In order for the higher levels of consciousness to truly manifest in Matter, it is essential that Matter be able to take on and hold new forces and energies. Unless we can go beyond the limitations of gross matter, no real and meaningful evolution of consciousness can truly take place. The transformative potential of the human being is founded on an innate capability to transcend the limits of the material plane. This is because “this body…is not the whole even of our physical being; this gross density is not all of our substance.”
The Taittiriya Upanishad describes best the five different gradations of consciousness and being within the human instrument, what are known in Vedic science as “koshas” or “sheaths”. There is of course the material sheath, the physical body, the annamaya kosha, the body consisting of “food”. Then comes the pranamaya kosha, the body consisting of “breath” or “vital force”. Next we find the manomaya kosha, the body consisting of “mind” or “mental energy”. The fourth, ever more subtle manifestation is the vijnanamaya kosha, the body consisting of “knowledge”, which corresponds to Sri Aurobindo’s definition of the supramental level, and finally, the anandamaya kosha, or body / sheath consisting of bliss, representing Sat-Chit-Ananda.
All five of these coexist within the human and interweave to create the potentiality for evolution that we experience as our spiritual aspiration.
reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Chapter 26, The Ascending Series of Substance