Transcending Physical Nature

As human beings we not only experience physical nature, in ourselves and in the world around us, but we also incorporate vital powers and a mental and spiritual nature. These additional forces confront physical nature and seek to go beyond the limitations imposed by it. Sri Aurobindo describes the role of man in the world: “…as a soul evolving the power of consciousness secret in her, his business is to know and to use her law and even in knowing and using it to transcend her more material limit, habit, purpose and formula. Observance of Nature but also transcendence of first nature is continually the purpose of the Spirit within him.”

Evolution, both on the physical plane and as a process that introduces new principles into the world action, principles of life, mind and spirit, represents this attempt of Nature to exceed its current formulation and to manifest something new, more powerful, with greater powers of consciousness at play.

The role of man in this process is to interject a conscious actor in the process of evolution and transcendence. “Man meets with the powers of his mind the rule of the physical action and the law of vital Karma, brings in a law of mental and moral Karma and lifts along the ladder of these scales to something more, to a potency of spiritual action which may even lead him to an exceeding of Karma itself, a freedom from or of birth and becoming, a perfecting transcendence.”

While physical nature continues to carry out the law of its action, we begin to see opportunities to respond consciously, to resist, modify, enhance or leave behind the purely physical and mechanical action of Nature and this brings about new possibilities along with a new level of complexity in the interaction.

Sri Aurobindo,Rebirth and Karma, Section II, Chapter 14, The Terrestrial Law, pg. 121,