Perhaps you’d permit me to speculate a little on what I believe to be the difference between enlightenment, ascension and evolution. Those who were at the Sedona Conference will have heard these remarks already, but it seems like a good and advisable thing to repeat them periodically.
I’m not referring here to the evolution of the body per se, although the outer vessel does evolve. I’m more referring to the evolution of the consciousness within the body.
I conceive of enlightenment as a discrete and discontinuous event in consciousness that sees an explosion of awareness, insight, aliveness, well-being, satisfaction, bliss, etc. These effects can be lasting or not, depending on the level of enlightenment.
Enlightenment figures also in ascension and evolution. But enlightenment of and by itself may not result in ascension. To my way of thinking, ascension involves a shift or advance in dimensions. But enlightenment may see a person remain in the same dimension.
Thus many terrestrial sages experienced three levels of enlightenment without ascending: spiritual awakening (when the kundalini reaches the fourth chakra), cosmic consciousness (sixth chakra), and God-realization (seventh-chakra). Terrestrial sages like Ramana Maharshi also experienced sahaja samadhi, the level of enlightenment associated with the shift out of duality into unity, without leaving their physical body, but they undoubtedly ascended on death of the body (unless their mission required them not to do so).
Evolution involves ascension. But its differentiating criterion is that ascension is from one kingdom to another: from mineral kingdom to plant, from plant to animal. from animal to human. Archangel Michael recently told me that humans do not evolve to the angelic kingdom. I haven’t had the opportunity to follow up on that discussion. I thought they did but apparently not.
What follows on from the human rung of evolution is therefore unknown to me.
The Divine Plan is for us to evolve in consciousness until we realize to the fullest extent our essential nature as God. When we do, we return to God. Some sources we then emerge again and start the journey all over; some say we rest in God. Whichever is the culmination, our progress in the great journey is by enlightenment, ascension and evolution.