We have a vision. We get inspired. We have a near death experience. We come back from the spiritual experience and we are sure it is meant to change our lives, as we suddenly have a whole new vista open up before us, a realm of truth, beauty, harmony, light. Then we come back into our normal external state of consciousness, still carrying some lingering memory of the experience, but now confronting all the normal day to day activities, relationships, difficulties and opportunities. Some people find the contradiction too much and opt either to try to forget about the spiritual experience they had and go on with their normal lives, while others may feel like they need to leave that life behind and concentrate purely on spiritual practice and seek liberation. Then we come to the path that Sri Aurobindo has marked out.

Sri Aurobindo calls for the transformation of the outer, external consciousness and its relationship to the outer world and its activities. There is no “cutting of the knot” by abandoning life, nor is the spiritual call simply denied or avoided. This implies that the spiritual force needs to not only create a momentary state of extraordinary awareness, but that it needs to be able to take up the actions of the mind, the life-energy and the body and bring them into harmony with the spiritual force.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “But in whatever way it comes, there must be a decision of the mind and the will and, as its result, a complete and effective self-consecration. The acceptance of a new spiritual idea-force and upward orientation in the being, an illumination, a turning or conversion seized on by the will and the heart’s aspiration, — this is the momentous act which contains as in a seed all the results that the Yoga has to give. The mere idea or intellectual seeking of something higher beyond, however strongly grasped by the mind’s interest, is ineffective unless it is seized on by the heart as the one thing desirable and by the will as the one thing to be done. For truth of the Spirit has not to be merely thought but to be lived, and to live it demands a unified single-mindedness of the being; so great a change as is contemplated by the Yoga is not to be effected by a divided will or by a small portion of the energy or by a hesitating mind. He who seeks the Divine must consecrate himself to God and to God only.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter II Awakening of Consciousness, pp. 17-18

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky 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.