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Editorial


The evolutionary transformation of the body


A perfectly healthy body in our conception is one fit, open and receptive enough to absorb and assimilate higher forces. Short of this, there is only absence of disease. In an evolutionary paradigm we move from passive to dynamic, from an adaptive to a growing equilibrium.

A passive adaptation is the equilibrium that Nature creates between the organism and the world around it, on a horizontal level. This has stability but no evolution. Evolution comes from a sort of temporary dissolution of this equilibrium. So an active adaptation would necessitate the ability of the body to not only survive but also to evolve in collaboration with Nature.

The stress for survival stems from a strong sense of separateness that each organism has in relation to everything else. Each organism tries to overpower or ‘outsmart’ others in the competitive game of life. This leads to a reaction in other forms of life which also assert their right to existence. The individual unit holds out for a while against the rest but sooner or later succumbs, as it must, since no individual form of life can be greater than the whole. The secret of ‘no stress’ lies in a rediscovery of its link to the whole and developing a new mode of mastery.

Elimination versus assimilation

If we step back from our preoccupation with individual forms and their differences, we find that all life is essentially one. The different forms and their apparent clash is one of the mechanisms that life uses to evolve strength and movement. More than a threat and struggle for survival, it is a kind of training and exercise for the development of life, for the release of greater capacities and potentials. As evolution proceeds, this process of clash and strife is increasingly replaced by assimilation, accommodation and transmutation. Growth, at a lesser level, looks like eliminative competition which is a form of love turned upon itself. Growth, at a higher level, assumes the appearance of love as acceptance and assimilation. At present, our bodies have developed capacities to fight and reject whatever is not of ‘the self ’. In future the body might develop the capacity to absorb and change the disparate elements into a harmonious whole. But for this, we have to discover a new level of consciousness. Out of our strong separative sense, we have to grow into wholeness and oneness. Out of division and knowledge based upon division, we have to emerge into unity and knowledge based upon unity. Obviously there is a period of transition with all its attendant difficulties but once the body has discovered this new way of functioning based on oneness, there will arrive the power of spontaneous immunity rather than simply a power to cure.

Separativeness versus oneness

In fact, seen from the point of view of consciousness, each body-form evolves so as to accept and accommodate a certain intensity of vibrations or energies and their corresponding elements. Others, it rejects. This act has its repercussions. The balance achieved by rejecting and isolating is precarious. An example from the psychological field can illustrate this. Let’s take the fear on seeing or nearing a dangerous animal (or even human being). This fear, though intended to protect the self, becomes counter-productive as it provokes the beast. However, there are instances of people who are so well attuned that animals and they themselves are mutually comfortable with each other as if in perfect harmony. There are others whose consciousness develops to such a point that even dangerous beasts lose their aggressive nature and become peaceful in their vicinity. Perhaps this happens because of the presence of higher vibrations which alter and master the lower forces of nature. What applies at a macro-level can apply at the micro-level too. So a perfected consciousness can consume a lethal quantity of poison and continue to live. A body imbued with the power of oneness can easily assimilate the poison by making the right adjustments based on a higher totality. The Indian image of Shiva, the ascetic drinking the poison of the world, is not just a myth of the past but a symbol and pointer to a reality of the future.

A truer reality

Thus many happenings in this world can be seen in a fresh way. The human body is being forced to bear the onslaught of a large number of toxins and poisons as never before. The bacteria have taken a backseat. There is enough self-generated poison in industrial waste, pollutants, nuclear fall-outs, even drugs, insecticides and cosmetics to eliminate the entire race. Or to challenge it to evolve! On another level, there is currently experimentation on organ transplants, cloning, genetic manipulation and a breaking of the biological boundaries. These can also be seen as an obscure way through which a subconscious foundation for oneness is being laid, i.e. a recreation of oneness in matter!

Yet, this does not imply that the self-created crisis is a good thing; for there are simpler, safer and more direct ways to evolve towards a state of oneness.

How can the change from a separate individuality to oneness in the physical, come about?

“The essential purpose and sign of the growing evolution here is the emergence of consciousness in an apparently inconscient universe, the growth of the consciousness and with it growth of the light and power of the being; the development of the form and its functioning or its fitness to survive, although indispensable, is not the whole meaning or the central motive. The greater and greater awakening of consciousness and its climb to a higher and higher level and a wider extent of its vision and action is the condition of our progress towards that supreme and total perfection which is the aim of our existence. It is the condition also of the total perfection of the body. There are higher levels of the mind than any we now conceive and to these we must one day reach and rise beyond them to the heights of a greater, a spiritual existence. As we rise we have to open to them our lower members and fill these with those superior and supreme dynamisms of light and power; the body we have to make a more and more and even entirely conscious frame and instrument, a conscious sign and seal and power of the spirit. As it grows in this perfection, the force and extent of its dynamic action and its response and service to the spirit must increase, the control of the spirit over it also must grow and the plasticity of its functioning both in its developed and acquired parts of power and in its automatic responses down to those that are now purely organic and seem to be the movements of a mechanic inconscience (1).”

“Matter after taking into itself and manifesting the power of life and the light of mind would draw down into it the superior or supreme power and light of the spirit and in an earthly body shed its parts of inconscience and become a perfectly conscious frame of the spirit. A secure completeness and stability of the health and strength of its physical tenement could be maintained by the will and force of this inhabitant; all the natural capacities of the physical frame, all powers of the physical consciousness would reach their utmost extension and be there at command and sure of their flawless action. As an instrument the body would acquire a fullness of capacity, a totality of fitness for all uses which the inhabitant would demand of it far beyond anything now possible (2).”

Thanks to the pioneering work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, what would have taken millions of years in the natural course of evolution is hastened. They envisage stages in the process and the path of the transformation of matter and thereby of the body.

An important step is the awakening of the latent body-consciousness and also bringing the so-called autonomic functions of the body under our mental control. A worldwide growing interest in physical culture is surely a step in this direction. All rightly pursued physical culture develops and awakens the latent body-consciousness and makes our outer consciousness more and more receptive to the inner consciousness. But for this, physical culture must be pursued consciously. The ironsmith working eight hours a day or the coolie and rickshaw-puller do not benefit so much from their day and night exercise as the gymnast, due to the mechanical approach and sense of drudgery which accompanies their work. The mind, will and heart have a role to play. Exercises, to be of real benefit, must be done consciously and with a clear will to improve the body functions. This is a first step, a change from the habitual, automatic and subconscious to a more conscious control of the body.

However, it is not enough. Even though it gives an enormous capacity, the mind being a principle of division cannot harmonise itself with the all-life around it. It can provide the individual body with a vantage point, even extend it further by the inclusion of other powers like those of the vital force, through pranayama, etc. But this extended control, despite making the body robust and prolonging youth or preserving vitality or delaying aging, is not the same as the evolution of a new body.

The new body is not a creation of Ignorance. It is not built upon the principle of division that strengthens the human race but weakens other life-forms. So long as humanity lives in the consciousness of division and is built by it, it cannot serve as a perfect instrument for the Creator, who acts from a constant background of Oneness, even in its action upon individuals.

The next necessity, the indispensable minimum step therefore, is to discover the secret principle of Oneness within us and to gradually transfer mental control to this new principle.

There is within us the source of such a Oneness: the psychic or the divine principle. It relates all to the one Divine seated in all creatures. It is known that those living in their psychic consciousness are able to turn foes into friends. Their very presence spontaneously fills those around them with hope and trust. Even wild beasts are tamed in their presence. If this hidden divinity in man can so affect the mental and vital levels, then why not the body too? It can open the doors to ranges beyond the mind, towards a oneness beyond the mind, which is the base of the New Creation. It can also open the latent body-consciousness to higher ranges of spiritual force and gnosis.

This naturally necessitates many sub-steps in the process. For example, the need for an internal and external purification and strength to bear the impact of the new consciousness upon the stuff of our physical matter, the change in the inner consciousness before any change in the outer and the appearance of intermediate states wherein we may even have beings with a new inner consciousness in a body constituted in the old way. During the course of this new emergence, there can come the powers to know directly and heal through extension in other bodies, the power to reproduce our inner states in others, the power to assimilate and absorb things and forces that would shatter our frail and mortal stuff, the power to sense danger and vibrations of disease from a distance, to work upon the organs or even to transmute genes by an act of inner will. These things are native to our inner and deeper consciousness and are bound to emerge in the course of our evolutionary journey.

Yet these are intermediate steps and stages. The course taken in each is bound to be different and many-sided, till the hour of the final consummation, the emergence of a new and divine body built upon the basis of truth and oneness, a body for which harmony will be the natural and spontaneous law: not only an inner harmony but also a harmony with all that is around.

— Dr. Alok Pandey

References

1. Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library, Vol. 16. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1972, p.15.

2. Ibid. p. 18.

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Seated in all creatures