Spiritual paths have tended to focus on the achievement of inner realisations, without necessarily attempting to transform life. To the extent they have addressed life-actions they have tended either to simplify them down to basic life needs; or they have set up ethical rules or standards of conduct as a framework to keep the vital impulses under control while the inner spiritual development took place.
Sri Aurobindo raises the question of the transformation of the outer life as a consequence of the spiritual change taking place inwardly in the consciousness. And with this question comes up the concern about what role there is for “personality” in this spiritual development and the follow up question about ethical standards under which the person should operate in his actions in the world. This is a complex subject which will necessarily encompass several posts in our review.
“Ordinarily, in the common notion, the separative ego is our self and, if ego has to disappear in a transcendental or universal Consciousness, personal life and action must cease; for, the individual disappearing, there can only be an impersonal consciousness, a cosmic self: but if the individual is altogether extinguished, no further question of personality or responsibility or ethical perfection can arise.”
Some hold the view that the personality would disappear and in its place there would be “a universalised spiritual individual who is a centre and power of the transcendent Being. It might be deduced that this gnostic or supramental individual is a self without personality, an impersonal Purusha. There could be many gnostic individuals but there would be no personality, all would be the same in being and nature.” Sri Aurobindo points out that this would be “a mental rather than a supramental solution of the problem of a spiritual individuality surviving ego and persisting in experience.”
“In the supermind consciousness personality and impersonality are not opposite principles; they are inseparable aspects of one and the same reality. This reality is not the ego but the being, who is impersonal and universal in his stuff of nature, but forms out of it an expressive personality which is his form of self in the changes of Nature.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 27, “The Gnostic Being”