Sri Aurobindo sets forth very succinctly the thread of evolution of consciousness: “The universal Spirit in things involved in the Nescience of the physical universe evolves its nature-self in a succession of physical forms up the graded series of Matter, Life, Mind and Spirit. It emerges first as a secret soul in material forms quite subject on the surface to the nescience; it develops as a soul still secret but about to emerge in vital forms that stand on the borders between nescience and the partial light of consciousness which is our ignorance; it develops still farther as the initially conscient soul in the animal mind and, finally, as the more outwardly conscious, but not yet fully conscient soul in man: the consciousness is there throughout in our occult parts of being, the development is in the manifesting Nature. This evolutionary development has a universal as well as an individual aspect: the Universal develops the grades of its being and the order variation of the universality of itself in the series of its evolved forms of being; the individual soul follows the line of this cosmic seeries and manifests what is prepared in the universality of the Spirit. The universal Man, the cosmic Purusha in humanity, is developing in the human race the power that has grown into humanity from below it and shall yet grow to Supermind and Spirit and become the Godhead in man who is aware of his true and integral self and the divine universality of his nature.”
Sri Aurobindo points out that the individual also has gone through this general line of development, and remains free and unbound from any specific form of manifestation over time. This implies that just as the lower forms that represent the successively evolving powers of consciousness of life, animal mind and human mind have been experienced by the individual, so too there are further and higher manifestations of consciousness that lie still before us in our evolutionary progression.
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 20, The Philosophy of Rebirth