Chapter XVII Part II
Nature’s Law in Our Progress
Diversity in Unity
The evolution of the human race not only follows a biological curve but also a social curve. The biological evolution creates in the life-type the ‘three terms of genus, species and individuals’ (The Ideal of Human Unity, pg 422) but in sub-human life, Nature draws rigid distinctions and forms groups summarily so that a pack of wolves will always be different from a herd of deer. In human life, Nature follows non-biological curves to overcome differences of race, culture, clan, tribe, region to move towards a global unification of mankind. ‘Man’s communities are formed not so much by the instinctive herding together of a number of individuals of the same genus or species as by local association, community of interests and community of ideas; and these limits tend always to be overcome in the widening of human thoughts and sympathies brought about by the close intermingling of races, nations, interests, ideas, cultures’.(Ibid) That is why; a study of social evolution is a necessary correlate of the study of biological evolution.
The phenomenon of social evolution studies how Consciousness, the underlying fact of existence, gets manifest in different paradigms through the individuals, communities and mankind. Psychology studies how Consciousness manifests in the individual. Sociology and anthropology study how Consciousness expresses itself through groupings of various sorts. Philosophy, humanism and spirituality attempt to universalize Consciousness for the unification of mankind. Social evolution is a development of the relations between these three paradigms each of which progresses in relation to others. ‘Each seeks its own fulfilment and satisfaction, but each is compelled to develop them not independently but in relation to others. The first natural aim of the individual must be his own inner growth and fullness and its expression in his outer life; but this he can only accomplish through his relations with other individuals, to the various kinds of community religious, social, cultural and political to which he belongs and to the idea and need of humanity at large. The community must seek its own fulfilment, but, whatever its strength of mass consciousness and collective organization, can accomplish its growth only through its individuals under the stress of the circumstances set for it by its environment and subject to the conditions imposed by its relations to other communities and individuals and to humanity at large. Mankind as a whole has at present no consciously organized common life; it has only an inchoate organization determined much more by circumstances than by human intelligence and will. And yet the idea and the fact of our common human existence, nature, destiny has always exercised its strong influence on human thought and action’.(Ibid, pg 421)
Sri Aurobindo asserts that despite the turbulences of separatism there is ‘a constant return-pressure’ (Ibid) of the separative units (social, cultural, political or religious) to universalize into the totality of the race.
A high idealism actually drives us to a global unification of the human race. It would be the logical culmination of human grouping whose expanding trajectory started from the family, clan, tribe, kingdom, nation, empire and is now moving towards internationalism. However, in the zeal of unification, we can lose the unique separatism that is the basis of a rich and variegated diversity which is the hallmark of creation. An overzealous steamrolling of cultural diversity for the sake of unification might lead to a resurgence of separatism, even with a fundamentalist flair. Sri Aurobindo explains the metapsychology of this phenomenon: separatism can be compromised but not abolished because it reposes ‘on an essential principle of Nature, -- diversity in unity’.(ibid, pg 422) It is a basic unity that permits the diversity to be manifested. It is oneness that holds in its bosom the potential of multiplicity. If this is true, then our efforts to foist a unity in diversity through idealistic, humanistic, economic or eclectic models would always be incomplete unless we acknowledge and come into an experiential contact with the Unitary Consciousness that manifests and supports the diversity. ‘Therefore it would seem that the ideal or ultimate aim of Nature must be to develop the individual and all individuals to their full capacity, to develop the community and all communities to the full expression of that many-sided existence and potentiality which their differences were created to express , and to evolve the united life of mankind to its full common capacity and satisfaction, not by suppression of the fullness of life of the individual or the smaller commonalty, but by full advantage taken of the diversity which they develop. This would seem the soundest way to increase the total riches of mankind and throw them into a fund of common possession and enjoyment’. (Ibid)
Date of Update:
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu