Humanity has tried countless ways to solve the existential questions and crises that we face living in the world around us and interacting with all other beings who share the space with us. Religion, law, social development, economic development, technology, and others have each had their chance to uplift human existence. Yet, we find that each attempt faces limitations that prove that the solution is not in these things. Human nature itself is found to have its weaknesses and limitations, and habitual modes of acting and reacting, and we find that as long as human nature has not changed, we remain essentially the same, facing the same problems, with ever-increasing risks and stakes involved as we enhance our technological capability to effect change in the outer world.
Sages and seers throughout history have counseled that nothing can really be effectively changed without a change in human nature. But how do we go about changing human nature? As long as we live in the surface consciousness of our body-life-mind complex, controlled through the ego-personality, we are bound to remain within the limitations of that formulation.
Sri Aurobindo provides a solution and a methodology for the change of human nature that is required. He explains that there is not only our outer surface being and personality, but also an inner being which is the true central force and guide of our life trajectory. When this inner being takes up an active role and begins to make itself felt in the outer being, an aspiration arises to transcend the limits of the outer life and the true spiritual quest begins. The essential step involves a triple transformation: the psychic transformation which puts the individual in touch with his soul and the soul’s aspiration and opens the inner being; the spiritual transformation which links the individual with the universal and transcendent aspects of existence and the oneness of all creation, and the supramental transformation which brings about the shift of standpoint that releases the higher levels of consciousness into action in the human instrument and the world with which we interact.
The psychic transformation brings forth the flame of aspiration and devotion, the contact with the inner psychology, the inner mind, vital and physical that are receptive to the pure action of the forces that operate at each of these levels or planes, and reduces or eliminates the role of the ego-personality so that it no longer can control the direction of the being’s development in life and in relation to the rest of the creation.
Sri Aurobindo writes: “It is equally important for those who want that union with the Divine without which the transformation is impossible. The aspiration could not be realised if you remained bound by your external self, tied to the physical mind and its petty movements. It is not the outer being which is the source of the spiritual urge; the outer being only undergoes the inner drive from behind the veil. it is the inner psychic being in you that is the bhakta, the seeker after the union and the Ananda, and what is impossible for the outer nature left to itself becomes perfectly possible when the barrier is down and the inner self in the front. For, the moment this comes strongly to the front or draws the consciousness powerfully into itself, peace, ecstasy, freedom, wideness, the opening to light and a higher knowledge begin to become natural, spontaneous, often immediate in their emergence.”
Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 7, Experiences and Realisations, The Inward Movement, pp. 174-179