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Evolution of the Spiritual Consciousness

 

EVEN the Vedic Rishis used to refer to the ancients, more ancient than they themselves. "The ancients", they said, "worshipped Agni, we too the moderns in our turn worship the same godhead". Or again, "Thus spoke our forefathers";  or, "So have we heard from those who have gone before us" and so on.

     Indeed, the tradition in the domain of spiritual discipline seems to have been always to realise once again what has already been realised by others, to rediscover what has already been discovered, to re-establish ancient truths. Others have gone before on the Path, we have only to follow. The teaching, the realisation is handed down uninterruptedly through millenniums from Master to disciple. In other words, the idea is that the fundamental spiritual realisation remains the 'same always and everywhere: the name and the form only . vary according to the age and the surroundings. The one reality is called variously, says the Veda. Who can say when was the first dawn! The present dawn has followed the track of the infinite series that has gone by and is the first of the infinite series that is to come. So sings Rishi Kanwa. For the core of spiritual realisation is to possess the consciousness, attain the status of the Spirit. This Spirit may be called God by the theist or Nihil by the Negativist or Brahman (the One) by the Positivist (spiritual). But the essential experience of a  cosmic and transcendental reality does not differ very much. So it is declared that there is only one goal and aim, and there are, at the most, certain broad principles, clear pathways which one has to follow if one is to move in the right direction, advance smoothly and attain infallibly: but these have been well marked out, surveyed and charted and do not admit of

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serious alterations and deviations. The spiritual aspiration is a very definite and unitary movement and its fulfilment is also a definite and invariable status of the consciousness. The spiritual is a typal domain, one may say, there is no room here for sudden unforeseen variation or growth or evolution.

     Is it so in fact ? For, if one admits and accepts the evolutionary character of human nature and consciousness, the outlook becomes somewhat different. According to this view, human civilisation is seen as moving through progressive stages: man at the outset was centrally lodged in and occupied with his body consciousness, he was an annamaya purusa; then he raised himself and centred in the vital consciousness and so became fundamentally a pranamaya purusa; next he climbed into the mental consciousness and became a manomaya purusa; from that level again he has been attempting to go further beyond. On each plane the normal life is planned according to the central character, the law—dharma—of that plane. One can have the religious or spiritual experience on each of these planes, representing various degrees of growth and evolution according to the plane to which it is attached. It is therefore that the Tantra refers to three gradations of spiritual seekers and accordingly three types or lines of spiritual discipline: the animal (pasu bhava), the heroic (vira bhava) and the godly or divine {deva bhava). The classification is not merely typal but also hierarchical and evolutionary in character.

     The Divine or the spiritual consciousness, instead of being a simple unitary entity, is a vast, complex, stratified reality. "There are many chambers in my Father's mansion", says the Bible: many chambers on many stories, one may add. Also there are different levels or approaches that serve different seekers each with his own starting-point, his point de repaire. When one speaks of union with the Divine or of entering into the spiritual consciousness, one does not refer to the same
identical truth or reality as any other. There is a physical Divine, a vital Divine, a mental Divine; and beyond the mind , —from where one may consider that the region of true spirit begins—there are other innumerable modes, aspects, manifestations of the Divine.

     As we say, there are not only aspects of the Divine, but

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there are also levels in him. The spiritual consciousness rises tier upon tier and each spur has its own view and outlook, rhythm and character. Now, as long as man was chiefly preoccupied with his physico-vital or mentalised physico-vital activities, as long as the burden of his body and life and even mind lay heavy on him and their gravitational pull was normally very strong, almost irresistible, the spiritual impulse in him acted generally and fundamentally as a movement of escape from them into some thing beyond. It was a negative movement on the whole and it was enough to dissociate,  reject, sublimate the lower status and somehow rise into something which is not that (neti): the question was not important at that stage of the human consciousness about a  scientific scrutiny of the Beyond, its precise constitution and composition.

     But once there is the possibility gained of a more normalised, familiar and wider reconnaissance of the Beyond, when the human being has been mentalised to a degree and in a manner that makes it inevitable for him to overpass to a higher status and live there habitually, then it becomes an urgent matter of concern to know and find out where one goes exactly, on which level and in what domain, once one is beyond. The question, it is true, engaged the attention of the ancients too; but it was more or less an interesting inquiry, a good part speculative and theoretical; it had not the reality and insistence of the need of the hour. We have today chalked out an almost exhaustive science of the inferior consciousness, of the lower hemisphere—of course, so far as it is possible for such a science to be exhaustive moving in the light of the partial and inferior consciousness. In the same way we need at the present hour a complete and precise science of the Divine
Consciousness. As there is a logic of the finite, there is also a logic of the infinite, not merely its magic, and that too has to be discovered and laid out.

     Thus, the highest and most comprehensive description of the Divine is perhaps the formula Sat-chit-ananda. But even so, it is a very general and, after all, an inadequate description. It has to be filled in and supplemented by other categories as well, if one may say so. For Sat-chit-ananda presents to us the Sat Brahman. There is also the Asat Brahman. And again

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we must accept a reality which is neither Sat nor Asat—nasadasinno sadasit, says the Veda. And as for the filling up of the details in an otherwise almost blank and featureless infinity, Sri Aurobindo's charting of that vast unknown—with the categories of the Supermind and its various levels, of the Overmind and its levels too, all forming the Divine Status and Consciousness—is a new, almost a revolutionary revelation, just the required science which the present world needs and demands and for which it has been prepared through all the cycles of evolution.

     This means to say that with the knowledge that is given us today, one can determine more or less definitely the altitudes to which the various spiritual realisations of the past rose and one can see also the degrees or graded stages of the evolution of the spiritual consciousness. A broad landmark can be noted here which concerns us at the present moment. The spiritual consciousness has been rising to higher and higher peaks and possessing them one after another. At the present moment we are at a crisis, at a crucial crossing. The spiritual consciousness attained till now and securely held in human possession (in man's inner nature) is confined to the highest level of the mind with some infiltration from the Over-mind and through that, as a springing board, a leap into an indefinite, almost a blank Beyond. Now the time is come and the conditions are ready for the spiritual consciousness in humanity to arrive at the status above the Overmind to the Supermind, and make that a living reality and build in and through that its normal consciousness.

     A progressive revelation of higher .and higher and more integral states of the spiritual consciousness in and through the realisations of mystics and sages and seers—divine men— —of all ages, such is the process of evolution that marks the life of man upon earth. This spiritual evolution, however, may not be obviously visible in the external life and character of man: it has been a phenomenon more in his inner being and consciousness, an occult phenomenon. Hence there has intervened a veil, wall of separation between the two. The veil has not been rent precisely because the very highest spiritual potential has not been reached and brought into play. The call of the present age is just to do away with this

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veil, make of human nature a unified, a streamlined entity, a complete incarnation of the spiritual consciousness in the fullness of its own nature at its source and origin. 

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