For the most part, spiritual seeking has been seen as the affair of an individual. The result has been either an attempt to abandon the life in the world by treating it as something inferior, illusory or distracting to the search for spiritual illumination; or else, the spiritual realization is turned back on the world in some form of compassionate action to ameliorate the suffering and provide comfort to those who have not yet overcome the suffering of the life. Or else, with a wider aim, there is an attempt to teach and guide others to the realization so that they can take one of these two routes upon achievement of their spiritual goal. In only very rare instances has the spiritual seeking gone beyond an acceptance of the world of duality “as it is” with the goal of transforming the life in the world to more nearly approximate and be able to truly represent the Truth of the Spirit. It is this goal which Sri Aurobindo sets before us in his development of the yogic path and its aims.
He explains: “It is possible for the spiritual life in the world, and it is its real mission, to change the material life into its own image, the image of the Divine. Therefore, besides the great solitaries who have sought and attained their self-liberation, we have the great spiritual teachers who have also liberated others and, supreme of all, the great dynamic souls who, feeling themselves stronger in the might of the Spirit than all the forces of the material life banded together, have thrown themselves upon the world, grappled with it in a loving wrestle and striven to compel its consent to its own transfiguration.”
The changes may start with the elements most receptive in our lives, the mental and moral elements, but they may also go further and attempt to transform the culture, the vital life of the society and the world, even the very interactions with Matter. “These attempts have been the supreme landmarks in the progressive development of human ideals and the divine preparation of the race. Every one of them, whatever its outward results, has left Earth more capable of Heaven and quickened in its tardy movements the evolutionary Yoga of Nature.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Introduction: The Conditions of the Synthesis, Chapter 3, The Threefold Life, pp. 21-22