The One Consciousness and the Processes of Natural Development of the World of Forms and Beings

Sri Aurobindo translates Shwetashwatara Upanishad, Chapter Six, Verses 1-2:  “‘Tis Nature and Self-existence, say one school of the Seers.  Nay, ’tis Time say another; both are deceived and bewildered.  ‘Tis the Majesty of the Lord in the world of His creatures whereby this Wheel of the Eternal whirleth about continually.  He envelopeth this whole Universe with Himself for ever, He that knoweth, Maker of Time, and the Modes of Nature dwell in Him; yea, all things He discerneth.  And by His governance the Law of Works revolveth in its cycle.  Earth, water, fire, air, ether, of these thou shalt consider (as the substances wherein it turneth).”

Many are those who try to determine the existence and process of the universe in terms of physical principles.  This is where Western science has been traditionally focused with its fixation on process of a “big bang”, and “expanding universe” and some kiind of physical development process over Time from a chemical soup to human existence!  This debate however has not been limited to Western science.  The same debate among ancient seers took place and is mentioned here.

On the other side of this are the religious doctrines that make existence into a fiat of God without any need for an evolutionary process.  What the Rishi here has done is to recognize the Self-existence of the divine Personality, as well as the process of that divine Personality to work through a sequential, evolutionary development through Time and through the action of the modes of Nature, tamas, rajas and sattva and their interaction to create and develop all forms and beings that exist in the universal creation.  This integrated viewpoint therefore is a method to harmonize the “scientific” and the “religious”.

It should be noted that researchers in modern science are beginning to recognize the primacy of consciousness and they have been systematically moving from Matter to a recognition that Matter is a form of Energy, and more recently, that Energy is a form of Consciousness.  It is this universal Consciousness that employs all the modes of Nature, and, through the instrumentality of extension through Time and Space created all that exists and sets the universe in motion.  Everything operates under the law of development, whether we call it “cause and effect”, “karma” or “evolution” (or some other name), set in motion and controlled by this one Consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Shwetashwatara Upanishad, pp.369-384

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