The Ascending Line of Evolution of Consciousness

Sri Aurobindo builds upon the review thus far to point out that if what we see as the highest powers and principles of evolutionary consciousness in the human being are not the “end” of the evolutionary progression, then further births, and ongoing expansion of consciousness are the inevitable conclusion. “This possibility becomes a certitude if the present leading principle of the mind as man has developed it, the intellect, is not its highest principle. If mind itself has other powers as yet only imperfectly possessed by the highest types of the human individual, then a prolongation of the line of evolution and consequently of the ascending line of rebirth to embody them is inevitable. If Supermind also is a power of consciousness concealed here in the evolution, the line of rebirth cannot stop even there; it cannot cease in its ascent before the mental has been replaced by the supramental nature and an embodied supramental being becomes the leader of terrestrial existence.”

The past, present and future are one continuum. As we review the evolutionary progression in the past, and understand the principles of the development of consciousness, and the increasing complexity of the forms to embody that consciousness, we can see the current status and then turn our view toward the future to see the continuing ascending line of the evolution of consciousness.

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

From Imperfection of the Little Life to an Unfolding of the Spirit

Sri Aurobindo is also quite clear that a unique, single human life cannot sum up the soul’s evolutionary potential in the phase of human manifestation. Thus, repeated human lives, successively working out the complex and ever higher capabilities of the human existence, become a necessity. Sri Aurobindo points out that peasants focused on the physical life, or commercial or business people focused on the vital life of interchange and trade, while in themselves living effective lives, have clearly not tapped all of the resources and possibilities of human life. Even those whom we look to as the philosophers, scientists, religious and spiritual leaders of humanity over time, while they have stretched the definition of what it is to be human, have not reached the ultimate potential. It is this very fact and limitation that makes a succession of multiple births necessary to truly work out the human potential for the individual soul.

“There may be a higher or at least a larger possibility which the Divine intends yet to realise in man, and, if so, it is the steps built by these highest souls which were needed to compose the way up to it and to open the gates.”

“Man is there to move from the ignorance and from the little life which he is in his mind and body to the knowledge and the large divine life which he can compass by the unfolding of the spirit. At least, the opening out of the spirit in him, the knowledge of his real self and the leading of the spiritual life must be attained before he can go definitively and for ever otherwhere. There may too be beyond this niitial culmination a greater flowering of the spirit in the human life of which we have as yet only the first intimations; the imperfection of Man is not the last word of Nature, but his perfection too is not the last peak of the Spirit.”

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