The Principle of Uniqueness In the Manifestation

Sri Aurobindo has identified a persistent principle of the manifestation that becomes ever more apparent as we ascend the scale of consciousness, and that is the principle of “uniqueness” which is intimately bound up with the necessity of rebirth. It is in the end, the uniqueness of the individual that presents the hidden thread of development that cannot be accomplished through one lifetime. We see the start of the differentiation process as the unity of the life force begins to develop into different species of plant and animal life, what we might consider to be the development of a group consciousness that manifests characteristics that are unique compared to other species. Eventually, however, we see the further development, particularly as the principle of Mind takes hold, of unique individuals within the group who begin to develop and express characteristics that make that individual different from the rest of the common group.

“…this uniqueness is everywhere, but appears as a subordinate factor only in the lower ranges of existence. It becomes more and more important and pronounced as we rise in the scale, enlarges in mind, gets to enormous proportions when we come to the things of the spirit. That would seem to indicate that the cause of this significant uniqueness is something bound up with the very nature of spirit; it is something it held in itself and is bringing out more and more as it emerges out of material Nature into self-conscience.”

The first sign, the development of the group or collective variation, also leads to the concept of a group or collective karma. “For the group or collective soul renews and prolongs itself and in man at least develops its nature and experience from generation to generation.” Wherever there is persistence of a particular type of manifestation, there is a cause-effect development that carries out the law we have called “karma”.

“…the action and development of the whole produces consequences of karma and experience for the individual and the totality even as the action and development of the individual produces consequences and experience for others, for the group, for the whole.”

“The communal soul-variation mounts up from the rest, exceeds, brings in or brings out something more, something new, adds novel powers in the evolution. The individual mounts and exceeds in the same way from the community. It is in him, on his highest heights that we get the flame-crest of self-manifestation by which the One finds himself in Nature.”

Sri Aurobindo,Rebirth and Karma, Section I, Chapter 11, Rebirth and Karma, pp. 96-97,