Truth has long been known and has united noble spirits. The truth of ancient days is being tapped. — Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
The Human being and his fate are the central problem of my life. Because of my urge to deal with this problem, I have taken many paths, empirical and philosophical, to clarify for myself the riddle of Man. I am convinced that the search for meaning in human existence arises in each one of us at some time in our lives.
I gained the certainty during my 30 years' practice as a doctor that very few people, due to their karma, can raise themselves from a materialistic plane of thought to a spiritual one. The conscious self of every person is uniquely individual and connects him with the world around him. His interactions with the world shape his experience and cannot be sensed in the same way by anyone else. The consciousness of Self is spiritual — part of the great spiritual power which, as formative agent and giver of energy, stands behind every earthly form. Our genetic code is fashioned by this singular spiritual power, and each cell in the human body is structurally unique — our fingerprints only exemplify this uniqueness.
In the world today a great many people are still trying to define the human being and interpersonal relationships in completely materialistic terms. This is understandable, since with the evolution of self-consciousness the majority of individuals are drawn to material things instead of exploring the mystery of the interaction between universal spirit and the physical world. Although in every era all the great religions have centered on the role of universal spirit, defined as God, these endeavors failed in the main because belief was demanded when what the evolving human being wanted was knowledge and certainty.
The desire for knowledge at the present time gives preference to scientific evidence. Research into the human brain and nervous system, as well as comparative research into the nervous systems and brain formation of other living beings, has shown that from the primitive cell onward a steady upward evolution of organic life is apparent. Evolution alone could perhaps account for the process, but there came a time when man consciously realized that an individual creative power of imagination is innate to the human being. This creative power is not subject to dying and becoming, but represents and comes from a world which is not limited to birth and death but possesses eternal validity.
When man had reached this level of consciousness, probably with the development of language, the evolution of the brain progressed rapidly. just as in our world amazing results are attained in computer technology, so is man today with his highly developed brain able to delve ever deeper into the spiritual origins of life. In brain research we now recognize that the connections of the billions of human brain cells cannot be explained physically only and therefore crudely, but that new switch and communication receptors develop as a result of emotions and sensations.
In order to understand that spirit is the origin of being, we could approach it from the other way round, beginning with World One — that of physical objects and states. This is composed of inorganic matter and cosmic energy, and of the substance of all objects — machines, tools, and books — which the human spirit has created while coming to terms with material existence. In this World One we experience states of consciousness of varying degrees of refinement. The crudest plane is that of our five senses: hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell.
The next, more refined plane, World Two, is that of emotion: joy, sadness, fear, worry, and so forth. Although materialists and psychologists regard it as the result of World One, World Two is closer to primary reality. From the second world we arrive at World Three, the third level of existence: the pure self, spirit, individuality or soul. The most easily understood expressions of this third level, which was formed by man and which in turn formed him, are the aesthetic productions of culture derived from the reservoir of spirit. Human language, for example, was an essential factor in forming abstract thought associations and passing them on to others and so advancing into the infinite ocean of spiritual-intellectual being. An amazing fact, and one which has moved me again and again is that revolutionary breakthroughs in science and the arts suddenly occur simultaneously and independently in various parts of the world. To me that is proof that the evolution of humanity as a whole, and of different individuals, has arrived at a point when the organ of perception, our brain, is receptive to the mental vibrations of the new idea. This shows that through the mental plane a spiritual force affects the most refined organ of our body — the brain. Also this formative power has shaped the brain throughout the evolutionary development of mankind, and this shaping process of our brain as an organ of communication between spirit and matter has progressed at an increasing pace since the Stone Age to the present.
Every scientist knows that in order to understand a function or physical condition, the necessary resources and tools have to be adapted to it. This means one cannot examine empirical evidence with unsuitable tools. The more we refine this perceptive and expressive organ, our brain, by this mutual interaction, the more will we become conscious of the spiritual world, for in this Ground of all being, in World Three, resides all knowledge, from beginning to end, abiding in itself. Man's duty during his earthly existence is to realize this consciously and to recognize the laws of the spiritual world and live up to them of his own free choice. And free will, the ability to plan a course of action, is born of experience. No one could imagine free will or self-consciousness did he not experience it. We cannot represent with material examples spirit and its expressions, which include self-consciousness, free will, and a consciousness of a Divine Presence.
Certainly a spiritual urge to evolve exists in all of us, an impulse which inclines towards World Three. The more aware a person becomes in his feeling and thinking, the more purposefully do his mental energies form his brain and genetic code. Thoughts are powers of the greatest effectiveness; they shape our body as an increasingly perfected tool so that we can penetrate deeper and deeper into the realm of spiritual origins. We acquire conscious knowledge and the ability to build or destroy. Our free will decides. The consistency and validity of the laws of the spiritual world encompass every soul and its path: each action produces a result, each cause its effect. What we sow we shall reap! Even though the self-conscious individual is only a drop in the ocean of the spiritual, this drop is unique. Energy can neither be produced nor destroyed, it only changes its form.
(From Sunrise magazine, June/July 1989; copyright © 1989 Theosophical University Press)