The Soul in the Material Universe

Most people do not reflect deeply on the nature and significance of the material world in which they find themselves. It is accepted for what it appears to be and their attention is focused on surviving and growing within the context of this material framework. Scientists who begin the search for understanding the nature of Matter, however, have found that it is not the solid, external, wholly unconscious “stuff” out of which the universe is made. They find that Matter is actually highly organized and active energy! They explore the atomic structure of Matter and find that it is an incredibly highly organized and balanced arrangement of energetic forces, with a clear sense of consciousness that pervades this organization. For those who take this concept further, they then declare that it is consciousness that constitutes the nature of Energy which then constitutes the nature of Matter. This progression mirrors that of the seeker Bhrigu in the Taittiriya Upanishad.

The consciousness thus discovered is deeply involved, veiled or hidden from the external consciousness, but it nevertheless exists. The material world, as the foundation of our life on earth, then must successively reveal its secrets of energy and consciousness and we see this in the evolution of plant life with the outflowering of vital force, and eventually the development of animal and then human life with the expansion of the vital principle and the outflowering of Mind. None of these further principles could manifest out of Matter if they were not secretly involved, as the oak tree is involved in the acorn, unseen, waiting for the appropriate conditions to sprout and grow and manifest its majesty out of that apparently insignificant beginning.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “But Matter means the involution of the conscious delight of existence in self-oblivious force and in self-dividing, infinitesimally disaggregated form of substance. Therefore the whole principle and effort of a material world must be the evolution of what is involved and the development of what is undeveloped. Here everything is shut up from the first in the violently working inconscient sleep of material force; therefore the whole aim of any material becoming must be the waking of consciousness out of the inconscient; the whole consummation of a material becoming must be the removal of the veil of Matter and the luminous revelation of the entire self-conscient Being to its own imprisoned soul in the becoming. Since Man is such an imprisoned soul, this luminous liberation and coming to self-knowledge must be his highest object and the condition of his perfection.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 19, The Planes of Our Existence, pg. 430

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