The Complexity of Our Human Existence

Simple things tend to have simple solutions. Complex things are more difficult to resolve. When we look at the world of life around us, we find that those beings with a primarily or entirely physical-vital existence, without higher conscious mentality or evident spiritual concepts have straightforward and relatively simple lives. They do not worry about the past or the future, the meaning or significance of their lives or existence as a whole, nor how to view and manage their actions to achieve specific higher goals or implement refined principles.

It is frequently stated that with the advent of the mental consciousness, man became dissatisfied, and confused! There are even those who counsel abandoning the mental activity and living a purely animal-like existence, “living for today” and simply “eating, drinking, and being merry.” Of course, such an approach cannot succeed because the human being cannot simply avoid his destiny and innate capacities, including the mental development.

When we thus layer the mental, and later the spiritual levels of consciousness and their particular needs, focus and drives onto the existing basis of physical and vital life, and the demands of those levels, we find the solution to our evident conflicting directions to be hard to determine.

Sri Aurobindo has the following view of the matter: “All the problems of human life arise from the complexity of our existence, the obscurity of its essential principle and the secrecy of the inmost power that makes out its determinations and governs its purpose and processes. If our existence were of one piece, solely material-vital or solely mental or solely spiritual, or even if the others were entirely or mainly involved in one of these or were quite latent in our subconscient or our superconscient parts, there would be nothing to perplex us; the material and vital law would be imperative or the mental would be clear to its own pure and unobstructed principle or the spiritual self-existence and self-sufficient to spirit. The animals are aware of no problems; a mental god in a world of pure mentality would admit none or would solve them all by the purity of a mental rule or the satisfaction of a rational harmony; a pure spirit would be above them and self-content in the infinite. But the existence of man is a triple web, a thing mysteriously physical-vital, mental and spiritual at once, and he knows not what are the true relations of these things, which the real reality of his life and his nature, whither the attraction of his destiny and where the sphere of his perfection.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 23, The Core of the Gita’s Meaning, pg. 545