A Spiritualised Society Is Created by Spiritualised Individuals

There is a debate about how social change takes place.  There are those who hold that by making macro-level changes in the “machinery” of society, the behavior of individuals is changed.  This camp believes in education, changes in the economic model, and manipulation of media and other forms of communication to effect changes.  Another viewpoint is that changes begin with the individual and through the increasing force of adoption by individuals, society begins to change.  There is a level of truth to each of these viewpoints; yet, the changes wrought by societal-level implementation tend to be more external and are enforced by external means.  There is no deep or necessary transformation of individual thought or feeling, Eventually, suppressed ideas or responses begin to reassert themselves.  This makes progress both temporary and somewhat illusory, as the basic character of the human beings constituting the society remains mostly unchanged.  Deeper change requires individual acceptance.  If a society is going to evolve, there must be evolution on the part of its constituent members.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “This, as the subjective religions recognise, can only be brought about by an individual change in each human life.  The collective soul is there only as a great half-subconscient source of the individual existence; if it is to take on a definite psychological form or a new kind of collective life, that can only come by the shaping growth of its individuals.  As will be the spirit and life of the individuals constituting it, so will be the realised spirit of the collectivity and the true power of its life.  A society that lives not by its men but by its institutions, is not a collective soul, but a machine; its life becomes a mechanical product and ceases to be a living growth.  Therefore the coming of a spiritual age must be preceded by the appearance of an increasing number of individuals who are no longer satisfied with the normal intellectual, vital and physical existence of man, but perceive that a greater evolution is the real goal of humanity and attempt to effect it in themselves, to lead others to it and to make it the recognised goal of the race.  In proportion as they succeed and to the degree to which they carry this evolution, the yet unrealised potentiality which they represent will become an actual possibility of the future.”


Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 24, The Advent and Progress of the Spiritual Age, pg. 263

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