The human mind has difficulty imagining the possibility of an entirely new direction for evolutionary development, and tends to try to “read” the future by extrapolation from the present and the past. Thus, we see Nietzsche describing the “superman” as someone who has a higher mental functioning and vital force of effectuation, who then has the “right” and the “power” to disregard the strictures of the society’s structure because he has gone “beyond” them. The Third Reich envisioned a master race of men bred to be stronger and more ‘pure’ and more intelligent to rule over “inferior” races of the world. We see utopian and dystopian visions that extrapolate mental capacities and lines of development, particularly with application of advances in technology developed through the mind, which portray either a positive or a negative view of the future. In popular culture we see a proliferation of fantasies about “super-powered” individuals who either take on enhanced functions of their senses of perception and action, or who have advanced capacities physically, vitally or mentally, but again, as extrapolations from what we know from our mental viewpoint.

We can reflect that a dog cannot conceive of the type of powers of mind and action that resulted from the development of the mental powers in humanity. Similarly, humanity cannot envision the next evolutionary phase, which Sri Aurobindo calls the supramental evolution. The shift in standpoint, the development of new insights, powers and value-sets that are implied in such a dramatic shift are not subject to straight-line extrapolation from our present mental framework. Therefore, we pose obstacles and limitations and “impossibilities” in advance on something about which we have no basis for making such conclusions. We argue that “human nature is fixed and cannot change” or similar viewpoints that circumscribe our conceptions of what the future may look like. Just as the dog could not conceive of space flight and beings from this planet landing on the moon, so the human being cannot conceive of a development and a society based on a totally new understanding and relationship to the universal manifestation.

Sri Aurobindo writes in The Life Divine: “A life of gnostic beings carrying the evolution to a higher supramental status might fitly be characterised as a divine life; for it would be a life in the Divine, a life of the beginnings of a spiritual divine light and power and joy manifested in material Nature. That might be described, since it surpasses the mental human level, as a life of spiritual and supramental supermanhood. But this must not be confused with past and present ideas of supermanhood; for supermanhood in the mental idea consists of an overtopping of the normal human level, not in kind but in degree of the same kind, by an enlarged personality, a magnified and exaggerated ego, an increased power of mind, an increased power of vital force, a refined or dense and massive exaggeration of the forces of the human Ignorance; it carries also, commonly implied in it, the idea of a forceful domination over humanity by the superman. That would mean a supermanhood of the Nietzschean type; it might be at its worst the reign of the ‘blonde beast’ or the dark beast or of any and every beast, a return to barbaric strength and ruthlessness and force: but this would be no evolution, it would be a reversion to an old strenuous barbarism.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Future Evolution of Man, Chapter Nine, The Divine Life Upon Earth, pg. 131

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 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.