The Ethical and Religious Ideals of Conduct Fall Short of the Spiritual Law of Existence

When a human being tries to construct his own ethical standard internally, he finds that it is based on some principle that his mental and emotional nature is prepared to use as the guide. This may be some form of practical rule that seeks for success in the life, or it may be a more abstract term of a more disinterested nature. Either way, the foundational principle is still in the mind and thereby limited by the mind’s inability to grasp the complexity of life in the universal evolutionary manifestation. Sri Aurobindo explains: “Our inner nature is the progressive expression of the eternal Spirit and too complex a power to be tied down by a single dominant mental or moral principle. Only the supramental consciousness can reveal to its differing and conflicting forces their spiritual truth and harmonise their divergences.”

Another attempt to construct a universal moral code has been taken on by various religions who set up some ideal code of conduct and give it the authenticity and credibility of a divine teacher or spiritual guide as the lawgiver or founder of the code. “These systems, more powerful and dynamic than the dry ethical idea, are yt for the most part no more than idealistic glorifications of the moral principle sanctified by religious emotion and the label of a superhuman origin.”

When they attempt some kind of ultimate universal code, they break down at some point due to the impractical nature of such a rigid formulation, since the universal manifestation exceeds the capacity of any human individual to encapsulate it into strict forms. “The true divine law, unlike these mental counterfeits, cannot be a system of rigid ethical determinations that press into their cast-iron moulds all our life-movements. The Law divine is truth of life and truth of the spirit and must take up with a free living plasticity and inspire with the direct touch of its eternal light each step of our action and all the complexities of our life-issues. It must act not as a rule and formula but as an enveloping and penetrating conscious presence that determines all our thoughts, activities, feelings, impulsions of will by its infallible power and knowledge.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 7, Standards of Conduct and Spiritual Freedom, pp. 191-192