Introduction to Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development

Charles Darwin, in his book The Origin of Species, summarizes his observations about the evolution of forms and how this evolution came about. He explains that there is a pressure in Nature which eventually leads to the “survival of the fittest”, who then go on to reproduce and thereby pass on whatever qualities helped them survive the challenges of life. While there is much to applaud in this book, it is not without its detractors and its obvious internal weaknesses. One glaring weakness is the lack of what are seen as transitional links in the fossil record that show the steps of this evolution of forms. Another weakness is the inability to address any purpose or significance to this vast machinery of Nature.

Sri Aurobindo addresses both of these apparent issues. First, he describes, not a smooth and slow evolution of forms, but what he calls an “evolutionary saltus” at a certain stage when the underlying causative factors are prepared. Second, he identifies the causative factors as consciousness, and the evolution of consciousness in ever more powerful and complex formations. It is this evolution of consciousness which creates the needed development of forms to embody that consciousness.

By reframing the question of evolution away from a purely mechanical activity of physical nature to one of the development of consciousness, he also puts before us the proposition that man is not the final stage of evolution, but in fact is a transitional being. Further evolutionary developments are anticipated, and in fact, signs can be seen, in the human aspiration, that such developments are in fact taking place within the scope of human existence.

This provides a purpose and a focus for each individual beyond the mere acts required for existence and survival, and of more significance than simple enjoyment or entertainment. Those who are awake to a deeper aspect of life are called therefore to what Sri Aurobindo terms an ‘adventure of consciousness’.

Sri Aurobindo writes in The Life Divine: “To become ourselves is the one thing to be done; but the true ourselves is that which is within us, and to exceed our outer self of body, life and mind is the condition for this highest being, which is our true and divine being, to become self-revealed and active. It is only by growing within and living within that we can find it….”

The Mother observes: “everything turns around the consciousness, the fact of being or not being conscious. And it is only in the supreme Consciousness that you can attain the perfect expression of yourself. … For the true consciousness is the divine Consciousness. If you cut yourself off from the divine Consciousness, you become absolutely unconscious; that is exactly what has happened. And so, everything there is, the world as it is, your consciousness as it is, things in the state they are in, are the result of this separation of the consciousness and its immediate obscuration. … The minute the individual consciousness is separated from the divine Consciousness, it enters what we call the inconscience, and it is this inconscience that is the cause of all miseries. … And the conclusion is this, that the true transformation is the transformation of consciousness — all the rest will follow automatically.”

Sri Aurobindo notes further: “It is by a constant inner growth that one can find a constant newness and unfailing interest in life. There is no other satisfying way.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development

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