Personal growth and inner growth, the enhancement of the human being and its capabilities and the transcendence of the human being to develop a being awake and active with a new level of consciousness, are not in conflict with one another. The human being must develop to a certain degree to truly effectuate the necessities for transcendence. At the same time, in the integral yoga, where the purpose is not abandonment of life, but the transformation of life, the two processes actually go hand in hand and complement one another.

Dr. Dalal observes: “The difference, from the viewpoint of yoga, between personal growth and inner growth may be re-stated in somewhat different words thus: personal growth consists in the development of the individual as a human being, whereas inner growth, which is the aim of yoga, lies in transforming and transcending the human state of consciousness.”

Sri Aurobindo writes: “… yoga is not perfection of the human nature as it is but a psychic and spiritual transformation of all the parts of the being through the action of an inner consciousness and then of a higher consciousness which works on them, throws out their old movements or changes them into the image of its own and so transmutes lower into higher nature. It is not so much the perfection of the intellect as a transcendence of it, a transformation of the mind, the substitution of a larger greater principle of knowledge — and so with all the rest of the being.”

The Mother adds: “The higher perfection is the spiritual perfection, integral union with the Divine, identification with the Divine, freedom from all the limitations of the lower world. That is spiritual perfection, the perfection that comes from yoga….”

“And the lower perfection is to be able to make the human being in his present form and in his body, in his relation with all terrestrial things, do the utmost he can. This is the case of all great men of genius: artistic genius, literary genius, genius in organisation, the great rulers, those who have carried physical capacities to their maximum perfection, human development to the limit of its possibilities…. And from every point of view: from the point of view of physical strength, of intellectual realisation, of the physical qualities of energy and courage, of disinterestedness, goodness, charity; all human qualities carried to their utmost limits. That is the lower perfection.”

Dr. Dalal concludes: “An important point to note in the above-quoted passage is that even moral development — which is often confused with spirituality — is part of growth that belongs to the human state; it does not constitute inner growth which aims at a state of the being beyond the human ego-bound state.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Introduction, pp.ix-xi

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 17 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.