The positive and negative perspectives
The Absolute is viewed either as "a supreme positive and cause of all positives" (Ibid) or in negative terms as a zero or non-existent in which case it is not the Being but the Becoming which is the only truth of existence. Indian sages spoke of Brahman as neti, neti meaning that the Absolute is not what we know and not what we do not know. But this negative connotation was simultaneously complemented by a positive definition when Brahman was conceived as Matter, Life, Mind, Supermind, cosmic Delight, Sachchidananda and even by an indefinable beyond these identities. Sri Aurobindo elaborates this theme to explain that though there is a negative for every positive, nevertheless, the negative is not necessarily the contradiction of the positive. It is not necessary that the negative should mean a zero or Nihil that is empty of consciousness. Rather when we speak of the Absolute as a zero, we should take cognizance of the fact that the zero is full of force, power and potentiality. The positive and the negative do not necessarily contradict each other but complement each other. "For the positive and the negative exist not only side by side, but in relation to each other and by each other; they complete and would to the all-view, which a limited mind cannot reach, explain one another". (Ibid, pg.378) The Absolute has to be grasped through such intuitive knowledge and not through logical incompatibilities.
The positive and negative attributes of any phenomenon do not always contradict each other. Rather the negatives complete the lacunae needed for the absolute positivity. We try to understand Reality by examining opposites like infinite/finite; conditioned/unconditioned; qualified/unqualified but actually discover that "in each pair the negative conceals the whole power of the corresponding positive which is contained in it and emerges from it; there is no real opposition". (Ibid) Likewise when we consider existential dualities like the transcendent and the cosmic, the universal and the individual, we find that each member of a pair is contained fully in its apparently conceived opposite. "The universal particularizes itself in the individual; the individual contains in himself all the generalities of the universal. The universal consciousness finds all itself by the variations of numberless individuals, not by suppressing variations; the individual consciousness fulfils all itself when it is universalised into sympathy and identity with the cosmic, not by limiting itself in the ego". (Ibid pg.378-379)
Similarly, the cosmic holds in itself the immanence of the Transcendent while the Transcendent contains and manifests the cosmos in "infinite harmonic varieties". (Ibid, pg.379) The Absolute holds the relativity and its varying rhythmic expressions not in a mode of denial but for the existential justification of Reality. "The Absolute is not a skeptical logician denying the truth of all his own statements and self-expressions, but an existence so utterly and so infinitely positive that no finite positive can be formulated which can exhaust it or bind it down to its definitions." (Ibid)
Though the Absolute is the source of all relativities and the matrix where all relatives are reconciled in an integral oneness; for practical purposes we are confronted with contradictions between the Absolute and the relative and contradictions between different integers of the relativity. The law of contradictions cannot bind the Absolute and yet without it we cannot appreciate the uniqueness of the integers of the relative who sport distinct forms, are placed in "divisions of Space" and perceived in "moments of Time". (Ibid)
The law of contradictions "represents a formal and strongly dynamic truth of existence in its practical workings which is strongest in the most outward term of things, the material, but becomes less and less rigidly binding as we go upward in the scale, mount on the more subtle rungs of the ladder of being." (Ibid)
It is true that we would not be able to deal with the practical world unless we make distinctions and classifications and unless we make analyses in the scientific spirit for without isolating different integers, we cannot control variables needed for effective action. Yet a time comes when we discover that we have to get out of our analytic mind-set to "arrive at a greater truth and a greater effectivity". (Ibid, pg.380)
Individuality, Commonality, Essentiality
An isolated individual uniqueness provides the initial knowledge of reality. We go to the next step of knowledge when we discover that the isolated integer is not a stand-alone phenomenon but has a commonality with many other integers in the manifestation. Discovering this commonality gives us a mastery in the world of objectivity.
A further expansion of consciousness leads us to experientially realize that both the individuality and the commonality are related to an integrality of Oneness that imparts the seed of "essentiality of things". As Sri Aurobindo elaborates:
"There is an essentiality of things, a commonality of things, an individuality of things; the commonality and individuality are true and eternal powers of the essentiality: that transcends them both, but the three together and not one by itself are the eternal terms of existence". (Ibid, pg.381)
Thus pearl and diamond have their unique and distinctive characteristics but they also have a commonality as they are both gem stones and contain carbon (though it is present as pure carbon in diamond and as calcium carbonate in pearl). Beyond their commonality as gem stones, they also have an essentiality in the integrality of material matrix from where they both arise. A knowledge that spans all the dimensions can give the scientist the power to manipulate their material base to make a diamond or a pearl and may even give the power of transmutation "which would give the greatest possible control of material Nature". (Ibid, pg.380-381)
Date of Update:
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu