Equality and Human Perfection

For those not specifically seeking spiritual self-perfection, but who attempt to develop perfection of the human instrument and existence, equality is still a necessary foundation. Sri Aurobindo defines what is meant by human perfection: “The aim of a human perfection must include, if it is to deserve the name, two things, self-mastery and a mastery of the surroundings; it must seek for them in the greatest degree of these powers which is at all attainable by our human nature.” If we examine these two aspects of perfection, we find that self-mastery necessarily involves a high degree of detachment from the push and pull of the forces of desire and the bonds of attachment, although not to the same degree, necessarily as a complete spiritual self-perfection would involve. Sri Aurobindo advises: “But to be self-ruler is not possible for him if he is subject to the attack of the lower nature, to the turbulence of grief and joy, to the violent touches of pleasure and pain, to the tumult of his emotions and passions, to the bondage of his personal likings and dislikings, to the strong chains of desire and attachment, to the narrowness of a personal and emotionally preferential judgment and opinion, to all the hundred touches of his egoism and its pursuing stamp on his thought, feeling and action.”

This is where the power of equality must come in, so that the individual can gain independence from and mastery over these types of reactions in the nature, allowing thereby a more focused, powerful and perfected action to result. It is vain to discuss “self-mastery” if one is constantly being enmeshed in cravings, desires or biased opinions caused by preference or aversion.

In order to gain mastery over one’s surroundings, the first pre-condition is self-mastery. “The knowledge, the will, the harmony which is necessary for this outward mastery, can come only as a crown of the inward conquest. it belongs to the self-possessing soul and mind which follows with a disinterested equality the Truth, the Right, the universal Largeness to which alone this mastery is possible,–following always the great ideal they present to our imperfection, while it understands and makes a full allowance too for all that seems to conflict with them and stand in the way of their manifestation.”

The practitioner of the integral Yoga has a yet greater ideal before him, namely, to not just rest satisfied with human self-mastery and mastery of his surroundings, but to shift the entire standpoint to the divine standpoint, and thereby to embody spiritual perfection. “There it gets its full power, opens to the diviner degrees of the spirit; for it is by oneness with the Infinite, by a spiritual power acting upon finite things, that some highest integral perfection of our being and nature finds its own native foundation.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 11, The Perfection of Equality, pp. 674-675