Sri Aurobindo was unique among spiritual masters in taking the goal of spirituality further from individual salvation to making the world a place free from misery and suffering. Written by Dr. Ramesh Bijlani this article is the first in a series that celebrates the 150th birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo, which falls in 2022.
Sri Aurobindo stands out among spiritual masters as a seer who was also a thinker, a poet who was also pragmatic, and a visionary who gave the world a roadmap for centuries to come. But, above all, he was also a doctor who diagnosed the fundamental disease of the human race, went to the root of the malady, prescribed a remedy of radical cure, and worked to make it available.
The fundamental disease of the human race is sorrow. The root of the malady is ignorance. Man’s brilliant intellect is good only for playing with the foam on the surface, while the depths of the ocean remain beyond its reach. This is because, although compared to an animal’s mind, the human intellect is a major evolutionary advance. Man’s mental development is a mixed blessing. The flip side is that man is perhaps the only creature who has an urge to evolve and also the capacity to do so. And it is in this urge that lies the seed of the solution to human suffering and the possibility of the earth becoming heaven.
The mind gives a creature a certain consciousness or awareness. The average human consciousness is separative in nature. Therefore, it is natural for each individual to concentrate his attention on themself. The result is that those who are specially gifted in one way or the other are able to corner more than their share of resources, which leads to inequality. Further, because of the well-developed human intellect, it is possible to justify the inequality and frame rules that defend and perpetuate it. Thus, inequality leads to legalized injustice and consequent misery and suffering.
However, as a human being goes deeper than the intellect, he finds that the material universe, of which he is a part, is a manifestation of the Divine. The new awareness, or consciousness, is no longer separative or ego-driven but a consciousness of oneness. Oneness leads to love. Since the ego is rooted in separation, and love in oneness, love is the antidote for the typically ego-driven human personality. The shift from the sense of separation to the sense of oneness is a major leap in the evolution of consciousness. When the world has a significantly large number of individuals who have evolved to the level of being love-driven, the affairs of the world will be conducted from that higher plane of consciousness. That will be the ultimate solution to the sorrow and suffering that characterise human existence. Sri Aurobindo gave the assurance of such a radical change in human life and created an atmosphere on earth that would facilitate such a change.
To hasten the transformation of worldly life into life divine, we have to bring spirituality into daily life, using the principles of yoga. In order to bring spirituality into life, one does not have to go away to a mountain, a cave, or a forest. It can be brought into worldly life, which gives us more than enough opportunities for the practice of yoga. That is what Sri Aurobindo meant when he said, “All life is yoga.”
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