It is a limitation of the human mental awareness that we tend to look at things primarily from a static sense and thus, tend to treat them as “fixed” and “unchanging” even though everything is in fact dynamic and subject to change. The same thing occurs with respect to our view of the various teachings, Shastras, laws of life, that we tend to adopt. As humanity evolves and matures, the teachings by which we orient our lives also tend to grow, evolve and modify. Since this does not occur all at once, simultaneously, we then see a number of different “competing” principles holding their ground in a dynamic evolutionary process.
As a result of the maturation process, we find that eventually a teaching or law of life loses the support and focus it heretofore had. Individuals begin to challenge the tenets, or they simply find that their current concerns and issues are not being fully addressed. New requirements, brought about in some cases through changes in the social order, pressures of the environment or individual personal growth, bring about a need for new guidance and direction.
Sometimes a particular religion or philosophy simply becomes rigid over time and becomes institutionalized, rather than remaining a living, breathing, evolving guideline. In such cases, we find reformers coming forward to try to tap into the inner spirit of the teaching and revivify it, making it relevant for the time.
Sri Aurobindo discusses the options: “…a new truth, a more perfect law of living has become imperative. If that does not exist, it has to be discovered by the effort of the race or by some great and illumined individual mind who embodies the desire and seeking of the race.”
The dynamic aspect implies “…that there is an ideal, an eternal Dharma which religion, philosophy, ethics and all other powers in man that strive after truth and perfection are constantly endeavoring to embody in new statements of the science and art of the inner and outer life, a new Shastra.”
“And the human search does not stop there, but leaves these formulations too, goes back to some past truth it had rejected or breaks forward to some new truth and power, but is always in search of the same thing, the law of its perfection, its rule of right living, its complete, highest and essential self and nature.”
Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 18, The Gunas, Faith and Works, pp. 462-463