Humanity has devised three basic lines of understanding regarding the meaning of life and existence. One of these posits there is no significance, that life is essentially something that developed by some kind of cosmic chance and we live, make the best of our existence and then we die without a trace. A second line holds that whether this is a testing ground for some further advancement or simply the entirety of existence, our purpose and goal is to develop and perfect our faculties of mind, life and body and then extend that to the perfection of the societal order. The third line holds that there is in fact a consciousness that has created the universe and which is systematically unfolding and developing, and that the human reason is a fulcrum between inconscience and habitual, instinctual action of consciousness and a higher range that is able to experience and understand the further higher levels of evolution beyond our current stage.
Sri Aurobindo notes: “But if the soul is the true sovereign and if its spiritual self-finding, its progressive largest widest integral fulfilment by the power of the spirit are to be accepted as the ultimate secret of our evolution, then since certainly the instinctive being of man below reason is not the means of attaining that high end and since we find that reason also is an insufficient light and power, there must be a superior range of being with its own proper powers, — liberated soul-faculties, a spiritual will and knowledge higher than the reason and intelligent will, — by which alone an entire conscious self-fulfilment can become possible to the human being. We must remember that our aim of self-fulfilment is an integral unfolding of the Divine within us, a complete evolution of the hidden divinity in the individual soul and the collective life. Otherwise we may simply come back to an old idea of individual and social living which had its greatness, but did not provide all the conditions of our perfection. That was the idea of a spiritualised typal society. It proceeded upon the supposition that each man has his own peculiar nature which is born from and reflects one element of the divine nature. The character of each individual, his ethical type, his training, his social occupation, his spiritual possibility must be formed or developed with the conditions of that peculiar element; the perfection he seeks in this life must be according to its law. The theory of ancient Indian culture, — its practice, as is the way of human practice, did not always correspond to the theory — worked upon this supposition. It divided man in society into the fourfold order — an at once spiritual, psychic, ethical and economic order — of the brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra, — practially, the spiritual and intellectual man, the dynamic man of will, the vital, hedonistic and economic man, the material man; the whole society organised in these four constituent classes represented the complete image of the creative and active Godhead.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 13, Reason and Religion, pp. 125-126