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 2:

The Grammar of Reconciliation

In Chapter IV, Sri Aurobindo attempts to reconcile Matter and Spirit. He follows a unique way to reconcile these two apparently irreconcilable principles. Ordinarily, there is a tendency to oversimplify such matters. There are two general ways of reconciliation – the first is to understand the terms of one paradigm (viz. metaphysics) in terms of another (viz. science). Thus, on reading the ancient Indian Spiritual formula – ‘ONE BECOMES MANY’, the modern intellectual mind immediately discovers a similarity with the Big Bang theory of creation. But in reality these two ideas belong to two different paradigms, which cannot be forcibly reduced in terms of one another. When the Vedantist declares that ‘ONE BECOMES MANY’ – he is talking about a phenomenon occurring in consciousness – a phenomenon that cannot be understood in terms of linear temporality. It is a phenomenon that needs an understanding of both the dimensions of time and timelessness. It cannot be equated with the way we linearly conceptualize the ‘temporal history’ of creation vis-à-vis ‘the Big Bang’.

 

In fact, Sri Aurobindo Himself never liked the idea of forcibly reducing terms of Science in terms of Metaphysics or vice versa. In his ‘Evening Talks’ recorded by A.B. Purani, He has been reported to suggest that one could simply state that certain conclusions of science matched certain conclusions of metaphysics. This would be a more realistic way of conceptualising things.

The second method of reconciliation is to construct an eclectic model by selecting the best out of everything. This is how people try to ‘integrate’ science and spirituality. Yet, eclecticism in the end is a sort of ‘compromise’, a ‘bargain’. A novel reconciliation would actually be something that achieves a distinction on its own merit – a new integer in a set of numbers.

Sri Aurobindo opts for a third way of reconciliation. He considers consciousness to be the basis, matrix and gestalt of existence in whose bosom Spirit and Matter are ‘distinct’ formations. Everything that exists is a formation of consciousness and different formations have different distinctive identities so as to manifest a richly variegated, multifarious and complex play of existence. (It is this Aurobindonian perspective that later stimulated transpersonal psychologists like Wilber to formulate concepts like the ‘Spectrum’ of consciousness.) Yet if all these distinct formations in the spectrum or hierarchy or graded worlds of consciousness would lose their distinctive positions, there would still exist the matrix of consciousness in which they manifested. The basic matrix of consciousness also equally holds in its bosom principles which are yet to manifest. Sri Aurobindo explains:

‘The rooted and fundamental conception of Vedanta is that there exists somewhere, could we but find it, available to experience or self-revelation, if denied to intellectual research, a single truth comprehensive & universal in the light of which the whole of existence would stand revealed and explained both in its nature and its end. This universal existence, for all its multitude of objects and its diversity of faces, is one in substance and origin; and there is an unknown quantity, X or Brahman to which it can be reduced, for from that it started and in & by that it still exists.’

- Sri Aurobindo (Essays Divine and Human, Pg. 190)

In continuation of this line of thinking, Sri Aurobindo explains that a particular formation must outgrow one’s ‘distinct’ identity to rediscover the ground or matrix from which it evolved and which is the matrix of all manifested and unmanifested principles. If the formation in question seeking its ground reality is a human being in time, then he/she must outgrow his/her egocentric poise to expand from the individual into the cosmic consciousness. The cosmic consciousness is the matrix of both Spirit and Matter, the meeting place where one becomes relevant to the other. What does Sri Aurobindo mean by that? Does He mean that one can be reduced in terms of the other? No, He is not viewing this in oversimplified terms. Nor does He want to make a compromise between Spirit and Matter. Rather He means that if one can expand into the cosmic consciousness, then spirituality can blossom in material life – Matter itself can reveal the Spirit’s kingdom. In other words, using Matter as a base and foundation; a manifestation of a spiritual life is possible. This is what He means when He states that in the cosmic consciousness, MATTER BECOMES ‘real’ to SPIRIT; spirit becomes ‘Real’ to Matter. It is a uniquely practical reconciliation, where without losing their distinct identities; both Spirit and Matter can compliment each other and fulfill themselves.  (Of course, the manifestation of spirituality in Matter will also require a movement from the superconscient ‘transcendence’ into the cosmic and individual consciousness – a mere extension from the individual to cosmic consciousness is not enough to overcome the resistance of the inconscience and the downward pull of the inertia of Matter. But nevertheless, the cosmic consciousness will provide the matrix for the manifestation to take place.)

He uses the word ‘REAL’ instead of ‘EQUAL’ as he does not favor reducing Spirit in terms of Matter & vice versa. As these are two ‘distinct’ and ‘unique’ paradigms, they cannot be ‘equal’. To maintain their ‘distinct’ identities, they must have their ‘differences’. But, they both have a common base and a ground-reality, and both can be meaningful to each other.

The subject of Matter-Spirit reconciliation is central in Sri Aurobindo’s Thought-paradigm. He does not approach the subject with a dry, sterile, intellectual philosophy but rather with a white-heat of romantic passion:

‘In its antechambers of splendid privacy
Matter and soul in conscious union meet
Like lovers in a lonely secret place:
In the clasp of a passion not yet unfortunate
They join their strength and sweetness and delight
And mingling make the high and low worlds one’ 

What happens when Spirit leaps towards Matter? It brings down the dreams and aspirations of mankind into real life. What was utopian becomes practical. The ‘Infinite’ is made real to the ‘Finite’:

‘Intruder from the formless Infinite
Daring to break into the Inconscient’s reign,
The spirit’s leap towards body touches ground.
As yet unwrapped in earthly lineaments,
Already it wears outlasting death and birth,
Convincing the abyss by heavenly form,
A covering of its immortality
Alive to the luster of the wearer’s rank,
Fit to endure the rub of Change and Time.‘ 

What happens when Matter glows with the Spirit’s radiance? The substance and tissue of Matter itself becomes upgraded and transmuted:

‘A tissue mixed of the soul’s radiant light
And Matter’s substance of sign-burdened Force, -
Imagined vainly in our mind’s thin air
An abstract phantasm mould of mental make, -
It feels what earthly bodies cannot feel
And is more real than this grosser frame.’ 

What is the result of this union? Spirit, manifested in Matter and Matter transmuted by the Spirit enables the human being to ascend towards greater heights, overcoming the resistance of the inconscience:

‘After the falling of mortality’s cloak
Lightened is its weight to heighten its ascent;
Refined to the touch of finer environments
It drops old patterned palls of denser stuff,
Cancels the grip of earth’s descending pull
And bears the soul from world to higher world,..

(Sri Aurobindo, Savitri, pg 105)

 

Date of Update: 18-Nov-11 

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu

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