Dynamic Life-Force Is Necessary for Individual and Societal Development and Transformation

The opposition that arises between the vital life-energy and the higher influences and aspirations traditionally has led to the attempt to subjugate or suppress the life-energy for the sake of those higher goals.  Renunciation, Sannyasa, withdrawal from the active life for a life of prayer, meditation, contemplation or spiritual quest has been the major accepted pathway for higher development.  This came about because seekers of wisdom or spiritual realisation in the past recognised how difficult (if not virtually impossible it was) it would be to transform the life energy, purify it and guide it into appropriate channels for the higher development.   Short term, the suppression can create an enhanced dynamism, as when a spring is compressed and acquires substantial potential energy thereby to release when it is no longer being held back.  However, long-term, when the vital roots are stunted or suppressed, the individual and the society that has undertaken that route find they do not have the force necessary for ultimate accomplishment and they begin to wither and die.  This does not imply however, that the vital life force is simply to be permitted to enforce its desires as it likes.  A new paradigm for relation of the vital power to the higher aspirations must be created

Sri Aurobindo notes:  “… beyond a certain point it tends, not really to kill, for that is impossible, but to discourage along with the vital instincts the indispensable life-energy of which they are the play and renders them in the end inert, feeble, narrow, unelastic, incapable of energetic reaction to force and circumstance.  That was the final result in India of the agelong pressure of Buddhism and its supplanter and successor, Illusionism.  No society wholly or too persistently and pervadingly dominated by this denial of the life dynamism can flourish and put forth its possibilities of growth and perfection.  For from dynamic it becomes static and from the static position it proceeds to stagnation and degeneration.  Even the higher being of man, which finds its account in a vigorous life dynamism, both as a fund of force to be transmuted into its own loftier energies and as a potent channel of connection with the outer life, suffers in the end by this failure and contraction.  The ancient Indian ideal recognised this truth and divided life into four essential and indispenable divisions, artha, kama, dharma, moksha, vital interests, satisfaction of desires of all kinds, ethics and religion, and liberation or spirituality, and it insisted on the practice and development of all.  Still it tended not only to put the last forward as the goal of all the rest, which it is, but to put it at the end of life and its habitat in another world of our being, rather than here in life as a supreme status and formative power on the physical plane.  But this rules out the idea of the kingdom of God on earth, the perfectibility of society and of man in society, the evolution of a new and diviner race, and without one or other of these no universal ideal can be complete.  It provides a temporary and occasional, but not an inherent justification for life; it holds out no illumining fulfilment either for its individual or its collective impulse.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 16,  The Suprarational Ultimate of Life, pp. 163-164