INSTITUTE FOR INTEGRAL YOGA PSYCHOLOGY

(a project of Mirravision Trust, Financed by Auroshakti Foundation)

 
Chapters
Chapter I
Chapter II - Part 1
Chapter II - Part 2
Chapter II - Part 3
Chapter II - Part 4
Chapter III - Part 1
Chapter III - Part 2
Chapter III - Part 3
Chapter III - Part 4
Chapter III - Part 5
Chapter III - Part 6
Chapter IV - Part 1
Chapter IV - Part 2
Chapter IV - Part 3
Chapter IV - Part 4
Chapter V-Part 1
Chapter V - Part 2
Chapter V - Part 3
Chapter V - Part 4
Chapter V - Part 5
Chapter VI - Part 1
Chapter VI - Part 2
Chapter VI - Part 3
Chapter VI - Part 4
Chapter VI - Part 5
Chapter VII - Part 1
Chapter VII - Part 2
Chapter VII - Part 3
Chapter VII - Part 4
Chapter VII - Part 5
Chapter VIII - Part 1
Chapter VIII - Part 2
Chapter VIII - Part 3
Chapter VIII - Part 4
Chapter IX - Part 1
Chapter IX - Part 2
Chapter X - Part 1
Chapter X - Part 2
Chapter X - Part 3
Chapter X - Part 4
Chapter X - Part 5
Chapter X - Part 6
Chapter XI - Part 1
Chapter XI - Part 2
Chapter XI - Part 3
Chapter XI - Part 4
Chapter XII - Part 1
Chapter XII - Part 2
Chapter XII - Part 3
Chapter XII - Part 4
Chapter XII - Part 5
Chapter XIII - Part 1
Chapter XIII - Part 2
Chapter XIV - Part 1
Chapter XIV - Part 2
Chapter XIV - Part 3
Chapter XIV - Part 4
Chapter XIV - Part 5
Chapter XV - Part 1
Chapter XV - Part 2
Chapter XV - Part 3
Chapter XV - Part 4
Chapter XV - Part 5
Chapter XV - Part 6
Chapter XV - Part 7
Chapter XV - Part 8
Chapter XV - Part 9
Chapter XVI - Part 1
Chapter XVI - Part 2
Chapter XVI - Part 3
Chapter XVI - Part 4
Chapter XVI - Part 5
Chapter XVI - Part 6
Chapter XVI - Part 7
Chapter XVI - Part 8
Chapter XVI - Part 9
Chapter XVI - Part 10
Chapter XVI - Part 11
Chapter XVI - Part 12
Chapter XVI - Part 13
Chapter XVII - Part 1
Chapter XVII - Part 2
Chapter XVII - Part 3
Chapter XVII - Part 4
Chapter XVIII - Part 1
Chapter XVIII - Part 2
Chapter XVIII - Part 3
Chapter XVIII - Part 4
Chapter XVIII - Part 5
Chapter XVIII - Part 6
Chapter XVIII - Part 7
Chapter XVIII - Part 8
Chapter XVIII - Part 9
Chapter XVIII - Part 10
Chapter XIX - Part 1
Chapter XIX - Part 2
Chapter XIX - Part 3
Chapter XIX - Part 4
Chapter XIX - Part 5
Chapter XIX - Part 6
 

A Psychological Approach to Sri Aurobindo's

The Life Divine

 
Chapter IV - Part 1:

Reality Omnipresent

The fourth chapter of The Life Divine is a reconciliation of the seed-ideas presented in chapters II & III. It has a significant name "REALITY OMNIPRESENT". The term 'OMNIPRESENT' indicates the presence of something at all places at the same time. Indeed, what can be the most appropriate terminology to describe such an integral presence? There is only one ideal term in the dictionary, 'REALITY'.

The problem is that ‘Reality’ is perceived in different ways by different mind-sets. The scientist considers ‘MATTER’ to be the only Reality and everything else a derivative or at its best a chimera, a fantasy or a hallucination. The mystic considers ‘SPIRIT’ to be the only Reality and every other thing (especially the material world) as something secondary or illusory. Sri Aurobindo avoids the impracticality of ignoring one stand-point for the other. His cautionary note is psychological in tone, ‘For wherever there is an extreme statement that makes such a powerful appeal to the human mind, we may be sure that we are standing in the presence of no mere error, superstition or hallucination , but of some sovereign fact disguised which demands our fealty and will avenge itself if denied or excluded.’ (The life divine, pg 31)

In fact, an exclusive stand-point (either that of the materialist or that of the mystic) would be psychologically untenable to reconcile ‘Matter’ and ‘Spirit’. Moreover, as these two terms are based on two distinct paradigms, any forceful reconciliation based on some over-simplified eclecticism would also be ludicrous.

Sri Aurobindo attempts reconciliation from a very different perspective without blurring the distinctive nature of either paradigm. He points out that an extension of the individual consciousness into the cosmic consciousness holds the key to the reconciliation. In doing so, He ushers a consciousness-based psychology as the medium of reconciliation of materialism and spirituality. This new psychology (named by contemporary researchers as ‘Integral Yoga Psychology’) is the ‘greater psychology’ awaiting its hour of fulfillment.

We have already explored how the cosmic consciousness holds the universal ‘Mind’, the universal ‘Life’ and the universal ‘Matter’. Besides, the essence of each distinct ‘form’ present as an individual ‘Self’ or ‘Being’ is represented in the cosmic poise as an universal Self or Being (and also in the transcendental ‘poise’ as a transcendental Self or Being).

The Universal or cosmic Mind is a repertoire of universal thoughts. It holds in its bosom the mind of the materialist scientist as well as the mind of the mystic and Yogi. An individual mind is just a ‘selective formation’ or a ‘eddy’ or a ‘whirlpool’ in the ocean of universal thoughts. Whether this ‘selective formation’ gets organized as a ‘scientific mind-set’ or a ‘mystic mind-set’ depends on several factors: the time- spirit, social learning, psychological predisposition, and more important, soul-choice.

An individual formation is needed for the organization of a particular idea-force. However, the universal mind contains and supports, impartially and universally all idea-forces, whether contradictory or complementary. The cosmic consciousness therefore is the ‘Reality-Matrix’ where ‘Spirit’ and ‘Matter’ are equally represented and exist in harmony. The individual mind-set will take up one or the other stand-point and cannot offer a platform for reconciliation unless one exceeds ones ‘ego’ to extend into the cosmic consciousness. In fact, the individual mind has to represent one set of ideas and carry it to its fullest potential - - this exclusive venture prevents a harmonization with other excusive mind-sets. Moreover, to maintain this ‘exclusivity’, one’s individuality has to be ego-bound. It is only when the individual ego-sense is exceeded that one can enter the field of cosmic consciousness.

“We have found already in the cosmic consciousness a meeting-place where Matter becomes real to Spirit, Spirit becomes real to Matter. For in the cosmic consciousness Mind and Life are intermediates and no longer, as they seem in the ordinary egoistic mentality, agents of separation, fomenters of an artificial quarrel between the positive and negative principles of the same unknowable Reality. Attaining to the cosmic consciousness Mind, illuminated by a knowledge that perceives at once the truth of Unity and the truth of Multiplicity and seizes on the formulae of their interaction, finds its own discords at once explained and reconciled by the divine Harmony; satisfied, it consents to become the agent of that supreme union between God and Life towards which we tend. Matter reveals itself to the realizing thought and to the subtilised senses as the figure and body of Spirit, - Spirit in its self-formative extension. Spirit reveals itself through the same consenting agents as the soul, the truth, the essence of Matter. Both admit and confess each other as divine, real and essentially one. Mind and Life are disclosed in that illumination as at once figures and instruments of the supreme Conscious Being by which It extends and houses Itself in material form and in that form unveils Itself to Its multiple centres of consciousness. ………………”

“In the light of this conception we can perceive the possibility of a divine life for man in the world which will at once justify Science by disclosing a living sense and intelligible aim for the cosmic and the terrestrial evolution and realize by the transfiguration of the human soul into the divine the great ideal dream of all high religions.

( The Life Divine, pg 32)

Tiers of Reconciliation:

As the cosmic consciousness holds in its bosom contradictory movements, it holds both the cosmic self in its poise of activity and poise of silence. At the individual level, ‘silence’ and ‘activity’ are opposite movements. At the level of the cosmic consciousness, the ‘silence’ supports the ‘activity’, acts as its base and foundation. The problem is that as the scientist and the mystic tend to exaggerate their ‘partial’ understandings, eulogizing either Matter or Spirit, the spiritual seekers also tends to cling to partial realizations either harping on the ‘silent’ self or the ‘active self, and in the process developing different schools of spirituality that apparently appear to be ‘different’. Thus one school hails the ‘self’ as silent, inactive, pure, self –existent (the Silent Brahman) while another school eulogizes the ‘Active Brahman’. Sri Aurobindo points out that they are two aspects of the same Reality and each is necessary to the other.

The process of ‘reconciliation’ is dynamic and does not stop at the level of cosmic consciousness. It continues at the yet higher poise of Transcendental Consciousness, The conflict between ‘Matter’ and ‘Spirit’ gets reconciled at the level of Cosmic Consciousness. The Transcendental Consciousness provides the background of a reconciliation of even more contradictory assertions (more contradictory in degree than the contradiction between Matter and Spirit) - - viz., the contradictory view- points of very great spiritual realizations (which however great, are yet based on partial experiences). Sri Aurobindo mentions in this context the great debate between considering the Reality as a ‘Non- Being’ vis-à-vis ‘Being’.

Is the ‘Non-Being’ or Zero the primal state and sole constant Reality relegating the universe and the individual to the mere status of a secondary phenomenon or an illusion? Actually Sri Aurobindo points out that terms like ‘Non –Being’, ‘Nihil’ or ‘Zero’ have been formulated to describe states that are beyond the grasp of our cognitive faculties. He asserts that if whatever can be ‘Known or ‘experienced’ represents ‘Reality’, whatever is ‘unknowable’ also represents Reality. Moreover, if Reality, symbolized in the ‘pure Being’ is the base of all that exists and gets expressed, then ‘Realty’ as Nihil or Non-Being symbolizes the freedom from all terms of existence and expression.  The Supreme Reality is free to support the world-play as well as free to withdraw support to the world-play. In its role as a supporter of existence, we invest it with positive terms like ‘pure Being’. In its role as a withdrawer of support of the world –play, we invest it with negative terms like ‘Non Being’, ‘Nihil’ or ‘Zero’.

“Pure Being is the affirmation by the Unknowable of Itself as the free base of all cosmic existence. We give the name of Non-Being to a contrary affirmation of Its freedom from all cosmic existence, - freedom, that is to say, from all positive terms of actual existence which consciousness in the universe can formulate to itself, even from the most abstract, even from the most transcendent. It does not deny them as a real expression of Itself, but It denies its limitation by all expression or any expression whatsoever. The Non –Being permits the Being, even as the Silence permits the Activity. By this simultaneous negation and affirmation, not mutually destructive, but complementary to each other like all contraries, the simultaneous awareness of conscious Self-being as a reality and the Unknowable beyond as the same Reality becomes realizable to the awakened human soul.”

(pg. 35 ,The Life Divine) 

Epilogue:

The Individual Self, the traveller in time, extends into the cosmic consciousness, identities with the cosmic Self and then progresses further to the transcendental poise, identifying with the transcendental Self, beyond time;

“At last the traveller in the paths of Time
Arrives on the frontiers of eternity.
In the transient symbol of humanity draped,
He feels his substance of undying self
And loses his kinship to mortality.
A beam of the Eternal smites his heart.
His thought stretches into infinitude;
All in him turns to spirit vastnesses.
His soul breaks out to join the Oversoul,
His life is oceaned by that superlife.
……………………………………………….
………………………………………………
Then is revealed in man the overt Divine.
A static Oneness and dynamic Power
Descend in him, the integral Godhead’s seals;
His soul and body take that splendid stamp.
A long dim preparation is man’s life,
A circle of toil and hope and war and peace
Tracked out by Life on Matter’s obscure ground.
In his climb to a peak no feet have ever trod,
He seeks through a penumbra shot with flame
A veiled reality half-known, ever missed,
A search for something or someone never found,
Cult of an ideal never made real here,
An endless spiral of ascent and fall
Until at last is reached the giant point
Through which his Glory shines for whom we were made
And we break into the infinity of God.”

( Savitri,pg 23-24))

The term ‘GIANT POINT’ indicates that the Being or Self is not confined to the individual form but has its universal and transcendental poises, and that an experiential realization of the multiple poises of the Being brings the knowledge of ‘Reality”, because the microcosm is represented in the macrocosm and the macrocosm is represented in the microcosm.

 

Date of Update: 18-Nov-11 

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu

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