Alternative Views of The Meaning Of Earthly Life

Sri Aurobindo continues his analysis of the supracosmic view of existence, and the role of life on earth within that view, with his overview of other viewpoints that are held, or have been held, by various philosophies, teachings or religions over time. All of them share common characteristics as follows: “first, the belief in the individual immortality of the human spirit; secondly, as a necessary consequence, the idea of its sojourn on earth as a temporary passage or a departure rom its highest eternal nature and of a heaven beyond as its proper habitation; thirdly, an emphasis on the development of the ethical and spiritual being as the means of ascension and therefore the one proper business of life in this world of Matter.”

Some of these viewpoints hold that the short, single life on earth that we experience is a stage of development for a being which then moves to other worlds or planes for further development beyond. Earthly life becomes in this sense a field of growth, a field of trial and tests, or a field of development, but the goal remains beyond the earthly world.

Some view earth-life as a world of exile or fall from a truer, finer status elsewhere, and the goal is to find our way back to that other world or plane from whence we fell.

There is also a view held by some forms of Indian philosophy that “regards the world as a garden of the divine Lila, a play of the divine Being with the conditions of cosmic existence in this world of an inferior Nature; the soul of man takes part in the Lila through a protracted series of births, but it is destined to reascend at last into the proper plane of the Divine Being and there enjoy an eternal proximity and communion: this gives a certain rationale to the creative process and the spiritual adventure which is either absent or not clearly indicated in the other accounts of this kind of soul-movement or soul-cycle.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 16, The Integral Knowledge and the Aim of Life; Four Theories of Existence