Beyond the Need for a Moral and Ethical Standard of Living

We set rules for conduct and ethical behavior in relation to others in society to overcome the deficiencies caused by our focus on the fulfillment of desires centered around the aggrandisement of the ego at the expense of others or the greater needs of harmony in society.  We find it impossible to believe that people can live without such a framework to restrain their otherwise negative impacts.  When someone imagines such a scenario, as did Nietzsche, he posits some ego-superiority that gains the moral right to do whatever he pleases regardless of consequences to others.  Dostoevsky took up this theme in Crime and Punishment, where the protagonist Raskolnikov holds that the “superior” individual goes beyond morality and even murder can be condoned.

Sri Aurobindo indicates that there is a hidden truth to the idea of acting without the need of moral and ethical laws, but it is not based on the assertion of the ego of some kind of personal superiority, but on the evolution of the gnostic consciousness which partakes of the knowledge, wisdom and love that manifests the universal creation.  When one is aligned with the higher truth, the action automatically aligns itself to that greater harmony.  The fulfillment of the desires of the ego are then no longer involved in the choices and actions undertaken.  Until such time as the new level of consciousness has fully emerged the standards set up in man’s mental framework remain and provide a necessary restraint.

Sri Aurobindo observes in The Life Divine:  “… the law, the standard has to be imposed on us now because there is in our natural being an opposite force of separateness, a possibility of antagonism, a force of discord, ill-will, strife.  All ethics is a construction of good in a Nature which has been smitten with evil by the powers of darkness born of the Ignorance, even as it is expressed in the ancient legend of the Vedanta.  But where all is self-determined by truth of consciousness and truth of being, there can be no standard , no struggle to observe it, no virtue or merit, no sin or demerit of the nature.  The power of love, of truth, of right will be there, not as a law mentally constructed but as the very substance and constitution of the nature and, by the integration of the being, necessarily also the very stuff and constituting nature of the action.  To grow into this nature of our being, a nature of spiritual truth and oneness, is the liberation attained by an evolution of the spiritual being: the gnostic evolution gives us the complete dynamism of that return to ourselves.  Once that is done, the need of standards of virtue, dharmas, disappears; there is the law and self-order of the liberty of the spirit, there can be no imposed or constructed law of conduct, dharma.  All becomes a self-flow of spiritual self-nature, Swadharma of Swabhava.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Future Evolution of Man, Chapter Eight, The Gnostic Being, pp. 115-116

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