Human History and Social Order Requires Conflict On the Path to Peace

In his works The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development and The Ideal of Human Unity Sri Aurobindo looks at humanity and our social organization through time to show the line of development as an increasing consciousness of unity impacts the way we interact in society. True human unity is based on the consciousness of Oneness and cannot be constructed by intellectual, emotional or vital arrangements. All such lesser arrangements are effective possibly for a time, but they eventually break down and lead once again to conflict.

The Bhagavad Gita assumes as its basis of understanding that accommodation and various forms of social order cannot avoid eventually building up sufficient dislocation and tension to lead to a cataclysmic explosion, the type of battle that the war of the Mahabharata represented, with clearly delineated sides representing forces of “good” and “evil” more or less, with one representing the forward progress of humanity and the other holding back and retarding the needed changes.

Sri Aurobindo describes the Gita’s viewpoint: “The Gita proceeds from the acceptance of the necessity in Nature for such vehement crises and it accepts not only the moral aspect, the struggle between righteousness and unrighteousness, between the self-affirming law of Good and the forces that oppose its progression, but also the physical aspect, the actual armed war or other vehement physical strife between the human beings who represent the antagonistic powers.”

He describes the reason why the higher law of harmony is not yet applicable for human relations: “The gospel of universal peace and goodwill among men–for without a universal and entire mutual goodwill there can be no real and abiding peace–has never succeeded for a moment in possessing itself of human life during the historic cycle of our progress, because morally, socially, spiritually the race was not prepared and the poise of Nature in its evolution would not admit of its being immediately prepared for any such transcendence.”

Sri Aurobindo holds out the hope that this “method of Nature” will eventually bring about the conditions for the desired universal harmony and peace: “A day may come, must surely come, we will say, when humanity will be ready spiritually, morally, socially for the reign of universal peace; meanwhile the aspect of battle and the nature and function of man as a fighter have to be accepted and accounted for by any practical philosophy and religion.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 6, Man and the Battle of Life, pp. 44-45,