The Soul’s Role in Recognizing Good and Evil

Sri Aurobindo moves beyond the normal formulations of mental or vital rules or guidelines for defining moral concepts such as good and evil, truth and falsehood, right and wrong. Codified rules are obviously easiest to understand and implement for a society, but they provide both serious limitations and a “moving” standard which changes from age to age, and from society to society. What is “right” in one part of the world, can be “wrong” in another under this framework. This obviously is easily turned to a cover for supporting the self-interest of whichever power is in charge in a particular part of the world; and becomes a weapon to be wielded against others who disagree or have a different value-set in their moral codes.

Sri Aurobindo, on the other hand, moves the standard to one that recognizes the inherent spiritual principle of the evolution of consciousness, and the role of the soul for both knowing and applying a standard not dependent on a particular time, place or circumstance for its value.

“It is the soul in us which turns always towards Truth, Good and Beauty, because it is by these things that it itself grows in stature; the rest, their opposites, are a necessary part of experience, but have to be outgrown in the spiritual increase of the being.”

“The soul’s perception of good and evil may not coincide with the mind’s artificial standards, but it has a deeper sense, a sure discrimination of what points to the higher Light and what points away from it. It is true that as the inferior light is below good and evil, so the superior spiritual light is beyond good and evil; but this is not in the sense of admitting all things with an impartial neutrality or of obeying equally the impulses of good and evil, but in the sense that a higher law of being intervenes in which there is no longer any place or utility for these values. There is a self-law of supreme Truth which is above all standards; there is a supreme and universal Good inherent, intrinsic, self-existent, self-aware, self-moved and determined, infinitely plastic with the pure plasticity of the luminous consciousness of the supreme Infinite.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 14, The Origin and Remedy of Falsehood, Error, Wrong and Evil, pp. 610-611

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