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
Chapter XIX - Part 7
Chapter XX - Part 1
 

A Psychological Approach to Sri Aurobindo's

The Life Divine

 
Chapter IX Part 2

The Finite to the Infinite

Pure Existence or SAT in its absolute poise has been conceptualized and experientially perceived as an indefinable, infinite, timeless, spaceless Existence. Such a concept-construct appears contradictory to our usual sense-based experience where ‘existence’ is objectively ascertained in terms of ‘space’ and subjectively interpreted in terms of ‘time’.

The extension from space to infinity and from time to eternity was a result of a direct intuitive knowledge. Actually, even if we examine from a rational base, the extension from the finite to the infinite was a logical outcome in the quest for knowledge.

 

Space-Infinity

Anything is abstract to our ordinary perception unless it is graspable by our senses. Space also becomes a physical reality if it can be understood in terms of magnitude. Our senses are used to perceive physical space being occupied by material forms. We are also used to exceptions where a physical space is not occupied by anything—a vacuum.

 However, Existence is not solely material. There are

(a)    subtle, non-material forms, and

(b)   subtle, non-physical space.

The Indian spiritual realisation is that Existence is ONE but has myriad manifestations. This means that Reality is simultaneously one in essence but multi-dimensional in presentation. The corollary that follows is that though in essence ‘Space’ is the same everywhere, it is also manifested as ‘spaces’ that hold different planes of “consciousness’. There is a physical space that holds the material plane of consciousness. There is a cognitive space that holds the mental plane of consciousness. There is a vital or life-energy space that holds our emotional repertoire. There is also a soul-space (called chidakasa in Sanskrit) that holds our soul-entity or Psychic Being.

Indian seers, in their pursuit of Reality, experienced that ‘Consciousness’ per se could break the limits of individual experience and extend into cosmic and transcendental dimensions. As a corollary, ‘Space’ also experientially broke all conceptual constraints and extended to ‘infinity’. In fact, ‘space’ and ‘consciousness’ became formulations that conceptually existed in and occupied each other. Space transcended the grasp of individual senses and cognition to a ‘interminable extension’ – to an ‘infinity which seems to us the same all-containing all-pervading point without magnitude’. (The Life Divine, pg 83)

 This infinity may experientially appear to be empty, without consciousness and this is the psychological basis of describing Reality as a Nihil or Zero in certain metaphysical traditions. But if at one poise the infinity appears as a zero or a Non-Being that cannot support anything, at another poise it is also experienced in a positive way as a Being that is ‘the free base of all cosmic existence’. Actually, what we perceive as a zero is an indefinable infinite as it surpasses all our cognitive constructions. ‘ And this conflict of terms , so violent, yet accurately expressive of something we do perceive, shows that mind and speech have passed beyond their natural limits and are striving to express a Reality in which their own conventions and necessary oppositions disappear into an ineffable identity’. (Ibid, pg 83-84)

Time-Eternity

The Absolute Existence has also been experientially perceived as ‘timeless’-- to be of ‘an eternal duration’. The same Reality which is experienced as timeless can also be perceived in a moment impregnated with the right consciousness. It is possible for an individual to enter into the consciousness of eternity by shifting one’s poise from the dimension of movement to the dimension of immobility, to ‘an eternity which seems to us the same all-containing ever-new moment.’(Ibid, pg 83).

Time is experienced as movement, as motion, as change, as progress. The planets are in motion as much as the human mind is in motion. Movement is a thing that is studied by science and metaphysics with equal vigor. If science cannot conceive anything beyond movement, a section of metaphysicians also consider movement to be the only reality.

Sri Aurobindo admits that it is conceptually very difficult to go behind the movement of succession and change in time (It is comparatively easier to achieve a psychological extension beyond a conceptual space): ‘We are and the world is a movement that continually progresses and increases by the inclusion of all the successions of the past in a present which represents itself to us as the beginning of all the successions of the future, --a beginning, a present that always eludes us because it is not, for it has perished before it is born’. (Ibid, pg 86)

In fact, to some minds, change is the only reality and ‘continuity’ is perceived as a conceptual illusion .Sri Aurobindo quips that then there would be no such thing as duration of Time or coherence of consciousness—‘A man’s steps as he walks or runs or leaps are separate, but there is something that takes the steps and makes the movement continuous’.(Ibid,footnote,pg86)

The movement in time is such a strong formulation that often the eternally successive movement and change in ‘Time’ is considered as the sole Absolute Reality. In other words, it is not BEING but BECOMING that is considered to be the Reality. Sri Aurobindo however considers this to be a partial experience: ‘But there is a supreme experience and supreme intuition by which we go back behind our surface self and find that this becoming, change, succession are only a mode of our being and that there is that in us which is not involved at all in the becoming. Not only can we

have the intuition of this that is stable and eternal in us, not only can we have the glimpse of it in experience behind the veil of continually fleeting becomings, but we can draw back into it and live in it entirely, so effecting an entire change in our external life, …it is pure existence, eternal, infinite, indefinable, not affected by the succession of Time, not involved in the extension of Space, beyond form, quantity, quality, --Self only and absolute…. We have therefore two fundamental facts of pure existence and of world-existence, a fact of Being, a fact of Becoming. To deny one or the other is easy; to recognize the facts of consciousness and find out their relation is the true and fruitful wisdom’. (Ibid, pg 86-87)

The Individual in Eternity

The individual finds it difficult to experience the spaceless and timeless Absolute because of the ego. But the Absolute ‘surpasses infinitely our ego or any ego or any collectivity of egos..’(Ibid, pg80)  The individual is tiny and petty in comparison to the Absolute yet the ego thinks and acts as if it were the centre of the universe. But the individual too is equally important, only it has to find its right value by replacing the ego by a principle through which Truth can be realized:

‘At present we keep a false account. We are infinitely important to the All, but to us the All is negligible; we alone are important to ourselves. This is the sign of the original ignorance which is the root of the ego, that it can only think with itself as centre as if it were the All, and of that which is not itself accepts only so much as it is mentally disposed to acknowledge or as it is forced to recognize by the shocks of its environment. Even when it begins to philosophise, does it not assert that the world only exists in and by its consciousness? Its own state of consciousness or mental standards are to it the test of reality; all outside its orbit or view tends to become false or non-existent. This mental self-sufficiency of man creates a system of false accountantship which prevents us from drawing the right and full value from life. There is a sense in which these pretensions of the human mind and ego repose on a truth, but this truth only emerges when the mind has learned its ignorance and the ego has submitted to the All and lost in it its separate self-assertion. To recognize that we, or rather the results and appearances we call ourselves, are only a partial movement of this infinite Movement and that it is that infinite which we have to know, to be consciously and to fulfil faithfully, is the commencement of true living. To recognize that in our true selves we are one with the total movement and not minor or subordinate is the other side of the account, and its expression in the manner of our being, thought, emotion and action is necessary to the culmination of a true or divine living. (Ibid, pg81-82)

The finite and the infinite are two poises of the same Reality. The formless is represented in the form, the moment is poised in eternity:

The Infinitesimal Infinite

Out of a still Immensity we came!

These million universes were to it to it
The poor light-bubbles of a trivial game,game,

A fragile glimmer in the Infinite.nite.


It could not find its soul in all that vast:vast:

It drew itself into a little speckspeckspeck

Infinitesimal, ignobly cast

Out of earth’s mud and slime strangely awake,-


A tiny plasm upon a casual globe
In the small system of a dwarflike sun, sun,
A little life wearing the flesh for robe,
A little mind winged through wide space to run! run! run!

It lived, it knew, it saw its self sublime,
Deathless, outmeasuring  Space , outlasting Time.


(Sri Aurobindo, Collected Poems, pg138)

Date of Update:
15-May-12   

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu

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