Matter, Energy, Consciousness–the Ascending Series of First Causes

Sri Aurobindo examines each potential basis for something “Real” to exist in the universe. He points out “It is possible to affirm the reality of the percept, of the objective universe, and deny or diminish the reality of the percipient individual and his perceptive consciousness.”

One viewpoint holds that Matter alone is real, and consciousness is essentially a phenomenon of matter. We can see this idea at work even today in some aspects of Western science that tries to sort out how “life” and then “consciousness” can arise after the “big bang” of matter. They talk about how random chance created certain chemical combinations which led to life and consciousness and basically treat consciousness as the result of material chance. Consciousness in this viewpoint is simply the result of the work of brain cells that have somehow developed from a purely material creation.

Of course, others in Western Science have already moved beyond the obvious limitations of this view and indicate that Matter itself is a form of Energy. In this view, Energy “remains as the sole Reality”. And we see then that all we experience is due to the action of Energy. The Energy arises out of the Void, and one line of thought in this direction has led to the Buddhist conception of the chain of Karma creating events in the world; basically Energy in motion setting up future action. In this view, the Void becomes the solution to break out of this unending chain of Energy.

A further extension of this review, however, brings us to the point that Energy in fact is a result of Consciousness. There are in fact some in modern Western science who have already taken up this viewpoint. In this instance, there is an original Consciousness which now brings the concept of meaning and purpose into the universe.

Behind this Consciousness we shall no doubt eventually find the One universal eternal Existence which constitutes and creates out of itself through the action of Conscious-Force.

The Taittiriya Upanishad goes through a similar evolution of viewpoint to that currently being taken up by Western science, and mirroring the stages propounded by Sri Aurobindo.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 6, Reality and the Cosmic Illusion, pp. 440-441

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