The Evolution of Life, pp. 129-130

Opening Remarks
Now Sri Aurobindo reveals to us the secret of evolution. Spiritually speaking, evolution is the result to two movements. There is the stir of that element involved within matter much as a chick or a human baby stirs within the egg or the womb struggling to emerge. As a result of this stir or a cry and a call or a pressure from within, the corresponding element in universal nature responds and extracts out the involved element by a pressure from without.

The crude beginnings
In the crude beginnings of this mortal world
Life was not nor mind’s play nor heart’s desire.

Such was the state of Earth before life blossomed and mind emerged into the play. The great evolutionary plan was deftly concealed in its crude beginnings.

The sleeping gods
When earth was built in the unconscious Void
And nothing was save a material scene,
Identified with sea and sky and stone
Her young gods yearned for the release of souls
Asleep in objects, vague, inanimate.

Within this self-oblivious clay, within ‘inanimate’ matter there is concealed all the layers of consciousness awaiting their hour to emerge. The force of life and mind were asleep and yet something within the heart of the atom was struggling to emerge and make matter living and conscious. The young gods are the godheads of material existence that have built a house for the soul to inhabit and now yearn for it to wake up and make conscious the form with the breath of the Spirit.

The heavy load
In that desolate grandeur, in that beauty bare,
In the deaf stillness, mid the unheeded sounds,
Heavy was the uncommunicated load
Of Godhead in a world that had no needs;
For none was there to feel or to receive.

These gods were there to prepare and awaken the earth to divinity. But matter is dumb and unconscious. Its receptivity is limited. It needs to be prepared and churned and slowly made ready for the Divine manifestation. Such was the tremendous task of these early godheads of material existence.

Vast creative urge
This solid mass which brooked no throb of sense
Could not contain their vast creative urge:
Immersed no more in Matter’s harmony,
The Spirit lost its statuesque repose.

Matter must be made plastic and awaken to the throb and current of life. It is this evolutionary urge that creates a restless movement within forms as if to give birth to life. The static harmony is lost so that a new harmony can emerge with life within it.

The evolutionary urge
In the uncaring trance it groped for sight,
Passioned for the movements of a conscious heart,
Famishing for speech and thought and joy and love,
In the dumb insensitive wheeling day and night
Hungered for the beat of yearning and response.

The evolutionary urge takes the form of a blindness groping for sight, a hunger and a yearning for joy and love and passion and speech. It is this yearning that eventually opens the doors and prepares the form for a new manifestation. In man it takes the form of a conscious aspiration.

They cried to Life
The poised inconscience shaken with a touch,
The intuitive Silence trembling with a name,
They cried to Life to invade the senseless mould
And in brute forms awake divinity.

These godheads of matter then called for the intervention of Life-gods to enter the forms and invade the silence with name and speech and awaken it to the sense of a divinity.

A voice was heard
A voice was heard on the mute rolling globe,
A murmur moaned in the unlistening Void.

Sound and murmur and whisper of life began to stir in the mute forms as life began to enter and start a new chapter in the Earth’s evolutionary history.

A being seemed to breathe
A being seemed to breathe where once was none:
Something pent up in dead insentient depths,
Denied conscious existence, lost to joy,
Turned as if one asleep since dateless time.

The touch of life awakened the sense of a separate birth and being as if one wakes up after a long sleep and begins to feel oneself as real and alive.

Yearning to know
Aware of its own buried reality,
Remembering its forgotten self and right,
It yearned to know, to aspire, to enjoy, to live.

Life and Mind are buried or involved, so to say, within matter even as still higher rungs of the great ladder of existence are within its core. The yearning and aspiration to know and be are simply a first expression of what seeks to emerge from the depths. This aspiration is a sign that the thing we aspire for is already there and is bound to emerge. It is a sign that the time for its emergence has arrived.

Life heard the call
Life heard the call and left her native light.

That is to say, the stir and the call from below invokes an intervention from above. The Godhead involved in matter calls down by this aspiration the corresponding plane of consciousness and its powers and forces from above. Their meeting gives rise to the eventual change of form and substance that we know as evolution.

Closing Remarks
Though Sri Aurobindo describes here how life emerged from matter, He also gives us in a gist the secret of all evolution which is, a call from below and a corresponding answer from Above.

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