Man’s Conscious Participation in the Next Stage of the Evolution of Consciousness

In The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo observes:  “In the previous stages of the evolution Nature’s first care and effort had to be directed towards a change in the physical organisation, for only so could there be a change of consciousness; this was a necessity imposed by the insufficiency of the force of consciousness already in formation to effect a change in the body.  But in man a reversal is possible, indeed inevitable; for it is through his consciousness, through its transmutation and no longer through a new bodily organism as a first instrumentation that the evolution can and must be effected.  In the inner reality of things a change of consciousness was always the major fact, the evolution has always had a spiritual significance and the physical change was only instrumental; but this relation was concealed by the first abnormal balance of the two factors, the body of the external Inconscience outweighing and obscuring in importance the spiritual element, the conscious being.  But once the balance has been righted, it is no longer the change of body that must precede the change of consciousness; the consciousness itself by its mutation will necessitate and operate whatever mutation is needed for the body.  It has to be noted that the human mind has already shown a capacity to aid Nature in the evolution of new types of plant and animal; it has created new forms of its environment, developed by knowledge and discipline considerable changes in its own mentality.  It is not an impossibility that man should aid Nature consciously also in his own spiritual and physical evolution and transformation.  The urge to do it is already there and partly effective, though still incompletely understood and accepted by the surface mentality; but one day it may understand, go deeper within itself and discover the means, the secret energy, the intended operation of the Consciousness-Force within which is the hidden reality of what we call Nature.”

The application of mind to the fields of life and matter has clearly led to enormous adjustments, both positive and negative.  It could not be otherwise, as the mind as an instrument with inherent limitations acts on fragmented details rather than from a consciousness of the entirety and the place of each detail within the whole.  Thus, every advance we make using the mind is coupled with unintended consequences.  The current state of the world, with climate change, global pandemic events, the mass extinction event that is killing off large numbers of species, the changes wrought to human health and wellness through chemical pollution and the stress of modern living, the changes to our diet which leads to the rise of various disease conditions and weakens the body and its organic functioning, and the development of societal and economic structures that create enormous imbalances and overuse of the resources of the planet, while creating waste products for which there is no current solution, speaks to both the power and the limitations of the mental consciousness in its reshaping of life and matter.

As the next phase of evolution begins to manifest more clearly, it must bring a new balance and integrated vision to modify and harmonize the changes that the mental consciousness continues to insert into the earthly life.  This will require bringing forward powers of perception and action that are available to humanity, although currently rare and generally poorly developed and implemented.  Powers of intuition, inspiration, and new ways of seeing and framing the directions to be taken in further development, a perspective based on wholistic understanding that incorporates the inherent Oneness of the entire creation, with a view of the numerous individual manifestations and their tight interaction and relation to one another.  Such a development will rely, not so much on mental formations that lead to genetic engineering or “designer babies” but on inner growth and practices which awaken the native, although generally sleeping, capacities of the higher powers in man.

Sri Aurobindo, The Future Evolution of Man, Chapter Two, The Place of Man in Evolution, pp. 5-13

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