RF: Do you think the statement "evolve your consciousness or die" would also apply?
PB: Yes, I think that this is very true- on several levels. I think that as a species it applies most crucially. And changing the consciousness of the species depends upon changing the individuals of that species.
RF: Maybe "dying" in that context would be more of a metaphor (a lost opportunity - the death of the ability to take full advantage of one's precious human birth). Or maybe it’s a kind of zombie death where the person doesn't realize they are in fact fading away more and more every day, until consciousness becomes completely about how familiar they are with the latest celebrity breakup!
PB: Yes! That is another level also. Compare a poet to a couch potato. Is one more alive or conscious than the other? I think so.
RF: Do you think meditation is the only way to evolve one's consciousness?
PB: No. We are growing, learning all the time. Children needn’t meditate. As their nervous systems mature they acquire language, self reflection, empathy and many more abilities.
There are different forms of yoga to directly experience Pure Consciousness, each tailored to the different nature of people. For example, there is karma yoga (involving action), gyana yoga (for those given intellectual analysis), bhakti yoga (for cultivation of the heart and devotion), raja yoga (or Royal yoga involves meditation).
The important point, to me, in this regard is that meditation represents the quickest, most efficient way to evolve consciousness.
What I didn’t get to the other day was how life continues to evolve its ability to evolve.
Bacteria need to change their genes to evolve. Most simply, this involves a mutation at a single point. But, each of biology’s so called “major evolutionary transitions” has involved inventing a new way to evolve. The multi-cellular organism is one such invention. These organisms have new talents, in addition to the old. For example, Indian corn gets its many colored kernels because plants have evolved so called “jumping genes.” These genes can jump (all by themselves) to new places in the chromosome. Sex, another great invention, allows mixing of entire chromosomes. Language, another major transition, represents a huge jump for consciousness.
I think meditation fits nicely into this grand view of evolution. It is simply the latest opportunity to evolve our ability to evolve. I’m not using analogy or metaphor here.
On the level of species these changes are called evolution. On the level of the individual changes are called development. So, the time frame is changing and the mechanisms of evolution are changing. Today, to “evolve” or “develop” from fertile egg to adult requires one thing: turning genes on and off in an orchestrated manner. I often think of development as some great musician sitting at this huge pipe organ in some cathedral, pulling stops in and out and pumping all the petals. That’s what our cells do each day of our lives as we develop from embryo, to child, to adult, to withered elder.
And at this point, we don’t need mutations creating new genes. We’ve got the full genetic complement to become enlightened. That anyone ever got enlightened is "proof of principle." What we need to do now is pull the stops out correctly for playing the new music. Some genes need to be turned off, or down, others need to be turned on, or turned up in a new combination from what we usually see. That’s what meditation is for. That's what meditation does more effectively than any technique that I know.