What Does Sri Aurobindo Mean by Transformation of the Nature?

In setting forth a goal of transformation of the nature through the advent of the spiritual consciousness and the supramental level, Sri Aurobindo goes beyond the goals of other traditional spiritual paths which have ‘liberation’ as the goal. He describes the impact of each new manifestation of consciousness as representing a radical change that affects the preceding levels. This occurred with the advent of the vital life-force in a world of physical matter, and can be seen also in the advent of mind in a world of life and matter. The manifestation of the supramental consciousness, which implies the shifting of the standpoint from that of the individual ego-personality to the universal Oneness of the cosmic consciousness, is another radical shift which will utterly change and transform the nature of life in the world of mind-life-matter. If we reflect on the extent and nature of the changes that occurred at any of the prior developments, we can extrapolate an even greater impact with the advent of the spiritual consciousness through the action of the supermind. Taking awareness from one of ultimate fragmentation to one of ultimate integration of oneness will have a profound, and, yes, transformative effect.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “‘Transformation’ is a word that I have brought in myself (like ‘supermind’) to express certain spiritual concepts and spiritual facts of the integral yoga. People are now taking them up and using them in senses which have nothing to do with the significance which I put into them. Purification of the nature by the ‘influence’ of the Spirit is not what I mean by transformation; purification is only part of a psychic change or a psycho-spiritual change — the word besides has many senses and is very often given a moral or ethical meaning which is foreign to my purpose. What I mean by the spiritual transformation is something dynamic (not merely liberation of the Self or realisation of the One which can very well be attained without any descent). It is a putting on of the spiritual consciousness, dynamic as well as static, in every part of the being down to the subconscient. That cannot be done by the influence of the Self leaving the consciousness fundamentally as it is with only purification, enlightenment of the mind and heart and quiescence of the vital. It means a bringing down of the Divine Consciousness static and dynamic into all these parts and the entire replacement of the present consciousness by that. This we find unveiled and unmixed above mind, life and body. It is a matter of the undeniable experience of many that this can descend and it is my experience that nothing short of its full descent can thoroughly remove the veil and mixture and effect the full spiritual transformation. No metaphysical or logical reasoning in the void as to what the Atman ‘must’ do or can do or needs or needs not to do is relevant here or of any value. I may add that transformation is not the central object of other paths as it is of this yoga — only so much purification and change is demanded by them as will lead to liberation and the beyond-life. The influence of the Atman can no doubt do that — a full descent of the new consciousness into the whole nature from top to bottom to transform life here is not needed at all for the spiritual escape from life.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Spiritual Transformation, pp. 209-229

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