NOTES TO MYSELF after reading a few passages of Sri Aurobindo’s intense and intelligent book, The Life Divine.
SA: The human cannot remain always on the lowest rung.
SL: People incorporate more than one of the four current levels of evolution. It seems to me that those who exhibit the higher levels have the most extensive range. They are less limited.
SA: The physical level senses and experiences the material world. It strives to fulfill ambition, power, strong character, love, passion and adventure at the physical level.
SL: People who live at this level eat, drink, have sex, try to stay out of the rain. Relationships rest on domination and subordination.
SA: This level can be open to and try to comprehend the realities behind the material existence as seen in early religions, voodoo, magic, astrology.
SL: Humanity seems unable to just wallow in materiality and be done with it. We are preprogrammed to seek for more.
SA: The vital level is not limited by the physical senses. It emphasizes passion and emotion with a great stress on material existence while pushing ahead for life-experience, life-extension, life-power. The human who lives at the vital level breaks bonds, seeks new horizons and disturbs the past and the present in the interest of the future. The vital being can be open to new mental formations or be a fighter for an idea. Artists, prophets, poets and champions for a cause are typical of humans that base their life on passion.
SL: Religions and politics at this level rest on personal charisma and loyalty.
SA: For those on the intelligent level, the mental world is most important. They strive to control the physical and vital though doing so weighs down the highest mental parts because it requires attention and energy. In other words, those at the intelligent level cannot transform their nature but, with effort, can control and harmonize it. They try to give consistency to the multi-personal confusion of our half-constructed humanity. We see this level in philosophers, thinkers, scientists, people of ideas, writers, speakers, idealists and dreamers. The observer, the governor of his own mind, the self-creator is one on the intelligent level.
SL: To some, this looks like a boring realm because the vital level is still strong in the world. To others, intelligence looks like a platform from which to control the world. For yet others, it appears a way to understand and harmonize the world. Religions anchored in this level tend towards technique, rules, rituals, dogma.
SA: At the spiritual level, evolutionary persons dive inward to bring out the secret soul, or ascend above to planes of consciousness dense with light. They are most readily seen in the spiritual sage, the seer, the God-lover, the yogi, the mystic, the Gnostic Sufi.
SL: Some of these can, as individuals, see and appreciate all the purpose and structure of creation. There have been such souls in the world for millennia. Is their number increasing? There are no religions at this level. The individual encompasses all, clings no where. Are there any politicians at this level?
SA: The next stage of evolution is to call down from above the forces of true spiritual mind into all other levels of humanity.
SL: This refers to something beyond intelligence, an imbuing of materiality with spirituality. It does not yet have its true name, though Sri Aurobindo refers to it as the supramental level. There are individuals who go beyond even this level, but not humanity as a whole.The earlier levels are not left entirely behind. In instance, in our American culture, individual attention to food, clothing and shelter is beyond the survival level, but we cannot do without them.
To fully integrate all levels, the spiritual life must be lived while fully engaged in the material, vital and intellectual world. It can no longer lead to separation from the mainstream of humanity. In the past seers, sages and others who withdrew from the crowd kept alive the memory of the Light when the rest of the world fell into darkness. That may happen again. My husband says that those who withdraw influence others by their contacts and their teachings. I think that just as our secret hatreds and desires get picked up susceptible people and acted out in the world, so to do our secret aspirations and highest callings.
Can the highest spirituality, the highest creative intelligence of be persuaded to permeate all other levels? Tune in a thousand years from now and we’ll talk about it.