For the seeker of the integral Yoga, the starting point on the path is with the basic reality of human nature and the limitations imposed by body, life and mind. While followers of many traditional paths can simply try to avoid or suppress the basics of human nature, or simplify things down dramatically, since their goal is abandonment rather than perfection, the integral seeker does not have this luxury, and any steps to restrain, suppress or reduce the action of the lower nature can only be temporary expedients rather than consistent lines of action. This does not imply acceptance of current human nature and its imperfections, nor a fixation on the outer nature without focus on the deeper and higher spiritual goals and purposes.
Sri Aurobindo notes: “But whatever his aim, however exalted his aspiration, he has to begin from the law of his present imperfection, to take full account of it and see how it can be converted to the law of a possible perfection. This present law of his being starts from the inconscience of the material universe, an involution of the soul in form and subjection to material nature; and, though in this matter, life and mind have developed their own energies, yet they are limited and bound up in the action of the lower material, which is to the ignorance of his practical surface consciousness his original principle. Mind in him, though he is an embodied mental being, has to bear the control of the body and the physical life and can only by some more or less considerable effort of energy and concentration consciously control life and body. It is only by increasing that control that he can move towards perfection,–and it is only by developing soul-power that he can reach it. Nature-power in him has to become more and more completely a conscious act of soul, a conscious expression of all the will and knowledge of spirit. Prakriti has to reveal itself as Shakti of the Purusha.”
We see here Sri Aurobindo’s method illustrated–a shifting of the standpoint from the limited human view to the divine view, and a focusing of the energy of action, and its corresponding power to effectuate changes in the nature, from the divine standpoint. As long as we remain within the frame of the body, life, mind and ego, not much can be accomplished. Once we are able to step outside this frame and identify with the larger and more powerful reality that actually creates the individual human being and its powers of expression we gain the leverage required to effectuate real change and bring about a new level of action and perfection of action in the human nature itself.
Most people look upon themselves as a physical entity with emotions and mind. The idea of the soul is for many an abstraction that has a certain unreality to it. Many deny its existence! Sri Aurobindo’s methodology places the soul at the center and treats the mind, life and body as expressions and manifestations of the soul to carry out the divine intention, similar to the idea of putting on a suit of clothes to conduct oneself within the world. In this case, the body, life and mind are the “clothing” worn by the soul to accomplish a specific action.
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 3, The Psychology of Self-Perfection, pp. 604-605