We can follow the evolution of consciousness as a central thread that informs the development of life on earth, through and including human life. Matter has an involved consciousness, highly structured with no real freedom to vary from the “laws of Nature” in the way it responds to stimuli and events. Out of Matter evolved life. The rudimentary forms of life were very much rooted in the strict rules of Matter but added new powers of awareness and responsiveness, including powers of growth, reproduction and active response to stimuli on a scale far more visible than Matter. As animal life developed, new powers of mind and motion arose, on a scale significantly higher in awareness and responsiveness than Matter or the earlier forms of Life. With the advent of the human being, the further evolution of Mind becomes evident, and in this, all humanity, regardless of racial characteristics or environmental limitations, obviously shares. The question then arises, if we can observe this evolution of consciousness, what purpose it is intended to serve and what is the next stage of the evolution.
Sri Aurobindo notes: “Mankind upon earth is one foremost self-expression of the universal Being in His cosmic self-unfolding; he expresses, under the conditions of the terrestrial world he inhabits, the mental power of the universal existence. All mankind is one in its nature, physical, vital, emotional, mental and ever has been in spite of all differences of intellectual development… and the whole race has, as the human totality, one destiny which it seeks and increasingly approaches in the cycles of progression and retrogression it describes through the countless millenniums of its hisotry. Nothing which any individual race or nation can triumphantly realise, no victory of their self-aggrandisement, illumination, intellectual achievement or mastery over the environment, has any permanent meaning or value except in so far as it adds something or recovers something or preserves something for this human march. The purpose which the ancient Indian scripture offers to us as the true object of all human action, lokasangraha, the holding together of the race in its cyclic evolution, is the constant sense, whether we know it or know it not, of the sum of our activities.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 7, The Ideal Law of Social Development, pp. 66-67