Sri Aurobindo takes up the question for review as to whether the development of spiritual consciousness represents a new manifestation of consciousness, or simply a refinement of the mental consciousness. “It would at first sight seem evident that as each gradation emerges not only out of its precedent grade but in it, as Life emerges in Matter and is largely limited and determined in its self-expression by its material conditions, as Mind emerges in Life-in-Matter and is similarly limited and determined in its self-exprssion by life-conditions and material conditions, so Spirit too must emerge in a Mind embodied in Life-in-Matter and must be largely limited and determined by the mental conditions in which it has its roots as well as the life-conditions, the material conditions of its existence here. It might even be maintained that, if there has been any evolution of the spiritual in us, it is only as a part of the mental evolution, a special operation of man’s mentality; the spiritual element is not a distinct or separate entity and cannot have an independent emergence or a supramental future.”
It is then necessary, to address this objection, to clearly bring forth the defining characteristics that make the spiritual emergence a new power of consciousness rather than simply a sublimation of the mental consciousness; as Sri Aurobindo describes the issue “the clear distinction between the spiritual and the mental, the nature of this evolution and the factors which make it possible and inevitable that there should be this emergence of the Spirit in its true distinct character, not remaining, as it now for the most part is in its process or seems to be in its way of appearance, a subordinate or a dominating feature of our mentality, but defining itself as a new power which will finally overtop the mental part and replace it as the leader of the life and nature.”
We shall take up these questions in the succeeding posts.
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 24, “The Evolution of the Spiritual Man”