Evolution takes time. Hundreds of millions of years were required to move even small steps forward, as universal “time” does not fit into the “human” time-sense. Humanity measures things in terms of an individual lifespan, and in increments that we have devised from our humanity-centric viewpoint. Thus we speak of generations, and look for change to occur in months, years or decades. Centuries seem like eternity to us, and millennia are beyond our immediate ability to truly understand. So when we speak of the evolutionary process, we need to look at it from a totally different standpoint if we are to appreciate what is taking place. What is “slow” to a human being may be “fast” in the sense of a universal Being manifesting systematically various stages in the expression of consciousness.

At the same time, while not representing overnight change, there is a unique opportunity presented to humanity. The first beings on the planet to be actively self-aware and holding an aspiration for further development of consciousness, which is a sign of our inner essential nature of being, we have the opportunity to apply our conscious efforts to the evolutionary process and thereby potentially speed up the next phase of the manifestation of consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “But while the former steps in evolution were taken by Nature without a conscious will in the plant and animal life, in man Nature becomes able to evolve by a conscious will in the instrument. It is not, however, by the mental will in man that this can be wholly done, for the mind goes only to a certain point and after that can only move in a circle. A conversion has to be made, a turning of the consciousness by which mind has to change into the higher principle. This method is to be found through the ancient psychological discipline and practice of Yoga. In the past, it has been attempted by a drawing away from the world and a disappearance into the height of the Self or Spirit. Sri Aurobindo teaches that a descent of the higher principle is possible which will not merely release the spiritual Self out of the world, but release it in the world, replace the mind’s ignorance or its very limited knowledge by a supramental Truth-Consciousness which will be a sufficient instrument of the inner Self and make it possible for the human being to find himself dynamically as well as inwardly and grow out of his still animal humanity into a diviner race. The psychological discipline of Yoga can be used to that end by opening all the parts of the being to a conversion or transformation through the descent and working of the higher still concealed supramental principle.” Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Introduction, pp. 3-4

Author's Bio: 

Santosh Krinsky is author of 16 books consisting of Readings in the main writings of Sri Aurobindo. He has studied Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971. He is the editor-in-chief of Lotus Press and President of the Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.