The Viewpoints of the Monk and the Ascetic Cannot Act as a Guide for Living

Every aspect of human life calls specific individuals to the quest, and the spiritual aspiration is not excluded.  Those who are called to a spiritual life, who feel the intense need for achieving Oneness with the Eternal, who feel an intense devotion that wells up in them, or that want to explore the process for changing the standpoint of vision and action, are the spiritual researchers who explore paths less traveled by humanity, but which are nevertheless important directions for exploration.

At the same time, it is important to note that these individuals, who may achieve substantial breakthroughs in their quest, who may achieve liberation from the mundane life of the rest of humanity, are not intended to provide a template or model for the rest of humanity to follow, but are there to show what the possibilities are, and expand the range of human capacity in new directions.

When we once recognise that the significance of life is not to “escape” but to “fulfill” the manifestation, and that the world is real, not an illusion, it becomes obvious that a new, integral perspective, incorporating both spiritual vision and consciousness on the one hand, and perfection of the powers of the individual and the relationships of the individuals to their society, to the environment and other beings, and to the planet, is the path for the solution to the riddle of life.

Sri Aurobindo notes in The Human Cycle, “The world-shunning monk, the mere ascetic may indeed well find by this turn his own individual and peculiar salvation, the spiritual recompense of his renunciation and tapasya, as the materialist may find by his own exclusive method the appropriate rewards of his energy and concentrated seeking; but neither can be the true guide of mankind and its law-giver.  The monastic attitude implies a fear, an aversion, a distrust of life and its aspirations, and one cannot wisely guide that with which one is entirely out of sympathy, that which one wishes to minimise and discourage.  The sheer ascetic spirit, if it directed life and human society, could only prepare it to be a mans for denying itself and getting away from its own motives.  An ascetic guidance might tolerate the lower activities, but only with a view to persuade them in the end of minimise and finally cease from their own action.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Future Evolution of Man, Chapter Three, The Present Evolutionary Crisis, pg. 27

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