It is this Consciousness-Force that allows a descent of the Superconscious into the apparent material inconscience and an evolutionary ascent so that the being can go back to the Source -into the "universal and transcendent self and source of existence". (The Life Divine, pg.365) Understanding this complex and multi-levelled manifestation of consciousness is needed to understand the emerging nature of Ignorance and the nature of Knowledge needed to overcome it.
The most interesting discovery is that Knowledge is involved, concealed and dormant in the matrix of Ignorance; it has not to be acquired but revealed through a constant self-unfolding. In that journey back to Godhead, we have to discover if the individual is eternal or if individuality can persist with its uniqueness even if the liberated aspirant attains unity and self-knowledge.
Such an existential issue cannot be clarified by logical reasoning which even if helpful to some extent falters on being misled by partial truths. Metaphysical dialectics also sounds useful but at the end it turns out to be "much more a guardian against error than a discoverer of truth". (Ibid, pg.366) The knowledge of the world, the knowledge of God and the reconciliation of the lower and higher hemispheres remain chimerical. The logical mind can also be a barrier to a true unifying knowledge.
The main difficulty for reason is that it identifies the true individual self with the ego that gives us a "strongly separative self-experience". (Ibid, pg.367) The ego is not a real entity but a practical trick of Nature to centralize its activities. We make a formation of our mental, vital and physical experience and individualize it in temporal space. "This perception and this conception constitute our ego-sense". (Ibid) In contemporary psychology, that is the limit of our individual world-view!
"But in the end we have to see that our individualisation is only a superficial formation, a practical selection and limited conscious synthesis for the temporary utility of life in a particular body, or else it is a constantly changing and developing synthesis pursued through successive lives in successive bodies. Behind it there is a consciousness, a Purusha, who is not determined or limited by his individualisation or by this synthesis but on the contrary determines, supports and exceeds it." (Ibid, pg.367-368)
This means that there are two factors which maintain our individualisation:
(a) A world - being projected by the Purusha, the Person
(b) A consciousness which uses the world-being for experience of its possibilities of individuality.
Therefore these two powers, the Person and its world-material are simultaneously responsible for our experience of individuality. In the absence of the Purusha, there would be no support and our constructed individuality would cease. If the world-being would dissolve, there would be no material of experience needed to weave an unique individuality. "We have then to recognize these two terms of our existence, a world-being and an individualizing consciousness which is the cause of all our self-experience and world-experience". (Ibid, pg.368)
Are the Purusha, the world-being and world-material different things? Sri Aurobindo explains that the Purusha which is "the cause and self our individuality" makes a conscious extension of itself to perceive itself as one with the world-being. (Ibid) In fact it embraces the whole world and all other beings in a movement of universality. This results in two unique desiderata:
(a) The conscious extension of the Purusha abolishes the barriers of self-limitation and individualisation, and
(b) By the perception of its own infinite universality, it goes beyond the ambit of separative individuality.
The result? "By that very act the individual ceases to be the self-limiting ego; in other words, our false consciousness of existing only by self-limitation, by rigid distinction of ourselves from the rest of the being and becoming is transcended; our identification of ourselves with our personal and temporal individualisation in a particular mind and body is abolished." (Ibid)
Yet that does not mean that the truth of individuality and individualisation disappears. It appears in a new denouement. Individuality is not a limited temporal and ego-bound phenomenon but an unique and conscious centre of universality. In this new realignment, the soul considers the world-material as not something external from which it has to draw sustenance but something which is subjectively held in oneself. Rather, the soul "embraces both its world-material and its individualized experience of spatial and temporal activities in a free and enlarged consciousness. In this new consciousness the spiritual individual perceives its true self to be one in being with the Transcendence and seated and dwelling within it, and no longer takes its constructed individuality as anything more than a formation for world-experience." (Ibid, pg.369)
The Self manifests in different poises. The Transcendent Self or Supreme Being cosmicises to become the universal being or world-being. It also individualizes to become the individual Purusha. Therefore the very matrix of Self facilitates our experience of unity which simultaneously is the basis of cosmic differentiation and multiple individuality which are the powers of the Self. And this whole phenomenon basks in the Bliss or Ananda which is the value aspect of the Self. If we accept the Transcendent Self or Divine Being as the true Reality and excise the phenomenon of cosmic differentiation or multiple individuality from the ambit of unity, we would actually be disregarding the powers of the Self and the value of Bliss which motivates the expression of the powers. An exclusive concentration on the Transcendent self would lead the spiritual seeker to experience peace and unity in a "motionless identity" (Ibid) without the joy or rapture of union. Such an experience has its own validity but would not uphold the integrality of Reality needed for the ultimate perfection.
Date of Update:
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu