Soul, God and the Evolution of Consciousness

by Michael Colantoni

Relation of soul to God

What then is the relation between God and soul? The soul is an aspect of God, it exists only by His self-existence. The individual lives in God, by God and for God. Hence the soul can attain its highest truth by entire dependence upon the Divine who is its origin. Union with God is the object of its descent into the world of Ignorance. Complete self-surrender is the door that leads to this union in mind, life and body. Yet that unity does not preclude close yet different personal relations with the Divine. The relations of Father, Mother, Master, Friend or Lover do not contradict but fulfil the realisation of identity. The experience of difference in unity is a spiritual truth that is revealed by soul experience. By surrender we become identified with the Supreme Divine and his Divine Nature, yet we retain our individual existence. A difference in the soul personality remains even in the midst of the closest identity. That is a supreme mystery which can only be known by spiritual experience.


Process of Evolution

The evolution proceeds from the physical man who, living in the physical mind, attaches most importance to objective things and to his outer life. Next comes the vital man dominated by the vital mind and the ambition for affirmation and expansion of life-power. Lastly, we find the mental man who is guided by the pure mind of thought and intelligence. He is the poet, the thinker, the seer, the guide and leader of men. Finally, rising above the mind, man comes to possess the supramental consciousness by which he becomes aware of, enters into and finally unites himself with the Divine Reality. Evolution proceeds from matter through plant and animal to the physical man, vital man, mental man and spiritual man. Last comes the supramental man who is the perfection of the spiritual man.

The evolution of man is a movement of progress from lower to higher levels of consciousness. The highest level is the Supreme Sachchidananda or the Absolute that is the origin and support and reality of all existence. This divine Being becomes all and dwells in all that it manifests. Man is an eternal portion of the Sachchidananda and partakes of its Being, Consciousness, Energy and divine Delight; this is the ‘root principle’ of his existence. The soul in the universe has to become one with the divine Being, its divine Existence, Consciousness and Delight of Being. Its nature too must raise itself to the divine Nature by a gradual process of transformation. The outer self no less than the inner must be possessed of the Divine and at the same time possessed by Him and moved by his Divine Energy. The entire being should become a channel of expression of the Infinite and live and act in a complete self-giving and surrender.

But the individual lives, moves and has his being in his greater cosmic Self and Nature; so he must recover his unity with all individual beings and the whole universe. He finds that he is one with the cosmos and Nature, but he also realises that he is one with God, the Spirit that is manifest in the cosmos and the Lord of Nature. Lastly, the unity of God and Nature also becomes manifest to the individual. He discovers that it is the Spirit who has become all these becomings; he feels that it is the Shakti or Power of the Lord of all creation which is the Nature and is acting in the cosmos. This ‘triune knowledge’ of himself, of God and of Nature is the highest goal of human effort and labour. The conscious unity of the three – God, Self and Nature – in man’s own consciousness will be the summit of his spiritual evolution and the sure foundation of his divine perfection.

The consciousness of the One Divine in all, sarvam brahma, brings liberation from our ordinary limitation by the mental, vital and physical consciousness. The members of our being are released from their habitually narrow, petty and egoistic movements and they come to embrace calm, equality, wideness, universality, infinity. This liberation makes possible the ascent to the Supermind and the descent of its Power, which alone can transform mind, life and body for their highest divine perfection. For the goal of development is not only the fullness of inner consciousness but also the transformation of our outer nature into the divine Supernature. So there must be an evolution of the outer nature as well as an evolution of the inner being for an integral perfection of our personality. A spiritual completeness of the internal and external life is the sole object of man’s endeavour in his terrestrial existence. Sri Aurobindo says, “To find, know and possess the Divine existence, consciousness and nature and to live in it for the Divine is our true aim and the one perfection to which we must aspire.”

Tulsidas Chatterjee – Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga 1961