Sir George Trevelyan: thoughts and writings

The Expansion of Consciousness

An Attingham Conference, July 1970

The supreme hope - life eternal, indestructible and divine

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This great gathering is itself a sign that a new vision is drawing people together with a heightened sense of the meaning of purpose of life. The greatest tragedy is to lose this sense of meaning. After the war a great Austrian psychologist named Frankl found that the breakdown of many of his patients was brought about through a sense of complete purposelessness of life. An enquiry revealed that over 80% of students in American universities at that time saw no real meaning in life. Frankl developed what he called 'logotherapy' which simply meant healing through restoring a sense of meaning. It is interesting that a recent enquiry by the News of the World revealed that among 700 young people in this country 67% declared a belief in God, though making it clear that they meant universal over-present consciousness and Being. They had recovered a sense of meaning and the majority confessed that the discovery was for them quite recent. Something seems to be happening in human consciousness and it is full of hope.

The great scientist Sir James Jeans wrote a generation ago:

"What does life amount to? We have tumbled, as though through error, into a universe which by all the evidence was not intended for us. We cling to a fragment of a grain of sand until such time as the chill of death shall return us to primal matter. We strut for a tiny moment upon a tiny stage, well knowing that all our aspirations are doomed to ultimate failure and that everything we have achieved will perish with our race, leaving the Universe as though we had never existed... The Universe is indifferent and even hostile to every kind of life."

Can we not see that man's aspiration must ultimately come to a stop if that is the truth. Sooner or later despair must set in, with the sense that life is without meaning. It is indeed miraculous that we go on so bravely hoping, believing and worshipping in face of the heavy load of doubt. Later in his life Jeans modified his attitude, sensing that the universe was ultimately of the nature of thought;

"The tendency of modern physics is to resolve the whole natural universe into waves and nothing but waves... If annihilation of matter occurs the process is merely of unbottling of imprisoned wave energy and letting it free to travel through space. These concepts reduce the whole universe to a world of light, potential and existent, so that the whole story of creation can be told with perfect accuracy and completeness in the six words 'God said, let there be light '."

But light we know is Life, is spirit, is God. So close are we to the bridging of advanced physics and mysticism! It is this conviction of the divinity of all life that is now flooding our thinking. We see that the universe is in fact spiritual in essence, that matter is derivative from creative spirit, that the planet earth is not to be seen as a dead speck of dust but as a living seed bearing on it that most precious cargo - human consciousness. Furthermore, the earth has been worthy to receive the incarnation of the "Lord of Spiritual Light, the Christos". That is no small compliment to be paid to our tiny wandering planet.

It is a strange paradox that the view that man is wholly unimportant has led to his arrogance in our age. If matter is merely dead and we are an accident of evolution in a nature wholly indifferent to us, then why should we not exploit it to our own gain? The alternative world-view accepts the truth of the words:

"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God...
By Him were all things made..."

First came the primal oneness of Being and Spirit and from this our world of diversity is derived.

We wake up with something of awe to realise that man is the purpose of evolution, integrally part of nature, and that we are the stewards of our planet with the task of serving it. What are we doing with our stewardship? A new humility awakens once we recognise that man is indeed important to the universe and his evolving consciousness is part of a great plan.

Human thinking is now hovering between these two world- views and expanding of consciousness is leading many to see the limitations of our materialistic outlook.

Materialism essentially is not wrong, but it is a partial truth and dangerous when taken as the only value. It is part of the spiritual evolution of man that his thinking should plunge into the mastering of matter even to the point of disintegrating it into the energy of which it is constituted. The great challenge is now to step beyond materialism and widen our vision to include the spiritual planes of creative being. Man is at a turning point in which materialistic thinking could drag him blindly down into a new bestiality, unless he can awaken to a deeper truth and rediscover the lost sense of meaning and spiritual purpose. To this end he is called on to expand his consciousness.

Here we may profitably consider the picture of evolution given by the great French scientist Teilhard de Chardin which could well bring about a marriage between scientific thinking and religious inspiration. Teilhard's argument is that every cell and molecule is alive and has a 'within'. Its core is energy and energy we must see as 'frozen spirit'. Thus there is no dead matter. The outstanding feature in evolution is that these living cells and atoms have an inbuilt faculty for clustering together to create ever more complex structures and organisms. Even the smallest plankton has an incredibly complex structure. How much more so in animals where consciousness has developed.

Throughout evolution there is manifested this purposeful turning-in of atoms upon themselves, first to create minerals, then plants, fishes, animals and finally man. Each stage results in a release of tremendous creative energy. Each step in 'complexification' to use the word coined by Teilhard, results in greater consciousness. In man an organism is made so complex that it becomes self-conscious. Here evolution becomes conscious of itself and can reflect. Man is the first organism to be conscious that it is conscious. All Heaven must have rejoiced when that tremendous stage was reached.

If matter is dead then it couldn't manifest purpose and drive towards a consummation. That matter is alive is shown by this inbuilt drive towards a consummation. "I came that ye could have life and have it more abundantly."

Dryden wrote:-

"No atoms casually hurled
could e'er produce so beautiful a world."

It is all too common to judge the values in our universe on the basis of mere size and distance. We are appalled by the smallness of our planet in the vast expanses of space and therefore conclude that man is unimportant. Not so, says Teilhard. The true measure is complexity. These great red giants among the stars have an extremely simple arrangement - one nucleus and one electron moving around it. Compare this with millions upon millions of cells in a human brain, making self-consciousness possible. Only a temperate planet could have achieved this.

Man is thus seen as the crown and purpose of evolution and of supreme importance to the universe. We can in imagination view the sweep of life from the simplest organisms up to man and realise that in some sense the life within the atom, being eternal, has passed up through mineral, plant and animal into man. We become more aware of our profound relationship to the whole of living nature and its kingdoms, for we are part of a single sweep of ever mounting consciousness. Furthermore we realise that the inner core of man is spiritual in origin and that it has descended from eternal worlds to which it must return when freed from the drastic limitation of a physical body. Thus we must grasp the idea of a spiritual evolution in the being of man which unites with the upward -striving urge of physical evolution.

We too often tacitly assume that man as the crown of evolution is a more or less finished product and we therefore look for advance to be in the way of social improvement. Teilhard submits something much more exciting. The drive within evolution will not stop. It logically follows that the human molecules will turn in upon each other to create an ultra-human clustering. The power manifested in each cell to cluster with others on the same wave-length must ultimately be recognised as of the nature of love. Each molecule is becoming conscious of this rise of love and is beginning to unite in human clusters, or new groupings. These can only have one purpose, to raise consciousness to a higher level. Self-consciousness was achieved in man. Now, in greater complexification, he advances towards cosmic consciousness and God-consciousness . He moves towards the real consummation, the re-uniting with God.

Thus Teilhard welcomes the crowding of our planet as a symptom of the end of a great evolutionary epoch. We are rushing inexorably into a world society, merging into one world, one family. We may expect a new form of collective life. We need not be discouraged by the fact that the first attempts, by Hitler and Stalin, were sinister in that personality was sacrificed to the worship of the state. This involved a most unspiritual view of man. As man takes the next step in consciousness he will form groups bound creatively in love, in which the individuality of each member will enrich the group and itself be enriched by united activity.

Teilhard has made us familiar with the concept of the 'noösphere' the thought layer surrounding the planet, created by human thinking and yet to be seen as an objective reality. It is a great unity a 'Man mind' which actually extends the consciousness of the planet. As love awakens in the heart, uniting kindred souls, we may expect the real spirit of Earth to develop and a new Man Heart. Consciousness has risen from low life through the animal sensitivity to self-consciousness. Next it will open up towards God consciousness. The love in each of us is connected with the Cosmic Personality, the Christos, the Lord of all Light, the Son of God, who said "I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last". As the human soul breaks out from the mould of matter it discovers its goal. Teilhard has called this "homing upon the Omega point": like a homing pigeon it yearns for the bliss of cosmic consciousness. As we awake to the glory of the prospect ahead and realise the drastic limitation of consciousness involved in living in the body with its five senses we recognise as a brother every other soul which has taken the same step. Out of these will come the new groups, aware of the meaning of life, the purpose of man and the power of unpossessive Love which literally makes the world go round.

Indeed this is the forming of the Body of Christ, the New Society, the New Jerusalem.

Might it also be seen as the building of the Ark? What is going to be the New Ark if the deluge comes? Surely it will be made of those souls which have orientated on to their Divine source.

The society that is formed out of this vision bringing in the New Age. A new flow of love and sympathy is apparent between souls on the same path. It brings a joy, excitement and zest which will override any disasters in this life. For we shall have disasters and are having them as the inevitable symptom of the breaking down of the old society, but if we have set our feet upon the upward path we shall be guided through all the disasters and brought together with kindred spirits.

A veritable new society is forming in our midst and a new age is emerging with the strength and inevitability of the coming of spring. We are filled with the stupendous hope that something new is coming to birth and that there is indeed a higher world closely watching and deeply concerned with the welfare and redemption of mankind.

Man's path now is upwards over widening fields of consciousness. Even while in the body we can learn through meditation to free ourselves from its limitations and contact the sphere of absolute being, the Primal Oneness which is everywhere and permeates every living form and yet is beyond all the manifestations of diversity. We learn to see our lives on earth as an allegorical journey in which, through the overcoming of obstacles and trials, we may unite with our higher self and make ourselves worthy to enter the realms of expanded awareness. As we grasp the majestic picture everything recovers the meaning which we thought was lost. Seeing the endless vistas ahead for soul development and exploration we recognise infinite value and significance in every experience in our earth span, and in every contact. It implies that to adult education in the truest sense there is no limit. We are preparing now for the entry into what might be compared with a university of the spirit when we have left the restrictive body. Alas that so many are moving on with absolutely no knowledge of what it implies or of the possibilities of ever-widening consciousness which will be ours.

An aspect of the expansion of consciousness is that in thought we can be united with those in the greater life on higher levels of being. Whether they be our friends who have gone on ahead of us or angelic beings of exalted spiritual nature, a communion is possible within the thinking and through the intuition of the heart. Communication through trance mediumship is being superseded by fully conscious clairaudience in thought, and also by this form of communion which is truly a blending with spiritual powers. Through this we may expect an immense enhancement of human faculties and capacity for knowledge and wisdom.

Already we are seeing examples of individuals who have demonstrated that expansion of consciousness is possible. Rudolph Steiner was one of these. As mystic and scientist he showed that it was possible to lift human thinking so that it became one with the processes of the universe Then the supposed limits to knowledge were overcome and it became possible to tap the sources of knowledge directly and immediately, within his own thinking. His life was devoted to demonstrating the truth of his claim. The fact that it could be done by one man proves that there are latent faculties of perception in us all if we can learn how to develop them. It is the great challenge to a scientific age. The excitement of our time is that the frontiers of reality are being crossed. This offers a different form of space exploration. We shoot our own moon rockets and though this represents a stupendous group achievement, we are still exploring on the physical vibration. The new attack on reality, uniting religion and science, will be across the frequency bands till planes of spirit are reached, entering through developed faculties of thought into realms where consciousness can blend with beings on higher planes. In co-operation of this sort there is nothing which the human race could not do. The hope is therefore that we are on the edge of a new renaissance not only technological, but artistic and religious, as human thinking learns to unite in communion with the flow of spiritual power and higher knowledge.

It is Teilhard's conviction that such expansion of consciousness is an evolutionary drive which nothing can stop. Man is moving in the direction of an experience of the unity and divinity of all life, and once he has tasted the possibility he will strive with ever more zeal to move along this upward path.

Consider these quotations from Teilhard's "Future of Man".

"The sense of the earth opening and exploding upwards into God; and the sense of God taking root and finding nourishment downward into earth. A personal, transcendent God and an evolving Universe no longer forming two hostile centres of attraction, but entering into hierarchic conjunction to raise the human mass on a single tide. Such is the sublime transformation which we may with justice foresee, and which in fact is beginning to have its effect upon a growing number of minds, free-thinkers as well as believers: the idea of a spiritual evolution of the Universe. The very transformation we have been seeking!

From this standpoint it is at once apparent that, to unify the living forces of humanity, at present so painfully at odds, the direct and effective method is simply to sound the call-to-arms and form a solid block of all those, whether of the right or the left, who believe that the principal business of present-day Mankind is to achieve a breakthrough straight ahead by forcing its way over the threshold of some higher level of consciousness. Whether Christian or non-Christian, the people inspired by this particular conviction constitute a homogenous category.

What more do they need that they may know and love one another? The 'union sacrée', the Common Front of all those who believe that the world is still advancing: what is this but the active minority, the solid core around which the unanimity of tomorrow must harden?

Despite the wave of scepticism which seems to have swept away the hopes (too ingenuous, no doubt, and too materialistic ) on which the nineteenth century lived, faith in the future is not dead in our hearts. Indeed, it is this faith, deepened and purified, which must save us. Not only does the idea of a possible raising of out consciousness to a state of super-consciousness show itself daily, in the light of scientific experience, to be better founded and psychologically more necessary for preserving in Man his will to act: but furthermore this idea, carried to its logical extreme, appears to be the only one capable of paving the way for the great event we look for - the manifestation of a unified impulse to worship in which will be joined and mutually exalted both a passionate desire to conquer the World and a passionate longing to be united with God: the vital act, specifically now, corresponding to a new age in the history of Earth."

Here indeed is an inspiring prospect for the future. A gathering such as ours holds a great responsibility. It is to be seen as an active deed in offering our lifted thought towards the reality of the worlds of light. We recognise, without dogma, that the worlds of higher consciousness are present everywhere, binding all together in the great unity of life. Groups coming together in this way will evoke a response from higher powers waiting to help mankind.

Man reaches the step in his evolution when he begins to break free from the restricting mould of matter and discovers that his thinking and his consciousness is not limited. We are not our bodies The physical body is the sheath essential to the eternal being of Man if this is to be conscious and act upon the earth plane. The coloured aura radiates out in all directions. The magnetic field of Man, according to Dr. Glazewski, reaches out as far as our understanding can go. Our consciousness can be anywhere in this field where we choose to direct thought. It is an illusion that we are enclosed in the central point of the body. The doors are open to us to explore behind the veils which normally hide the higher planes from us. We truly are where we direct our thought beam. First we must free ourselves from the illusion that we are bound in consciousness by the body. Man is called on to take a glorious step in reality that there is essentially nothing to stop him from expanding his consciousness to the limit of his 'field'. Thus he can explore space in a new way reaching ever subtler levels to achieve transcendental consciousness. The thought is well put in a remarkable sonnet by Charles Earle.

Bodily Extension

The body is not bounded by its skin;
Its effluence, like a gentle cloud of scent,
Is wide into the air diffused, and, blent
With elements unseen, its way doth win
To other frontiers, where take origin
Far subtler systems, nobler regions meant
To be the area and the instrument
Of operations ever to begin
Anew and never end. Thus every man
Wears as his robe the garment of the sky -
So close his union with cosmic plan,
So perfectly he pierces low and high -
Reaching as far in space as creature can,
and co-extending with immensity.

Charles Earle


"Religion without science is blind, and science without religion is lame... The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mystical. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, and who can no longer wonder and stand in awe, is as good as dead."

"If man today does not find a new way of thinking, humanity may well be doomed to extinction."

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