The material life in the world, presented to the human individual as the reality within which he has to live, strive and survive, is not the entirety of existence. Eventually, the human soul wakens to deeper stirrings and feels the human aspiration for something more and greater that can provide the context for the life we experience. Sri Aurobindo observes: “Science gives us the objective truth of existence and the superficial knowledge of our physical and vital being; but we feel that there are truths beyond which possibly through the cultivation of our subjective being and the enlargement of its powers may come to lie more and more open to us. When the knowledge of this world is ours, we are irresistibly impelled to seek for the knowledge of other states of existence beyond, and that is the reason why an age of strong materialism and scepticism is always followed by an age of occultism, of mystical creeds, of new religions and profounder seekings after the Infinite and the Divine.” Sri Aurobindo calls this, in The Life Divine, “The Human Aspiration” and it is clear that there is a deep-seated dissatisfaction which continually prods us with the sense that “this world is not all there is.”
Even for those who start from the attempt to simply understand the material world, the larger issues quickly come to the fore. A search into the microcosm of existence shows an incredibly powerful and extraordinarily well-organized structure for all Matter. When we look into the environment we see intricate interactions that speak to a larger consciousness that has organized it. Searching for answers to physical life, the scientist discovers unseen powers that can be codified into laws of physics and then applied to our lives, powers such as electricity, the electro-magnetic spectrum, nuclear energy, or gravitation, for instance. Looking outside we can find immense galaxies and universes interacting, expanding and contracting, with immense distances and powers that cannot even be fully imagined. Scientists go on to discover that Matter itself is Energy, and that Energy is Consciousness, and this launches the quest of science into the realm of consciousness and the spiritual paths of Yoga.
“We come to see that what is present to our physical senses is only the material shell of cosmic existence and what is obvious in our superficial mentality is only the margin of immense continents which lie behind unexplored. To explore them must be the work of another knowledge than that of physical science or of a superficial psychology.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 20, The Lower Triple Purusha, pg. 439