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Consciousness > Relevance of Aurobindo > Sri
Aurobindo on the Evolution of Man
on the Future Evolution of Man
[see also *Sri
Aurobindo - Future
Evolution of Man and also
Full Text at Mountain Man
excerpts from some of Aurobindo's major works,
including the Life Divine, the Human Cycle
and the Synthesis of Yoga
- from a summary by P.B. Saint-Hilaire -
Man's highest aspiration - his seeking for
perfection, his longing for freedom and mastery, his search after pure truth and unmixed
delight - is in flagrant contradiction with his present existence and normal experience...
An evolution of consciousness is the central motive of
Reason cannot arrive at any final truth because it can neither get
to the root of things nor embrace their totality...
If accredited religion has failed,
it is because it has confused the essential with the adventitious - true religion is
spiritual religion, it is a seeking after God...
Modern man has not solved the problem of the relation of
the individual to the society -what are their respective roles in the spiritual progress
of mankind? ...
Moral laws are arbitrary and rigid; when
applied to life, they are obliged to come to terms with it and end in compromises which
deprive them of all power - behind the ethical law, which is a false image, a greater
truth of a vast consciousness without fetters unveils itself, the supreme law of our
Spirituality is something else
than intellectuality - spirituality is a progressive awakening to the inner reality of our
being, to a spirit, self, soul which is other than our mind, life and body.
Three ways thus open before the seeker. 1) The way of
the intellect or of knowledge. 2) The way of the heart or of emotion. 3) The way of the
will or of action...
The Divine Life upon Earth - the ordinary
human consciousness is turned outward and sees the surface of things only - it recoils
from entering the inner depths which appear dark and where it is afraid of losing
The Human Aspiration
Man's highest aspiration - his seeking for perfection, his longing for freedom and
mastery, his search after pure truth and unmixed delight - is in flagrant contradiction
with his present existence and normal experience.
Such contradiction is part of Nature's general method; it is a sign that she is working
towards a greater harmony. The reconciliation is achieved by an evolutionary progress.
Life evolves out of Matter, Mind out of Life, because they are already involved there:
Matter is a form of veiled Life, Life a form of veiled Mind, May not Mind be a form and
veil of a higher power, the Spirit, which would be supramental in its nature?
Man's highest aspiration would then only indicate the gradual unveiling of the Spirit
within, the preparation of a higher life upon earth.
The Evolutionary Process
An evolution of consciousness is the central motive of terrestrial existence. The
evolutionary working of Nature has a double process: an evolution of forms, an evolution
of the soul. Man occupies the crest of the evolutionary wave. With him occurs the
passage from an unconscious to a conscious evolution.
At each step one receives an intimation of what the following step will be. The nature
of the next step is indicated by the deep aspirations awakening in the human race. A
change of consciousness is the major fact of the next evolutionary transformation, and the
consciousness itself, by its own mutation, will impose and effect any necessary mutation
of the body.
There is no reason to suppose that this transformation is impossible on earth. In fact,
it would give the truest meaning to earthly existence. Man's urge towards spirituality
is an undeniable indication of the inner drive of the Spirit within towards emergence, its
insistence towards the next step of its manifestation.
Reason and its limitation
It is often claimed that reason is the highest faculty of man and that it has enabled
him to master himself and to master Nature. Has reason really succeeded?
When reason applies itself to life and action it becomes partial and passionate and
the servant of other forces than the pure truth. Why does man have faith in reason?
Because reason has a legitimate function to fulfill, for which it is perfectly
adapted; and this is to justify and illumine for man his various experiences and to give
him faith and conviction in holding on to the enlarging of his consciousness.
But reason cannot arrive at any final truth because it can neither get to the root
of things nor embrace their totality. It deals with the finite, the separate and has no
measure for the all and the infinite.
Religion and Spirituality
The limitations of reason become very strikingly apparent when it is confronted with
the religious life. What is religion really and essentially and why is it outside the
realm of reason? Can religion then be the guide of human life?
It is a fact that in ancient times society gave a pre-eminent place to religion. But,
on the other hand, humanity - and in particular that portion of humanity which was the
standard bearer of progress - has revolted against the predominance of religion.
Very often the accredited religions have opposed progress and sided with the forces
of obscurity and oppression. And it has needed a denial, a revolt of the oppressed
human mind and heart to correct these errors and set religion right. This would not have
been so if religion were the true and sufficient guide of the whole of human life. If
religion has failed, it is because it has confused the essential with the adventitious.
True religion is spiritual religion, it is a seeking after God, the opening of the
deepest life of the soul to the indwelling Godhead, the eternal Omnipresence. Dogmas,
cults, moral codes are aids and props; they may be offered to man but not imposed on him.
Moreover, religion often considers spiritual life as made up of renunciation and
mortification. Religion thus becomes a force that discourages life and it cannot,
therefore, be a true law and guide for life. In spirituality then, restored to its
true sense, we must seek for the directing light and the harmonizing law.
Individual and Society
On the other hand, modern man has not solved the problem of the relation of the
individual to the society. What are their respective roles in the spiritual progress
It is wrong to demand that the individual subordinate himself to the collectivity or
merge in it, because it is by its most advanced individuals that the collectivity
progresses and they can really advance only if they are free. But it is true that -as the
individual advances spiritually, he finds himself more and more united with the
collectivity and the All.
The present evolutionary crisis comes from a disparity between the limited faculties of
man - mental, ethical and spiritual - and the technical and economical means at his
disposal. Without an inner change man can no longer cope with the gigantic development of
the outer life. The exaltation of the collectivity, of the State, only substitutes the
collective ego for the individual ego. If humanity is to survive, a radical
transformation of human nature is indispensable.
Moral laws and Spiritual Freedom
Since perfection is progressive, good and evil are shifting quantities and change from
time to time their meaning and value.
Four main principles successively ' govern human conduct. The first two are personal
need and the good of the collectivity.
A conflict is born of the opposition of the two instinctive tendencies which govern
human action: the individualist and the gregarious. In order to settle this conflict, a
new principle comes in, other and higher than the two conflicting instincts, and aiming
both to override and to reconcile them. This third principle is the ethical ideal.
But conflicts do not subside; they seem rather to multiply. Moral laws are arbitrary
and rigid; when applied to life, they are obliged to come to terms with it and end in
compromises which deprive them of all power.
Behind the ethical law, which is a false image, a greater truth of a vast consciousness
without fetters unveils itself, the supreme law of our divine nature. It determines
perfectly our relations with each being and with the totality of the universe, and it also
reveals the exact rhythm of the direct expression of the Divine in us. It is the fourth
and supreme principle of action, which is at the same time imperative law and absolute
The Development of the
Spiritual Man and Woman
Spirituality is something else than intellectuality; its appearance is the sign that a
Power greater than mind is striving to emerge in its turn. Spirituality is a progressive
awakening to the inner reality of our being, to a spirit, self, soul which is other than
our mind, life and body.
It is an inner aspiration to know, to enter into contact and union with the greater
Reality beyond, which also pervades the universe and dwells in us, and, as a result of
that aspiration, that contact and that union, a turning, a conversion, a birth into a new
In her attempt to open up the inner being, Nature has followed four main lines
--religion, occultism, spiritual thought and an inner spiritual realization and
experience. Only spiritual realization and experience can achieve the change of the
mental being into a spiritual being.
Mysticism and spirituality have been criticized from two points of view. These
criticisms should be examined before proceeding further:
1) The mystic turns away from life
2) Mystical knowledge is purely subjective
The Triple Transformation
If the final goal of terrestrial evolution were only to awaken man to the supreme
Reality and to release him from ignorance and bondage, so that the liberated soul could
find elsewhere a higher state of being or merge into this supreme Reality, the task would
be accomplished with the advent of the spiritual man.
But there is also in us an aspiration for the mastery of Nature and her
transformation, for a greater perfection in the earthly existence itself. To be
established permanently, this new order of existence demands a radical change of the
entire human nature. In this transformation, there are three phases.
The first phase of transformation can be called psychic - the soul, or psychic being,
has to come forward and take the lead of the whole being. In the course of evolution, the
soul, in order to emerge successfully and turn the being towards the supreme Reality,
uses three dynamic images of this supreme Reality: Truth, Beauty and Good.
Three ways thus open before the seeker. 1) The way of the intellect or of knowledge.
2) The way of the heart or of emotion. 3) The way of the will or of action. These three
ways, combined and followed concurrently, have a most powerful effect.
A shifting of the consciousness, a withdrawal within, becomes imperative at this stage,
in order to reach the central being, the true Soul, and to allow it to become the guide
and sovereign of the nature. Two principal results follow this emergence: first an
effective guidance and mastery which unmask and reject all that is false and obscure or
all that opposes the divine realization; then, a spontaneous influx of spiritual
experiences of all kinds.
The second phase of the transformation may be called spiritual; it is an opening to an
Infinity above us, an eternal Presence, a boundless Self, an infinite Existence, an
infinity of Consciousness, an infinity of Bliss, an All-Power. The spiritual change
culminates in a permanent ascension from the lower consciousness to the higher
consciousness, followed by an effective permanent descent of the higher nature into the
A new consciousness begins to form with new forces of thought and sight, and a power
of direct spiritual realization which is more than thought or sight. To make this new
creation permanent and perfect, the very foundation of our nature of ignorance must be
transfigured and a greater power, a supramental Force must intervene to accomplish that
This is the third phase: the supramental transformation. All mental standards would
disappear because their necessity would cease; the authentic law of identity with the
Divine Self would have replaced them.
The Divine Life upon Earth
To be wholly and integrally conscious of oneself and of all the truth of one's being is
what is implied by the perfect emergence of the individual consciousness, and it is that
towards which evolution tends. All being is one, and to be fully conscious means to be
integrated with the consciousness of all, with the universal self and force and action.
The plenitude of this consciousness can only be attained by realizing the identity of
the individual self with the transcendent Self, the supreme Reality. This realization
demands a turning of the consciousness inward.
The ordinary human consciousness is turned outward and sees the surface of things only.
It recoils from entering the inner depths which appear dark and where it is afraid of
Yet the entry into this obscurity, this void, this silence is only the passage to a
greater existence. Indeed, this inward-turning movement is not an imprisonment in the
personal self; it is the first step towards a true universality. The law of the divine
life is universality in action, organized by an all-seeing Will, with the sense of the
true oneness of all.