The Secret Force of Knowledge and Will Operating in Material and Vital Nature

The action of the supramental knowledge and force is embedded in the structure and functioning of Matter, not as a self-aware consciousness, but as an intricately detailed operation of what we call “material energy”. The atomic structure of Matter evidences the operation of a powerful and coordinated intelligence at work in the systematic and mechanical operations. The supermind does not bring its entire power of self-awareness to the material or vital planes but transforms its effective action into what may be seen as a secret intelligence. In the case of the vital plane, we observe the functioning of what we call “instinct”. The plant or animal “knows” what to do without self-reflection or consideration, because this knowledge is built into the very nature of their being. Sri Aurobindo describes this as a type of “intuition” in Matter and Life.

“There is what we are sometimes moved to call an intelligence and will operating in the material force and the atom…-let us say, a covert intuition of self-existence at work,–but the atom and force are not aware of it and are only the obscure body of matter and of power crated by its first effort of self-manifestation. The presence of such an intuition becomes more evident to us in all the action of life because that is nearer to our own scale. And as life develops overt sense and mind, as in the animal creation, we can speak more confidently of a vital intuition which is behind its operations and which emerges in the animal mind in the clear form of instinct,–instinct, an automatic knowledge implanted in the animal, sure, direct, self-existent, self-guided, which implies somewhere in its being an accurate knowing of purpose, relation and the thing or object. It acts in the life force and mind, but yet the surface life and mind do not possess it and cannot give an account of what it does or control or extend the power at its will and pleasure. Here we observe two things, first, that the overt intuition acts only for a limited necessity and purpose, and that in the rest of the operations of the nature there is a double action, one uncertain and ignorant of the surface consciousness and the other subliminal, implying a secret subconscient direction. The surface consciousness is full of a groping and seeking which increases rather than diminishes as life rises in its scale and widens in the scope of its conscious powers; but the secret self within assures in spite of the groping of the vital mind, the action of the nature and the result needed for the necessity, the purpose and the destiny of the being. This continues on a higher and higher scale up to the human reason and intelligence.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 19, The Nature of the Supermind, pp. 765-766