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

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
Chapter XIX - Part 7
Chapter XX - Part 1
Chapter XX - Part 2
Chapter XX - Part 3
Chapter XX - Part 4
Chapter XX - Part 4
Chapter XXI - Part 1
Chapter XXI - Part 2
Chapter XXI - Part 3
Chapter XXI - Part 4
Chapter XXII - Part 1
Chapter XXII - Part 2
Chapter XXII - Part 3
Chapter XXII - Part 4
Chapter XXII - Part 5
Chapter XXII - Part 6
Chapter XXIII Part 1
Chapter XXIII Part 2
Chapter XXIII Part 3
Chapter XXIII Part 4
Chapter XXIII Part 5
Chapter XXIII Part 6
Chapter XXIII Part 7
Chapter XXIV Part 1
Chapter XXIV Part 2
Chapter XXIV Part 3
Chapter XXIV Part 4

A Psychological Approach to Sri Aurobindo's

The Life Divine

Chapter XXIV Part 3


Matter: A phenomenal reality and an ethereal surreality

We talk about Matter, erect superstructures using Matter as a base and yet Matter remains conceptually as elusive as the Spirit. The only difference is that Matter is known by sense-experience and the Spirit has to be experientially perceived through consciousness. Does Matter exist only in our minds or is it a phenomenal reality arising from the interaction “between our senses and the all-existence in which we move”. (The Life Divine, pg.249)

If Matter is concrete, tangible and the foundation for the building blocks of reality, a materialistic science would be the final answer to everything. Unfortunately, science itself cannot vouchsafe that. Though Matter can be broken down to the subatomic level, a final common template or the first irreducible unit has not been found. Instead, it has now been validated that the subatomic particles, leptons and quarks cannot be subdivided any further just because they lapse into formlessness. At best their existence can be discerned through energy trajectories. We can no longer build blocks of reality using Matter as a foundation because Matter per se lapses into some sort of unreality, albeit, an ethereal surreality. It is as if we have to acknowledge that some ethereal Vast – an all pervading Spirit or Brahman is the de facto reality, in whose matrix everything is organized. This means that the “bottoms-up” model of reality is no longer relevant. Instead we have to study how everything is organized within the matrix of consciousness. Sri Aurobindo had previsioned this predicament and had written a hundred years back: “When Science discovers that Matter resolves itself into forms of Energy, it has hold of a universal and fundamental truth; and when philosophy discovers that Matter only exists as substantial appearance to the consciousness and that the one reality is Spirit or pure conscious Being, it has hold of a greater and completer, a still more fundamental truth”. (Ibid, pg.249)

In his epic poem Savitri, Sri Aurobindo describes how Death who initially extolls the solidity of Matter (which he does to deny the strength of the Spirit), later admits that the solidity of substance was merely a chimera:

“All upon Matter stands as on a rock.
Yet this security and guarantor
Pressed for credentials an impostor proves:
A cheat of substance where no substance is,
An appearance and a symbol and a nought,
Its forms have no original right to birth:
Its aspect of a fixed stability
Is the cover of a captive motion’s swirl,
An order of the steps of Energy’s dance...
What seemed most real once, is Nihil’s show.

(Savitri, pg.616)

How has Matter been created? Is it the work of an universal Mind? But a thought-mind that dwells with ideas would be impotent to produce Matter unless there is a sort of “sense-mind” for Matter has to be perceived through the senses that bring feedback from the forms which Matter assumes. It is only when the sense-mind has provided feedback from the forms that the thought-mind can invest the sensory impressions with ideas and place them in the correct perspective.

We can speculate that an Universal Mind created Matter and by the instrumentality of an universal sense created the relation of form with form that constitutes the rhythm of the material universe. (The Life Divine, pg.250) However this does not answer how Consciousness created Matter as the basis of its cosmic workings. For Mind even if universal, and even if it creates relatively through an unlimited power of combination, its creative motives must come from a yet higher source. (Ibid, footnote)

The spiritual wisdom of India as enshrined in the Rig Veda describes that the foundation of everything is above with branchings downwards. Sri Aurobindo gives a detailed explanation of how all that is created (Mind, Life and Matter) has its pre-programmed essence in the Supermind which then delegates the execution to the global cognitive field of the Overmind. This Overmind is a sort of superconscient Mind where the heavenly archetypes of all forms are held.

The Unmanifest Reality has been experientially perceived as triune of Existence; Consciousness-Force and Bliss (Sachchidananda); it is the same Reality in three poises. The Supermind processes these components so as to hold them in a pre-programmed essence in an unitary matrix. The program starts getting executed at the level of the Overmind which is below the level of the Supermind in the “hierarchical order of the powers of the Spirit”. (Ibid) The Overmind projects the Mind-principle which we usually consider as the Universal mind. As the program starts unfolding, the higher powers get projected to produce the multiplicity where the unitary link is lost. That was inevitable but it also resulted in a deformation of the higher powers. The manifestation itself takes place in the realm of Ignorance which is a deformed projection of the Supreme Knowledge. The Ignorance turns the higher denominations into opposite values.

Consciousness thus sinks down from the poise of unitary knowledge to ignorance where the unity underlying everything is lost. Consciousness-Force becomes Life-Energy in the animal kingdom where it is discernible through its buoyancy and voluptuousness; it becomes subconscious in the plant kingdom and sinks to become an inconscient mechanical energy at the level of Matter. Yet Energy was inseparably linked with Knowledge at the Superconscience and though phenomenally Matter seems to be inert, it still carries a concealed knowledge so that the electrons have the intrinsic knowledge of rotating in their orbits.

While the Consciousness-Force aspect of the Highest Reality (Sachchidananda) becomes Life-Energy, the Supermind in its descent to the creation first descends to the Overmind and finally becomes the mind-principle as we understand it. The universal mind-principle divides itself to become the individual mind that imparts the sense of uniqueness having lost the thread of unity. Similarly, the Existence aspect of Sachchidananda which is a Conscious-Being divides itself by the action of the Overmind or universal mind-principle to become material forms. The diversity of material forms is so great that the underlying rhythm of unity is lost. Ironically, when scientists attempted to find a final basic unit of Matter, Matter per seemed to lapse into a sort of undefined ether. The spiritualist would consider that ethereal surreality to be the reality of Brahman.

At the level of the manifestation, we view things from the point of division. If traced back to the source, the division which the individual mind dwells in “does not abrogate or at all diminish the unity of Spirit or the unity of Energy or the real unity of Matter” (Ibid, pg.251)


Date of Update: 23-Nov-19

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu


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