The Evolutionary Process of the Emergence of Consciousness, Part 1

While scientists and philosophers try to find some rationale or central theme in the evolution of species, Sri Aurobindo appears to have located the missing connecting point that explains the evolution as we see it occurring on the planet. This lynch-pin is the evolution of consciousness, and the impact that the ever-increasing intensity of consciousness makes on the preceding levels below it. In this way, he is able to trace the appearance of material forms, apparently inconscient, but secretly holding within it the involved consciousness that can be seen when we examine the incredibly complex, organised structure of Matter itself. Out of material forms, we see the emergence at some point of Life-Forms, which take up and utilize the material basis, but change it sufficiently allow the energies of Life to manifest. This brings about the appearance of plants, and later animals.

“To each grade in this series achieved by the evolving Consciousness belongs its appropriate class of existences,–one by one there appear material forms and forces, vegetable life, animals and half-animal man, developed human beings, imperfectly evolved or more evolved spiritual beings: but because of the continuity of the evolutionary process there is no rigid separation between them; each new advance or formation takes up what was before. The animal takes up into himself living and inanimate Matter; man takes up both along with the animal existence. There are furrows left by the transitional process or separating demarcations settled by the fixed habit of Nature: but these distinguish one series from another, serve perhaps to prevent a fall back of what has been evolved, they do not cancel or cut the continuity of the evolution. The evolving Consciousness passes from one grade to another or from one series of steps to another either by an imperceptible process or by some bound or crisis or, perhaps, by an intervention from above,–some descent or ensouling or influence from higher planes of Nature. But, by whatever means, the Consciousness secretly indwelling in Matter, the occult Inhabitant, is able thus to make its way upward from the lower to the higher gradations, taking up what it was into what it is and preparing to take up both into what it will be.”

We shall continue this discussion in the next post.

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