Sri Aurobindo traces the stirrings of awareness, sensation and conscious energy as they emerge from the Inconscient: “This first crude mechanical action of an inherent absorbed conscious energy opens in the primary forms of life into submental life-vibrations that imply an involved sensation; there is a seeking for growth, light, air, life-room, a blind feeling out, which is still internal and confined within the immobile being, unable to formulate its instincts, to communicate, to externalise itself. An immobility not organised to establish living relations, it endures and absorbs contacts, involuntarily inflicts but cannot voluntarily impose them; the inconscience is still dominant, still works out everything by the secret involved knowledge by identity, it has not yet developed the surface contactual means of a conscious knowledge. This further development begins with overtly conscious life; what we see in it is the imprisoned consciousness struggling out to the surface: it is under the compulsion of this struggle that the separated living being strives, however blindly at first and within narrow limits, to enter into conscious relations with the rest of the world-being outside it. It is by the growing amount of contacts that it can receive and respond to and by the growing amount of contacts that it can put out from itself or impose in order to satisfy its needs and impulsions that the being of living matter develops its consciousness, grows form inconscience or subconscience into a limited separative knowledge.”
As this process develops, forms are organised that become more complex, more capable of exercising higher powers of sensation, observation, reflection and conscious thought. We move through the levels of plant life, to animal life, and into the human evolution by an extension of this process of the evolution of consciousness.
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 10, Knowledge by Identity and Separative Knowledge, pg. 551