(1) The Oneness is not a mathematical oneness but an oneness in essence; an oneness in a consciousness perspective which can manifest an infinite multiplicity without losing a primal unity. The logic of the Infinite does not associate "finiteness with plurality and infinity with oneness." (Ibid, pg.336) The Oneness can therefore be in one poise the infinite Many. "Pluralism is an error because, though there is the spiritual plurality, the many souls are dependent and interdependent existences; their sum also is not the One nor is it the cosmic totality; they depend on the One and exist by its Oneness: yet the plurality is not unreal; it is the One soul that dwells as the individual in these many souls and they are eternal in the One and by the one Eternal". (Ibid)
(2) The Spirit dwells not only in a pure status of immobile silence but is also simultaneously present as a movement - "a power, a dynamic spiritual all-containing self-extension of the Infinite". (Ibid) The ordinary mind attempts to construct an opposition between the silence and the dynamis of the Spirit though they are complementary and inseparable truths. While a powerless Absolute is unthinkable, an eternal immobility actually supports the infinite mobility. "The immutable silent Spirit may hold its infinite energy silent and immobile within it, for it is not bound by its own forces, is not their subject or instrument, but it but it does possess them, does release them, is capable of an eternal and infinite action, does not weary or need to stop, and yet all the time its silent immobility inherent in its action and movement is not for a moment shaken or disturbed or altered by its action and movement". (Ibid, pg.337)
Formlessness and Form
A spiritual realization reveals that the Infinite is formless and it is from that matrix that forms arise. This is because formlessness is not a state of blankness but represents "the spirit substance of the Reality". (Ibid) Formlessness does imply a negation of the power of formation. That forms arise from an infinite matrix ensures that we have an infinite variety of forms, "for otherwise there would be a single Form or only a fixity or sum of possible forms in a finite universe." (Ibid) The very fact that the Divine is formless and nameless makes the manifestation of all names and shapes possible. And each form represents a certain characteristic of the formless that is dormant and unmanifest.
What are forms? "Forms are manifestations, not arbitrary inventions out of nothing; for line and colour mass and design which are the essentials of form carry always in them a significance, are, it might be said, secret values and significances of an unseen reality made visible; it is for that reason that figure, line, hue, mass, composition can embody what would be otherwise unseen, can convey what would be otherwise occult to the sense." (Ibid)
Forms are of different kinds:
(a) Physical forms that have external shapes discernible by our ordinary senses;
(b) Mental forms which are unseen formations of mind, seized by thought;
(c) Vital formations which are unseen formations of life seized by thought too;
(d) Subtle forms that can be accessed by inner consciousness.
And what about names carried by forms -names that were assigned to forms by the great intuitive seers, names that were revealed to the rishis! The Name or Nomen matched the form in terms of power, quality and character. "The Infinite is nameless but in that namelessness all possible names, Numens of the gods, the names and forms of all realities, are already envisaged and prefigured, because they are there latent and inherent in the All-Existence." (Ibid, pg.338)
The Infinite and the finite
The relation of the form with the Formless leads to the realisation that the co-existence of the finite and the Infinite do not indicate a juxtaposition or mutual inclusion of two opposites but is as natural as "the principle of Light and Fire with the suns." (Ibid) "The finite is a frontal aspect and a self-determination of the Infinite; no finite can exist in itself and by itself, it exists by the Infinite and because it is of one essence with the Infinite." (Ibid)
In fact the Infinite is not merely and endless expansion of Space or an endless extension in time but is spaceless and timeless and "can express itself in the infinitesimal as well as in the vast, in a second of time, in a point of space, in a passing circumstance." (Ibid) Poetically, he expresses the relation between the finite and the Infinite as the "giant point" in his epic, Savitri. (SABCL 28, pg.24)-the point "Through which his Glory shines for whom we were made/And we break into the infinity of God".
The finite cannot be described too as a division of the Infinite. Reality in its poise of Infinity is present in every finite integer as an essence and a meaning. "Thus each object is that Infinite and one in essential being with all other objects that are also forms and names, --powers, numens, --of the Infinite. (SABCL18, pg.338-339)
Conceptual difficulties arise as the logic of the Infinite surpasses our rational intellect. No finite integer can be a stand-alone phenomenon dangling in the cosmic Void, connected with others on the basis of a pragmatic cohabitation. If each finite integer is supposed to be independent then that independence is secured and supported by the parent Infinite. The One Identical supports all independent identities though being their cause and constitution.
And it is interesting to note that it is the One Infinite can appear as the many finite, it can be logically deduced that "the creation adds nothing to the Infinite; it remains after creation what it was before". (Ibid, pg.339)
The Identical (Immutable) and mutable
We are presented with a veritable "Maya of the universe" (Ibid, pg.341) when we are confronted with the infinite mutations that characterize a variegated manifestation and yet all these mutations arise from an Identical or immutable Oneness. Oneness and differentiation seem to exist together as if "the indwelling Reality has built the universe on the principle of development one seed into a million different fashions". (Ibid pg.340) If it is the same Spirit that is present and identical in every human being, it is also the same Spirit that has allowed differentiation of human beings along many parameters so that differentiation is itself an unique phenomenon like that when individual finger-prints differ allowing each individual a separate identity. (Ibid)
Sri Aurobindo explains that it is the immutability of the eternal Identical that allows mutable differentiations. Our rational intellect does not understand this logic of the Infinite as it tends to equate immutability with sameness. "The immutability of the Identical does not consist in a monotone of changeless sameness incapable of variation; it consists in an unchangeableness of being which is capable of endless formation of being, but which no differentiation can destroy or impair or minimize". (Ibid pg.340) Indeed, the Immutable provides a secure basis so that Nature can afford the luxury of endless mutations. In the absence of such a secure basis and support, the world of mutations would collapse and disintegrate for nothing would be there to hold the flux of mutations. "Oneness finds itself infinitely in what seems to us to be a falling away from its oneness, but is really an inexhaustible diverse display of unity". (Ibid, pg.340-341)
The truth of Reality appears to be a Lila-a play or game that exists spontaneously for the joy of existing. The Maya of Brahman ensures that the Oneness is infinitely variable and not monotonous in sameness. The logic of the Infinite assures that the highest task of reason is to discover the cementing reality connecting and unifying the many. The many is equally important as the One, the One is as relevant as the many. "All universal existence moves between these two terms, a diversification of the One, a unification of the many and diverse, and that must be because the One and the Many are fundamental aspects of the Infinite." (Ibid, pg.341)
The relation between One and the Many thus presents through different denouements: Formlessness and form, Infinite and Finite, Identical (Immutable) and mutable.
Date of Update:
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu