The secret of human life lies in the realisation that man needs to seek his highest development and perfection, which is an integration of the spirit into all aspects of life. The modern world is a testament to the near exclusive focus of the mental capacities on the understanding and exploitation of the physical and vital principles of life, yet we can easily observe the weaknesses and failures of this approach as we look around at the situation the world is facing. The ancient cultures of the East came nearer to unlocking the secret but did so primarily in the context of disassociating the spirit from the aspects of matter, life and mind. Thus, in the West we find an over-arching emphasis on material development and in the East, a culture that has understood some of the deeper issues of the spirit, but has sadly failed to integrate this into life. We see here the normal human reactions of exclusive concentration that has failed at integrating and balancing diverse elements of human capacity. The solution is to be found in just such an integrated and balanced approach that places the spirit as the lead, while upholding and upgrading the powers of body, mind and vital force to serve the highest aspirations of which humanity is capable.
Sri Aurobindo advises: “We have then to return to the pursuit of an ancient secret which man, as a race, has seen only obscurely and followed after lamely … the ideal of the kingdom of God, the secret of the reign of the Spirit over mind and life and body. It is because they have never quite lost hold of this secret, never disowned it in impatience for a lesser victory, that the older Asiatic nations have survived so persistently and can now, as if immortal, raise their faces towards a new dawn; for they have fallen asleep, but they have not perished. It is true that they have for a time failed in life, where the European nations who trusted to the flesh and the intellect have succeeded; but that success, speciously complete but only for a time, has always turned into a catastrophe. Still Asia has failed in life, she had fallen in the dust … still the dust is not the proper place for man, nor is to lie prostrate in it his right human attitude. Asia temporarily failed not because she followed after things spiritual … but because she did not follow after the spirit sufficiently, did not learn how entirely to make it the master of life. Her mind either made a gulf and a division between life and the Spirit or else rested in a compromise between them and accepted as final socio-religious systems founded upon that compromise. So to rest is perilous; for the call of the Spirit more than any other demands that we shall follow it always to the end, and the end is neither a divorce and departure nor a compromise, but a conquest of all by the spirit and that reign of the seekers after perfection which, in the Hindu religious symbol, the last Avatar comes to accomplish.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 22, The Necessity of the Spiritual Transformation, pp. 239-240