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Spiritualized Society


Society, as we know it today, deals with man’s physical, vital and mental needs. It
seeks to make hasty adjustments to new discoveries in the physical sciences, ever
growing economic needs in gigantic economies and evolving aesthetic, ethical and
moral requirements. Most of these adjustments are merely knee jerk reactions aimed
at somehow keeping society integrated or at least presenting a façade of integration.
A closer look would reveal many cracks in the structure, always in danger of taking it
down. The more we put artificial solutions into place the more the problems we seem
to create.
‘Civilization’ or what passes for civilization, is constantly in danger from ever
increasing calamities. Even nature seems to have deserted us because we have
toyed too much with her. Efforts have been made and are being made to save
society by acknowledging man’s emotional and religious needs. But these have not
and are not providing any long term succor from all that ails our civilization. The
options available to us maybe to continue along the same road, as we are inclined to
do, and reach the natural conclusion, which may well be a dead end. Or to go back
to an older, and by now obsolete order, which may prove a practical impossibility. So
where should we go from here?
Sri Aurobindo suggests that the way forward might be to acknowledge a core
element of which the physical, vital and mental are derivatives – the soul. The soul
in man, and through him in all his systems, is the true Being. The finding of this Self
may be able to provide man with the incentive he needs, to continue progressively
on his journey. It is a worthy aim to work towards and with such an end in sight, he
may be more inclined to redefine and refurbish the means along the way.

The Soul

In his theory of Involution Sri Aurobindo states that the Divine Being of Existence,
Consciousness and Bliss is present in all Matter, including man. This is because the
’Supreme Reality’ contained the seed of dynamism within itself and by a process of
self concentration created a pattern of ‘harmonious multiplicity’. [ Nolini Kant Gupta]
In doing so the One retained all its qualities and each of the Many also retained all
the qualities of the One. The receptacle of these qualities in man is his Spirit soul.
The Light resides within each one of us waiting to be rediscovered by a process of
The solution to humanity’s problems therefore lies in turning inward ‘….for by that
turning it may discover that the real truth of man is to be found in his soul.’[ CWSA,
vol 25, p-224] Religion has always treated the pursuit of the Self as a solitary
pursuit, and the earthly trappings of the physical, vital and mental life of man, as
cumbersome. Sri Aurobindo on the contrary believes that the Divine fulfillment of the
soul lies in the here and now, because if it had no evolutionary purpose, it would not
be here at all. We must therefore regard the physical, vital and mental as the first,
albeit imperfect, ‘instruments of the soul’.


‘The spiritual life,……………, proceeds directly by a change of consciousness, a change

from the ordinary consciousness, ignorant and separated from its true self and from
God, to a greater consciousness in which one finds one’s true being and comes first
into direct and living contact and then into union with the Divine.’ [Letters on Yoga,
SABCL, vol 22, p-137]
The change in consciousness is a direct consequence of a self finding. The Spirit
then becomes the secure base from which man can grow and flourish as a spiritual
being. This is not easy because man, inherently a dual being, is always subject to
two kinds of forces. The first is the pull of his lower, impulse dominated nature,
grounded in his physical and vital existence. The other is his self conscious,
intelligent, ethical, aesthetic higher nature, capable of enlightened will and divine
action. It is his inability to reconcile these two into a harmonious whole that is the
source of all his dissatisfaction and pessimism.
The spiritual ideal – the supremacy of the Spirit over mind, life and body - may
appear in the present context, as an impossible ideal. And it is also important to
remember that half measures do not work. The leap of faith required, to hand over
the power over life to an unseen power, is probably the most revolutionary step for
mankind to take. But the risk may be worth it, because it is better to strive towards
perfection than to settle for a dangerous mediocrity.
Spirituality then is man’s innermost self, a secret, yet in all respects his true nature.
It begins with a mental idea but the mind has to yield to it eventually, just like the
physical and vital. It cannot coexist with the ego and its experience is a universality
and Oneness. In principle, it requires complete honesty and in return bestows true
freedom. This freedom is the result of a conscious awareness and allegiance to a
Force, it recognizes as the creator of all that is. It is in no way torpid because it does
not depend on outward appearances. On the contrary it enjoys an infinite variety of
perfection because it looks for the Spirit in everything.

Spiritualized Man

The individual is always the harbinger of any change, and from an individual or
individuals it permeates to society. If one were to look at the current state of man’s
being one could safely say, that he has managed to keep the aesthetic, ethical and
intellectual side of his nature alive and let the dichotomy between that, and his
physical and vital existence be the cause of a perpetual discontent. There have been
forerunners and enlightened individuals who have led completely ethical and truthful
lives, putting the Supreme will in charge of their lives. But from a spiritual standpoint
their lives have still been a compromise. This is because they have either completely
ignored the physical and vital or allowed them to exist on the side, apologetically.
This is an ‘imperfect awakening’ at best.
The spiritual man is a soul in whom the Self and Spirit work consciously to awaken
the mentality, which in turn spiritualizes the vital, the physical and all other aspects
as well. Spirituality, for him, is not just an ideal followed by the mind, but a way of
life accepted by the heart. The central will in his life ceases to be his mind and
intellect, although this may be quite satisfactory to the ordinary man. After all it is
much easier to be a realist than an idealist and hand over the reins of life to a
nebulous ideal. Sri Aurobindo suggests that the way out then, may be to convert
idealism into a ‘spiritual realism’. The ‘….. upward transference of our will to be and
our power of life we have, then, to make the very principle of our perfection.’
[CWSA, vol 25, p-242]
The law of the spirit draws spontaneous, yet conscious obedience from the spiritual
man. Like the normal man he grows, but into the power of the Spirit. Like the normal
man he possesses, but his possessions are universal and can never be taken away.
Like the normal man he enjoys, but his enjoyment is of the spirit in everything. His
growth, acquisitions and enjoyment are limitless because they are not dependent on
the external restrictions of the ego.
The spiritual man has no need for a fixed creed or religion. Although he respects all
these he chooses not to subscribe to any readymade philosophy, and chooses
instead to grow into the truth of his own nature. He concerns himself with all aspects
of life and seeks to convert them into the way of the Spirit. His real concern is the
transformation of his life here on earth instead of the delayed gratification of a berth
in heaven after his passing. Nothing is too great or too small for him and his
endeavor is always to be aware of the Spirit in the task or form. He recognizes
‘spiritual evolution’ as man’s destiny and helps prepare the ground for this Self
finding in all his fellow men.

Spiritualized Society

The rediscovery of the soul, the true meaning of spirituality and the spiritualized
man, by progression lead to a spiritualized society. Although awareness in a
collective is always a somewhat delayed and meandering process, it must be hoped
that a good start and time will eventually make it a reality. If the ideal is a
regeneration of life on earth in its entirety, then all classes and masses must be a
part of the process and the beneficiaries of its blessings. ‘This endeavour will be a
supreme and difficult labour even for the individual, but much more for the race. It
may well be that, once started, it may not advance rapidly even to its first decisive
stage; it may be that it will take long centuries of effort to come into some kind of
permanent birth.’[ CWSA, vol 25, p-267]
A spiritualized society will recognize no restrictions on man’s freedom, except those
of the Spirit. And these he will place on himself, voluntarily. All systems will reveal
this inner freedom, which because of an absence of ego, will help to create a perfect
human order. A mind higher than the normal rational, intellectual mentality, will
illuminate and alchemize the workings of the vital and physical world. Love and
brotherhood, born of the soul and not the heart, will provide a secure foundation for
the growth of all. Paradoxically a spiritual camaraderie born out of the disappearance
of the ego will lead to the emergence of true individuality in man and his institutions.
The crown of a spiritualized society is its recognition of Oneness in diversity.
A spiritualized society will stimulate the habits of sympathy and helpfulness, thus
providing the necessary support for individuals and collectives. Society, so far has
addressed only man’s lower nature by telling him what to do and what not to do. The
result has been an astonishing amount of laws and conventions that still do not cover
everything that can go wrong. In a spiritually aware society there will be no need to
impose arbitrary laws or codes of conduct. All customs and conventions will be
followed as a natural offshoot of each one’s concern for another.
True freedom and liberty are the hallmarks of a spiritual society. The ascendance of
the Spirit does not imply any restrictions or coercion for science or reason. Just as
man will live according to his Dharma they will exist according to theirs. If in the end
their paths join up with the Spirit as well, which is most likely, it must be a voluntary
joining. The same holds true for all disciplines. All institutions that have grown
organically from man will be regarded as ‘sub-souls’ also meant for the self
fulfillment of the Spirit here on earth.
Man’s current obsession with prolonging life in the physical body and immortality,
will have no relevance in a spiritualized society. For the soul that man lives by, is
already immortal. The religious machinery of a normal society will be redundant in a
spiritual society because its promise of a closer connection with God, will have
already been fulfilled individually, by all. There will be no division between life and
Spirit and hence no need to escape from life to find the Spirit. Life, and every aspect
of it will be considered sacred, and a way to a diviner living here on earth.

Sri Aurobindo believes, that, which is currently abnormal to man’s mind, is probably
most natural to him. This means we are capable of stepping out once and for all from
the vicious cycle we seem to have got ourselves into. In order to do so we need to
make a huge effort to believe in ourselves, to let go of our cynicism and to place our
trust in something we cannot see clearly at present. Maybe this will be our final