Modern and Ancient Views of Evolution

The first thing we think about when the topic of evolution comes up is the modern scientific approach and viewpoint. Evolution in the scientific world is a process which describes a mechanism that brings about ever new and systematically developing forms of life. In and of itself, the Western viewpoint does not assign any particular ultimate meaning or significance to evolution and is content to describe the process and uncover facts that are essentially details of that process.

There is however another, a more ancient view of evolution, propounded by the ancient seers and sages of India. This view focuses more on the inner spiritual significance of the process rather than just the external details. The Sankhya thinker “…saw in it too not only the covering active evident Force, but the concealed sustaining spiritual entity….” Sri Aurobindo points out that the Sankhya thinker “…had no eye for the detail of the physical labour of Nature.” Additionally, he set up a gulf between Spirit and the Force of physical evolution.

On the other hand, Sri Aurobindo describes the modern view of evolution: “The modern scientist strives to make a complete scheme and institution of the physical method which he has detected in its minute workings, but is blind to the miracle each step involves or content to lose the sense of it in the satisfied observation of a vast ordered phenomenon.” The scientist misses the miracle, the “inexplicable wonder of all existence…”

Sri Aurobindo points out that each of these starting points provides us a relevant insight, but neither of them has the complete picture. “We know that an evolution there is, but not what evolution is; that remains still one of the initial mysteries of Nature.”

Sri Aurobindo,

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