There is, at each stage of evolutionary development, a significant change in the expression of self-awareness and basic consciousness. At the same time, the development builds upon and is based on the foundation of the preceding stages, thus providing continuity. There are gradations of consciousness at each level that appear to be taking on some of the essential characteristics of the next level that is about to manifest, without thereby fully expressing that next level. For example, we see in the crystal and the metal a responsiveness that is clearly an advanced stage of Matter, with characteristics that begin to show the way that will be taken up when Life appears. Yet they are clearly material in their nature. Similarly, we see in plants, particularly the most highly evolved species, a level of responsiveness to thought, to stimuli, that precedes the consciousness we find in animals. Animals, particularly the higher animals, exhibit basic characteristics that will eventually blossom in humanity to levels of self-awareness and problem-solving, including communication skills and tool usage. Among humanity we already can identify various stages of development of the mental characteristics that we associate with human mental capabilities.
It is therefore to be expected that with the advent of the Supermind, and its modification and taking up of the human mental capabilities, that there will remain a series of gradations of mentality within the entirety of the human race, while at the same time, there will be evident a leap of development that corresponds to the supramental influence and full manifesteation. Thus, the concern about the creation of an evolutionary “gap” with the advent of Supermind in humanity, is not well-founded..
Sri Aurobindo observes: “But this objection presumes that the new humanity must be all of one level; there may well be gradations of consciousness in it which would bridge the distance between its least developed elements and the higher animals who, although they cannot pass into a semi-human kind, might still progress towards a higher animal intelligence: for certain experiments show that these are not all entirely unprogressive. These gradations would serve the purpose of the transition quite as well as the least developed humans in the present scale without leaving a gap so wide as to disturb the evolutionary order of the universe. A considerable saltus can, as it is, be observed separating the different orders, Matter and the plant, the plant and the lower animals, one species of animals and another, as well as that always existing and large enough between the highest animal and man. There would therefore be no incurable breach in the evolutionary order, no such distance between human mind and animal mind, between the new type of human being and the old animal level as could not be overleaped or would create an unbridgeable gulf for the most developed animal soul in its passage to the least developed type of the new humanity. A leap, a saltus, there would be, as there is now; but it would not be between animality and divinity, from animal mind to Supermind: it would be between a most highly developed animal mind turning towards human possibilities — for without that the passage from animal to man could not be achieved — and a human mind waking to the possibility, not yet the full achievement, of its own higher yet unattained capacities.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, Supermind and Humanity, pp. 74-75