The Evolution of Unity
Beyond all that we see lay a hidden unity, and our ability to sense it determines the evolution of consciousness. This is a foundational principle within the Perennial Philosophy. It states that the universe is the expression of a living singularity—One Life manifesting through form. Viewed from a Western perspective, the One Life is often called God, and in the East it is entitled Brahman. By whatever name, this singular life gives rise to all that is. The universe, with its endless diversity, is therefore understood as the One becoming the many.
This principle is true at all levels of existence. It is true when considering the life of a plant, an animal or a human being, and even beyond. All are understood as unique differentiations of God, and all represent distinctive grades of consciousness found within the One Life. Considered from the point of view of a human being, when sensing the soul (the representative of God) we are simultaneously touching the field of unity. Indeed, from a certain perspective it can be said that God and Unity are synonymous terms.
Religions of Exile
Historically speaking, Western theologies are based upon the idea that God created the universe while remaining mysteriously separate from it. This view is at the root of the doctrine of the fall of man, and the need for human redemption. As such, Judaism, Islam and Christianity are sometimes referred to as religions of exile. They promote the view that humanity and the Creator are quite separate, and that creation is somehow impure as compared to the incorruptibility of the Divine.
Yet, considered esoterically, this notion is in error. Instead, creation is viewed as an inseparable aspect of God. It is not God and creation, but God as creation that is the basis of existence. From this perspective, divinity can be seen in all things. God is the livingness inherent in all aspects of creation, large or small. It is the unitive field called space, as well as all that is contained within space. This is the One Life. This is God incarnate.
The Third Eye and the Perception of Oneness
Spiritually-minded people often state that evolution is based upon an expansion of consciousness. Yet, what does this mean? Perhaps this expansion can be best understood as a broadening of one’s sense of inner unity. Stated differently, when consciousness expands, an individual is able to see more clearly the oneness hidden behind diversity. Of course, this must be understood as a relative realization, in that we are not yet able to sense the oneness of all things. That is a state of consciousness only achieved by a Master of Wisdom, such as the Christ or the Buddha. Nonetheless, it does suggest that the evolution of consciousness is based upon a growing realization that the outer distinctions of life veil an essential oneness.
The third eye is the organ of the soul that senses the unitive field underlying form. Sometimes called the Eye of Vision, this etheric organ makes it possible to see the soul hidden in all things. It is a type of vision that reveals an inner synthesis of people, events and circumstance. The vision of unity is, therefore, a predictable feature that emerges when walking the spiritual path. As we evolve, the third eye becomes increasingly operative. Evidence of this deeper vision is found in an individual’s growing ability to perceive the unitive field underlying forms that outwardly appear as separate and distinct.
The Hierarchy of Unity
It should be noted that the type of unity thus far discussed is of a very high order. It presupposes that one has come into a measure of spiritual living, and that s/he is deliberately attempting to live by the inward promptings of the soul. Though unity is an inherent attribute of the One Life, it nonetheless expresses itself hierarchically. For example, within the animal kingdom unity can be recognized in the herding tendency. Herd instinct is an innate urge to unite in support of survival. It is a set of automatic behaviors that arise from the collective consciousness of a species. As such, the instinct to herd is a manifestation of unity.
The herding instinct within the animal domain, though sacred, is nonetheless a lower expression of unity, at least when compared to that experienced by a human being. It is a form of unitive behavior based upon the collective survival of the species. In short, the instinctual consciousness of an animal is strictly governed by its biology, not by any self-directed choice made by the animal. Yet, this herd tendency is important, for it forms a foundational matrix for the higher forms of unity to be realized in the human kingdom. Our evolution through the animal kingdom has given us an innate familiarity with unity, but it is to be further developed and expanded as we evolve as human beings.
At the lower levels of human development, the principle of unity is expressed as tribal or mass consciousness. In some sense, this stage of consciousness is an immediate carryover from the herd instinct long ago developed in the animal kingdom. In today’s world a large percentage of people are still governed by this form of unitive consciousness, and are easily swayed by mass opinion and societal persuasion. Unity is strongly defined by familial ties and the need to feel safe within one’s group. The unitive force at the foundation of mass consciousness is sacred, but its expression is comparatively undeveloped, for it too is governed by fear related to the survival of the physical form.
Later in the development of a human being, the principle of unity begins to manifest in a somewhat higher expression. It emerges in the form of patriotism and nationalism. Here survival of the form is still a frequent motive for unity, but the notion of family and group is expanded to encompass one’s national life. This form of unitive consciousness is ever present within a society. Though it is still a type of unity based upon a concern for survival, the forms involved are more than physical. They now include such things as national pride, the reinforcement of societal institutions and laws, and the honoring of nationally-defined cultural patterns.
When an individual begins to consciously step upon the spiritual path, there is a gradual awakening to a yet higher understanding of unity. Initially this is experienced as compassion for all people, regardless of national affiliation. Humanitarian thought becomes operative in one’s life, and the needs of the whole become the centerpiece of attention. This is the beginning of the inner unity earlier discussed. It is a realization that humanity is inwardly one, and that familial and national divisions are quite secondary. This is when the third eye begins to open, and one’s inner divinity becomes a realized part of the divinity inherent within all people and all nations.
Thus it is discovered that God is the unitive force that binds all things in eternal Oneness. It is to discover that we are cells within the livingness of the One Life, which is all that is. The beauty of creation unveils itself through this wondrous recognition. We grow through the gradual realization that, on the inner planes, unity and synthesis are pervasively and eternally present. Our participation with this unitive force first emerges with clarity within our animal past. Yet, as human beings we learn how to engage this sacred energy in more and more expansive ways.
Eventually it dawns upon the seeker of truth that the spiritual dimension of life is based upon a profound inner unity, and that the path to God is a journey through ever broadening fields of synthesis. This discovery does not occur through mere acceptance of theory, but instead through the crucible of meditative experience. In truth, it is a knowingness that emerges when we inwardly turn in search of the deeper realities of life. The vision of inner oneness can then begin to emerge. And, when this happens, a rite of passage has been granted. For the seeker has now earned the right to walk upon the Path of Discipleship leading to eventual enlightenment and freedom.