The Value and Significance of the Role of Man In the Universe

Our view of the role and importance of man in the grand scheme of things has gone through the entire gamut from the one extreme that holds that human beings are simply specks of dust in a vast mechanical machinery, essentially having little or no ultimate value, to the other extreme that places man at the center of creation as the most important of all beings (and many positions between these two extremes). While we may not be able to say, as some have said that “man is the measure of all things”, we can nevertheless appreciate that there is a real and significant role for a being that provides conscious awareness, self-reflection and an intuition and aspiration for further evolutionary development.

Sri Aurobindo describes this role in the following way: “The will of man is the agent of the Eternal for the unveiling of his secret meaning in the material creation. Man’s mind takes up all the knots of the problem and works them out by the power of the spirit within him and brings them nearer to the full force and degree of their individual and cosmic solutions. This is his dignity and his greatness and he needs no other to justify and give a perfect value to his birth and his acts and his passing and his return to birth, a return which must be–and what is there in it to grieve at or shun?–until the work of the Eternal in him is perfected or the cycles rest from the glory of their labour.”

Man’s will represents an action of the Eternal in the evolutionary schema and is part of the engine that drives forward the unfolding and expression of ever higher levels of consciousness in the material universe.

Sri Aurobindo,Rebirth and Karma, Section I, Chapter 10, Karma, Will and Consequence, pp. 87-88,