The One Thing Needful

Humanity has recognised and addressed the spiritual aspect of life in the past, but always within the context of some form of compromise.  Either the outer life has been suppressed in order to achieve some kind of high spiritual realisation; or the outer life has been embellished with an influence of the spiritual life, while underlying both of these approaches to the Spirit, the basic actions of body, life and mind remain essentially unchanged.  What Sri Aurobindo has recognized and brought forward is the need to utterly transform life, at all levels, through a complete integration of the spiritual force into all aspects of our existence.

“As it is possible to superimpose the intellectual, ethical or aesthetic life or the sum of their motives upon the vital and physical nature, to be satisfied with a partial domination or a compromise, so it is possible to superimpose the spiritual life or some figure of strength or ascendency of spiritual ideas and motives on the mental, vital and physical nature and either to impoverish the latter, to impoverish the vital and physical existence and even to depress the mental as well in order to give the spiritual an easier domination, or else to make a compromise and leave the lower being to its pasture on condition of its doing frequent homage to the spiritual existence, admitting to a certain extent, greater or less, its influence and formally acknowledging it as the last state and the finality of the human being.  This is the most that human society has ever done in the past, and though necessarily that must be a stage of the journey, to rest there is to miss the heart of the matter, the one thing needful.  Not a humanity leading its ordinary life, what is now its normal round, touched by spiritual influences, but a humanity aspiring whole-heartedly to a law that is now abnormal to it until its whole life has been elevated into spirituality, is the steep way that lies before man towards his perfection and the transformation that it has to achieve.”



Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 22, The Necessity of the Spiritual Transformation, pp. 240-241


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