Consciousness Appearing Out of the Material Inconscience

Sri Aurobindo traces the manifestation of consciousness out of inconscience. Ordinarily we do not have any clear conception of this process or event, and simply accept it as a “given” fact. We may attribute it to some external Creator who has simply “made it so”. Or we try to explain it in purely materialistic terms of random chance of chemical reactions leading to eventual consciousness. Some try to attribute consciousness to a series of mechanical acts or steps that record and respond, in other words, just the working of an in-bred machinery, but as Sri Aurobindo has pointed out, this does not then account for the extrapolations upon this recorded and organised material in the form of ideas, concepts, imagination, or flights of fancy.

Sri Aurobindo explores this in some depth and comes to his own conclusion: “In its first appearance consciousness has the semblance of a miracle, a power alien to Matter that manifests unaccountably in a world of inconscient Nature and grows slowly and with difficulty.”

“The evolution of consciousness and knowledge cannot be accounted for unless there is already a concealed consciousness in things with its inherent and native powers emerging little by little. Further, the facts of animal life and the operations of the emergent mind in life impose on us the conclusion that there is in this concealed consciousness an underlying Knowledge or power of knowledge which by the necessity of the life-contacts with the environment comes to the surface.”

The conclusion that the power of knowledge must be inherent, involved, in order for it to become manifest, evolved, is unavoidable; moreover, it is in line with what we see in the plant and animal world where the seed contains the knowledge that creates the eventual fully-grown entity. Socrates built his system of education on the basis that knowledge came from within the student, and is not simply pressed in from outside. Nothing can manifest a power that it does not have the internal capacity to express, and thus, there must be a force of consciousness which becomes involved as the basis for consciousness to evolve in the time and place and under the circumstances called for.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 14, The Origin and Remedy of Falsehood, Error, Wrong and Evil, pg. 612


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