Process of the Unfolding Spiritual Evolution

“The spiritual evolution obeys the logic of a successive unfolding; it can take a new decisive main step only when the previous main step has been sufficiently conquered: even if certain minor stages can be swallowed up or leaped over by a rapid and brusque ascension, the consciousness has to turn back to assure itself that the ground passed over is securely annexed to the new condition.” Sri Aurobindo looks at this evolution through the lens of time. The first stages, the emergence out of the Inconscience into physical consciousness, takes many millenia. The emergence thereafter of the life-consciousness occurs over further millenia, although substantially faster than the first stage. With the advent of mind, further stages develop ever more swiftly as there is more active awareness and participation in the process now possible. With the development of the psychic consciousness and spiritual focus, the next stages of development can move ever more swiftly.

Sri Aurobindo makes it clear that it is a question of the pace of development, not an over-passing of the steps, that comes up with the spiritual focus. “It is true that the conquest of the Spirit supposes the execution in one life or a few lives of a process that in the ordinary course of Nature would involve a slow and uncertain procedure of centuries or even of millenniums: but this is a question of the speed with which the steps are traversed; a greater or concentrated speed does not eliminate the steps themselves or the necessity of their successive surmounting. The increased rapidity is possibly only because the conscious participation of the inner being is there and the power of the Supernature is already at work in the half-transformed lower nature, so that the steps which would otherwise have had to be taken tentatively in the night of Inconscience or Ignorance can now be taken in an increasing light and power of Knowledge.”

What may appear to be a miraculous change in a particular life has been patiently prepared and developed behind the scenes by this action of Nature, and the sureness of the speed speaks to the intense and exhaustive preparation that has gone before.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 26, “The Ascent Towards Supermind”

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Preparing the Nature for the Supramental Force of Consciousness

“Till Nature is ready, the supramental Force has to act indirectly; it puts the intermediary powers of Overmind or Intuition in front, or it works through a modification of itself to which the already half-transformed being can be wholly or partially responsive.” The Supramental Force, according to Sri Aurobindo, cannot begin to directly transform the nature until a lot of preparation has been done to permit of its action in a more or less pure and forceful way. Sri Aurobindo describes the process required to prepare the nature for this action:

The first step, which he has termed the psychic change, is essentially moving the consciousness inward, breaking down the normal barrier or walls between the surface consciousness and the inner consciousness. The second step is the spiritual change, a moving of the consciousness upward into higher reaches where there is a universalisation of the consciousness, so that the individual has “recast his individual mind in the boundlessness of a cosmic mentality, enlarged and vivified his individual life into the immediate sense and direct experience of the dynamic motion of the universal life, opened up the communicatino of his body with the forces of universal Nature, before he can be capable of a change which transcends the present cosmic formulation and lifts him beyond the lower hemisphere of universality into a consciousness belonging to its spiritual upper hemisphere.” He must also become aware of the higher ranges of consciousness and begun to experience their descent, their presence reshaping his mental outlook, vital reactions and physical responsiveness.

These preliminary steps can occur more or less “side by side”, and develop into their fullness. Eventually however, for the supramental change to occur, “it can only commence when the supramental Force begins to act directly, and this it does not do if the nature is not ready. For there is too great a disparity between the power of the supreme Force and the capacity of the ordinary nature; the inferior nature would either be unable to bear or, bearing, unable to respond and receive or, receiving, unable to assimilate.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 26, “The Ascent Towards Supermind”