Sri Aurobindo's Light
Sri Aurobindo's Light

Man and the Evolution

            A SPIRITUAL evolution, an evolution of consciousness in Matter in a constantly developing self-formation till the form can reveal the indwelling spirit, is then the keynote, the central significant motive of the terrestrial existence.  This significance is concealed at the outset by the involution of the Spirit, the Divine Reality, in a dense material Inconscience; a veil of the Inconscience, a veil of insensibility of Matter hides the universal Consciousness-Force which works within it, so that the Energy, which is the first form the Force of creation assumes in the physical universe, appears to be itself inconscient and yet does the works of a vast occult Intelligence. The obscure mysteriouscreatrix ends indeed by delivering the secret consciousnessout of its thick and tenebrous prison; but she delivers it slowly,little by little, in minute infinitesimal drops, in thin jets, in smallvibrant concretions of energy and substance, of life, of mind,as if that were all she could get out through the crass obstacle,the dull reluctant medium of an inconscient stuff of existence.At first she houses herself in forms of Matter which appearto be altogether unconscious, then struggles towards mentalityin the guise of living Matter and attains to it imperfectly inthe conscious animal. This consciousness is at first rudimentary,mostly a half subconscious or just conscious instinct; it developsslowly till in more organised forms of living Matter it reachesits climax of intelligence and exceeds itself in Man, the thinkinganimal who develops into the reasoning mental being butcarries along with him even at his highest elevation the mouldof original animality, the dead weight of subconscience of body,the downward pull of gravitation towards the original Inertiaand Nescience, the control of an inconscient material Natureover his conscious evolution, its power for limitation, its lawof difficult development, its immense force for retardation andfrustration. This control by the original Inconscience over the consciousness emerging from it takes the general shape of a mentality struggling towards knowledge but itself, in what seems to be its fundamental nature, an Ignorance. Thus hampered and burdened, mental man has still to evolve out of himself the fully conscious being, a divine manhood or a spiritual and supramental superman hood which shall be the next product of the evolution. That transition will mark the passage from the evolutionin the Ignorance to a greater evolution in the Knowledge,founded and proceeding in the light of the Superconscient and no longer in the darkness of the Ignorance and Inconscience.This terrestrial evolutionary working ofNature fromMatterto Mind and beyond it has a double process: there is an outwardvisible process of physical evolution with birth as its machinery,—for each evolved form of body housing its own evolvedpower of consciousness is maintained and kept in continuityby heredity; there is, at the same time, an invisible process ofsoul evolution with rebirth into ascending grades of form andconsciousness as its machinery. The first by itself would mean only a cosmic evolution; for the individual would be a quickly perishing instrument, and the race, a more abiding collective formulation, would be the real step in the progressive manifestation of the cosmic Inhabitant, the universal Spirit: rebirth is an indispensable condition for any long duration and evolution of the individual being in the earth-existence. Each grade of cosmic manifestation, each type of form that can house the indwelling spirit, is turned by rebirth into a means for the individual soul,the psychic entity, to manifest more and more of its concealed consciousness; each life becomes a step in a victory over Matter by a greater progression of consciousness in it which shall make eventually Matter itself a means for the full manifestation of the Spirit.But this account of the process and meaning of the terrestrial creation is at every point exposed to challenge in the mind of man himself, because the evolution is still half-way on its journey, is still in the Ignorance, is still seeking in the mind of a half-evolved humanity for its own purpose and significance. It is possible to challenge the theory of evolution on the ground that it is insufficiently founded and that it is superfluous as an explanation of the process of terrestrial existence. It is open to doubt, even if evolution is granted, whether man has the capacity to develop into a higher evolutionary being. It is open also to doubt whether the evolution is likely to go any further than it has gone already or whether a supplemental evolution, the appearance of a consummated Truth-Consciousness, a being of Knowledge, is at all probable in the fundamental Ignorance of the earthly Nature. Another construction neither teleological nor evolution can be put on the workings of the Spirit in the manifestation here, and it may be as well before proceeding further to formulate succinctly the line of thinking which makes such a construction possible. 


 

Eternal in a Time Eternity, admitting that there are the seven

grades of Consciousness and that the material Inconscience has

been laid down as a basis for the reascent of the Spirit, admitting

that rebirth is a fact, a part of the terrestrial order, still a

spiritual evolution of the individual being is not an inevitable

consequence of any of these admissions or even of all of them

together. It is possible to take another view of the spiritual significance

and the inner process of terrestrial existence. If each

thing created is a form of the manifest Divine Existence, each is

divine in itself by the spiritual presence within it, whatever its

appearance, its figure or character in Nature. In each form of

manifestation the Divine takes the delight of existence and there

is no need of change or progress within it. Whatever ordered

display or hierarchy of actualised possibilities is necessitated by

the nature of the Infinite Being, is sufficiently provided for by the

numberless variation, the teeming multitude of forms, types of

consciousness, natures that we see everywhere around us. There

is no teleological purpose in creation and there cannot be, for

all is there in the Infinite: the Divine has nothing that he needs

to gain or that he has not; if there is creation and manifestation,

it is for the delight of creation, of manifestation, not for any

purpose. There is then no reason for an evolutionary movement

with a culmination to be reached or an aim to be worked out

and effectuated or a drive towards ultimate perfection.

In fact we see that the principles of creation are permanent

and unchanging: each type of being remains itself and does not

try nor has any need to become other than itself; granting that

some types of existence disappear and others come into being,

it is because the Consciousness-Force in the universe withdraws

its life-delight from those that perish and turns to create others

for its pleasure. But each type of life, while it lasts, has its own

pattern and remains faithful with whatever minor variations to

that pattern: it is bound to its own consciousness and cannot

get away from it into other-consciousness; limited by its own

nature, it cannot transgress these boundaries and pass into othernature.

If the Consciousness-Force of the Infinite has manifested

Life after manifesting Matter and Mind after manifesting Life,

it does not follow that it will proceed to manifest Supermind as

the next terrestrial creation. For Mind and Supermind belong to

quite different hemispheres, Mind to the lower status of the Ignorance,

Supermind to the higher status of the Divine Knowledge.

This world is a world of the Ignorance and intended to be that

only; there need be no intention to bring down the powers of the

higher hemisphere into the lower half of existence or to manifest

their concealed presence there; for, if they are at all existent

here, it is in an occult incommunicable immanence and only to

maintain the creation, not to perfect it. Man is the summit of

this ignorant creation; he has reached the utmost consciousness

and knowledge of which it is capable: if he tries to go farther, he

will only revolve in larger cycles of his own mentality. For that

is the curve of his existence here, a finite circling which carries

the mind in its revolutions and returns always to the point from

which it started; mind cannot go outside its own cycle,—all idea

of a straight line of movement or of progress reaching infinitely

upward or sidewise into the Infinite is a delusion. If the soul of

man is to go beyond humanity, to reach either a supramental

or a still higher status, it must pass out of this cosmic existence,

either to a plane or world of bliss and knowledge or into the

unmanifest Eternal and Infinite.

 

 

It is true that Science now affirms an evolutionary terrestrial

 

existence: but if the facts with which Science deals are reliable,

 

the generalisations it hazards are short-lived; it holds them for

 

some decades or some centuries, then passes to another generalisation,

 

another theory of things. This happens even in physical

 

Science where the facts are solidly ascertainable and verifiable by

 

experiment: in psychology,—which is relevant here, for the evolution

 

of consciousness comes into the picture,—its instability is

 

still greater; it passes there from one theory to another before the

 

first is well-founded; indeed, several conflicting theories hold the field together.No firm metaphysical building can be erected upon

 

these shifting quicksands. Heredity upon which Science builds

 

its concept of life evolution, is certainly a power, a machinery

 

for keeping type or species in unchanged being: the demonstration

 

that it is also an instrument for persistent and progressive

 

variation is very questionable; its tendency is conservative rather

 

than evolutionary,—it seems to accept with difficulty the new

 

character that the Life-Force attempts to force upon it. All the

 

facts show that a type can vary within its own specification of

 

nature, but there is nothing to show that it can go beyond it. It

 

has not yet been really established that ape-kind developed into

 

man; for it would rather seem that a type resembling the ape,

 

but always characteristic of itself and not of apehood, developed

 

within its own tendencies of nature and became what we know

 

as man, the present human being. It is not even established that

 

inferior races of man developed out of themselves the superior

 

races; those of an inferior organisation and capacity perished,

 

but it has not been shown that they left behind the human races

 

of today as their descendants: but still such a developmentwithin

 

the type is imaginable. The progress of Nature from Matter to

 

Life, from Life to Mind, may be conceded: but there is no proof

 

yet that Matter developed into Life or Life-energy into Mindenergy;

 

all that can be conceded is that Life has manifested in

 

Matter, Mind in living Matter. For there is no sufficient proof

 

that any vegetable species developed into an animal existence

 

or that any organisation of inanimate matter developed into a

 

living organism. Even if it be discovered hereafter that under

 

certain chemical or other conditions life makes its appearance,

 

all that will be established by this coincidence is that in certain

 

physical circumstances life manifests, not that certain chemical

 

conditions are constituents of life, are its elements or are the

 

evolutionary cause of a transformation of inanimate into animate

 

matter. Here as elsewhere each grade of being exists in

 

itself and by itself, is manifested according to its own character

 

by its own proper energy, and the gradations above or below it

 

are not origins and resultant sequences but only degrees in the

 

continuous scale of earth-nature. and types of being come into existence, it can be answered

 

that, fundamentally, they were manifested in Matter by the

 

Consciousness-Force in it, by the power of the Real-Idea building

 

its own significant forms and types for the indwelling Spirit’s

 

cosmic existence: the practical or physical method might vary

 

considerably in different grades or stages, although a basic similarity

 

of line may be visible; the creative Power might use not

 

one but many processes or set many forces to act together. In

 

Matter the process is a creation of infinitesimals charged with

 

an immense energy, their association by design and number,

 

the manifestation of larger infinitesimals on that primary basis,

 

the grouping and association of these together to found the

 

appearance of sensible objects, earth, water, minerals, metals,

 

thewholematerial kingdom. In life also the Consciousness-Force

 

begins with infinitesimal forms of vegetable life and infinitesimal

 

animalcules; it creates an original plasm andmultiplies it, creates

 

the living cell as a unit, creates other kinds of minute biological

 

apparatus like the seed or the gene, uses always the same

 

method of grouping and association so as to build by a various

 

operation various living organisms. A constant creation of types

 

is visible, but that is no indubitable proof of evolution. The

 

types are sometimes distant from each other, sometimes closely

 

similar, sometimes identical in basis but different in detail; all

 

are patterns, and such a variation in patterns with an identical

 

rudimentary basis for all is the sign of a conscious Force playing

 

with its own Idea and developing by it all kinds of possibilities

 

of creation. Animal species in coming into birth may begin with

 

a like rudimentary embryonic or fundamental pattern for all, it

 

may follow out up to a stage certain similarities of development

 

on some or all of its lines; there may too be species that are

 

twy-natured, amphibious, intermediate between one type and

 

another: but all this need not mean that the types developed

 

one from another in an evolutionary series. Other forces than

 

hereditary variation have been at work in bringing about the

 

appearance of new characteristics; there are physical forces such

 

as food, light-rays and others that we are only beginning to know, there are surely others which we do not yet know; there

 

are at work invisible life forces and obscure psychological forces.

 

For these subtler powers have to be admitted even in the physical

 

evolutionary theory to account for natural selection; if the

 

occult or subconscious energy in some types answers to the

 

need of the environment, in others remains unresponsive and

 

unable to survive, this is clearly the sign of a varying life-energy

 

and psychology, of a consciousness and a force other than the

 

physical at workmaking for variation in Nature. The problem of

 

the method of operation is still too full of obscure and unknown

 

factors for any at present possible structure of theory to be

 

definitive.

 

Man is a type among many types so constructed, one pattern

 

among the multitude of patterns in the manifestation in Matter.

 

He is the most complex that has been created, the richest in

 

content of consciousness and the curious ingeniousness of his

 

building; he is the head of the earthly creation, but he does not

 

exceed it. Even as others, so he too has his own native law,

 

limits, special kind of existence, svabh¯ava, svadharma; within

 

those limits he can extend and develop, but he cannot go outside

 

them. If there is a perfection to which he has to arrive, it

 

must be a perfection in his own kind, within his own law of

 

being,—the full play of it, but by observation of its mode and

 

measure, not by transcendence. To exceed himself, to grow into

 

the superman, to put on the nature and capacities of a god would

 

be a contradiction of his self-law, impracticable and impossible.

 

Each form and way of being has its own appropriate way of

 

the delight of being; to seek through the mind the mastery and

 

use and enjoyment of the environment of which he is capable

 

is rightly man the mental being’s objective: but to look beyond,

 

to run after an ulterior object or aim of existence, to aspire to

 

surpass the mental stature is to bring in a teleological element

 

into existence which is not visible in the cosmic structure. If

 

a supramental being is to appear in the terrestrial creation, it

 

must be a new and independent manifestation; just as life and

 

mind have manifested in Matter, so supermind must manifest

 

there and the secret Conscious-Energy must create the necessary patterns for this new grade of its potencies. But there is no sign

 

of any such intention in the operations of Nature.

 

But if a superior creation is intended, then, certainly, it is

 

not out of man that the new grade, type or pattern can develop;

 

for in that case there would be some race or kind or make of

 

human beings that has already the material of the superman in

 

it, just as the peculiar animal being that developed into humanity

 

had the essential elements of human nature already potential or

 

present in it: there is no such race, kind or type, at most there are

 

only spiritualised mental beings who are seeking to escape out

 

of the terrestrial creation. If by any occult law of Nature such

 

a human development of the supramental being is intended, it

 

could only be by a few in humanity detaching themselves from

 

the race so as to become a first foundation for this new pattern

 

of being. There is no reason to suppose that the whole race could

 

develop this perfection; it cannot be a possibility generalised in

 

the human creature.

 

If indeed man has evolved in Nature out of the animal,

 

yet now we see that no other animal type shows any signs of an

 

evolution beyond itself; if then there was this evolutionary stress

 

in the animal kingdom, it must have sunk back into quiescence

 

as soon as the object was fulfilled by man’s appearance: so too

 

if there is any such stress for a new step in evolution, for selfexceeding,

 

it is likely to subside into quiescence as soon as its

 

object is fulfilled by the supramental being’s appearance. But

 

there is no such stress in reality: the idea of human progress

 

itself is very probably an illusion, for there is no sign that man,

 

once emerged from the animal stage, has radically progressed

 

during his race history; at most he has advanced in knowledge

 

of the physical world, in Science, in the handling of his surroundings,

 

in his purely external and utilitarian use of the secret

 

laws of Nature. But otherwise he is what he always was in the

 

early beginnings of civilisation: he continues to manifest the

 

same capacities, the same qualities and defects, the same efforts,

 

blunders, achievements, frustrations. If progress there has been,

 

it is in a circle, at most perhaps in a widening circle. Man today

 

is not wiser than the ancient seers and sages and thinkers, not more spiritual than the great seekers of old, the first mighty

 

mystics, not superior in arts and crafts to the ancient artists and

 

craftsmen; the old races that have disappeared showed as potent

 

an intrinsic originality, invention, capacity of dealing with life

 

and, if modern man in this respect has gone a little farther, not

 

by any essential progress but in degree, scope, abundance, it is

 

because he has inherited the achievements of his forerunners.

 

Nothing warrants the idea that he will ever hew his way out

 

of the half-knowledge half-ignorance which is the stamp of his

 

kind, or, even if he develops a higher knowledge, that he can

 

break out of the utmost boundary of the mental circle.

 

It is tempting and not illogical to regard rebirth as the potential

 

means of a spiritual evolution, the factor that makes it

 

possible, but still it is not certain, granting rebirth to be a fact,

 

that this is its significance. All the ancient theories about reincarnation

 

supposed it to be a constant transmigration of the soul

 

from animal to human, but also from human to animal bodies:

 

the Indian idea added the explanation of Karma, of a return for

 

good or evil done, of a result of past will and effort; but there

 

was no suggestion of a progressive evolution from type to higher

 

type, still less of birth into a kind of being that has never yet

 

existed but has still to evolve in the future. If evolution there is,

 

then man is the last stage, because through him there can be the

 

rejection of terrestrial or embodied life and an escape into some

 

heaven or Nirvana. That was the end envisaged by the ancient

 

theories and, since this is fundamentally and unchangeably a

 

world of Ignorance,—even if all cosmic existence is not in its

 

nature a state of Ignorance,—that escape is likely to be the true

 

end of the cycle.

 

This is a line of reasoning that has a considerable cogency

 

and importance, and it was necessary to state it, even if too

 

briefly for its importance, in order to meet it. For although some

 

of its propositions are valid, its view of things is not complete

 

and its cogency is not conclusive. And first we may without

 

much difficulty get rid of the objection to the teleological element

 

which the idea of a predetermined evolution from inconscience

 

to superconscience, the development of a rising order of beings with a culminating transition from the life of the Ignorance to a

 

life in the Knowledge, brings into the structure of the terrestrial

 

existence. The objection to a teleological cosmos can be based on

 

two very different grounds,—a scientific reasoning proceeding

 

on the assumption that all is the work of an inconscient Energy

 

which acts automatically by mechanical processes and can have

 

no element of purpose in it, and a metaphysical reasoning which

 

proceeds on the perception that the Infinite and Universal has

 

everything in it already, that it cannot have something unaccomplished

 

to accomplish, something to add to itself, to work out,

 

to realise, and there can therefore be in it no element of progress,

 

no original or emergent purpose.

 

The scientific or materialist objection cannot maintain its

 

validity if there is a secret Consciousness in or behind the apparently

 

inconscient Energy inMatter. Even in the Inconscient there

 

seems to be at least an urge of inherent necessity producing the

 

evolution of forms and in the forms a developing Consciousness,

 

and it may well be held that this urge is the evolutionary will of a

 

secret Conscious Being and its push of progressive manifestation

 

the evidence of an innate intention in the evolution. This is a

 

teleological element and it is not irrational to admit it: for the

 

conscious or even the inconscient nisus arises from a truth of

 

conscious being that has become dynamic and set out to fulfil

 

itself in an automatic process of material Nature; the teleology,

 

the element of purpose in the nisus is the translation of selfoperative

 

Truth of Being into terms of self-effective Will-Power

 

of that Being, and, if consciousness is there, such a Will-Power

 

must also be there and the translation is normal and inevitable.

 

Truth of being inevitably fulfilling itself would be the fundamental

 

fact of the evolution, but Will and its purpose must be there

 

as part of the instrumentation, as an element in the operative

 

principle.

 

Themetaphysical objection ismore serious; for it seems selfevident

 

that the Absolute can have no purpose in manifestation

 

except the delight of manifestation itself: an evolutionary movement

 

in Matter as part of the manifestation must fall within

 

this universal statement; it can be there only for the delight of the unfolding, the progressive execution, the objectless seried

 

self-revelation. A universal totality may also be considered as

 

something complete in itself; as a totality, it has nothing to gain

 

or to add to its fullness of being. But here the material world

 

is not an integral totality, it is part of a whole, a grade in a

 

gradation; it may admit in it, therefore, not only the presence of

 

undeveloped immaterial principles or powers belonging to the

 

whole that are involved within its matter, but also a descent into

 

it of the same powers from the higher gradations of the system

 

to deliver their kindred movements here from the strictness of a

 

material limitation. Amanifestation of the greater powers of Existence

 

till the whole being itself is manifest in thematerial world

 

in the terms of a higher, a spiritual creation, may be considered

 

as the teleology of the evolution. This teleology does not bring

 

in any factor that does not belong to the totality; it proposes

 

only the realisation of the totality in the part. There can be no

 

objection to the admission of a teleological factor in a part movement

 

of the universal totality, if the purpose,—not a purpose

 

in the human sense, but the urge of an intrinsic Truth necessity

 

conscious in the will of the indwelling Spirit,—is the perfect

 

manifestation there of all the possibilities inherent in the total

 

movement. All exists here, no doubt, for the delight of existence,

 

all is a game or Lila; but a game too carries within itself an object

 

to be accomplished and without the fulfilment of that object

 

would have no completeness of significance. A drama without

 

denouement may be an artistic possibility—existing only for the

 

pleasure of watching the characters and the pleasure in problems

 

posed without a solution or with a forever suspended dubious

 

balance of solution; the drama of the earth evolution might

 

conceivably be of that character, but an intended or inherently

 

predetermined denouement is also and more convincingly possible.

 

Ananda is the secret principle of all being and the support

 

of all activity of being; but Ananda does not exclude a delight

 

in the working out of a Truth inherent in being, immanent in

 

the Force or Will of being, upheld in the hidden self-awareness

 

of its Consciousness-Force which is the dynamic and executive

 

agent of all its activities and the knower of their significance. A theory of spiritual evolution is not identical with a scientific

 

theory of form-evolution and physical life-evolution; it must

 

stand on its own inherent justification: it may accept the scientific

 

account of physical evolution as a support or an element, but the

 

support is not indispensable. The scientific theory is concerned

 

only with the outward and visible machinery and process, with

 

the detail of Nature’s execution, with the physical development

 

of things in Matter and the law of development of life and mind

 

in Matter; its account of the process may have to be considerably

 

changed or may be dropped altogether in the light of

 

new discovery, but that will not affect the self-evident fact of a

 

spiritual evolution, an evolution of Consciousness, a progression

 

of the soul’s manifestation in material existence. In its outward

 

aspects this is what the theory of evolution comes to,—there

 

is in the scale of terrestrial existence a development of forms,

 

of bodies, a progressively complex and competent organisation

 

of matter, of life in matter, of consciousness in living matter; in

 

this scale, the better organised the form, the more it is capable

 

of housing a better organised, a more complex and capable,

 

a more developed or evolved life and consciousness. Once the

 

evolutionary hypothesis is put forward and the facts supporting

 

it are marshalled, this aspect of the terrestrial existence becomes

 

so striking as to appear indisputable. The precise machinery

 

by which this is done or the exact genealogy or chronological

 

succession of types of being is a secondary, though in itself an

 

interesting and important question; the development of one form

 

of life out of a precedent less evolved form, natural selection,

 

the struggle for life, the survival of acquired characteristics may

 

or may not be accepted, but the fact of a successive creation

 

with a developing plan in it is the one conclusion which is of

 

primary consequence. Another self-evident conclusion is that

 

there is a graduated necessary succession in the evolution, first

 

the evolution of Matter, next the evolution of Life in Matter,

 

then the evolution of Mind in living Matter, and in this

 

last stage an animal evolution followed by a human evolution.

 

The first three terms of the succession are too evident to be

 

disputable. It may be debated whether there was a succession of man to animal or a simultaneous initial development, man

 

outstripping the animal in mind evolution; a theory has even

 

been put forward that man was not the last, but the first and

 

eldest of the animal species. This priority of man is an ancient

 

conception, but it was not universal; it is born of the sense of

 

the clear supremacy of man among earthly creatures, the dignity

 

of this supremacy seeming to demand a priority of birth: but

 

in evolutionary fact the superior is not prior but posterior in

 

appearance, the less developed precedes the more developed and

 

prepares it.



 

Continued ..

~ The Life Divine , Page - 856 - 869

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