Man–The Mental Being

While the body and the vital life of the body acts as the foundation, it is clearly not the complete purpose or goal for the human being. We see that Nature has evolved the principle of mind, which gains its true proportions only in the human being. It is true that the mind is very much controlled and limited by the bodily life, particularly in its early stages of development, but we can also see that there is a higher level of mind, which raises the human above the purely animal forms of mentality, and, as Sri Aurobindo points out, there is even a higher progression of a divine mind which is beyond the intellectual mind that we characteristically consider to be the uniquely human mode. This divine mind can be seen in some individuals as it begins to manifest, and represents an evolutionary stage still in the making.

It cannot be said that we have in fact completed the stage of intellectual mind entirely. There are many human examples of this intellectual attainment, but clearly it has not been widely and completely integrated into the life of all humanity. This is an evolutionary process, as Sri Aurobindo explains: “Mind in man is first enmeshed in the life of the body, where in the plant it is entirely involved and in animals always imprisoned. It accepts this life as not only the first but the whole condition of its activities and serves its needs as if they were the entire aim of existence. But the bodily life in man is a base, not the aim, his first condition and not his last determinant.”

“The true human existence, therefore, only begins when the intellectual mentality emerges out of the material and we begin more and more to live in the mind independent of the nervous and physical obsession and in the measure of that liberty are able to accept rightly and rightly to use the life of the body. For freedom and not a skilful subjection is the true means of mastery. A free, not a compulsory acceptance of the conditions, the enlarged and sublimated conditions of our physical being, is the high human ideal.”

The systematic progression in Nature from Matter, to Life in Matter, to Mind in Life and Matter, is the obvious line of development that is occurring. This progression has not shown any signs of either nearing completion or coming to a halt with the terms thus far wholly or partially manifested and developed. It is important to recognize this if we are to find the thread for the true spiritual purpose of our lives and then apply ourselves to the development of a yogic practice to aid in this manifestation in a conscious and more effective manner than the ordinary course of Nature over time.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Introduction: The Conditions of the Synthesis, Chapter 2, The Three Steps of Nature, pp. 7-8