Sri Aurobindo diverges dramatically from the historical perspective provided by most religions and even spiritual disciplines to the extent that he does not foresee the abandonment of the physical body as part of the solution; rather, he recognises the purpose and significance of the physical manifestation and therefore looks to the question of not how it can be suppressed, abandoned or discarded, but rather, how it can be spiritualised, perfected and fulfilled in the gnostic evolution through the action of the supramental force on the physical being.
Sri Aurobindo points out: “…the body consciousness is a patient servant and can be in its large reserve of possibilities a potent instrument of the individual life, and it asks for little on its own account: what it craves for is duration, health, strength, physical perfection, bodily happiness, liberation from suffering, ease. These demands are not in themselves unacceptable, mean or illegitimate, for they render into the terms of Matter the perfection of form and substance, the power and delight which should be the natural outflowing, the expressive manifestation of the Spirit.”
This re-defining of the physical body and its role is an extremely important concept for the eventual transformation of all manifested existence under the influence of the supramental force becoming openly active and effective in the ongoing spiritual evolution.
Sri Aurobindo makes it clear that the supramental force at work can in fact provide the fulfillment that the physical being seeks, not in the limited terms sought by the egoistic individual, but through a transformation of the body’s relationship to the impact and touches of the external world. The suffering, weakness, ill-health are all the result of “pressure of external forces on the physical mind, on the nervous and material life, on the body-organism, from an ignorance that does not know how to meet these forces or is not able to meet them rightly or with power…that reacts to them in a wrong way.”
The supramental change “would institute and maintain a right physical perception of things, a right relation and right reaction to objects and energies, a right rhythm of mind, nerve and organism. It would bring into the body a higher spiritual power and a greater life-force unified with the universal life-force and able to draw on it, a luminous harmony with material Nature and the vast and calm touch of the eternal repose which can give to it its diviner strength and ease. Above all,–for this is the most needed and fundamental change,–it will flood the whole being with a supreme energy of Consciousness-Force which would meet, assimilate or harmonise with itself all the forces of existence that surround and press upon the body.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 27, “The Gnostic Being”