Harvey Kraft is author of The Buddha from Babylon, DOUBLE WINNER of USA Best Book Awards in 2 categories: HISTORY - General (nonfiction) & RELIGION - Eastern Religions

Are We Evolving?

A question on Quora asks: Does evolution have a direction?
Readers tackle it, substantially based on scientific assumptions about evolution. This question is one of the great unknowns. It encompasses metaphysics, philosophy, and religion. Remarkably, more than 2,000 years before Darwin, this question was explored by the Buddha in his treatises on the scope of Existence.

Science has added a great deal of knowledge to the study of physical evolution. Its like this: a species manifests due to beneficial genetic upgrades caused by the pressures of adapting to survive — underlying it all is a random process of mutation, governed by trial and error but related to statistically possible outcomes. All agree that evolution is slow.

There is scientific consensus that over time evolution skews toward greater complexity. This is its observable direction. But, if there is a reason for this, it would have to be that it gets harder to survive, or succeed as a species, over a large span of time.

Cosmic Buddhism (Dharma) interprets ancient mythic visions of the historical Buddha Siddhartha Gautama. He describes life as a tenacious, ever-evolving entity that is expressed in innumerable variations within the Field of Form. The manifestation of any life form takes place in a reality that is interactive and relational. He suggests that the Field of Form is inseparable from two other facets of Existence, the Fields of Formlessness and Desire, and life operates across this spectrum.

In his view the emergence of the Universe, which today we refer to as the Big Bang and its Inflation Theory, began when light emerged along with the stars whom he visualized as Buddha-stars. This inception provides the environment wherein life, governed by the Law of Cause and Effect, blossoms forth like a lotus flower. It emerges from a seed. As it grows, over a vast scale of time beings can emerge and evolve to higher levels of consciousness. In other words, the Universe is like an incubator for evolution. Their heading? To discover the True Self, the ultimate hidden identity of life operating across the Threefold Fields of Form, Formlessness and Desire.