(a project of Mirravision Trust, Financed by Auroshakti Foundation)

Chapter I
Chapter II - Part 1
Chapter II - Part 2
Chapter II - Part 3
Chapter II - Part 4
Chapter III - Part 1
Chapter III - Part 2
Chapter III - Part 3
Chapter III - Part 4
Chapter III - Part 5
Chapter III - Part 6
Chapter IV - Part 1
Chapter IV - Part 2
Chapter IV - Part 3
Chapter IV - Part 4
Chapter V-Part 1
Chapter V - Part 2
Chapter V - Part 3
Chapter V - Part 4
Chapter V - Part 5
Chapter VI - Part 1
Chapter VI - Part 2
Chapter VI - Part 3
Chapter VI - Part 4
Chapter VI - Part 5
Chapter VII - Part 1
Chapter VII - Part 2
Chapter VII - Part 3
Chapter VII - Part 4
Chapter VII - Part 5
Chapter VIII - Part 1
Chapter VIII - Part 2
Chapter VIII - Part 3
Chapter VIII - Part 4
Chapter IX - Part 1
Chapter IX - Part 2
Chapter X - Part 1
Chapter X - Part 2
Chapter X - Part 3
Chapter X - Part 4
Chapter X - Part 5
Chapter X - Part 6
Chapter XI - Part 1
Chapter XI - Part 2
Chapter XI - Part 3
Chapter XI - Part 4
Chapter XII - Part 1
Chapter XII - Part 2
Chapter XII - Part 3
Chapter XII - Part 4
Chapter XII - Part 5
Chapter XIII - Part 1
Chapter XIII - Part 2
Chapter XIV - Part 1
Chapter XIV - Part 2
Chapter XIV - Part 3
Chapter XIV - Part 4
Chapter XIV - Part 5
Chapter XV - Part 1
Chapter XV - Part 2
Chapter XV - Part 3
Chapter XV - Part 4
Chapter XV - Part 5
Chapter XV - Part 6
Chapter XV - Part 7
Chapter XV - Part 8
Chapter XV - Part 9
Chapter XVI - Part 1
Chapter XVI - Part 2
Chapter XVI - Part 3
Chapter XVI - Part 4
Chapter XVI - Part 5
Chapter XVI - Part 6
Chapter XVI - Part 7
Chapter XVI - Part 8
Chapter XVI - Part 9
Chapter XVI - Part 10
Chapter XVI - Part 11
Chapter XVI - Part 12
Chapter XVI - Part 13
Chapter XVII - Part 1
Chapter XVII - Part 2
Chapter XVII - Part 3
Chapter XVII - Part 4
Chapter XVIII - Part 1
Chapter XVIII - Part 2
Chapter XVIII - Part 3
Chapter XVIII - Part 4
Chapter XVIII - Part 5
Chapter XVIII - Part 6
Chapter XVIII - Part 7
Chapter XVIII - Part 8
Chapter XVIII - Part 9
Chapter XVIII - Part 10
Chapter XIX - Part 1
Chapter XIX - Part 2
Chapter XIX - Part 3
Chapter XIX - Part 4
Chapter XIX - Part 5
Chapter XIX - Part 6
Chapter XIX - Part 7
Chapter XX - Part 1
Chapter XX - Part 2
Chapter XX - Part 3
Chapter XX - Part 4
Chapter XX - Part 4
Chapter XXI - Part 1
Chapter XXI - Part 2
Chapter XXI - Part 3
Chapter XXI - Part 4
Chapter XXII - Part 1
Chapter XXII - Part 2
Chapter XXII - Part 3
Chapter XXII - Part 4
Chapter XXII - Part 5
Chapter XXII - Part 6
Chapter XXIII Part 1
Chapter XXIII Part 2
Chapter XXIII Part 3
Chapter XXIII Part 4
Chapter XXIII Part 5
Chapter XXIII Part 6
Chapter XXIII Part 7
Chapter XXIV Part 1
Chapter XXIV Part 2
Chapter XXIV Part 3
Chapter XXIV Part 4
Chapter XXIV Part 5
Chapter XXV Part 1
Chapter XXV Part 2
Chapter XXV Part 3
Chapter XXVI Part 1
Chapter XXVI Part 2
Chapter XXVI Part 3
Chapter XXVII Part 1
Chapter XXVII Part 2
Chapter XXVII Part 3
Chapter XXVIII Part 1
Chapter XXVIII Part 2
Chapter XXVIII Part 3
Chapter XXVIII Part 4
Chapter XXVIII Part 5
Chapter XXVIII Part 6
Chapter XXVIII Part 7
Chapter XXVIII Part 8
Book II, Chapter 1, Part I
Book II, Chapter 1, Part II
Book II, Chapter 1, Part III
Book II, Chapter 1, Part IV
Book II, Chapter 1, Part V
Book II, Chapter 2, Part I
Book II, Chapter 2, Part II
Book II, Chapter 2, Part III
Book II, Chapter 2, Part IV
Book II, Chapter 2, Part V
Book II, Chapter 2, Part VI
Book II, Chapter 2, Part VII
Book II, Chapter 2, Part VIII
Book II, Chapter 3, Part I
Book II, Chapter 3, Part II
Book II, Chapter 3, Part III
Book II, Chapter 3, Part IV
Book II, Chapter 3, Part V
Book II, Chapter 4, Part I
Book II, Chapter 4, Part II
Book II, Chapter 4, Part III
Book II, Chapter 5, Part I
Book II, Chapter 5, Part II
Book II, Chapter 5, Part III
Book II, Chapter 6, Part I
Book II, Chapter 6, Part II
Book II, Chapter 6, Part III
Book II, Chapter 7, Part I
Book II, Chapter 7, Part II
Book II, Chapter 8, Part I
Book II, Chapter 8, Part II
Book II, Chapter 9, Part I
Book II, Chapter 9, Part II
Book II, Chapter 10, Part I
Book II, Chapter 10, Part II
Book II, Chapter 10, Part III

A Psychological Approach to Sri Aurobindo's

The Life Divine

Chapter XII Part 1


Chapter XII of the Life Divine named “Delight of Existence: The Solution” is a companion of Chapter XI titled “Delight of Existence: The Problem”.

In Chapter XI, Sri Aurobindo has dealt with the ‘Cosmic Sorrow’ perspective of Buddhism. In Chapter XII he also deals with the ‘Cosmic Disillusionment’ perspective of Mayavada. As he puts it squarely ‘neither is pain the necessary condition of life, as the Buddhists say, nor is extinction of sensation the condition of bliss’ (Essays Divine and Human, pg.215).

In Chapter XII, he also introduces us to His own scheme of the structure of the human being, its different planes, dimensions and ranges--its poise of impersonality as well as its poise of personality.

The Three Generalizations of the Play of Existence

Our ordinary existence as perceived by our mental consciousness is impermanent, subject to entropy, decay, and dissolution. Spirituality has however described the experiential realisation of an eternal, illimitable, absolute existence. Our ordinary scientific view of existence revolves around the workings of matter-energy that somehow spins out life from a chance combination of material factors. Sri Aurobindo describes a Conscious-Force building graded worlds that moves towards a definite goal of a perfected life on earth itself and not in a faraway heaven. Our ordinary value of existence is hooked to the triple vibrations of pleasure-pain-indifference that go on circling without any progress. Spiritual experiences describe an unqualified, motiveless, self- existent bliss, as not only a mere value but the very nature of Reality.

It would be thus interesting to probe the play of existence vis-à-vis the immutable Reality of Sachchidananda -- ‘Existence--Consciousness-Force-Bliss’ In the Indian tradition, there are three broad generalizations of the play of existence characteristic of three different traditions though they have all evolved from the unitary matrix of consciousness.

We have emphasized how Sri Aurobindo explained that Sachchidananda is not a summation of the three cardinal principles of Reality (Existence--Consciousness-Force--Bliss) but it is the one Reality with multiple poises. If we consider the three principles separately, we have three separate views of existence. This is exactly what happened in Indian metaphysics. Sri Aurobindo integrates the three views of existence.

The three views of existence that were initiated by the separatist, divisive and analytic tendency of our mental consciousness are

a) MAYA as a phenomenon of existence (derived from SAT-The existential aspect of Reality

b) PRAKRITI as a force of existence (derived from CHIT-SHAKTI or the energy aspect of Reality

c) LILA as the quality of existence (derived from the ANANDA or the value aspect of Reality)

MAYA as a phenomenon of existence

Our ordinary perception of existence is transient, ephemeral and impermanent. Our lives are limited, our planets can be subject to dissolution, and in a moment of fury, our universal nature in the form of a tsunami or volcano or our human nature in the form of anger and violence can destroy what has been assiduously built up through centuries. Our whole human drama turns out to be short-lived, pessimistic and meaningless. No wonder if this line of thinking is extended into metaphysical realms and seized by a spiritual asceticism, the world might appear to be illusionary, unreal, void and blank--a dream or a hallucination that has to be forsaken for the experiential realization of a Reality that is eternal, timeless, illimitable and absolute. This is how we ordinarily view the World-existence as a phenomenal MAYA or a phenomenon of Illusion.

Sri Aurobindo begs to differ. He points out four important things

1) The original meaning of MAYA was different for it initially signified a creative conscious force at work. ‘Maya in its original sense meant a comprehending and containing consciousness capable of embracing, measuring and limiting and therefore formative; it is that which outlines, measures out, moulds forms in the formless, psychologises and seems to make knowable the Unknowable, geometrises and seems to make measurable the limitless. Later the world came from its original sense of knowledge, skill, intelligence to acquire a pejorative sense of cunning, fraud or illusion, and it is in the figure of an enchantment or illusion that is used by the philosophical systems’ (The Life Divine, pg. –111)

2) Even if the world-existence were to ‘dissolve’, it could be re-manifested. If the existence is not eternally permanent, it can be eternally recurrent. The world-existence is created and recreated endlessly. The human quest searches for an “eternal” element, which is difficult to find in a life that is transient. It can however be discovered in a recurrence of life that is a perpetual phenomenon. We have a habit of describing the beginning and end of things but Sri Aurobindo explains, that this is a concept ‘that has no meaning unless we speak of sections of existence, sections of it in Time, sections of it in Space, sections of it in substance; for these have a beginning and an end. Existence in itself has no end even as it never had a beginning.’ … ‘pure existence is only a state of being and not being in its whole truth and integral significance’ (Essays Divine and Human, Pg. 191) This means that the recurrence of sections of Existence is as important as pure Existence and both have to be considered in an integral vision.

3) The world-existence even if impermanent represents a phenomenal truth. It might not represent the ESSENTIAL TRUTH of Reality that is characterized by a fundamental and immutable unity. Nevertheless, it represents a phenomenal truth of the free multiplicity and endless mutability of the one Reality. In the end, MAYA is only a partial explanation of existence. It is not the world that is an illusion but the identification of the transient world as “ultimate”, which is an illusion.

4) Sri Aurobindo considers that terms like MAYA, illusion, dream, unreality are words that are conventional and symbols of a truth that is basically inexpressible. As such, too much intellectual weightage must not be forced upon these verbal figures. ‘They are like the paintbrush hurled by the painter at his picture in desperation of not arriving at the effect he wanted; they are stones thrown at the truth, not the truth itself. (Essays Divine and Human, pg.142). In fact Sri Aurobindo did not approve the rigorous conclusion made by intellectual giants who placed more values on the concept of illusion than it deserved resulting in spiritual richness but material bankruptcy. ‘The truth in their premises has made their doctrines a mighty instrument for the liberation of great & austere souls, the error in their conclusion has afflicted humanity with the vain & barren gospel of the vanity not only of false mundane existence, but of all mundane existence. In the extreme forms of these view both nature & Supernature, man & God are lies of consciousness, myths of a cosmic dream & not worth accepting…A better day will dawn for India when the shadow is lifted and the Indian mental consciousness without renouncing the truth of Maya, perceives that it is only a partial explanation of existence’. (Ibid, pg143)

PRAKRITI as a Force of Existence

In spite of Sachchidananda being an indivisible triune, an exaggeration of the CHIT-SHAKTI or Consciousness-Force aspect of the triune Reality at the cost of Sat (Existence) and Ananda (Bliss) aspects results in viewing the world-existence as a playfield of forces. Of course, science also views existence as a mere play of forces. The difference between the scientific and the spiritual view is that the latter perspective invests “Force” with “Consciousness” so that the “force” or “energy” is not a brute mechanical force working blindly, but invested with meaning and purpose at every level of existence. What Purpose?

The traditional answer to this question of ‘Purpose’ is that world-existence is ‘the play of Prakriti, the executive force to satisfy Purusha, the regarding and enjoying Conscious Being or it is the play of Purusha reflected in the movements of Force and with them identifying himself’ (The Life Divine, pg 112-113)

Thus ‘Force’ is represented as ‘Prakriti’ or “Nature” while ‘Consciousness’ is represented as a being who stands behind the ‘Force’, permits the execution of the ‘Force’, is the Master-Witness who watches the actions of the ‘Force’ and also has the ability to ‘become’ the ‘Force’. Prakriti is thus a movement of Force working out some secret will or some necessity imposed by the very existence of the Consciousness that possesses or regards it (Ibid, pg. 112).


This was enough for the traditional view. Sri Aurobindo however is not satisfied and modifies this perspective. For Him, The world-existence is not a mere play of forces, but a play that is ‘EVOLUTIONARY’ in nature unfolding a hierarchy of worlds and thus a holarchy of forces.. For a section of the traditionalists, the World-Play in the end was supposed to create a universal falsehood--a cosmic illusion. To Sri Aurobindo, the play is positive as it is meant to be a field of manifestation of progressively higher and complex powers of consciousness.

LILA as the quality of existence

There is another view of world-existence that places more emphasis on the Ananda (Bliss) aspect of the Sachchidananda (Existence-Consciousness-Force-Bliss). When more weightage is given to the ‘Self-existent bliss’ poise of the triune Reality, then we are apt to describe existence as a ‘LILA’- a play for the sake of playing; a play for the joy of playing. This play is not marked by hierarchies and motivation. It is a pure play for the sheer joy of playing – for ‘the child’s joy, the poet’s joy, the actor’s joy, the mechanician’s joy of the Soul of the things eternally young, perpetually inexhaustible, creating and recreating Himself in Himself for the sheer bliss of that self-creation, of that self-representation, --Himself the play, Himself the player, Himself the playground (Ibid, pg 113).

It is because of this conception that the poet, the artist, the musician can enjoy one’s own creation without any inhibition. It is because of this concept that Universal Love can manifest disregarding all constraints that divide mankind. It is because of this concept that man can still fight boredom, alienation and meaninglessness in life. It is because of this concept that man continues to live, love and enjoy and cling to life despite death. It is because of this LILA that Tagore, in whose home death was a frequent visitor, could still cry out:

‘I have had my invitation to this world’s festival and thus my life has been blessed’ (Gitanjali)


In spite of Existence, Consciousness-Force & Bliss being an inseparable triune, it was necessary that at a certain point each poise should develop separately so that all possibilities involved could be expressed or understood. But finally, the three aspects should be reconciled or else we end up with partial generalizations.

‘These three generalisations of the play of existence in its relation to the eternal and stable, the immutable Sachchidananda, starting from the three conceptions of Maya, Prakriti and Lila and representing themselves in our philosophical systems as mutually contradictory philosophies, are in reality perfectly consistent with each other, complementary and necessary in their totality to an integral view of life and the world. The world of which we are a part is in its most obvious view a movement of Force, but that Force, when we penetrate its appearances, proves to be a consistent and yet always mutable rhythm of creative consciousness casting up, projecting in itself phenomenal truths of its own infinite and eternal being; and this rhythm is in its essence, cause and purpose a play of the infinite delight of being ever busy with its   own innumerable self-representations. This triple or triune view must be the starting-point for all our understanding of the universe’. (The Life Divine, pg113)

Sri Aurobindo explains His viewpoint very clearly in one of his letters where He talks about the novelty of his messages:


(LETTERS ON YOGA,Tome I, 1969 ed, pg67


He is not anything, yet all is He;

He is not all but far exceeds that scope.

Both Time and Timelessness sink in that sea:

Time is a wave and Space a wandering drop.

   Within Himself He shadowed Being forth,

Which is a younger birth, a veil He chose

To half-conceal Him, Knowledge, nothing worth

Save to have glimpses of its mighty cause,

And high Delight, a spirit infinite,

  That is the fountain of this glorious world,

  Delight that labours in its opposite,

  Faints in the rose and on the rack is curled.

This was the triune playground that He made

And One there sports awhile. He plucks His flowers  

And by His bees is stung; He is dismayed,

Flees from Himself or has His sullen hours.

The Almighty One knew labour, failure, strife;

Knowledge forgot divined itself again:

He made an eager death and called it life,

He stung Himself with bliss and called it pain.

(Sri Aurobindo: Collected Poems, pg 63)

Date of Update: 18-Apr-13   

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu

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