Solving the Existential Crisis of Humanity Through the Evolution of Consciousness, Part II Practical Applications; the Example of Auroville

In part I of this series we explored the nature of the existential crisis of humanity, the 6th planetary “die off” of species, the extinction event that is knocking at our door, and the underlying causal actions of humanity that have created this crisis, based on the methodology and the consequent limitations of the mental consciousness acting on the vital and physical planes.  We also explored the evolutionary cycle and the signs of the next phase of evolution beyond the mind, which Sri Aurobindo terms the “supramental consciousness” that is in process of manifesting.  The mental consciousness is based in the ego and sees things as if it is at the center of existence, a falsehood that leads to all kinds of imbalances in humanity’s interactions with the world.  The supramental consciousness as it manifests is not bound by the ego-personality and sees things in a holistic and complete way. 

As we begin the shift from the mental to the supramental consciousness, we can already begin to work on adapting this changed viewpoint into the ways we deal with and address the world around us, and the way we interact with other individuals.  This can, and should, bring about enormous changes in the way humanity relates to the environment, and we are beginning to see a change in understanding consistent with this shift from the ego-awareness to the consciousness beyond the ego and its mental-vital-physical framework.

The existential crisis we are looking at needs urgent and effective action to change human patterns of life and this requires considerable effort to both develop new, sound ways of dealing with the world, and finding ways to create implementations of these new patterns. 

The Auroville project in South India acts as an incubator for new approaches toward living holistically on the planet, and developing sound, scalable and adaptable models that can start with the developing world, where the need is obviously the greatest and the resources available are the least.  The developed world, with its embedded base of investments will only follow along when it becomes obvious to those who hold and command the resources that their model is unsustainable and must be changed.  The situation in the developing world, however, is much different and there, the people are going to adopt the model of the developed world, and further burden the planet, if they do not find ways to survive and thrive that are also more balanced for the future.  Their rationale is that they have the same right to succeed and enjoy their lives as those who have exploited the planet in the past, and thus, they should not be gainsaid with regard to their development aspirations.

Auroville has residents from more than 70 countries around the world, people who have come to work towards developing new ways and new directions and new relationships to provide a way forward out of the existential crisis we are facing.  They bring with them the aspirations of humanity, as well as all the basic characteristics of humanity that need to be addressed while trying to overcome the issues and concerns that tend to divide humanity one from another.  In addition to simply being an experiment in how to bring about human unity across different cultural mindsets, languages, religious and political backgrounds, Auroville has numerous projects spanning a wide variety of fields, but each focused on a different aspect of sustainability, environmental integrity and healing of the planet and the people.  It has not only conceptualized numerous potential directions, but has actually started up a number of projects to actualize these concepts and show that they can be both effective, harmonious, adaptable and scalable.

One such project was a reforestation program.  Auroville, when it was founded in 1968, was a desolated landscape with heavy erosion, lack of tree cover and vegetation and harsh heat under a beating sun.  Today one sees a lush forest with a complex infrastructure of native plants, insects and animals in a heavily forested area, with erosion control, and water catchments, all in harmony with Nature.  The transformation was made through the kind of holistic vision that needs to be applied more widely in the world. 

The reforestation project worked on many levels.  First, to understand the native flora and fauna of the region and begin to introduce appropriate vegetation and trees.  Second, to work with the local villagers so they would both understand the value and support the project as it developed.  Third, to nurture the plantings carefully through the initial stages.  Along the way, water runoff was studied and catchments and diversions were developed to capture the water and not allow it to further erode the landscape.

Not only did Auroville achieve “proof of concept” with this project, but it succeeded in exporting the basics of this project to Haiti, Kenya and some other areas in India, successfully, by developing local individuals who took into account their own local circumstances and adapted the consciousness that was developed to the new situation.

Other projects include creating high protein algae-based foods, commercial hemp for a number of uses, including environmentally-friendly bricks for building.  They also have developed architectural models to maintain a moderate and cool environment within the tropical zone through the building design and materials used, rather than the Western approach of relying on energy-intensive air conditioning equipment, as well as creating unique solutions to water capture and conservation. 

Auroville has more than 55 current projects spanning the gamut from food, water and health to building, construction and reforestation, while also experimenting with new ways of developing and sharing resources within the community.  Many of these projects are mature and ready to be scaled to other localities in the developing world, while some are working out the implementation details in the initial stages.  Auroville does not claim to have all the solutions, but it is working to envision and implement new ways that are in harmony with the global, holistic requirements to solve the existential crisis we face. 

Another aspect of the Auroville project is the very dynamics of interaction between all the different people, backgrounds, religions, languages and cultures.  Everyone brings their own unique perspective and ways of acting to the situation and, as we see everywhere in the world, this can bring about a considerable amount of disagreement, or even conflict.  The challenge at Auroville is to become a laboratory for change, not just on the environmental or natural circumstances, but also to face and find solutions to the interpersonal challenges that inevitably must arise given the complexity of the society that is being built there.  This encompasses also new ways of allocating resources, new forms of decision-making, and a wider vision that can encompass numerous different approaches without taking personal affront, as so often is the case wherever people join together to accomplish something, whether in a family, a business, a community, a society, a religious tradition, or a civilization.  None of these challenges are simple of solution, and in order to even be resolved, they must arise and be confronted, understood and worked out.  The Auroville project brings to this process a basic understanding and good will regarding the need for such interaction and new forms of resolution, and thus, even disagreement or internal conflict becomes part of the larger process as the community continues to grow, develop and flourish over time.

For an extensive interview covering this subject and the Auroville experiment see the following link: https://youtu.be/eoiV_ipoHbk

A preceding interview going in depth into the existential crisis and the evolution of consciousness see the following link: https://youtu.be/n3MznXmXDM4

For more information about the Auroville projects and overview of the comprehensive nature of these projects as experiments in developing a sustainable future, you can visit the website at https://aviusa.org/flourish/  and for more general information about Auroville, visit  www.aviusa.org/auroville   

For more information about the writings of Sri Aurobindo which underlie the approaches taken as humanity searches for a way to survive and thrive in the future, you can visit www.lotuspress.com as well as visit the daily blog postings at   https://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and daily podcast at  https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky    and the web page www.aurobindo.net 

The Future Evolution of Man: Summary and Conclusions

It seems wherever we turn nowadays we are confronted with enormous challenges.  Climate change and global pollution are taking a toll on the planet and scientists confirm we are in the midst of the sixth species “die off” event they could document through geologic evidence on the planet.  The earth is under pressure like never before.  When we add to that humanity overrunning the resources of the planet by utilizing resources at a pace that is at least three times that which is sustainable, and that certain resources, such as fresh water, are under tremendous pressure.

All of these things are causes of disruption in human society and represent causes of conflict, migration and mass suffering.  Droughts, pandemics, increased intensity of catastrophic storms and fires, all challenge our way of interacting with the environment, the other species that share the planet with us, and with our fellow human beings.

Based on the habitual manner in which our mind responds to the vital and physical world around us, and the overarching influence of the vital ego on our mental processes, we have not only disrupted the balance of Nature, but we have created endless conflict through our narrow, limited, fragmented “either/or” way of seeing things and responding to issues that arise.  We thus see a proliferation of economic models, political systems, religious approaches to life that all seem to conflict with each other and which each believe to be the only truth, and therefore entitled to set the rules and guidelines for everyone else, either through persuasion or through majority rule, or if that fails, through compulsion and destructive acts.  The principle of desire which permeates the vital stage of evolution controls the application of the mind to achieve egoistic, not universal, objectives.

Meanwhile we continue to invade habitat that provides both the needed oxygen production for us to breathe, as well as restricts the range of other species, and increase the proximity of potential disease vectors, creating more opportunity for global pandemic events to occur.  Climate change also extends the range of disease vectors.

We continue to try to compensate for our depletion of resources through use of artificial fertilizers, and the expanded use of pesticides and herbicides, all of which increase the toxic load on the planet.

If this is not sufficient cause for concern, our economic models tend to result in a small number of individuals controlling the vast bulk of all resources on the planet and preventing equitable access to all of humanity.  Add to this our scourges of genocide, racism, religious bigotry and misogyny and we have created a toxic environment that makes it difficult, if not virtually impossible to resolve issues on a global basis with our current mental approach to affairs.

Clearly a change is needed.

Sri Aurobindo has pointed out that the process of Nature in its evolutionary cycle is not solely related to the change of forms, but first and foremost, an evolution of consciousness, from the material, to the vital, to the mental, thus far.  He points out that this process tends to involve an increasing pressure on the existing status quo until such time as the next level of evolution can manifest and add an entirely new perspective and method of action.  It is time, based on the pressure we see in the natural world around us, and the gridlock that humanity has reached in its mental approach, for the next stage of the evolutionary cycle to manifest, the supramental manifestation.

The mind operates on the basis of separation, fragmentation and limited linear approaches to things.  It therefore misses major factors that are affected by its focused approach, leading to massive unintended consequences.  It is therefore not capable of solving the global, all-encompassing issues that threaten the very survival of humanity on the planet.  A new consciousness, based in oneness and recognizing the unity of the entire creation, the divine intention in that creation, and the infinite diversity that exists in the creation, is required to develop insights, solutions and methods that can resolve these conflicting approaches currently wreaking havoc on the planet.

Many believe that the solution to these crises will come about through advanced technology.  Technology certainly must play a role in addressing a number of issues, but it must be technology under the management of a comprehensive, integral vision, not driven by the mind’s limited and fragmented approach which creates problems while it solves specific issues.

A careful review of evolution, and an insightful view of human psychology and the unexplained capacities that sometimes arise, show us that there is a next phase to the evolutionary cycle that is pressuring to manifest more widely.  Humanity can support this needed development through conscious participation and preparation of our human psychology to widen, expand our capacities, perfect our instruments of action, and recognize the need for a wider, more inclusive view in our actions in the world.

The Future Evolution of Man has provided an organized presentation of the basis, necessity and steps towards the manifestation of the supramental consciousness on earth.  For those who want more detail we recommend reading The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, and The Human Cycle: the Psychology of Social Development from which the presentation in the current volume has been compiled and presented by P.B. Saint-Hilaire.

Sri Aurobindo, The Future Evolution of Man,

The Supramental Evolution Represents the Fulfillment of Life, Not the Abandonment of Life

For much of human history, spirituality has been looked upon as a contradiction of an active life in the world.  The anchorite in the desert, the renunciate, the Sannyasin, the monk or nun in the cloister are held up to us as the examples of dedication to spiritual growth and purpose.  All of these examples imply that if one is caught up in the world’s affairs, if one acts in a full and rich life in the world, that there is little hope for true spiritual progress.  We create a duality between the “man of the world”, immersed in the goals of success, accumulation of wealth, relationships and enjoyment of life, and the “man of the spirit” who focuses on spiritual realisation at the expense of all other objectives or goals in life.

Sri Aurobindo reminds us that the universal creation is one and that there is an “omnipresent Reality” which does not artificially divide one aspect of living from another.  The true fulfillment thus does not require abandonment of life, but the integration of the Spirit into all aspects of living.  Life is not intended to be an illusion or a deception, but an expression of the divine intention.

What we observe is an evolution of consciousness that is initially involved in Matter.  There is a progression from Matter to Life, from Life to Mind, and beyond to what Sri Aurobindo has termed the Supermind.  This evolution of consciousness builds on and incorporates all the aspects of life.  The spiritual seeker, consciously participating in this evolutionary process, works towards perfecting and uplifting human nature, not abandoning or destroying it.

Sri Aurobindo writes in The Life Divine:  “If there is an evolution in material Nature and if it is an evolution of being with consciousness and life as its two key-terms and powers, this fullness of being, fullness of consciousness, fullness of life must be the goal of development towards which we are tending and which will manifest at an early or later stage of our destiny.  The Self, the Spirit, the Reality that is disclosing itself out of the first inconscience of life and matter, would evolve its complete truth of being and consciousness in that life and matter.  It would return to itself, — or, if its end as an individual is to return into its Absolute, it could make that return also, — not through a frustration of life but through a spiritual completeness of itself in life.  Our evolution in the Ignorance with its chequered joy and pain of self-discovery and world-discovery, its half-fulfilments, its constant finding and missing, is only our first state.  It must lead inevitably towards an evolution in the Knowledge, a self-finding and self-unfolding of the Spirit, a self-revelation of the Divinity in things in that true power of itself in Nature which is to us still a Supernature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Future Evolution of Man, Chapter Nine, The Divine Life Upon Earth, pp. 133-134

The Dualities of the Vital Life Are Not Essential for a Dynamic Life in the Gnostic Consciousness

When people reflect on the implications of a shift from the ego-status to the divine standpoint, they bring in many objections based on their habitual mode of action in the world.  Primary among these is the need for variety and challenge and the essential nature of the vicissitudes of the dualities, love and hate, joy and sorrow, etc.  They imagine that a shift to a knowledge-based action implied in the divine standpoint means that all the spice of life, the things that bring interest and excitement, must all disappear.  People even say that they would prefer to forego heaven with its endless and monotonous peace to avoid the boredom that would accompany it.  The stories and heroic epics of humanity all speak to the adventures, challenges and the overcoming of the difficulties of the vital world.  Of course, the imagination of the status of heaven is a projection from the Ignorance without a factual basis to support it.  The divine standpoint does not imply a “static” universe, but a “dynamic” and ever-growing and changing universal creation.

Sri Aurobindo observes in The Life Divine:  “Man’s life is made up of the light and the darkness, the gains and losses, the difficulties and dangers, the pleasures and pains of the Ignorance, a play of colours moving on a soil of the general neutrality of Matter which has as its basis the nescience and insensibility of the Inconscient.  To the normal life-being an existence without the reactions of success and frustration, vital joy and grief, peril and passion, pleasure and pain, the vicissitudes and uncertainties of fate and struggle and battle and endeavour, a joy of novelty and surprise and creation projecting itself into the unknown, might seem to be void of variety and therefore void of vital savour.  Any life surpassing these things tends to appear to it as something featureless and empty or cast in the figure of an immutable sameness; the human mind’s picture of heaven is the incessant repetition of an eternal monotone.  But this is a misconception; for an entry into the gnostic consciousness would be an entry into the Infinite.  It would be a self-creation bringing out the Infinite infinitely into form of being, and the interest of the Infinite is much greater and multitudinous as well as more imperishably delightful than the interest of the finite.  The evolution in the Knowledge would be a more beautiful and glorious manifestation with more vistas ever unfolding themselves and more intensive in all ways than any evolution could be in the Ignorance.  The delight of the Spirit is ever new, the forms of beauty it take innumerable, its godhead ever young and the taste of delight, rasa, of the Infinite eternal and inexhaustible.  The gnostic manifestation of life would be more full and fruitful and its interest more vivid than the creative interest of the Ignorance; it would be a greater and happier constant miracle.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Future Evolution of Man, Chapter Nine, The Divine Life Upon Earth, pp. 132-133

The Supramental Society Is Based in a New Consciousness of Realisation of the Divine Reality of Oneness with Diversity

The “master race”, the “white man’s burden”, “white supremacy”, “manifest destiny”, the “superman” of Nietzsche all represent past attempts of the mind to translate the urge to transcend the limits of the human mind-life-body and assert power and control over the society through what may be termed a “brute force” method.  “Might makes right” has been the watchword.  “Survival of the fittest” has been interpreted as justifying this brute forth method, as if brute force represents the “fittest”.  This approach separates those who are allegedly members of the “ruling” group from those who are not fit to rule, not fit to share equitably int he society and are looked on in many cases as uncivilized or sub-human.  All of this represents, not the progress of humanity towards a higher status of being, but an affirmation of old habits in what may be termed the “law of the jungle”.  Arrogant and dictatorial urges that assume primacy to one individual or group and force everyone else to submit to their whim is a vestige of the past, not a harbinger of the future.

The evolutionary urge now is to surpass these habitual responses based on the vital-mental approach to existence in what appears to be a fragmented and isolated existence fighting for survival against all other beings.  With the shift to the supramental consciousness, based in oneness, a new harmony in interaction must result, with an emphasis on mutuality, diversity and cooperation.

Sri Aurobindo writes in The Life Divine:  “But earth has had enough of this kind in her past and its repetition can only prolong the old lines; she can get no true profit for her future, no power of self-exceeding, from the Titan, the Asura: even a great or supernormal power in it could only carry her on larger circles of her old orbit.  But what has to emerge is something much more difficult and much more simple; it is a self-realised being, a building of the spiritual self, an intensity and urge of the soul and the deliverance and sovereignty of its light and power and beauty, — not an egoistic supermanhood seizing on a mental and vital domination over humanity, but the sovereignty of the Spirit over its own instruments, see its possession of itself and its possession of life in the power of the spirit, a new consciousness in which humanity itself shall find its own self-exceeding and self-fulfilment by the revelation of the divinity that is striving for birth within it.  This is the sole true supermanhood and the one real possibility of a step forward in evolutionary Nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Future Evolution of Man, Chapter Nine, The Divine Life Upon Earth, pg. 132

The Superman: an Evolutionary Leap Is Not Limited to the Mind’s Extrapolation from Its Present Status

The human mind has difficulty imagining the possibility of an entirely new direction for evolutionary development, and tends to try to “read” the future by extrapolation from the present and the past.  Thus, we see Nietzsche describing the “superman” as someone who has a higher mental functioning and vital force of effectuation, who then has the “right” and the “power” to disregard the strictures of the society’s structure because he has gone “beyond” them.  The Third Reich envisioned a master race of men bred to be stronger and more ‘pure’ and more intelligent to rule over “inferior” races of the world.  We see utopian and dystopian visions that extrapolate mental capacities and lines of development, particularly with application of advances in technology developed through the mind, which portray either a positive or a negative view of the future.  In popular culture we see a proliferation of fantasies about “super-powered” individuals who either take on enhanced functions of their senses of perception and action, or who have advanced capacities physically, vitally or mentally, but again, as extrapolations from what we know from our mental viewpoint.

We can reflect that a dog cannot conceive of the type of powers of mind and action that resulted from the development of the mental powers in humanity.  Similarly, humanity cannot envision the next evolutionary phase, which Sri Aurobindo calls the supramental evolution.  The shift in standpoint, the development of new insights, powers and value-sets that are implied in such a dramatic shift are not subject to straight-line extrapolation from our present mental framework.  Therefore, we pose obstacles and limitations and “impossibilities” in advance on something about which we have no basis for making such conclusions.  We argue that “human nature is fixed and cannot change” or similar viewpoints that circumscribe our conceptions of what the future may look like.  Just as the dog could not conceive of space flight and beings from this planet landing on the moon, so the human being cannot conceive of a development and a society based on a totally new understanding and relationship to the universal manifestation.

Sri Aurobindo writes in The Life Divine:  “A life of gnostic beings carrying the evolution to a higher supramental status might fitly be characterised as a divine life; for it would be a life in the Divine, a life of the beginnings of a spiritual divine light and power and joy manifested in material Nature.  That might be described, since it surpasses the mental human level, as a life of spiritual and supramental supermanhood.  But this must not be confused with past and present ideas of supermanhood; for supermanhood in the mental idea consists of an overtopping of the normal human level, not in kind but in degree of the same kind, by an enlarged personality, a magnified and exaggerated ego, an increased power of mind, an increased power of vital force, a refined or dense and massive exaggeration of the forces of the human Ignorance; it carries also, commonly implied in it, the idea of a forceful domination over humanity by the superman.  That would mean a supermanhood of the Nietzschean type; it might be at its worst the reign of the ‘blonde beast’ or the dark beast or of any and every beast, a return to barbaric strength and ruthlessness and force: but this would be no evolution, it would be a reversion to an old strenuous barbarism.”

 

Sri Aurobindo, The Future Evolution of Man, Chapter Nine, The Divine Life Upon Earth, pg. 131

Living in the Unity and Harmony of the Creation Beyond the Application of Fixed Mental Rules

In the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna discloses the ultimate secret of spiritual living to Arjuna when he advises him to “Devoting all thyself to Me, giving up in thy conscious mind all thy actions into Me, resorting to Yoga of the will and intelligence be always one in heart and consciousness with Me.  If thou art one in heart and consciousness with Me at all times, then by My grace thou shalt pass safe through all difficult and perilous passages…:  and “Abandon all dharmas and take refuge in Me (n.b. the supreme Purusha, the divine Presence manifesting the entire world) alone.”

When the supramental being manifests, based in the consciousness of Oneness with the Divine and the entire creation, then the actions that flow from that status are aligned with the divine purpose and represent an inherent expression of the Truth of the divine reality.

Many are those who believe that this is a life of austerity, a life of strict adherence to an external rule or teaching,  or alternatively, abandonment of the outer world;  the truth is subtler and more nuanced than the mind’s normal “either/or” stance.  The divine expression includes beauty, love, divine sweetness, as well as knowledge, will and power of expression.  The creation manifests with incredible diversity and at the same time, a deep-rooted interconnection and harmony of all existence based in their oneness.  This implies that there is not one fixed and immutable rule for all to follow.  Rather, there must be a flexible and harmonious interaction that guides the action of the gnostic being in his actions in the world.

Sri Aurobindo notes in The Life Divine:  “The one rule of the gnostic life would be the self-expression of the Spirit, the will of the Divine Being; that will, that self-expression could manifest through extreme simplicity or through extreme complexity and opulence or in their natural balance, — for beauty and plenitude, a hidden sweetness and laughter in things, a sunshine and gladness of life are also powers and expressions of the Spirit.  In all directions the Spirit within determining the law of the nature would determine the frame of the life and its detail and circumstance.  In all there would be the same plastic principle; a rigid standardisation, however necessary for the mind’s arrangement of things, could not be the law of the spiritual life.  A great diversity and liberty of self-expression based on an underlying unity might well become manifest; but everywhere there would be harmony and truth of order.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Future Evolution of Man, Chapter Nine, The Divine Life Upon Earth, pg. 131

The Basis for Action in the World for the Gnostic Individual

The mind tries to erect standards of conduct and rules of action in the world.  These are naturally limited by the temporal standards of a specific society in a specific stage of its development and the limitations imposed by the fragmented view that the mind puts forth, as well as the vital desires and needs as seen by each individual from his ego-standpoint.  This leads to a complex jumble as conflicting standards and values hit up against each other, or as new standards, representing the evolutionary development, try to manifest in the face of an established “status quo”.

The gnostic individual, acting from the universal standpoint, will naturally need to change the reference point for action.  Acting to fulfill individual desires, or to carry out the agenda of any specific society, religion, political or economic system, will wind up being too narrow and fragmented a basis for action for such a person.  Linked to the Divine and its purpose in the manifestation, the gnostic individual will have to break out of the limitations of the narrow bounds of all these previous standards or bases of action.  The watchwords of oneness and universality will necessarily prevail.  The Divine Will, known through the knowledge by identity that the shift from the ego to a basis in the universal and transcendent aspects, will direct the action.

Sri Aurobindo observes in The Life Divine:  “But at the same time what is true in the mental ideals and simply figured in them will be fulfilled in his existence; for while his consciousness exceeds the human values so that he cannot substitute mankind or the community or the State or others or himself for God, the affirmation of the Divine in himself and a sense of the Divine in others and the sense of oneness with humanity, with all other beings, with all the world because of the Divine in them and a lead towards a greater and better affirmation of the growing Reality in them will be part of his life action.  But what he shall do will be decided by the Truth of the Knowledge and Will in him, a total and infinite Truth that is not bound by any single mental law or standard but acts with freedom in the whole reality, with respect for each truth in its place and with a clear knowledge of the forces at work and the intention in the manifesting Divine Nisus at each step of cosmic evolution and in each event and circumstance.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Future Evolution of Man, Chapter Nine, The Divine Life Upon Earth, pp. 130-131

The Shift from the Ego-Standpoint to the Universal Standpoint in the Supramental Evolultion of Consciousness

The mind is limited in its understanding by the “viewpoint of the observer”.  When we see the world around us, and try to interpret what we are seeing, it is generally based on the individual ego-standpoint.  There is a famous story about various people who witnessed an automobile accident, but from different angles.  They had in some cases radically different versions and interpretations of what actually occurred and the responsible party for the accident.  The mind brings not only its specific viewpoint to bear, but the entire background of the individual’s preconceptions, prejudices, ideas, emotional state, and the ability of the physical senses to capture information accurately.  We see this similarly with the idea of sunrise and sunset.  Individuals perceive the sun to rotate around the earth and create the daily ritual.  With further understanding and perspective we begin to understand that what we “see” is not the reality of what is taking place.

Similarly, as the supramental consciousness manifests, and the standpoint rises above the individual to the universal, an entirely new perspective, which can weave together the varying views of the myriad individual observers, takes the place of the ego-consciousness.  This allows us to see, interpret and understand things from what we might call a “global” rather than an “individual” perspective.

Sri Aurobindo writes in The Life Divine:  “A gnostic Supernature transcends all the values of our normal ignorant Nature; our standards and values are created by ignorance and therefore cannot determine the life of Supernature.  At the same time our present nature is a derivation from Supernature and is not a pure ignorance but a half-knowledge; it is therefore reasonable to suppose that whatever spiritual truth there is in or behind its standards and values will reappear in the higher life, not as standards, but as elements transformed, uplifted out of the ignorance and raised into the true harmony of a more luminous existence.  As the universalised spiritual individual sheds the limited personality, the ego, as he rises beyond mind to a completer knowledge in Supernature, the conflicting ideals of the mind must fall away from him, but what is true behind them will remain in the life of Supernature.  The gnostic consciousness is a consciousness in which all contradictions are cancelled or fused into each other in a higher light of seeing and being, in a unified self-knowledge and world-knowledge.  The gnostic being will not accept the mind’s ideals and standards; he will not be moved to live for himself, for his ego, or for humanity or for others or from the community or for the State; for he will be aware of something greater than these half-truths, of the Divine Reality, and it is for that he will live, for its will in himself and in all, in a spirit of large universality, in the light of the will of the Transcendence.  For the same reason there can be no conflict between self-affirmation and altruism in the gnostic life, for the self of the gnostic being is one with the self of all, — no conflict between the ideal of individiualism and the collective ideal, for both are terms of a greater Reality and only in so far as either expresses the Reality or their fulfilment serves the will of the Reality, can they have a value for his spirit.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Future Evolution of Man, Chapter Nine, The Divine Life Upon Earth, pp. 129-130

Powers Developed Through the Evolutionary Manifestation of the Supramental Consciousness Are to be Utilized

Spiritual seekers have long been warned against seeking after or utilizing powers that arise through the spiritual effort, as constituting dangers or distractions from the primary goal of the effort.  Powers are said to tie one to the life of the world, and for the dedicated seeker this has generally been held as a bondage that must be removed to achieve liberation.  Patanjali in his Yoga Aphorisms outlines quite a number of powers that can arise through the practice of Yoga.  These are described, and then warnings provided.

Sri Aurobindo’s focus on a transformation of life through the manifestation of a next evolutionary stage implies that powers that accompany that next stage are to be naturally employed, just as the mental powers have been put to work with the development of mind in the world.  With the shift of standpoint to the universal, and the removal of the attachment to the individual ego-personality, the dangers of the self-aggrandisement of the ego would be mitigated.

Sri Aurobindo notes in The Life Divine:  “In mystic experience, — when there is an opening of the inner centres, or in other ways, spontaneously or by will or endeavour or in the very course of the spiritual growth, — new powers of consciousness have been known to develop; they present themselves as if an automatic consequence of ome inner opening or in answer to a call in the being, so much so that it has been found necessary to recommend to the seeker not to hunt after these powers, not to accept or use them.  This rejection is logical for those who seek  to withdraw from life; for all acceptance of greater power would bind to life or be a burden on the bare and pure urge towards liberation.  An indifference to all other aims and issues is natural for the God-lover who seeks God for His own sake and not for power or any other inferior attraction; the pursuit of these alluring but often dangerous forces would be a deviation from his purpose.  A similar rejection is a necessary self-restraint and a spiritual discipline for the immature seeker, since such powers may be a great, even a deadly peril; for their supernormality may easily feed in him an abnormal exaggeration of the ego.  Power in itself may be dreaded as a temptation by the aspirant to perfection, because power can abase as well as elevate; nothing is more liable to misuse.  But when new capacities come as an inevitable result of the growth into a greater consciousness and a greater life and that growth is part of the very aim of the spiritual being within us, this bar does not operate; for a growth of the being into Supernature and its life in Supernature cannot take place or cannot be complete without bringing with it a greater power of consciousness and a greater power of life and the spontaneous development of an instrumentation of knowledge and force normal to that supernature.  There is nothing in this future evolution of the being which could be regarded as irrational or incredible; there is nothing in it abnormal or miraculous: it would be the necessary course of the evolution of consciousness and its forces int he passage from the mental to the gnostic or supramental formulation of our existence.  This action of the forces of Supernature would be a natural, normal and spontaneously simple working of the new higher or greater consciousness into which the being enters in the course of his self-evolution; the gnostic being accepting the gnostic life would develop and use the powers of this greater consciousness, even as man develops and uses the powers of his mental nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Future Evolution of Man, Chapter Nine, The Divine Life Upon Earth, pp. 128-129