The process of civilization has been a continuous movement of physical discovery and experience repeated over and over in the society and gradually formulated and distilled as mental knowledge. It is a movement from below upwards, from the physical to the mental, a movement of unconscious or subconscious learning maturing into conscious knowledge.

The development of science has followed the same course. Modern science broke down the confining limitations of superstition and religion by an intense observation and experimentation with material phenomena leading to concepts and theories which appeared to directly contradict those propagated by the religions of the day. The development of technology, the improvement in instruments for observation and measurement, made the scientific revolution possible. Physical observation, experimentation and technical innovation have been primary tools of modern science

The process of scientific discovery is one of seeing new relationships between known facts. In all great discoveries a change of perspective or perception occurs revealing order and relationship in place of isolated phenomena. This act of perception or intuition is a raising of the consciousness of the scientist to a plane in which relationship becomes evident. It is a reverse movement from idea to fact, mental consciousness to material fact. But unlike the movement from below upwards, it cannot be mechanized and it has not been codified by the scientist.

The primary instruments which have supported the development of science limit its growth and power of discovery. Having based itself on physical observation and verification as a corrective for the exaggerations, speculations, excesses and wishful thinking of religion, science isolated and eliminated all that was not immediately verifiable or measurable through physical instrumentation. As a result, science has been able to uncover the mechanisms governing many material phenomena, but it has not succeeded in discovering the underlying reality and the process of creation which governs all phenomena in nature.

The Vedic rishis worked in the opposite direction from above downwards, raising and expanding their powers of consciousness and then directed that consciousness to illuminate the reality of nature. They discovered the underlying reality from which all phenomena are created. Sri Aurobindo says this discovery is of greater practical significance to the world that the discoveries of Copernicus and Newton. In The Life Divine, he has described in logical and rational terms that reality and the complete process of creation by which it manifests in the universe as mind, life and matter and evolves from matter higher forms of life and higher levels of consciousness.

Spiritual vision reveals that the fundamental reality and the process of creation are the same in all fields and planes of existence. Only the forms and expressions of manifestation vary. The laws of physical and social evolution are the same. Mastery of the process in any field of life implies the knowledge and power for accomplishment in that field.

We have sought to apply the knowledge of this process to many fields. At the level of the individual, this mastery is the knowledge and power of the Complete Act, which is the capacity to make any act generate the desired results.

If application of the process can generate material results in one field, it can be done in any field. The Mother once said that if a physician with consummate knowledge of physiology were open to this approach, a major breakthrough could be achieved in curing diseases that plague mankind. Given the right person, an experiment can be made that will generate practical results in at least one or two areas of medicine.

Similar advances can be made in the field of biology and genetics both in practice and theory. For the past century science has been guided and limited by Darwin's theory of the evolution of biological forms giving rise to species with higher powers of consciousness. Sri Aurobindo, who calls his approach "the Yoga of Spiritual Evolution", has revealed that an evolution of consciousness determines and expresses through the external evolution of forms, not vice versa. Application of this approach can usher in a new theory of evolution that serves as the basis for scientific discovery in the next century.

A marriage between science's experimental knowledge of the infinitesimal and a spiritual knowledge of the infinite can generate a major conceptual breakthrough at the level of pure science, leading to unifying concepts in the life sciences similar to those already developed in mathematics. Biology still puzzles over the ultimate origins and cause of life's emergence from matter. The process described by Sri Aurobindo explains in rational terms both the cause and method by which animate, conscious life manifests in inanimate, unconscious matter. Elucidation of that process can form the basis for discoveries of great practical utility.

In physics, nuclear fission has proved to be highly dangerous and a commercially viable methods of nuclear fusion still evades the scientists. A scientist--whose character is wholly positive and who is open to the spiritual knowledge of the origins and constitution of matter--can make discoveries that will neutralize the negative effects of fission and harness the powers of fusion.

The ultimate standard of truth for all knowledge lies in its power for effectiveness in life. Sri Aurobindo applied this knowledge spiritually to work for Indian freedom and saw that it had been achieved in the subtle plane thirty years before Independence. Sri Rama fought on the battle field against Ravana. Sri Krishna came to the battle field to lend his support to the Pandavas but he refused to physically fight. Sri Aurobindo fought the Second World War from his room, calling it "Mother's war'. He said that life has never failed to respond to his will, sooner or later.

Discoveries are not made by analysis of data or the rational processes of the intellect. Even when the process of discovery is associated with a massive collection and analysis of data, the actual emergence of a new perspective or relationship between facts revealing a new knowledge is an intuitive process.

Knowledge issues from a ripe mind at the point of its ripeness where it forgets itself and receives an inspiration. Discoveries come by intuition from a higher plane of consciousness when

  • The mind is open at the mental level to new ideas
  • When the present level of knowledge is saturated
  • The individual makes a genuine effort in the nerves.
  • Intuition can arise in a mind that is truly open-minded

  • Openmindness helps to receive direct knowledge which is inspiration, whereas otherwise one has to learn by indirect knowledge through inference and deduction.
  • Openness to facts, opinion, attitudes, and deeper still
  • Openmindness is limited by individual barriers to new ideas which make a person unwilling to accept the consequences of a new discovery:
    • Socially by the desire for respect or approval for one's thoughts,
    • Psychologically by negative traits such as possessiveness, jealousy, competitiveness, etc.;
    • Biologically by habit of past experience
  • Openmindness can be at the level of behavior, attitude or idea

    - helps one learn from what others have discovered.
    - gives us insight into the process others have followed for their discoveries and a sense of untapped potentials (but not the actual discoveries)

    Deeper level of openness from the fixity of the physical mind's atavisms and habits to allow knowledge to pour in. This usually happens when facts are saturated and there is a positive mental and supportive social atmosphere.

    Original thoughts:
    -Come from outside which our swabhava is able to receive.
    -Are to a great extent original combinations of old thoughts.

    The discoveries we seek are not purely theoretical (like philosohpy or math). They have practical consequences. For a thought to be effective, it should be received by the vital and physical.

    • The Western intellect is highly developed, whereas the Indian lives in the vital which is full of falsehood.

    • But the bodies, physical consciousness, of the Westerner are dark, whereas the Indians are light because rishis have received the light in their earthly bodies. .

    • Practical discoveries made with a dark, unenlightened physical will have negative consequences in that measure--e.g. radioactive fallout, pollution from industrial inventions, etc.

    • Mother says India is 70% still preserved, pure.

    • The light in the physical makes it possible for us to make discoveries that are in harmony with nature and will not have untoward consequences. .

    • Indians with consummate knowledge in their field and a spiritual background will be most qualified for great discoveries.

    To receive new ideas:

    1. Mind should divest itself of existing ideas: These ideas will be supported by persons, places, prejudices, practices of their origin.
    2. Openmindness is easily seen in persons who are naturally good and constitutionally incapable of anything negative--innocent.
    3. Mind should be open to new ideas, not inhibited by worldly wisdom.
    Wider Project:
    - In every field people trying for a break through can be shown how to find the right keys.
    Main areas:
    - Environmental pollution and nuclear fall-out.

    Need for a new perspective:

    Before the invention of paper and pen, people wrote on palm leaf. If someone at that time proposed universal education for the country, people would have said the problem is to grow enough palm leaves for everyone. This is not how the world develops. By the time education has moved to lower levels of society, technology has evolved and other changes have occurred to support it.

    - People look at solving today's problems through today's mechanisms and conditions, which will be different by the time the problem is solved.

    In the 1960s scientists and economists shouted about global food shortages because there isn't sufficient land to feed a growing population. No one thought at that time of growing food without land.

    Science has reached the limits of its first expansion and is ready for a vertical take off

    Every field rises and expands hoziontally untill it saturates the plane.

    As it nears saturation, the negative side-effects or inadequacies of the expansion become evident. e.g.

    • Democracy leads to the election of one's own kind by the masses, meaning undeducated, corrupt "true" representatives of the people and community factionalism.
    • Universal education leads to dilution of standards and makes the degree meaningless.
    • Growth of commerce leads to the domination of the many by the few, as multi-nationals dominate international trade.

    In science, the intelliec tual revolution known as the 'age of reason' began 300 years ago and has given birth to modern science and technology.

    The negative side of this scientific development is becoming more and more dominant and oppressive--radioactive falllout, ozone depletion, chemical pollution (even from production of useful things like paper), exhaustion of natural resources (energy, forests, water, soil).

    In universalizing itself, the standards of science have descended from original impulse of intuition-based discovery to data-based research. This is the cuase of the negative and unbalanced discoveries and side-effects which arise from a narrow, limited perspective.

    Discoveries from higher level of intuition can overcome the negatives by a higher synthesis and lead to a new scientific revolution and hundreds of discoveries at a higher level which resolve present problems.

    The scientific output of the last 300 years can be matched in the next 3 decades.

    -The motive (consciousness) of the scientist determines the character of his results. Only a good man can produce positive results (positive results issue out of positive, unselfish motives).
    -Shift from reliance on data to intuition.
    -Behind the energy of nature, is a force, a will. Discovering that will and its intention will reveal much.
    -The will of the scientist can have power over matter.
    Transcending ego (narrow motives and mental limitations and fixed notions) leads to wider discovery.
    -Science views the physical form as determinative. Shift from the form to te essence opens new vistas.
    -Positive, harmonious physical discoveries of practical utility free of negative consequences can only come from a physical consciousness that is pure. The physical of Indians has the light of the rishis.
    Fields of discovery:
    -Drugs without side effects.
    -Pollution-free technologies.
    -Solar energy.
    -Neutralizing radioactivity.
    -Conversion of pollutants and wastes into useful products.

    The higher determines the lower. High knowledge involves a shift to a wider and higher perspective: Our work in many fields represents a broadening and raising of knowledge to a higher level.

    Companies view their potentials in material terms like market size, financial resources, the assets and profit margins on a balance sheet. We view a company as a living organization with inherent vitality--i.e. at the vital rather than the physical level--and this vitality is capable of creating material resources, attracting money and market etc. The energy, interest and attitude of the people is more important than the material process. Companies know the physical laws of production technology and materials consumption that determine their performance and the economic laws of supply and demand. We know the wider laws of life that evoke life responses.
    Whereas the scientist and economist looks at it in terms of level of technology and availability of productive resources and tries to upgrade them, we view it in terms of the awareness, aspiration and energy of the people and try to upgrade these.
    Psychology and medicine:
    Medicine is aware of the large number of psychosomatic diseases in which material effects have psychological causes and can be cured by psychological means. This is the higher plane determining the lower. e.g. Padmanaben's father was cured by the idea of building a house.

    Specific Fields of Science where a higher knowledge changes the perpective.

    Science maintains that the evolution of form determines or permits the evolution of consciousness. Whereas in fact it is the reverse. The pressure of latent powers or faculties of consciousness to emerge results in the development of new and higher forms of life--hands, the sense organs, cerebrum, etc. A statistical study can calculate the chances of higher more complex forms ever emergin as a result of random mutation. If the odds are less than 1 in 100 (surely they are less than 1 in 100 trillion), it behooves us to look for another explanation, even if it is outside the basic assumptions (superstitions) that confine scientific enquiry today. The discover that the real evolution in an evolution of consciousness which is governed by other laws than mere survival will be a greater breakthrough than the discoveries of Darwin. The scientist who makes it will be remembered for centuries.
    Science holds that life appeared on earth as a freak accident of random chemical processes. What are the odds of such an accident? And even if it occured, could it generate life? Has it ever been reproduced in tha lab? Life emerged as part of a process of creation which Sri Aurobindo describes in The Life Divine.