Man’s Current State of Consciousness Is Not the Final Term in the Evolution of Consciousness

In The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo states:  “If a spiritual unfolding on earth is the hidden truth of our birth into Matter, if it is fundamentally an evolution of consciousness that has been taking place in Nature, then man as he is cannot be the last term of that evolution: he is too imperfect an expression of the spirit, Mind itself, a too limited form and instrumentation; Mind is only a middle term of consciousness, the mental being can only be a transitional being.  If, then, man is incapable of exceeding mentality, he must be surpassed and supermind and superman must manifest and take the lead of the creation.  But if his mind is capable of opening to what exceeds it, then there is no reason why man himself should not arrive at supermind and supermanhood or at least lend his mentality, life and body to an evolution of that greater term of the Spirit manifesting in Nature.”

There is a lot of confusion about the use of the terms “supermind” and “superman” in our society,  In particular, Nietzsche used the term “superman” in a way that seemed to aggrandise the human vital personality and ego and his concept was then mis-applied to lead to the Nazi ideas of the “master race”.

Sri Aurobindo has been very clear that his use of the term is to identify a level of consciousness that would be the next stage in the evolution of consciousness from Matter, to Life, to Mind and then … beyond to the supramental level.  The powers of understanding, perception, integration and action that come with that next level of consciousness are commensurate, in their own way, to the type of massive adjustments that took place with the appearance of Life in Matter, or the appearance of Mind in Life and Matter.

Some elements of this consciousness are already able to be identified, such as a basis in the Oneness of the entire creation, and an understanding of the details of each element of the manifestation and how it fits into the whole.  There is no implication here of any kind of vast expansion of the ego or the attempt to oppress or rule over, or even disregard the basic organisation of society and human relations that seemed to permeate Nietzsche’s writings.  The supramental awareness naturally would recognise the essential nature of Matter, Life and Mind, the role each plays in the manifestation thus far, and work to bring harmony and integration to our methods of dealing with them.

On another level, popular culture has embraced the idea of “superheroes” with specific new powers of perception and action, that represent powers not present, or only present in much lower forms,  in the current configuration of human consciousness.   Popular culture embraces this conceptualisation as a way of trying to cope with the problems that the society faces and which cannot be solved with our ordinary mental and vital powers of action.  We may almost see this as a distorted characterization of the aspiration in humanity for a new manifestation of consciousness to organize, understand and solve the problems of disharmony created by our mental and vital approach to life in the world.  This may be some way for the higher consciousness to foreshadow its own emergence, even if the specifics as imagined are not the eventual end-result.

In either case, it is best to take Sri Aurobindo’s vision of the supramental manifestation on its own terms and not confuse it with the terms as subsequently used, or possibly misused, by others for entirely different purposes or directions.  Sri Aurobindo has written at length in various books about the development of the supramental consciousness in our earthly existence and it is in these writings that we may find a solid basis for understanding what he is actually envisioning.

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

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