Spiritual traditions around the world agree that it is on earth, in the physical body, that progress takes place. They treat the soul’s time in the body as the time for growth, for development, for maturation. When the soul leaves the body at the time of death, it goes through a transition that is either active, moving the soul toward its next incarnation, or passive, moving the soul into a place of rest and assimilation of its recent experience. There are many different versions of the tales woven around the soul’s journey beyond death and leading up to a new birth. The essential factor, however, remains the same. The progress of the soul takes place in and during the earthly bodily existence. Therefore the sages point out the value and importance of taking a human birth in the world and suggest that we honor the tremendous opportunity given to us with such a birth. It is said that even the gods, when they want to make progress, have to take a physical incarnation on earth.

The Mother writes: ”The centre of organisation and transformation is always the presence of the psychic in the body. Therefore, it is a very big mistake to believe that the progress continues or even, as some believe, that it is more complete and rapid in the periods of transition between two physical lives; in general, there is no progress at all, for the psychic enters into a state of rest and the other parts, after a more or less ephemeral life in their own domain, are dissolved.”

“Earthly life is the place for progress. It is here, on earth, that progress is possible, during the period of earthly existence. And it is the psychic which carries the progress over from one life to another, by organising its own evolution and development itself.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 6, Some Answers and Explanations, pg. 222

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 19 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.
More information about Sri Aurobindo can be found at http://www.sri-aurobindo.com
The US editions and links to e-book editions of Sri Aurobindo’s writings can be found at http://www.lotuspress.com