Limits of Mental Rules & Standards For Evolutionary Growth

Sri Aurobindo follows up on his review of the purposes served by the sense of good and evil, and the evolutionary goal of moving beyond them to an eternal Good. The next question is a practical one: how will Nature carry out this evolutionary intention and what mechanisms are at work to bring this about?

“The method adopted by the mind of man through the ages has been always a principle of selection and rejection, and this has taken the forms of a religious sanction, a social or moral rule of life or an ethical ideal.”

There are several problems with this approach in the end however. First, it is more or less an attempt to treat “symptoms” rather than getting at root causes. Second, throughout history and across different cultures, the definition of “good” and “evil”, “right” and “wrong”, has varied to the point that we cannot use this as a yardstick for measuring the true progress of humanity.

Sri Aurobindo concludes thereby that: “A mental control over our vital and physical desires and instincts, over our personal and social action, over our dealings with others is indispensable to us as human beings, and morality creates a standard by which we can guide ourselves and establish a customary control; but the control is always imperfect and it is an expedient, not a solution: man remains always what he is and has ever been, a mixture of good and evil, sin and virtue, a mental ego with an imperfect command over his mental, vital and physical nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 14, The Origin and Remedy of Falsehood, Error, Wrong and Evil, pp. 625-626

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