Overview Summary of Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching, Part 1: an Evolution of Consciousness

The central meaning of evolution is not the development of forms but the expression of ever-higher levels of consciousness which in turn requires the forms to adapt and gain in complexity to handle the needs of that higher consciousness.  The evolution from Matter to incorporate Life, and from Life to incorporate Mind, represent stages that have already manifested on the earth.  The evolution however is not completed and there are future stages that can anticipated and to some degree, described.

Sri Aurobindo writes:  “A spiritual evolution, an evolution of consciousness in Matter in a constant developing self-formation till the form can reveal the indwelling spirit, is then the keynote, the central significant motive of the terrestrial existence.  This significance is concealed at the outset by the involution of the Spirit, the Divine Reality, in a dense material Inconscience; a veil of Inconscience, a veil of insensibility in Matter hides the universal Consciousness-Force that works within it, so that the Energy, which is the first form the Force of creation assumes in the physical universe, appears to be itself inconscient and yet does the works of a vast occult Intelligence. … At first she houses herself in forms of Matter which appear to be altogether unconscious, then struggles toward mentality in the guise of living Matter and attains to it imperfectly in the conscious animal.  This consciousness is at first rudimentary, mostly a half-subconscious or just conscious instinct; it develops slowly till in more organised forms of living Matter it reaches its climax of intelligence and exceeds itself in Man, the thinking animal who develops into the reasoning mental being but carries along with him even at his highest elevation the mold of original animality, the dead weight of subconscience of body, the downward pull of gravitation toward the original Inertia and Nescience, the control of an inconscient material Nature over his conscious evolution, its power for limitation, its law of difficult development, its immense force for retardation and frustration.  This control by the original Inconscience over the consciousness emerging from it takes the general shape of a mentality struggling toward knowledge but itself, in what seems to be its fundamental nature, an Ignorance.  Thus hampered and burdened, mental man has still to evolve out of himself the fully conscious being, a divine manhood or a spiritual and supramental supermanhood which shall be the next product of the evolution.  That transition will mark the passage from the evolution in the Ignorance to a greater evolution in the Knowledge, founded and proceeding in the light of the Superconscient and no longer int he darkness of the Ignorance and Inconscience.”

Nolini Kanta Gupta, a long-time disciple of Sri Aurobindo, summarized:  “Sri Aurobindo’s message is very simple, almost self-evident.  The sum and substance of all he says is that man is growing and has to grow in consciousness till he reaches the complete and perfect consciousness, not only in his individual but in his collective, that is to say, social life.  In fact, the growth of consciousness is the supreme secret of life, the master key to earthly existence.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, Introduction by Robert McDermott, pp. 9-10

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.