The Life Divine - Sri Aurobindo (soft cover)
About the book:
"In my explanation of the universe I have put forward this cardinal fact of spiritual evolution as the meaning of our existence here", Sri Aurobindo wrote to a disciple. "Behind the appearances of the universe", he explained, "there is the Reality of a Being and Consciousness, a Self of all things, one and eternal... This One Being and Consciousness is involved here in Matter. Evolution is the method by which it liberates itself".
Evolution is possible, Sri Aurobindo argued, only because the Divine Reality has "involved" or "hidden himself" in the material universe. Involved in the world, the Divine, through His creative energy, gradually emerges in ever more conscious forms. Of this evolutionary process, Sri Aurobindo writes: "Consciousness appears in what seems to be the inconscient, and once having appeared is self-impelled to grow higher and higher and at the same time to enlarge and develop towards a greater and greater perfection. Life is the first step of this release of consciousness; mind is the second, but the evolution does not finish with mind, it awaits a release into something greater, a consciousness which is spiritual and supramental. The next step of the evolution must be towards the development of Supermind and Spirit as the dominant power in the conscious being. For only then will the involved Divinity in things release itself entirely and it become possible for life to manifest perfection".
Man, the highest conscious form of life upon earth, is a key to this perfection; a "transitional being" he is destined to exceed his limitations as a mental being and become a supramental being. This change can be brought about through a methodised effort towards self-perfection in which the individual seeks to enter into contact and union (yoga) with the Divine through aspiration and self-surrender, opens himself to the Divine Consciousness and Force which descend into him and gradually transform his mind, life and body. This integral transformation, said Sri Aurobindo, will lead to such a perfection of terrestrial existence that it might well be called a divine life on earth.
Extract from the book:
We speak of the evolution of Life in Matter, the evolution of Mind in Matter; but evolution is a word which merely states the phenomenon without explaining it. For there seems to be no reason why Life should evolve out of material elements or Mind out of living form, unless we accept the Vedantic solution that Life is already involved in Matter and Mind in Life because in essence Matter is a form of veiled Life, Life a form of veiled Consciousness. And then there seems to be little objection to a farther step in the series and the admission that mental consciousness may itself be only a form and a veil of higher states which are beyond Mind.
In that case, the unconquerable impulse of man towards God, Light, Bliss, Freedom, Immortality presents itself in its right place in the chain as simply the imperative impulse by which Nature is seeking to evolve beyond Mind, and appears to be as natural, true and just as the impulse towards Life which she has planted in certain forms of Matter or the impulse towards Mind which she has planted in certain forms of Life.
As there, so here, the impulse exists more or less obscurely in her different vessels with an ever-ascending series in the power of its will-to-be; as there, so here, it is gradually evolving and bound fully to evolve the necessary organs and faculties. As the impulse towards Mind ranges from the more sensitive reactions of Life in the metal and the plant up to its full organisation in man, so in man himself there is the same ascending series, the preparation, if nothing more, of a higher and divine life.
The animal is a living laboratory in which Nature has, it is said, worked out man. Man himself may well be a thinking and living laboratory in whom and with whose conscious co-operation she wills to work out the superman, the god. Or shall we not say, rather, to manifest God? For if evolution is the progressive manifestation by Nature of that which slept or worked in her, involved, it is also the overt realisation of that which she secretly is. We cannot, then, bid her pause at a given stage of her evolution, nor have we the right to condemn with the religionist as perverse and presumptuous or with the rationalist as a disease or hallucination any intention she may evince or effort she may make to go beyond. If it be true that Spirit is involved in Matter and apparent Nature is secret God, then the manifestation of the divine in himself and the realisation of God within and without are the highest and most legitimate aim possible to man upon earth.
- Sri Aurobindo