Nature takes a long time to effectuate substantive evolutionary progress in manifesting higher, more complex and more powerful forms of consciousness. The shift from the realm of Matter took countless millennia. The first appearance of Life was simple and, again, the time required was far beyond what any human individual can possibly conceive in any realistic manner. Along the way, there were countless forms that developed embodying various powers of the life energy, just as before that, various forms of Matter evolved to include metals and crystals that have a higher responsiveness than the initial forms of rock that were expressed. With the advent of Mind, a new form of evolutionary development manifested, and, again, there were different forms that evolved to embody varying powers of Mind. Again, countless millennia were required to bring us to the current status of the manifestation of Mind in the world, as seen in our human existence.

In each case, the new expression of consciousness built up and was based in the existence of the prior expressions in our world. Thus, Life evolved in and through Matter and Mind evolved in and through Life in a material body. While this progression may not hold true in all possible worlds or universes, this is the evident progression in our world.

As the next level of consciousness begins to emerge, we may extrapolate from the manner in which the prior levels have manifested, The new consciousness would then be expressed through Mind, and based in Life and Matter. Given the imbalances caused by the advent of Life and Mind into the world of Matter (pollution, climate change, world wars, nuclear and biological weapons, waste and mis-management of limited resources, etc. etc. etc.), with no solutions in sight from even our highest mental capacities, we certainly cannot wait for ‘countless millennia’ for the next phase to develop and provide new powers of consciousness to rectify these imbalances and provide a harmonious development platform. Thus, the issue arises as to whether anything has changed to provide us the hope, or the certainty, of a faster and more leveraged process. Sri Aurobindo has identified the ability of the human being to participate consciously in the evolution as a lever to speed up this emergence.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “it is fundamentally an evolution of consciousness that has been taking place in Nature”.

Dr. Dalal expounds further: “The inner growth of the human being is simply a continuation of the evolution of consciousness which has hitherto resulted successively in the emergence of Life out of Matter and of Mind out of Life. In other words, consciousness has developed ever higher forms of its manifestation on earth — from the mineral to the plant, to the animal, to man, the mental being. What is called inner growth in this book refers to the evolution of consciousness beyond Mind.”

“Prior to the appearance of the human or mental being, evolution has been a slow, subconscious process. The emergence of Mind marks the beginning of a new process of evolution by which the human being, through a conscious will and aspiration for inner growth, becomes a conscious participant and collaborator in the evolution of consciousness. Thus inner growth is a process of conscious evolution. Any system of proven methods for achieving inner growth is yoga; for yoga is, as noted by Sri Aurobindo, ‘a methodised effort towards self-perfection by the expression of the potentialities latent in the being….’ Regarding the two modes of evolution — subconscious evolution through the processes of Nature and conscious evolution through Yoga — Sri Aurobindo writes: “All Nature is an attempt at a progressive revelation of the concealed Truth…. But what Nature aims at for the mass in a slow evolution, Yoga effects for the individual by a rapid revolution. … their aim is one in the end. The generalisation of Yoga in humanity mut be the last victory of Nature over her own delays and concealments. Even as now by the progressive mind of Science she seeks to make all mankind fit for the full development of the mental life, so by Yoga must she inevitably seek to make all mankind fit for the higher evolution, the second birth, the spiritual existence.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Introduction, pp. iii-iv

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.