Much of the history of spirituality in the world is focused on achieving an inner, or subjective, realisation, and avoids addressing the outer life to any great degree. Most paths try to simplify the outer life. The intention is to avoid distractions that can take one away from the immense effort needed to achieve spiritual realisation or liberation.

Sri Aurobindo, however, puts the spiritual development in the context of the evolution of consciousness in the world, with the next stage beyond the mental evolution being the supramental stage. Thus, the spiritual path involves the transformation of all life on earth through the influence and action of a next higher power of consciousness. This power includes a global, or universal standpoint, which has both the knowledge and the capacity to bring about changes that go far beyond what the mind has been able to achieve. The mental evolution is characterized by very fragmented and separated developments which tend to have unintended consequences and only partial success due to various needs coming into conflict with one another. The supramental has a direct knowledge of the path, the goal, and the means of achieving it, and brings a comprehensive view that the mind cannot possibly achieve. Thus, it can solve concerns and issues that are intractable to the mental development we have utilized heretofore.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The supramental creation, since it is to be a creation upon earth, must be not only an inner change but a physical and external manifestation also. And it is precisely for this part of the work, the most difficult of all, that surrender is most needful; for this reason, that is is the actual descent of the supramental Divine into Matter and the working of the Divine Presence and Power there that can alone make the physical and external change possible. Even the most powerful self-assertion of human will and endeavour is impotent to bring it about; as for egoistic insistence and vital revolt, they are, so long as they last, insuperable obstacles to the descent. Only a calm, pure and surrendered physical consciousness, full of the psychic aspiration, can be its field; this alone can make an effective opening of the material being to the Light and Power and the supramental change a thing actual and practicable.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Supramental Transformation, pp. 229-237

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 editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.