1) Firstly, each level of the outer being is composed of apparently irreconcilable diversities. At the level of the emotions, we have contradictory emotions existing simultaneously. Our emotional repertoire is a volcano that can burst any time. Who can vouchsafe that the best of friends cannot turn out to be the worst of enemies! Similarly, our mind of thoughts is heavily laden with stereotyped ideas that clash with progressive ideas. We have our mental biases, preferences, cultural beliefs and idiosyncratic educational influences that can conflict with newer ideas that also try to impress us. Our bodily nature has also a lot of structural and functional imbalances that are difficult to work through.
2) Secondly, to integrate mind, emotions (vital) and the body is an endeavour that is difficult to be executed as these components are usually at variance with each other. The mind might want to solve a mathematical puzzle but the body might come up with a headache to prevent that pursuit! The emotions might want a gala, joyous evening but the mind might prefer to sit down and complete one’s income tax files!
3) All the impressions of the outer being can descend into the ‘subconscious’ (the Freudian unconscious) which can make a resurgence any time causing further complications and negating all our efforts at ‘integration’.
This is why Sri Aurobindo calls the outer being as a ‘divided’ being. Such a divided being cannot perceive the plenitude, splendour and intensity of the Divine Ananda or Bliss that supports creation. Ironically, the surface being can bear pain more easily than divine bliss; ‘The degree and amount of pain which mind, life and body can bear is by our human standards considerable; but their capacity for pleasure is very limited and pale in intensity, low in its degree. What we call ecstasy would seem to a god to be ridiculously thin and vapid and edgeless. Its capacity of duration also is pitifully brief and measurable by the moments.’ (Sri Aurobindo, Essays Divine and Human, Pg. 216, 217 ).
Sri Aurobindo’s elaboration of the structure of the human being is a remarkable map that explains the complexity of our nature and is a landmark contribution to psychology. He shows how the ‘Ananda’ or ‘Bliss’ can be discernible when one traverses the deeper and higher ranges of consciousness but does not stop where the Vedic Rishis stopped and instead aims to bring down the ‘Bliss’ to our outer nature. For that our outer nature needs to be transformed and transmuted. Hence the need to replace the ancient key terminology in Indian Yoga from ‘Liberation’ (Mukti) to ‘Transformation’ (Rupantar). It is an unique contribution to our terrestrial existence as a whole. Incidentally Sri Aurobindo has not only ‘conceptualized’ this vision but through Yogic powers has ‘activated’ the working out of this novel concept-construct so as to be able to exclaim:
‘I HAVE DRUNK THE INFINITE LIKE
A GIANT’S WINE’
(Collected Poems, Pg. 133)
From the Divine Bliss to Human Pleasure:
To appreciate Sri Aurobindo’s concept of ‘evolution’ of consciousness, we have to understand how the elements that evolve are, prior to the initiation of evolution, ‘involved’ as potentialities in the apparent inconscience. This is a very technical phenomenon of consciousness and we shall deal with this issue in subsequent chapters. In other words, Sri Aurobindo explains that things cannot evolve from ‘zero’ – the ‘zero’ indeed is an inconscience whose ‘inconscience’ is a ‘mask’. The inconscience is already ‘impregnated’ with hidden potentialities through a preceding process of ‘involution’. From where have these hidden potentialities descended? This ‘descent’ has been a ‘descent’ of the Higher Divine Reality (Sachchidananda) into the inconscience. In the process of descent, the Higher Reality loses its ‘unitary’ character. This is essential, as all the potentialities possible must have an equal chance of manifestation. The Higher Reality has to lose its ‘unitary’ character so that ‘multiplicity’ develops – or else there will be no creation. Naturally in a ‘multiplicity’, there will be a division, dilution, distortion and perversion of the divine elements. That is how the Divine Bliss not only gets expressed as pain-pleasure-indifference but can also get ‘perverted’ into movements that we have, in extreme instances described as ‘sadism’ and ‘masochism’. It is a perversion that we can get sensual pleasure by harming others or getting harmed in sexual play! After all, it the same senses that can get exalted on seeing the beauty of nature in its pristine purity!
In evolution, we have to work through these divisive principles and reconstruct the ‘unitary’ consciousness in a world of multiplicity! We have to perform this task because we can’t remain satisfied with the incompleteness and imperfection of the divisive consciousness. We are ‘satiated’ but not ‘satisfied’ with the burden, trouble and resistance of the world that seems to challenge at every step the shining passage of the soul. Something urges us to look beyond! If Sachchidananda had remained in its poise of immobility, there would be no creation. After all, if Sachchidananda is conceived as a ‘Being’, then that Being also wants to ‘play’. The Being likes to lose itself in its self-created, self-permitted multiplicity and at the end, reconstructs the unity to enjoy a full game! Just for the ‘joy’ of playing the game! That joy is theSupreme Bliss, the Supreme Felicity!
Sri Aurobindo writes:
‘An infinite, indivisible existence all-blissful in its pure self-consciousness movers out of its fundamental purity into the varied play of Force that is consciousness, into the movement of Prakriti which is the play of Maya. The delight of its existence is at first self-gathered, absorbed, sub-conscious in the basis of the physical universe; then emergent in a great mass of neutral movement which is not yet what we call sensation; then further emergent with the growth of mind and ego in the triple vibration of pain, pleasure and indifference originating from the limitation of the force of consciousness in the form and from its exposure to shocks of the universal Force which it finds alien to it and out of harmony with its own measure and standard; finally, the conscious emergence of the full Sachchidananda in its creations by universality, by equality, by self-possession and conquest of Nature. This is the course and movement of the world.
If it then be asked why the One Existence should take delight in such a movement, the answer lies in the fact that all possibilities are inherent in Its infinity and that the delight of existence- in its mutable becoming, not in its immutable being, - lies precisely in the variable realisation of its possibilities. And the possibility worked out here in the universe of which we are a part, begins from the concealment of Sachchidananda in that which seems to be its own opposite and its self-finding even amid the terms of that opposite. Infinite being loses itself in the appearance of non-being and emerges in the appearance of a finite Soul; infinite consciousness loses itself in the appearance of a vast indeterminate inconscience and emerges in the appearance of a superficial limited consciousness; infinite self-sustaining Force loses itself in the appearance of a chaos of atoms and emerges in the appearance of the insecure balance of a world; infinite Delight loses itself in the appearance of an insensible Matter and emerges in the appearance of a discordant rhythm of varied pain, pleasure and neutral feeling, love, hatred and indifference; infinite unity loses itself in the appearance of a chaos of multiplicity and emerges in a discord of forces and beings which seek to recover unity by possessing, dissolving and devouring each other. In this creation the real Sachchidananda has to emerge. Man, the individual, has to become and to live as a universal being; his limited mental consciousness has to widen to the superconscient unity in which each embraces all; his narrow heart has to learn the infinite embrace and replace its lusts and discords by universal love and his restricted vital being to become equal to the whole shock of the universe upon it and capable of universal delight; his very physical being has to know itself as no separate entity but as one with and sustaining in itself the whole flow of the indivisible Force that is all things; his whole nature has to reproduce in the individual the unity, the harmony, the oneness-in-all of the supreme Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.
Through all this play the secret reality is always one and the same delight of existence,- the same in the delight of the subconscious sleep before the emergence of the individual, in the delight of the struggle and all the varieties, vicissitudes, perversions, conversions, reversions of the effort to find itself amid the mazes of the half-conscious dream of which the individual is the centre, and in the delight of the eternal superconscient self-possession into which the individual must wake and there become one with the indivisible Sachchidananda. This is the play of the One, the Lord, the All as it reveals itself to our liberated and enlightened knowledge from the conceptive standpoint of this material universe.’
(The Life Divine, pg.120-121)
Ananda and Peace
There is a trend to seek for ‘Peace’ as an answer to the difficulties and disorders of life. But here we are emphasizing the seeking of ‘Ananda’. What is the relation between the two?
Sri Aurobindo explains very succinctly:
‘… There is no opposition or incompatibility between these two states in the nature of the Brahman. Bliss there is the keen height and core of peace; peace there is the intimate core and essence of bliss. There is no turbidity of turbulence in the being of the Brahman; its ineffable poignancy is eternal in its self poise.’
‘In experience even on the spiritual plane so long as we do not transcend the spirit in mind, there is a difference between peace and Ananda. Peace is the Divine static, Ananda the Divine dynamic. Peace is a negative-positive; it is positive of itself, of status, of eternity, of the essential, of the abstract-concrete, of force in rest. It is or tends to be negative of all that is less than itself, contradictory to itself or more than itself, of the dynamic, of action, of creation, of time and happening, of the substantial concrete, of force in motion. Or when it allows these things or even feels or supports them, it is with a certain disinterested separateness. It has essentially the character of the Witness Spirit or at the most of the disinterested Witness-Creator. Ananda is in its every fibre a positive of positives. It affirms and rejoices in all that is native to peace, but it affirms too and rejoices in all that peace negates or regards with a sovereign separateness. Ananda is an all embracing and creative force. There can be in the world’s tangle of conflicting forces an Ananda of pain and suffering and in the full manifestation pain and suffering no longer remain themselves but are transformed into Ananda. But these opposing differences prove in the end to be part of the separative mental creation, the disjunctive Maya in which we live. In supermind experience peace is always full of Ananda and by its Ananda can act and create; Ananda is for ever full of the divine peace and its most vehement ecstatic intensity contains no possibility of disturbance. At the height of the supramental Infinite peace and Ananda are one. For there status and dynamis are inseparable, rest and action affirm each other, essence and expression are one indivisible whole.’
(Pg. 216, 217, 218, Essays Divine & Human)
My breath runs in a subtle rhythmic stream;
It fills my members with a might divine:
I have drunk the Infinite like a giant’s wine.
Time is my drama or my pageant dream.
Now are my illumined cells joy’s flaming scheme
And changed my thrilled and branching nerves to fine
Channels of rapture opal and hyaline
For the influx of the Unknown and the Supreme.
I am no more a vassal of the flesh,
A slave to Nature and her leaden rule;
I am caught no more in the senses’ narrow mesh.
My soul unhorizoned widens to measureless sight,
My body is God’s happy living tool,
My spirit a vast sun of deathless light.
(Sri Aurobindo, Collected Poems, pg 133)
Date of Update:
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu