The limitations of the mental consciousness make it impossible for it to take up the full force of the spiritual consciousness and transform existence. The mind acts as something of a “step-down transformer” which reduces the direct power and action of the higher force to a level that can be managed easily by the body, life and mind, but in doing so, it compromises the intensity, directness and power of the spiritual consciousness. Primary limitations of the mind involve its incapacity to hold a comprehensive, global perspective and action, and its need to focus on one idea, aspect or direction at a time, to the exclusion of others. This breeds the kind of fixation on specific creeds, rituals, forms of worship and beliefs that have characterised humanity’s efforts to incorporate spiritual energy into life in the past. This narrowing and canalising effect is unduly restrictive of the freedom and larger harmonies of the spiritual consciousness, which thus cannot manifest in its native and manifold nature.
Sri Aurobindo explains: “The idea in mind seizing upon the central will in Spirit and trying to give this higher force a conscious orientation and method in accordance with the idas of the intellect is too limited, too darkened, too poor a force to work this miracle. Still less can it come if we chain the spirit to some fixed mental idea or system of religious cult, intellectual truth, aesthetic norm, ethical rule, practical action, way of vital and physical life, to a particular arrangement of forms and actions and declare all departure from that a peril and a disturbance or a deviation from spiritual living. That was the mistake made in Asia and the cause of its arrested development and decline; for this is to subject the higher to the lower principle and to bind down the self-disclosing Spirit to a provisional and imperfect compromise with mind and the vital nature. Man’s true freedom and perfection will come when the spirit within bursts through the forms of mind and life and, winging above to its own gnostic fiery height of ether, turns upon them from that light and flame to seize them and transform into its own image.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 22, The Necessity of the Spiritual Transformation, pp. 243-244