The involution of the One (who is also Infinite) is through successive stages and degrees until there is a complete lapse and self-forgetfulness. The result is Inconscience. Of course Consciousness is there too but completely hidden, totally forgetful of Itself and Its powers just as darkness is a self-concealment of Light. These successive steps and degrees of the involutionary descent become also the return (ascending) path through which the soul that has plunged into the Inconscience climbs back to Its Source.
There walled apart by its own innerness
In a mystical barrage of dynamic light
He saw a lone immense high-curved world-pile
Erect like a mountain-chariot of the Gods
Motionless under an inscrutable sky.
The ladder of consciousness is one continuum but there is a difference between level to level which are also blending each into the other. It is surrounded by a dynamic Light, held within the bosom of the One. This dynamic Light is the Light of the Divine Consciousness, that displays Itself in myriad ways through these countless system of worlds. To the seer-vision of Aswapati, it looks like a huge mountain chariot of the Gods climbing towards the sky and jutting beyond it. That is to say, its ends are not seen as if a pile of worlds were arranged without end or beginning.
A carved sea of worlds
As if from Matter’s plinth and viewless base
To a top as viewless, a carved sea of worlds
Climbing with foam-maned waves to the Supreme
Ascended towards breadths immeasurable;
It hoped to soar into the Ineffable’s reign:
A hundred levels raised it to the Unknown.
In a significant image of waves and seas, we are given a description of these worlds that are flowing and blending into each other even though distinct and separate. They are in constant motion so to say. Without beginning or end these innumerable worlds connect Matter and what lies below our sensible material world to a viewless top that flows towards the Supreme.
Storeyed temple tower
So it towered up to heights intangible
And disappeared in the hushed conscious Vast
As climbs a storeyed temple-tower to heaven
Built by the aspiring soul of man to live
Near to his dream of the Invisible.
In another significant image, Sri Aurobindo compares it a temple-tower built by the aspiring soul of man so that he could live nearer to his dream of the Invisible.
Marries Earth to screened eternities
Infinity calls to it as it dreams and climbs;
Its spire touches the apex of the world;
Mounting into great voiceless stillnesses
It marries the earth to screened eternities.
Thus the human soul climbs from its earthly state towards the vast and luminous stillness Above marrying the Earth and the hidden Beyond tied together with the thread of Consciousness that has woven this ladder.
Brief compendium of the Vast
Amid the many systems of the One
Made by an interpreting creative joy
Alone it points us to our journey back
Out of our long self-loss in Nature’s deeps;
Planted on earth it holds in it all realms:
It is a brief compendium of the Vast.
This ladder exists in a subtle form within us, within matter itself and opens step by step as the soul of man climbs back towards the One. The creative delight that has brought it into being compresses within it the innumerable aspects of the One.
This was the single stair to being’s goal.
Through it the soul of man climbs towards its goal.
Summary of the stages of the spirit
A summary of the stages of the spirit,
Its copy of the cosmic hierarchies
Refashioned in our secret air of self
A subtle pattern of the universe.
This ladder is not only cosmic where it creates the many system of worlds but is also hidden in the subtle body of man reproducing the same cosmic pattern within him.
Within, below, without, above
It is within, below, without, above.
These levels of consciousness are like an interlacing pattern woven in the fabric of creation, within and without, above and below.
Thus we see a comprehensive description of the ladder of consciousness that is one of the secret keys to understanding evolution. This shall be described in detail subsequently.