Sri Aurobindo does not subscribe to such an oversimplified generalization. He explains that both the ‘One’ and the ‘Multiplicity’ exist as a permanent and simultaneous duality. If the multiplicity would disappear, ‘something’ could still remain as a residual substrate, something which is the ground or ethereal essence from which the multiplicity could again re-manifest. In other words, the One carries in itself the potentiality of the ‘many’.
The question that immediately arises is whether the ‘multiplicity’ is a permanent phenomenon. Individuals die, the solar systems collapse, creation dissolves. If the yogi insists on ‘pralaya’ or dissolution, the scientist also believes in entropy and destruction – both enjoy a commonality!
However, Sri Aurobindo describes that the dissolution of a particular creation is followed by a ‘recurrence’ or re-manifestation. Of course, as creation is a progressive phenomenon, each new creation has something new; each new creation is unique by itself. What is important is that not one particular creation is eternal but that the phenomenon of ‘recurrence’ producing ever-new creations is eternal. It is interesting that the phenomenon of recurrence actually does justice to the creative ‘idea’ that brings forth the multiplicity for only then an endless variation in multiplicity can manifest ad infinitum.
Scientists without having the experiential realization of Yogis can congratulate themselves to compose theses on the history of Time, naturally qualifying the history as ‘brief’ if the dimension of timelessness is not acknowledged. Sri Aurobindo emphasizes that the relation of ‘One’ and ‘Many’ is not a relation in time but a relation in consciousness. ‘We can only assert the priority of the oneness to the multiplicity, a priority not in time but in relation of consciousness, and no statement of supreme spiritual experience, no Vedantic philosophy denies this priority or the eternal dependence of the Many on the One. It is because in Time the Many seem not to be eternal but to manifest out of the One and return into it as their essence that their reality is denied; but it might equally be reasoned that the eternal persistence or, if you will, the eternal recurrence of the manifestation in Time is a proof that the divine multiplicity is an eternal fact of the Supreme beyond Time no less than the divine unity; otherwise it could not have this characteristic of inevitable eternal recurrence in Time’(LD,old,161)
Depth psychology acknowledges that the past is stored in the individual unconscious as well as in the collective unconscious. An extension of this logic would lead us to speculate that when a particular creation dissolves, it does not simply vanish but leaves a trail of memory traces in the cosmic consciousness which form a template for the initiation of the next creation. This is what Sri Aurobindo seems to suggest when he describes the dawn of an emergent new creation:
A power of fallen boundless self awake
Between the first and the last Nothingness,
Recalling the tenebrous womb from which it came,
Turned from the insoluble mystery of birth
And the tardy process of mortality
And longed to reach its end in vacant Nought.
As in a dark beginning of all things.
A mute featureless semblance of the Unknown
Repeating for ever the unconscious act,
Prolonging for ever the unseeing will,
Cradled the cosmic drowse of ignorant Force
Whose moved creative slumber kindles the suns
And carries our lives in its somnambulist whirl.
(Sri Aurobindo, Savitri, pg 1)
Date of Update:
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu