We were discussing so far the various aspects of the spiritual psychology and yoga of the Vedas. What is the relevance of the Vedic spiritual ethos to the future of religion and spirituality? This series of article examines this question in a psychological and evolutionary perspective.
The Significance of Vedic Spirituality
The future of spirituality is moving towards something beyond the spirit of formal religion. One of the major defects of the religious spirit of the past is that if confined itself mainly with belief and dogma and a formal piety; it made no attempt towards a scientific, systematic, psychological and inward-turning quest for the highest spiritual truth leading to a spiritual transformation of consciousness. Even the mystic elements in religion which insisted on this spiritual conversion is satisfied with a self–contained and an exclusively in drawn spirituality and made no attempt to bring down the light and power of the spiritual consciousness to the physical and vital life of man. The mystic who is able to achieve some state of inner spiritual illumination tends to dismiss the formal religion as a mass of ignorance and superstition and the worldly life as a tale of woe or an illusion. The quest of traditional mysticism in general is exclusive rather than comprehensive; no positive attempt is made to understand the deeper truth and evolutionary significance of the various motives and stages of human life; no creative spiritual compassion for the upliftment of the collective life of man. What is lacking in traditional mysticism is the comprehensive spiritual wisdom which rejects none of the human activities or motives but tries to gradually illumine and uplift them to higher and higher levels of motivation, idealism and truth until the whole of human life and its every activity — its religion, culture, science, economics, politics, society — is illumined of its highest truth, purpose and destiny and transformed in the light and force of an all-embracing spiritual illumination. The future of human evolution is moving towards such a comprehensive spirituality.
The Vedic Rishis possessed such a comprehensive spiritual wisdom and was relatively free from the negative trends of the religions or mysticism of the later periods. The Vedic Rishis tried to bring down the light and power of a higher spiritual consciousness into the physical life of man. The ritualistic method may not be suited to the present times but the central vision, ideals and aim of the Vedic Rishis have a living relevance for the future evolution of humanity. For the highest aim of the future will be the direct government of the material life of man by the spiritual consciousness. At present it is the powers of the mental world which govern the physical and vital life of man. But in the future this government of mental intelligence will be replaced by the government of the spiritual consciousness or in other words as the Mother points out “the physical life must be governed by the higher consciousness and not the mental world” (1)
For this to happen we need a dynamic spiritual philosophy and discipline which can give a total spiritual motivation and direction to the whole of the inner and outer life in all its dimension – physical, vital and metal. The Vedic spirituality is in essence, such a dynamic spiritual philosophy and discipline. But the truth was concealed behind a system of esoteric symbolism. The meaning of the symbols and the inner discipline was revealed only to the fit initiates, the “twice born,” while the masses are given only an outer religious discipline made of symbolic rituals.
But esotericism, however well-intentioned and whatever may be its utility in the past, has no place in the present or future world, which is moving towards a new era in which as Sri Aurobindo prophesied “even the multitude shall hear the voice and turn to commune with the Spirit within”(2). We need a new expression of the essential spirit of the Vedas in a new form which can be understood by the modern mentality and accessible to the masses.
Fortunately the Vedic spirit is not a static entity like the spirit of other religion but a progressive, flexible and adaptive spiritual force which in the course of its later evolution gave birth to many innovative self-expressions of its essential truth. So to create new forms of the Vedic spirit for the present or future we can get sufficient clues from the later developments in our own spiritual traditions. It we can examine deeply the psychological evolution of the Vedic spirit we may possibly get all the important clues needed for creating a new life and body to the Vedic spirit suited to the modern age and the emerging future.