It is a well-known occurrence. We have a wonderful experience in meditation and come back filled with light, a feeling of joy or bliss, an open heart and a sense of realisation. Then we go out to act in the world and all the old impulses arise, the feelings of desire, the drive of control, impulses of anger or lust, mental arrogance and an attempt to enforce our view on others, whatever it may be. Spiritual aspirants have taken this to mean that it is not really possible to change human nature, so they frequently ‘give up’ and simply try to achieve a form of liberation from the nature and let the mind-life-body complex go, either through suppression into a state of quiescence until the body dies, or else through a sense that none of this matters and they just let happen what may with a casual attitude of not caring.

Sri Aurobindo’s view on the matter is however that in the evolutionary process taking place in the world, eventually human nature, at all levels, can and must undergo a change process, and the higher consciousness can and shall carry out these changes to bring light and harmony and all the other elements of the higher consciousness into the mind, the life, and even the physical body. This becomes possible through a triple transformation, the psychic transformation, opening the heart and the inner being of aspiration; the spiritual transformation which opens to the higher levels of consciousness above the mind to widen and universalise the being; and the supramental transformation, which brings to bear the full Knowledge and Power of the next major evolutionary step in the development of consciousness, and its ability to change body-life-mind.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “Light of realisation is not the same thing as Descent. Realisation by itself does not necessarily transform the being as a whole; it may bring only an opening or heightening or widening of the consciousness at the top so as to realise something in the Purusha part without any radical change in the parts of Prakriti. One may have some light of realisation at the spiritual summit of the consciousness but the parts below remain what they were. I have seen any number of instances of that. There must be a descent of the light not merely into the mind or part of it but into all the being down to the physical and below before a real transformation can take place. A light in the mind may spiritualise or otherwise change the mind or part of it in one way or another, but it need not change the vital nature; a light in the vital may purify and enlarge the vital movements or else silence and immobilise the vital being, but leave the body and the physical consciousness as it was, or even leave it inert or shake its balance. And the descent of Light is not enough, it must be the descent of the whole higher consciousness, its Peace, Power, Knowledge, Love, Ananda. Moreover, the descent may be enough to liberate, but not to perfect, or it may be enough to make a great change in the inner being, while the outer remains an imperfect instrument, clumsy, sick or unexpressive. Finally, transformation effected by the sadhana cannot be complete unless it is a supramentalisation of the being. Psychicisation is not enough, it is only a beginning; spiritualisation and the descent of the higher consciousness is not enough, it is only a middle term; the ultimate achievement needs the action of the supramental Consciousness and Force. Something less than that may very well be considered enough by the individual, but it is not enough for the earth-consciousness to take the definitive stride forward it must take at one time or another.” Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Meaning of Transformation, pp. 201-203

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at
He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.