The Necessity of the Transformation of the Physical Body

In the high tech world, there is a concept known as “backward compatibility” whereby advances in technology retain basic characteristics of the prior version while making incremental advances. This approach has both an appeal, and a serious limitation. The appeal is that the former technology and its embedded base of installations do not immediately become obsolete, thereby causing enormous dislocations and costs for shifting to the new standard. The limitation is that major changes are held back by the need to cater to the requirements of old technology.

A similar debate takes place when we look at the transition of the body from the current mind-life-body configuration to a new status with the advent of the supramental transformation. The powers of knowledge, perception and action that the supermind could deploy go potentially far beyond the capabilities and limitations of the human body as currently configured. The concern arises that if, for instance, the body were reconfigured to not require food, nor sexual activity, nor sleep, for instance, in order to carry out the functions of earthly existence, and thus entire organ systems could be simply eliminated, the body would no longer be relatable to our common human experience and there would be a potential disconnect between humanity and an entirely new species, with the potential for unforeseen and unintended consequences for earthly life. If the functions of the body were radically transformed, would there still be any necessary connection to life as we know it, or would this propel the supramental being into its own native plane of existence where such a body is not even necessarily constituted of Matter? What would such a change do to the evolutionary development of life on earth? Balancing the need for advancement with the need for continuity and transition is just one of the issues confronting the spiritual seeker participating in the manifestation of the supramental evolutionary phase.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “Again, it might be urged that the organic structure of the body no less than its basic outer form would have to be retained as a necessary material foundation for the retention of the earth-nature, the connection of the divine life with the life of earth and a continuance of the evolutionary process so as to prevent a breaking upward out of and away from it into a state of being which would properly belong to a higher plane and not to a terrestrial divine fulfillment. The prolonged existence of the animal itself in our nature, if sufficiently transformed to be an instrument of manifestation and not an obstacle, would be necessary to preserve the continuity, the evolutionary total; it would be needed as the living vehicle, vahana, of the emergent god in the material world where he would have to act and achieve the works and wonders of the new life. It is certain that a form of body making this connection and a bodily action containing the earth-dynamism and its fundamental activities must be there, but the connection should not be a bond or a confining limitation or a contradiction of the totality of the change. The maintenance of the present organism without any transformation of it would not but act as such a bond and confinement within the old nature. There would be a material base but it would be of the earth earthy, an old and not a new earth with a diviner psychological structure; for with that structure the old system would be out of harmony and it would be unable to serve its further evolution or even to uphold it as a base in Matter. It would bind part of the being, a lower part to an untransformed humanity and unchanged animal functioning and prevent its liberation into the superhumanity of the supramental nature. A change is then necessary here too, a necessary part of the total bodily transformation, which would divinise the whole man, at least in the ultimate result, and not leave his evolution incomplete.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, The Divine Body, pp. 58-59

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