We can identify the direction of the evolutionary development of the universe towards the expression of free will, despite the fact that at our current state we can recognise that there is apparently very little free will operative in our actions. In the physical world, Matter operates under seemingly fixed laws which provide Matter no choice or decision about how it will react under a variety of pressures or circumstances. As the vital force evolves, we continue to see operative laws, but also, an increasing sense of freedom that allows some variation in the result in individual cases. Habit and instinct still rule, and the physical bodies remain under the operation of the rules of material existence, but there appears to be more flexibility and individual variation possible. As we enter the mental realm, this tendency toward variation and randomness becomes even more obvious. Individual variation still yields a distinct pattern in the collective outcome, yet each individual has potentially more leeway in terms of specific responses and steps taken.

As each increasingly powerful and more subtle level of consciousness manifests, we see the development of the powers that we identify as ‘free will’. The cause and effect relationship certainly remains in place, but it begins to accentuate the individual nexus or decision-point in the direction and focus that takes place. This shows the tendency of the universal manifestation toward an eventual expression of true free will as further evolutionary expressions of consciousness take place. When there is a shift in standpoint to the divine standpoint, we can expect that free will can each its ultimate expression, while at the same time, the larger universal creation continues to carry out the divine intention in the manifestation.

Dr. Dalal writes: “However, what emerges from the contents of this compilation is not a gospel of fatalism, for, in the light of the secret dynamics of existence revealed herein, the forces of life in their overall action tend to subserve man’s gradual growth out of the ordinary consciousness into progressively higher and deeper levels of being through the evolutionary process. For evolution, says Sri Aurobindo, consists in the ascent of the Spirit which, at first involved in Matter and inconscience, progressively liberates itself by means of its secret evolutionary force, manifesting increasingly higher levels of its Consciousness. Having so far liberated Life and Mind out of Matter, the evolutionary impulse, says Sri Aurobindo, is already secretly at work here for ushering in the manifestation of what he terms the Supermind — the Truth-Consciousness beyond the level of Mind — thus preparing the dawn of a new world and the appearance of a new race of supramental beings. Therefore, though man in his ordinary state is depicted here as a creature who is more or less entirely moved and moulded by forces beyond his ken and control, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have also given herein intimations of a marvellous future human destiny as not only a possibility but a promise.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Preface, pp. xi-xii

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky He is author of 19 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.
More information about Sri Aurobindo can be found at http://www.sri-aurobindo.com
The US editions and links to e-book editions of Sri Aurobindo’s writings can be found at http://www.lotuspress.com