The nature of this OMNIPRESENT REALITY (whether called ‘Being’ or ‘Non-Being’) is that it is the sole or ONE Reality – infinite, eternal, absolute – Ekam Evadvitiyam (Sanskrit for ONE WITHOUT A SECOND) – (Sri Aurobindo, Essays Divine and Human Pg. 196)
The realization of the ancient Indian seers did not stop at Ekam
Evadvitiyam. Sri Aurobindo explains that the OMNIPRESENT Reality
supports all phenomena that have manifested within the matrix of
space and time.
It supports all phenomena that are transient, temporal, impermanent; all phenomena that actually represent the multiplicity. After all, the phenomenon of multiplicity is the hallmark of creation. If the Omnipresent Reality behind all manifestation is called the Being, all that has manifested within the field of space and time constitute the ‘BECOMING’.
How do we come to the conclusion that despite the multiplicity of the Becoming, the Reality (or Brahman) is ‘ONE’? This oneness is not a statistical concept. It is NOT DERIVED from the summation of all manifested phenomena. It is not also derived from the gestalt concept that the whole is more than the sum of the parts.
Now, the Reality or Being (or Brahman) is also experienced as a triune of ‘Existence(SAT),Consciousness(Chit)and Bliss(Ananda)’ – (Satchidananda). Even here, the ONE Reality is NOT A SUMMATION of three experiential terms. Instead, each term of this triune represents a particular poise of Reality.
Therefore, when the seers say that Reality is ONE, they mean that the oneness is an oneness in ESSENCE.
This oneness cannot be dissected of its essence. Even in the Multiplicity, this ‘oneness’ is present in its wholeness, in its totality, in every phenomenon, in every creation as a secret ‘essence’. ‘There is effective determination, definition, demarcation, diverse formation in the universe but no essential separation or division. A tree is separate as an object or phenomenon, but it is not a separate existence divided from all around it; there is a one-existence and a one-energy that has taken form of tree, constitutes every atom, molecule, fiber of it, pervades and is its whole structure of being and this existence, this energy not only abides in all of it and flows through all of it but extends everywhere around and is, constitutes, energises all other objects in the cosmos’ (Ibid, Pg. 195)
‘The One is at the same time the All, for it exists in all, all exists by it, it is all’ - (Ibid, Pg. 194)
Oneness and Multiplicity
In Sri Aurobindo’s scheme of things, the OMNIPRESENT REALITY is not only represented by the BEING, but also by the BECOMING. The ‘Becoming’ or manifestation of transient phenomena within the constraints of space and time is ONE poise of Reality and not an ‘illusion’ or a ‘subjective phenomenon’ in the mind of an observer. The ‘Spiritualized mind’ deals with Being in its purity and considers the universe to be an unreal dream. The ‘materialized mind’ deals with the multiplicity of the Becoming and considers God and the Beyond as illusory ideas. These two conceptions therefore are partial representations of the essential Truth. This is the reason that the KNOWLEDGE OF ONENESS (also called VIDYA) is EQUALLY important as the knowledge of the relative and multiple (also called Avidya). Without Vidya, the KNOWLEDGE OF THE MULTIPLICITY is ‘a night of darkness and a disorder of ignorance’ and if Multiplicity is dismissed as unreal and non-existence, ‘Vidya’ becomes obscure and imperfect. This is the real meaning of the famous verse in the Isha Upanishad:
‘By the Ignorance they cross beyond Death and by the Knowledge enjoy Immortality…’
(‘Ignorance’ is knowledge of multiplicity, of the transient phenomena that constitutes the universe, ‘knowledge’ is realization of the Oneness, the essence of Reality and therefore the essence of everything that exists.)
What a beautiful psychological insight! Sri Aurobindo romantically expresses the relation of ONE (The Being, the awareness of which is ‘Knowledge’) with the Many (symbolized as ‘Two’, the Becoming, the awareness of which is Avidya or ‘Ignorance’ in the Isha Upanishad)
He describes the individual destiny in poetic terms :
‘… One is there, Self of self, Soul of Space, Fount of Time,
Heart of hearts, Mind of minds, He alone sits, sublime.
Oh, no void Absolute self-absorbed, splendid, mute,
Hands that clasp hold and red lips that kiss blow the flute.
All He loves, all He moves, all are His, all are He!
Many limbs sate His whims, bear His sweet ecstasy.
Two in One, Two who know difference rich in sense.
Two to clasp, One to be, this His strange mystery…’
Date of Update:
(Sri Aurobindo, Collected Poems, Pg. 590)
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu