The Value of the Spiritual Evolutionary Effort

Sri Aurobindo responds to the critiques leveled at the spiritual effort by the materialist view and judgment: “But this is not the standpoint from which the true significance of the spiritual evolution in man or the value of spirituality can be judged or assessed; for its real work is not to solve human problems on the past or present mental basis, but to create a new foundation of our being and our life and knowledge.” He points out that the refusal of the ascetic is more a sign of an extreme commitment to overcoming the limits imposed by material nature on this process; “if he cannot transform her, he must leave her.” But the ascetic tendency is not the only direction the spiritual seeking and effort has undertaken: “At the same time the spiritual man has not stood back altogether from the life of humanity; for the sense of unity with all beings, the stress of a universal love and compassion, the will to spend the energies for the good of all creatures, are central to the dynamic outflowering of the spirit: he has turned therefore to help, he has guided as did the ancient Rishis or the prophets, or stooped to create and, where he has done so with something of the direct power of the Spirit, the results have been prodigious. But the solution of the problem which spirituality offers is not a solution by external means, though these also have to be used, but by an inner change, a transformation of the consciousness and nature.”

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