[Published in Next Future, Jan 2007.]
Our human organism is not a disembodied spirit in some ethereal heaven, but an embodied Soul in a material world. Most of the spiritual traditions of the past viewed this material reality of our body and the material world as an illusion and a snare which has to be cast off or abandoned for realizing the freedom of the Soul. But a more integral spiritual vision views this material reality as an expression of the Spirit. If this higher vision is accepted, what then is the spiritual significance, purpose and destiny of Matter; matter in our own body and the terrestrial matter as a whole? In this series of articles we examine this question in the light an integral spiritual vision. It will be an exploration of the future possibilities which lie ahead for the evolution of Matter in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s vision and the Mother’s experiences in her own body.
This will be a sequel to our earlier series “Future of the Human Potential” in which we explored some of the unmanifest potentialities of human consciousness which may unfold in the future. In this series we will examine some of the higher potentialities hidden in Matter which may be revealed during the future evolution of our planet, giving birth to an entirely new science of Matter.
The Evolutionary Dimension: Towards Conscious Matter
In our earlier series on the future of the human potential, we have discussed in some detail the central theme of terrestrial evolution: Growth of Consciousness. In Sri Aurobindo’s vision, the manifest creation is the result of a dual process. First is the process of Involution by which the supreme and eternal consciousness of the spirit involves itself into, and becomes the apparent unconsciousness of matter. Second is the process of Evolution by which the involved consciousness of the spirit emerges, first as Life, and later as Mind, and will proceed further beyond Mind in the future towards its original nature as the pure and perfect consciousness of spirit. Sri Aurobindo identifies two principles which drive or shape the process of this evolution: Emergence and Integration.
A new principle emerges from the old and then there is an integration of the consciousness, energy and substance of the new with the old, creating the next higher principle in evolution. Consciousness emerges from the “dump” Matter as the principle of Life and this new vitally responsive life-energy is integrated with the substance and energy of “dump” matter in the stone, creating the living matter of the plant. Again, consciousness emerges from the living and “unconscious” matter of the plant as the sense-conscious and instinctive mind of the animal, and later as the self-conscious and thinking mind of man. Here also, there is again an integration of the energy and substance of the Life with the energy and substance of the Mind creating the living, sensing or thinking matter or substance of the animal or human brain. If we extend this evolutionary logic further into the future, when the consciousness emerges in its original form as of the Spirit from the Mind, there has to be a still further integration creating a living and conscious Matter, conscious with the consciousness of the Spirit, or in other words a spiritually conscious Matter. This transformation of matter has to happen first in the matter within a human being that is a human body.
If the growth of consciousness is the raison d’etre of evolution, Spirit is the source and destiny of evolution and the whole creation is returning towards the Source, then a spirituality conscious individual in a spiritually conscious world emerges as the most logical destiny of terrestrial evolution. The evolutionary impetus of the future, after making the inner being of man fully conscious of itself and its spiritual source, has to proceed further until the whole of bodily and terrestrial matter is fully spiritualised with the consciousness of the Spirit. This means, in the future, the process of integration which we have discussed earlier will not be confined to the brain as in the past. It will extend itself to the whole of human body and to every cell of the body, creating not just a spirituality conscious brain but also a spirituality conscious Body. Ultimately this “conspiring” impulse of evolution has to proceed further on beyond the human body to the whole of terrestrial creation, culminating in Sri Aurobindo’s prophetic vision:
“Even the dumb earth becomes a sentient force” 1
But is such a thing possible? Matter and Spirit seem to lie at two opposite poles of existence? Can they unite and become one? To answer this question, we have to look deep into the spiritual source of Matter in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s vision.