Seeking a Standard of Conduct Beyond the Mind’s Limitations

The external, idealised standards of ethical and moral conduct represent progress for the human being seeking to evolve beyond the standards of self-interest and self-aggrandisement, whether for the individual or his social groupings. We see the limitations of these standards which are erected by the mind and tend towards a black and white rendering of rigid, inflexible rules, and which come into conflict with one another at the level of ultimate principles. At the same time we see that these ideals point us toward a higher principle upon which to organize our existence, and thus, we can see that what is required is a new spiritual viewpoint which will both realise these higher principles and reconcile them to one another in their application in the world of action.

Sri Aurobindo frames the issue: “Beyond the mental and moral being in us is a greater divine being that is spiritual and supramental; for it is only through a large spiritual plane where the mind’s formulas dissolve in a white flame of direct inner experience that we can reach beyond mind and pass from its constructions to the vastness and freedom of the supramental realities. There alone can we touch the harmony of the divine powers that are poorly misrepresented to our mind or framed into a false figure by the conflicting or wavering elements of the moral law. There alone the unification of the transformed vital and physical and the illumined mental man becomes possible in that supramental spirit which is at once the secret source and goal of our mind and life and body. There alone is there any possibility of an absolute justice, love and right–far other than that which we imagine–at one with each other in the light of a supreme divine knowledge. There alone can there be a reconciliation of the conflict between our members.”

It is the divine law, the divine standard of conduct toward which humanity is evolving, and these earlier standards, with all their limitations, each have their role and their time in the process. The divine law represents both the perfect expression of law and freedom, as it is not based on fixed mental precepts, but on spiritual insight to the larger movement of the universal manifestation. “It must be a law and truth that discovers the perfect movement, harmony, rhythm of a great spiritualised collective life and determines perfectly our relations with each being and all beings in Nature’s varied oneness. It must be at the same time a law and truth that discovers to us at each moment the rhythm and exact steps of the direct expression of the Divine in the soul, mind, life, body of the individual creature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 7, Standards of Conduct and Spiritual Freedom, pp. 189-191

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