This integralist view of Reality has important connotations. The finite is as persistent as the Infinite, the Many is as relevant as the One. Though there is an underlying unity that binds these apparently irreconcilable principles, this unity is free and flexible. It is not an exclusive unity which rules out the simultaneous presence of contradictory terms. Actually these apparently irreconcilable principles appear so as they are the working out of realities of existence in different degree of relativities ("secondary, tertiary or yet lower relativities"). (Ibid) What we consider as oppositions are only "conveniences of our mental consciousness". (Ibid, pg.385) Sri Aurobindo points out that both the scientific mind-set and the metaphysical mind-set have made the same mistake in considering their realizations to be exclusive. As regards spiritual experiences, it is not unusual for different seers presenting different and apparently contradictory realizations which we fail to grasp holistically because it is difficult for the mind to judge supra-cognitive terms. We err when "we intellectualise them into sole truths, --as when we assert that the Impersonal must be the one ultimate realisation and the rest creation of Maya or declare the Saguna, the Divine in its qualities, to be that and thrust away the impersonality from our spiritual experience. We have to see that both these realisations of the great spiritual seekers are equally valid in themselves, equally invalid against each other; they are one and the same Reality experienced on two sides which are both necessary for the full knowledge and experience of each other and of that which they both are." (Ibid)
The three terms of the one existence
Sri Aurobindo explains that existence is expressed through three poises of the same Reality: Transcendent, Universal and Individual. They are equally valid and simultaneous terms and each does not belittle the others. Rather, "each of these always contains secretly or overtly the two others". (Ibid, pg.385=386) The Transcendent embraces the other two and controls them so as to use them to express its temporal possibilities. If these possibilities were not expressed, the manifestation would be meaningless.
The most interesting aspect of this integral outlook is Sri Aurobindo's consideration of the Individual at equal par with the Transcendent and the Universal for they represent the same Reality in three poises. So long, the spiritual tradition in India considered the Individual to be subordinate to the Transcendent and the Universal and coursing mechanically through cycles of birth and death with only a few escaping from the bondage to the Ignorance. Sri Aurobindo gives a special leverage to the Individual as the pivotal point through which Consciousness which had become involved and dormant in the Ignorance gets to evolve to express the potentialities of the Universal and the Transcendent.
"The power of the individual to possess in his consciousness by self-knowledge his unity with the Transcendent and the universal, with the One being and all beings and to live in that knowledge and transform his life by it, is that which makes the working out of the divine self-manifestation through the individual possible...We might be compelled to hold that ruthless and disastrous view of God's working if man had no power of self-transcendence...In that power lies the justification of individual existence; the individual and the universal unfolding in themselves the divine light, power, joy of transcendent Sachchidananda always manifest above them, always secret behind their surface appearances, this is the secret intention, the ultimate significance of the divine play, the Lila". (Ibid, pg.386)
It is not in self-annihilation of the Individual but in the evolutionary transformation of the Individual that lies the key of the Divine's unfolding.
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- By Dr. Soumitra Basu