supplies the mechanical energy for the rotation of electrons in
their nuclear orbits as well as the life-energy to sustain
biological systems. Then there is the universal field of ideas,
‘archetypes’, and their corresponding executive forces that among
other things help to manifest universal laws of the physical nature.
All these could have existed without the ‘individual’.
Once an individual
manifests, there is born a ‘centre’ for consolidating and
intensifying the wide-ranging universal movements. There is born a
conscious ‘centre’ for channelising, focusing and concentrating
universal rhythms in nature. The individual ‘centre’ can be the
nodal point for the most ‘intense’ experiences in consciousness.
This is in sharp contrast to the universal experiences of
‘wideness’, ‘expansion’, ‘impersonality’, that can manifest when the
‘individuality’ is dissolved in ‘cosmicity’, the individual
consciousness merges with the cosmic consciousness. Sri Aurobindo
explains the meta psychology of this contrast:
‘UNIVERSE IS A
DIFFUSION OF THE DIVINE ALL IN INFINITE SPACE AND TIME, THE
INDIVIDUAL ITS CONCENTRATION WITHIN LIMITS OF SPACE AND TIME’.
(The Life Divine, pg.52)
He goes an to
explain why the ‘individual’ is necessary:
‘UNIVERSE SEEKS IN
INFINITE EXTENSION THE DIVINE TOTALITY IT FEELS ITSELF TO BE BUT
CANNOT ENTIRELY REALISE; FOR IN EXTENSION EXISTENCE DRIVES AT A
PLURALISTIC SUM OF ITSELF WHICH CAN NEITHER BE THE PRIMAL NOR THE
FINAL UNIT, BUT ONLY A RECURRING DECIMAL WITHOUT END OR BEGINNING.
THEREFORE IT CREATES IN ITSELF A SELF-CONSCIOUS CONCENTRATION OF THE
ALL THROUGH WHICH IT CAN ASPIRE. IN THE CONSCIOUS INDIVIDUAL… WORLD
SEEKS AFTER SELF, GOD HAVING ENTIRELY BECOME NATURE, NATURE SEEKS TO
BECOME PROGRESSIVELY GOD’.
THE UNIVERSE AND
THE INDIVIDUAL ARE NECESSARY TO EACH OTHER IN THEIR ASCENT. ALWAYS
INDEED THEY EXIST FOR EACH OTHER AND PROFIT BY EACH OTHER.
spirituality, one cherished goal has been an effacement of the
individual into the vastness of the cosmos, an universalizing of the
individuality, an extension of the ego- bound personality into the
ego-transcending, world-exceeding impersonality.
But in Sri
Aurobindo’s scheme of things, the ‘individual’ is as important and
as relevant as the ‘universal’. The ‘universal’ experience of losing
the individuality in the vastness, tranquility, silence, wideness,
peace and purity is one cherished goal, but it has to be
supplemented by an equally important movement of consolidating the
individual ‘centre’ through intense, ‘peak’ experiences of extreme
joy, love, sweetness, faith, devotion. If one experience represents
a dimension of ‘wideness’ and ‘diffusion’; the other experience
represents a dimension of ‘intensification’ and ‘concentration’.
Naturally, to justify His scheme, Sri Aurobindo has to make an
unique provision in the structure of the human being --accommodating
a metaphysical-experiential construct which has not been explored
earlier in spiritual pursuits. This provision is necessary as the
usual, ordinary individual represents a mass of scattered ideas,
emotions and bodily habits centered on a skewed ego-principle.
Traditional spirituality had no faith in such a disharmonious
individuality and preferred its dissolution in the impersonal
vastness of ‘universal’ consciousness. Sri Aurobindo takes a
different approach to make the individual harmonious, credible and
worthy. He modifies the concept of the Jivatman or ‘soul-principle’
which, stationed in a poise above the manifestation, yet upholds the
manifestation (the being whose frontal appearance constitutes the
personality), and explains that the Jivatman sends a projection INTO
THE Manifestation – into the centre of the individual being. This
fourth- dimensional ego-surpassing principle (He names it as the
‘PSYCHIC BEING’) makes the individual harmonious, credible and is
the real ‘centre’ through which all experiences that are marked by ‘
intensity’ viz love, sweetness, faith, bhakti, surrender,
aspiration, can find a channel for expression. These ‘intense’
experiences supplement the ‘universal’ experiences at the level of
the Jivatman above the manifestation (the being) marked by wideness,
vastness and impersonality.
The structure of the Human Being will be unraveled in subsequent
chapters and is one of the most important contributions of Sri
Aurobindo’s experiential concepts in the realm of practical
‘This world is a beginning and a base
Where Life and Mind erect their structured dreams;
An unborn Power must build reality.
A deathbound littleness is not all we are:
Immortal our forgotten vastnesses
Await discovery in our summit selves;
Unmeasured breadths and depths of being are ours.
Always we bear in us a magic key
(Sri Aurobindo, Savitri. pg. 46,49.)
Concealed in life’s hermetic envelope.
A burning Witness in the sanctuary
Regards through Time and the blind walls of Form;
A timeless Light is in his hidden eyes;
He sees the secret things no words can speak
And knows the goal of the unconscious world
And the heart of the mystery of the journeying years.’
Date of Update:
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu