Sri Aurobindo & Me

Casey Williams

Most philosophers study and focus on concepts that revolve around the mind without the body, and stress the importance of strengthening it as much as you can to become one with yourself and your surroundings. Sri Aurobindo thinks a bit differently in this regard; one of his most prominent theories is the idea that one must connect deeply with their physical body as well as their mind, and attempt to attain bodily perfection through good health and care. He believes that humanity is meant to evolve even further than the state we see upon us today. He says we will eventually reach perfection, in that we will also gain what he calls “Truth-Consciousness.”

Not only has Sri Aurobindo been able to summarize and keep intact almost all of the previous teachings of the other eastern philosophers we have studied in this class, but he has finally brought the last pieces to fruition. His inclusion of the treatment and importance of the body really ties everything together. When you think about it, why would we ever just completely disregard the body’s importance? How could it possibly be just a meaningless vessel for the spirit? I can say that I truly believe, with all of the remarkable achievements we have brought forth to this world, with our own bodies, that they hold a substantial significance in our earthly lives. One of my favorite quotes from the Sri Aurobindo reading states, “…what we call genius is part of the development of the human range of being and its achievements, especially in things of the mind and will, can carry us halfway to the divine” (252). Here, it seems as though Sri Aurobindo is saying that every human being is capable of being “genius,” yet most all of us have not allowed ourselves to focus on the practice of reaching this perfection of the body and the mind. Those who we consider to be “genius,” have done so already, or at least gotten closer to it. I believe the ideology that we are all capable of this deep connection.

Aurobindo stresses that the body must go through an awakening of its consciousness, and an education of all of its capabilities in order to achieve this perfection. There are obviously numerous ways in which we can help our bodies reach this, including various physical sports, activities, and practices. One that I have found to be one of the most attractive and effective, is the act of dancing. Personally, I have found an unsurprisingly artistic way of connecting with my body; I have found that dancing as a hobby has given me a newfound peace and form of bodily meditation. Dancing has helped me to connect with my body in a way I never thought was possible. It has helped me to release my stress on countless occasions where I’d felt overwhelmed with emotions I did not know how to properly deal with. When I dance I not only connect with my own spirit, but I am invited to connect with the spirits of those around me as well; as they say, dance is absolutely a universal language. I have danced with strangers, people who spoke different first languages than myself, loved ones, and teachers. Every time I have ever danced freely with any of these types of human beings, I have found myself drowning in the overwhelming feelings of love and humanity. We are primal yet beautiful creatures who have long forgotten the most important aspect of our existence: that we are all just one endless and connective consciousness.

One thing Sri Aurobindo rightfully mentions, is the fact that the human body does have limitations which cannot be exceeded and that they do halt us from achieving perfection in our lives. Though these limitations do not define us, we are not superheroes…or at least not yet, according to Sri Aurobindo. He says, “Wherever limitations recede and in proportion as they recede, the body becomes a more plastic and responsive and, in that measure, a more fit and perfect instrument of the action of the spirit. In all effective and expressive activities, here in the material world the cooperation of the two ends of our being is indispensable” (254). He believes that the more we are able to push past our limitations or find ways around them, the more fit we are to house our spirits and reach an equilibrium within ourselves. When this is done, we will be able to move forward and become a more effective and resilient race of beings. Although I find this belief difficult to get behind, I do understand Sri Aurobindo’s thought process, and I find my optimistic and pessimistic sides clashing. I want the human race to be able to evolve into a wiser and even more intelligent race, but I do have doubts due to our history and seemingly constant need for a conflict amongst ourselves.

Another important perspective of Sri Aurobindo is the one he has about our use of the earth’s energy and our primal instincts constantly causing us to struggle over this body perfection. He states, “In fact we do, however unconsciously, draw constantly upon the universal energy, the force in Matter to replenish our material existence and the mental, vital, and other potencies in the body: we do it directly in the invisible processes of interchange constantly kept up by Nature, and by special means devised by her; breathing is one of these, sleep also, and repose” (262). He suggests that we, as human beings, tend to take advantage of all of the earth’s energy that we absorb without even realizing it. He says that even sleeping and breathing are gifts given to us in the form of energy by the earth which we don’t even account for. If we could learn to appreciate and harness all of the energies that are given to and made accessible to us by the earth, this could help us tremendously in the pursuit of human perfection.

In conclusion, parts of me do not agree with Sri Aurobindo calling this act or level of evolution “perfection,” but I do understand and I am thoroughly intrigued by the concept. I think human beings are capable of so much more than we think, and that we even have the capabilities necessary to save the planet as a whole. Unfortunately, I think by the time an act of saving is necessary, we will only use our power to save ourselves. Humans are selfish in nature and I believe that to be true. I do still have what many people have already let go of though: hope. Will we become superheroes, and is that even possible? That, I don’t know. Are we able to change the world for the betterment of ourselves and the universe? Absolutely.

Casey Williams is a Professional Music major at Berklee College of Music. He enjoys literature and philosophy classes and working on academic and extracurricular projects as he continues to develop skills in creative thinking, writing, and communication.
Featured Artwork: Onearmer [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]