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The Evolution Of Science
December 18, 1973
There are many indications that modern science has reached the point of evolving into a higher discipline of knowledge based on the development of higher sensory and mental faculties in man. These new capacities lie as untapped potential in the normal man behind and above his surface consciousness. Below we have presented a number of the indicators of this change as well as the probable nature of the new emerging science.
A recent news statement of the Royal Society of Great Britain indicates that the proper harnessing of solar energy can provide 2000 times the world’s energy requirements by the end of this century. A number of proposals have come forth to solve the world’s food problem by tapping the resources of our oceans or producing synthetic food stuffs. Such items illustrate the unlimited possibilities which practical science has uncovered in its study of physical energy and matter. They are also an indication that it is time to turn to a study of higher orders of the universe. When unlimited possibilities begin to reveal themselves through horizontal expansion on one plane, it indicates that progress on that plane is leading to the borders of a higher plane and that further progress lies not in an infinite continuation of horizontal movement but an ascent to the next level and a new cycle of horizontal growth.
Modern science has exhaustively studied the externalities of material nature. In many fields of research phenomena are being observed which do not easily conform to man’s assertion that the physical is the true base and sole reality of all phenomena.
Physicists have long attempted to define matter isolating fundamental particles and postulating fundamental principles. The process has been one of continuous subdivision of matter limited only by man’s instrumentation. In this formulation of physical law they are forced to contend with a basic principle of uncertainty that makes impossible a satisfactory true definition of matter in terms of matter.
Similar efforts in biology to define the essential properties of life as a particular structural entity have met with difficulty in the study of viruses and the properties of certain intracellular organelles. Biology has limited itself by an initial assumption that life is merely a form of material substance and energy rather than recognizing it as a higher form of conscious force manifesting itself in the physical world.
Investigations in psychology and parapsychology raise serious doubts as to the adequacy of our conception of human personality, thought and emotion based solely on the anatomy and physiology of a material being. Here there is failure to recognize mind and mental energy as a higher, separate and independent consciousness expressing through a living being in a physical body.
Psychologists of course having to deal with mental movements more easily recognize that there can be no real equation between them and physiological processes and at the most mind and body react on each other as is inevitable since they are lodging together. But even a great physical scientist like Huxley recognized that mind was something quite different from matter and could not possibly be explained in the terms of matter. Only since then Physical Science became very arrogant and presumptuous and tried to subject everything to itself and its processes. Now in theory it has begun to recognize its limitations in a general way, but the old mentality is still too habitual in most scientists to shake off yet. (LETTERS ON YOGA, p.202).*
II. THE TRANSITION
The growth of modern Science is part of a general movement in Nature to develop the intellectual being of man to its fullest capacity, to evolve the mental man. The domain of Science is the physical universe, that field of phenomena which can be directly observed or indirectly measured by the physical senses. Its faculty of Knowledge is what Sri Aurobindo terms the mixed Reason which subjects these sense observations to analysis and arrives at a judgment.
Reason accepts a mixed action when it confines itself to the circle of our sensible experience, admits its law as the final truth and concerns itself only with the study of phenomenon, that is to say, with the appearances of things in their relations, processes and utilities. This rational action is incapable of knowing what is, it only knows what appears to be, it has no plummet by which it can sound the depths of being, it can only survey the field of becoming. (The Life Divine, p.58, American Edition, 1965).
At the outset man lives in his physical mind which perceives the actual, the physical, the objective and accepts it as fact and this fact as self-evident truth beyond question; whatever is not actual, not physical, not objective it regards as unreal or unrealized, only to be accepted as entirely real when it has succeeded in becoming actual, becoming a physical fact, becoming objective: its own being too it regards as an objective fact, warranted to be real by its existence in a visible and sensible body; all other subjective beings and things it accepts on the same evidence in so far as they can become objects of our external consciousness or acceptable to that part of the reason which builds upon the data supplied by that consciousness and relies upon them as the one solid basis of knowledge. Physical Science is a vast extension of this mentality: it corrects the errors of the sense and pushes beyond the first limitations of the sense-mind by discovering means of bringing facts and objects not sizeable by our corporeal organs into the field of objectivity; but it has the same standard of reality, the objective, the physical actuality; its test of the real is possibility of verification by positive reason and objective evidence. (The Life Divine, p.372).
Science has been of enormous and indispensable utility in the training of the sense faculties to a careful, detailed, accurate observation and the development of a clear, pure and disciplined intellect in touch with the concrete realities of the physical world. Yet this development is not an end in itself, but a passage to greater consciousness.
So long as we confine ourselves to sense-evidence and the physical consciousness, we can conceive nothing and know nothing except the material world and its phenomena. (The Life Divine, p.58).
Its premise is that the physical senses are our sole means of knowledge and that Reason, therefore, even in its most extended and vigorous flights, cannot escape beyond their domain; it must deal always and solely with the facts which they provide or suggest; and the suggestions themselves must always be kept tied to their origins; we cannot go beyond, we cannot use them as a bridge leading us into a domain where more powerful and less limited faculties come into play and another kind of inquiry has to be instituted.
A premise so arbitrary pronounces on itself its own sentence of insufficiency. It can only be maintained by ignoring or explaining away all that vast field of evidence and experience which contradicts it, denying or disparaging noble and useful faculties, active consciously or obscurely or at worst latent in all human beings, and refusing to investigate supraphysical phenomena except as manifested in relation to matter and its movements and conceived as a subordinate activity of material forces. As soon as we begin to investigate the operations of mind and of supermind, in themselves and without the prejudgment that is determined from the beginning to see in them only a subordinate term of Matter, we come into contact with a mass of phenomena which escape entirely from the rigid hold, the limiting dogmatism of the materialist formula. And the moment we recognize, as our enlarging experience compels us to recognize, that there are in the universe knowable realities beyond the range of the senses and in man powers and faculties which determine rather than are determined by the material organs through which they hold themselves in touch with the world of the senses – that outer shell of our true and complete existence – the premise of materialistic Agnosticism disappears. We are ready for a large statement and an ever-developing inquiry. (The Life Divine, p.11-12).
For mind itself is not enough; even its largest play of intelligence creates only a qualified half-light. A surface mental knowledge of the physical universe is a still more imperfect guide; for the thinking animal it might be enough, but not for a race of mental beings in labour of a spiritual evolution. Even the truth of physical things cannot be entirely known, nor can the right use of our material existence be discovered by physical Science and an outward knowledge alone or made possible by the mastery of physical and mechanical processes alone: to know, to use rightly we must go beyond the truth of physical phenomenon and process, we must know what is within and behind it. (LD, p.652).
We are approaching the point where reliance on data of physical senses will be superceded by subtler senses, where the sovereignty of Reason will be replaced by a higher faculty of knowledge and the field of scientific enquiry will move beyond the limits of the physical plane.
The outposts of scientific Knowledge come more and more to be set on the borders that divide the material from the immaterial…. (LD, p.16).
If modern Materialism were simply an unintelligent acquiescence in the material life, the advance might be indefinitely delayed. But since its very soul is the search for Knowledge, it will be unable to cry a halt; as it reaches the barriers of sense-knowledge and of the reasoning from sense-knowledge, its very rush will carry it beyond and the rapidity and sureness with which it has embraced the visible universe is only an earnest of the energy and success which we may hope to see repeated in the conquest of what lies beyond, once the stride is taken that crosses the barrier. We see already that advance in its obscure beginnings. (The Life Divine, p.14-15).
This perfection of physical mind and sense is not an end in itself. Mind is an instrument for man’s use, and not his highest instrument, which had to be given a great scope for development so it may subserve higher powers of consciousness. In this growth mind will cease to become the initiator of our action and the highest authority of our knowing. It will take its rightful place an as instrument open to direction from higher sources and faithfully executing and expressing that impulsion.
Our first decisive step out of our human intelligence, our normal mentality, is an ascent into a higher Mind, a mind no longer of mingled light and obscurity or half-light, but a large clarity of the spirit. Its basic substance is a Unitarian sense of being with a powerful multiple dynamisation capable of the formation of a multitude of aspects of knowledge, ways of action, forms and significances of becoming, of all of which there is a spontaneous and inherent knowledge. (LD, p.835).
This higher consciousness is a Knowledge formulating itself on a basis of self-existent all-awareness and manifesting some part of its integrality, a harmony of its significances put into thought-form. It can freely express itself in single ideas, but its most characteristic movement is a mass ideation, a system or totality of truth-seeing at a single view; the relations of idea with idea, of truth with truth are not established by logic but pre-exist and emerge already self-seen in the integral whole. There is an initiation into forms of an ever-present but till now inactive knowledge, not a system of conclusions from premises or data; this thought is a self-revelation of eternal Wisdom, not an acquired knowledge. Large aspects of truth come into view in which the ascending Mind, if it chooses, can dwell with satisfaction and, after its former manner, live in them as in a structure; but if progress is to be made, these structures can constantly expand into a larger structure or several of them combine themselves into a provisional greater whole on the way to a yet unachieved integrality. In the end there is a great totality of truth known and experienced but still a totality capable of infinite enlargement because there is no end to the aspects of knowledge…. (LD, p.836)
This Higher Mind is only the lowest rung of ascending powers of consciousness. It is the first opening to the illuminations, intuitions, inspirations, revelations which occasionally burst through the thick veilings of our human mentality and are the true source of the great creative movements of scientists, artists, musicians, etc. Most frequently recorded by these men is the sudden rare descent of intuition. What now occurs only as an exception can become man’s normal faculty.
….. Intuition by the very nature of its action in man, working as it does from behind the veil, active principally in his more unenlightened, less articulate parts, served in front of the veil, in the narrow light which is our waking conscience, only by instruments that are unable fully to assimilate its messages – Intuition is unable to give us the truth in that ordered and articulated form which our nature demands. Before it could effect any such completeness of direct knowledge in us, it would have to organize itself in our surface being and to take possession there of the leading part. (LD, p.65).
…. The foundation of intuitional knowledge is conscious or effective identity between that which knows and that which is known; it is that state of common self-existence in which the knower and the known are one through knowledge. (LD, p.63).
….. Intuition is born of a direct awareness while intellect is an indirect action of a knowledge which constructs itself with difficulty out of the unknown from signs and indications and gathered data. (LD, p.299).
As there is a higher faculty of knowledge than the mind so too there are more subtle instruments of perception than the five physical senses which mind relies on for its data and upon which it bases its operations. Man is familiar with many of these, such as clairvoyance, clairaudience, telepathy, etc. – as occasional phenomena or faculties accessible to but a few abnormal individuals. But in fact they are faculties once well developed in man at an earlier stage of his evolution before the full emergence of mind, which have temporarily withdrawn so mind may develop and which are destined to re-emerge as the perceptive instruments of the higher than mental faculties in man.
Science has been preoccupied with a detailed analysis of the externalities of physical nature. This enquiry has greatly aided the development of physical sense and mind as instruments of new evolving powers. It also has served to firmly ground future explorations on a sturdy foundation of physical realities. Yet science is slow to awaken to the limitations of its present field of enquiry and the vast horizons which are opening themselves to man’s awareness.
The world of Matter is affirmed by the experience of the physical senses which, because they are themselves unable to perceive anything immaterial or not organized as gross Matter, would persuade us that the suprasensible is the unreal…. Even in the world of Matter there are existences of which the physical senses are incapable of taking cognizance. Yet the denial of the suprasensible as necessarily an illusion or a hallucination depends on this constant sensuous association of the real with the materially perceptible, which is itself a hallucination. Assuming throughout what it seeks to establish, it has the vice of the argument in a circle and can have no validity for an impartial reasoning.
Not only are there physical realities which are suprasensible, but, if evidence and experience are at all a test of truth, there are also senses which are supraphysical and can not only take cognizance of the realities of the material world without the aid of the corporeal sense-organs, but can bring us into contact with other realities, supraphysical and belonging to another world -- included, that is to say in an organization of conscious experiences that are dependent on some other principle than the gross Matter of which our suns and earths seem to be made.
Constantly asserted by human experience and belief since the origins of thought, this truth, now that the necessity of an exclusive pre-occupation with the secrets of the material world no longer exists, begins to be justified by new-born forms of scientific research. The increasing evidences, of which only the most obvious and outward are established under the name of telepathy with its cognate phenomena, can not long be resisted except by minds shut up in the brilliant shell of the past, by intellects limited in spite of their acuteness through the limitation of their field of experience and inquiry, or by those who confuse enlightenment and reason with the faithful repetition of the formulas left to us from a bygone century and the jealous conservation of dead or dying intellectual dogmas.
It is true that the glimpse of supraphysical realities acquired by methodical research has been imperfect and is yet ill-affirmed; for the methods used are still crude and defective. But these rediscovered subtle senses have at least been found to be true witnesses to physical facts beyond the range of the corporeal organs. There is no justification, then for scouting them as false witnesses when they testify to supraphysical facts beyond the domain of the material organization of consciousness. Like all evidence, like the evidence of the physical senses themselves, their testimony has to be controlled, scrutinized and arranged by the reason, rightly translated and rightly related, and their field, laws and processes determined. But the truth of great ranges of experience whose objects exist in a more subtle substance and are perceived by more subtle instruments than those of gross physical Matter, claims in the end the same validity as the truth of the material universe. The worlds beyond exist: they have their universal rhythms, their grand lines and formations, their self-existent laws and mighty energies, their just and luminous means of knowledge. And here on our physical existence and in our physical body they exercise their influences; here also they organize their means of manifestation and commission their messengers and their witnesses. (LD, p.18-20).
III. A SCIENCE OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Science is stumbling to rediscovery of the ancient Wisdom. The universe is a manifestation of a sole Reality in many forms. Matter, life and mind are varying manifestations of One Consciousness. In physical matter and energy this consciousness is almost entirely veiled from the surface, inconscient. In life it is partially evolved to express in terms of force and movement. In mind it is further evolved into form of thought. And beyond mind lies a hierarchy of planes moving toward pure spiritual Consciousness.
The universe is a manifestation of an infinite gradation of Consciousness-Force ranging from the completely involved consciousness (inconscience) of physical Matter and energy through its partially evolved manifestation as life energy and mental thought to the rarified heights of pure Spiritual Consciousness – a hierarchy of interdependent and interacting planes. Thus far Science has focused: on the lowest and densest of these terms – the phenomena of physical matter and energy. It has awakened also to the interaction of the physical with the planes of life and mind as testified by the increasing attention to psychosomatic and para-psychological relationships. Its greatest advance lies before it in the discovery of the consciousness planes above mind and an exploration of their relations with body, life and mind. This field has long ago been extensively investigated and codified by the yogis of India and mystics of many lands. It has to be rediscovered by the mature mind of humanity in the light of its accumulated development and integrated into the life of modern man. The superconscient must cease to be the field only of the mystic, ascetic, recluse, the seeker for salvation beyond and be sought and known by the materialist, the agnostic, the practical man whose faith lives in the development of the individual and the civilization.
In its nascent stages Science was integrated with all of life. The early modern investigators pursued science along with the humanities and arts in a single unified attempt to know life by the power of mind. Gradually specialization set in. Science withdrew from the main field of life into the laboratory. It chose for its inquiry only those phenomena which lent themselves readily to study by the scientific methods of experimentation. It underwent a further subdivision into various disciplines of physical life, psychological science – each pursuing different aspects of life by different methodology. This divergence from life and division into many disciplines was of immense value for it allowed a great degree of perfection in the techniques of sense observation, measurement, rational judgment, concept formation and resulted in a detailed knowledge of the physical plane.
Science is now moving toward a greater synthesis in which these separative tendencies must be reunited on a new foundation. As the present disciplines all base themselves on the physical mind and senses, the new advance will study and know the inner and outer worlds by means of subtle sense faculties and higher powers of knowledge. All disciplines will find themselves reintegrated in a single whole and merging into the mainstream of human life. The temporary resort to its specialized mechanisms, methods, retirement to the laboratory must be recognized as a necessary stage but not the basic essence or requirement of Science. As it was in its infancy so again it must become coterminous with life. Science will outgrow its dependence on the physical senses and the vast instrumentation it has evolved to extend the field of perception beyond human limits. Perception is the result of contact between the consciousness of the subject and the consciousness of the object. The one true instrument of perception is consciousness. Man can seek and know directly with his own inherent powers. It may begin with the cultivation of other sensory powers of the mind beyond the five basic senses – clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience, etc. As man develops beyond the mental consciousness the subtler sense faculties will open to him. Later still the pure powers of conscious contact & identification will unfold. (For fuller discussion see The Synthesis of Yoga, Chapter “Supramental Sense”.)
So also science will outgrow the necessity of confining its investigations to the controlled conditions of a laboratory. By extending his work out into the world and inward to his own personality, it is possible for man to exert the power of his consciousness to know and alter his own inner make-up. Because the inner and outer life are actually one field separated only by man’s ego, each inner subjective activity will produce a corresponding result in the outer life providing an occasion for objective verification and the foundation for control of the external world by the power of consciousness.
Man outgrows the reliance on external sources of knowledge and attains a condition of consciousness now.
…. Potential only to the human being and gained by an inner enlightening and transformation of the mind of ignorance; it is that in which the mind seeks for its source of knowledge rather within than without and becomes to its own feeling and self-experience, by whatever means, a mind, not of original ignorance, but of self-forgetful knowledge. This mind is conscious that the knowledge of all things is hidden within it or at least somewhere in the being, but as if veiled and forgotten, and the knowledge comes to it not as a thing acquired from outside, but always secretly there and now remembered and known at once to be true – each thing in its own place, degree, manner and measure. This is its attitude to knowledge even when the occasion of knowing is some external experience, sign or indication, because that is to it only the occasion and its reliance for the truth of the knowledge is not on the external indication or evidence but on the inner confirming witness. The true mind is the universal within us and the individual is only a projection on the surface, and therefore this second state of consciousness we have either when the individual mind goes more and more inward and is always consciously or subconsciously near and sensitive to the touches of the universal mentality in which all is contained, received, capable of being made manifest, or, still more powerfully, when we live in the consciousness of universal mind with the personal mentality only as a projection, a marking board or a communicating switch on the surface. (The Synthesis of Yoga, p.855-6).
As science has analysed the processes of physical Nature and formulated laws and rules to describe physical phenomena, so it can extend its domain to formulate the laws which govern the events, movements and interactions of life and human society – no longer by the statistical and hypothetical methods now employed in the social sciences, but by principles arising from a direct perception of the interactions of life with other planes and its laws of reaction.
But it must be emphasized that the now popular forms of eastern mysticism and western spiritualism are not the mould for the future science.
But spiritualism glorified under the name of psychical research? That is not a science; it is a mass of obscure and ambiguous documents from which you can draw only a few meager and doubtful generalizations. (Letters on Yoga, p.203-4.)
Yet the new science cannot be limited either by methodology of that which preceded it.
Formulas and their application, a mechanization of latent forces, can be astonishingly effective in the occult use of mind power and life power just as it is in physical Science, but this is only a subordinate method and a limited direction. For mind and life forces are plastic, subtle and variable in their action and have not the material rigidity; they need a subtle and plastic intuition in the knowledge of them, in the interpretation of their action and process and in their application -- even in the interpretation and action of their established formulas. An overstress on mechanization and rigid formulation is likely to result in sterilization or a formalized limitation of knowledge and, on the pragmatic side, to much error, ignorant convention, misuse and failure. Now that we are outgrowing the superstition of the sole truth of Matter, a swing backward towards the old occultism and to new formulations, as well as to a scientific investigation of the still hidden secrets and powers of mind and a close study of psychic and abnormal or supernormal psychological phenomena, is possible and, in parts, already visible. But if it is to fulfill itself, the true foundation, the true aim and direction, the necessary restrictions and precautions of this line of inquiry have to be rediscovered; its most important aim must be the discovery of the hidden truths and powers of the mind-force and life-power and the greater forces of the concealed spirit. Occult science is, essentially, the science of the subliminal, the subliminal in ourselves and the subliminal in world-nature, and/of all that is in connection with the subliminal, including the subconscient and the superconscient, and the use of it as part of self-knowledge and world-knowledge and for the right dynamisation of that knowledge. (The Life Divine, p.779-80).
The first condition for this emergence of higher faculties of sense and knowledge is the mind’s recognition of its own ignorance and the limitations of its superficial view of phenomena.
Neither the universe nor the individual are what they seem to be, for the report of them which our mind and our senses give us, is, so long as they are unenlightened by a faculty of higher supramental and suprasensuous knowledge, a false report, an imperfect construction, an attenuated and erroneous figure. And yet that which the universe and the individual seem to be is still a figure of what they really are, a figure that points beyond itself to the reality behind it. Truth proceeds by a correction of the values our mind and senses give us, and first by the action of a higher intelligence that enlightens and sets right as far as may be the conclusions of the ignorant sense-mind and limited physical intelligence; that is the method of all human knowledge and science. But beyond it there is a knowledge, a Truth-Consciousness, that exceeds our intellect and brings us into the true light of which it is a refracted ray. There the abstract terms of pure reason and the constructions of the mind disappear or are converted into concrete soul-vision and the tremendous actuality of spiritual experience. (The Synthesis of Yoga, p.279).
Mind must abandon its role as initiator and seeker and accept the poise of a passive instrument open to receive knowledge and guidance from above. It must cultivate silence and wideness into which the higher consciousness can descend and operate more and more, free from the distorting influence of mental initiative.
There is nothing mind can do that cannot be better done in the mind’s immobility and thought-free stillness.
When mind is still, then Truth gets her chance to be heard in the purity of the silence.
Truth cannot be attained by the Mind’s thought but only by identity and silent vision. (The Hour of God, p.11).
Science is knowledge. In its present form it is the systematized knowledge formulated by the intellectual mind and based on the data of the physical senses. Mind is not the highest faculty of knowledge accessible to man, beyond lie an ascending series of latent capacities which far exceed the limping action of mind. In these realms thought is gradually superceded by more direct perceptions of truth and a knowledge that comes by identification with the object. It is no longer the knowledge of mind but a knowledge by contact and communion of the subject’s consciousness with that of the object. Thus we speak of this new stage as science by consciousness. Since all manifestation from physical matter to pure spirit is a gradation of conscious vibration we may also say that all knowledge and therefore all science is a science of consciousness.
….. consciousness is the foundation of all living and being, and knowledge is the action of the consciousness, the light by which it knows itself and its realities, the power by which, starting from action, we are able to hold the inner results of thought and act in a firm growth of our conscious being…. (Synthesis, p.521-2).
The traditional field of science is that of physical matter and energy, the body, life and mind. The field of Yoga is the planes and powers of consciousness above mind. Both Science and Yoga become integral and complete only when they embrace the domain of the other. With that synthesis the problems of the physicist, biologist, and psychologist will be overcome and the true nature of matter, life and mind reveal themselves to the downcast eyes of the scientist of consciousness.
The physical scientist probing into phenomena erects formulas and standards based on the objective and phenomenal reality and its processes: to his view mind may appear as a subjective result of Matter and self and spirit as unreal; at any rate he has to act as if matter and energy alone existed and mind were only an observer of an independent physical reality which is unaffected by any mental processes or any presence or intervention of a cosmic Intelligence. The psychologist, probing independently into mind consciousness and mind unconsciousness, discovers another domain of realities, subjective in its character, which has its own law and process; to him Mind may even come to appear as the key of the real, Matter as only a field for mind, and spirit apart from mind as something unreal. But there is a farther probing which brings up the truth of self and spirit and establishes a greater order of the real in which there is a reversal of our view both of the subjective mind realities and objective physical realities so that they are seen as things phenomenal, secondary, dependent upon the truth of self and the realities of the spirit. (Life Divine, p.423).
* All quotations are taken from works of SRI AUROBINDO.