One of the essential characteristics that distinguishes man from the other beings on the planet is the self-reflective awareness and the consequent dissatisfaction with simply living the animal life. Man tries to understand the meaning of life, why he exists, what his purpose is, and the laws of Nature as it provides a framework for life. Many believe that the rise of the mental awareness represents a falling off from “natural being” and that this is why so many suffer from deep dissatisfaction. There are those who therefore describe a fall from grace, the suffering that arises as a result of “eating of the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil”, and who recommend therefore that in order to find harmony again, man must release the mental awareness and return to a state of “nature”.
Sri Aurobindo takes up this issue and clarifies that Nature is not a “static” reality, but a “dynamic” and evolving, growing reality, and thus, the solution is not found by trying to obliterate the evolutionary growth of consciousness, but in understanding the essential purpose of Nature through this evolutionary process:
“For man alone of terrestrial creatures to live rightly involves the necessity of knowing rightly, whether, as rationalism pretends, by the sole or dominant instrumentation of his reason or, more largely and complexly, by the sum of his faculties; and what he has to know is the true nature of being and its constant self-effectuation in the values of life, in less abstract language the law of Nature and especially of his own nature, the forces within him and around him and their right utilization for his own greater perfection and happiness or for that and the greater perfection and happiness of his fellow-creatures. In the old phrase his business is to learn to live according to Nature. But Nature can no longer be imaged, as once it was, as an eternal right rule from which man has wandered, since it is rather a thing itself changing, progressing, evolving, ascending from height to more elevated height, widening from limit to broader limit of its own possibilities. Yet in all this changing there are certain eternal principles or truths of being which remain the same and upon them as bedrock, with them as a primary material and within them as a framework our progress and perfection are compelled to take place. Otherwise there would be an infinite chaos and not a world ordered even in the clash of its forces.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 17, Nature’s Law in our Progress — Unity in Diversity, Law and Liberty, pg. 147