Evolution of Consciousness

In order to evolve, a power or principle must be first involved. When we say that life evolved out of inanimate Matter, we have to reflect, “how is this possible?” When we examine Matter at the sub-atomic level, we see an incredible power of consciousness at work with very precise and mathematical relationships, balances of positive and negative charges, and cycles of rotation and interaction. Similarly, when we examine the development of Life, we find that every life-form has genetic coding of DNA that builds the precise form and activity of life that has been previously encoded. We see that consciousness has been involved in Matter and Life and thus, can evolve systematically from these planes to manifest in the universal creation. With the advent of Mind, we see yet a further extension of consciousness evolving and developing. Mind, however, while it is clearly a powerful action of consciousness compared to what we see in the responsiveness and reactions of Matter and Life, also is obviously limited and hampered by the frame within which it works, the limits of methodology of its action and its reliance on the physical and vital instruments for perception and action. It is clear therefore that Mind is a transitional phase and that further evolutionary development to address these limitations, must be eventually forthcoming.

We notice that the universal creation continues to develop and produce new powers of knowledge and action. It is thus expected that as the next phase of the evolution occurs, it will not simply involve the abandonment of life and the world of manifestation, but will also include an integration of these new powers into the world.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The process of evolution has been the development from and in inconscient Matter of a subconscient and then a conscious Life, of conscious mind first in animal life and then fully in conscious and thinking man, the highest present achievement of evolutionary Nature. The achievement of mental being is at present her highest and tends to be regarded as her final work; but it is possible to conceive a still further step of the evolution: Nature may have in view beyond the imperfect mind of man a consciousness that passes out of the mind’s ignorance and possess truth as its inherent right and nature. There is a Truth-Consciousness as it is called in the Veda, a Supermind, as I have termed it, possessing Knowledge, not having to seek after it and constantly miss it. In one of the Upanishads a being of knowledge is stated to be the next step above the mental being; into that the soul has to rise and through it to attain the perfect bliss of spiritual existence. If that could be achieved as the next evolutionary step of Nature here, then she would be fulfilled and we could conceive of the perfection of life even here, its attainment of a full spiritual living even in this body or it may be in a perfected body. We could even speak of a divine life on earth; our human dream of perfectibility would be accomplished and at the same time the aspiration to a heaven on earth common to several religions and spiritual seers and thinkers.”

“The ascent of the human soul to the supreme Spirit is that soul’s highest aim and necessity, for that is the supreme reality; but there can be too the descent of the Spirit and its powers into the world and that would justify the existence of the material world also, give a meaning, a divine purpose to the creation and solve its riddle. East and West could be reconciled in the pursuit of the highest and largest ideal, Spirit embrace Matter and Matter find its own true reality and the hidden Reality in all things in the Spirit.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Planes of Consciousness and Parts of the Being, pp. 43-46

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