What we see of the evolutionary process in Matter, as well as the plant and animal kingdoms appears to be totally driven by a secret Intelligence operating without the conscious participation in the development of the forms that are being developed and evolved. The development happens to these forms, rather than their consciously choosing and developing on their own a new line of development. This all begins to change with the appearance of humanity and our ability to consciously reflect on the development of life, to educate ourselves, to express ourselves in new ways, and to develop new powers and types of intelligent action through our own conscious participation in the process.
“It must be observed that the appearance of human mind and body on the earth marks a crucial step, a decisive change in the course and process of the evolution; it is not merely a continuation of the old lines. Up till this advent of a developed thinking mind in Matter evolution had been effected, not by the self-aware aspiration, intention, will or seeking of the living being, but subconsciously or subliminally by the automatic operation of Nature.”
“But in man the necessary change has been made,–the being has become awake and aware of himself; there has been made manifest in Mind its will to develop, to grow in knowledge, to deepen the inner and widen the outer existence, to increase the capacities of the nature. Man has seen that there can be a higher status of consciousness than his own; the evolutionary oestrus is there in his parts of mind and life, the aspiration to exceed himself is delivered and articulate within him: he has become conscious of a soul, discovered the Self and Spirit. In him, then, the substitution of a conscious for a subconscious evolution has become conceivable and practicable, and it may well be concluded that the aspiration, the urge, the persistent endeavor in him is a sure sign of Nature’s will for a higher way to fulfilment, the emergence of a greater status.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 23, “Man and the Evolution”