Traditionally in the practice of Yoga, the goal was set as the unification or the dissolution of the individual person into the Divine. This implied an abandonment of the life of the world and a unified focus on the spiritual practice. Similar direction, under other names and forms occurred in the anchorite traditions of Western religious seeking. Sri Aurobindo redefined Yoga to continue beyond this unification of consciousness to then return upon the outer world and express the realisation in the life of the world. For this purpose, the instruments, body, life and mind, needed to be prepared to receive the inspiration, upgraded, purified, and perfected so they would be able to express the higher consciousness and reflect it in a manner that would not distort it, or at least, only minimally.
As a corollary to this individual Yoga of “ascent” and “integration”, Sri Aurobindo describes the need and the issues involved in the self-finding process of nations and the eventual expression of that self-finding in the life of the society. He continues with the example of Germany in the early 20th Century:
“It was the industry, the conscientious diligence, the fidelity to ideas, the honest and painstaking spirit of work for which the nation has long been famous. A people may be highly gifted in the subjective capacities, and yet if it neglects to cultivate this lower side of our complex nature, it will fail to build that bridge between the idea and imagination and the world of facts, between the vision and the force, which makes realisation possible; its higher powers may become a joy and inspiration to the world, but it will never take possession of its own world until it has learned the humbler lesson. In Germany the bridge was there, though it ran mostly through a dark tunnel with a gulf underneath; for there was no pure transmission from the subjective mind of the thinkers and singers to the objective mind of the scholars and organisers. The misapplication by Treitschke of the teachings of Nietzsche to national and international uses which would have profoundly disgusted the philosopher himself, is an example of this obscure transmission. But still a transmission was there. For more than a half-century Germany turned a deep eye of introspection on herself and things and ideas in search of the truth of her own being and of the world, and for another half-century a patient eye of scientific research on the objective means for organising what she had or thought she had gained. And something was done, something indeed powerful and enormous, but also in certain directions, not in all, misshapen and disconcerting. Unfortunately those directions were precisely the very central lines on which to go wrong is to miss the goal.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 4, The Discovery of the Nation-Soul, pp. 41-42