Aspects of the Religious Goals for the Perfection of Human Existence

The mundane or secular ideal of perfection is, however, not the only one that has attracted the attention of people throughout the world over the course of time. There are those who believe that the capacities of the human being, physical, vital, emotional, aesthetic, and intellectual are to be used only insofar as they can help the seeker achieve religious or spiritual realization or salvation. For these individuals, at some point, the ultimate development and perfection of the outward facing instruments of the being, and the social structure within which the individual functions, can be seen as distractions or obstacles along the way. The goals during life are to be those which support whatever form of salvation a particular religious viewpoint seeks. The human instruments (and by extension the social structure) are to be used, refined or suppressed, as the case may be, in order to facilitate this other-worldly resolution for the life.

For those following a religious ideal, the perfection comes about through achievement of some form of liberation or status in another world or plane of existence after death. This may be achieving a place in heaven, for instance. Sri Aurobindo observes: “But the mundane aim takes for its field the present life and its opportunities; the religious aim, on the contrary, fixes before it the self-preparation for another existence after death, its commonest ideal is some kind of pure sainthood, its means a conversion of the imperfect or sinful being by divine grace or through obedience to a law laid down by a scripture or else given by a religious founder. The aim of religion may include a social change, but it is then a change brought about by the acceptance of a common religious ideal and way of consecrated living, a brotherhood of the saints, a theocracy or kingdom of God reflecting on earth the kingdom of heaven.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 2, The Integral Perfection, pp. 590-591