The human mentality, by its nature, tends to separate things into hard and fast divisions. It is no different in the realm of moral rules or ethical standards. The mind then wants to apply these rules universally and in a rigid manner with the concern that if we once let down our strict code, we will quickly slide into depravity, lawlessness and vice. We see this pattern repeated all around the world where the law is “black and white” or the doctrine of the religion or moral philosophy are “absolute”. It is clearly true that ethical and moral codes provide a real benefit in the culturing of the consciousness of humanity, and they serve a serious and positive purpose. It is also, however, quite true that any strictly construed rule or law that has no room for adaptation to new situations and circumstances, or that does not apply a deeper sense and understanding, at some point becomes an obstacle to further growth and development. It is just this type of conflict of moral codes and their application to new circumstances in life that bring about the moral dilemma, the conflict of duties, such as Arjuna was faced with in the Bhagavad Gita.
Sri Aurobindo provides a solution that accounts both for the temporary necessity of such rules and the need for growth and change: “But even on the human level, if we have light enough and flexibility enough to recognise that a standard of conduct may be temporary and yet necessary for its time and to observe it faithfully until it can be replaced by a better, then we suffer no such loss, but lose only the fanaticism of an imperfect and intolerant virtue. In its place we gain openness and a power of continual moral progression, charity, the capacity to enter into an understanding sympathy with all this world of struggling and stumbling creatures and by that charity a better right and a greater strength to help it upon its way.”
As we evolve towards the wider, higher and more power consciousness of the Divine standpoint, we find that the rules that govern the mental and vital life of humanity are too limited and too rigid and must be replaced by something that is more flexible, and which embodies the Divine consciousness more perfectly than mental rule-making: “But the divine manifestation cannot be bound by our little rules and fragile sanctities; for the consciousness behind it is too vast for these things. Once we have grasped this fact, disconcerting enough to the absolutism of our reason, we shall better be able to put in their right place in regard to each other the successive standards that govern the different stages in the growth of the individual and the collective march of mankind.”
As Sri Krishna tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita to “abandon all Dharmas”, the seeker eventually must be prepared to give up the mental scaffolding that has supported him during his advance through the stages of human growth and evolution in order to truly carry out the divine sacrifice and act according to the higher Will without limitations.
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 7, Standards of Conduct and Spiritual Freedom, pp. 180-181