Integration of the Various Views of Existence

Sri Aurobindo has taken the position that each of the major motive springs of thought and action has an underlying truth, and that the real significance of our human existence should not destroy one aspect in order to uplift another; rather, we should seek for a balance that respects each view and gives it a true place in the final integration of these apparently conflicting viewpoints.

He explains: “what is needed is to give its full legitimate value to each part of our composite being and many-sided aspiration and find out the key of their unity as well as their difference. The finding must be by a synthesis or an integration and, since development is clearly the law of the human soul, it is most likely to be discovered by an evolutionary synthesis.”

Sri Aurobindo points out that the ancient Indian system attempted just such a synthesis, although it had the seeds of its own destruction in the overweighted emphasis on renunciation as the final goal. The underlying principles however are worth reviewing: “It accepted four legitimate motives of human living,– man’s vital interests and needs, his desires, his ethical and religious aspiration, his ultimate spiritual aim and destiny,– in other words, the claims of his vital, physical and emotional being, the claims of his ethical and religious being governed by a knowledge of the law of God and Nature and man, and the claims of his spiritual longing for the Beyond for which he seeks satisfaction by an ultimate release from an ignorant mundane existence. It provided for a period of education and preparation based on this idea of life, a period of normal living to satisfy human desire and interests under the moderating rule of the ethical and religious part in us, a period of withdrawal and spiritual preparation, and a last period of renunciation of life and release into the spirit.”

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