We reflect on the evolution of consciousness, how Life evolves out of Matter and Mind evolves out of Life in Matter. Nothing can evolve that has not been previously involved, just as a tree can develop out of an acorn, because the genetic coding is 'involved' in that seed and under the proper conditions, it carries out the involved instruction set. This leads to the idea that in order for these levels of consciousness to 'involve' into Matter, they must exist somewhere independently. Thus, we can understand that there exists a plane of Matter, a plane of Life, and a plane of Mind that exist and which are the source of what eventually gets 'involved' and later can 'evolve' at the right time and under the right conditions to create the world of Nature within which we live and act.

The Soul experiences Nature, and thus, interacts with Matter, Life and Mind, both in the stages of their evolution and, under various conditions, potentially directly with the source plane for each of these levels of consciousness. Matter, Life and Mind represent different levels or aspects of consciousness as each of them has its own qualitative difference in its nature and mode of activity. In some cases, the next evolved phase seems to 'reverse' the action of the prior mode of activity. Matter appears unmoving and inconscient, life is moving and flexible in its development. As we shift from one plane of consciousness to the next, we find different conditions, different requirements, different modes of understanding and action that obtain in that successive stage. We can extrapolate that as further terms of consciousness manifest, they too will have a different mode of action than that of the mind, and they too will have their own independent plane of existence where they act in their own native power and energy.

Sri Aurobindo notes: "...first we must understand what we mean by planes of consciousness, planes of existence. We mean a general settled poise or world of relations between Purusha and Prakriti, between the Soul and Nature. For anything that we can call world is and can be nothing else than the working out of a general relation which an universal existence has created or established between itself, or let us say its eternal fact or potentiality and the powers of its becoming. That existence in its relations with and its experience of the becoming is what we call soul or Purusha, individual soul in the individual, universal soul in the cosmos; the principle and the powers of the becoming are what we call Nature or Prakriti."

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 2, Planes and Parts of the Being, pg. 11

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.