If the manifestation has been decreed by the Divine Will, how does the undivine become so relevant? This is because evolution starts from the Inconscience where all that were in the superconscious came down and turned into their nether opposites. Knowledge became Ignorance, Light became darkness, joy became suffering, pleasure became pain, good became evil while truth became falsehood and life culminated in death. It is from this matrix that a slow evolution begins imparting an element of imperfection from the very beginning. If each evolving plane of consciousness was restricted to a certain set of functions, we would have a compromised harmony but that is not to be for consciousness has to constantly outgrow itself and in the process constantly expands accruing the possibility of error and imperfection so that our mundane existence remains a "patch-work of discords". (Ibid, pg.389) At the end the human being remains beleaguered by EVIL that raises moral dilemmas and SUFFERING which remains a sensational enigma.(Ibid) While EVIL represents a deficiency of our ethical values and SUFFERING is a price for our hedonistic pursuits, we also suffer from deficiencies of other equally relevant divine elements like Knowledge, Truth, Beauty, Power and Unity.(Ibid, pg.390)
The two perspectives of the undivine
The first perspective of the undivine arises from IMPERFECTION which is actually a result of the limitation in us of divine elements. The second perspective is a PERVERSION or "a falsifying departure from some ideal Truth of being". (Ibid)This departure happens either as we lapse spiritually from an ideal or we cannot realize what we have eulogized as an ideal.
A careful analysis leads us to realize that the genesis of the undivine resides in the division of the unitary consciousness in the manifestation - a division which was necessary to support the play of a variegated multiplicity. This division at first leads to "a limitation of completeness and wholeness" and "a lowering of quality" so that "the intensities which are normal and natural on higher ranges are in us lost or toned down so as to harmonise with the blacks and greys of our material existence."(Ibid, pg.391) Later, perversion creeps in as a "secondary ulterior effect" when unconsciousness and wrong consciousness interfere: "by the misapplication or misdirection of an imperfect will and knowledge, by automatic reactions of our diminished consciousness-force and the inept poverty of our substance, --contradictions of the divine elements are formed, incapacity, inertia, falsehood. Error, pain and grief, wrong-doing, discord evil". (Ibid)
Ironically, somewhere deep in our being, we carry a tacit support for the undivine: we cling to our divisible consciousness and this perpetuates our misery. As Ananda or Bliss is the value aspect of Consciousness-Force or Chit-Shakti that builds the worlds, a perverted pleasure can somehow sustain a divisible and compromised manifestation. (Ibid)
The law of the divine contrary
If the Divine is Absolute and Perfect, blissful and infinite, how do we account for the discordance produced by pain, suffering and falsehood? There have been several attempts to address this conflict but none proved satisfactory:
(a) Buddhism tried to deal with this duality by dismissing it for it considered that if everything was impermanent, the concept of the Self, Divine or Brahman was also illusory. As one achieves self-extinction in Nirvana, the problems of existence also automatically get extinguished. But this solution does not satisfy the inner quest which yearns for a whole being, a total knowledge and an integral will. (Ibid, pg.392-393)
(b) Another way of dealing with the duality would be to consider each and everything including the undivine as divine in a context where each thing represents a fact and idea of the divine being with a role in the manifestation working in consonance with "gradations of experience decreed by a secret inherent will, a native law,...an occult significance."(Ibid, pg.393) What appears to us as undivine is in this view regarded as the result of our ignorance of the Divine purpose. Sri Aurobindo considers this attitude as an intellectual dogma for it does not give the impression of a total harmony, does not touch the divine reality in the core of our being and gives no lead to the soul-element (psychic element) in our nature and actually establishes the Divine in the becoming but not in the being. (Ibid, pg.394) Moreover, "A Divine Whole that is perfect by reason of the imperfection of its parts, runs the risk of itself being only perfect in imperfection, because it fulfils entirely some stage in an unaccomplished purpose; it is then a present but not an ultimate Totality". (Ibid, pg.395) Instead our true focus would be to find the true source of divinity within us and above us.
(c) There are other ways of approaching the duality. We may use the psychological defense mechanism of rationalization to surmise that if the animal can blindly follow animal nature and be in harmony with the environment, the human being can also accept human nature with its imperfections that yet would contribute to the general harmony. Or else human nature could have blind faith on religion which promised a perfect Paradise that would compensate all earthly imperfection. But both these attitudes miss a key factor which distinguishes human from animal life: "there is not only a mental part in us which recognizes the imperfection, there is a psychic part which rejects it. Our soul's dissatisfaction with imperfection as a law of life upon earth, its aspiration towards the elimination of all imperfections from our nature, not only in a heaven beyond where it would be automatically impossible to be imperfect, but here and now in a life where perfection has to be conquered by evolution and struggle, are as much a law of our being as that against which they revolt; they too are divine - a divine dissatisfaction, a divine aspiration". (Ibid, pg.395-396) The hidden divine Reality unfolds itself through a progression of perfection in consciousness.
Does everything happen for the best?
Everything in life can happen for the best if everything is perfect in every respect. There are two grey areas which interfere with the divine purpose:
(a) Whatever was programmed to be ideal and perfect can get disguised, distorted or perverted -an inevitable outcome as the manifestation needed a division of the unitary consciousness which ushered in all possibilities and allowed the possibility of error and falsehood.
(b) Our present nature is transitional and thus imperfect and we have to move from imperfection to a progressively perfect status through an evolution in consciousness. (Ibid, pg.396-397)
Therefore we have to find out the divine purpose in the flux of phenomena instead of blindly accepting or rationalizing the apparently undivine : "to search for and find the spiritual key of things is the law of our being". (Ibid, pg.396)
"It is right and reasonable to endure with equanimity, suffering and subjection to defect as the immediate will of God, a present law of imperfection laid on our members, but on condition that we recognize it also as the will of God in us to transcend evil and suffering, to transform imperfection into perfection, to rise into a higher law of Divine Nature". (Ibid)
We have to be perfect not only by identifying with the secret spirit within us but also in the instruments through which the soul acts in the external world.
Date of Update:
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu