The Secret Significance and Process of Evolution

Western science has attempted to understand existence by analysis, first and foremost of the outer forms and forces we experience in the world around us. The mind’s analytical and organisational capabilities have been brought intensively to bear upon the forms of existence, the material basis, the vital life-forms and the developments of mental capacity. Charles Darwin conducted extensive research which he recounted in his seminal work in the field titled The Origin of Species. He worked to trace the evolutionary development of forms and organised the material in a way that we could see the successive development of increasingly complex forms capable of more and more intelligent action. He posited that the evolution took place through a process of “survival of the fittest” such that those individuals of a species who were best adapted tended to pass on their genes and thus, successively develop more adaptive individuals in future generations. Those beings who were better adapted to the world tended to survive while others died out.

What he was unable to do was to determine what actually determined and caused and acted as the significant rationale behind this outer process of evolution. Sri Aurobindo noted that the evolution of the outer forms was part of a deeper development of ever-increasing manifestation of consciousness. This consciousness, involved and embedded in Matter, successively begins to manifest overtly as forms are prepared that can utilise and hold this new power and action of consciousness. This represents the hidden significance of evolution and with this key, we can see the trend and understand even the future lines of development that must follow.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “For throughout the story of evolution there are two complementary aspects which constitute its action and are necessary to its totality; there is hidden in the involution of Nature the secret power and principle of being which lies concealed under the veil cast on it by material Nature and there is carried in that Nature itself the inevitable force of the principle compelling the process of emergence of its inherent powers and characters, the essential features which constitute its reality. As the evolutionary principle emerges, there are also two constant features of the process of the emergence: there are the gradations by which it climbs out of the involution and manifests more and more of its power, its possibilities, the force of the Godhead within it, and there is a constant manifestation of all types and forms of its being which are the visible, indicative and efficient embodiments of its essential nature. There appear in the evolutionary process organised forms and activities of Matter, the types of life and the living beings, the types of mind and the thinking beings, the luminosities and greatnesses of the spiritual principle and the spiritual beings whose nature, character, personality, mark the stages of the ascent towards the highest heights of the evolution and the ultimate largest manifestation of what is in itself and must become by the force of time and the all-revealing Spirit. This is the real sense and drive of what we see as evolution: the multiplication and variation of forms is only the means of its process. Each gradation contains the possibility and the certainty of the grades beyond it: the emergence of more and more developed forms and greater powers beyond them, and each emergence of consciousness and the conscious beings proper to it enables the rise to a greater consciousness beyond and the greater order of beings up to the ultimate godheads of which Nature is striving and is destined to show herself capable. Matter developed its organised forms until it became capable of embodying living organisms; then life rose from the subconscience of the plant into conscious animal formations and through them to the thinking life of man.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, Mind of Light, pg. 90

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