In these five related essays, Sri Aurobindo affirms the importance of ideals for the progress of humanity. He also examines the Eastern and Western conceptions of progress and concludes that the problem facing man is to find the means and motives by which his external life and his society may be progressively remoulded in the truth of the spirit and move towards the utmost possible harmony of individual freedom and social unity.
“Ideals are truths that have not yet effected themselves for man, the realities of a higher plane of existence which have yet to fulfil themselves on this lower plane of life and matter, our present field of operation. To the pragmatic intellect which takes its stand upon the ever-changing present, ideals are not truths, not realities, they are at most potentialities of future truth and only become real when they are visible in the external fact as work of force accomplished. But to the mind which is able to draw back from the flux of force in the material universe, to the consciousness which is not imprisoned in its own workings or carried along in their flood but is able to envelop, hold and comprehend them, to the soul that is not merely the subject and instrument of the world-force but can reflect something of that Master-Consciousness which controls and uses it, the ideal present to its inner vision is a greater reality than the changing fact obvious to its outer senses. The Idea is not a reflection of the external fact which it so much exceeds; rather the fact is only a partial reflection of the Idea which has created it.”
Sri Aurobindo, “On Ideals and Progress”, Ideal and Progress
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