Appreciating and Integrating the Higher Purposes of Human Existence

Much of human life is focused on the material and vital aspects of living, so it becomes easy for some people to accept an idea that holds that humanity exists only to enjoy our physical existence, and that self-aggrandisement, the fulfillment of desire, and the seeking to meet physical wants and needs is what life is all about.  Yet, we can see that there is another aspect of human existence, one that addresses values other than the strictly material, including the fields of art, science, philosophy, religion, morality and ethics, and harmonious relationships of balance with others and within the framework of Nature.  This aspect relies on the development of the true mental capacities of which humanity is capable, and it shows us that life is not solely restricted to the seeking of comfort and satiation on the physical and vital levels.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “To be is for him not merely to be born, grow up, marry, get his livelihood, support a family and then die, — the vital and physical life, a human edition of the animal round, a human enlargement of the little animal sector and arc of the divine circle; rather to become and grow mentally and live with knowledge and power within himself as well as from within outward is his manhood.  But there is here a double motive of Nature, an insistent duality in her human purpose.  Man is here to learn from her how to control and create; but she evidently means him not only to control, create and re-create in new and better forms himself, his own inner existence, his mentality, but also to control and re-create correspondingly his environment.  He has to turn Mind not only on itself, but on Life and Matter and the material existence; that is very clear not only from the law and nature of the terrestrial evolution, but from his own past and present history.  And there comes from the observation of these conditions and of his highest aspirations and impulses the question whether he is not intended, not only to expand inwardly and outwardly, but to grow upward, wonderfully exceeding himself as he has wonderfully exceeded his animal beginnings, into something more than mental, more than human, into a being spiritual and divine.  Even if he cannot do that, yet he may have to open his mind to what is beyond it and to govern his life more and more by the light and power that he receives from something greater than himself.  Man’s consciousness of the divine within himself and the world is the supreme fact of his existence and to grow into that may very well be the intention of his nature.  In any case the fullness of Life is his evident object, the widest life and the highest life possible to him, whether that be a complete humanity or a new and divine race.  We must recognise both his need of integrality and his impulse of self-exceeding if we would fix rightly the meaning of his individual existence and the perfect aim and norm of his society.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 9, Civilisation and Culture, pp. 83-84

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