July 25, 2006

Sri Aurobindo presents a unifying conception of matter, life and mind

Sri Aurobindo and Science, by Garry Jacobs by rjon on Wed 07 Jun 2006 05:02 PM PDT Permanent Link The Creative Principle in Science Garry Jacobs The Mother's Service Society Oct. 2003
One way out is to assert, as science presently strives to do, that life and consciousness are merely complex expressions of material force and substance that have evolved through the inherent tendency of material systems to adapt and grow more complex. There is undoubtedly much in the behaviour of living beings that is so closely allied to physical processes and mechanisms that it is difficult to distinguish from action of physical energy. The response of Pavlov’s dog to the bell exemplifies the type of automatic and repeatable phenomenon widely observed in material nature, if only we ignore the fact that the dog’s response is learned and not innate. But an alternative hypothesis is possible that provides a more satisfying way out of this dilemma, which has not yet received sufficient consideration.
According to Sri Aurobindo, who presented this alternative hypothesis in its most complete and satisfying formulation in his magnum opus The Life Divine, the origin from which all matter, life and mind emerge is not an inconscient Infinite, but rather a Conscious Infinite. Life and mentality are higher order levels or planes of conscious existence that emerge out of material energy and substance because they are previously involved and inherent in all material energy and substance.
This alternative hypothesis fully explains the apparently inconscient, inanimate nature of material force as well as its capacity to give rise to the evolution of living beings and conscious experience. Rather than depicting life and mind as more evolved mechanisms or systems of material form and energy, it conceives matter as a less evolved form of conscious energy and substance in which life and mind are involved...
The real difficulty in accepting this alternative hypothesis lies not in explaining how life, consciousness, and complexity can arise out of an apparently inconscient energy but rather how an inconscient material energy and substance can arise out of a conscious infinite so very different from it in their apparent nature. The problem then would not be how to explain a conscious world built from inconscient materials, but how to explain finite, inconscient energy as the first expression and instrument of a conscious Infinite. It is this process which Sri Aurobindo describes as involution. He explains by it not only the origin and true nature of material energy but also the appearance of those ‘moral’ elements in earthly existence which are so inconsistent with our concept of divine will –wastefulness, ignorance, suffering, falsehood, and evil...
According to Sri Aurobindo’s hypothesis, an infinite, omnipresent, omniscient consciousness-force is the creator of the universe and all that is in it. The universe is not a creation by the creator of something outside and other than itself, but a progressive and evolutionary manifestation by the Infinite of that which it contains within itself as unmanifest potential. The universe and all it contains is a portion, expression and manifestation of an infinity that is not limited to or confined by this manifest field, which is both a spatial infinity and a temporal eternity. That Infinite is also a formless infinity and timeless eternity that transcends all relative conceptions and experiences of space and time...
Sri Aurobindo also presents a unifying conception of matter, life and mind by representing that all three are expressions of a common energy-substance. Here too, the constituting energy-substance is intangible, yet forms the basis for all sensual, perceptual and conceptual experience. But in this case that energy-substance is not inanimate or inconscient. This pure fundamental reality is what he terms Consciousness-Force, which is itself an expression of a more subtle reality he refers to as Self-conscious Being or Pure Existence. While some scientists would have us believe that all life and consciousness can be reduced to inconscient energy-substance, Sri Aurobindo asserts that all matter, life and mental experience are limited or veiled expressions of this fundamental Consciousness-Force. In his view, we are not compelled to reduce our deepest emotions, highest ideals and self-awareness to electrical impulses.

1 comment:

  1. This posting by Garry Jacobs shows a very good and correct understanding of the question of Involution and Evolution of the One and Infinite Existence-Cosciousness-Bliss — the Original and the Ultimate Reality.