Mastering the Powers of Life and Matter

As long as we remain rooted in the primarily vital and material action of Nature, we feel that we are unable to control the larger forces at work in our lives. We feel in many instances helpless and swept away by those forces. Even as we develop the powers of the Mind, we still very much experience the subjection to the vital and physical world and its actions.

Sri Aurobindo points out however that this is not an unalterable condition of our evolving being and consciousness: “A certain fundamental subjection of Mind to Life and Matter and an acceptance of this subjection, an inability to make the law of Mind directly dominant and modify by its powers the blinder law and operations of these inferior forces of being, remains even in the midst of our greatest mental mastery over self and things; but this limitation is not insuperable.”

Sri Aurobindo points out: “The greatest, most momentous natural discovery that man can make is this that Mind, and still more the force of the Spirit, can in many tried and yet untried ways and in all directions,–by its own nature and direct power and not only be devices and contrivances such as the superior material instrumentation discovered by physical Science,–overcome and control Life and Matter.”

The gnostic being, with the greater force of consciousness that he would possess, has also necessarily powers of action and mastery far beyond those at the disposal of the purely mental being. The gnostic being would have “a clear and complete knowledge of self, a direct knowledge of others, a direct knowledge of hidden forces, a direct knowledge of the occult mechanism of Mind and Life and Matter, which are beyond our present attainment. This new knowledge and action of knowledge would be based on an immediate intuitive consciousness of things and an immediate intuitive control of things; an operative insight, now supernormal to us, would be the normal functioning of this consciousness, and an integral assured effectivity both in the mass of action and in its detail would be the outcome of the change.”

“Acting in the light and power of the supramental knowledge, the evolving gnostic being would be more and more master of himself, master of the forces of consciousness, master of the energies of Nature, master of his instrumentation of Life and Matter.”

As we ascend toward the gnostic consciousness, this new knowledge and force would become ever more active and effective.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 28, “The Divine Life”

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Increasing Power of Consciousness With Each Evolutionary Stage

We tend to believe that Mind is insignificant in relation to the vast, overwhelming material and vital forces that embody the universal existence. We therefore also tend to underestimate the power of the evolutionary forces of consciousness as they begin to manifest because they seem so small and weak.

Sri Aurobindo makes it clear that by adjusting our viewpoint on this matter, we can see the ever increasing manifested power that accompanies ever increasing knowledge, in this case, the development of the gnostic consciousness, based in the Knowledge, and its power of effectuation in relation to the material, vital and mental world which is based in the Inconscient or the Ignorance.

“The Inconscient there is the original, potent and automatically effective Force, the conscious mind is only a small labouring agent; but that is because the conscious mind in us has a limited individual action and the Inconscient is an immense action of a universal concealed Consciousness: the cosmic Force, masked as a material Energy, hides from our view by its insistent materiality of process the occult fact that the workingof the Inconscient is really the expression of a vast universal Life, a veiled universal Mind, a hooded Gnosis, and without these origins of itself it could have no power of action, no organising coherence. Life-Force also in the material world seems to be more dynamic and effective than Mind; our Mind is free and fully powerful in idea and cognition only: its force of action, its power of effectuation outside this mental field is obliged to work with Life and Matter as instruments and, under the conditions imposed on it by Life and Matter, our Mind is hampered and half-effective. But even so we see that Nature-force in the mental being is much more powerful to deal with himself and with Life and Matter than Nature-force in the animal; it is the greater force of consciousness and knowledge, the greater emerged force of being and will that constitute this superiority.”

We see that while even in the human sphere, the vital man of action seems to have more dynamic power of effective action, but over time, it is the fact that this action is tied to the action of Mind, that provides the true superiority of man over the animal creation in terms of force of consciousness and power of action. Similarly, one can see that the true power of Mind eventually can transform the vital life of the world and the material circumstances of life much more dramatically than the purely “action-oriented” vital being could ever hope to do.

“An immensely greater power over existence and over Nature must come when a still greater consciousness emerges and replaces the hampered operations of the mental Energy in our too individualised and restricted force of existence.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 28, “The Divine Life”