The One True Supermanhood

“A life of gnostic beings carrying the evolution to a higher supramental status might fitly be characterised as a divine life; for it would be a life in the Divine, a lofe of the beginnings of a spiritual divine light and power and joy manifested in material nature.” Sri Aurobindo describes for us the vision of the development of the “superman”, which does not at all reflect the images of the past attempts to envision the advent of such a being or race. Humanity has tended to describe or manifest what essentially amounts to an enormous aggrandisement of the ego, whether based in the mental, the vital or the physical, whenever it has attempted to create a status of being that exceeds the human limits.

Sri Aurobindo specifically warns against this type of approach: “But this must not be confused with past and present ideas of supermanhood; for supermanhood in the mental idea consists of an overtopping of the normal human level, not in kind but in degree of the same kind, by an enlarged personality, a magnified and exaggerated ego, an increased power of mind, an increased power of vital force, a refined or dense and massigve exaggeration of the forces of the human Ignorance; it carries also, commonly implied in it, the idea of a forceful domination over humanity by the superman. That would meana supermanhood of the Nietzschean type; it might be at its worst the reign of the “blonde beast” or the dark beast or of any and every beast, a return to barbaric strength and ruthlessness and force: but this would be no evolution, it would be a reversion to an old strenuous barbarism.”

Sri Aurobindo points out that these, and other similar aggrandisements of the ego are not the solution. Written decades before the rise of the Third Reich, we find here a warning that was unfortunately not heeded.

Sri Aurobindo’s vision is quite different: “But what has to emerge is something much more difficult and much more simple; it is a self-realised being, a building of the spiritual self, an intensity and urge of the soul and the deliverance and sovereignty of its light and power and beauty,–not an egoistic supermanhood seizing on a mental and vital domination over humanity, but the sovereignty of the Spirit over its instruments, its possession of itself and its possession of life in the power of the spirit, a new consciousness in which humanity itself shall find its own self-exceeding and self-fulfilment by the revelation of the divinity that is striving for birth within it. This is the sole true supermanhood and the one real possibility of a step forward in evolutionary Nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 28, “The Divine Life”, pp. 1067-1068

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