[Published in Next Future, Feb 2007.]
The Spiritual Dimension: Source of Matter
In Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy, the supreme Reality or Spirit has four eternal attributes: First is the essential, eternal and immutable Substance of Truth, BEness, Sat, of which all existence is made. But this Sat is not an inconscient substance but one with or inseparable from pure and infinite Consciousness Chit; it is a dense conscious substance. This Consciousness is not an inert consciousness but one with and inseparable from infinite creative Energy Sakti or Chit-sakti. This eternal Energy is not an insensible Force but one with an eternal and infinite Delight, Ananda which is the source of all love, beauty, joy and harmony. So an infinite and eternal Substance of Truth, Sat which is an eternal Consciousness, which in turn is an eternal Energy, which is again an eternal Delight are the four attributes of Reality. This eternal higher Quaternary of the supreme Reality, when it descends in the process of creative involution becomes the lower mortal quaternary subject to death and change. The eternal Substance of Sat becomes Matter. The creative Consciousness of Sat, Chit, becomes the Mind. This is reason why in ancient Indian psychology Mind is called Chitta which means “of Chit”. The creative energy of consciousness chit-sakti becomes the vital force or the principle of life, Prana. The eternal Delight of existence becomes the Soul-principle, the evolving and indwelling divine spark in man.
Our human terrestrial life reaches its highest perfection when the lower quaternary of Matter, Life, Mind and Soul, which constitute our mortal life become fully conscious of their corresponding origin and source in the upper immortal region, unite with them and become pure and perfect instruments or channels for their self-expression in human life. Our human mind should become conscious of its origin and become a transparent instrument for receiving and expressing the higher knowledge of the creative consciousness of the Spirit. Our life-force or vital energy has to become the instrument for expressing the eternal creative force and energy of the Spirit. Our Soul has to be become the instrument for radiating the eternal love, beauty and joy of the Spirit. And finally the Matter has to become conscious of itself as the conscious substance of the Spirit and become a flexible and responsive instrument of the eternal Spirit in man. This is the evolutionary destiny of Matter.
In this vision of Matter, the spiritual source of Space-Time-Energy continuum, which is the substratum of Matter in modern physics, is the dynamic extension or “field” of the Sat-Chit-Shakti, substance-consciousness-energy of the Spirit for creative unrolling of the worlds Space or what we perceive or experience as the vast empty space is the expansive movement or extension of the Sat-Chit, the conscious substance of the Spirit for containing, holding and forming the creative activity of its Energy. Time or what we experience as the movement of time is a result of the dynamic movement of the Energy or Shakti within the Space-field of Sat-Chit in which she enacts the creative “play” of her force to the witness gaze of the Spirit. So when Matter recovers its original nature as conscious substance of the Spirit, Space will be felt not as empty unconscious but as a conscious extension, permeating with the conscious presence of the Spirit.
Thus the source of Matter is the conscious substance of the Spirit. Matter is in its essence nothing but a form of the consciousness, energy and substance of the Spirit. A particle of matter is nothing but a particle of consciousness lost in the whirl of its own energy. For example, when we are engaged in a mechanical and repetitive action, sometimes we lose ourselves in the act and become the act, forgetting our consciousness in the mechanical movement of the act. Here, our consciousness is not lost, but pushed behind the act. It can be recovered at any moment. Something similar happening in the original mystery of creation gives birth to Matter. So behind the apparent inconscience and division of Matter there is the entire indivisible, conscious substance and energy of the infinite Spirit.
The evolutionary destiny of Matter is to recover this consciousness of the Spirit within it and become conscious matter, conscious with the consciousness of the Spirit within it. When this happens, our terrestrial matter acquires more or less the same attribute of the divine Sat, something indivisible, conscious, self-luminous, vibrating with a rhythmic and delightful energy. In this state of being all division ceases; the present division between Matter, Life, Mind and Soul ceases. The individual becomes a single, indivisible, luminous whole of substance-consciousness-energy-delight of the Spirit. In the outer life the division between matter and matter ceases; the earthly matter becomes a single indivisible conscious substance. In other words, earthly matter becomes conscious of its indivisible unity or oneness of substance. In fact there is no division in the origin and essence of Matter. When the Spirit passes through Mind and becomes Matter, the consciousness of the Spirit becomes the Ego in Mind and the substance of the spirit goes through a similar process of infinitesimal division and becomes the atom or electron action, which is the equivalent of ego in matter. But finally when Matter awakens to the consciousness of the Spirit within it, it loses its atomic ego created by the Mind and becomes conscious of itself as the indivisible substance of the Spirit, which means our terrestrial matter becomes conscious of its indivisible unity.
There is one more metaphysical factor behind Matter which has important implications for the destiny of Matter. Most of the legends or religions conceive the creative act as an objectification of the Supreme. Before creation, the Supreme or Absolute contained everything within Him in His own being or consciousness, in a state of subjective identity. But when He felt the creative urge, He wanted to know and enjoy Himself or some of the infinite truths or potentialities within Him, objectively. So He projected Himself, and created instruments like the five senses by which He can know or hold himself objectively and concretely enjoy his own forms. According to Sri Aurobindo, this act of objectification in the creative process of the Supreme is one of the spiritual factors behind the creation of Matter.
Our own experience of Matter, is more or less similar to this original objectification. We feel matter as something concrete, objective and external to ourselves which we can hold and enjoy. The experience of our body may be a little more subjective. We feel it as a part of our self. But still we feel it as some thing distinct from our psyche. There are certain inner disciplines by which we can make this distinction between Body and Psyche absolute and feel the Body as something totally separate and distinct from our psyche and look at it as objectively as something external to our consciousness. This is the first indispensable step for a complete mastery of the inner being over our body. This is also necessary for the spiritualization of the Body.
But this is not the ultimate destiny of the Body or Matter. As we have explained earlier, the destiny of body or matter is to become the conscious substance of the Spirit in a new organism and a new earth in which the conflict and distinction between substance, energy and consciousness disappear and they fuse together in an indivisible and harmonious whole. When this happens, and our bodily and terrestrial matter unites with its spiritual source, there will be a transformation in our experience of Matter. So the second aspect of the destiny of the human body is to become conscious of its unity with the indivisible Body of the Earth or in other words, not only the inner being of man feel its universal unity and live in a global consciousness, but also the consciousness of our body has to be universalised and feel its oneness with the indivisible whole of the terrestrial Body. When this happens the sense of absolute objectivity we feel in our present experience of Matter will be replaced by a more subjective experience of Matter. We will come to this subject a little later.