The Primal Law of Self-Development for the Individual and the Society

Those who recognize that there is a purpose behind our existence acknowledge that the individual is the vehicle of growth and development, and that it is the individual who undertakes the self-finding and self-fulfillment process, in whichever form it winds up taking.  Some look to intellectual development, some to emotional development, others to artistic or musical or scientific development, some undertake a religious or a spiritual quest.  They recognise that even those individuals who seem not to accept that there is any purpose to life will eventually make efforts for self-development in some form.

Sri Aurobindo acknowledges this individual seeking as a primal law of self-development; yet he goes a step farther by his recognition that it is not just the individual but also the society that undergoes this developmental process.  He identifies a “nation-soul” representative of a particular society which develops means to express itself, and which can be recognised and understood.

“The primal law and purpose of the individual life is to seek its own self-development.  Consciously or half-consciously or with an obscure unconscious groping it strives always and rightly strives at self-formulation, — to find itself, to discover within itself the law and power of its own being and to fulfil it.  This aim in it is fundamental, right, inevitable because, even after all qualifications have been made and caveats entered, the individual is not merely the ephemeral physical creature, a form of mind an body that aggregates and dissolves, but a being, a living power of the eternal Truth, a self-manifesting spirit.”

“In the same way the primal law and purpose of a society, community or nation is to seek its own self-fulfilment; it strives rightly to find itself, to become aware within itself of the law and power of its own being and to fulfil it as perfectly as possible, to realise all its potentialities, to live its own self-revealing life.  The reason is the same; for this too is a being, a living power of the eternal Truth, a self-manifestation of the cosmic Spirit, and it is there to express and fulfil in its own way and to the degree of its capacities the special truth and power and meaning of the cosmic Spirit that is within it.  The nation or society, like the individual, has a body, an organic life, a moral and aesthetic temperament, a developing mind and a soul behind all these signs and powers for the sake of which they exist.  One may say even that, like the individual, it essentially is a soul rather than has one; it is a group-soul that, once having attained to a separate distinctness, must become more and more self-conscious and find itself more and more fully as it develops its corporate action and mentality and its organic self-expressive life.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 4, The Discovery of the Nation-Soul, pg. 35