Our Evolutionary Task
In the light of the foregoing, man can be conceived as a laboratory of evolution in which Nature is experimenting to bring about his mutation. But man is a conscious being with a conscious will and instrumentation of deliberate action. The evolutionary force of Nature and man's will can therefore act and react upon each other, and the entire human drama can be seen as an enactment of this action and reaction.
If the consciousness of man can be widened, intensified and heightened, it can learn the laws and processes of evolution and master the art of engineering the evolutionary movement, and it can, by voluntary co-operation with the evolutionary will, accelerate and effectuate the highest possible transumtation of himself. Man can, in other words, universalize himself, exceed himself, and fashion from his stuff and spirit a new being, a superman.
But there are several past and present concepts of the superman. Supermanhood in the ordinary idea consists of a surpassing of the normal human level, not in kind but in degree of the same kind, by an enlarged personality, a magnified and exaggerated ego, an increased power of mind, an increased power of vital force, a refined or tense and massive exaggeration of the forces of the human ignorance.
There is also implied in it the idea of a forceful domination over humanity by the superman. This is the concept of supermanhood that we find in Nietzsche. The Nietzschean type of superman really signifies what is contained in the Indian concepts of the Rakshasa or Asura. The Rakshasa and the Asura symbolize a tense effort of humanity to surpass and transcend itself, but in the wrong direction.
In India, a specific distinction is made between the Rakshasa and the Asura. The Rakshasa is centred in the violence and turbulence of the exaggerated vital ego satisfying itself with the supreme tyrannical or anarchic strength of self-fulfilment;
he is the giant, the ogre or devourer of the world. In the Asura, we find a mighty exhibition of an overpowering force, a self-possessed, self-held, even, it may be, an ascetically self-restrained mind-capacity and life power; he is strong, calm or cold or formidable in collected vehemence, subtle, dominating; he achieves even a sublimation at once of the mental and vital ego.
If we examine the history of the world, we shall find that the earth has had enough of this kind of supermanhood in her past, and a larger emergence of that type would be a retrograde evolution. What is, however, conceived as the supermanhood that results from the decisive spiritual evolution is at once much more difficult and much more simple.
What is conceived in the divine superman is a self-realized being, a building of the spiritual self, an intensity and urge of the soul and the deliverance and sovereignty of its light and power and beauty. It is not egoistic supermanhood seizing on a mental and vital domination over humanity, but the sovereignty of the Spirit over its own instruments, its possession of itself and its possession of life in the power of the Spirit. It will represent a new consciousness in which humanity itself shall find its own self-exceeding and self-fulfilment by the revelation, of the divinity that is striving for birth within it. This is the concept of the superman that we find in Sri Aurobindo.
As Sri Aurobindo explains, the divine superman combines and synthesizes the highest powers of love, power and wisdom. In him, the full heart of love is tranquillized by knowledge into a calm ecstasy and vibrates with strength; the strong hands of Power labour through him for the world in a radiant fullness of joy and light; his luminous brain of knowledge accepts and transforms the heart's obscure inspiration and lends itself to the workings of the high-seated will. All these powers are founded together, not in ego, but in a being that transcends ego, in a soul of sacrifice that lives in unity with all the world and accepts all things to transmute them in their divine stuff and forms.
In the vision of Sri Aurobindo, the advent of the divine superman would mean a reversal of the present law of human consciousness and life. The divine superman does not reject Matter and physical life, although he transforms it. One realizes that the soul has descended into the Inconscient and assumed the disguise of Matter for the adventure and the joy of creation and discovery. Life is seen as an adventure of the Spirit; it is not an error of the soul, but a deliberate enterprise that seeks a full transformation of material life on the earth. And when that transformation is achieved, the superman may not withdraw from life and Matter, but would continue to lead the evolution in Knowledge, a continuous self-unfolding of the infinite Spirit.
It is envisaged that the evolution in Knowledge would be a more beautiful and glorious manifestation with more vistas ever unfolding themselves and more intensive in all ways than any evolution could be in the Ignorance. The supramental manifestation of life would be more full and fruitful; it would mean a greater and happier life for the entire earth.
It is, indeed, realized that the task involved in the transmutation of man into the divine supermanhood or into a supramental being is the most difficult task that can be conceived. It has been pointed out that this would mean getting nearer to our inner self and discovering the force of the soul that presides over the powers of our nature.
There has to be constant stress on self-perfection that gives to the soul-force its largest scope. The soul-power of Knowledge must rise to the highest degree of which the individual nature can be the supporting basis. There must develop a free mind of light, and there must develop a bottomless steadiness and illimitable calm, upholding all the illumination, movement, and action as on some rock of ages, equal, unperturbed, unmoved.
Similarly, the soul-power of Will and strength must rise to like largeness and altitude. On has to develop an absolute, calm fearlessness of the free spirit, an infinite dynamic courage which no peril, limitation of possibility or wall of opposing force can deter from pursuing the work, a high nobility of soul and
will untouched by any littleness or baseness and moving with a certain greatness of step to spiritual victory through whatever temporary defeat or obstacle.
There must be a spirit never depressed or cast down from faith and confidence. There should also come to fulfilment of a soul-power of mutuality, a free self-spending and spending of gift and possession in the work to be done, a great taking into oneself from all beings and a free giving out of oneself to all, which can be described as a divine commerce.
And, finally, there must come about the perfection of the soul-power of service, the universal love that lavishes itself without demand of return, the embrace that takes to itself the body of God in man and works for help and service, the abnegation that is ready to bear the yoke of the ideal and make life a free servitude to the truth, the right and the vast.
This would also mean a complete extinction of egoism and the sense of the ego, a complete self-surrender of the whole being to the spiritual Reality of our being and to its work in the world. All these things are to be united, and in the process, they would all assist and enter into each other and become one.
It is clear that the task is colossal. It is at once individual and collective; no individual by himself can accomplish this task. The great but little known experiments have shown that there has to be a minimum collectivity, representative of the whole humanity, which must support the individual revolutionary effort and evolutionary general progression. Not speculations but direct involvement in material transmutation would be needed. Indeed, a century or two or even more may be needed before the task can be accomplished; but to accomplish it even then, we are called upon to begin now.