Symbols of the world's religions



Meher Baba

To achieve complete development of consciousness in the human form, the evolutionary process had to take seven major leaps, viz., from stone to metal, from metal to vegetable, from vegetable to worm, from worm to fish, from fish to bird, from bird to animal and finally from animal to human being, each expressing different characteristics.

Characteristics of the Kingdom of Stones and the Kingdom of Metals

In the stone-forms and metal-forms, the soul has its initial experiences of the gross world. The kingdom of metals, like the kingdom of stones, is inorganic and solid. Both kingdoms include within their range a rich variety of species. In the solid states of stones and metals, life and energy are dormant. Therefore they are regarded as inanimate. The stone-forms and metal-forms cannot move about by themselves, i.e., they have no voluntary motion. For this reason the consciousness, which associates itself with these forms, tends to assert itself through a recumbent, horizontal position (rather than through an erect position or vertical, upright stand) in the gross world.

Characteristics of the Vegetable Kingdom

In the vegetable kingdom, consciousness realizes itself as half animate and half inanimate. The increased consciousness of the vegetable-form asserts its existence in the gross world through an upright or erect stand. The vegetable-forms have to take the help of some other things such as earth or rock for maintaining an erect position. They can neither stand by themselves nor move voluntarily from place to place since they are rooted in one spot.

Characteristics of the Kingdom of Worms

In worm-consciousness the soul gathers experiences of voluntary movement. It experiences itself as animate. In its travail to gain more and further consciousness, the worm-conscious soul experiences itself in the gross world, first as an invertebrate and later as a vertebrate, and goes on creeping in diverse species of worms. Voluntary movements are made by crawling by means of pairs of legs, sometimes by multiple pairs of legs, and sometimes by pairs of legs and pairs of wings. Worms may have surfaces that are hairy, smooth, silky, rough or scaly. The worm goes through a struggle for existence and survival and is endowed with sensation and life. Sometimes it is an amphibian, i.e., it has not only voluntary movement on earth, but has also mobility in water. For the purpose of this explanation, the worm-form includes all worms, insects, reptiles and amphibia, of their species. Even when they have legs and wings, they have a tendency to crawl and they are distinct from birds and from quadruped animals. The worm-form is recumbent, has no upright or erect stand and is prone to lie prostrate.

Characteristics of the Kingdom of Fish

The fish-conscious soul identifies itself with varied species of fish and experiences the gross world as a living creature in water (a vertebrate endowed with life and sensation and voluntary motion), and has fins. It goes through a struggle for sustenance and survival. The fish-conscious soul does not assert its existence in the gross world through an erect stand, but experiences itself as recumbent, never holding its head high and erect.

Characteristics of the Kingdom of Birds

The bird-form enriches (enlightens) consciousness with new experiences since, as a feathered vertebrate, it is capable of flying in the air and, with the help of its two legs, of maintaining an erect stand in the gross world.

Characteristics of the Kingdom of Animals

The animal-form brings to consciousness further expansion, since it can yield new experiences through the greater varieties existing in the kingdom of animals. Endowed with life, sensation and power of voluntary locomotion, quadruped animals have to face a struggle for existence and survival. They are sometimes herbivorous and sometimes carnivorous. Animal consciousness does not assert its existence in the gross world through erect or upright posture, but has a tendency to look downwards with drooping head. Apes, however, are the most evolved type of animals, and they tend to stand erect like human beings.

Characteristics of the Kingdom of Human Beings

In the human form the evolving consciousness of the soul attains its full development. The process of evolution of consciousness has its terminus in the human form. Here consciousness is full and complete.

When a human being is born, it can only lie prostrate and it continues to experience this state for a fairly long period. But it soon expresses a tendency first to sit erect and then to stand erect. The fully evolved human consciousness of the soul eventually asserts its existence in the gross world through an upright position.*

*The Ascending Soul

I died as mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet, once more, I shall die as man, to soar
With angels blessed; but even from angelhood
I must pass on; all except God doth perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel soul,
I shall become what no mind e'er conceived.
Oh, Let me not exist! For Non-existence
Proclaims in organ tones, "To Him we shall return!"

— Rumi


GOD SPEAKS, 1st Indian Edition, 2001, pp. 28-30
1955, 1973 © Sufism Reoriented, Inc.


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