One may ask that what the necessity of the dimension of impersonality is in daily life. Do we really need to develop it? Sri Aurobindo explains that life is full of contradictions like pleasure and pain, truth and falsehood, birth and death. One way to deal with such contradictions would be to escape from them in a spirit of total indifference—“a blank response to the excitations of the world-self” (The Life Divine, pg.238), but this does not solve or heal the cleavage. Another solution would be to bring the ‘real soul to the surface’ with both its dimensions of impersonality and personality. As a result the egoistic standard of dualities like pleasure and pain could be replaced by “an equal –an all-embracing personal-impersonal delight”.(Ibid)
Anybody pursuing Knowledge, Beauty, Arts, Nature-study and even Science can benefit if one goes to the impersonal source beyond the ego so as to tap the essence from the universal repertoire of consciousness. One cannot do that if one is hooked to the little ego. When one needs to go to the source of things or if one wishes to extract the ‘rasa’ or essence of anything, one has to shift from the egoistic poise behind the surface personality and take up the soul-poise of impersonality.
“The seeker of knowledge, the God-lover who finds the object of his love everywhere, the spiritual man, the intellectual, the sensuous, the aesthetic all do this in their own fashion and must do it if they would find embracingly the Knowledge, the Beauty, the Joy or the Divinity which they seek. It is only in the parts where the little ego is usually too strong for us, it is only in our emotional or physical joy and suffering, our pleasure and pain of life, before which the desire-soul in us is utterly weak and cowardly, that the application of the divine principle becomes supremely difficult and seems to many impossible or even monstrous or repellent “(Ibid, pg.238-239)
Scientists talk about objectivity that is needed to overcome subjective bias in the acquisition of Knowledge. But when one explores the cosmic source of Knowledge from the soul-poise of impersonality, one pursues an exceptional approach that is simultaneously truly objective (as it soars beyond the distortions of the ego) and truly subjective (as the explorer is the true soul and not the desire-soul). One thus gets access to a truly Wholistic Knowledge.
The explorer of Knowledge in a particular domain like Science or Arts can gain the essence of a particular domain through a “limited and specialized equality and impersonality proper to a particular field of consciousness and activity” through a partial experience (Ibid, pg.239). But that does not necessarily mean that the ego has been dispensed; on the contrary, the egoistic basis of practical life can remain as it was. There are also people enjoying “imperfect spiritual living” with an experience of impersonal domains but without losing cherished desires because the impersonality is not bound to displace the desire-soul unless one consciously attempts to work on the lower movements so that ‘the whole foundation of life has to be changed in order to make room for impersonality”.(ibid) It is not enough to soar into the higher domains without a concomitant change of the lower movements in oneself if one yearns for an integral perfection.
Thus there are two movements that have to be simultaneously undertaken. In the lower levels of our consciousness, the foundation of life has to be changed so that the desire-soul is curbed effectively. At the same time, one has to cultivate freer and higher movements so that one has access to the soul-poise of impersonality that supports the inner personality. For the spiritual seeker, this leads to a greater revelation. The Mother reiterated, “Sri Aurobindo said that when you go beyond the Impersonal, you find the Personal: THE Person”. Speaking of her own experiences, she added that beyond the Impersonal, she felt a fusion into something limitless, not personal but with all the concrete reality of the Person. (Agenda, July 20, 1968) It is that Supreme Person who projects the real soul with its all-embracing personal-impersonal delight. It is a Grace or else we would be shut up in egoistic bounds without any possibility of accessing the cosmic domains of consciousness and wisdom.
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- By Dr. Soumitra Basu