An Evolutionary Crisis and a Choice of Destiny

Humanity has essentially gotten to the point where it is on the edge of the abyss and is facing a stark choice of its future and to a very great degree, even its potential survival. We have explored, developed and unleashed enormous forces at the material level, to the point of having the power to manipulate the building blocks of the material world through nuclear research, and the building blocks of life through genetic research and manipulation. We have brought the whole world together with a clash of cultures, ideas, motivations and religious sentiments, with the enormous tension and conflict that arises through that meeting process. We have gained enormous powers to manipulate the mind, emotions and desires and have used these powers to accentuate and drive ever greater desire and hunger for “more”. We exploit the world’s resources with abandon and fail to address the impact, the “unintended consequences” of our actions.

All of the new powers we have developed have not been matched by the development of new higher ideals and a greater guiding light for the application of these popwers. We thus find ourselves struggling, suffering and on the very brink of destruction, confused, living in a world whose complexity far exceeds the ability of the human mind to understand or harmonise.

What is needed, the choice before us, is whether we will use the pressure of these contradictions, the pressure of our very ability to survive, to find our spiritual destiny, our evolutionary direction in the development of universality and harmony, and in the development of new powers of spiritual consciousness which alone can resolve the contradictions we face and harness the forces we have unleashed, and put them to work for a greater goal, or whether we will fall victim to our own partial, limited success on the material and vital planes.

Sri Aurobindo defines the moment and the choice: “For no greater seeing mind, no intuitive soul of knowledge has yet come to his surface of consciousness which could make this basic fullness of life a condition for the free growth of soemthing that exceeded it. This new fullness of the means of life might be, by its power for a release from the incessant unsatisfied stress of his economic and physical needs, an opportunity for the full pursuit of other and greater aims surpassing the material existence, for the discovery of a higher truth and good and beauty, for the discovery of a greater and diviner spirit which would intervene and use life for a higher perfection of the being….”

We have reached the limitations of the power of mental organisation to grapple with the complexity of the forces in the world. “Reason and Science can only help by standardising, by fixing everything into an artificially arranged and mechanised unity of material life. A greater whole-being, whole-knowledge, whole-power is needed to weld all into a greater unity of whole-life.”

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

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An Evolutionary Failure?

The evolutionary process of Nature provides humanity the opportunity, but not the guarantee, of providing the foundation for the next evolutionary stage to develop. Historically we note the systematic development of increasing powers of consciousness. There is a general correllation with an increasing power and complexity of consciousness through this development, with the first stages generally corresponding to the basic physical and vital needs and considerations, with further development focused on the mental and emotional powers including ethics, morality, aesthetics, religion and spirituality and science.

There is however an apparent roadblock that could represent an opportunity for humanity to miss the opportunity to lead the further evolutionary development. The rise of materialism and focus on the use of science to develop physical comfort and media for distraction and entertainment has created a society that has essentially gone back to a focus on the physical and vital needs and fulfillment of desire. Should humanity fail to overcome the temptation to simply create a society of physical creature comforts and vital satisfaction, without encouraging, supporting and developing the higher ranges of consciousness, then we would become another “dead end” of evolution, a species that becomes more or less “static” in the increasing development of consciousness, an evolutionary “failure”.

Nature will not abandon its further development. It is simply that another form or species will have to develop to take over for the failed initiative of humanity.

Sri Aurobindo describes the necessary impetus: “…it is the inner spiritual necessity, the push from what is there yet unrealised within him that maintains in him, once he has attained to mind, the evolutionary stress, the spiritual nisus.”

If we reject this effort, then humanity will lose its pre-eminence in the current evolutionary developmental cycle.

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