Aswapati is on a profound quest as a representative of earth and man. He is in search of the Master Key to make earthly life perfect with the Divine Perfection.
The subtle physical world is nearest to us, just a step round the boundaries of the gross material universe. It is a fine and beautiful world, perfect within limits. It is still a world of Ignorance with fine boundaries that limit the soul’s further advance.
The subtle physical world is a world where there is stress on beauty of form. Sri Aurobindo contrasts this the limited perfection with our own world where everything must evolve and hence create the sense of labour and struggle. This is in fact a Blessing since thus alone can the total Perfection of the Divine manifest Itself.
Because all creation is interconnected and linked to the One, there is not only an interdependence but also a mutual drawing up of all things towards the Divine. But this process is graded as we are influenced by higher and higher levels of consciousness.
Sri Aurobindo reminds us that there are greater and diviner possibilities concealed in the high peaks of Nature; a higher Nature beyond our limited lower Nature that the earth dreams to embody here. That is the original plan that the Divine Will intends upon earth and in man.
There has always been the touch of higher consciousness, awakening earthly life and invigorating it with sublime impulses. It is during such God-moments that the light and glory of the Higher consciousness brings to us deep intimations from the Beyond.
Evolution is a two-way process. On the one hand there is an outpouring of higher forces and powers from Above, on the other hand there must be an increasing openness and receptivity below.
The higher Worlds are concealed within matter as states of Consciousness. They are the secret cause of our striving towards perfection and the sudden efflorescence of marvels upon earthly life. To bring the Divine Perfection out in symbols of names and forms is the labour of love undertaken by earth.
Evolution has an antecedent which is described as involution. It is the plunge of the One Infinite Consciousness along with all Its Powers and degrees into the darkness of Inconscience. Then starts the reversal which we call as evolution.
Our gross material world, as also the subtle worlds, are clothes worn by the Spirit who remains hidden within it as in the oyster shell a pearl of great price. Sri Aurobindo now describes this subtle dress worn by the Spirit before it assumes this thick and heavy and obscure cloak we know as our physical body.
Now we see another interesting aspect of the subtle physical matter. It is a resting ground before the divine energies and thought forms enter into our material sheath. The subtle matter is plastic and responsive to the Spirit’s intimations.
It is a world where beauty of form predominates everything else. All other aspects of the Spirit are subordinated to Beauty in figure and form.
The subtle physical world is a junction between the involutionary and the evolutionary world. It wraps around the physical and surrounds it, letting only few things pass through it. In this sense it serves as a protective envelop around the body.
Immediately behind this world of ours, we can discover the world of subtle forms, beautiful and charming. Sometimes it can show up in dreams or trance or even in thought and feelings. But our human organs are not yet trained to catch its murmur and subtle indications.
Behind the veil of our solid outer world and its forms that we see and touch there exists a Kingdom of subtle matter. It is this world that is just behind this material world as we know it, its beings and forces and action, function and influences, that is being described here in this Canto.