Ascent & Integration: The Dual Intention of the Spirit in Nature

Sri Aurobindo recognizes the human aspiration to achieve something higher and more pure as the sign of a necessary ascent of the consciousness as it evolves out of Matter, Life and Sense-Mind, into the Human Mind and beyond. At the same time, he does not accept as the ultimate goal the abandonment or destruction of the lower nature. Rather, he points out that the intention of the Spirit in the manifestation must include the manifestation and transformation of Matter, Life and Mind as a pre-condition for having accepted the process of involution into the Inconscience and the subsequent evolutionary process we have been reviewing.

“First, this taking up of the lower parts of life reveals itself as a turning downward of the master eye of the secret evolving spirit or of the universal Being in the individual from the height to which he has reached on all that now lies below him, a gazing down with the double or twin power of the being’s consciousness-force,–the power of will, the power of knowledge,–so as to understand from this new, different and wider range of consciousness and perception and nature the lower life and its possibilities and to raise it up, it also, to a higher level, to give it higher values, to bring out of it higher potentialities. And this he does because evidently he does not intend to kill or destroy it, but, delight of existence being his eternal business and a harmony of various strains, not a sweet but monotonous melody the method of his music, he wishes to include the lower notes also and, by surcharging them with a deeper and finer significance, get more delight out of them than was possible in the cruder formation.”

The higher consciousness-force uses inspiration to seek the acceptance of the lower nature for these changes, but is also capable of exercising inexorable force, if necessary, to effectuate its aims. “And that indeed is the true inmost aim and meaning of ethics, discipline and askesis, to lesson and tame, purify and prepare to be fit instruments the vital and physical and lower mental life so that they may be transformed into notes of the higher mental and eventually the supramental harmony, but not to mutilate and destroy them. Ascent is the first necessity, but an integration is an accompanying intention of the spirit in Nature.”

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

Human Evolution Brings Thinking Conscious Mind to Life & Body

Sri Aurobindo’s description of the evolutionary stages from Matter to Life, from Life to Mind in the animal, continues with the exploration of the stage of consciousness and its primary characteristics that comes into play with the development of humanity. “But when we come to man, we see the whole thing becoming conscious; the world, which he epitomises, begins in him to reveal to itself its own nature. The higher animal…has only a limited waking mind, capable of just what is necessary for its vital existence: in man the conscious mentality enlarges its wakefulness and, though not at first fully self-conscious, though still conscious only on the surface, can open more and more to his inner and integral being. As in the two lower ascents, there is a heightening of the force of conscious existence to a new power and a new range of subtle activities; there is a transition from vital mind to reflecting and thinking mind, there is developed a higher power of observation and invention, taking up and connecting data, conscious of process and result, a force of imagination and aesthetic creation, a higher more plastic sensibility, the coordinating and interpreting reason, the values no longer of a reflex or reactive but of a mastering, understanding, self-detaching intelligence. As in the lower ascents, so here there is also a widening of the range of consciousness; man is able to take in more of the world and of himself as well as to give to this knowledge higher and completer figures of conscious experience. So, too, there is here also the third constant element of the ascension; mind takes up the lower grades and gives to their actio nand reaction intelligent values.”

“The awaking consciousness in the animal is the unskilled primitive artisan of mind, in man it is the skilled craftsman and can become,–but this he does not attempt sufficiently,–not only the artist, but master and adept.”

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