What the mental ideal seeks as perfection is a pale imitation of the truth of the Spirit. Sri Aurobindo sets forth the juxtaposition of these two forms of consciousness: “For the spiritual man the mind’s dream of perfect beauty is realised in an eternal love, beauty and delight that has no dependence and is equal behind all objective appearances; its dream of perfect Truth in the supreme, self-existent, self-apparent and eternal Verity which never varies but explains and is the secret of all variations and the goal of all progress; its dream of perfect action in the omnipotent and self-guiding Law that is inherent for ever in all things and translates itself here in the rhythm of the worlds.”
The ideal of the spirit is therefore much more widely separated from the reality of life in the world we see around us, and this has led to the call for the spiritual aspirant to abandon the world and focus solely on spiritual realisation. The ideal of the ascetic yogin, the renunciate, the cloistered monk, the anchorite in the desert represents the exclusive concentration on spiritual progress that has seemed to be the true answer to the apparent falsehood, illusion and weakness of the life of desire, the obstacles of matter and the resistance of the mind acting in the world. “But if it is often difficult for the mental life to accommodate itself to the dully resistant material activity, how much more difficult must it seem for the spiritual existence to live on in a world that appears full not of the Truth but of every lie and illusion, not of Love and Beauty but of an encompassing discord and ugliness, not of the Law of Truth but of victorious selfishness and sin?”
Sri Aurobindo points out that even this withdrawal from life provides a benefit by creating an example and a question for those engrossed in the things of the world, but it is clearly not a full and complete solution to the conundrum, nor can it be the solution to the divine aim of life.
“The spiritual life also can return upon the material and use it as a means of its own greater fullness. Refusing to be blinded by the dualities, the appearances, it can seek in all appearances whatsoever the vision of the same Lord, the same eternal Truth, Beauty, Love, Delight. The Vedantic formula of the Self in all things, all things in the Self and all things as becomings of the Self is the key to this richer and all-embracing Yoga.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Introduction: The Conditions of the Synthesis, Chapter 3, The Threefold Life, pp. 20-21