Characteristics of the Evolutionary Individual

In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna asks Sri Krishna to describe the individual who is united in yoga with the Divine.  How does he sit, how does he speak, how does he walk, ask Arjuna.  Sri Krishna replies that there are not specific outer forms or signs, but rather, an inner consciousness that defines the yogi.  When we consider all of the imperfections of the life and the society around us in the world, there are several impulses which arise.  One is to try to change it, and this generally starts with the idea of a new political philosophy, a new religious direction, a new economic ordering of the world.  Another is to abandon it in favor of individual salvation, which leads to the ascetic renunciation and the cave, the desert or the monastery.  For a transformative spiritual change to take place in society, it soon becomes clear that neither of these approaches will succeed.  What is needed is a new, integral standpoint that recognises the need for inner transformation as the basis for outer change, and which recognises the need to apply this inner growth to the functioning of society and the relations of human beings with one another, with their environment and with the interactive life that participates in and shares that environment in a symbiotic, comprehensive manner with us.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “… the individuals who will most help the future of humanity in the new age will be those who will recognise a spiritual evolution as the destiny and therefore the great need of the human being. … They will be comparatively indifferent to particular belief and form and leave men to resort to the beliefs and forms to which they are naturally drawn.  They will only hold as essential the faith in this spiritual conversion, the attempt to live it out and whatever knowledge — the form of opinion into which it is thrown does not so much matter — can be converted into this living.  They will especially not make the mistake of thinking that this change can be effected by machinery and outward institutions; they will know and never forget that it has to be lived out by each man inwardly or it can never be made a reality for the kind.  They will adopt in its heart of meaning the inward view of the East which bids man seek the secret of his destiny and salvation within; but also they will accept, though with a different turn given to it, the importance which the West rightly attaches to life and to the making the best we know and can attain the general rule of all life.  … They will not accept the theory that the many must necessarily remain for ever on the lower ranges of life and only a few climb into the free air and the light, but will start from the standpoint of the great spirits who have striven to regenerate the life of the earth and held that faith in spite of all previous failure.  Failures must be originally numerous in everything great and difficult, but the time comes when the experience of past failures can be profitably used and the gate that so long resisted opens. … A true beginning has to be made; the rest is a work for Time in its sudden achievements or its long patient labour.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 24, The Advent and Progress of the Spiritual Age, pp. 265-266

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