On man’s path of evolution, is it possible that at some time in the future humanity as a whole can attain enlightenment? At what point of evolution is man today?
With man, the natural, automatic process of evolution ends. Man is the last product of unconscious evolution. With man, conscious evolution begins. Many things are to be taken into account.
First, unconscious evolution is mechanical and natural. It happens by itself. Through this type of evolution, consciousness evolves. But the moment consciousness comes into being, unconscious evolution stops because its purpose has been fulfilled. Unconscious evolution is needed only up to the point where the conscious comes into being. Man has become conscious. In a way, he has transcended nature. Now nature cannot do anything; the last product that was possible through natural evolution has come into being. Now man becomes free to decide whether to evolve or not to evolve.
Secondly, unconscious evolution is collective, but the moment evolution becomes conscious it becomes individual. No collective, automatic evolution proceeds further than mankind. From now on, evolution becomes an individual process. Consciousness creates individuality. Before consciousness evolves, there is no individuality; only species exist, not individuality.
When evolution is still unconscious, it is an automatic process; there is no uncertainty about it. Things happen through the law of cause and effect. Existence is mechanical and certain. But with man, with consciousness, uncertainty comes into existence. Now nothing is certain. Evolution may take place or it may not. The potential is there, but the choice will rest entirely with each individual. That is why anxiety is a human phenomenon. Below man there is no anxiety because there is no choice. Everything happens as it must. There is no choice so there is no chooser, and in the absence of the chooser, anxiety is impossible. Who is to be anxious? Who is to be tense?
With the possibility of choice, anxiety follows like a shadow. Now everything has to be chosen; everything is a conscious effort. You alone are responsible. If you fail, you fail. It is your responsibility. If you succeed, you succeed. It is again your responsibility. And every choice is ultimate in a sense. You cannot undo it, you cannot forget it, you cannot go back on it. Your choice becomes your destiny. It will remain with you and be a part of you; you cannot deny it. But your choice is always a gamble. Every choice is made in darkness because nothing is certain.
That is why man suffers from anxiety. He is anxious to his very roots. What torments him, to begin with, is: To be or not to be? To do or not to do? To do this or to do that? “No choice” is not possible. If you do not choose, then you are choosing not to choose; it is a choice. So you are forced to choose; you are not free not to choose. Not choosing will have as much effect as any other choice.