John Martin Sahajananda

There is a lot of controversy going on today between creationists and evolutionists in the West. In my opinion this controversy is unnecessary and unwarranted.  Both are true but in different levels. Today we need to go beyond them and integrate them. This is possible only by discovering something in us that transcends both evolutionism and creationism.

The Origin of Creation and Prophetic Religions:

The origin of creation and the relationship between God and creation have been a subject of all thinkers of both East and West. The prophetic religions like Judaism, Christianity, Islam and others propose that God created this universe. The book of Genesis says that God created this universe in six days and took rest on the seventh day. Philosophically it is said that God creates this universe out of ‘nothing’. This expression would like to make a point that there is a gulf between God and creation. Even though this answer is very direct, simplistic and may satisfy many minds it is not a very liberating theory as it does not allow the evolution of human consciousness in divine-human relationship. It keeps creation and human beings separate from God for all eternity. Christianity makes a little progress as it holds that Jesus Christ is not a creature of God but an incarnation of God. He is ultimately one with God. But in Christianity this possibility does not extend to all human beings but only to Christ. Hence there is also some limitation in this belief. It creates a kind of spiritual apartheid between Christ and the rest of humanity.

The Vedic Thinkers:

The thinkers of the Vedic tradition did not accept a creator God and the theory of creation out of nothing. They have proposed different answers to the question of the origin of creation and the relationship between God and creation. Sankara (8 A.D), the great proponent of advaita or non-dualistic philosophy, thought that only Brahman or God is absolute, eternal and self-subsisting and creation is Maya or illusion. Human consciousness is ultimately one with the divine consciousness. Ramanuja (11 A.D), the proponent of Visistaadvaita philosophy or qualified non-dualistic philosophy thought that creation and human souls are an emanation from God.  In fact they constitute the body of God. God is qualified by creation and human souls. He believed that human souls can have an intimate relationship with God and enjoy the bliss of God but they can never be one with God as in the case of advaita. Madhva (12 A.D) proposed a system called Dvaita or Duality. He held the view that God and creation, which includes human souls, are essentially different from each other and they co-existed eternally. Nimbarka (15A.D) proposed a view that God and creation were non-different and different from each other. He held the view that the sentient and the non-sentient beings coexisted with God from all eternity. In one level they are one with God and in another level they are different from God, like the Sun and its rays. This system is called Dvaita-advaita, duality and non-duality at the same time. There is another system similar to the previous one. It is called Acintya Bedabeda proposed by Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It means Inconceivable difference and non-difference. It means that God and human souls are at the same time different and non-different. This truth is inconceivable to the human mind. The difference is in quantity rather than in quality. If God is hundred kilos gold, human soul is one gram gold. Both are gold. This is non-difference but quantitatively they are different. There is another system called Suddha advaita or Pure Non-duality, proposed by Vallaba, which holds the view that creation is nothing but God or Brahman. These systems reveal how complex is the question of the origin of creation and its relationship with God. From these systems one thing is clear that God is not a creator and creation is not a creature of God. Creation is not created by God out of nothing.

Three Levels of Energy:

There are three levels of the same energy: the first one is the divine energy which unfolds its being. It is like the Sun that radiates its energy. The second one is the energy that manifests the divine energy or eternity. It is like the moon energy that reflects the Sun.  The third one is the energy which is the source of material evolution. The second and the third levels are the manifestations of the first energy and they are different only in their vibration levels. God unfolds these two energies. There is no movement of becoming in God because God is fullness and fullness can only unfold and does not become. Why does God unfold? It is difficult to answer this question. To impose a purpose on God is to limit God’s infinity and fullness. Why does the Sun radiate? We can only say that it is the nature of the Sun to radiate. So also it is the nature of God to unfold or radiate.

Evolution is not the direct work of God:

It is generally accepted today that material evolution began with the big bang and it took around fifteen billions of years to arrive to the physical reality we have today. The psychological or religious evolution is primarily concerned to find the meaning of our life in this world. All religions, all scriptures, all philosophies and belief systems belong to this level. They also evolve from the simple beliefs to the complex beliefs. These two levels of evolution are not directly the work of God because the energy of God does not evolve but unfolds its fullness. They are the product of the aspirations of the human consciousness to discover or to return to its true home or destiny or original source. These movements come from an experience or identity of lacking something. Since every ray that comes from God has the inherent need to return to God we can say that these two evolutions are not accidents but they are also in the plan of God. They are positively willed by God. The material evolution is the preparatory ground for the psychological or religious evolution and religious evolution prepares the human consciousness for spiritual realization or awakening or home coming. The religious evolution helps human beings to experience various aspects of the divine attributes. It means that in and through religious evolution God knows itself as the creator, preserver, discontinuer, giver of grace and saviour.

Two Types of Creation:

There are two types of creation: one is that which comes from God and the other is the product of the spark of the divine in its process of return to its source. The creation that comes from God is not created by God but it is the radiance of God. Just as the Sun radiates its fullness so also God radiates creation. This creation is not something that God begins at a particular time. It is as eternal as God. It has no beginning and so has no end. Creation is not outside God but within God. This radiance has two levels according to their level of vibration and closeness to the Source or Divine. If we compare the energy of the divine as the Sun energy, the first level of the radiance is like the Moon energy. It is like a pure mirror which reflects the Sun in its purity. This reflection is aware of its spiritual nature and connects itself to its source, the Sun. The second level is the material or earth energy. As the radiance further moves away from its source it becomes more solid than the first layer. It is like a piece of ice that comes from water. Though the divine light reflects in it, the reflection will not be very pure. It is conditioned by the solidity of its matter. The reflection then more identifies with the solidity and feels far away from the Sun or the Divine. This process of divine radiance we can call involution. Involution is a process in which the higher manifests as lower. Creation is not created by God but it is the involution of the divine.

In the First Layer of Involution there is no Evolution:

In the first layer of radiance there is no process of evolution. There is no process of time. It is very close to the divine and it is like pure mirror and reflects divine within it. Its nature is to unfold the divine light.  Just as the Moon receives the light from the Sun and gives it away so also the first layer of the divine radiance receives the divine light and gives. The Biblical tradition calls it the image and likeness of God. It also can be called the realm of Virgin Mary, who gives birth to eternity, to incarnation. Symbolically, God, after making human beings, breathed his breath into the nostrils of human beings. It means there is something in us which does not belong either to the process of material evolution and psychological or religious evolution. It belongs to the timeless reality. It was there before the big bang began and the search for meaning of life began. The Vedic Sages have affirmed this Truth five hundred years before Christ and all great spiritual masters also affirm this truth.

Who Started the Big Bang?

Did God start the big bang? The big bang cannot be the direct act of God. The material evolution is propelled by the reflection of the divine spark present in the second level of radiance, which is matter, at the time of big bang. The divine spark itself does not propel because its nature is also like God’s to unfold and not to become. When the divine spark, present in the matter, identifies with the matter, it produces another entity which we can call ‘soul’. It is the combination of both spiritual and material aspects. In the initial stage it is in a state of innocence or ignorance, like just born children. This ignorance brings fourth desire to realize its true nature (to become like God). The true path is internal but it projects outside. It is this projection of desire born of ignorance that initiates the big bang and the evolution of the universe until the human bodies are formed and the self-consciousness emerges. When the self-consciousness emerges, then the search for the meaning of life starts. The creation stories that we find in the Bible or in any other tradition do not refer to the process of material evolution. There are many creation narratives sometimes conflicting with one another. These stories tell us who we are and the purpose of our life in this world. The story of the six days of creation in the Bible is not a scientific truth. It is true theologically. It tells us that human beings are in the image and likeness of God and their purpose is to be fruitful and multiply, that is to manifest divine attributes of love and compassion in our human relationships. The people who wrote these stories were not physicists or scientists but theologians and mystics. Their scientific minds were not yet developed. They were not aware that it had taken billions of years for the evolution of the material universe. The task of knowing this truth is reserved to our present generation. The material evolutionary theory seems to say that our consciousness is the projection of the matter. It is the product of evolution, first matter then consciousness.  The mystics and the sages of all times tell us that our consciousness is the reflection of the eternal in us, like the Sun reflecting in a mirror. They say that first is consciousness and then is the matter.

Thus we have Four Levels of Energies: I describe them from above to below.

1. Divine Energy: the first level is the divine level, the infinite. It is like the Sun. It is like Higgs field that gives mass or meaning to the lower three levels. The lower three levels have no independent existence. They are dependent on the first. The Vedic sages have called the first ‘sat’ and the lower levels as ’asat’. In this level a person says, ‘God and I are one’ or ‘God alone is’. Its nature is fullness and it unfolds life as the Sun radiates its fullness. This level can be described as God, Self-Existing Being, Ultimate Reality, Life, Freedom, Unity, Truth, Fullness, Unfolding and Love.

2. Manifestation of the Divine: the second level is the manifestation of eternity. It is like the ray of the Sun. It comes from the Divine and dependent on it. It manifests eternity and does not go through the process of time and evolution. It is like the Moon which receives the light from the Sun and reflects the divine light. It says 'I am in God and God is in me'. ‘I am the manifestation of God. My origin is not in time and space but I come from eternity’.  St. John says,’ in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God’. It is like ‘Nous’ or ‘Logos’ in Platonic philosophy and the primordial OM in the Vedic tradition. This level of consciousness goes beyond material evolution and psychological or religious evolution. It was there before the big bang began and before the search for the meaning of life began. It's nature is to unfold divine life. The energy of matter comes from it. In this way it is the source for the material universe. It is also can be called the realm of Virgin Mary. It is pure and untouched by the conditionings of time. People enter into this level through spiritual awakening.

 3. Material Evolution: The third level of energy is the material Evolution that began with the big bang which produced our physical bodies. Modern science proposes two important views on it: One is the theory of evolution that is based on the Darwinian theory of adaptation or evolution, natural selection and the survival of the fittest. Physicists think that the universe is a self-contained machine that is self-explanatory without the need of a creator or God. This view thinks that human beings are basically machines.  The second theory is called the theory of Intelligent Design. This theory does not deny the Darwinian theory of evolution but proposes that in some organisms where the Darwinian Theory is not sufficient to explain then it must be the work of an intelligent agent. This intelligent agent need not be supernatural but natural but external. Some think that this theory is creationism coming back door. It seems that those who hold the Darwinian view are mainly atheists and those who hold the view of Intelligent Design are mainly theists. 

4. Religious Evolution: the fourth level is Psychological Evolution or Religious Evolution.  It seeks the meaning and the purpose of life. It produced many sacred scriptures, religions, rituals and philosophies and still continues to produce new philosophies and religions. The creation stories in this level try to communicate the meaning and purpose of our life in this world and our life after this earthly life. They may not know the scientific view of creation. Some present God as the creator and creation as the creature of God. Some propose that the creation is the emanation from God. There are many theories about the relationship between God and creation. They try to tell the place and the purpose of human beings in this world, their relationship with God and with fellow human beings. It is living in the world of ideals or dreams. It is living in the cloud consciousness. This level will open the door to the second level and to the first level. In the second level it experiences the indwelling presence of God and in the first level it experiences oneness with God. It is the return of divine ray back to the divine. It is like the prodigal son who comes away from his father and then returns back to the father.

The Mechanistic View is Not Satisfactory:

The mechanistic view of the universe is not satisfactory. Prof. Rupert Sheldrake, the well-known biologist from U.K., pointed out that it does not explain how new forms or patterns emerge except by attributing them to chance. The fact that a machine can never say that it is a machine, unless it is programmed by someone and the fact that we, human beings, can say that we are machines, we are no longer machines. Prof. Rupert Sheldrake has shown the limitations of traditional scientific views in his latest book ‘Science Delusion’. The theory of Intelligent Design is a good opening but it does not go very far. It also treats living organisms as machines just as conventional science does and the machine metaphor requires a designer who is external to the machinery. This creates the dualism of creator and the creation, like a watch and the watch maker. The watch metaphor understands God as a watch maker. Once the watch is made it can run by itself. God is not necessary. This view created Deism in which God, after creating this universe, is not concerned about it.

The Energy beyond Material and Religious Evolutions:

We need to look for an energy that goes beyond these two evolutions. Beyond the energy of the material evolution and the psychological evolution is the spiritual energy that we can call ‘the radiance of the divine’. It is the image and likeness of God. This energy in combination with the matter propels the evolutionary process.  This energy can integrate the Darwinian Theory of evolution and also Intelligent Design but without their limitations. It goes beyond them.

God is not the Creator of the Universe:

God does not create the universe. God is not the creator. God is not the watch maker and creation is not a watch. The Universe that we see is the work of the divine spark that is within creation not outside. The divine spark, which has proceeded from the divine, longs to go back to its source, the divine. It is like a ray of the Sun which wants to go back to its source.  What propels the big bang is the desire of the divine spark within the primordial matter that wants to go back to its source.  First it is the unconscious desire and then the conscious desire.  This process of return to the divine source brings forth the universe in all its forms. This divine spark has its own inherent intelligence but conditioned by the matter with which it involves and goes through a process of self-discovery through trial and error. Just as there is trial and error in the material evolution so also there are trials and errors in the psychological or religious evolution of finding the meaning of life. It is for this reason we have so many philosophies and religions. In this sense the Darwinian theory of the natural selection and the survival of the fittest are still valid. But this evolutionary process is not a blind evolution based on chance. It is a goal oriented evolution.  What is this goal? The ultimate goal is to return to the divine. The immediate goal is to create a body and mind which can become conscious of the divine spark and finally realize its oneness with the divine. It means the evolutionary process is creating instruments and means to reach its ultimate destiny. It is like scientists who invent vehicles to go to the Moon or Venus. These instruments can be refined or perfected.  There are two great minds that have proposed this kind of evolution: Sri Aurobindo from India and Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest from France. Sri Aurobindo’s central theme was the evolution of human life into a life divine. He believed in a spiritual realization that not only liberated man but also transformed his nature, enabling a divine life on earth. Teilhard de Chardin proposed the unfolding of the cosmos and the evolution of matter to humanity, ultimately a reunion with Christ.

Going Beyond Evolutionism and Creationism:

The Evolutionists focus too much on the third level of energy and deny the other three levels and think that the so called higher levels are the projections of the mere brain. They are illusions or delusions. This gives birth to materialistic atheism. The creationists focus on the fourth level of energy and deny the conclusions of the third view, and some might even deny the second level also. Thus both these views live in an endless conflict. We need to go beyond the third level and the fourth level and discover the second and the first levels which give the wisdom to integrate the third and the fourth levels without denying their truth. All the great mystics and the sages like the Upanishad sages, Jesus Christ, the Buddha, the Prophet Mohammed and all the others have done that. A person who discovers the second level, the divine image and likeness, goes beyond material evolution and psychological or religious evolution. This person discovers that he or she was there before the big bang began, before the universe began and before the religions began. Jesus Christ said, ‘before Abraham was I am’. He could also have said, ‘before Adam was I am’. A person who discovers the first level will say, ’God and I are one’ or God alone is. Jesus said, ‘the Father and I are one’. He had gone beyond the third level and the fourth level and even the second level of energy also. Hence the conflict between the evolutionists and the creationists is unnecessary and unwanted. It cannot be solved at that level. One needs to go beyond them.

Human Beings are mere Machines or thinking Animals?

The Evolutionist view without the creationist view reduces human beings into mere machines or animals, or thinking animals whose purpose is just to eat, to drink, to involve in sex, propagate and die. The creationist view particularly belonging to the Biblical tradition, without scientific view, can be blind and superstitious. It also can confine people to the fourth level only, not opening the door to the second level and to the first level. The fourth level is our fragmented level. We will not have the fullness of understanding of Truth at that level. There can be many conflicting views at that level as we see so many systems of belief- biblical and non-biblical.

Mystical Wisdom Opens Us to the Experience of Oneness with God:

Religions that are rooted in the mystical wisdom and the oneness of human consciousness with divine consciousness open the door to the second level and to the first level and integrate the two lower levels. By discovering the eternal spark, the image and likeness of God within us, and subsequently realizing our oneness with God, we can resolve the conflict between creationism and evolutionism. Evolutionism is a science and it should be taught as a science. It belongs to one level of truth. It should not be used to defame religions or eliminate God and create a godless or meaningless society. Creationism is not a science. It is poetry. It is a parable. It is a story. It tries to give meaning to our lives. It tries to create a meaningful society and meaningful human existence and relationships, even though this meaning might change as human beings evolve. Hence it should be taught as such and not as a science. Creationism should be not used to negate scientific discoveries and keep people in ignorance and in superstition.  Evolutionism and creationism belong to different levels and communicate different truths. One belongs to the mind and another belongs to the heart.  There should be no conflict as such between them. We need both.  In order to create harmony between them both creationists and evolutionists need to have an open mind and open-heart. This is possible only when we transcend both material evolution and religious evolution and discover the eternal divine spark, the image and likeness of God, within us. Jesus Christ transcended these two levels at the moment of his baptismal experience.

Repentance or renouncing the ignorance and desire or submission of the human will to the divine will is the process proposed by the sages and the prophets to make this transition possible from the finite to the infinite, from time to eternity, from becoming to unfolding, from death to deathlessness, from ego to egolessness. When this happens then the religious evolution comes to an end (the material evolution may continue) and the unfolding of eternity begins. Jesus Christ said, ‘the time (psychological or religious evolutions) has come to an end; the kingdom of God is at hand. It means that the life of becoming has come to an end and the life of eternity or unfolding began. He invited everyone to enter into this life with the word, ’repent’.

John Martin Sahajananda,

Saccidananda Ashram.


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