Death, Desire and Incapacity
Life as operation of Conscious-Force
The human being is unique because in it the universal principles of matter, life-energy and the mind do not exist isolated from one another but interspersed with each other. This was necessary as otherwise a distinct, compact and unique individuality would not have emerged. But the individual has to pay a price for this uniqueness for it normally robs one from having the experiential knowledge of universality. It is only the exceptional individual who has transcended the ego that acts as the lynch-pin of individuality who can universalize oneself.
As one explores the cosmic realms and even ventures to access the Transcendent, one becomes aware of the how the universal planes of Matter, Life-Energy and Mind-principle exist in their own right though each containing the others as a potentiality and probability and how they are projected by the creative Supermind Consciousness, the Supreme Creative principle as operative outcomes of a pre-programmed Truth.
Sri Aurobindo explains that thus conceived, Mind is only a final operation of Supermind (The Life Divine, pg.203). In the same vein, Sachchidananda which is the highest experiential triune principle of Existence (Sat), Consciousness-Force (Chit-Shakti) and Bliss (Ananda) gets translated in different operating principles. While Sat gets projected as the essence or Self of each individual, Ananda provides the motivational value of existence, Chit-Shakti or Consciousness-Force gets projected finally as Life-Energy.
Sri Aurobindo also explains that the Transcendental Consciousness-Force or Chit-Shakti of Sachchidananda does not directly become the life- energy of an individual being for a direct jump from the Transcendental to an individual life would be a preposterous proposition. It is the Creative Consciousness of the Supermind which manifests Consciousness-Force as a creative Knowledge-Will, a Master Idea or Real-Idea destined to manifest as universal and individual principles.
‘The supramental Knowledge-Will is Consciousness-Force rendered operative for the creation of forms of united being in an ordered harmony to which we give the name of world or universe; so also Mind and Life are the same Consciousness-Force, the same Knowledge-Will , but operating for the maintenance of distinctly individual forms in a sort of demarcation, opposition and interchange in which the soul in each form of being works out its own mind and life as if there were separate from the others, though in fact they are never separate but are the play of the one Soul, Mind, Life in different forms of its single reality. In other words, as Mind is the final individualizing operation of the all-comprehending and all-apprehending Supermind, the process by which its consciousness works individualized in each form from the standpoint proper to it and with the cosmic relations which proceed from that standpoint, so Life is the final operation by which the Force of Conscious-Being acting through the all-possessing and all-creative Will of the Universal Supermind maintains and energises, constitutes and reconstitutes individual forms and acts in them as the basis of all the activities of the soul thus embodied. Life is the energy of the Divine continually generating itself in forms as in a dynamo and not only playing with the outgoing battery of its shocks on surrounding forms of things but receiving itself the incoming shocks of all life around as they pour in upon and penetrate the form from outside, from the environing universe’. (The Life Divine, pg. 203-204)
Intermediary between Mind and Body
In the final analysis, Life is an intermediary between Mind and Body. It is Life that energises Matter to produce a living body. Mind cannot directly act on Matter, it has to act through the substrate of Life-Energy to put its creative touch on Matter. The energy that serves the Mind supports the flow of ideas but the energy implicit in Life relates to the dynamism of forms that makes this bodily existence viable (Ibid, pg.204). But Life-energy alone cannot ensure that viability, it is the Mind involved in Life-energy that works out the viability. Mind itself would not have been able to do this if it did not have within it the creative Supermind as an essence and seed. After all, the universe is a concept synonymous with dynamism and motion. As Sri Aurobindo explains while deliberating on the Isha Upanishad, the earth is termed as Jagati (the feminine form) to indicate the perpetual movement of the planet which again moves in the universe or Jagat (the neuter form) or through multiverses (Isha Upanishad, pg.95). And this mighty phenomenon marked by a terrestrial movement in the expanding circles of cosmic movement can only be explained not by any mechanical force but by a Divine Will acting through Consciousness-Force. ‘The world is a cyclic movement of the Divine Consciousness in Space and Time...But the basis of this movement is not material; it is the energy of active consciousness which, by its motion and multiplication in different principles (different in principle, the same in essence), creates oppositions of unity and multiplicity, divisions of Time and Space, relations and groupings of circumstance and Causality’ (Ibid, pg.22). This cosmic energy that moves the worlds becomes condensed to represent the life-energy of an individual soul. However in the human being, the soul is veiled by the ego and the life-energy is no longer under conscious control of the soul. The Life Energy in the ordinary individual is trapped by the Mind and Body and subject to the dictates of the ego.
The Dilemma of Life
The glaring dilemma of Life is that the ordinary human being is not conscious of what constitutes, sustains and rejuvenates the Life-Energy; is not conscious of its Divine origin. As Life remains unaware of its own modus operandi, it serves the dividing operation of the Mind more spontaneously forgetting the hidden presence of the Supermind in the mind. It also serves the sensual passions of bodily life unaware of the presence of the Mind involved in the Life-Energy that innervates and animates Matter. In one sense, this was inevitable as the universe could condense into a ‘self-limitation of the individual soul’ only through an ‘exclusive concentration as a separate self-existent individuality’, oblivious of the All-embracing Consciousness. ‘The universal life in us, obeying this direction of the soul imprisoned in mind, itself becomes imprisoned in an individual action. It exists and acts as a separate life with a limited insufficient capacity undergoing and not freely embracing the shock and pressure of the cosmic life around it. Thrown into the constant cosmic interchange of Force in the universe as a poor, limited, individual existence, Life at first helplessly suffers and obeys the giant interplay with only a mechanical reaction upon all that attacks, devours, enjoys uses, drives it’ (The Life Divine, pg.205). Thus life falls prey to the giants of darkness, to ‘death’, ‘desire’ and ‘incapacity’.
The only remedy to resolve the dilemma of Life is to be consciously aware of the Conscious-Force or Chit-Shakti of Sachchidananda that as Knowledge-Will at the level of the Supermind projects the Life-Energy. At the human level, Knowledge and Will get separated, de-linked from one another. Our usual human constitution is too weak and fragile to effectuate their synthesis. As a result our energy is not illumined and our knowledge is ineffectual. Through an evolutionary growth in consciousness, we can gradually link them together so that the light of the being gradually ‘emerges from the inert darkness of involutionary sleep’ and thus ‘the individual existence becomes dimly aware of the power in it and seeks first nervously then mentally to master, use and enjoy the play’. (Ibid, pg. 205) Sri Aurobindo reiterates, ‘This awakening to the Power in it is the gradual awakening to self. For Life is Force and Force is Power and Power is Will and Will is the working of the Master-Consciousness. Life in the individual becomes more and more aware in its depths that it too is the Will-Force of Sachchidananda which is a master of the universe and it aspires itself to be individually master of its own world. To realise its own power and to master as well as to know its world is therefore the increasing impulse of all individual life; that impulse is an essential feature of the growing self-manifestation of the Divine in cosmic existence’ (Ibid)
Date of Update:
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu