unveiling life itself as a sacred temple. He illuminated the collective transformation, as the ancient wisdom schools had done for personal.
We were a microcosm of what the macrocosm was working towards. It doesn't mean that evolution stops at us. Nothing like that! We are just the first conscious expression of Spirit. The very beginning of Mind. The evolution of consciousness is a temple in-the-making. Aurobindo described a future human that expressed "Higher Mind." The archetype of Christ, fully human and divine, also expresses this idea. What wonders may time and evolution unfold for us?