Insufficiency of Human Attempts at Societal Unity

There is a clear impulse or urge toward the creation of societal unity. This urge drives us towards the development of families, groups, tribes, countries, societies and other formations of human groupings. While we remain rooted in the mental, vital and physical nature we are subject to the limitations of that nature, and our attempts to create larger societal groupings are framed by those limitations.

Sri Aurobindo discusses the issues that arise as a result: “Our nature, our consciousness is that of beings ignorant of each other, separated from each other, rooted in a divided ego, who must strive to establish some kind of relation between their embodied ignorances; for the urge to union and forces making for union are there in Nature.”

“…in the mass the relations formed are constantly marred by imperfect sympathy, imperfect understanding, gross misunderstandings, strife, discord, unhappiness. It cannot be otherwise so long as there is no true union of consciousness founded upon a nature of self-knowledge, inner mutual knowledge, inner realisation of unity, concord of our inner forces of being and inner forces of life.”

“…what we build is a constructed unity, an association of interests and egos enforced by law and custom and imposing an artificial constructed order in which the interests of some prevail over the interests of others and only a half accepted half enforced, half natural half artificial accommodation keeps the social whole in being.”

These limitations face not only the attempts of individuals to unite in a community, but also affect the relationship of one community with others. “Between community and community there is a still worse accommodation with a constant recurrence of the strife of collective ego with collective ego.”

It is not possible to found a perfect and harmonious societal framework as long as it remains based in the divided and fragmented consciousness of the Ignorance as expressed in our physical, vital and mental nature. Only when we are able to create our social relationships based on the Oneness and Knowledge of the true spiritual consciousness will we be able to develop the kind of unity that we are seeking.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 28, “The Divine Life”

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