The Possible Evolutionary Destiny of the Body

Humanity, wedded at the present time to a very materialistic orientation, is trying to find ways to enhance human capacities, defeat disease, extend quality of life and life-span, through either technology or the application of technology to biology. We may see here the mind’s attempts to influence the physical body and the life-energy and the mind itself through application of mental powers. We also see, however, the secret intention of Nature in terms of the aspiration that has taken hold of the human mind to such a degree that science and medical research are fixated on these issues.

We also see a growing trend in the field of psychology to explore the powers of the mind and the heart, and their application to the body, what is called the “mind-body” connection. There is a natural extension of this trend into the use of various entheogenic substances, such as Ayahuasca, or Psilocybin to explore realms of awareness from which we are normally shut out. Another sign of the aspiration is the enormous call of the spiritual quest and the practices of yoga, meditation, concentration, and various mindfulness practices, as well as the combination of movement and meditation as found in Sufism, martial arts practices and meditative dance. We see humanity pushing out the boundaries of knowledge, the knower, the object of knowledge and the act of knowing. Eventually this brings us into contact with spiritual powers and experiences that go beyond the mental limits and with these developments, new powers of control and expansion of perception and action become possible to the human instrument. The eventual manifestation of a next principle of evolutionary growth of consciousness is thus sure to bring with it new powers that will impact the body, the life-energy, the mind and the environmental relationship we have with the world around us.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “New powers have to be acquired by the body which our present humanity could not hope to realise, could not even dream of or could only imagine. Much that can now only be known, worked out or created by the use of invented tools and machinery might be achieved by the new body in its own power or by the inhabitant spirit through its own direct spiritual force. The body itself might acquire new means and ranges of communication with other bodies, new processes of acquiring knowledge, a new aesthesis, new potencies of manipulation of itself and objects. It might not be impossible for it to possess or disclose means native to its own constitution, substance or natural instrumentation for making the far near and annulling distance, cognising what is now beyond the body’s cognisance, acting where action is now out of its reach or its domain, developing subtleties and plasticities which could not be permitted under present conditions to the needed fixity of a material frame. These and other numerous potentialities might appear and the body becomes an instrument immeasurably superior to what we can now imagine as possible. There could be an evolution from a first apprehending truth-consciousness to the utmost heights of the ascending ranges of supermind and it may pass the borders of the supermind proper itself where it begins to shadow out, develop, delineate expressive forms of life touched by a supreme pure existence, consciousness and bliss which constitute the worlds of a highest truth of existence, dynamism of tapas, glory and sweetness of bliss, the absolute essence and pitch of the all-creating Ananda. The transformation of the physical being might follow this incessant line of progression and the divine body reflect or reproduce here in a divine life on the earth something of this highest greatness and glory of the self-manifesting Spirit.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, The Divine Body, pp. 61-62


The Past Evolutionary Developments and Their Role in the Future Evolutionary Process

Nature builds upon the foundations of the past, developing and perfecting certain functions and capabilities over time, discarding those things which have become obsolete or no longer useful for the general evolutionary development. Sri Aurobindo recognises the past basis in his view of future evolutionary potential and thus, while significant enhancements and upgrades are obviously in process, and certain activities that tie development too tightly to a material basis that must be loosened, he does not see a wholesale rejection of the physical body and all its links to the earth. Such a step would represent an abandonment of the evolutionary progress of Nature rather than a confirmation of it.

Sri Aurobindo has identified certain activities as the most likely to be dropped or radically altered in the interest of integrating a new higher power and form of consciousness, and these relate to the most dense physical activities, eating, sleeping and sexual procreation. He can thus foresee changes There are however powers and capabilities that can adapt to a more powerful and subtle action while retaining the physical form. We can speculate that the brain and nervous system, the pranic interchange of breathing, the circulatory system, and the senses of perception and action would be among those retained and enhanced. Even if there is an eventual power of communication of mind directly with mind, the power of voice and speech has its positive benefits and uses, not solely for communicating with those beings who do not possess the mental communication power, but for expression of song, emotion, nuance and inflection that only the voice has the power to deliver. Breathing is an essential part of the earth-life which reinforces the basic unity of all creatures in a oneness that is a basis for understanding and interaction, which we expect the supramental power to reinforce and reorient our actions to align with this oneness.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The new type, the divine body, must continue the already developed evolutionary form; there must be a continuation from the type Nature has all along been developing, a continuity from the human to the divine body, no breaking away to something unrecognisable but a high sequel to what has already been achieved and in part perfected. The human body has in it parts and instruments that have been sufficiently evolved to serve the divine life; these have to survive in their form, though they must be still further perfected, their limitations of range and use removed, their liability to defect and malady and impairment eliminated, their capacities of cognition and dynamic action carried beyond their present limits.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, The Divine Body, pg. 61

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

Future Evolution and Biological Changes

There is no reason to believe that evolution will suddenly come to an end at any particular point in time or stage of development. Realization and actualization of various enhanced powers of knowledge and action, some of which are already showing signs of emergence, are only a first stage. As the supramental consciousness manifests more fully, it will need to have a vehicle that is more adaptable, more powerful and more resilient than the current human body with all its intricate organ systems that are subject to breakdown, weakness and failure, and which require material sustenance to build and maintain the physical frame.

It should be remembered, however, that biological adaptation and mutation processes do not generally happen “overnight”. For instance, Neanderthal man (Homo neanderthalensis) roamed the earth for upwards of 350,000 years and interbred with modern man (Homo sapiens). Evolutionary adaptations occurred, and the interbreeding brought some of the genetic qualities of the Neanderthal into our modern human being, just as the same interbreeding brought some Homo sapiens genetic material into the Neanderthal. There is evidence today that our modern diet, pharmacological and chemical usage are actually changing our DNA, as also the nuclear radiation that was unleashed during the 1940’s through 1960’s. This represents a rather rapid change, far more rapid than systematic species-wide mutation would bring about through natural adaptation, and thus, as would be expected, we see many changes which can only be considered negative or detrimental..

Longer-term changes seem to have occurred as the race has evolved. For example, science generally recognizes a number of vestigial elements of the human body including the tail (seen in fetuses but dropping off before birth generally), the ability to move the ears to locate and concentrate sound, and wisdom teeth, among others. These represent seemingly subtle, but nevertheless real, adaptations over long periods of time to differing circumstances of human life.

Bringing forward the inherent powers already existent within the human framework is a process of optimization. Genetic change and structural modification would only follow as more radical changes make themselves felt. Change associated with changes in consciousness, in order to optimize the impact of that consciousness will take time.

Sri Aurobindo raises the question of how the subtle energy centers and their activation will change the needs and actions of the physical framework of the body, and the potential for genetic adaptation to streamline and eventually potentially do away with some of the organ systems and their limitations.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “This would be a first potent change, but not by any means all that is possible or desirable. For it may well be that the evolutionary urge would proceed to a change of the organs themselves in their material working and use and diminish greatly the need of their instrumentation and even of their existence. The centres in the subtle body, sukshma sharira, of which one would become conscious and aware of all going on in it, would pour their energies into material nerve and plexus and tissue and radiate them through the whole material body; all the physical life and its necessary activities in this new existence could be maintained and operated by these higher agencies in a freer and ampler way and by a less burdensome and restricting method. This might go so far that these organs might cease to be indispensable and even be felt as too obstructive: the central force might use them less and less and finally throw aside their use altogether. If that happened they might waste by atrophy, be reduced to an insignificant minimum or even disappear. The central force might substitute for them subtle organs of a very different character or, if anything material was needed, instruments that would be forms of dynamism or plastic transmitters rather than what we know as organs.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, The Divine Body, pg. 60

Enhanced Powers of Knowledge and Action Develop with Activation of the Subtle Energy Centers

Many people have had experiences of knowing what someone else is thinking, completing a sentence that the other person is uttering, or feeling emotions or vital drives from others, individuals or mass gatherings. We do not generally consider the implications of these experiences, however. Some of this is dismissed as simply getting subtle “signals” from another person that can be interpreted. But the experiences go far beyond such subtle signalling, and experiments in communication where the subjects were kept isolated from one another indicate that there is much more taking place here.

There are also experiences, unexplained by Western science of individuals thousands of miles apart getting precise thoughts, emotions, feelings, including knowledge of a loved one dying, at the moment the event was occurring. Modern theories in physics such as quantum entanglement and network theory are approaching explanations from the side of material science. They have not yet entertained the idea, however, that consciousness is universal, one and instantaneous and thus, through openness, “tuning” and “calibration” experiences of various sorts can be passed to others or received by others.

The implication here is that there are active powers already at work to some degree in the human being which, if focused, concentrated, developed, and trained, could open up entire new vistas of progress for the development of the next evolutionary phase. Under the guidance and direction of the supramental consciousness, these powers could radically transform the way we communicate, relate to one another and even manage our bodily functions and active life.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The brain would be a channel of communication of the form of the thoughts and a battery of their insistence on the body and the outside world where they could then become effective directly, communicating themselves without physical means from mind to mind, producing with a similar directness effects on the thoughts, actions and lives of others or even upon material things. The heart would equally be a direct communicant and medium of interchange for the feelings and emotions thrown outward upon the world by the forces of the psychic centre. Heart could reply directly to heart, the life-force come to the help of other lives and answer their call in spite of strangeness and distance, many beings without any external communication thrill with the message and meet in the secret light from one divine centre. The will might control the organs that deal with food, safeguard automatically the health, eliminate greed and desire, substitute subtler processes or draw in strength and substance from the universal life-force so that the body could maintain for a long time its own strength and substance without loss or waste, remaining thus with no need of sustenance by material aliments, and yet continue a strenuous action with no fatigue or pause for sleep or repose. The soul’s will or the mind’s could act from higher sources upon the sex centre and the sex organs so as to check firmly or even banish the grosser sexual impulse or stimulus and instead of serving an animal excitation or crude drive or desire turn their use to the storing, production and direction towards brain and heart and life-force of the essential energy, ojas, of which this region is the factory so as to support the works of the mind and soul and spirit and the higher life-powers and limit the expenditure of the energy on lower things. The soul, the psychic being, could more easily fill all with the light and turn the very matter of the body to higher uses for its own greater purpose.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, The Divine Body, pp. 59-60

The Active Opening of the Chakras and the Impact on the Functions of Life

A shift from the surface understanding of life, the functioning of the body and its organs to a new foundation based on the opening of the Chakras, would represent a major change in the way we perceive things, understand them, and act upon them. Sri Aurobindo cites the example of the formation of thoughts and feelings which we believe are originated within us, but which in reality are pressed upon us, received by us from outside our ego-individuality and adopted as our own. Opening of the subtle energy systems within us would provide us the ability to consciously receive, channel and express the energetic forces that we are part of in a much more focused and powerful way. This would also shift us from attention to the physical systems of the body and life to incorporation of energies at play in the universal creation as the source of our physical, vital and mental powers, potentially overriding or doing away entirely with the surface mechanisms of the prior evolutionary developments on earth.

As evolution proceeds, mutations, changes take place in the physical bodies and their action. Could it be that a shift to the supply of energy for life and the body to another system, such as the chakra energetic system, will eventually lead to internal organs becoming obsolete and atrophied over time? All of human life is characterized by change that brings about new systems, both external and internal, to carry out functions in a new, more powerful, more efficient manner. Why should the bodily functions also not be subject to modification, change and eventual discontinuance in favor of a new modus of operation?

Sri Aurobindo notes: “This aim, it might be said, would be sufficiently served if the instrumentation of the centres and their forces reigned over all the activities of the nature with an entire domination of the body and made it both in its structural form and its organic workings a free channel and means of communication and a plastic instrument of cognition and dynamic action for all that they had to do in the material life, in the world of Matter. There would have to be a change in the operative processes of the material organs themselves and, it may well be, in their very constitution and their importance; they could not be allowed to impose their limitations imperatively on the new physical life. To begin with, they might become more clearly outer ends of the channels of communication and action, more serviceable for the psychological purposes of the inhabitant, less blindly material in their responses, more conscious of the act and aim of the inner movements and powers which use them and which they are wrongly supposed by the material man in us to generate and to use.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, The Divine Body, pg. 59

The Necessity of the Transformation of the Physical Body

In the high tech world, there is a concept known as “backward compatibility” whereby advances in technology retain basic characteristics of the prior version while making incremental advances. This approach has both an appeal, and a serious limitation. The appeal is that the former technology and its embedded base of installations do not immediately become obsolete, thereby causing enormous dislocations and costs for shifting to the new standard. The limitation is that major changes are held back by the need to cater to the requirements of old technology.

A similar debate takes place when we look at the transition of the body from the current mind-life-body configuration to a new status with the advent of the supramental transformation. The powers of knowledge, perception and action that the supermind could deploy go potentially far beyond the capabilities and limitations of the human body as currently configured. The concern arises that if, for instance, the body were reconfigured to not require food, nor sexual activity, nor sleep, for instance, in order to carry out the functions of earthly existence, and thus entire organ systems could be simply eliminated, the body would no longer be relatable to our common human experience and there would be a potential disconnect between humanity and an entirely new species, with the potential for unforeseen and unintended consequences for earthly life. If the functions of the body were radically transformed, would there still be any necessary connection to life as we know it, or would this propel the supramental being into its own native plane of existence where such a body is not even necessarily constituted of Matter? What would such a change do to the evolutionary development of life on earth? Balancing the need for advancement with the need for continuity and transition is just one of the issues confronting the spiritual seeker participating in the manifestation of the supramental evolutionary phase.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “Again, it might be urged that the organic structure of the body no less than its basic outer form would have to be retained as a necessary material foundation for the retention of the earth-nature, the connection of the divine life with the life of earth and a continuance of the evolutionary process so as to prevent a breaking upward out of and away from it into a state of being which would properly belong to a higher plane and not to a terrestrial divine fulfillment. The prolonged existence of the animal itself in our nature, if sufficiently transformed to be an instrument of manifestation and not an obstacle, would be necessary to preserve the continuity, the evolutionary total; it would be needed as the living vehicle, vahana, of the emergent god in the material world where he would have to act and achieve the works and wonders of the new life. It is certain that a form of body making this connection and a bodily action containing the earth-dynamism and its fundamental activities must be there, but the connection should not be a bond or a confining limitation or a contradiction of the totality of the change. The maintenance of the present organism without any transformation of it would not but act as such a bond and confinement within the old nature. There would be a material base but it would be of the earth earthy, an old and not a new earth with a diviner psychological structure; for with that structure the old system would be out of harmony and it would be unable to serve its further evolution or even to uphold it as a base in Matter. It would bind part of the being, a lower part to an untransformed humanity and unchanged animal functioning and prevent its liberation into the superhumanity of the supramental nature. A change is then necessary here too, a necessary part of the total bodily transformation, which would divinise the whole man, at least in the ultimate result, and not leave his evolution incomplete.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, The Divine Body, pp. 58-59

Mastery of the Body’s Present Functionality, or Complete Transformation of the Body?

While rare, there are documented cases of individuals remaining alive for extended times while stopping the breath, or discontinuing food. Individuals have been placed in sealed below ground chambers for days or weeks at a time and departed the chamber in full health. Paramhansa Yogananda in his famous Autobiography of a Yogi related personal experience of a visit he made to an individual who did not consume food or drink, but who lived on the cosmic energy. He interviewed her at length in the book. Tibetan Yogis practice the art of tummo which involves the generation of internal heat to such a degree that they can sit naked, or in a thin white cloth in freezing conditions and not feel the cold or get frostbite. The intrepid French explorer Alexandra David-Neel reports becoming herself an adept in this practice.

While these instances provide some amount of proof that it is possible, in theory, to avoid breathing, intake of food and drink, they do not provide us with a satisfactory answer for the evolutionary development of a divine body more generally. In the case of the cessation of breathing or heartbeat, extensive and difficult practices are often required. Of course, there are also instances known to medical science in the West of people returning from what has been called “clinical death” after their breathing has stopped and their hearts have ceased beating, albeit for relatively short periods of time. People have been known to be declared dead and sent to the morgue, only to revive at some point prior to burial. Even in the time of Shakespeare, there were tales of a potion that could create the semblance of death, with the eventual awakening coming after an extended period. This same type of understanding was related by Alexandre Dumas in The Count of Monte Cristo where a specific potion was used to make it seem an individual had died. While Shakespeare and Dumas wrote works of fiction, they related information they found current in their time as to possible herbal preparations with this effect. These things have been related as being either partially or entirely conscious practices, a grace of the Divine, or occurring through the use of various drugs to induce the effect. There is no sign here that conscious control over and mastery over the functioning of all these internal organs, while maintaining the life and activity of the individual, is the actual evolutionary intention.

Should the evolutionary process move in the direction of conscious mastery over the functions of the organ systems, eventually, the question arises as to whether, indeed, they are any longer required, or could eventually lead to a new divine body that functions on a different set of principles than the current human body and its organ systems.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “Again, it might be thought that a full control would be sufficient, a knowledge and a vision of this organism and its unseen action and an effective control determining its operations according to the conscious will; this possibility has been affirmed as something already achieved and a part of the development of the inner powers in some. The cessation of the breathing while still the life of the body remained stable, the hermetic sealing up at will not only of the breath but of all the vital manifestations for long periods, the stoppage of the heart similarly at will while thought and speech and other mental workings continued unabated, these and other phenomena of the power of the will over the body are known and well-attested examples of this kind of mastery. But these are occasional or sporadic successes and do not amount to transformation; a total control is necessary and an established and customary and, indeed, a natural mastery. Even with that achieved something more fundamental might have to be demanded for the complete liberation and change into a divine body.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, The Divine Body, pp. 57-58

Overcoming the Current Limits of Human Perception and Action

Whether through the opening of the Chakras, or perhaps through other modalities, there is no doubt that new powers of knowing and acting are pressing for expression. We can already conceptualize various expansions of our senses of perception. Some of these are indeed being brought about through technology, such as an ability to see wavelengths not observed by the naked eye, to explore distances in the universe as well as in the microscopic world that are not evident to us with our current senses. However, we can also see changes taking place within the human instrument as more people experience openings to thoughts and emotions being expressed by others, and we begin to understand more completely the ways to optimize what we experience and how we respond to events or circumstances in the world. As we begin to use the knowledge of how neurotransmitters work, how they can aid us in achieving extraordinary feats of physical endurance and performance, how they can alert us to dangers, and how they can help us radiate a sense of well-being and purpose for ourselves and others, we recognise that there are capacities within the human being that have been used unconsciously or subconsciously, but which now can potentially be wielded with a purpose, essentially on demand.

But what of capabilities that have been laughed at, since they are not easy to prove with the means of material science, such as out of body experiences, intuition, clairvoyance, clairaudience, and abilities to potentially move physical objects with mental focus? Science has proven to us that people can use thought to move artificial limbs, to communicate with others by the power of thought, albeit enhanced to a power that can be picked up by sensitive computerized equipment. This implies the power is there, and we simply do not yet know how to focus and intensify its action without the use of external technology. We can see a convergence here where science and spiritual practice may coincide, as the bridge between the two may be the opening of specific chakras and the flow or energy in much greater values through those chakras.

The limitations of the physical body and its processes represent a challenge for humanity as we move towards the next phase of evolution. Breakdowns of the organ systems, nervous system, brain chemistry or cellular activity means we cannot and do not obtain the highest and best performance from the body at all times, and that eventually these breakdowns lead to disease, incapacity and death. We can extend and expand, but eventually the mechanisms themselves have to be brought into focus as the ultimate barriers to be overcome in the expression of powers of consciousness that we cannot yet even remotely comprehend.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “But what would be the result of the emergence of these forces and their liberated and diviner action on the body itself, what their dynamic connection with it and their transforming operation on the still existing animal nature and its animal impulses and gross material procedure? It might be held that the first necessary change would be the liberation of the mind, the life-force, the subtle physical agencies and the physical consciousness into a freer and diviner activity, a many-dimensioned and unlimited operation of their consciousness, a large outbreak of higher powers and the sublimation of the bodily consciousness itself, of its instrumentation, capacity, capability for the manifestation of the soul in the world of Matter. the subtle senses now concealed in us might come forward into a freer action and the material senses themselves become means or channels for the vision of what is now invisible to us or the discovery of things surrounding us but at present unseizable and held back from our knowledge. A firm check might be put on the impulses of the animal nature or they might be purified and subtilised so as to become assets and not liabilities and so transformed as to be parts and processes of a diviner life. But even these changes would still leave a residue of material processes keeping the old way and not amenable to the higher control and, if this could not be changed, the rest of the transformation might itself be checked and incomplete. A total transformation of the body would demand a sufficient change of the most material part of the organism, its constitution, its processes and its set-up of nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, The Divine Body, pg. 57

Searching for the Levers of Change for the Transformation of Human Life and Physical Nature

Sri Aurobindo raises the question of the process and mechanisms that can lead to the type of transformational change in human life and even the physical body which he has outlined as the next phase of our evolutionary development. There must be some mechanisms, perhaps not yet fully revealed or developed within us, that can prepare us for these changes and lay the foundation for the manifestation of the next evolutionary stage and the knowledge and powers that accompany that stage.

The Chakras are subtle energy centers that are aligned within us in an ascending series. They channel and direct certain energies that can aid in our inner and outer growth, or, if only partially available or distorted in their action, can retard or interfere in our growth. For most of us, the energy channeled through the chakras is limited and some of the chakras remain closed or only slightly open, thus, capping or restraining the action. The energy flow, in principle, can be observed in the growth of the infant to child, child to teenage years, and then to a mature adult stage.

Both Western and Eastern scientists, philosophers and psychologists chart various stages in human life that focus on, initially, physical growth and needs, then the development of the individuality and will, later on emotional development, expression and will. These developments correspond with a maturation process of partial opening of the relevant chakras. Yet there is much more potential at each level than we normally see, and for exceptional cases, where we see a greater opening of one or more of the subtle energy centres, we identify an individual as expressing greater powers than we normally expect in our human existence. This may be greater energy and endurance, a wider, more embracing expression of love and compassion, a power of communication, or a power of concentration and will that we find extraordinary. Those who have studied these things indicate that what we have heretofore seen is a small representation of the greater powers of knowledge and action available when the chakras actually open fully.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “What agency could we find which we could make the means of this all-important liberation and change? Something there is in us or something has to be developed, perhaps a central and still occult part of our being containing forces whose powers in our actual and present make-up are only a fraction of what could be, but if they became complete and dominant would be truly able to bring about with the help of the light and force of the soul and the supramental truth-consciousness the necessary physical transformation and its consequences.”

“This might be found in the system of the Chakras revealed by Tantric knowledge and accept in the systems of Yoga, conscious centres and sources of all the dynamic powers of our being organising their action through the plexuses and arranged in an ascending series from the lowest physical to the highest mind centre and spiritual centre called the thousand-petalled lotus where ascending Nature, the Serpent Power of the Tantrics, meets the Brahman and its liberated into the Divine Being. These centres are closed or half-closed within us and have to be opened before their full potentiality can be manifested in our physical nature: but once they are opened and completely active, no limit can easily be set to the development of their potencies and the total transformation to be possible.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, The Divine Body, pp. 56-57