The attempt to regiment all human beings into fixed lines of thought and action, whether these are political, philosophical, moral, religious or economic, runs contrary to the inner nature and truth of the individual and is doomed eventually to stifle the progress and growth of not just the individuals, but the society as well. Progress and development do not take place in a mass of people, but in specific individuals. The evolution of consciousness within the society occurs through an increasing pressure of individuals and their growing awareness. The mass is modified through the action of individuals. On its own, it tends to be slower to change and more resistant to progress. This implies that the individual’s freedom to develop must be respected and protected for the benefit, not just of the individual, but of the society and the secret divine Will manifesting through the individual and the society.
Sri Aurobindo observes: “…the group self has no true right to regard the individual as if he were only a cell of its own body, a stone of its edifice, a passive instrument of its collective life and growth. Humanity is not so constituted. We miss the divine reality in man and the secret of the human birth if we do not see that each individual man is that Self and sums up all human potentiality in his own being. That potentiality he has to find, develop, work out from within. No State or legislator or reformer can cut him rigorously into a perfect pattern; no Church or priest can give him a mechanical salvation; no order, no class life or ideal, no nation, no civilisation or creed or ethical, social or religious Shastra can be allowed to say to him permanently, ‘In this way of mine and thus far shalt thou act and grow and in no other way and no farther shall thy growth be permitted.’ These things may help him temporarily or they may curb and he grows in proportion as he can use them and then exceed them, train and teach his individuality by them, but assert it always in the end in its divine freedom. Always he is the traveller of the cycles and his road is forward.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 7, The Ideal Law of Social Development, pg. 67