In the Light of ...|Jan 29, 2006 4:11 AM| by:

Evolution of Consciousness

In all futuristic thinking, especially in our present condition when we are in the midst of a radical evolutionary leap, the most important factor which has to be understood clearly is the nature of change in the governing ideas and motifs. For each phase of human evolution was governed by a set of central motifs. The first phase of evolution was governed by the ideals of religions, ethics and philosophy; the second phase by the ideals of political and social organization; the third, the modern age, by the ideas of economics, industry, commerce, science and technology. What will be the governing ideas of the future cycle of evolution?

We believe the central theme-song of the future evolution of humanity will be Growth of Consciousness. In fact, the entire terrestrial evolution is a growth in consciousness. But in the past, this evolution is worked out subconsciously and indirectly through external means and aims, without a clear understanding of its significance. In the future, growth of consciousness will become more and more the conscious aim and purpose of all human activities and it will be effected more directly through internal means. Among modern thinkers, in Sri Aurobindo’s thought we find the most comprehensive vision of the evolution of consciousness.

According to Sri Aurobindo, terrestrial evolution from Matter to Life and from Life to Mind is in its essence an evolution of consciousness and not, as the modern science thinks, an evolution of form. Evolution of the form is only the outer expression of the evolution of consciousness. A supreme and eternal Consciousness is the creative source and essence of the individual and the universe. This consciousness, as it evolves, creates the appropriate form for its self-expression. So the terrestrial evolution as studied by modern science, from the physical, biological, animal to the human, is the outer expression of a progressive inner evolution of consciousness from Matter to Mind. But according to Sri Aurobindo, Mind is not the last summit of evolution. There is a higher supramental consciousness beyond mind but within Man, remaining deep within him as an unmanifest potential. To unveil and manifest this spiritual potential within man will be the next step in human evolution. This is, in a nutshell, Sri Aurobindo’s vision of terrestrial evolution. We will not enter into any detailed analysis of Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy, which is beyond the scope of our discussion. We will confine our discussion to the implications of Sri Aurobindo’s vision for the future history of humanity.

The ancient spirituality, in general, tended towards some form of ascetic illusionism, dismissing the world, as an incurable illusion, and an escape from the world, outwardly into the monastery, mountains, or a forest, and inwardly in a deep trance into a world-denying transcended Beyond, as the solution to the problem of life. This was the dominant note of ancient spirituality. In contrast to this, Sri Aurobindo’s vision presents a life-affirming and world-transforming spirituality; it conceives the world and its evolution as a real and progressive manifestation of the divine consciousness, culminating in an integral spiritual transformation of the terrestrial life in the supramental consciousness of the Spirit. In this integral spiritual vision, the aim of life is not an escape into the higher consciousness of the Spirit abandoning the earthly life but a reshaping, remoulding and transforming of the earthly life in the light, power and values of the higher consciousness of the Spirit beyond Mind. This means, a New Humanity and a New Civilisation living in and acting from the supramental Consciousness of the Spirit. Just like the human species with a mental consciousness emerged from the animal species and created a mental civilization, a New Species with a supramental, egoless and universal consciousness will emerge from the egocentric mentality of man and create a supramental and global civilization. But this will not be an outer globalization connected together by technology and organisation, but an inner globalization of consciousness, a global humanity consciously unified in the deepest inner core of its being in a global consciousness.

Until the advent of man on Earth, the terrestrial evolution from the material biological, animal to the human organism, was effected by universal Nature unconsciously or subconsciously without the conscious participation of the evolving organism. But with the advent of the self-conscious mind in man, the human organism has acquired the capacity to participate consciously in the terrestrial evolution. The future evolution from Man to Superman has to be a conscious evolution. Our present human species and its civilization, both individually and collectively, is given the choice to either consciously participate in this higher evolution and transform itself into a supramental being or, discarded by Nature as an evolutionary failure, get destroyed like some of the prehistoric civilizations, or be superceded by a superior race of beings descending from the higher spiritual worlds.

This evolutionary vision of Sri Aurobindo sheds a deep insight into the nature of the progress which the present humanity will be called upon to make in the future. The nature of the past evolution was predominantly in the outer life of the race; it is mainly a material, economic, social, political and cultural progress. Whatever inner progress humanity has achieved in the past comes as a subordinate result or aid to outer progress and not the central conscious aim. Nature’s task in the past and in the present seems to be to prepare the outer mind and life of the race for a future spiritual destiny. Some of the earliest civilisations like the Indian or the Greek had the conception of inner progress in the intellectual, aesthetic, ethical and spiritual levels and made the attempt to create an outer social structure favourable to the inner progress of people. But this effort ended only in creating a small group of intellectual, artistic and spiritual elite, while the large majority of the masses remained stagnant and unprogressive. Perhaps, humanity at that time was not yet inwardly and outwardly prepared to realize and manifest the spiritual ideal in the whole of human life. Further evolution and progress of humanity up to the present time is probably an extensive inner and outer preparation of the human consciousness and life for a comprehensive realisation of the integral spiritual ideal in every activity of human life. The post-modern age is perhaps the last phase of this preparation. The precise nature of this preparation we will discuss in our subsequent articles. Once this preparatory work is over, then the evolutionary need for outer progress ceases. And further growth in the future has to be in the inner psychological and spiritual dimensions of the human being and the self-expression of this inner growth in the outer life.

But how to realize this inner spiritual awakening in Man? Here comes the other great idea of the future: Science of Yoga.