(a) There is an omnipresent Divinity, Self or Reality; "nothing can be born from another than That; there can be nothing unsupported by That, independent of It, unfilled by the breath and power of Its being". (Ibid) If we hold that the Divine Existence cannot support ignorance, imperfection and suffering, then we have to suppose two Gods; "an Ormuzd of the good and an Ahriman of the evil" (Ibid), a perfect supracosmic being and an imperfect undivine Nature. But this concept has to be a subordinate aspect and not the whole truth of things. (Ibid, pg.398) For our reason and intuition tells us that an absolute Existence exists in all beings as all beings exist in It and nothing can happen without the sanction of this all-supporting presence.
(b) A second affirmation accepts the first postulate that all is governed by the Omnipresent Divinity in its perfect wisdom and the phenomenal universe we see appears as "a very apparent denial or at least a disfigurement or disguise of the Divine Presence". (Ibid)
(c) A third postulate affirms that the "Divine Reality" and the "world reality" are so different that we have "to draw away from one to reach the other". (Ibid)
"The first of these three propositions is inevitable; the second also must stand if the omnipresent Divine has anything at all to do with the world he inhabits and with its manifestation, building, maintenance and government: but the third seems also self-evident and yet it is incompatible with its precedents, and this dissonance confronts us with a problem which appears to be incapable of satisfactory solution".
Our experiential constructions
Yet some philosophical reasoning and experiential constructions can circumvent this difficulty. We can erect a Deity, blissful in himself but indifferent to the world. (Ibid, Pg.398-399) Or we can posit a Witness Self, a silent Purusha who allows Nature to run riot. Or we can affirm a supreme Self unconcerned with the cosmic works which has paradoxically originated from it. All these do not heal the "apparent dissonance of our two-fold experience" (Ibid, pg.399)-that of the Divine Reality and that of the undivine world.
Practically, a dual godhead is affirmed -- A Godhead, Self or soul and Nature. (Ibid)However Nature cannot be anything other than the power of the Self. We can posit an observing inactive Self and an active creating Godhead but this cannot serve us for the two must be one in a dual aspect. "A discord, a gulf between the Self in knowledge and the same Self in works needs explanation, but it presents itself as unexplained and inexplicable."(Ibid)
"Or again, we can posit a double consciousness of Brahman the Reality, one static and one dynamic, one essential and spiritual in which it is Self perfect and absolute, another formative, pragmatic, in which it becomes not-self and with which its absoluteness and perfection have no concern of participation; for it is only a temporal formation in the timeless Reality." (Ibid) However at the end, the temporal formation is regarded as the power of the one Self "for there can be no independent power, no Nature not derived from the original and eternal Self-Existence. If it does no more, it must still be originating or determining the universe through the mere fact of its conscious omnipresence". (Ibid, pg.400)
Man's freedom is relative
The problem is compounded by the fact that the admission of a divine government of the universe makes it obligatory to accept that the power to govern is complete, absolute and total. In all existence, the problem of imperfection, suffering and evil must have originated and decreed, "since without fiat of the Being they could not have been, could not remain in existence". (Ibid, pg.401)It has to be conceded "that forces set in motion are allowed to work themselves out according to the law of their movement". (Ibid) "Man's freedom is relative and he cannot be held solely responsible for the imperfection of his nature. Ignorance and Inconscience of Nature have arisen, not independently, but in the one Being; the imperfection of her workings cannot be entirely foreign to some will of the Immanence."(Ibid, pg.400)
An Integral self-knowledge
Actually the presence of ignorance, imperfection, suffering and evil need not contradict the divine being, consciousness, power, knowledge and delight in the universe. "A part broken off from the whole may be imperfect, ugly, incomprehensible; but when we see it in the whole, it recovers is place in the harmony, it has a meaning and a use". (Ibid, pg.401) Our confusion arises because instead of the infinite Divine Reality we are confronted with a limited ego-bound finite being. In an integral self-knowledge, we are not limited but have infinite dimensions. "Our ego is only a face of the universal being and has no separate existence; our apparent separative individuality is only a surface movement and behind it our real individuality stretches out to unity with all things and upward to oneness with the transcendent Divine Infinity....Apparent division can never erect itself into a real separateness; there is supporting and overriding it an indivisible unity which division itself cannot divide. This fundamental world-fact of ego and apparent division and their separative workings in the world-existence is no denial of the Divine Nature of unity and indivisible being; they are the surface results of an infinite multiplicity which is a power of the infinite Oneness". (Ibid, pg.401-402)
Ignorance is an operation of knowledge
Yet there is no limitation of being but there seems a real limitation in consciousness: "there is an ignorance of self, a veiling of the inner Divinity, and all imperfection is its consequence." (Ibid, pg.402) This is not surprising as we identify easily with our superficial ego-bound personality which removes us from Reality. But we can discover that "this fact of ignorance is itself an operation of knowledge and not a true ignorance." (Ibid) The ignorance is frontal; it hides "an occult store of light and power" (Ibid) which can be invoked at the right time to fill up the deficiencies of the frontal Ignorance and helps the soul in Ignorance to draw correctly from life's experiences. "This frontal power of Ignorance is a power of concentration in a limited working" though "all the time it is the indivisible consciousness which we are that has done the work to be done, seen the thing that has to be seen".(Ibid, pg.402-403)
The supreme self-possessing Knowledge seems to work through "a multitude of ignorances, each striving to act according to its own blindness, yet through them all it constructs and executes its universal harmonies."(Ibid, pg.403) Even the omniscience seems to act miraculously in what seems to be the Inconscient that is thicker than our ignorance when it propels the evolutionary trajectory to travel from the instinctive status to the All-Knowledge held behind a veil and yet perfectly operative within the instinct. If we want an inner witness to this phenomenon, we can get it through our inner being and higher spiritual state when one can be in contact with the divine Will and Idea behind appearances. (Ibid)
Therefore it can be said that if the power of concentration is held to be one of the greatest powers of the human mind, the power of putting forth an exclusive working of limited knowledge which presents as ignorance is also one of the mightiest powers of the divine consciousness. "It is only a supreme self-possessing Knowledge which can thus be powerful to limit itself in the act and yet work out perfectly all its intentions through that apparent ignorance."(Ibid)
Therefore, all that seems to be consequences of Ignorance - incapacity, weakness, impotence, limitation of power and our will's hampered struggle is an attempt to limit the force and work through that self-limitation to achieve the secret intention of the All-Power of the indivisible Omniscience. (Ibid, pg.404)
Date of Update:
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu