Perhaps that was the most innocent time that happened in the history of man. At that time the West was almost barbarous, and that barbarousness somehow has remained as an undercurrent in the western consciousness. Otherwise, it cannot be just coincidental that the two great world wars have happened in the West. And preparation for the third is also happening in the West – just within a small span of half a century.
The days of the Upanishads in this land were the most glorious. The only search, the only seeking, the only longing, was to know oneself – no other ambition ruled mankind. Riches, success, power, everything was absolutely mundane.
Those who were ambitious, those who were running after riches, those who wanted to be powerful were considered to be psychologically sick. And those who were really healthy psychologically, spiritually healthy, their only search was to know oneself and to be oneself and to declare to the whole universe the innermost secret. That secret is contained in this statement, Aham brahmasmi. The people who followed the days of the Upanishads in a way have fallen into a dark age.
You will be surprised to know that the idea of involution has not appeared at all in the Western mind, only the idea of evolution, only the idea of progress. But the mystics of the Upanishads have a more perfect and more comprehensive approach. Nothing can go on evolving forever. Evolution has been conceived by the Upanishads as a circle and, in fact, in existence everything moves in a circle. Stars move in circles, the sun moves in a circle, the earth moves in a circle, the moon moves in a circle, climates move in a circle, life moves in a circle.
The whole existence knows only one way of movement and that is circular. So that which seems to be going up one day will soon be going down. Again it will come up – it is just like a wheel and the spokes of the wheel. The same spoke will come up, will go down, will come up, will go down.
Evolution is incomplete if there is not any complementary idea of involution. Materially man has evolved. Certainly there were no railway trains and there were no atomic weapons and there was no nuclear war material, there was no electricity, there was nothing of the technology that we have become accustomed to living with. Materially, man has certainly evolved, but spiritually, the situation is totally different.
Spiritually, man has not evolved. According to the Upanishads, man has gone deeper into darkness. He has lost his innocence and he has lost his blissfulness and he has lost his simple experience of: “I am the mysterious, I am the miraculous; I am the whole cosmos in a miniature form, just as a dewdrop is the whole ocean in a miniature form.” The dewdrop can declare, “I am the ocean,” and there will not be anything wrong in it. Certainly a particular individual is only a dewdrop, but he can declare, “Aham brahmasmi”, and there is nothing wrong in it. He is simply saying the truth.
The Upanishads talk about four stages of man’s fall, not of evolution. The first stage, when the Upanishads came into being, is called the “Age of Truth.” People were simply truthful, just as small children are simply truthful.