Many Western historians feel that humanity is constantly making progress. If this is the case, then how is it that human consciousness is so unevolved?
The progress of humanity and the progress of human consciousness are two quite different dimensions. The progress of history is in time and the progress of consciousness is not in time. The progress of all that we can see, of all that is visible, is horizontal, while the progress of consciousness – which we cannot see – is vertical. And we cannot see it because it is vertical.
That is why history can never be in tune with the evolution of the human mind. At the most, it can deal with the outward form; it can never get to the spirit. But that is not the fault of history, or of historians, or of the way in which history is written. Such is the nature of things. History can never be in contact with the formless; it can only talk about the form.
The formless is always transcendental to history, and the real evolution is always formless. Outward progress is not really evolution, it is simply accumulation. There is no qualitative mutation in it; the change is only quantitative.
History can never transcend time. It can know only about those events which occur in time. It cannot know something that occurs beyond time, that is, non-temporal. Events can be perceived through the historian’s eye: events exist at a cross-point between time and space. An event happens somewhere, at some time. So the questions where and when can be asked about events – it will be relevant – but where and when cannot be asked about spiritual happenings. There, time and space are both irrelevant.
For example, Gautam Buddha achieved realization. He jumped into the absolute. He knew and realized all that can be known and realized. But when did it happen – and where?
History will ask where and when. The event has occurred, so we can fix the point, we can know the date, time and place. But even if we know at exactly what time and at what place this happening occurred, we do not have the fact itself. What has occurred remains transcendental. Where it has occurred we can know, when it has occurred we can know. But what has occurred to Buddha, what has happened within him?
History will say that under the bodhi tree – at this time and at this place – Gautam became enlightened, became a buddha. But what is this happening, this Gautam becoming a buddha? What has happened to him? The happening transcends history completely. And that happening is the real evolution of the human mind.