We may appreciate the magnitude of the existential crisis facing humanity today by reflecting on the numerous issues that are piling up, for which we have no solutions that can be effectively implemented. We are already in the midst of what scientists are calling the sixth mass extinction event for the planet. Similar to the die-off that occurred when the asteroid struck the earth and ended the age of the dinosaurs, the destruction that is occurring today is having catastrophic impacts on plants, animals, and insects that are essential cogs in the chain of life on the planet. We are witnessing the collapse of the ocean fisheries due to overfishing. Climate change is impacting everything including the sustainability of the ocean stream cycles, potentially affecting the viability of living in the currently temperate zones of North America and Europe. The threat of nuclear proliferation, once the greatest fear, now rests on an equal footing with global pandemics, biological warfare, chemical warfare, general global conflicts and mass migrations caused by war, famine, pestilence and imbalances in the availability of food and fresh water.
Our solutions to these issues are partial and, increasing, bitterly divided or partisan, as vested interests try to protect their status and power, and thus we are faced with gridlock. All of this is the result of attempting to implement mental solutions, naturally limited and fragmented in their vision and comprehensiveness, to issues that go beyond the capacities of the mental, vital and physical powers that currently control the direction of the planet. Sri Aurobindo’s proposed solution, the development of a new unified, integral consciousness that can harmonise all the conflicting ideas and directions, appears to be the only possible way out.
In The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo observes: “A life of unity, mutuality and harmony born of a deeper and wider truth of our being is the only truth of life that can successfully replace the imperfect mental constructions of the past which were a combination of association and regulated conflict, an accommodation of egos and interests grouped or dovetailed into each other to form a society, a consolidation by common general life-motives, a unification by need and the pressure of struggle with outside forces. It is such a change and such a reshaping of life for which humanity is blindly beginning to seek, now more and more with a sense that its very existence depends upon finding the way. The evolution of Mind working upon Life has developed an organisation of the activity of Mind and use of Matter which can no longer be supported by human capacity without an inner change. An accommodation of the ego-centric human individuality, separative even in association, to a system of living which demands unity, perfect mutuality, harmony, is imperative. But because the burden which is being laid on mankind is too great for the present littleness of the human personality and its petty mind and small life-instincts, because it cannot operate the needed change, becaust it is using this new apparatus and organisation to serve the old infra-spiritual and infrarational life-self of humanity, the destiny of the race seems to be heading dangerously, as if impatiently and in spite of itself, under the drive of the vital ego seized by colossal forces which are on the same scale as the huge mechanical organisation of life and scientific knowledge which it has evolved, a scale too large for its reason and will to handle, into a prolonged confusion and perilous crisis and darkness of violent shifting incertitude. Even if this turns out to be a passing phase or appearance and tolerable structural accommodation is found which will enable mankind to proceed less catastrophically on its uncertain journey, this can only be a respite. For the problem is fundamental and in putting it evolutionary Nature in man is confronting herself with a critical choice which must one day be solved in the true sense if the race is to arrive or even to survive.”