A Spiritual View of Human Existence

The mental consciousness tries to analyze and separate everything into distinct and separate elements, and therefore, when we rely on that consciousness we try to distinguish the spiritual from the temporal, the life in the world from the life ‘hereafter’.  We treat the physical body, the vital drives and the mental propensities as something foreign to the spiritual principle and we must then choose between ‘being spiritual’ or ‘living a life in the world’.  This has been the pattern for most of human existence.  Sri Aurobindo takes a different view of the relation of spirit to matter, and of spiritual life to worldly life.  He does not reject the capacities of body, life and mind as contrary to the spirit, but rather, integrates them into a holistic approach to spirituality.

“The true and full spiritual aim in society will regard man not as a mind, a life and a body, but as a soul incarnated for a divine fulfilment upon earth, not only in heavens beyond, which after all it need not have left if it had no divine business here in the world of physical, vital and mental nature.  It will therefore regard the life, mind and body neither as ends in themselves, sufficient for their own satisfaction, nor as mortal members full of disease which have only to be dropped off for the rescued spirit to flee away into its own pure regions, but as first instruments of the soul, the yet imperfect instruments of an unseized divine purpose.  It will believe in their destiny and help them to believe in themselves, but for that very reason in their highest and not only in their lowest or lower possibilities.  Their destiny will be, in its view, to spiritualise themselves so as to grow into visible members of the spirit, lucid means of its manifestation, themselves spiritual, illumined, more and more conscious and perfect.  For, accepting the truth of man’s soul as a thing entirely divine in its essence, it will accept also the possibility of his whole being becoming divine in spite of Nature’s first patent contradictions of this possibility, her darkened denials of this ultimate certitude, and even with these as a necessary earthly starting-point.  And as it will regard man the individual, it will regard too man the collectivity as a soul-form of the Infinite, a collective soul myriadly embodied upon earth for a fuller divine fulfilment in its manifold relations and its multitudinous activities.  Therefore it will hold sacred all the different parts of man’s life which correspond to the parts of his being, all his physical, vital, dynamic, emotional, aesthetic, ethical, intellectual, psychic evolution, and see in them instruments for a growth towards a diviner living.  It will regard every human society, nation, people or other organic aggregate from the same standpoint, sub-souls, as it were, means of a complex manifestation and self-fulfilment of the Spirit, the divine Reality, the conscious Infinite in man upon earth.  The possible godhead of man because he is inwardly of one being with God will be its one solitary creed and dogma.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 21, The Spiritual Aim and Life, pp. 227-228

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