The Role of Religion in Evolutionary Nature

Religion can be an aid to the spiritual evolution of consciousness in humanity to the extent that it works to increase the focus and turning toward the Spirit, but does so in a flexible and adaptable way, that allows individual expression and experimentation, rather than tries to dogmatise and restrict everyone to the same narrow way. “It is right and reasonable that there should be this plasticity, proper to experimental evolution: for religion’s real business is to prepare man’s mind, life and bodily existence for the spiritual consciousness to take it up; it has to lead him to that point where the inner spiritual light begins fully to emerge. it is at this point that religion must learn to subordinate itself, not to insist on its outer characters, but give full scope to the inner spirit itself to develop its own truth and reality. In the meanwhile it has to take up as much of man’s mentality, vitality, physicality as it can and give all his activities a turn towards the spiritual direction, the revelation of a spiritual meaning in them, the imprint of a spiritual refinement, the beginning of a spiritual character. It is in this attempt taht the errors of religion come in, for they are caused by the very nature of the matter with which it is dealing,–that inferior stuff invades the very forms that are meant to serve as intermediaries between the spiritual and the mental, vital or physical consciousness, and often it diminishes, degrades and corrupts them: but is in this attempt that lies religion’s greatest utility as an intercessor between spirit and nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 24, “The Evolution of the Spiritual Man”