The idea of developing a perfected society and uplifting the state of mankind has been, in one form or another, a driving force in human civilisation. Many attempts have been made. Some have been utopian in appearance, the development of an egalitarian society that shares everything and lives in peace and harmony. Others have tried through regimentation or even through what we now know to be forms of “ethnic cleansing”, “holocaust actions” or even attempts at genetic engineering. Still others have preached various “-isms” whether capitalism, communism, socialism as leading to an ideal world. There have been democracies, feudal kingdoms, and despotic command societies. Plato, in The Republic preached a dictatorship of the enlightened spiritually advanced and educated class. Some have taught that the power of goodwill and love will change the world. And others have tried to bring about change and progress through fear and submission. In modern times, we believe we can use various psychological tools, such as counseling, psycho-analysis, etc. to change basic aspects of human personality and reactions.
Yet, with all of these ideas and methodologies, and the attempts made throughout the world, humanity has yet to solve the problem of life and its interactions. Sri Aurobindo makes it clear, in his analysis, that this is due to the fact that heretofore humanity has focused on the external factors of life and tried to modify them with plans, forces or ideas that stem from the normal mental and emotional basis of the life of the Ignorance. And no matter how hard we try, if the basics of human nature remain unchanged, then we are doomed to eventually reproduce the same problems, time and again. We change governments, but the corruption remains. We change economic systems, but the inequality remains. We change religions, but human reactions remain the same.
This brings us to a central tenet of the integral Yoga and its aim in life: “It is not a rationalisation but a supramentalisation, not a moralising but a spiritualising of Life that is the object of the Yoga. It is not a handling of externals or superficial psychological motives that is its main purpose, but a refounding of Life and its action on their hidden divine element; for only such a refounding of life can bring about its direct government by the secret Divine Power above us and its transfiguration into a manifest expression of the Divinity, not as now a disguise and a disfiguring mask of the eternal Actor. It is a spiritual essential change of consciousness, not the surface manipulation which is the method of Mind and Reason, that can alone make Life other than it now is and rescue it out of its present distressed and ambiguous figure.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 6, The Ascent of the Sacrifice-2, The Works of Love–The Works of Life, pp. 165-166