The Way to Human Perfection

Sri Aurobindo observes: “His way to perfection is not to involve himself in the outward or superficial existence, nor is it to place himself in the soul of life or the soul of body, but to insist on the three mental intuitions by which he can lift himself eventually above the physical, vital and mental levels.”

This direction is followed by reliance on the three mental intuitions which separate the soul from the operations of mind, life and body, and provide a basis for shifting the standpoint to the divine, spiritual basis, from which the action of the universe proceeds, including the individual’s role in that action.

Sri Aurobindo describes the two forms that this focus may take, as the seeker shifts his awareness away from the outer instrument to the status of the witness of Nature: “It is quite possible for him to accentuate it in a direction away from existence in Nature, a detachment, a withdrawal from mind, life and body. He may try to live more and more as the witness Purusha, regarding the action of Nature, without interest in it, without sanction to it, detached, rejecting the whole action, withdrawing into pure conscious existence. This is the Sankhya liberation.” The parable of the two birds on the common tree, from the Shwetashwatara Upanishad, one of which is eating the sweet fruit thereof, while the other observes but does not eat, illustrates this direction.

The other form involves a shifting of the consciousness from the limitations of the outer life of the world to a larger inner existence: “He may go inward into that larger existence of which he has the intuition and away from the superficial mentality into a dream-state or sleep-state which admits him into wider or higher ranges of consciousness. By passing away into these ranges he may put away from him the terrestrial being.”

“But the definite and sure finality of this kind of liberation depends on the elevation of the mental being into the spiritual self of which he becomes aware when he looks away and upward from all mentality. That is given as the key to entire cessation from terrestrial existence whether by immergence in pure being or a participation in supracosmic being.”

For the seeker of the integral Yoga, while abandonment of the terrestrial life is clearly not the end and goal, it still remains necessary to achieve a shift or reversal of consciousness away from the bondage of the lower instrument consisting of mind, life and body, so that the view and the action that flows from it, are based on the spiritual reality that stands behind and above and deep within, and which is free from the limitations of the outer forms of the human existence.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 4, The Perfection of the Mental Being, pg. 609

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