The Universal Capacity of the Fourfold Spirit

Each of the 4 primary soul-types of human development relies on a specific set of capacities and form of development. In the past there has been a considerable emphasis on creating a “division of labor” based on these differing personalities. It is however a truth of our existence that each person contains within himself aspects of each of the four, and it is through the unification and harmonious balancing of the expression of them that humanity can progress to a new stage of evolution.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “None of these four type of personality can be complete even in its own field if it does not bring into it something of the other qualities.”

Knowledge pursued without the courage and will, without a harmonising impulse and receptive mutuality and without a spirit of generosity and service is either dry and stunted, or narrow and fanatic. Similarly the man who exercises power and the force of will needs to illuminate his actions with knowledge and use this force as a power of mutual development and in the spirit of service to avoid the tendencies of the dictator or tyrant. Similarly, the soul-type of mutuality and interchange must widen itself with knowledge and act with courage and carry out his actions in the spirit of good will and service to avoid be narrow limits of the small self-dealing personality and the stain of the greedy miser. The personality formed for work and service too needs to have a field of development and use his mind, his will and his ability to harmonize to create a service that is truly an ennobling and uplifting effort of the soul.

“But the greater perfection of man comes when he enlarges himself to include all these powers, even though one of them may lead the others, and opens his nature more and more into the rounded fullness and universal capacity of the fourfold spirit. Man is not cut out into an exclusive type of one of these dharmas, but all these powers are in him at work at first in an ill-formed confusion, but he gives shape to one or another in birth after birth, progresses from one to the other even in the same life and goes on towards the total development of his inner existence. Our life itself is at once an inquiry after truth and knowledge, a struggle and battle of our will with ourselves and surrounding forces, a constant production, adaptation, application of skill to the material of life and a sacrifice and service.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 15, Soul-Force and the Fourfold Personality, pp. 720-721