The Evolutionary Process

Sri Aurobindo describes the evolutionary process from two possible lines of development. Nothing can evolve out of a substance of being that is either not already involved within that substance; or else, is something external that nevertheless is admitted into the substance that is evolving. In the first instance, the involved power systematically begins to manifest itself and to the extent that it embodies a different set of powers or principles of action, it begins to modify the underlying substrate to accomodate its action. In the second instance, the substrate must be capable of accepting a new principle or form of action and in so doing, it must be modified from its original standpoint to be able to incorporate this action and give it a foundation for development. A third option of course is that the power is involved within the substance to begin with, and as it begins to evolve and develop, the native power of that principle which resides externally aids the action and together the involved force and the external force work together to transform the substance to accomodate the new principle more quickly and effectively.

At the same time, the new principle of action, unless it is a direct manifestation of the supreme principle of existence, will be limited and modified to work within the framework of the substance within which it is finding its new basis of action.

“It is not likely that it will be able to bring about an entire transformation if it is not itself the original Principle of Existence, if it is only derivative, an instrumental power and not the first puissance.”

We see then an interaction of various principles and powers of manifestation that impinge upon and affect one another to the extent that when they manifest together none of them can actually manifest in its purest, most powerful form; there is, rather, a mixed working that limits and shapes the actual result.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 18, The Evolutionary Process — Ascent and Integration

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