In ancient times, the world was invested with spirit everywhere, in all things. Sri Aurobindo describes it thus: “Ancient belief…saw a soul, a living godhead everywhere in the animate and in the inanimate and nothing was to its view void of a spiritual existence.”
The development of the logical mind and its focus on dividing, classifying and simplifying through trenchant separation rejected this view of life. It does not mean, however, that this is the final answer to the question.
Sri Aurobindo describes a process of development that is one unified continuum, and this implies that soul exists, in some form, not only in the human and the animal existence, but even in the earlier, more primitive forms of life. “…it is now clear that the nervous life which is the basis of that physical mentality in man and animal, exists also in the plant with a fundamental identity; not only so, but it is akin to us by a sort of nervous psychology which amounts to the existence of a suppressed mind. A subconscient mind in the plant, it is now not unreasonable to suggest,–but is it not at the summits of plant experience only half subconscious?–becomes conscient in the animal body. When we go lower down, we find hints that there are involved in the subvital most brute material forms the rudiments of precisely the same energy of life and its responses.”
The work of Dr. Bose on the consciousness of plants, and those who have followed in his footsteps, has documented “The Secret Life of Plants” and there can be now little doubt of the scientific support for the existence of consciousness and responsiveness in animals and plants. Further work with crystals and minerals has even begun to uncover the responsiveness that Sri Aurobindo has posited in the world of material forms.
One consciousness, one existence, in a unity that spans from the most inconscient Matter to the heights of Spirit, implies that there is a continuum and our attempt to divide and classify and separate is an artificial mental construct but not an essential underlying Reality of the manifested universe.
We find that the ancient view of inclusion has more ultimate truth in it that the modern view of fragmentation.