Albert Einstein stated “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” We have an existential crisis in our world that is being recognized more and more, which includes the climate crisis and its impacts, the pollution crisis and its results, the resource depletion that is fueling wars and mass migrations across the planet, and the species die off that is killing off large numbers of plants, insects and animals across the planet. These are indicators of the imbalances that human society has created with our mental ideas trying to fulfill our desires and our physical needs without a full understanding of and appreciation for the interrelations of all life on the planet. Sri Aurobindo observed: “To hope for a true change of human life without a change of human nature is an irrational and unspiritual proposition.”
We have tried to apply logical, rational solutions to the problems. After thousands of years, we can now recognize the failure of these ideas. We have reached a stage of gridlock in our political process as opposing ideas are treated as irreconcilable. We change economic systems, we change governments, but the limitations of humanity intervene and in the end, we are met with another failure. What is needed is a change of consciousness, a change of human nature, if you will, that allows us to approach the crisis of our age from a new light and a new direction. The drives that motivate us need to be seen, understood and brought into harmonious balance. We seek for external solutions that always fail. The true solution is to look within and “know thyself” as the sages have proclaimed.
As we look within, we need to discover the key to the meaning of our existence. We have recognized evolution in its external forms. Sri Aurobindo shows us that the true significance is the evolution of consciousness that successively moves us from the inanimate forms of Matter, to the multitude of life-forms and the eventual development of the mental consciousness in the higher animals and mankind. Nothing can evolve that has not been previously involved as a tree grows from a seed, but not from a rock. When we see the limitations of the mental consciousness we can recognize that the evolution is not completed, and that man is a transitional being. The next phase of evolution takes us beyond the frame of mental consciousness.
Spirituality, yoga, mysticism, ecstatic trance, vision quests are all terms for exploring and understanding consciousness. Religion is an external form that develops from the relationship of the individual, the community and the spiritual experience that creates the relationship to Nature and God. To the extent that religion focuses on outer forms and practices, rites and rituals, it provides a binding force for a community but does not change basic human nature. The adventure of consciousness is the development of understanding about the sources, causes and operations of consciousness, with a view to supporting and speeding up the evolutionary development of consciousness.
Mankind is capable of reflection and conscious participation in the evolutionary process. The development of a consciousness beyond the mind takes us out of the frame of the mental development that was unable to solve the problems we face. Sri Aurobindo called this the “supramental consciousness”. Albert Einstein would recognize this as the necessary change to find the solution to the failures of the vital-mental consciousness that has created the current crisis.
A true change of consciousness allows us to solve the problems caused by the conflicting elements and drives in our current mental development. Conscious awareness of Oneness of all creation is needed to solve the disharmony and conflict we are facing today. We are not separate from Nature, and it takes a unified awareness to both recognize this and act from that view. A subjective experience of intuition, inspiration, spiritual experience of oneness and an understanding of the limitations of the mental, vital and physical drives that control us today is the direction needed to solve the evolutionary crisis.
An outstanding introduction to the evolutionary perspective and the ways to achieve it is the book Sri Aurobindo or The Adventure of Consciousness by Satprem.
Santosh Krinsky,
Author of the Readings series of books on the writings of Sri Aurobindo

Author's Bio: 

Santosh Krinsky has been studying Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga since 1971 and is the author of 13 books of "Readings" in the major writings of Sri Aurobindo. He is also the editor in chief of Lotus Press, the USA publisher of the writings of Sri Aurobindo.