The Liberated Soul Cannot Be Judged By the Standards Of the Mind

It is a human characteristic to try to judge actions by the rules, standards and codes of conduct developed by the mind and framed into the characteristic judgments and laws of the society within which we live and act. While these judgments may vary somewhat due to cultural variation, the act of judging conduct based on the mental framework of the society is a universal trait. This framework of course is limited to what the mind can grasp with its understanding and its logical process, and thus, for someone from outside that framework, the judgment cannot necessarily apply. Even within the context of differing human social settings, this limitation becomes obvious. In one culture it is acceptable to do certain things which in another would be totally unacceptable. It becomes even more difficult therefore to address the actions of the liberated soul who acts from a standpoint beyond that of the mental realm.

Arjuna raises this question in the Bhagavad Gita when he inquires of Sri Krishna how he can recognise the liberated soul, asking essentially how does he dress, how does he act, what does he do, so that he can be seen and understood. Sri Krishna makes it clear that the liberated soul cannot be determined through any outer or external clue. ‘Howsoever he lives and acts,’ says the Gita, ‘he lives and acts in Me.’

Sri Aurobindo observes: “It is immaterial whether he wears the garb of the ascetic or lives the full life of the householder; whether he spends his days in what men call holy works or in the many-sided activities of the world; whether he devotes himself to the direct leading of men to the Light like Buddha, Christ or Shankara or governs kingdoms like Janaka or stands before men like Sri Krishna as a politician or a leader of armies; what he eats or drinks; what are his habits or his pursuits; whether he fails or succeeds; whether his work be one of construction or of destruction; whether he supports or restores an old order or labours to replace it by a new; whether his associates are those whom men delight to honour or those whom their sense of superior righteousness outcastes and reprobates; whether his life and deeds are approved by his contemporaries or he is condemned as a misleader of men and a fomenter of religious, moral or social heresies. he is not governed by the judgments of men or the laws laid down by the ignorant; he obeys an inner voice and is moved by an unseen Power. His real life is within and this is its description that he lives, moves and acts in God, in the Divine, in the Infinite.”

When we look back through the lens of history we see that Socrates was poisoned for “misleading the youth” of his time–his true worth only recognised by later generations. Similarly, Jesus was castigated by the social leaders of his time for associating with “publicans and sinners” and for his disruptive actions against the established ways of doing things, his breaking down of the walls of social status, his attempt to support and raise up the common people and his railing against the economic and power elite of his time for their lack of compassion and their greed. Their answer was to demand his crucifixion. Saint Francis was opposed in his acts of love and charity by the very religious hierarchy to which he belonged, and only afterwards was his sainthood recognized.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 12, The Divine Work, pp. 258-259