The Body Provides the Foundation for the Evolutionary Development of Consciousness

Evolution and the process of rebirth, according to Sri Aurobindo’s viewpoint, are part of the “self-finding” of the consciousness which has gone from a complete, universal, undifferentiated state of Oneness, and involved itself into the densest realm of the Inconscience of Matter. “…there has been an involution of this unity into the dividing Mind, a plunge into self-oblivion by which the ever-present sense of the complete oneness is lost, and the play of separative difference,–phenomenal, because the real unity in difference remains unabridged behind,–comes into the forefront as a dominant reality.” The development of a separately recognised body as the foundation for the sense of a separate individualised consciousness is the ultimate end of this process. Sri Aurobindo describes this not as a real “separation” of consciousness from the underlying and surrounding Oneness, but as an “exclusive concentration” of the consciousness, which nevertheless at all times is connected to and supported by the larger transcendent and universal consciousness. Because it starts from a point of apparent separation, division and nescience, the process of self-finding is one that takes place slowly and with a struggle. “In a phenomenal universe so created, the separative form becomes the foundation and starting-point of all its life-action; therefore the individual Purusha in working out its cosmic relations with the One has in this physical world to base himself upon the form, to assume a body; it is the body that he must make his own foundatino and the starting-point for his development of the life and mind and spirit in the physical existence. That assumption of body we call birth, and in it only can take place here the development of self and the play of relations between the individual and the universal and all other individuals; in it only can there be the growth by a progressive development of our conscious being towards a supreme recovery of unity with God and with all in God: all the sum of what we call Life in the physical world is a progress of the soul and proceeds by birth into the body ans has that for its fulcrum, its condition of action and its condition of evolutionary persistence.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 20, The Philosophy of Rebirth