The true foundation of the theory of rebirth is the evolution of the soul, or rather its efflorescence out of the veil of Matter and its gradual self-finding. Buddhism contained this truth involved in its theory of Karma and emergence out of Karma but failed to bring it to light; Hinduism knew it of old, but afterwards missed the right balance of its expression. Now we are again able to restate the ancient truth in a new language and this is already being done by certain schools of thought, though still the old incrustations tend to tack themselves on to the deeper wisdom. And if this gradual efflorescence be true, then the theory of rebirth is an intellectual necessity, a logically unavoidable corollary. But what is the aim of that evolution? Not conventional or interested virtue and the faultless counting out of the small coin of good the hope of an apportioned material reward, but the continual growth towards a divine knowledge, strength, love and purity.
The essays that make up this book were first published in the monthly review Arya in 1915 and 1919—21. Towards the end of the 1920s Sri Aurobindo revised them with the intention of bringing them out as a book. At the same time he wrote drafts of a new essay or essays to be added to the others. He never completed this work of revision and enlargement and it was not until 1952, two years after his passing, that the book was published.
The text of the present edition is identical to that published in Essays in Philosophy and Yoga, volume 13 of The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo. All the material in that edition was carefully checked against the relevant manuscripts and printed texts.
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