Most of us, at some point or another in our lives, will reflect on why we are alive, what it is “all about” and what, if any, purpose there is to our existence; thus, raising the ultimate question of how we should live our lives and what we should do with ourselves. Some come to the conclusion that there is no “ultimate” aim and they settle on trying to experience comfort, entertainment, social standing, family relations and fulfillment of various forms of desire. In some cases this is extended to include various forms of intellectual development and fulfillment, utilizing the higher mental capacities that appear to be unique to the human being in this world. For the most part, however, there is no clearly delineated and defined aim before most individuals and they tend to respond and react to the events and situations in the world in a more or less random fashion.
Sri Aurobindo provides his insight to this situation: “The life of the human creature, as it is ordinarily lived, is composed of a half-fixed, half-fluid mass of very imperfectly ruled thoughts, perceptions, sensations, emotions, desires, enjoyments, acts mostly customary and self-repeating, in part only dynamic and self-developing, but all centred around a superficial ego.”
Even this somewhat undefined process, however, tends to move the development forward, however slowly in what might be called the true aim of human life. Sri Aurobindo provides his understanding of this process: “This growth of the conscious being, an expansion, an increasing self-expression, a more and more harmonised development of his constituent members is the whole meaning and all the pith of human existence. it is for this meaningful development of consciousness by thought, will, emotion, desire, action and experience, leading in the end to a supreme divine self-discovery, that Man, the mental being, has entered into the material body…. that only matters which sustains and helps the evolution of his nature and the growth or rather the progressive unfolding and discover of his self and spirit.”
When we recognise that there is a development, an evolution, of a series of increasing levels of consciousness and self-awareness, we can find a thread that brings us to the recognition that the world, the entire manifested universe, has a purposive action and systematic framework that is not simply the working of random chance, but rather, it embodies a conscious development of which we can become aware, and in which we can choose to participate on a self-aware basis. This becomes the basis for the process of self-discovery and the yogic path so that we can begin to join this action and work to connect to the divine consciousness and aid it in its self-revealing activity in the universe.
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 3, Self-Surrender in Works–The Way of the Gita, pp. 82-83