Each individual seeker travels down the path of realization according to the idea he holds as to the meaning and possibilities of life and spiritual growth. Experience, also affirmed by religions and philosophical systems, shows us that there is a lower nature and life, as also a higher nature. Some take this experience to mean that the practitioner of spiritual growth must leave behind the lower nature and take on the higher, which represents an escape or growth out of the trouble and confusion of the lower nature and life. Others may recognize that the experience of a lower and higher nature does not imply a duality and a choice, but rather, a unity and an opportunity for transformation of the lower by the power of the higher nature.
Sri Aurobindo elaborates: “The hope of a complete escape from our present strife with and subjection to our lower and troubled nature and existence arises when we perceive what religion and philosophy affirm, but modern thought has tried to deny, that there are two poises of our soul-existence, a lower, troubled and subjected, a higher, supreme, untroubled and sovereign, one vibrant in Mind, the other tranquil in Spirit. The hope not only of an escape, but of a completely satisfying and victorious solution comes when we perceive what some religions and philosophies affirm, but others seem to deny, that there is also in the dual unity of soul and nature a lower, an ordinary human status and a higher, a divine in which the conditions of the duality are reversed and the soul becomes that which it now only struggles and aspires to be, master of its nature, free and by union with the Divine possessor also of the world-nature. According to our idea of these possibilities will be the solution we shall attempt to realise.”
The one branch finds its goal in transcendence and rejection of the outer life in the world; the other seeks to find the hidden unity and bring about the full manifestation of the Divine in all life and existence.
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 17, The Soul and Nature, pg. 411