Humanity is facing an existential crisis. Scientists report that changes brought about by human civilisation have created the conditions that are causing what is now being called the sixth planetary die-off of species. The land, water and air are all being polluted. Toxic chemicals are poisoning the planet. Climate change is wreaking havoc with the entire planetary environment. The ocean is seeing its food chain decimated. Essential species required for food production, such as honeybees, are dying off in record numbers, threatening the world’s food supply. And the issues continue to compound with no end in sight.

The problems we see are based on the application of the mind in an attempt to satisfy the desire-soul of the vital ego. Mental solutions tend to be linear, limited in scope and generally fail to take into account the complex interactions of a complete organic system such as the interdependent relationship of all beings in existence. The result is the kind of imbalance that is driving this crisis to the potential for enormous devastation of the planet and humanity.

When we seek for a solution to this crisis, we find that as long as we remain locked into the mind’s framework and method of reaching its conclusions, there seems to be no solution. Some factor or factors simply overwhelm the best plans, and given the nature of the mind, disputes arise between those who want to approach the situation in one way and those who see a different line of development. We eventually reach a state of gridlock, where nothing can be done, while the pressures continue to mount.

We are then forced, under this intense pressure, to find a way to “adapt or die”. In such a circumstance, what is the nature of ‘adaptation’? Sri Aurobindo’s response is that the entire development of life on earth shows the theme of an evolution of consciousness. Man is not the final stage of that evolution, but what he calls a ‘transitional being’. Nature’s process is to set forth some kind of intense pressure, such as an evolutionary crisis, to create the intensity required for the manifestation of the next term of consciousness. This process is what we are experiencing today. The next term of consciousness is what Sri Aurobindo calls the “supramental” consciousness, to signify that it is a power of consciousness that exceeds the mental level.

Under the intensity of the pressure individuals are moved to shift their focus toward the conscious development and active participation in the evolutionary process. Sri Aurobindo indicates that man, the mental being, has the capacity to consciously take part in, and thereby dramatically speed up the long, slow and arduous developmental process of nature.

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, as pathfinders, were able to determine how a shift from the ordinary human mentality, under the control of the external ego-personality, and driven by the desire-soul of the vital nature, to a spiritual consciousness could take place. This involved a process of growth whereby the individual gains contact with the psychic being, the soul, and shifts the direction of his life toward the contact with and development of a constant relation of the individual soul with the divine reality which is the actual driver of the universal manifestation. The being must first be prepared and the instruments developed, the aspiration for the change awakened and cherished and then, the being begins to turn its attention to the fulfillment of the spiritual quest. This inner process is what Growing Within: the Psychology of Inner Development has systematically developed and outlined.

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Summary and Conclusions

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 17 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.