Of what possible value is the effort at mental, emotional, vital or physical progress to the soul if it cannot carry that progress forward into the next, and future lives. In his epic poem, Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol, Sri Aurobindo raises the issue: “But the oblivion that succeeds the fall, Had blotted the crowded tablets of the past, And all that was destroyed must be rebuilt And old experience laboured out once more.”

There are several points to consider. If one looks at the question solely from the viewpoint of an individual soul and its experience, for most cases there is a limited but real benefit to the soul as it has gathered the essence of the experience and the progress which can be a foundation for the next phase in the next lifetime. In rare instances, some of the actual progress or formations, if tightly bound to the psychic, can carry forward, but that is obviously not the usual circumstance. Yet, if we look at it from the standpoint of the larger universal creation, the progress clearly helps advance the general state of consciousness, and provides a new fertile basis for the soul to enter in its next birth that provides a systemic enhancement to the process, benefiting not just the individual soul, but the collective development.

It is generally not necessary for the soul to actually repeat over and over again its exact developmental steps and progress from life to life. Even if it is not carrying specific development on the mental, vital or physical level forward, it benefits from the general enhancement as well as from the essential experience and can use this as the basis for new upward effort and momentum.

A disciple asks: “If it is not the mind, vital or physical which take birth again but only the psychic being, then the vital or mental progress made before is of no value in another life?

The Mother answers: “It happens only to the extent the progress of these parts has brought them close to the psychic, that is, to the extent the progress lies in putting all the parts of the being successively under the psychic influence. For all that is under the psychic influence and identified with the psychic continues, and it is that alone which continues. But if the psychic is made the centre of one’s life and consciousness, and if the whole being is organised around it, the whole being passes under the psychic influence, becomes united with it, and can continue — if it is necessary for it to continue.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter VIII The Psychic Being and Inner Growth, pg. 159

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.