A PROGRESSIVE evolution of the visible and invisible instruments of the Spirit is the whole law of the earth nature; that too is the fundamental value which underlies all the other values of its existence and its process and gives them their significance.
Spirit has concealed itself in inconscient matter. It evolves, for itself first of all and as if that were its only preoccupation, forms of matter by the working of matter forces. It is only when this has been sufficiently done, then it thinks of life.
And yet a subconscient life and its imprisoned forces were there all the time in matter and its forces and are there even in its most apparently inanimate forms....
Afterwards came an evolution of mind in many forms by the working of liberated mind-forces. In those life-forces in matter and even in the very substance of matter mind was latent. An evolution of mind in the living form by a working of liberated mind-forces was the third chapter of the story. The third chapter is not completed, neither will it be the end of the narrative.
The evolution of the earth nature is not finished because it has manifested only three powers out of the seven-fold scale of consciousness that is involved in manifested Nature. It has brought out from its apparent inconscience only the three powers of Mind and Life and Matter.
Mind emerges out of life in matter; it is incapable of manifesting directly in the material form. It is there, but it acts mechanically in the somnambulism of an original force of inconscience and inertia. This and no more is what we mean by the inconscience of Matter; for although consciousness is there, it is involved, inorganic, mechanical in its action; it supports the works of Force by its inherent presence, but not by its light of active intelligence. This is why material Nature does the works of a supreme and miraculous intelligence and yet there seems to be no intervention of any indwelling Seer or Thinker.
Ether and material space are different names for the same thing. Space, in its origin at least if not in its universal character, is an extension of the substance of consciousness in which motion of energy can take place for the relations of being with being or force with force and for the building up of symbolic forms on which this interchange can be supported. Ether is space supporting the works of material energy and the symbolic forms it creates; it is, speaking paradoxically but to the point, immaterial or essential matter.
Evolution is the one eternal dynamic law and hidden process of the earth-nature.
An evolution of the instruments of the spirit in a medium of matter is the whole fundamental significance of the values of the earth-existence. All its other laws are its values of operation and process; the spiritual evolution is its one pervading secret sense.
The history of the earth is first an evolution of organised forms by the working of material forces.
There follows on this initial stage an evolution of life in the form and an organisation of a hierarchy of living forms by the working of liberated life-forces. The next step is an evolution of mind in living bodies and an organisation of more and more conscious lives by the process of developing mind forces. But this is not the end; for there are higher powers of consciousness beyond mind which await their turn and must have their act in the great play, their part of the creative Lila.
Matter, the medium of all this evolution, is seemingly inconscient and inanimate; but it appears to us so only because we are unable to sense consciousness outside a certain limited range, a fixed scale or gamut to which we have access. Below us there are lower ranges to which we are insensible and these we call subconscience or inconscience. Above us are higher ranges which are, to our inferior nature, an unseizable superconscience.
The difficulty of Matter is not an absolute inconscience, but an obscured consciousness limited by its own movement — vaguely, dumbly, blindly self-aware, only really responsive to anything outside its own form and forces. At its worst it can be called not so much inconscience as nescience. The awakening of a greater and yet greater consciousness in this Nescience is the miracle of the universe of Matter.
This nescience of Matter is a veiled, an involved or somnambulist consciousness which contains all the latent powers of the Spirit. In every particle, atom, molecule, cell of Matter there lives hidden and works unknown all the omniscience of the Eternal and all the omnipotence of the Infinite.
The evolution of forms and powers by which Matter will become more and more conscious until passing beyond form and life and mind it becomes aware, with the supernal awareness of the eternal and infinite Spirit in his own highest ranges, this is the meaning of earth existence. The slow self-manifesting birth of God in Matter is the purpose of the terrestrial Lila.
Matter is at once a force and a substance. Matter is original being, Brahman, made concrete in atomic division. Matter is original substance-force, Brahman-Shakti, made active in an obscure involution of the Spirit's powers in a self-forgetful nescience. Matter-force casts matter-substance, material Shakti casts Matter Brahman into form expressive of its own most characteristic powers. When that has been done, the physical world is ready for the splendid intrusion of conscious Life into the force-driven inertia of material substance.
Matter is not the only force, not the only substance. For Life and Mind and what is beyond Mind are also forces that are substances, but of another kind and degree. Spirit is the original force-substance; all these others are kinds and derivations of the force of Spirit, degrees and modifications of the substance of Spirit. Matter too is nothing but a power and degree of the Spirit; Matter too is substance of the Eternal.
The Matter that we see and sense is only an outermost sheath and crating; behind it are other subtler degrees of physical substance which are less dense with the atomic nescience, and it is easier for life, mind and other powers to enter into them and operate. If the finer invisible physical layers or couches did not exist supporting this gross visible physical world, that world could not abide; for then the fine operations of transmission between Spirit and Matter could not be executed at all and it is these that render the grosser visible operations possible. The evolution would be impossible; life and mind and beyond-mind would be unable to manifest in the material universe.
There is not only this material plane of being that we see, there is a physical life-plane proper to the vital physical operation of Nature. There is a physical mind-plane proper to a mental physical operation of Nature. There is a physical supermind plane proper to the supramental physical operation of Nature. There is too a plane of physical spirit-power or infinite physical Being-Consciousness-Force-Bliss proper to the spiritual physical operations of Nature. It is only when we have discovered and separated these planes of Nature and of our physical being and analysed the synthesis of their contributions to the whole play that we shall discover how the evolution of vital, mental and spiritual consciousness became possible in inconscient Matter.
But there is more; for beyond these many couches of the physical existence are other supra-physical degrees, many layers of Life, many layers of Mind, planes of Supermind, of Bliss, of Consciousness-Force and of infinite Being on which the physical existence depends for its origination and its continuance. It is the higher planes that constantly unfold unseen energies which have raised its evolution from the obscurity in which it began to the splendour of a light of consciousness to which the highest human mind shall only be the feeble glimmer of a glow-worm fire before the sun in its flaming glories.
This is a stupendous hierarchy of the grades of consciousness between the darkest Matter and the most luminous Spirit. Consciousness in Matter has to go on climbing to the very top of the series and return with all it has to give us before the evolution can utterly fulfil its purpose.
Matter, Life, Mind, Supermind or Gnosis, and beyond these the quadruple power of a supreme Being-Consciousness-Force-Bliss: these are the grades of the evolutionary ascent from Inconscience to the Superconscience.
Life does not wholly come into the earth from outside it; its principle is there always in material things. But, imprisoned in the apparent inanimate inertia of Matter, it is bound by its movements and unable to manifest its own independent or dominant existence.
Life is there in the earth, rock, metal, gas, atom, electron and the other more subtle yet undiscovered forces and particles that constitute material energy and form. It is in everything, but at first a hardly detectable presence, organised only to support secretly material energies, processes, formations and transformations; it is there as an involved power for the building and expression of Form of Matter, not for the expression of Life. It is not in possession of itself, not self-conscious in the form, not pushed towards self-manifestation; a helpless tool and instrument, not a free agent, it is a servant of Matter and a slave of the Form, not the master of the house.
But above the material world there is a plane of dominant Life that presses down upon this material universe and seeks to pour into it whatever it can of its own types, powers, forces, impulsions, manifesting creative godheads. When in the material world form is ready, the Gods and Life-Daemons of this higher plane are attracted to put their creative touch upon Matter. Then there comes a rapid and sudden efflorescence of Life; the plant, the animalcule, the insect, the animal appear. A life-soul and a life-force with its many and always more complex movements are manifested in what seemed once to be inert and inanimate substance. Life-souls, life-minds, animal existences are born and evolve; a new world appears that is born and contained in this world of Matter and yet surpasses it in its true dynamic nature.
Involution of a superconscient Spirit in inconscient Matter is the secret cause of this visible and apparent world and the evolution of this Superconscient out of inconscient Nature is the keyword of the earth's riddle. Earth-life is one self-chosen habitation of a great Divinity and his aeonic will is to change it from a blind prison into his splendid mansion and high heaven-reaching temple. is the gradual evolution of a hidden illimitable consciousness and power out of the seemingly inert yet furiously driven force of insensible Nature.
The nature of the Divinity in the world is the immutable stability of an eternal existence that puts on superficial mutable forms, the indivisible light of an infinite consciousness that breaks out into multiform detail and grouping of knowledge, the illimitable movement of an omnipotent force that works out its marvels in self-imposed limits, the calm and ecstasy of an immeasurable Delight that creates waves and rhythms of the outward-going and inward-drawing intensities of its own creative and communicative world-possessing and self-possessing bliss. This will be the nature of our fourfold experience when it will work here in us in its unveiled nature; and if that manifestation had been from the beginning there would have been no problem of terrestrial existence.
But this Godhead here, whether within us or outside us in things and forces and creatures, started from an involution in inconscient Nature and began by the manifestation of its apparent opposites. In Non-existence, discontinuity and void, the appearance of a blind inconscient Force, in the creations of that Force a principle of difficult labour and suffering and pain: out of these opposites the Spirit in Matter has chosen to evolve its might and light and infinity and beatitude.
Before there could be any evolution, there must
needs be an involution of the Divine. Otherwise
there would be not an evolution but a successive creation of things new, not contained in their antecedents, not their inevitable consequences or processes in a sequence, but arbitarily willed or miraculously conceived by an inexplicable Chance, a stumbling fortunate Force or an external Creator.
All that is to change.
The long process of terrestrial formation and creation, the ambiguous miracle of life, the struggle of mind to appear and grow in an apparent vast Ignorance and to reign there as interpreter and creator and master, the intimations of a greater something that passes beyond the finite marvel of Mind to the infinite marvels of the Spirit, are not a meaningless and fortuitous passing result of some cosmic Chance with its huge combination of coincidences; they are not the lucky play of some blind material Force. These things are and can be only because of something eternal and divine that concealed itself in energy and form of Matter.
The secret of the terrestrial evolution is the slow and progressive liberation of this latent indwelling spirit, the difficult appearance of Something or Someone already involved with all its potential forces in a first formal basis of supporting substance, its greater slowly emerging movements locked up in an initial expressive power of Matter.
Man the thinker and seeker would not be here if he were not an embodied portion of an all-conscious Infinite that is superconscient above him but lies also hidden in the inconscience of the material universe.
Matter is the apparent beginning of the evolution but it is not its end. The development of form is not the most important or the most significant part of the evolutionary process; it is one sign of the thing that is being done, but it is not its essence. Material form is only a support and means for the progressive manifestation of the Spirit.
If all were chance or play of inconscient or inconsequent Force, there would be no reason why man with all his imperfections should not be the last word of this feat of unconscious intelligence or this haphazard miracle. It is because the Divine Spirit is there and his manifestation, the meaning of the movement is that a new power must emerge in the series that started from Matter.
The material universe would be a waste if wonderful desert if Life had not appeared as the first index to some marvellous utility and an ultimate profound and moving significance. But life too by itself would be a movement without sequence to its purposeful initiation or light to its own mystery if in Life there were not concealed an interpretative or at least a seeking power of consciousness that could turn upon its powers and way to grasp and direct them towards their own realised issue.
Because this infinite Spirit and eternal Divinity is here concealed in the process of material Nature, the evolution of a power beyond Mind is not only possible, but inevitable. If all were result of cosmic Chance there need be no necessity of its appearance, even as there was no necessity for any embarrassing emergence of a stumbling and striving vital consciousness in the mechanical whirl of Matter. And if all were the works of a mechanical Force, then too mind need not have unexpectedly appeared as a superior mechanism labouring to deal with Nature's grosser first machine and supermind would be still more a superfluity and a luminous insolence. Or, if a limited experimenting external Creator were the inventor of the universe, there would be no reason why he should not stop short at mind, content with the ingenuity of his labour. But since the Divinity is involved here and is emerging, it is inevitable that all his powers or degrees of power should emerge one after the other till the whole glory is embodied and visible.