~ An Esoteric Perspective ~
Did the universe appear through random events, or is it the product of a vast intelligence? This question has triggered debate among scholars, philosophers and theologians for countless centuries. In contemporary society, science and religion seem to hold these opposite perspectives, and the debate between them rages on. Religion has long viewed the universe as the product of God’s creative work, and therefore is of intelligent design. Science, on the other hand, contends that the universe (and life) came into existence through natural laws and evolutionary processes. In the eyes of many scientists, divine intelligence is not needed to explain the complexities of creation. Though these two perspectives may appear irreconcilable, Esotericism sees them both as partial expressions of truth. From this perspective, there is an overarching intelligence that gives design to creation. And, at the same time, the laws of nature are responsible for that design. This is because the laws of nature are an expression of God’s intelligence. It is not an intelligence that is separate from the design, but is the design itself and the natural laws that govern it.
Before examining this subject in depth, it should be stated that my intention is not to address the political and educational dispute regarding intelligent design. In the United States, this is an issue that is currently at the forefront of national debate. Sadly, the polarized positions held by both sides seem to be arguing without recognizing the full scope of intelligence. Too often we interpret intelligence through a lens that is biased by our own mental experiences. Stated differently, our understanding of intelligence (either superhuman or subhuman) is prejudiced by our experience with it. Some researchers are coming to the realization that psychometric tests may only be measuring a narrow band of intelligence. The yardstick of measure is too often determined by the prevailing scientific point of view. As such, the current political debate on this subject seems woefully ill-informed.
To understand this subject, there is a foundational idea that must be initially grasped. It is a tenet stating that, in the ultimate sense, all things are really One Thing. Sometimes called the Primary Principle, this notion suggests that there is a single universal life force that permeates all of creation. This singularity of life has been called God, Brahman or Allah, to name just a few titles given it by various cultures. From the esoteric perspective, this One Life exists within the subjective and objective (inner and outer) worlds, and its most external expression is the physical universe we see and know. When this principle is fully understood, it becomes apparent that all things are part of its expression. For example, kingdoms in nature, (such as the animal and plant domains) are merely the demonstration of differing categories of this intelligence that have taken form.
If the universe is One Life in outer expression, then its intelligence must underlie everything contained within it. Nothing can escape its all encompassing embrace. Yet due to our limited perception, we still tend to see the Creator and creation as distinct and separate, and that one is the cause of the other. As such, creation is normally viewed as an effect of divine intelligence. In our ordinary perception, there appears to be a separation between creation and the intelligence that gave it birth. Yet this is an illusion. Intelligence is not separate from the forms it has produced. It may outwardly seem so, but this is due to our limited capacity to see beyond form and appearance. The intelligence that created the universe is not remote from creation, but is woven into the fabric of creation. For example, the instinctual mind of an animal is not separate from God’s creative intelligence. Instead, it is a category of God’s intelligence outwardly expressed in animal form.
Admittedly, at first glance this idea may be difficult to grasp. It is particularly challenging for people raised within a Western culture. Historically, the West has been conditioned by the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). In each of these religions, the separation of God from creation has been emphasized. Indeed, these theologies are rooted in this concept. The belief in original sin, as well as repentance and redemption, are central to these religions. They have emerged because of this assumption of separation. Given this, it is not surprising that some scholars have referred these religions as theologies of exile. Esotericism, and most Eastern religions, do not hold this separative view. Instead, the gap between God and creation is understood as merely an illusion. This illusion is due to humanity’s preoccupation with form, and its disregard for the living forces underlying form. It is not God and creation that is the basis of reality, but God as creation. Creation is God’s intelligence expressed through form. In truth, form would not exist, but for the intelligence that underlies it.
It is important to therefore realize that intelligence is not confined to what we typically consider as living. Indeed, every attribute we see within creation is a feature of this intelligence in outer display. Objects (forms) have a variety of characteristics related to them. For example, they may display color, texture, and geometric design, to name a just a few characteristics. These attributes are examples of living intelligence. Emotions and thoughts are attributive, and therefore represent intelligence as well. To experience happiness is to register within consciousness a specific type of intelligence. When looking at the splendor of a sunset, intelligence is realized, and we call it beauty. Intelligence is always revealed through attributes, and everything has attributes. Even the stones we walk upon, the water we drink, and the air we breathe, are part of this intelligence and its livingness. Of course, this means that God’s intelligence permeates the events that are despicable to us as well, such as war, famine and the cataclysms that befall our world. Everything is a part of the One Life, and we, as human beings, are mere cells of intelligence within it, each participating in its incarnational thrust.
Within the scientific community, the theory of evolution is the preferred model for explaining the universe and the development of life. Evolutionary theory is in opposition to the belief in intelligent design, as advocated by religion. Initially it may appear that Esotericism supports the religious perspective, and therefore opposes evolution theory. Yet this is not the case. Esotericism does embrace the notion of intelligent design. However, unlike religion, it does not hold the assumption of separation. The same can be said about science and its reliance on evolutionary theory. Evolution is a fundamental principle within the esoteric perspective. However, it is not the Darwinian model of evolution that it advocates. Science contends that consciousness comes forth as a result of physical form. However, Esotericism sees this as an inversion of the truth. It is not the evolution of physical form that determines the development of consciousness, but the reverse. Consciousness is what is evolving, and form naturally changes in response to it. Form is merely the outer garment of consciousness. As consciousness evolves, the outer form responds and adjusts accordingly. What science considers the cause of evolution, occultism sees as merely an effect.
Contrary to the attitude of many scientists and theologians, intelligent design and evolutionary theory coexist and are equally true. When rightly understood, they support and enhance each other. Evolution is indication of life’s changing relationship to the intelligence that underlies, conditions, and shapes our universe. All things change and grow. Such changes occur because of life’s capacity to realize higher categories of intelligence. This intelligence is always present, and needs only to be discovered. We do not develop intelligence, but evolve into intelligence. At each step in the long journey of life, the mind of God is present, waiting to be realized and implemented through form. Intelligent design is God’s knowingness in manifestation. In the deepest sense, it is creation itself.
© 2006 William Meader
William Meader is an author, teacher and counselor. Much of his work is focused on the subjects of Spiritual Creativity, the Evolution of Consciousness and the Art of Meditation. At present he is teaching in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. He resides in Oregon, and can be contacted through his website at meader.org.