The Purifying and Preparatory Benefits of Development of the Mental Nature

In order to bring about the higher light and knowledge in the being, there must be a process of preparing, readying and developing the ability to receive, hold, sustain and promulgate that subtler and higher light. This process involves the development of the mental nature, its refinement, the turning of its focus toward subtler energies and understanding and away from fixation on purely material concerns, and the purifying of the intellect so that it can be reflective rather than reactive. The final transition to the knowledge-basis of the divine standpoint does not come about through these means, but they ensure that the being is able to receive and hold that energy when it descends and tries to manifest itself.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “All pursuit of knowledge, if not vitiated by a too earthward tendency, tends to refine, to subtilize, to purify the being. In proportion as we become more mental, we attain to a subtler action of our whole nature which becomes more apt to reflect and receive higher thoughts, a purer will, a less physical truth, more inward influences.”

He provides, beyond the obvious purifying force of the development of ethical principles and knowledge, some further examples as well: “Philosophy not only purifies the reason and predisposes it to the contact of the universal and the infinite, but tends to stabilize the nature and create the tranquility of the sage; and tranquility is a sign of increasing self-mastery and purity. The preoccupation with universal beauty even in its aesthetic forms has an intense power for refining and subtilizing the nature, and at its highest it is a great force for purification. Even the scientific habit of mind and the disinterested preoccupation with cosmic law and truth not only refine the reasoning and observing faculty, but have, when not counteracted by other tendencies, a steadying, elevating and purifying influence on the mind and moral nature which has not been sufficiently noticed.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 25, The Higher and the Lower Knowledge, pp. 494-495