Does Consciousness Evolve?

fullsizeoutput_28There is a belief in the spiritual world that consciousness evolves, and that part of our mandate as spiritual seekers, is to support the evolution of it.

But does consciousness really evolve? Well, it does and it doesn’t, depending on your  perspective and definition of consciousness.

From the Upanishads, the source texts of Vedanta (a science of consciousness), there are two different orders of the one, non-dual reality. The first and primary order is Brahman, the Self, which is formless, all pervasive consciousness – our very essence. This first order gives rise to a second, due to a power within consciousness called Maya, that leads to the apparent creation of the cosmos.

By apparent, I mean an object or experience, that comes and goes, occurring in time and space – in other words, things that evolve. It is within the first order, Brahman, that nothing happens and within the second order, creation, that everything happens.

IMG_1375Within the second order of creation, there are three distinct powers or shaktis – creation, maintenance and destruction. Hinduism depicts these three aspects or states of creation as a trimurti or Godhead: Brahma being the creator, Vishnu the sustainer and Shiva, the destroyer. 

On the macrocosmic level, galaxies are born, they live for a time and then die. The same principal apply, microcosmically, within each jiva (human being) in the birth, life and death of each sensation, emotion and thought.

Now this might be a very radical perspective if you believe that consciousness comes from matter, whereas the Vedas and more specifically, the Upanishads, describe matter as arising from consciousness. With one of the arguments being, how could you know matter and energy evolve unless you were conscious. Another being, matter and energy don’t know you but you as consciousness, certainly know them.

So yes, consciousness appearing as nama rupa (name and form) does evolve but the Self, our essential nature as all-pervading existence consciousness does not. The Self can’t evolve because existence consciousness is formless and due to its all pervasiveness, has nowhere to go. It’s also beyond time and space. Consciousness simply and profoundly is, it is not becoming (evolving).

Think of consciousness as a boundless unchanging ocean and creation as the waves upon the surface that do change but have no impact on the ocean itself. Name and form appear within the Self, are dependent upon the Self but do not limit the Self in any way.

It’s a nice spiritual story to think that consciousness evolves and that we are helping usher in a golden age. However, within creation, there exists a dharma (law) of balance. We don’t just have day, we also have night, as well as hot and cold, love and hate, good and evil, and up and down to name a few aspects of this duality.

So before setting our spiritual sights on supporting the evolution of consciousness, it’s important to consider that, per the laws of the field of existence, energy and matter evolve but they also devolve in the grand cosmic mixing bowl called creation, while consciousness, the source of the field, remains unchanging.

This isn’t all bad news, we have our part to play in the Creator’s waking dream and per free will choice, we can attain freedom from the bondage of our fears and desires. In fact this is the whole point of Vedanta: to support us in transferring our identification from the limited and inadequate jiva, to our essential nature as all pervasive non-dual love.

“They who perceive inaction in action, and action in inaction, are wise among people; they are steadfast in yoga while performing all actions.”  Bhagavad Gita 4:18

Tat Tvam Asi – We are That which we seek. That is love! We are are That love.



Eaden Shantay, owns True Nature Healing Arts with his partner Deva. True Nature is an intentional sanctuary in the Rocky Mountains dedicated to inspiration, connection and Self discovery. Eaden also loves to learn about and share the blessing of traditional Vedanta. Visit to learn more.

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