As long as we live on the surfaces of life, focused on our physical and vital needs and desires, our mental habits and formulations, and our social role within the framework of the community of mankind, with our gaze set outwards, we can develop new powers of action, we can develop new ways of understanding the physical world, we can invent marvelous new ways of living in the world, but we come no closer to an understanding of the “why” of our existence. Why do we exist? Is there some deeper purpose to our lives? Is there some goal that Nature is pursuing through us? These and similar questions require a different kind of review and understanding, one that comes from an inward turn, the development of a subjective, rather than a purely objective, viewpoint about our lives.
Sri Aurobindo notes: “The true law of our development and the entire object of our social existence can only become clear to us when we have discovered not only, like modern Science, what man has been in his past physical and vital evolution, but his future mental and spiritual destiny and his place in the cycles of Nature. This is the reason why the subjective periods of human development must always be immeasurably the most fruitful and creative. In the others he either seizes on some face, image, type of the inner reality Nature in him is labouring to manifest or else he follows a mechanical impulse or shapes himself in the mould of her external influences; but here in his subjective return inward he gets back to himself, back to the root of his living and infinite possibilities, and the potentiality of a new and perfect self-creation begins to widen before him. He discovers his real place in Nature and opens his eyes to the greatness of his destiny.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 7, The Ideal Law of Social Development, pg. 63