The Working of Nature Through the Instrumentality of Human Mentality

The human mentality represents a transitional stage of awareness.  As we become self-aware, we attempt to understand life, Nature and the meaning of our lives through the use of the mental consciousness.  Yet this consciousness is limited in its powers and in its scope, and thus, tends to focus on one principle or idea or factor at a time in a fragmented fashion.  This leads to the type of mental conflict we see between varying ideas or concepts which appear to be opposed to one another.  We erect philosophies, religions, laws, regulations, and guidelines based on this imperfect and incomplete understanding of Nature, and then we set about to defend our view and fight with those who have seized upon some other aspect of life or Nature as their guiding principle.  The physical and vital levels of existence, without this active mentality, simply carry out Nature’s dictates, and there are those who thus blame the very fact of mentality as being a diversion or falling off from our harmony with Nature.  Sri Aurobindo reminds us that the mind is also an expression of Nature and the phase of development that is limited and imperfect is nevertheless still carrying out Nature’s intention.

“Our mentality represents the conscious part of the movement of Nature in this progressive self-realization and self-fulfilment of the values and potentialities of her human way of living.  If that mentality were perfect, it would be one in its knowledge and will with the totality of the secret Knowledge and Will which she is trying to bring to the surface and there would be no mental conflict.”

“A superhuman life would reach consciously this perfection, make the secret Knowledge and Will in things its own and fulfil itself through Nature by her free, spontaneous and harmonious movement unhasting, unresting, towards that full development which is her inherent and therefore her predestined aim.  Actually, because our mentality is imperfect, we catch only a glimpse of her tendencies and objects and each glimpse we get we erect into an absolute principle or ideal theory of our life and conduct; we see only one side of her process and put that forward as the whole and perfect system which must govern our ordering of our life.  Working through the imperfect individual and still more imperfect collective mind, she raises up the facts and powers of our existence as opposing principles and forces to which we attach ourselves through our intellect and emotions, and favouring and depressing now this and now another she leads them in the mind of man through struggle and conflict towards a mutual knowledge and the sense of their mutual necessity and towards a progressively right relation and synthesis of their potentialities which is represented in an increasing harmony and combination of realized powers in the elastic potentiality of human life.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 17, Nature’s Law in our Progress — Unity in Diversity, Law and Liberty, pp. 149-150