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
 

A Psychological Approach to Sri Aurobindo's

The Life Divine

 
Chapter VI Part 2

The Universe and The Individual

The Universe or cosmos is a remarkable phenomenon. It must have been a very fulfilling experience for God or the Creator or the Supreme Divine Artist who has designed and executed it. Of course, in the Indian spiritual tradition, the universe is not the handiwork of an ‘extra cosmic’ creator but a manifestation of Consciousness.

One existential mystery needs an adequate explanation. If the extended universe by itself is so perfect, exact, vibrant and fulfilling, why was it necessary for the Supreme Artist to create the ‘individual’? After all, the individual is imperfect, insincere, untruthful, incomplete, liable to deviations, vulnerable to perversions. If he has his virtues, he has also his vices. If he has happiness, he has also unhappiness, grief and suffering, If he has a ‘birth’, he has also a ‘death’. Does the individual have any real ‘existential meaning’ to justify its necessity?

Indeed, we could very well have the universe without the individual. There is the universal Matter, which is the physical matrix of all planetary and other heavenly bodies. There is the universal energy field which has both ‘material’ and ‘non-material’ perspectives.

It supplies the mechanical energy for the rotation of electrons in their nuclear orbits as well as the life-energy to sustain biological systems. Then there is the universal field of ideas, ‘archetypes’, and their corresponding executive forces that among other things help to manifest universal laws of the physical nature. All these could have existed without the ‘individual’.

The True Individual:

Once an individual manifests, there is born a ‘centre’ for consolidating and intensifying the wide-ranging universal movements. There is born a conscious ‘centre’ for channelising, focusing and concentrating universal rhythms in nature. The individual ‘centre’ can be the nodal point for the most ‘intense’ experiences in consciousness. This is in sharp contrast to the universal experiences of ‘wideness’, ‘expansion’, ‘impersonality’, that can manifest when the ‘individuality’ is dissolved in ‘cosmicity’, the individual consciousness merges with the cosmic consciousness. Sri Aurobindo explains the meta psychology of this contrast:

‘UNIVERSE IS A DIFFUSION OF THE DIVINE ALL IN INFINITE SPACE AND TIME, THE INDIVIDUAL ITS CONCENTRATION WITHIN LIMITS OF SPACE AND TIME’. (The Life Divine, pg.52)

He goes an to explain why the ‘individual’ is necessary:

‘UNIVERSE SEEKS IN INFINITE EXTENSION THE DIVINE TOTALITY IT FEELS ITSELF TO BE BUT CANNOT ENTIRELY REALISE; FOR IN EXTENSION EXISTENCE DRIVES AT A PLURALISTIC SUM OF ITSELF WHICH CAN NEITHER BE THE PRIMAL NOR THE FINAL UNIT, BUT ONLY A RECURRING DECIMAL WITHOUT END OR BEGINNING. THEREFORE IT CREATES IN ITSELF A SELF-CONSCIOUS CONCENTRATION OF THE ALL THROUGH WHICH IT CAN ASPIRE. IN THE CONSCIOUS INDIVIDUAL… WORLD SEEKS AFTER SELF, GOD HAVING ENTIRELY BECOME NATURE, NATURE SEEKS TO BECOME PROGRESSIVELY GOD’. (Ibid.)

THE UNIVERSE AND THE INDIVIDUAL ARE NECESSARY TO EACH OTHER IN THEIR ASCENT. ALWAYS INDEED THEY EXIST FOR EACH OTHER AND PROFIT BY EACH OTHER.  (Ibid.)

Consolidation of Individuality:

In Indian spirituality, one cherished goal has been an effacement of the individual into the vastness of the cosmos, an universalizing of the individuality, an extension of the ego- bound personality into the ego-transcending, world-exceeding impersonality.

But in Sri Aurobindo’s scheme of things, the ‘individual’ is as important and as relevant as the ‘universal’. The ‘universal’ experience of losing the individuality in the vastness, tranquility, silence, wideness, peace and purity is one cherished goal, but it has to be supplemented by an equally important movement of consolidating the individual ‘centre’ through intense, ‘peak’ experiences of extreme joy, love, sweetness, faith, devotion. If one experience represents a dimension of ‘wideness’ and ‘diffusion’; the other experience represents a dimension of ‘intensification’ and ‘concentration’.  Naturally, to justify His scheme, Sri Aurobindo has to make an unique provision in the structure of the human being --accommodating a metaphysical-experiential construct which has not been explored earlier in spiritual pursuits. This provision is necessary as the usual, ordinary individual represents a mass of scattered ideas, emotions and bodily habits centered on a skewed ego-principle. Traditional spirituality had no faith in such a disharmonious individuality and preferred its dissolution in the impersonal vastness of ‘universal’ consciousness. Sri Aurobindo takes a different approach to make the individual harmonious, credible and worthy. He modifies the concept of the Jivatman or ‘soul-principle’ which, stationed in a poise above the manifestation, yet upholds the manifestation (the being whose frontal appearance constitutes the personality), and explains that the Jivatman sends a projection INTO THE Manifestation – into the centre of the individual being. This fourth- dimensional ego-surpassing principle (He names it as the ‘PSYCHIC BEING’) makes the individual harmonious, credible and is the real ‘centre’ through which all experiences that are marked by ‘ intensity’ viz love, sweetness, faith, bhakti, surrender, aspiration, can find a channel for expression. These ‘intense’ experiences supplement the ‘universal’ experiences at the level of the Jivatman above the manifestation (the being) marked by wideness, vastness and impersonality.

The structure of the Human Being will be unraveled in subsequent chapters and is one of the most important contributions of Sri Aurobindo’s experiential concepts in the realm of practical psychology.

‘This world is a beginning and a base
Where Life and Mind erect their structured dreams;
An unborn Power must build reality.
 A deathbound littleness is not all we are:
Immortal our forgotten vastnesses
Await discovery in our summit selves;
Unmeasured breadths and depths of being are ours.

……………………………………………….

Always we bear in us a magic key
Concealed in life’s hermetic envelope.
A burning Witness in the sanctuary
Regards through Time and the blind walls of Form;
A timeless Light is in his hidden eyes;
He sees the secret things no words can speak
And knows the goal of the unconscious world
And the heart of the mystery of the journeying years.’ 

(Sri Aurobindo, Savitri. pg. 46,49.)

Date of Update: 18-Nov-11 

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu

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