Four Types of Human Lives

We can find human life organised around the primary manifested principles of the evolution. So we will find people whose primary focus is the perfection, development, enjoyment and focus of the bodily life consisting of the physical and vital forces. Similarly, there are those who organize their lives around their mental development, and these individuals either subject the physical body to the demands of the mental, or work to upgrade the physical being to be more responsive and meet the needs of the mental development. Similarly, there are individuals who focus on the spiritual quest, and if this is an exclusive focus, many times we will see them abandon or disregard the physical and mental principles in their attempt to attain spiritual enlightenment.

Sri Aurobindo describes briefly each of these three types: “The characteristic energy of the bodily Life is not so much in progress as in persistence, not so much in individual self-enlargement as in self-repetition.”

“The characteristic energy of pure Mind is change and the more it acquires elevation and organisation, the more this law of Mind assumes the aspect of a continual enlargement, improvement and better arrangement of its gains and so of a continual passage from a smaller and simpler to a larger and more complex perfection….Its faith is perfectibility, its watchword is progress.”

“The characteristic law of Spirit is self-existent perfection and immutable infinity. It possesses always and in its own right the immortality which is the aim of Life and the perfection which is the goal of Mind. The attainment of the eternal and the realisation of that which is the same in all things and beyond all things, equally blissful in universe and outside it, untouched by the imperfections and limitations of the forms and activities in which it dwells, are the glory of the spiritual life.”

Sri Aurobindo points out that there is a fourth type possible, which attempts to perfect and integrate the 3 principles together rather than developing one at the expense of the other two. This type will try to develop the active and progress-seeking mind in a sound, healthy and stable bodily life with a fully integrated and developed spiritual life as the inner goal and focus.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Introduction: The Conditions of the Synthesis, Chapter 3, The Threefold Life, pp. 15-16