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The Consciousness of the Atom - The Evolution of Consciousness
Lecture V

The Evolution of Consciousness

Last week we studied, very inadequately, the evolution of man, the thinker, the tenant of the bodies, and the one who uses them during the cycle of evolution. We saw that he was the summation of the evolutions which had preceded him. We led up to our study of that evolution in two previous lectures in which we considered first the substance, or atomic matter prior to its building up into a form, or the tiny atom before it was incorporated in a vehicle of some kind. Then we studied the building of forms by means of the great law of attraction, which gathered the atoms together, causing them to cohere and vibrate in unison, and thus producing a form, or an aggregation of atoms. We came to the recognition that in atomic substance we had one aspect of the Godhead, of the Deity, and of the central Force or energy of the solar system, manifesting under the aspect of intelligence, and we saw that in the form aspect of nature another quality of the Deity became manifest, that of love or attraction, the cohesive force which holds [98] the form unified. Then we studied the human being, or man, and noted how in him all the three divine aspects met; and recognized man as a central will manifesting through a form composed of atoms, and demonstrating the three qualities of God, that of intelligence, of love-wisdom, and of will or power.

Today we are stepping out of the matter aspect of manifestation with which we have been dealing in the previous lectures, into the consideration of the consciousness within the form. We have seen that the atom may be regarded as the central life, manifesting through a spheroidal form, and showing the quality of mind; but the human atom may also be considered as a central positive life, utilizing a form and demonstrating the different qualities we have enumerated; and then we said that, if we were right in our hypothesis about the atom, if we were right in considering the human being as an atom, then we might extend this primary conception to the planet, and say that within the planetary atom there is a great Life, manifesting through a form, and showing specific qualities whilst working out a specified aim; and we extended this same concept also to the great sphere of the solar system, and to the Deity Who indwells it.

Let us take up the question of consciousness itself, and study the problem a little and concern [99] ourselves with the reaction of the life within the form. If I can thus give you a few general ideas in line with what has been said earlier, I shall be able to lay another stone upon the structure I am endeavoring to build.

The word consciousness comes from two Latin words: con, with; and scio, to know; and means literally "that with which we know." If you take a dictionary and look up this word you will find it defined somewhat as follows: "The state of being aware," or the condition of perceiving, the ability to respond to stimuli, the faculty of recognizing contacts, and the power to synchronize vibration. All these phrases might be included in any definition of consciousness, but the one I want to lay emphasis upon this evening is that which the Standard Dictionary gives, and which I have quoted earlier. The average thinker who takes up the majority of the textbooks dealing with this subject is apt to find them very confusing, for they divide consciousness and the state of being aware into numerous divisions and subdivisions, until one is left in a state of complete bewilderment. Tonight we will only touch upon three types of consciousness, which we might enumerate as follows: Absolute consciousness, universal consciousness, and individual consciousness, and of these three it is only possible, really, to define two in any way with clarity. [100]

Absolute consciousness, to the ordinary thinker, is practically impossible of recognition. It has been defined in one book as, "That consciousness in which everything is, the possible as well as the actual," and concerns everything that can be possibly conceived of as having occurred, or occurring, or going to occur. This is, possibly, absolute consciousness, and from the standpoint of the human being is the consciousness of God, Who contains within Himself the past, the present, and the future. What, then, is universal consciousness? It might be defined as consciousness, thinking time and space, consciousness with the idea of location and succession involved within it, or, in reality, group consciousness, the group itself forming either a greater or a lesser unit. Finally, individual consciousness may be defined as just as much of the universal consciousness as a separated unit can contact and can conceive of for itself.

Now, to understand these vague expressions - absolute, universal, and individual consciousness - it might be helpful if I endeavored somewhat to illustrate. It might be done as follows: In our earlier lectures we have seen that we must consider the atom in the human body as a little entity, a tiny, intelligent life, and a microscopic, active sphere. Now taking that little cell as our starting-point we may get, by its means, some concept of what these three types of consciousness [101] are, by viewing them from the standpoint of the atom and man. Individual consciousness to the tiny atom in a man's body would be its own vibratory life, its own internal activity, and all that specifically concerns itself. Universal consciousness to the little cell might be considered as the consciousness of the entire physical body, viewing it as the unit which incorporates the atom. Absolute consciousness to the atom might be considered as the consciousness of the thinking man who is energizing the body. That would be to the atom something so remote from its own inner internal life as to be practically inconceivable and unknown, yet it nevertheless sweeps into the line of its will the form and the atom within the form, and all that concerns them. This idea has only to be extended to man, considered as an atom or cell within the body of a great Entity, and one can then work out along similar lines this conception of a threefold consciousness. It might here be wise if we were to come down and consider more practical matters than absolute consciousness.

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