Evolution and Consciousness – From Existence to Essence

From Existence to Essence

Can you talk about the evolution of consciousness, and how it impacts our world today? 

Evolution is unconscious. No volition is needed, no conscious effort. It is just natural. But once consciousness evolves, then it is a totally different matter. Once consciousness is there, evolution stops.

“Evolution is only up to consciousness; the work of evolution is to create consciousness. Once consciousness is there, evolution stops. Then the whole responsibility falls upon consciousness itself. So this has to be understood in many ways.

“Man is not evolving now. Man has not been evolving for a long time. Evolution has stopped as far as man is concerned. The body has come to its peak; the human body has not evolved since then. The most ancient bones and the most ancient human bodies that have been found are not basically different from our bodies. There is no basic difference; a human body that is one hundred thousand years old, if it can be revived and trained, will be just like you. There will be no difference at all.

The human body has stopped evolving.

“When did it stop? – when consciousness comes in, evolution’s work is over. Now it is up to you to evolve. So man is static, not evolving unless man himself endeavors. Now beyond man everything will be conscious, below man everything is unconscious. With man a new factor has entered – the factor of awareness, the factor of consciousness. With this factor, evolution’s work is over. Evolution is to create a situation in which consciousness evolves. Once consciousness enters, the whole responsibility is on consciousness. So man will not evolve now; there will be no natural evolution.

Consciousness is the peak of evolution, the last step, but it is not the last step of life.

“Consciousness is the last step of evolution, of all animal heritage. It is the last step, the climax, the peak. But for further growth, it is to be the first step. And when I say evolution has stopped, I mean that now an inner effort is needed, unless you do something, you will not evolve. Nature has brought you to a point that is the last for unconscious growth. Now you are aware, now you know. When you know, you are responsible.

“A child is not responsible for his acts, but an adult is. A madman is not responsible for his acts, but a sane man is. If you are under an alcoholic intoxicant, if you are not behaving consciously, you are not responsible.

With consciousness, with the faculty of knowing, you become responsible for yourself.

“Sartre has said somewhere that responsibility is the only human burden. No animal is responsible. Evolution is responsible for all that an animal is. The animal is not responsible for anything. Man is responsible, so whatever you do now will be your responsibility. If you create a hell and go down, it is up to you. If you evolve, grow, and create a blissful state of being, it is up to you.

“Existentialists make a very fine distinction, and a beautiful one, and meaningful also. They say for animals, essence is first and existence is a later growth. This is difficult to understand – but try. They say for animals, for trees, essence is first and existence follows. There is a seed: the seed is, in essence, the tree. The essence is there, the existence will just follow. The essential thing is there; it just has to be manifested, expressed. The tree will follow. The tree is not going to be a new thing; in a way it was already there. So really, the seed has no freedom – the tree exists in it. And the tree is also without freedom – it is destined by the seed. This is what is meant: below man, essence is first and then existence follows.

With man, the whole thing is just the opposite: existence comes first and then essence follows.

“You are born with no fixed future; you will have to create it. You are born, so you have an existence, simple existence, with no essence. Now you will create the essence. So man creates himself. A tree is created by nature, man creates himself.

“Man is simply born as an existence, with no essence. Then whatever you do will make your essence; your acts will create you. And the freedom is multidimensional. A man can become anything, or he may not become anything. He may remain just an existence without any essence, he may just remain a body without any soul. The soul is, in a way, to be created.

“Gurdjieff used to say that you have no souls, you are without souls. Unless you create it, how can you have it? It looks contradictory to all the teachings of religions – it is not.

When religions say that everyone has a soul, it only means that everyone can have a soul. That’s a possibility.

“You can grow to be a soul. If you already have a soul, then there is no distinction between a seed and you. And if you are growing like a seed into a tree, if you are growing just like a seed into a man, then there is no difference between man and all that exists below man.

“Man is a freedom – freedom to be. He can be many things, he can be anything, and it may be that he remains just a possibility without being anything. That creates a dizziness and that creates fear.

“Kierkegaard has given a concept of dread. He says that man lives in dread. What is that dread, the fear? This is the fear: you are simply a possibility, nothing else. You have only existence, no essence.

You can create it, you may miss it. The responsibility is yours.

“This is a very dreadful state. Nothing is certain, man is insecure. Every moment many directions open, and you have to move in some way, somewhere, without knowing where you are moving, without knowing what the result will be, without knowing what you will be tomorrow.

“Your tomorrow will not come automatically from your today. The tomorrow of a seed will come automatically from its today. The death of an animal will be the automatic result of his life – not so with you. That’s the difference. Your death will be your achievement, you will be responsible for it. And that’s why every man dies in a specific way.

No man’s death is similar to anyone else’s. It cannot be.

“Dog A, dog B, dog C, all die in one way. Their death is just part of their life. They are not responsible for their life, they are not responsible for their death. So when someone says that he will die a dog’s death, it means that he will die without being evolved, without being an essence. He will die just a possibility. Two dogs die similarly – never two men. They cannot die similarly. And if they do die similarly, that means they have missed the opportunity to evolve.

“With consciousness entering, you are responsible for everything, no matter what. This is a great burden and a deep anguish, and it creates fear. You are just over an abyss. This is what I mean when I say that man now needs a conscious effort.

To be a man means entering a field of conscious evolution.

“Millions and millions of years have created you, but now nature will not help. This is the peak for natural growth. Now nature cannot do anything for you. It has already done all it can.

“Because of this, there is bound to be a deep inner tension. Man is in a tension every moment; it is natural and it is good. Don’t try to forget it; use it. You can try to forget it, then you miss the opportunity. So any effort to forget your tense state of mind is erroneous, dangerous. You are falling back. Use this inner tension to grow, to move further.

Now you cannot move further in the body. The body has come to a dead end, a cul-de-sac.

“There is no further movement. The body moves in a horizontal way. It is just like this: an airplane is running on the earth, on the ground, on its track to take off. There is a moment when the horizontal running will stop. It will have to run for a mile or two or three miles just to gather momentum. Then a moment comes when no horizontal running is of any use. And if an airplane goes on running on the ground, it is not an airplane; it is behaving like a car. When the momentum comes, the airplane leaves the ground and a vertical, vertical upward movement takes place.

“This is what has happened with man. Up until man, evolution has been running on the ground so to speak – horizontally. Now man is the momentum.

Now with man, an upward vertical movement is the only movement.

“If you miss this point and if you think ‘For so many million years we have been just running on the ground, so we are to continue running on the ground,’ you miss the whole thing. This whole running was just for this moment so you can take off.

“Animals are running toward man, trees are running toward animals, matter is running toward trees – everything on this earth is running toward man. What can man run toward? Man is the central focus. Everything is growing toward man. For man there is no movement horizontally, and if you continue horizontally, your life will not be really a human life. Your life will consist of many layers that are not human.

“Sometimes you will behave like an animal if you go on horizontally, and sometimes you may just vegetate, and sometimes you may just be dead matter – but never a man.

So look deep down inside your life.
It has not taken the vertical thrust.
Then what are you doing?

“Think about every act, and then you can know that this act belongs to the animal world, that act belongs to the vegetable kingdom…. Consider your activities, your life, and then you will know. Something is just like dead matter, something is just like a vegetable growing, something is just like the animals. Where is the man?

“With the upward thrust, man comes into existence – and that is up to you. Conscious evolution is now going to be the only evolution. That’s why religiousness will become more and more significant every day.

Every day, every moment, religiousness will become more and more significant because now scientists feel that there seems to be no movement.

“Of course, horizontally there is no movement. You cannot progress any further. Everything has stopped, so science just goes on adding to your senses. Your eyes have stopped, so now you can use instruments to see. Your brain has stopped, so now you can use computers. Your legs have stopped, so now you can use cars.

“Whatever science is giving are just additional instruments for a growth that has stopped. Man is not growing; only new instruments are growing.

Every instrument of course increases your power, but you don’t grow through it.

“Rather, on the contrary, cars have added much in speed, but they have destroyed your legs. This is unfortunate, but this is going to happen. If computers replace man’s mind – and they will replace it because man’s mind is not as efficient as a computer can be – if computers replace man’s mind, they will do much. But ultimately they will destroy your mind because whatever is not used is destroyed.

“So science feels now that whatever is being done is just giving a false notion of evolution. If we go back to the past, the highest speed was the speed of a horse, twenty-five miles per hour. Now we have come to two thousand miles per hour.

“Speed has evolved from twenty-five miles per hour to two thousand miles per hour – not man, but speed has evolved. Not man, man remains the same. Rather on the contrary, he has regressed because a man riding a horse is a stronger man than a man flying in an airplane.

Speed has progressed, evolved, and man has regressed.

“A certain group of scientists thinks that man is regressing, not evolving. It may be so because in life you can never be static. If you are not evolving, you will regress. There is no static moment in life; you cannot remain at one point. You cannot say, ‘If I am not growing, then I will remain whatever I am. I will maintain the status quo.’ You cannot maintain it. Either you go further or you fall back down.

“A certain group of scientists thinks that man is day by day regressing, that there is an infantilization.

Everywhere on the earth, men are behaving more like children than like adult men.

“If we look, many things become clear and obvious. One thing: it was always the old man, the evolved man, who was predominant in society. But our society is the only society in the world where children have become predominant. They dominate everything – every trend, every fashion, everything. They are the models. Whatever they do becomes religion, whatever they do becomes politics, whatever they do sets a trend all over the world.

“If we go back, a thirty-year-old person was behaving in a mature way. Now that’s not the case. Even a thirty-year-old person is behaving in infantile ways, juvenile – the same tantrums, the same childish attitudes. What is a childish attitude? A child thinks that he is the center of the world and his every wish is to be fulfilled immediately. It is fulfilled: when he is hungry milk is given, when he weeps everyone pays attention. The whole family is centered around him.

Children become dictators. They know how to dictate to the whole family.

“A very small child dictates to the whole family. The father persuades him, the mother bribes him. Even if guests come into the home, he dictates everything. A child thinks he is the center of the world: he is to be supported, helped by everyone without any cost.

“He is not to give love, he is only to demand. Of course we cannot expect from a child that he should love. He demands, and demands everything. And if a demand is not fulfilled, he gets violent, angry. Then he is against the whole world, he will smash things.

“Now this has happened with everyone. This is always so with children, but this is now with everyone.

Our so-called revolutions are nothing but childish efforts.

“Our so-called rebellions are nothing but everyone thinking himself to be at the center, and his every desire should be fulfilled immediately. And if you are not going to fulfill them, he is going to destroy the whole world.

“Student revolts in the universities all over the world just show immature, juvenile minds. What does it mean? – students throwing stones at the university windows, setting fire to the buildings, destroying. What does it mean? They have no sense of maturity at all. And if you begin to think about it, then not only students, children, boys and girls.

“If you look at our modern man, a father, even a father, a mother, are just behaving childishly.

If you look at our politicians, they are just behaving childishly with no maturity at all.

What has happened? Really, man’s growth has stopped, evolutionary growth has stopped.

“And now we have taken just a substitute for this growth: scientific accumulation. Man has stopped; things grow. Your house goes on becoming bigger and bigger and you remain the same. Your wealth grows and because of this growth, you feel that you are growing. Your knowledge grows, your information grows, and because of that you think you are growing.

“Of course, obviously a Buddha knows less than you, but that doesn’t mean that you are more grown-up. A Jesus knows less than you, he knows less than any Catholic priest. He knows less because he was never trained, never educated: just a carpenter’s son, uneducated, with no information of the world. But still you are not more evolved than him. A Mohammed is just illiterate, a Kabir just a nobody, but they are more evolved.

But that evolution is something else: the evolution of consciousness, not of things.

“You can substitute having for being, but being is a different dimension of growth – vertical. Having is horizontal. Things go on and on, and you have so many things, so much information, so much knowledge, so much wealth, so many degrees, so many honors – everything. But this is accumulation, horizontal. There is no upward thrust. You remain the same.

“But you cannot really remain the same because if you are not growing, you begin to behave childishly, you regress. This is one of the greatest problems humanity is encountering today. Science can give you only things. It can give you moons and planets, and it can give you the whole universe. Religiousness can give you only one thing: an upward movement, a vertical growth, a conscious methodology to grow in being.

It is not important what you have. It is totally irrelevant for your growth. The only significant thing is what you are.

“And this growth for being is a responsibility because it is a freedom. Now you are not forced by evolutionary forces to grow. You are free.

“Evolution is not goading you. It is goading the animals, it is goading the trees, it is goading everything except man. Evolution is pushing hard so everything may grow, but with man the thing is finished.

Now you have become conscious. So do whatever, whatever you want to do.”


Excerpted from: Osho, The Ultimate Alchemy, Vol. 2, Talk #4 – With Man, Evolution Ends and Conscious Growth Begins


To read the full series on evolution:

An introductory summary:

The Origin of the Species – A Revolutionary New Understanding

Links to excerpts from Osho on different aspects of evolution:

From Unconscious Evolution to a Revolution in Consciousness

Evolution and Consciousness – The Ultimate Journey

What Is the Evolution of a Seeker on the Journey to Consciousness?

From Natural Selection to Conscious Evolution to Total Consciousness

From Instinct to Boredom – Have Human Beings Stopped Evolving?

Does Evolution Naturally Lead to Freedom?

This article is published on Medium

Trademarks | Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | Contact Us
OSHO International Foundation | All Rights Reserved © 2024 Copyrights