The Progress of Humanity as a Collective Society Is Not the Ultimate Goal of Human Existence

Unrestrained egoism, which does not take into account the needs of the rest of the individuals in the society, or the society itself, is clearly not the solution for creating a life of harmony and progress in line with the goals and aspirations embedded within us.  At the same time, the idea of subordinating the individual entirely to the collectivity is also not an ultimate answer.  Human beings are not intended to repeat the experiment of Nature we observe in the ant or the bee, where the life and success of the colony is the one observable purpose, and in which each individual exists solely to serve the greater whole.

In The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo observes:  “A rational and scientific formula of the vitalistic and materialistic human being and his life, a search for a perfected economic society and the democratic cultus of the average man are all that the modern mind presents us in this crisis as a light for its solution.  Whatever the truth supporting these ideas, this is clearly not enough to meet the need of a humanity which is missioned to evolve beyond itself or, at any rate, if it is to live, must evolve far beyond anything that it at present is.  A life-instinct in the race and in the average man himself has felt the inadequacy and has been driving towards a reversal of values or a discovery of new values and a transfer of life to a new foundation.  This has taken the form of an attempt to find a simple and ready-made basis of unity, mutuality, harmony for the common life, to enforce it by a suppression of the competitive clash of egos and so to arrive at a life of identity for the community in place of a life of difference.  But to realise these desirable ends the means adopted have been the forcible and successful materialisation of a few restricted ideas or slogans enthroned to the exclusion of all other thought, the suppression of the mind of the individual, a mechanised compression of the elements of life, a mechanised unity and drive of the life-force, a coercion of man by the State, the substitution of the communal for the individual ego.  The communal ego is idealised as the soul of the nation, the race, the community; but this is a colossal and may turn out to be a fatal error.  A forced and imposed unanimity of mind, life, action raised to their highest tension under the drive of something which is thought to be greater, the collective soul, the collective life, is the formula found.  But this obscure collective being is not the soul or self of the community; it is a life-force that rises from the subconscient and, if denied the light of guidance by the reason, can be driven only by dark massive forces which are powerful but dangerous for the race because they are alient to the conscious evolution of which man is the trustee and bearer.  It is not in this direction that evolutionary Nature has pointed mankind; this is a reversion towards something that she had left behind her.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Future Evolution of Man, Chapter Three, The Present Evolutionary Crisis, pp. 34-35

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