Ordinarily we look at our lives and the world from the viewpoint that the world creates us and we are more or less subject to the pressure and control that the world exercises upon us. We take the psychological position of being a “victim of circumstances” more often than not, and thereby subtly shift the responsibility for who we are and how we respond to the world away from ourselves and onto that external “machinery” (however you want to define the action of the world). “For we are given a world which is obscure, ignorant, material, imperfect, and our external conscious being is itself created by the energies, the pressure, the moulding operations of this vast mute obscurity, by physical birth, by environment, by a training through the impacts and shocks of life…”
Sri Aurobindo makes it clear however that for the spiritual evolution of consciousness, the internal spiritual life is primary and definitive; and that the internal spiritual life actually creates the circumstances and world within which we live and act.
By switching to this standpoint, we gain leverage on how we respond to the world and its circumstances and gain the power to shape our future evolutionary development.
Sri Aurobindo explains: “In the life of the Spirit it is the Spirit, the inner Reality, that has built up and uses the mind, vital being and body as its instrumentation; thought, feeling and action do not exist for themselves, they are not an object, but the means; they serve to express the manifested divine Reality within us: otherwise, without this inwardness, this spiritual origination, in a too externalised consciousness or by only external means, no greater or divine life is possible. In our present life of Nature, in our externalised surface existence, it is the world that seems to create us; but in the turn to the spiritual life it is we who must create ourselves and our world. In this new formula of creation, the inner life becomes of the first importance and the rest can be only its expression and outcome.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 28, “The Divine Life”