The Ideal of Human Unity was written by Sri Aurobindo serially during the period from 1915 through 1918, essentially while the world was struggling with the “war to end all wars”, World War I. Interestingly, he undertook to update the text in the 1930’s during the run up to World War II, and then put a brief update and postscript on it after the conclusion of the second World War. This subject was therefore of continual focus and interest for Sri Aurobindo.
Some may wonder what relationship the social and political framework of human civilisation has to do with the practice of Yoga. Sri Aurobindo recognized and described in The Life Divine an “omnipresent reality” that incorporated the individual, the universal and the transcendent aspects of existence. All existence represents the manifestation of the Divine Will through Time, Space and Circumstance, and thus, the principle of Oneness holds that the individual is not separate from the universal and the universal is not separate from the transcendent.
In The Synthesis of Yoga he described the universal “Yoga of Nature” that systematically evolves levels of consciousness from the involved inconscient of Matter to the highest supramental realms of total awareness of the Divine knowledge and will. He also described the interchange and interaction between the universal and the individual and the role of each. The universal play of forces has a constant impact on the spiritual development of any individual and thus, cannot be dismissed.
It is within this general context that the question of human unity arises. The boundaries set up by the physical manifestation, the aggressive self-aggrandisement of the vital consciousness, and the fragmented view of the mental level ensure that there will be a struggle and disharmony until such time as an integrated, higher perspective can put everything into a coherent whole of mutual interchange. For the practitioner of Yoga, therefore, working on the inner self-development, at a certain stage, requires the seeker to address the larger questions of harmony and oneness.
In The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo indicates that “…all problems of existence are essentially problems of harmony. They arise from the perception of an unsolved discord and the instinct of an undiscovered agreement or unity.” and he goes on to state “The greater the apparent disorder of the materials offered or the apparent disparateness, even to irreconcilable opposition, of the elements that have to be utilised, the stronger is the spur, and it drives towards a more subtle and puissant order than can normally be the result of a less difficult endeavour.” (Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Chapter 1, pg. 5)
We can see all around us the difficulty of achieving human unity and resolving the apparent contradictions of physical, vital and mental demands and desires. It may also be seen that the larger concerns of all humanity, as one universal being, such as the integrity of the environment that sustains us, puts added pressure on our attempt to achieve human unity.
It is with this background that we take up the subject of human unity in the systematic way that Sri Aurobindo has viewed it. It is not isolated from the practice of Yoga, but an essential element of the yogic process.
All chapter numbers and titles are from Sri Aurobindo’s The Ideal of Human Unity. All individual post titles are independently developed for these posts. Page numbers referenced are from the USA editions of Sri Aurobindo’s major writings, published by Lotus Press.
Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity