When looked at from the outside, it seems that Matter came first and out of Matter arose Life and out of Life arose Mind. What is not addressed here is how material forces were able to create life and intelligence, in a seemingly random fashion. This is why some religious traditions posit that there is an external, all-powerful Being (God) who creates everything, since Matter, on its own, simply is not able to create something beyond itself. The New Testament of the Bible begins with an intriguing statement of “in the beginning was the Word”. This points to a non-material original cause of existence.

When we observe the working of human intelligence applied to any situation, we see that imagination, concept, idea, thought, and planning precede the actual creation of any material form that an individual may envision. Thus, there are many who hold that the more subtle power of thought is in fact the causative factor. If we follow this logic further, we find that there are even more subtle, and powerful, causative elements that create thought itself.

In the Taittiriya Upanishad, a seeker tries to discover the reality behind existence, as he seeks for the Eternal. His father, his teacher, tells him to seek that by which all is born, by which all live, and into which all things enter again upon death and dissolution. The seeker begins with the idea of Matter but soons find that he cannot explain everything as resultant from Matter. He continues the process, eventually coming to Knowledge and Bliss as the true powers of creation.

Western scientists, following a similar process have delved deeply into Matter. They eventually found that Matter does not exist! It is actually a form of Energy. Further, they find that Energy is a form of Consciousness. Consciousness pervades, permeates and constitutes the universal creation.

The actual moving powers in existence are not those we observe on the surface. Just as we are misled when we believe the sun rotates around the earth, or that the earth-existence is at the center of the universe, so also we are similarly misled about what causes us to exist, to live, to act, to think and to grow.

Dr. Dalal observes: “A salient aspect of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga pertaining to the psychology of inner growth is its view of the inner and higher planes of consciousness as dynamic forces. Though hidden from the outer surface consciousness, the inner and higher parts of the being exercise on the surface parts of the being a constant influence and pressure, pushing towards the evolution and growth of consciousness. alluding to the ‘decisive part played by the higher planes [of consciousness] in the earth-evolution’, Sri Aurobindo writes: “Our development takes place very largely by their superior but hidden action upon the earth-plane. All is contained in the inconscient or the subconscient, but in potentiality; it is the action from above that helps to compel an emergence. A continuance of that action is necessary to shape and determine the progression of the mental and vital forms which our evolution takes in material nature; for these progressive movements cannot find their full momentum or sufficiently develop their implications against the resistance of an inconscient or inert and ignorant material Nature except by a constant though occult resort to higher supraphysical forces of their own character. This resort, the action of this veiled alliance, takes place principally in our subliminal being and not on the surface: it is from there that the active power of our consciousness emerges, and all that it realises it sends back constantly into the subliminal being to be stored up, developed and re-emerge in stronger forms hereafter. This interaction of our larger hidden being and our surface personality is the main secret of the rapid development that operates in man once he has passed beyond the lower stages of Mind immersed in Matter.”

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

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky He is author of 17 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.