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The Story of Evolution, Spring 2005
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Birth of Consciousness

Maureen England

Birth of Consciousness
by: Maureen England

Woman lay down among the other living things of the world, she sighed, and gave herself up to the stars.

At twenty-six, her life, as she knew it, was over. The primordial fathom above her stretched its arms out in a loving embrace. It clawed at her, pulling her, keeping her from stability. Her head began to swim with light and flecks of the infinite. Her eyelids refused to shut against the beckoning abyss. She clung on to the lip of Big Bear, seeking refuge from the continuous volley of arrows erupting from Orion.

With every moment the intensity of reflection increased its unbearableness. The silence echoed in her ears till its cacophony seemed to shake the very Earth from its delicate puppet strings in the galaxy. A crack formed by her feet, near her feet. It swallowed her shoes; it's invisible teeth sucking up her laces like spaghetti noodles. She threw her arms violently to each side as her back suddenly grew weightless and leaden. Sinking into the ground beneath her, among the earthworms and moles, simultaneously flying with the weightlessness of summer.

She shut her eyes.


Slowly awakening, the wind blew gently about her ears, whispering countless tales of its heroics against all sorts of evil monsters including dragons, Cyclopes, and corporate bankers. Woman giggled with delight. She was sixteen, a virgin, caught in the inevitable battle of the sexes at adolescence; she liked boys, liked their smell, liked the way they walked. It was true, she had even kissed a boy once. The wind gasped. Now she really was going too far, wasn't she? It wouldn't play with her anymore.

She was left with her breath, caught in her throat. Suddenly, being alone was not such a comforting feeling. She rapped her knuckles on the earth beside her. Still there. Nothing's changed. She is twelve. The earth made no reply. It didn't understand her. Things weren't real anymore. It wasn't fair. The long grass tickled the thin extension of skin between her index and middle finger. There was a bug on her foot. She could feel each tiny foot of, the ant was it? There was a strangeness to it. She became very aware that her feelings were not her own; she was not alone. There were things everywhere, living, breathing things, sustained by all sorts of life and death. But what did they matter? What did it matter? They weren't her, she wasn't they...them. A word stuck in the back of her throat. It clung to the soft of her esophagus. Unceasingly unsympathetic, it could neither be swallowed or spit out. She didn't know what it meant.

One leaf on a nearby tree snickered. A veritable symphony of snickers grew out of its neighbors. The whole tree above her was laughing. She liked the attention. Maybe, as long as they were looking at her, she could exist. They must never stop. She smiled and wiggled her toes into the musty dirt, kicking up clumps of grass root, some of which landed on her yellow jumper. The tree continued to laugh.

"How are you?" asked one quite impertinent twig who would not laugh with the others.

"Oh, shut up," yelled a berry, who liked to lord over the canopy as he was the only one with a yellow spot, not knowing his yellow spot was really an undesirable quality.

Woman thought about her answer. What was the right thing to say? She was always getting this mixed up. When was she supposed to be good? When bad? When sick? And what did "ok" really mean? She decided to answering in the affirmative.

"I caught a snail today." Her voice rang out and crossed through the over-hanging branches of the tree. "It was a big one. I let it crawl all over my hand. It left this slimy trail, and it was white with purple spots" – at least she thought it was purple. Anyway, it sounded right.– "and it almost fell out of my hand two times but I picked it back up and put it right back here–" she indicated the middle of her palm to the leaves. "– and he didn't really like my hand. It might be because I was all sweaty– and he didn't like the salt because snails don't like salt, it's true, I read it in a book once– but I was playing all day and my hand was all sweaty, so he didn't like it, I think. But I put him back because he probably was missing his family. What do baby snails look like? What do boy snails look like? And what do girl snails look like? How can you tell?"

A few of the leaves left their lofty bower and fell gently upon her legs. They didn't want to snicker at her anymore. They just wanted to hold her. Was she getting cold in the damp grass? She really ought to put a sweater on though; nighttime this time of year is generally unseasonably cold.

"My dear one." the leaves tickled her bare legs. "How old are you?"

"Such a preposterous question," interjected the berry; it was really very rude. "What could it possibly matter how old she is? Nothing will change it? She'll just be like this, annoying and infantile, always asking questions when she can't just accept what she is, unimportant."

"Hush! Nobody asked you." The leaves quickly chorused in defense of the poor girl with tears in her eyes. "You see," the leaves added, "he doesn't really like snails. He's scared of them."

Woman giggled. Her eyes glistened not with sorrow, but with vitality.

"Now, how old are you?"

"This many." Woman triumphantly declared, displaying six of her perfectly pink and delicate fingers.

She couldn't remember when the laughter and cooing stopped. But it was all very silent again. Why couldn't she see anything? She reached her hand up to her eyes. They were shut, that's right. She liked this game. She banged her tiny fist on her eyes again. She couldn't see her hands, but they were there somehow. She could feel them, could control them; see, there was one finger and another she felt as she took them out of a fist one by one. If she opened and closed her hand rapidly, it kind of tickled. It was wonderful.

A burst of noise erupted uncontrollably from her mouth, laughter. It echoed in the still night. She liked the sound of it. It was crisp and broke the somber night like the tinkle of fine china. She made more. There were some laughs she couldn't keep in. They came out of her like a burst of energy, of life. Sometimes her whole body shook with it. She felt this could go on forever. What fun!

But she was hungry.

She didn't know when she had eaten last, maybe it was never. It felt like never. Woman didn't know what to do. Her stomach was empty. What did it mean? She became very aware of her mother.

This stuff under her; it was strange. She didn't like it. It was wet and uncomfortable. Everything was dark. She couldn't see. Why couldn't she see anything? If she couldn't see anything, maybe nothing could see her. How was her mother to know where she was? Something was boiling up inside of her. Woman scrunched up her face and let go a mournful howl. She kicked her feet and flailed her arms, hoping to push away the darkness, the emptiness, the aloneness.

If we could have seen it, it was a beautiful and a terrifying sight. Woman lay naked and anything but still, a baby, in the middle of a secluded and vanishing meadow. But nature could not leave her thus for very long. If she could have seen, for she had forgotten she could control her eyes, woman would have been still and comforted for what was happening.

From the horizon, a blue smoke was growing and ascending and descending from its beginnings. It was not in the least frightening, the way that love is never frightening. It moved with speed, though intermittent. It seemed to grow and gain strength from itself, from its very existence. It did not engulf the baby all at once. It tickled her toes and rubbed her legs the way parents do when giving their baby a bath. It became her blanket, shielding her from the damp. It wrapped around her naked form, enveloping her.

Woman stopped crying. She could smell lilacs and primroses. The sweet nectar stung in her nose; she drank it in willingly. Warmth melted through her like a hot drink; spreading from the tips of her toes, down her ribs, up her neck; her ears grew hot.

But she didn't have ears, nor neck, nor ribs, nor toes. She was in the infinite. She was the infinite. There was a connection between her and the whole world. She understood now, what it had all meant. Experiences awoke within her, shared throughout the world. Out of the mist of the universal, she felt a hand, reaching out to her and wanting her. It was welcoming and comforting, like home.

There Woman lay, twenty-six, facing the heavens, asking for a sign, and answer. As she lay her hand on her protruding stomach she felt a tiny kick. She opened her eyes, and smiled.

From a distance, the scene was impenetrable, an unexpected sequence of events had led to a solitary figure, laying herself down in a field, and contemplating existence. Many had done it before, many would continue after, each searching for answers, for truth, and getting a kick and a smile.

The stars winked to each other. At their advanced age, many had born similar aspirations, to know the truth. But what they were never told, is that there was no one truth to search for. The older stars mocked the younger ones. They knew, they always knew. The truth lay in the time that had passed, the time which was to come, the consciousness born from tragedy and humor, love and loneliness. The evolution of thought had always been there, unchanging. It lived in every living being, in the souls intermingling in the vast infinity of space, in the birth of knowledge and the existence of pain. There would always be certain things in life, the stars knew that. They had seen it pass from generation to generation, always the hope existing in each that this was the one, this age would find the answer.

The stars laughed with each other. The tree, the leaf a part of it, the berry falling with seed, the wind carrying it, the earthworm, the ant, the snail, the grass, the woman, the baby. They would all learn, they would all know. It was coming to them, and though they could not see the end, they knew it would be magnificent.

"Within, without the cosmos wide am I;
In joyful sweep I loose forth and draw back all.
A birthless deathless Spirit that moves and is still
Ever abides within to hear my call.

I who create on earth my joys and doles
To fulfil my matchless quest in all my play,
I veil my face of truth with golden hues
And see the serpent night and python day.

A Consciousness Bliss I feel in each breath;
I am the self amorous child of the Sun.
At will I break and build my symbol sheath
And freely enjoy the world's unshadowed fun.
By Sri Chinmoy
Excerpt from "My Flute" " (1).


1)Poet Seers

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