English Philosopher, Herbert Spencer coined the well known phrase “Survival of the fittest,” after he read Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. The concept paralleled some of his economic theories with certain of Darwin’s biological ones.
Subsequently, Darwin used it as a synonym for “natural selection,” his theory, which outlines that there is consistent preservation and evolution of organisms that are better adapted to live in a changing environment.
Darwin was readily aware that it is adaptability in the face of change, often under adverse conditions that leads to the evolution of species. We, as human beings, along with everything else in the universe, are in the eternal flow of evolution.
Not only are we evolving biologically, but we are also undergoing spiritual evolution. Whether consciously or not, we inexorably make our way from the darkness and limitations of the illusion of the material “reality” into the Light of All That Is, often referred to as Christ or Buddha Consciousness, or the “I Am Presence.”
We continually become involved in the material plane China’s silk road economic belt, the realm of polarity or contrast with each incarnation, often facing adversity in the process of restoring balance to the energies we set in motion in other lifetimes.
If we are on a conscious path, we will eventually take stock of what our nets have pulled in, throwing back what will not nourish our souls. When we understand that what we reel in is determined by that with which we have baited our hooks; the Law of Cause and Effect or Karma will no longer be a mystery, and will ultimately empower us to live the joyful, abundant, fulfilling lives that are our birthright.
Our spiritual evolutionary process may at times strike us as harsh, as we appear to meet obstruction after obstruction on our path toward illumination. Yet, this is all necessary, and as it should be. A diamond, radiant in the sun’s light, begins as nothing more than a black lump of anthracite or coal that has been exposed to tremendous pressure in the darkness of the earth.
It is only through the process of restoring balance that our souls evolve. It may prove at times very challenging, but ultimately what we undergo or endure will bring us closer to an awareness that we are the cause of all that we experience, and are not merely at the mercy of forces beyond our control. We eventually come to view what was, at first, perceived as struggle, pain, or hardship as a form of grace that carries us across the abyss into a new more expansive state of consciousness.
I had an exceptional set of experiences during the last week that brought these truths into clearer focus for me, and ultimately led me to change the thrust of this reflection, even now adapting to a new set of circumstances. This is evolution in action. And you thought it took millions of years!
As I drove east, on a recent glorious sun drenched afternoon, over the undulating ribbon of Old Seneca Turnpike in Marcellus, I noticed a tiny chartreuse grasshopper glued to my windshield. I had no idea how long it had been there, but I imagined it had hopped aboard back at the artist’s studio from which I came in Skaneateles a half a dozen or so miles back.
Earlier, I was parked under a canopy of trees, amidst a profusion of color and texture that are my friend’s gardens. This little insect very likely, was making its way from the shade of the fern bed toward a patch of sun pouring down through the overhang of beech, maple and oak. My car, an interloper in this pastoral haven, was a temporary way station on its journey toward the light.
The grasshopper, emerging from the darkness of the dense ground cover toward the pool of sun to which it was instinctively drawn, took the path that seemed to be the most direct, landing smack dab on my car. Little did it know that it had just signed on for the ride of its life!
As I considered this intrepid traveler perched precariously on the wind-screen of my Toyota, I couldn’t help recall a statement printed on one of my son’s T-shirts, which reads, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” I was immediately flooded with a profound sense of recognition and compassion for this wind blown little bug.
As I observed the tiny creature, I found myself rather conflicted. I was thoroughly intrigued by its display of strength and determination, as it faced the onslaught, like a beautifully carved figurehead on a clipper ship sailing directly into the wind. Yet, at the same time I thought, “I should really pull over and remove the poor thing, before it gets blown off and crushed in the oncoming traffic,” but something made me resist.
You might think it was a perverse desire to see the bug suffer. But that is far from the case. I was in awe of this amazing insect. It displayed a humbling and heroic show of courage and nobility in the midst of such tremendous adversity. I was rooting for it the entire way, wanting to see it surmount the forces beset against it. I wanted it to succeed, to be carried far beyond the limited confines of its point of departure.
I would periodically peel my eyes from the road to peek on the condition of my passenger. During one such stolen glance, something struck me as unusual about my miniature stow-away. Something didn’t seem quite right; something was out of balance. On closer inspection, I made a startling discovery; the grasshopper was missing its left hind leg.
Now if you know anything about grasshoppers, you are well aware that it is primarily their powerful back legs that propel them forward, up to distances 20 times their own body length. Without a pair of back legs, this little fellow would be relegated to a rather restricted world-view. It wasn’t going to make it very far afield on its own.
Just like this grasshopper, we are often deterred from expanding our own horizons by the physical limitations of our bodies, or the restrictive belief systems and concepts we cling to so tightly. Off balance, we can find ourselves going around in circles, only able to turn left, when what we really want to do is move forward.
Yet, even with its seeming limitation, now plunged into a situation it clearly hadn’t planned for, it was adept at riding the current, able to withstand the force of the oncoming wind, all the while remaining completely poised and unperturbed, in the face of such hardship.
What I found utterly fascinating was watching how this grasshopper behaved under these extraordinary circumstances. It could easily have jumped off at a number of points, during our excursion from Skaneateles to my destination, The Spring in Fayetteville some 20 miles away. Yet it remained fixed and focused, like a guided missile honing in on its intended target.
Occasionally, I would see the grasshopper attempt to alter its orientation. Several times it began to turn its body so the whole side flank was exposed to the on rush of air. Buffeted more heavily by the crushing current in this position, it quickly readjusted to meet the onslaught head on, its little antennae blowing like pennants in the powerful breeze.
So often, in our own lives, we find ourselves in this same predicament, set on a particular course, only to be redirected by some unforeseen circumstance. We typically view such a disruption as an impediment to our progress, and turn away from it. But if we look with broader perspective, and face the challenge directly, withstanding the urge to bail, bolt or throw ourselves overboard, we will come to the awareness that this perceived obstacle has ultimately propelled us farther along the path in our evolutionary process than had this seemingly undesired event never occurred.