Gazing into the Future Evolutionary Potential of the Physical Body

When we gaze into the future evolutionary possibilities, we inform our view with what can be seen from the past evolutionary events. Darwin noted an evolution of forms which followed certain patterns, but he did not find the central thread that runs through the entire process and that provides context for the evolution of forms, namely, the evolution and development of higher forms of consciousness, which then require changes to the forms in order to both manifest effectively and carry out the power that the new consciousness inserts into the world.

When we reflect on the development of the supramental consciousness in our earthly nature as described by Sri Aurobindo, we see a power of knowledge and action that far exceeds that which was brought to bear in the earlier stages of evolution up to the mental level. The pressure on the physical body, the need to be able to hold and express this force without it breaking down the body, the life-force, the nervous system and the mind, is something that must be considered.

The major limitations that inhibit even the full action of the mental force, not to speak of the supramental force, are related to the focus, attention and need for eating, sleeping and procreation that consume so much of the time, attention and energy of the already quite short human life, and which lead to both diversion of focus and breakdown of physical systems that are needed to operate in the physical world. Sri Aurobindo, recognizing these limitations, considers that eventually, those systems would have to be subject to change or even elimination from the “divine body”. Obviously, as all major changes of form and function in the material world, these changes take place over long periods of time, and in the interim there would be optimizations and accommodations within the framework of the existing physical structures. For quite some time thereafter there would have to be a form of “backward compatibility” during a transitional period to carry forward the inter-relationships between homo sapiens and homo supramentalis, while eventually we might see the emergence of an entirely new race that could act in the world, but with different powers and capacities than we at present are able to recognize or even conceive of for the most part.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “This might well be part of a supreme total transformation of the body, though this too might not be final. To envisage such changes is to look far ahead and minds attached to the present form of things may be unable to give credence to their possibility. No such limits and no such impossibility of any necessary change can be imposed on the evolutionary urge. All has not to be fundamentally changed: on the contrary, all has to be preserved that is still needed in the totality, but all has to be perfected. Whatever is necessary for the evolutionary purpose for the increasing, enlarging, heightening of the consciousness, which seems to be its central will and aim here, or the progression of its enabling means and preserving environment, has to be kept and furthered; but what has to be overpassed, whatever has no longer a use or is degraded, what has become unhelpful or retarding, can be discarded and dropped on the way. That has been evident in the history of the evolution of the body from its beginning in elementary forms to its most developed type, the human; there is no reason why this process should not intervene in the transition from the human into the divine body. For the manifestation or building of a divine body on earth there must be an initial transformation, the appearance of a new, a greater and more developed type, not a continuance with little modifications of the present physical form and its limited possibilities. What has to be preserved must indeed be preserved and that means whatever is necessary or thoroughly serviceable for the uses of the new life on earth; whatever is still needed and will serve its purpose but is imperfect, will have to be retained but developed and perfected; whatever is no longer of use for new aims or is a disability must be thrown aside. The necessary forms and instrumentations of Matter must remain since it is in a world of Matter that the divine life has to manifest, but their materiality must be refined, uplifted, ennobled, illumined, since Matter and the world of Matter have increasingly to manifest the indwelling Spirit.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, The Divine Body, pp. 60-61

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