Our understanding of existence is very much rooted in our own anthropocentric view of things. We generally recognise the awareness we hold within ourselves, and, viewing other beings and forms in our visible environs, we either attribute to them no consciousness, or, at best, lower forms or development of consciousness. For anything that exists outside the range of perception provided by our senses, we only admit existence when we find a way to capture and measure those things, and we treat them as purely physical-material actions of the universal energy, without any form of consciousness whatsoever.

This view, however, is being challenged, both by the experience of rishis, sages and shaman who are able to experience the consciousness of other forms and beings, and who are able to understand the unity of the universal creation and who thereby recognise that consciousness permeates all existence, albeit in forms or powers different than those that are specific to human consciousness.

Modern science is now starting to recognise the pervasiveness of consciousness as well. Once scientists recognised that Matter is a form of Energy, it was a relatively small step to begin to recognise that Energy is a form of Consciousness. This is the current revolution in understanding that scientists are awakening into.

Yet our conception of consciousness at this level remains quite uncertain, diffused and impersonal. We attribute personality to our own individuality, but fail to recognise that there may be, in fact, are, other beings who have personal awareness and who act as a conscious self-directing force within the larger manifestation. The entire evolution of consciousness is an obvious process of increasing self-awareness. Therefore, in stages beyond that of the human development, we would expect greater self-awareness and a greater sense of autonomy. Beings who represent higher stages of the evolution of consciousness would necessarily be expressions of greater powers of personal awareness than our human status.

While consciousness is involved in Matter and the early life-forms, and thus, does not appear to exhibit the characteristics of personality, it may also be that we simply do not perceive what may nevertheless be present. Researchers of the plant kingdom report entire networks of communication between trees in a forest for instance, and expressions of pain or at least reactions of stress (as far as we are able to measure and interpret) in trees when they experience the pain or suffering of another tree in their network. Similarly, expressions of grief at the death of a member of a tribe of elephants is a well-documented phenomenon, implying, once again, individuality and a perception of relationship that occurs between separate conscious beings.

This leads us to the idea that there may be consciously active beings who act to support human development, as well as consciously active beings who are hostile to human development, or who want to take advantage human beings. There is a long history in human development of encounters with angels or demons, beings who exist on another level but whose action intersects with human life on certain levels or in particular circumstances, for good or ill.

Do we live in a mechanical universe as the only conscious beings? Or is there a supreme conscious Being who creates, organizes, contains and constitutes the entire universal existence? Just as we can view light as either a wave or a particle, is it not possible to see the universe from both an impersonal and a personal aspect?

Sri Aurobindo notes: “The forces are conscious. There are besides individualised beings who represent the forces or use them. The wall between consciousness and force, impersonality and personality becomes much thinner when one goes behind the veil of matter. If one looks at a working from the side of impersonal force one sees a force or energy at work acting for a purpose or with a result, if one looks from the side of being one sees a being possessing, guiding and using or else representative of and used by a conscious force as its instrument of specialised action and expression. You speak of the wave, but in modern science it has been found that if you look at the movement of energy, it appears on one side to be a wave and act as a wave, on the other as a mass of particles and to act as a mass of particles each acting in its own way. It is somewhat the same principle here.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 4 Cosmic and Universal Forces, pp. 83-84

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast located at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky
He is author of 20 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.
Video presentations, interviews and podcast episodes are all available on the YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/@santoshkrinsky871
More information about Sri Aurobindo can be found at www.aurobindo.net
The US editions and links to e-book editions of Sri Aurobindo’s writings can be found at Lotus Press www.lotuspress.com