Concrete Examples of the Two Fundamental Defects and Their Implications for the Seeker

A divine perfection is founded on what may be called a preliminary human perfection. Without clearing up the confusion in the lower nature, the higher forms of knowledge, will and bliss are continually bogged down, circumscribed, diluted, and obscured. Sri Aurobindo thus focuses his attention on the two primary forms of defect that prevent the perfection of the human instrument, and provides concrete examples of the interactions that occur as a result. This aids the seeker in sorting out the actual psychological action and thereby finding ways to resolve these defects and prepare the nature for a purer and higher action.

Sri Aurobindo observes, for instance, that “…the proper function of the life, the vital force, is enjoyment and possession, both of them perfectly legitimate, because the Spirit created the world for Ananda, enjoyment and possession of the many by the One, of the One by the many and of the many too by the many; but,–this is an instance of the first kind of defect,–the separative ignorance gives to it the wrong form of desire and craving which vitiates the whole enjoyment and possession and imposes on it its opposites, want and suffering. Again, because mind is entangled in life from which it evolves, this desire and craving get into the action of the mental will and knowledge; that makes the will a will of craving, a force of desire instead of a rational will and a discerning force of intelligent effectuation, and it distorts the judgment and reason so that we judge and reason according to our desires and prepossessions and not with the disinterested impartiality of a pure judgment and the rectitude of a reason which seeks only to distinguish truth and understand rightly the objects of its workings. That is an example of immixture. These two kinds of defect, wrong form of action and illegitimate mixture of action, are not limited to these signal instances, but belong to each instrument and to each combination of their functionings. They pervade the whole economy of our nature. They are fundamental defects of our lower instrumental nature, and if we can set them right, we shall get our instrumental being into a state of purity, enjoy the clarity of a pure will, a pure heart of emotion, a pure enjoyment of our vitality, a pure body. That will be a preliminary, a human perfection, but it can be made the basis and open out in its effort of self-attainment into the greater, the divine perfection.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 5, The Instruments of the Spirit, pg. 619