THE LIFE DIVINE
- A SUMMARY -
Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine as we know it today, with its fifty-six chapters in two books and three parts, differs considerably from the original version of the work, which appeared in fifty-four monthly instalments in the philosophical review Arya between August 1914 and January 1919. Each instalment was written immediately before its publication.
The Life Divine is, in fact, the most thoroughly and systematically revised of all Sri Aurobindo’s prose works.
Between 1921 and 1939, Sri Aurobindo undertook the revision of chapters of The Life Divine on two occasions. He did this work, first, on pages torn from copies of the Arya and, secondly, in his bound set of the journal. In both cases he lightly revised selected chapters. All told, thirty of the first thirty-two Arya chapters received some revision. But he did not consult this work when, in the beginning of 1939, he began a systematic revision of the entire work with a view to bringing it out as a book. The revised Life Divine must be considered a greatly expanded and largely rewritten work. Even those of its chapters which were first published in the Arya and retain their original structure in the revised version have been (especially for its second part) changed substantially. None of Sri Aurobindo’s other ‘revised’ works have been the subject of such a complete recasting. It is evident from the manuscripts that the work is comprehensive and systematic, consisting of the repeated revision of drafts for every chapter, so that by the time of publication, the whole text had been gone over thoroughly many times.
The revised Life Divine was published for the first time in two Volumes in 1939 and 1940 by the Arya Publishing House, Calcutta. It should be noted that these “Volumes” were the two main structural divisions of the work. The 1939-40 edition of The Life Divine consisted of three physical volumes, one for “Volume I” (published in November 1939 and consisting of the first twenty-seven chapter of the Arya text, along with a newly written twenty-eight chapter) and two for “Volume II” (published in July 1940 and consisting of twenty-eight chapters — eight Arya chapters were discarded and seventeen considerably revised, while twelve new chapters were written). Subsequent editions of the work were published in two physical volumes and sometimes in one. The first one-volume edition was brought out in New York in 1949. In this American edition the two “Volumes” were called “Books”; this change of the name of the primary structural division of The Life Divine was adopted in all subsequent editions, published in India or in the United States. The new editions were published in 1955, 1970, 1990, 2001 and 2007. The edition published in 2007 (included in “The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo”, in 37 volumes) has been checked against all editions published before 1950 and, when necessary, the Author’s manuscripts.
Sri Aurobindo once wrote, somewhat jocularly,
in a confidential epistle:
«And philosophy! Let me tell you in confidence that I never, never, never was a philosopher — although I have written philosophy which is another story altogether. I knew precious little about philosophy before I did Yoga and came to Pondicherry — I was a poet and a politician, not a philosopher. How I managed to do it and why? First, because P.R. [a French intellectual]proposed me to co-operate in a philosophical review — and as my theory was that a Yogi ought to be able to turn his hand to anything, I could not very well refuse; and then he had to go to the war and left me in the lurch with sixty-four pages a month of philosophy all to write by my lonely self. […] I had only to write down in the terms of the intellect all that I had observed and come to know in practising Yoga daily and the philosophy was there automatically. But that is not being a philosopher!».
The firsts of the Synopsis offered here below, was written
by Sri Aurobindo in the 1940’s in response
to pressing requests for a model indicating the lines
upon which a summary of The Life Divine could be attempted.
The others Synopsis are realised by our staff
in the lines of the firsts.
OMNIPRESENT REALITY AND THE UNIVERSE
The Human Aspiration
«Man’s highest aspiration has been always a seeking for God, perfection, freedom, an absolute truth and bliss, immortality.
A direct contradiction exists between this aspiration and his present state of mortality, imperfection, bondage to mechanical necessity, ego and animality.
This contradiction between what he is and what he seeks to be is not a final argument against his aspiration. Contradictions are part of Nature’s method; the aspiration may be achievable by individual effort or by an evolutionary progress.
The problems of existence are problems of harmony.
The accordance of an active life-principle with the inanimate Matter containing it is Nature’s first evolutionary problem; its complete solution would be immortality in the body.
The accordance of conscious Mind with and unconscious Matter and half-conscious Life is her second evolutionary problem; a direct and perfect instrumentation of knowledge in a living body would be its complete solution.
The accordance of immortal spirit with a mortal mind, life and body is her third and final problem; its complete solution would be the evolution of a divine being and a divine nature.
As Nature has implanted the impulse to life in Matter, to mind in life, so she has implanted in mind the impulse towards the evolution of what is beyond mind, spiritual, supramental. Each impulse justifies itself by the creation of the necessary organs and faculties».
The Two Negations
1. The Materialist Denial
If Spirit is involved in Matter, Matter will be a form of the Spirit. These two terms — Matter and Spirit —, are not irreconciliable opponents bound together in an unhappy wedlock, but the two very extreme terms of Being; and, to came to a true reconciliation, we have to recognize a series of ascending terms between them: Life, Mind, Supermind (and the grades that link Mind to Supermind).
If we assert only pure Spirit and a mechanical unintelligent substance or energy, calling one God or Soul and the other Nature, the inevitable end will be that we shall either deny the Soul as an illusion of the imagination (and it is the materialist denial), or else turn from Nature, denying it as an illusion of the senses (and it is the refusal of the ascetic). Therefore, in these barren contradictions the human mind cannot rest satisfied. It must seek always a complete affirmation; it can find it only by a luminous reconciliation, in order to arrive at the repose of the ultimate unity without denying the energy of the expressive multiplicity.
The negation of the materialist although more resistant and immediately successful, is yet less enduring than the refusal of the ascetic. For it carries within itself its own cure. Its most powerful element is the Agnosticism which, admitting the unknowable behind all manifestation, extends the limits of the unknowable until it comprehends all that is merely unknown. Its premiss is that the physical senses are our sole means of knowledge and that Reason cannot escape beyond their domain. A premiss so arbitrary pronounces on itself its own sentence of insufficiency.
Significant, in that sense, is the drive of Science towards a Monism which is consistent with multiplicity.
But, first, it is well that we should recognize the enormous, the indispensable utility of the very brief period of rationalistic Materialism through which humanity has been passing. For that vast field of evidence and experience which now begins to reopen its gates to us, can only be safety entered when the intellect has been severely trained to a clear austerity; seized on by unripe minds, it lends itself to the most perilous distortions and misleading imaginations. The rationalistic tendency of Materialism, with its inexhaustive search for knowledge, has done mankind this great service.
The touch of Earth is always reinvigorating to the son of Earth, even when he seeks a supraphysical Knowledge. It may even be said that the supraphysical can only be really mastered in its fullness when we keep our feet firmly on the physical.
The Two Negations
1. The Refusal of the Ascetic
If the materialist is justified from his point of view in insisting on Matter as reality, the relative world as the sole thing of which we can in some sort be sure and the Beyond as wholly unknowable, so also is the sannyasin, enamoured of that Beyond, justified from his point of view in insisting on pure Spirit as the reality, the one thing free from change, birth, death, and the relative as a creation of the mind and the senses, a dream, an abstraction.
The possibility of a cosmic consciousness in humanity is coming slowly to be admitted in modern Psychology. In the psychology of the East it has always been recognized as a reality and the aim of our subjective progress.
Entering into that Consciousness, we may continue to dwell, like It, upon universal existence. And, if we choose, we can proceed farther and, after passing through many linking stages, become aware of a supermind whose universal operation is the key to all lesser activities. This conscious Being which is truth of the infinite supermind, is more than the universe and lives independently in Its own inexpressible infinity as well as in the cosmic harmonies. World lives by That; That does not live by the world.
And as we can enter into the cosmic consciousness and be one with all cosmic existence, so we can enter into the world-transcending consciousness and become superior to all cosmic existence. And the mind when it passes those gates suddenly, without immediate transitions, receives a sense of the unreality of the world and the sole reality of the Silence which is one of the most powerful and convincing experiences of which the human mind is capable.
In the perception of this pure Self or of the Non-Being behind it, we have the starting-point for a second negation: renunciation as the sole path of knowledge, acceptation of physical life as the act of the ignorant, cessation from birth as the right use of human birth, the call of the Spirit, the recoil from Matter.
In practice also the ascetic spirit is an indispensable element in human perfection and even its separate affirmation cannot be avoided so long as mankind is subjected to animalism. We seek indeed a larger and completer affirmation.
The passionate aspiration of man upward to the Divine has not been sufficiently related to the descending movement of the Divine leaning downward to embrace eternally Its manifestation. Its meaning in Matter has not been so well understood as Its truth in the Spirit.
Since we admit both the claim of the pure Spirit to manifest in us its absolute freedom and the claim of universal Matter to be the mould and condition of our manifestation, we have to find a truth that can entirely reconcile these apparent antagonists.
In the cosmic consciousness, Matter becomes real to Spirit, Spirit becomes real to Matter. Mind and Life are disclosed in that illumination as at once figures and instruments of the supreme Conscious Being. In the light of this conception we can perceive the possibility of a divine life for man in the world.
The silent and the active Brahman are not different, opposite and irreconcilable; they are the one Brahman in two aspects, positive and negative, and each is necessary to the other. Sat and Asat, if they have both to be affirmed, must be conceived as if they obtained simultaneously. The limitations we impose on the Brahman arise from a narrowness of experience in the individual mind which concentrate itself on one aspect of the Unknowable and proceeds forthwith to deny or disparage all the rest.
It is possible for the consciousness in the individual to enter into a state in which relative existence appears to be dissolved and even Self seems to be an inadequate conception. But this is not the whole of our ultimate experience, nor the single and all-excluding truth. Nirvana itself, while it gives an absolute peace and freedom to the soul within is yet consistent in practice with a desireless but effective action without.
The unknowable is something to us supreme, wonderful and ineffable which continually formulates Itself to our consciousness and continually escapes from the formulation It has made. An omnipresent reality is the Brahman, not and omnipresent cause of persisting illusions.
The real Monism is that which admits all things as the one Brahman and does not seek to bisect Its experience into two incompatible entities, and eternal Truth and an eternal Falsehood; Brahman and not-Brahman, Self and not-Self, a real Self and an unreal, yet perpetual Maya. If it be true that the Self alone exists, it must be also true that all is the Self.
Brahman is indivisible in all things and whatever is willed in the world has been ultimately willed by the Brahman. It is only our relative consciousness that seeks to deliver the Brahman from responsibility for Itself and its workings by erecting some opposite principle, Maya or Mara, conscious Devil or self-existent principle of evil. There is one Lord and Self and the many are only his representations and becomings.
We start, then, with the conception of an omnipresent Reality of which neither the Non-Being at the one end nor the universe at the other are negations that annul; they are rather different states of the Reality, obverse and reverse affirmations. All the dualities of the universe will be also resolved into those highest terms. And if this Self, God or Brahman is no helpless state, no bounded power, no limited personality, but the self-conscient All, there must be some good and inherent reason in it for the manifestation.
The Destiny of the Individual
An omnipresent Reality is the truth of all life and existence; and in all its infinitely varying and even constantly opposed self-expression, the Reality is one and not a sum or concourse. Brahman is the Alpha and the Omega. Brahman is the One besides whom there is nothing else existent.
This nature is in its nature indefinable; there is no experience by which we can limit It, there is no conception by which It can be defined.
If in our haste to arrive at a Unity, excluding all the rest, we arrive not at a true unity but at a division of the Indivisible. For the Many also are Brahman. Such was the experience of the ancient rishis. It was a later impatience of heart and mind which sought the One to deny the Many.
Brahman is entered into forms to enjoy self-manifestation in the figures of relative and phenomenal consciousness. Brahman is in this world to represent Itself in the values of Life. Life exists in Brahman in order to discover Brahman in itself. Therefore, to fulfil God in life is man’s manhood. He starts from the animal vitality and its activities, but a divine existence is his objective.
In Thought, as in Life, the true rule of self-realization is a progressive comprehension. Brahman is integral and unifies many states of consciousness at a time; we also, manifesting the nature of Brahman, should become integral and all-embracing. However high we may climb, we climb ill if we forget our base. If, in reaching the Spirit, we cast away Mind and Life and Matter, we cannot realize the Divine integrally, nor satisfy the conditions of our own self-manifestation.
The nodus of Life is the relation between three general forms of consciousness, the individual, the universal and the transcendent. That which we give currently the name of God, is not so much a supracosmic as extra-cosmic. The integral view of the unity of Brahman avoids these consequences, for the World-Transcendent embraces the universe, even as the universe embraces the individual, is one with him and does not exclude him. The individual is a centre of the whole universal consciousness; the universe is a form and definition of the Formless and Indefinable.
Brahman is bound neither by Its unity nor by Its multiplicity. It is free and absolute, entirely free to include and arrange in Its own way all possible terms in Its self-expression, to make a scheme of Itself in the complementary terms of unity and multiplicity, and this multiple unity It establishes in the three conditions of the subconscient, the conscient and the supraconscient. In the conscient the ego becomes the superficial point at which the awareness of unity can emerge. When the ego transcends the personal consciousness, it begins to include and be overpowered by that which is superconscious. This individual liberation is the keynote of the definitive divine action. To be perfect as He is perfect is the condition of His integral attainment.
Man in the Universe
The progressive revelation of a supreme Reality seem then to be the meaning of the universe. An existence, wholly self-aware and therefore entirely master of itself, possesses the phenomenal being in which it is involved, realises itself in form, unfolds itself in the individual. The ascent to the divine Life is therefore the human adventure.
The conscious existence involved in the form comes, as it evolves, to know itself by intuition, by self-vision, by self-experience. This becoming of the infinite Bliss-Existence-Consciousness in mind an life and body is the utility of individual existence.
This descent of the supreme Reality is in its nature a self-concealing; and in the descent there are successive levels, in the concealing successive veils. Each successive level in the descent of the Divine is to man a stage in an ascension; each veil that hides the unknown God becomes for the God-seeker an instrument of His unveiling.
Out of the rhythmic slumber of material Nature unconscious of the Soul, the world struggles into the more quick, varied and disordered rhythm of Life; Out of Life it struggles upward into Mind in which the unity becomes awake to itself and its world. But Mind takes up the work to continue, not to complete it. Our world has yet to climb beyond Mind to a higher principle, a higher status, a higher dynamism in which universe and individual become aware of and possess that which they both are and therefore stand explained to each other, in harmony with each other, unified. That higher principle dwells in supermind; for supermind is superman.
The universe and the individual are necessary to each other in their ascent. Universe is a diffusion of the divine All in infinite Space and Time, the individual its concentration within limits of Space and Time. In the conscious individual Prakriti turns back to perceive Purusha, World seeks after the Self; God having entirely become Nature, Nature seeks to become progressively God.
Then, the true sense of human being will be to disengage some supreme order and some yet unrealised harmony; the ideal of human life cannot be simply the animal repeated on a higher scale of mentality.
Man is the greatest of living beings because he is the most discontented, because he feels most the pressure of limitations.
But by what alchemy shall this lead of mortality be turned into that gold of divine Being? If all is a manifestation of one Reality, these, in their true essence, are not contraries, but manifestations if that one Reality. Then indeed a divine transmutation becomes conceivable.
The Ego and the Dualities
If all is in truth Satcitananda, death, suffering, evil, limitations can only be the creations of a distorting consciousness which has fallen from the total and unifying knowledge of itself into some error of division and partial experience. The redemption comes by the recovery of the universal in the individual and the spiritual term in the physical consciousness. Then only can the purpose of the descent of the soul into material consciousness be accomplished, through the recovery of a higher knowledge which reconciles and identifies these opposites in the universal and transform their divisions into the image of the divine unity.
This must proceed through a renunciation by the ego of its false standpoint and false certainties, through its entry into a right relation and harmony with the totalities of which it forms a part and with the transcendences from which descended. Its goal must be the abolition of those values which are the creations of the egoistic view of things; its crown must be the transcendence of limitation, ignorance, death, suffering and evil.
It is not very easy for the customary mind of man, always attached to its past and present associations, to conceive of an existence still human, yet radically changed in what are now our fixed circumstances. But if we adhere to the idea that the ego is only an intermediate representation of something beyond itself, we may conceive that the individual may reach that which he represents, and can yet continue to represent, no longer as an obscured and limited ego, but as a centre of the Divine.
We have then the manifestation of the divine Conscious Being in the totality of physical Nature as the foundation of human existence in the material universe. We have the emergence of that Conscious Being in an involved and inevitably evolving Life, Mind and Supermind as the condition of our activities; for it is this evolution which has enabled man to appear in Matter and it is this evolution which will enable him progressively to manifest God in the body.
We have in egoistic formation the intermediate and decisive factor which allows the One to emerge as the conscious Many out of that indeterminate totality general, obscure and formless which we call the subconscient. The dualities are the first formulations of egoistic consciousness. The dissolution of this egoistic construction by the self-opening of the individual to the universe and to God is the means of that supreme fulfilment to which egoistic life is only a prelude even as animal life was only a prelude to the human. The transformation of the limited ego into a conscious centre of the divine unity and freedom is the term at which the fulfilment arrives. The outflowing of the Divine Being on the Many in the world is the divine result towards which the cycles of our evolution move.
The Methods of Vetantic Knowledge
What then is the working of this Saccidananda in the world and by what process of things are the relations between itself and the ego which figures it first formed, then led to their consummation?
Me have first to correct the errors of the sense-mind by the use of the pure reason, the use of which brings us finally from physical to metaphysical knowledge. But our nature sees things through two eyes always, for it views them doubly as idea and as fact and therefore every concept is incomplete for us and to a part of our nature almost unreal until it becomes an experience. Therefore, some other faculty of experience is necessary to us, by an extension of psychological experience.
Psychological experience, like the cognition of the reason, is capable in man of a double action, mixed and dependent on the senses, and a pure action which acts in itself an is aware of things directly by a sort of identity with them. If then we can extend our faculty of mental self-awareness to awareness of the Self beyond us, Atman or Brahman of the Upanishads, we may become possessors in experience of the truths which form the contents of the Atman or Brahman in the universe. In is on this possibility that Vedanta has based itself, finding through knowledge of the Self the knowledge of the universe.
But always mental experience and the concepts of the reason have been held by Vedanta to be even at their highest a reflection in mental identifications and not the supreme self-existent identity. We have to go beyond the mind and the reason, which are only mediators between the subconscient All that we come from in our evolution upwards and the superconscient All towards which we are impelled by that evolution. The subconscient and the superconscient are two different formulation of the same All. But whether in the subconscient the consciousness is involved in action, in the superconscient the self-awareness in the mind exalts itself into the luminous self-manifest identity, and the reason also converts itself into the form of the self-luminous intuitional knowledge.
Sad Brahman, Existence pure, indefinable, infinite, absolute, is the last concept at which Vedantic analysis arrives in its view of the universe, the fundamental Reality which Vedantic experience discovers behind all the movement and formation, seizing this message of the Intuition and formulating it in the three great declaration, “I am He”, “Thou art That”, “All this is the Brahman; this Self is the Brahman”.
But the age of intuitive knowledge had to give place to the age of rational knowledge, even as afterwards metaphysical had to give place to experimental Science. And this process which seems to be a descent, is really a circle of progress. For in each case the lower faculty is compelled to take as much as it can assimilate of what the higher had already given, preparing a more complete harmony of our parts of knowledge.
The pure Existent
When we withdraw our gaze from its egoistic preoccupation and look upon the world in search of the Truth, our first result is the perception of a boundless energy of infinite existence, infinite movement, infinite activity pouring itself out in limitless Space, in eternal Time, and that it exists for itself. Science reveals to us how minute is the care, how cunning the device, how intense the absorption it bestows upon the smallest of its works even as on the largest. An equal and impartial mother, its intensity and force of movement is the same in the formation and upholding of a system of suns and the organisation of the life of an ant-hill.
Brahman dwells in all, indivisible, yet as if divided and distributed. To Brahman there are no whole and parts, but each thing is all itself and benefits by the whole of Brahman. The form and manner and result of the force of action vary infinitely, but the eternal, primal, infinite energy is the same in all.
But our actual vision is deformed. We are infinitely important to the All, but to us the All is negligible; we alone are important to ourselves. This is the sign of the original ignorance which is the root of the ego. To recognise that the results and appearances we call ourselves are only a partial movement of this infinite Movement and that it is that infinite which we have to know, to be consciously and to fulfil faithfully, is the commencement of a divine living.
But what is this All, this infinite and omnipotent energy? Those who see only this world-energy can declare that there is no timeless and spaceless Stability, for all is movement and there is nothing that is stable. But there is a supreme experience and supreme intuition by which we go back behind our surface self and find that this becoming is only a mode of our being and that there is that in us which is not involved at all in the becoming. Not only can we have the intuition, not only can we have the glimpse, but we can draw back into it and live in it entirely, so effecting an entire change in our external life. It is pure existence, eternal, infinite, indefinable, nor affected by the succession of Time, not involved in the extention of Space, beyond form, quantity, quality — Self only and absolute.
The Absolute is beyond stability and movement as it is beyond unity and multiplicity. We must accept the double fact of stability and movement and seek to know what is this measureless Movement in Time and Space with regard to that timeless and spaceless pure Existence, one and stable, to which measure and measurelessness are inapplicable. On this essential discovery all the rest hinges.
All forms of Matter, for the Sankhyas, are built up by the combination of five elements which are self-modification of the primitive Force:
- a condition of pure material extension in Space of which the peculiar property is vibration typified to us by the phenomenon of sound;
- an interplay of vibrations, called in the old language the aerial, of which the special property is contact between force and force;
- a principle of light, electricity, fire and heat;
- a state of diffusion and a first medium of permanent attraction and repulsion, termed picturesquely water or the liquid state;
- a state of cohesion, termed earth or the solid state.
Upon them depends all our sensible experience; for by reception of vibration comes the sense of sound; by contact of things in a world of vibrations of Force the sense of touch; by the action of light in the forms hatched, outlined, sustained by the force of light and fore and heat the sense of sight, by the fourth element the sense of taste; by the fifth the sense of smell.
All is essentially response to vibratory contacts between force and force. In this way the ancient thinkers bridged the gulf between the pure Force and its final modifications and satisfied the difficulty which prevents the ordinary human mind from understanding how all these forms which are to his senses so real, solid and durable can ne in truth only temporary phenomena and a thing like pure energy, to the senses non-existent, intangible and almost incredible, can be the one permanent cosmic reality.
Physical analysis of Matter by modern Science has come to the same general conclusion. But this theory does not explain how the contact of vibrations of Force should give rise to conscious sensations. How did this movement come to take place at all in the bosom of existence? by what cause? by what mysterious impulsion?
The answer most approved by the ancient Indian mind was that Force is inherent in Existence — Brahman and Shakti are one.
And yet remains the question of the why. Why should not Force of existence remain eternally concentrated in itself, infinite, free from all variation and formation?
If Existence and Force were both inert, there cannot be any purpose or final goal in evolution or any original cause or intention. But if we find Existence to be conscious Being, the problem arises, and it is then necessary to examine into the relation between Force and Consciousness. For the material state is not a crude emptiness of consciousness, but only a sleep of consciousness. There is a Conscious Soul, a Purusha who wakes for ever in all that sleep.
The Force that builds the worlds is a conscious Force, the Existence which manifests itself in them is conscious Being and a perfect emergence of its potentialities in form is the sole object for its manifestation of this world of forms. The word consciousness is no longer synonymous with mentality but indicates a self-aware force of existence of which mentality is a middle term; below mentality it sinks into vital and material movements which are for us subconscient; above, it rises into the supramental which is for is the superconscient.
Nothing can evolve out of Matter which is not therein already contained.
Delight of Existence:
Why should Brahman, perfect, absolute, infinite, needing nothing, desiring nothing, at all throw out force of consciousness to create in itself these worlds of forms? If, being free to move or remain eternally still, it indulges its power of movement and formation, it can be only for one reason, for delight.
The self-delight of Brahman is not limited by the still and motionless possession of its absolute self-being, but is capable to find its self-delight in that infinite flux and mutability of itself represented by numberless teeming universes. To loose forth and enjoy this infinite movement and variation of its self-delight is the object of its extensive or creative play of Force.
That which has thrown itself out into forms is a triune Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, whose consciousness is in its nature a self-expressive Force capable of infinite variation in phenomenon and form of its self-conscious being and endlessly enjoying the delight of that variation. All things are variable self-expression of one invariable and all-embracing delight of self-existence.
But if the world is an expression of Existence that is also infinite self-delight, how are we to account for the universal presence of grief, of suffering, of pain?
This problem is often confused by a false issue starting from the idea of a personal extra-cosmic God creating a world in which He inflicts suffering on His creatures. But Sachchidananda is one existence without a second; all that is, is He. It is He that bears the evil and suffering in the creature in whom He has embodied Himself. The, how came the sole and infinite Existence-Consciousness-Bliss to admit into itself that which is not bliss, that which seems to be its positive negation?
When delight of being seeks to realise itself as delight of becoming, it moves in the movement of force and itself takes different forms of movement of which pleasure and pain are positive and negative currents. Its first phenomena are dual, but it aims at its self-revelation in the purity of a supreme delight of being which is self-existent and independent of objects and causes.
In the egoistic human being, delight of existence is è concealed soil of plenty covered by desire with a luxuriant growth of poisonous weeds and hardly less poisonous flowers, pains and pleasures. When the divine conscious-force working secretly in us has devoured these growths, the sap of delight will emerge in new forms replacing mortal pleasure by the Immortal’s ecstasy. This transformation is possible because these growths are in their essential being that delight of existence which they seek but fail to reveal.
Delight of Existence:
In this conception of an inalienable underlying delight of existence of which an outward or surface sensations are a positive, negative or neutral play, waves and foamings of that infinite deep, we arrive at the true solution of the problem we are examining.
As we look at these three aspect of essential Being, Sat-Cit-Ananda, one in reality, triune to our mental view, we are able to put in their right place the divergent formulae of the old philosophies so that they unite and become one.
If we regard world-existence only in its relations to pure, infinite, indivisible, immutable Existence, we are entitled to realise it as Maya. The world is not the essential truth of That, but phenomenal truth of Its free multiplicity and infinite superficial mutability and not truth of Its fundamental and immutable Unity.
If, on the other hand, we look at world-existence in relation to consciousness only and to force of consciousness, we may realise it as a movement of Force obeying some secret will imposed by the Consciousness that possesses it. It is then 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.
And if we look at World-Existence rather in its relation to the self-delight of eternally existent being, we may realise it as Lila, the play, The joy of the Soul of things eternally young, perpetually inexhaustible, creating and re-creating Himself in Himself for the sheer bliss of that self-creation — Himself the play, Himself the player, Himself the playground.
Since in our depths we ourselves are that One, the disposition of our sensational experience in the three vibrations of pain, pleasure and indifference can only be a superficial arrangement created by that limited part of ourselves which is uppermost in our waking consciousness. If we learn to live within, we infallibly awaken to this presence within us which is our more real self, a presence profound, calm, joyous and puissant.
Again this triple vibration, being an arrangement and result of our imperfect evolution, there is no real obligation; there is only an obligation of habit. We can convert false into true values — the constant but veritable delight of the Spirit in things taking the place of the dualities experienced by the mental being. This is possible because pain and pleasure themselves are currents, one imperfect, the other perverse, but still currents of the delight of existence, deformed by an egoistic and piecemeal instead of a universal reception of contacts by the individual. For the universal soul all things and contact of things carry in them a true Rasa.
The Divine Maya
Existence that acts and creates by the power and from the pure delight of its conscious being is the reality that we are, the self of all our modes and moods, the cause, object and goal of all our doings, becoming and creating. It is one existence, one force, one delight of being which concentrates itself at various points, says of each: “this is I”, and works in it by a various play of self-force for a various play of self-formation.
What it produces is itself and can be nothing other than itself; It is working out a play, a rhythm, a development of its own existence, force of consciousness and delight of being. But the completeness is not possible in the individual consciousness concentrated within the limits of the individual formation; the only final goal possible is the emergence of the infinite consciousness in the individual; it is his recovery of the truth of himself by self-knowledge and self-realisation.
Thus by the very nature of the world-play as it has been realised by Sachchidananda in the vastness of His existence extended as Space and Time, we have to conceive first of an involution of conscious being into the density of substance, and next an emergence of the self-imprisoned force into formal being, living being, thinking being; and finally a release of the formed thinking being into the free realisation of itself as the One and the Infinite at play in the world and by the release its recovery of the boundless existence-consciousness-bliss that even now it is secretly, really and eternally.
Still, when we have found that all things are Sachchidananda, all has not yet been explained. We know the Reality of the universe, we do not yet know the process by which that Reality has turned itself into this phenomenon. Infinite consciousness in its infinite action can produce only infinite results; to settle upon a fixed Troth or order of truths and build a world in conformity with that which is fixed, demands a selective faculty of knowledge commissioned to shape finite appearance out of the infinite Reality. This power was known to the Vedic seers by the name of Maya. It is by Maya that static truth of essential being becomes ordered truth of active being. But the illusion of Maya persuades each that he is in all as a separated being. We have to emerge from this error into the truth of Maya where the “each” and the “all” coexist in the inseparable unity of the one truth and the multiple symbol.
The world is not a figment of conception in the universal Mind, but the growing image of a divine creation: it is a birth of a supramental Truth-consciousness organising real ideas in a perfect harmony before they are cast into the mental-vital-material mould.
The Supermind as Creator
A principle of active Will and Knowledge, superior to Mind and creatrix of the worlds is the intermediary power and state of being between the self-possession of the One and the flux of the Many. This principle is not entirely alien to us; we can not only infer and glimpse that Truth, but we are capable of realising it.
We have called this principle of consciousness the Supermind, a creatrix Truth-Consciousness which is not only a state of knowledge, but power of knowledge; not only a Will to light and vision, but a Will to power and works. And since Mind too is created out of it, Mind must be a development by limitation out of this primal faculty and this mediatory act of the supreme Consciousness and must therefore be capable of resolving itself back into it through a reverse development by expansion.
The Supermind is the link by which the inferior develops out of the superior and should equally be the link by which it may develop back again towards its source. The term above is the indivisible consciousness of pure Sachchidananda in which there are no separating distinctions; the term below is the analytic consciousness of Mind which can only know by separation and distinction and as at the most a vague and secondary apprehension of unity and infinity.
This intermediary term is therefore the beginning and end of all creation, the starting-point of all differentiation, the instrument of all unification. It has the knowledge of the One, but is able to draw out of the One its hidden multitudes; it manifests the Many, but does not lose itself in their differentiations.
Supermind is the vast self-extension of the Brahman that contains and develops. It possesses the power of development, of evolution, of making explicit, and that power carries with it the other power of involution, of envelopment, of making implicit. In a sense, the whole of creation may be said to be a movement between two involutions, Spirit in which all is involved and out of which all evolves downward to the other pole of Matter, Matter in which also all is involved and out of which all evolves upward to the other pole of the Spirit.
The first business of Mind is to render “discrete”, to make fissures much more than to discern, and so it has made this paralysing fissure between thought and reality. But in Supermind Idea is a reality, and it is that reality of the Idea which evolves itself in the cosmos. The Supermind starts from unity; therefore, in all mutations and combinations dwell a self-existent and inalienable harmony.
Thos all-containing, all-originating, all-consummating Supermind is the nature of the Divine Being, not in its absolute self-existence, but in its action as the Lord and Creator of its own worlds.
The Truth-Consciousness is everywhere present in the universe as an ordering self-knowledge by which the One manifests the harmonies of its infinite potential multiplicity. Without this ordering self-knowledge the manifestation would be merely a shifting chaos; therefore from the beginning the whole development is predetermined.
This development and progress of the world according to an original truth of its own being implies a succession of Time, a relation in Space and a regulated interaction of related things in Space to which the succession of Time gives the aspect of Causality. Time and Space are that one Conscious-Being viewing itself in extension, subjectively as Time, objectively as Space. Time and Space are two aspects of the universal force of Consciousness which in their intertwined interaction comprehend the warp and woof of its action upon itself.
That which is an apparent discord to the mind because it considers each thing separately in itself, is an element of the general ever-present and ever-developing harmony to the Supermind because it views all things in a multiple unity. To see things steadily and see them whole is not possible to the mind; but it is the very nature of the transcendent Supermind.
This Supermind in its conscious vision not only contains all the forms of itself which its conscious force creates, but it pervades them as an indwelling Presence and a self-revealing Light. It is present, even though concealed, in every form and force of the universe.
The first operative principle of the divine Supermind is a cosmic vision which is all-comprehensive, all-pervading, all-inhabiting. Supermind sees the universe and its contents as itself in a single indivisible act of knowledge, an act which is the very movement of its self-existence. It does not so much guide or govern the development of cosmic life as consummate it in itself by an act of power which is inseparable from the act of knowledge and from the movement of self-existence, is indeed one and the same act.
The secondary power of the creative knowledge is its power of a projecting confronting and apprehending consciousness in which knowledge centralises itself an stands back from its works to observe them. An unequal concentration in which there is the beginning of self-division — or of its phenomenal appearance. And it is that we must study in order to seize the great lapse from the high and vast wideness of the Truth-consciousness into the division and the ignorance.
The Triple Status of Supermind
All existence is one Being whose essential nature is Consciousness, one Consciousness whose active nature is Force; and this Being is Delight, this Consciousness is Delight, this Force is Delight.
Eternal and inalienable Bliss of Existence, Bliss of Consciousness, Bliss of Force or Will whether concentrated in itself and at rest or active and creative, this is God and this is ourselves in our essential being. If we aspire to a divine life, we have to unveil this veiled self in us, by mounting from our present status in the ego to a higher status in the true self, the Atman.
If we must abolish the consciousness of mind, life and body in order to reach the Transcendent, then a divine life here is impossible. Ascending to the Supermind, we avoid such division, for it possesses the unity of things and out of it manifest their multiplicity.
Consciousness and Force are the twin essential aspects of the pure Power of existence; Knowledge and Will must therefore ne the form which that Power takes in creating a world of relations in the extension of Time and Space. This Knowledge and this Will must be one, infinite, all-embracing, all-possessing, all-forming, holding eternally in itself that which it casts into movement and form.
The Supermind then is Being moving out into a determinative self-knowledge which perceive certain truths of itself and wills to realise them in a temporal and spatial extension of its own timeless and spaceless existence.
What we see as a clash of wills and forces, because we dwell in the particular and divided and cannot see the whole, the Supermind envisages as the conspiring elements of a predetermined harmony which is always present to it because the totality of things is eternally subject to its gaze.
The Divine Consciousness in the principle of Supermind has three general poises of its world-forming consciousness. The first founds the inalienable unity of things, the second modifies that unity so as to support the manifestation of the Many in One and One in Many; the third further modifies it so as to support the evolution of a diversified individuality which, by the action of Ignorance, becomes in us at a lower level the illusion of the separate ego.
This three poises are different sessions of the same Truth. It is only when our human mentality lays an exclusive emphasis on one side of spiritual experience that the necessity for mutually destructive philosophical schools between monism, qualified dualism and pure dualism arise. The Divine Infinite is illimitable.
The Divine Soul
The existence of a divine soul not descended into the ignorance by the fall of Spirit into Matter and the eclipse of soul by material Nature, would be always pure and infinite self-existence in its being; in its becoming it would be a free play of immortal life uninvaded by death and birth and change of body. It would be a pure and unlimited consciousness in its energy, yet able to play freely with forms of knowledge and forms of conscious power, tranquil, unaffected by anything; In would be, finally, a pure and inalienable delight in its eternal self-experience and in Time a free variation of bliss. It would in its experience live eternally in the presence of the Absolute, always aware to be one with the Absolute.
Such a divine soul would live simultaneously in the two terms of the eternal existence of Sachchidananda, the two inseparable poles of the self-unfolding of the Absolute which we call the One and the Many: it would be aware simultaneously of the One in its unitarian consciousness holding the innumerable multiplicity in itself, and of the One in its extended consciousness holding the multiplicity thrown out and active as the play of its own conscious being; it would equally be aware of the Many ever drawing down to themselves the One and of the Many ever mounting up attracted to the One that is the eternal culmination and blissful justification of all their play of difference.
This vast view of things is the mould of the Truth-Consciousness; this unity of all these terms of opposition is the real Adwaita, the supreme comprehending word of the knowledge of the Unknowable.
The divine soul will be able to perceive and sense the Self in us becoming all existences (the basis of our oneness with all), all existences in the Self (the basis of our oneness in difference), the Self in all existences (the basis of our individuality in the universal).
All the relations of the divine soul with its supreme Self and with other selves in other forms will be determined by this comprehensive self-knowledge.
The abolition of separatist egoism in consciousness is the one essential condition of the divine Life. This deviation from the Truth and Right of the Spirit, from its oneness, integrality and harmony was the necessary condition for the great plunge into the Ignorance which is the soul’s adventure in the world and from which was born our suffering and aspiring humanity.
Mind and Supermind
Now we have to study the connections of the four great and divine terms — sat, cit, ananda, vijñana — with the three others with which our human experience is alone familiar, — mind, life and body. We have tried to see what this divine Maya may be, this Truth-consciousness, this Real Idea by which the conscious force of the transcendent and universal existence conceives, forms and governs the universe, the order, the cosmos of its manifested delight of being; we have to scrutinise this other and apparently undivine Maya which is the root of all our striving and suffering.
In reality all that we call undivine can only be an action of the four divine principles themselves such action of them as was necessary to create this universe of forms. It is possible that mind, life and body are to be found in their pure forms in the divine Truth itself, and in that case their functioning might well be converted by a supreme evolution into that purer working which they have in the Truth-consciousness, manifesting the divine consciousness in the human mind and body, remoulding mind, life and body into a more perfect image of its eternal Truth and realising not only in soul but in substance its kingdom of heaven upon earth.
Mind is a consciousness which measures, limits, cuts out forms of things from the indivisible whole and contains them as if each were a separate integer; Mind is the nodus of the great Ignorance. Mind cannot possess the infinite; the possession of the Infinite cannot came except by an ascent to the supramental planes.
Mind is not the cause of the universe, for the divine Maya comprehends the Knowledge as well as the ignorance. It is the apprehending movement of the Supermind that works the fundamental division between Purusha and Prakriti. First, the infinity of the One has translated itself into an extension in conceptual Time and Space; secondly, the omnipresence of the One in that self-conscious extension translates itself into a multiplicity of the conscious soul, the many Purushas of the Sankhya, all enjoying the same Prakriti; thirdly, the multiplicity of soul-forms has translated itself into a divided habitation of the extended unity. But the divine soul is aware of all as phenomenon of being; it does not forfeit its unity: it uses mind as a subordinate action of the infinite knowledge. It is only when Avidya intervenes that we have a limited mind that sees each phenomenon as a things in itself, falling from the dividing mentality to a divided mentality.
When the veil is rent and the divided mind overpowered, silent and passive to a supramental action that mind itself gets back to the Truth of things. The mind is the final operation of the apprehending Truth-consciousness which makes the One to behave as if He were an individual dealing with other individuals but always in His own unity, and this is what the world really is.
Mind as a final action of Supermind is a creative and not only a perceptive power; In fact, material force itself begin only a Will in things working darkly as the expression of subconscious Mind, Mind is the immediate creator of the material universe.
But the real creator is Supermind; for wherever there is Mind conscious or subconscious, there must be Supermind regulating from behind the veil its activities and educing from them their truth of inevitable results. Not a mental Intelligence, but Supermind is the creator of the universe.
Mind manifests itself in the form of Force to which we give the name of Life, and Life in Matter is an energy or power in dynamic movement which builds up forms, energises, maintains, disintegrates and recreates; death itself is only a process of life. It is one all-pervading Life or constant movement of dynamic energy which creates all these forms of the material universe and is not destroyed in the destructions of its forms.
This distinction between animal and plant life is unreal and that between the animate and the inanimate unessential. Plant-life has been found to be identical in organisation with animal-life and, although the organisation may differ, life is also present in the metal, the earth, the atom. This Life-Force pervades the universe and is present in every form of it and there is a constant interchange of its energies which creates the symptoms and characteristics of vitality recognised by us; but even where these are suspended, Life is present and only withdraws by a process of dispersion which replaces the process of continual reconstitution of the form. The presence of these symptoms and characteristics is not the essential nor is their absence a sign of the absence of Life-force. Even where we do not detect Life, it exists.
Conscious nervous sensation accompanies life in the animal, but much of the action of nervous or life-energy is subconscious; in the plant, as in many actions of man, the nervous sensation is present but the mentality of the sensation is subconscious. In the very atom there is a subconscious will and desire which must also be present in all atomic aggregates because they are present in the Force which constitutes the atom. That force is Chit-shakti, force of conscious being, variously represented in various forms of life.
Life is an energising of conscious being in substance of Matter, which on one side is constantly supplying the material of physical formation and on the other labouring to release mind and sense from their subconscious sleep in Matter. It is therefore the dynamic link between Mind and Matter. To create form and evolve consciousness out of its imprisonment in form is the sense of the omnipresent Life in the universe.
Death, Desire and Incapacity
Life is the same whatever its workings and its terms need not to be limited to those proper to physical existence. Life is a final operation of divine conscious-force for individualising existence; it is the energy-aspect of Mind when that creates and relates itself to form of substance: it has the universal conscious-force of existence behind it and is not a separate entity or movement. Life in us must become conscious of this divine Force behind it in order to become divine.
Life, at first darkened, ignorant, divided and helplessly subject, seeks as it develops to become master and enjoyer, to grow in Power; but until it escapes from the bonds of individuality it must be subject to its three badges of limitation, Death, Desire and Incapacity.
The nature of physical life imposes death because all life exists by a mutual devouring and struggle and Life itself feeds on the forms it creates; but the fundamental justification of Death is the necessity of a constant variation of experience in succession of Time, the soul seeking thus to enlarge itself and move towards the realisation of its own infinity.
The process of Death results inevitably from the division of substance; life’s attempt to aggrandise its being thus divided and limited translates itself into the hunger that devours. This hunger is the crude form of Desire, and Desire is the necessary level for self-affirmation; but eventually Desire has to grow out of the law of Hunger into the law of Love.
Desire is itself the result of the limitation of capacity which is the consequence of divided life working as the energy of ignorant mind, All-Force being only possible to all-knowledge. Therefore growth by struggle is the third law of Life. This strife again has to divinise itself and become the clasp of Love. Until then Death, Desire and Strife are and must be the triple mask of the divine Life-principle in its cosmic self-affirmation.
The Ascent of Life
The development of Life starts from an original status of division, subconscious will and inert subjection to mechanical forces. This is the type of material existence.
The term of the second status which we recognise as vitality, are death, hunger and conscious desire, sense of limited capacity and the struggle for survival and mastery. This is the basis of the Darwinian conception of Life, the struggle for life and the survival of the fittest. But this struggle involves a third status whose preparation is marked by the emergence of the conscious principle of love.
The third status contradicts the others in appearance, but really fulfils them. Life begins with division and aggregation based on the refusal of the atom, the first principle of ego and individuality to accept death and fusion by dissolution. This gives a firm basis for the creation of aggregate forms to be occupied by vital and mental individualities. In the next stage we have the general principle of death and dissolution by which the individual form fuses itself in its elements into other lives. This principle of constant fusion and interchange is the law of Life and extends into vital and mental existence as well as the physical. The two principles of individual persistence and mutual fusion have to be harmonised and this can only be done by the emergence and full development of mind which alone is subtle enough to persist in individual consciousness beyond all fusion and dissolution of forms. Here the union and harmony of the persistent individual aggregate life become possible.
Love is the power by which this union and harmony are worked out; for love exists by the persistence of the individual and his conscious acceptance of the necessity of and desire of interchange and self-giving. Its growth means the emergence of Mind imposing its law on the material existence, for Mind does not need to devour in order to possess and grow; it increases by giving and confirms itself by fusion with others.
Subconscious will in the atom becomes hunger and conscious desire in the vital being. Love is the transfiguration of desire, a desire of possessing others but also of self-giving; at first subject to hunger and the desire of possession it reveals its own true law by an equal or greater joy in self-giving.
The inert subjection of the will in the atom to the not-self becomes in the vital being the sense of limited capacity and the struggle for possession and mastery. In the third status the not-self is recognised as a greater self and subjection to its law and need freely accepted; at the same time the individual by making the aggregate life and all it has to give his own, fulfils his impulse of possession. This is the Mind’s reconciliation of the two conflicting principles which we find at the root of all existence.
But the true and perfect reconciliation can only come by passing beyond Mind and founding all the operations of life on the essential freedom and unity of the spirit.
The Problem of Life
Life being a divided movement of consciousness although really an undivided force becomes a clash of opposing truths each striving to fulfil itself. Mind has to solve the thousand and one problems resulting but in Life itself not merely in thought. The difficulty lies in its ignorance of itself and the world. Man knows only the surface of his own being and does not know the universality of the Force of which he is a part; therefore he can master neither himself nor the world. He has to know and solve the problem or else give place to some higher evolutionary being.
The poise of Life is determined by the relation of the Force to the Consciousness which drives it. Accordingly we have, besides the Infinite Existence, first the life of material Nature ruled by the infallible Inconscient; secondly the life of conscious being in material Nature emerging out of the Inconscient, fallible, bewildered, only half-potent, which is our own; and thirdly the life of the real Man to which we are moving where Consciousness and Force are fulfilled and in harmony and the One at unison with the many. That life will be founded on the awareness of one Consciousness in many minds, one Force working in many lives, one Delight of being in many hearts and bodies.
Man’s difficulties: first, he only knows and governs a part of himself, the greater part of himself is subconscient and it is this greater cosmic part that really governs his surface being. This is what is meant by his being governed by his Nature and by the Lord seated within through the Maya or apparent denial of Sachchidananda by Himself. It is only by becoming one with the Lord that man can be master of himself, but this union must be in the Divine Maya, in the superconscient and not only or chiefly in this lower Maya of the mental existence.
Secondly, he is separated by his individuality from the universal and does not know his fellow-beings. He must be not only in sympathy with them, but arrive at a conscious unity with all and this conscious unity exists only in what is now supraconscient to us.
Thirdly, Life is at war with body, Mind at war with the Life and the body, each trying to subject the others to its own law. Only the supramental can find the law of immortal harmony which shall reconcile this discord of our mortality. Each of these principles has besides a soul in it which seeks a self-fulfilment beyond what the present force of life, mind or body can give. There is a conflict between opposing instincts of the body, opposing desires and impulses of life, opposing ideals of the mind. The principle of unity is above in the supermind.
Man as he develops becomes acutely aware of all these discords and seeks a reconciliation with himself and with his fellow-beings. This can only come by the perfection of his own existence through the principle in himself to which he has not yet attained and by embracing consciously the life of others in his own through an universal consciousness becoming conscient in us through an upward evolution.
The Double Soul in Man
The ascent of Life is in its nature the ascent of the divine Delight in things from its dumb conception in Matter to its luminous consummation in Spirit. Like the other original divine principles, this Delight also must be represented in us by a cosmic principle corresponding to it in the apparent existence. It is the soul or psychic being.
As there is a subliminal luminous mind behind our surface mind, a subliminal life behind our mortal life, a subliminal wider corporeality behind our gross body, so we have a double soul, the superficial desire-soul and the true psychic entity.
The superficial in us is the small and egoistic, the subliminal is in touch with the universal. So our subliminal or true psychic being is open to the universal delight in things, the superficial desire-soul is shut off from it. It feels the outward touches of things, not their essence and therefore not their rasa or true touch; and because it cannot reach the universal world-soul, it cannot find its own true soul which is one with the world-soul.
The desire-soul returns the triple response of pleasure, pain and indifference, but the psychic being behind it has the equal delight of all of its experiences; it compels the desire-soul to more and more experience and to a change of its values. By bringing this soul to the surface we can overcome the duality of pleasure and pain, as is actually done in certain directions of experience by the artist, Nature-lover, God-lover, etc each in his own fashion. But the difficulty is to do it in the desire-soul as its centre where it comes into contact with practical living; for here the human mind shrinks from applying the principle of equality.
To bring this subliminal soul to the surface is not enough; for it is open passively to the world-soul but cannot possess the world. Those who thus arrive, become close to the universal delight, but not masters of life. For there are two principle of order and mastery, one false, the ego-sense, the other true, the Lord who is one in the many. By merely suppressing the ego-sense in the impersonal delight we gain the centreless Impersonal and are fulfilled in our static being but not in our active being. We must therefore gain the other centre in the Supermind by which we shall consciously possess and not merely undergo the delight of the One in His universal existence.
Life and Mind are in the fact of evolution conditioned by the body and therefore by the principle of Matter. The body is the chief difficulty in the way of a spiritual transformation of life; it has therefore been regarded by spiritual aspiration as an enemy and the escape from the material existence has been made an indispensable condition of the final emancipation.
The quarrel begins with the struggle between Life and Matter and with the apparent defeat of life in death as its constant circumstance; it continues with the struggle of the Mind against the life and the body and culminates with the struggle of the spirit against all its instruments; but the right end and solution of these discords is not an escape and a severance but a complete victory of the higher over the lower.
We have to examine the problem of the reality of Matter. Our present experience of Matter does not give us its truth; for Matter is only an appearance of the Reality, a form of its force-action presented to the principle of sense in the universal consciousness. As Mind is only a final dividing action of the Supermind and Life of Conscious-Force working in the conditions of the Ignorance, so Matter as we know it is only the final form taken by conscious-being as the result of that same working. Mind precipitating itself into Life to create form gives to the universal principle of Being the appearance of material substance instead of pure substance, that is to say, of substance offering itself to the contact of mind as a stable thing or object. This contact of mind with its object is Sense.
In the divine Mind there is a movement which presents to the divine Knower the forms of Himself as objects to His knowledge and this would create a division between the Knower and the object of knowledge if there were not at the same time, inevitably, another movement by which He feels the object as Himself. This movement, in the divided state of existence created by dividing Mind, is represented to us as the contact of sense which becomes a basis of contact through the thought-mind by which we return towards unity.
Since the action of Mind is to divide infinitely the one infinite existence, Matter, the result of that action, becomes in its apparent nature an infinite atomic division and atomic aggregation of infinite substance. But its reality is one and indivisible, even as is the reality of Life and Mind. Matter is Sachchidananda represented to his own mental experience as a formal basis of objective knowledge, action and delight.
The Knot of Matter
Spirit and Matter are two ends of a unity, Spirit the soul and reality of Matter, Matter the form and body of Spirit. There is an ascending series of substance and Spirit at the summit is itself pure substance of being. Brahman is the sole material as well as the sole cause of the universe and Matter also is Brahman; it is, like Life, Mind and Supermind, a mode of the eternal Sachchidananda.
Still, practically, Matter seems to be cut off from Spirit and even its opposite and the material existence incompatible therefore with the spiritual. Matter is the culmination of the principle of Ignorance in which Consciousness has lost and forgotten itself and the self-luminous Spirit is represented by a brute inconscient Force in whose mere action there appears to be no self-knowledge, mind or heart. In this huge no-mind Mind emerges and has to labour besieged and limited by the universal Ignorance and in this heartless Inconscience a heart has manifested which has to aspire opposed and corrupted by the brutality of material Force. This is the form-absorbed Consciousness returning progressively to itself, but obliged to work under the condition of Matter, that is to say, always bound and limited in its results.
For Matter is the opposite of the Spirit’s freedom and mastery, the culmination of bondage; it is a huge force of movement, but of inertly driven movement subject to a law of which it has no conscience nor initiative but mechanically obeys. It opposes therefore to the attempt of Life to impose itself and freely utilise and the attempt of Mind to impose itself and know and freely guide the constant opposition of its inertia; it yield reluctantly to a certain extent, but brings always in the end a definite denial, limit and obstruction. For this reason knowledge, power, love, etc., are always pursued, accompanied and hedged in by their opposites.
For Matter is the culmination of the principle of division and struggle. It can only unify by an association which carries with it the possibility of dissociation and an assimilation which devours. Therefore Life and Mind in Matter working under this law of division and struggle, that is to say, of death, desire and limitation, aggregation and subsequent dissociation, labour without any finality or certainty of assured progress.
But especially the divisions of Matter bring in the law of pain. Ignorance and Inertia would not be necessarily a cause of pain if the Mind and Life were not aware of an infinite Consciousness, Light and Power in which they live but are prevented from participating by the Ignorance and Inertia of Matter or were not stirred to possess this wideness partly or wholly. Man especially, because he is most self-conscious, develops this awareness to a high degree, nor can he be permanently satisfied with increase of power or knowledge within the limits of the material world, for that is also limited and inconclusive and, being aware of and impelled by the infinite within and around him, he cannot escape the necessity of seeking to know and possess it. This progression of the conscious being out of the Inconscient to the infinite Consciousness might be a happy out-flowering but for the principle of rigid division and imprisonment of each divided being in his own ego which imposes the law of struggle, the dualities of attraction and repulsion, pleasure and pain, effort and failure, action and reaction, satisfaction and dissatisfaction. All this is the denial of Ananda and implies, if the negation be insuperable, the futility of existence; for if in this existence the satisfaction sought by the Infinite in the finite cannot be found, then ultimately it must be abandoned as an error and a failure.
This is the basis of the pessimist theory of material existence which supposes Matter to be the form and Mind the cause of the universe and both of these to be eternally subject to limitation and ignorance. But if on the contrary it is immortal and infinite Spirit which has veiled itself in Matter and is emerging, the development of a liberated supramental being who shall impose on Mind, Life and Matter a higher law than that of limitation and division, is the inevitable conclusion from the nature of cosmic existence. There is no reason why such a being should not liberate and make divine the physical existence as well as the mind and life, unless our present view of Matter represents the sole possible relation here between sense and its objects, in which case, indeed, fulfilment must be sought only in worlds beyond. But there are other states even of Matter and an ascending series of the gradations of substance, and their higher law is possible to the material being because it is there in it already latent and potential.
The Ascending Series
The materiality of Matter consists in a concentration of the density of substance and its resistance to the conscious-force of which through sense it becomes the object. An ascending scale of substance from Matter to Spirit must mean a diminution of resistance, division and bondage and an increasing subtlety, flexibility, power of assimilation, interchange, transmutation, unification.
There is such an ascending scale from the dense to the subtle even in material substance and beyond the subtlest material essence we have grades of other substance corresponding to the series of Matter, Life, Mind, Supermind and Spirit. Each, that is to say, is the basis of a world or other kind of existence in which these higher principles successively dominate the others and fulfil themselves with their aid. In each therefore there is an ever wider range of being, consciousness and force ascending from the inconscience of material substance to the infinite self-consciousness of spiritual. But all these principles are interconnected. Matter contains all of them and evolves them out of itself in obedience to the constant pressure of the higher worlds, an evolution which must continue until they are able to express themselves fully in the material principle.
Man is the fit instrument for this fulfilment. He has other bodies besides the physical in which he can become conscious and so enter into the supraphysical grades of substance and impose their law upon his material existence. Therefore his complete perfection is through the ascent to supermind and the conquest of the physical also by a supramental substance so that he will be able to command a diviner physical life and conquer death in a divine body.
The Sevenfold Chord
There are, therefore, seven or else eight principles of being and the four which constitute human existence are a refraction of the four which constitute divine existence, but in inverted order. The Divine descends from pure existence to Supermind to cast itself into cosmic existence; the creature ascends from Matter to Mind towards the Divine and meets it where Mind and Supermind meet with a veil between them. By the rendering of the veil each of the four divine human principles can find its transfigured self in its divine equivalent. This transfiguration is the only possible positive goal of the creative evolution.
The presence of the seven principles is essential to all cosmic being. For cosmic being cannot exist except as the All-existence figuring itself in its conception as Time and Space, nor can this figuration take place except by an infinite Force which being of the nature of an all-determining and all-apprehending Will must repose on the action of an all-comprehending infinite Consciousness. Nor could the result be a cosmos but for a power of infinite knowledge and will determining out of the infinity in each figure of things their law, form and course through a self-limitation by Idea proceeding from a boundless liberty within. That power of Knowledge-Will, that Idea is the fourth name of the Divine: it is the Supermind or supreme Gnosis.
The lower trilogy is also necessary in some form however different it may be from our experience of Life, Mind and Matter. For there must be a subordinate power and action of Supermind measuring, creating fixed standpoints of mutual view and interaction in the universal self-diffusion as between an infinite number of centres of the one Consciousness; and such a power would be what we mean by Mind. So too, Mind once given, Life, which is the working of Will and energy and conscious dynamis of being dependent on such fixed standpoints of interaction, must accompany it and substance with differentiation of form must also be present.
It follows that in every cosmic arrangement the seven principles must be existent, either manifested in simultaneous apparent action or else all apparently involved in one of them which then becomes the initial principle, but all secretly at work and bound to evolve into manifestation. Therefore out of initial Matter latent Life and Mind have emerged as apparent Life and Mind, and latent Supermind and the hidden Spirit must emerge as apparent Supermind and the triune glory of Sachchidananda.
Supermind, Mind and
the Overmind Maya
Mind as we know it is a power of the Ignorance seeking for Truth. Supermind, on the contrary, is in actual and natural possession of the Truth. There is in the descending and ascending scale of Being an intermediate power and plane of consciousness, through which the involuntary transition from Mind in the Knowledge to Mind in the Ignorance was effected and through which again the evolutionary reverse transition becomes intelligible and possible.
There are two successive movements of consciousness by which we can have access to the superior gradation of our conscious existence: there is first a movement inward by which we break the wall between our external and our now subliminal self, and an ascent upwards into things beyond our present normal level, in which we may discover our vast and silent Self as the foundation of all else that we are, or may be even an extinction, a Nirvana both of our active being and of the sense of self into a Reality that is indefinable and inexpressible. But we can ascend too into higher regions of the Spirit where its immobile status is the foundation of those great and luminous energies — here is the needed step towards a supramental transformation; for we perceive a graduality of ascent, from a Higher Mind, to an Illumined Mind beyond it, and still beyond to an Intuition, at the source of which we discover a superconscient cosmic Mind in direct contact with the Supramental Truth-Consciousness, an Overmind that covers as with the wide wings of some creative Oversoul this whole lower hemisphere of Knowledge-Ignorance and links it with that greater Truth-Consciousness while yet at the same time with its brilliant golden Lid it veils the face of the greater Truth.
The Overmind is a delegate of the Supermind Consciousness. It is the Power that at once connects and divides the supreme Knowledge and the cosmic Ignorance. Or we might speak of it as a protective double, a screen of dissimilar similarity through which Supermind can act indirectly on an Ignorance whose darkness could not bear or receive the direct impact of a supreme Light. For Supermind transmits to Overmind all its realities, but leaves it to formulate them in a movement and according to an awareness of things which is still a vision of Truth and yet at the same time a first parent of the Ignorance. In Overmind we have the origin of the distinction between Purusha and Prakriti, One and the Many, Saguna and Nirguna, and the rest. The Overmind releases a million Godheads into action, each empowered to create its own words, each world capable of interplay with the others. The one total and many-sided Real-Idea is split up into its many sides; each becomes an independent Idea-Force with the power to realise itself.
In the Overmind there is a limitation of knowledge, not the negation or the opposite of Truth. In it is the original cosmic Maya, not a Maya of Ignorance but a Maya of Knowledge, yet a Power which has made the Ignorance possible, even inevitable. For if each principle loosed into action must follow its independent line and carry out its complete consequences, the principle of separation must also be allowed its complete course and arrive at its absolute consequence.
As Life and Mind have been released in Matter, so too must in their time these greater powers emerge from the involution and their supreme Light descends into us.
A divine Life in the manifestation is then the inevitable outcome and consummation of Nature’s evolutionary endeavour.
THE KNOWLEDGE AND THE IGNORANCE
— THE SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION
Part I - THE INFINITE CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE IGNORANCE
and the Indeterminable
The first aspect of cosmic existence is an Infinite which is to our perception an indeterminate, if not indeterminable. It is an Infinite containing a mass of unexplained finities, an Indivisible full of endless division, an Immutable teeming with mutations and differentiae.
What compels or impels this exuberant play of varying possibilities?
Not a dynamic Chance, not a mechanical Necessity, not a, extra-cosmic Creator, but a Conscious-Force, inherent everywhere in Existence, acting even when it is hidden. The apparent inconscience of the material Energy would be an indispensable condition for the structure of the material world-substance in which this Consciousness intends to evolve itself so that it may grow by evolution out of its apparent opposite.
Such a creation by the Infinite out of itself, must be the manifestation, in a material disguise, of truths or powers of its own being: the vehicles of these truths or powers would be the basic general or fundamental determinates we see in Nature; and the particular determinates would be the appropriate vehicles of the possibilities that the truths or powers residing in these fundamentals bore within them.
The principle of free variation of possibilities natural to an infinite Consciousness is the explanation of the aspect of inconscient Chance of which we are aware in the workings of Nature, — inconscient only in appearance. The principle of truths, real powers of the Infinite imperatively fulfilling themselves is the explanation of the opposite aspect of a mechanical Necessity which we see in Nature, — mechanical only in appearance. That’s why the Inconscient does its works with a constant principle of mathematical architecture, of design, of effective arrangement of numbers, of adaptation of means to ends, of inexhaustible device and invention.
The Absolute is and must be indeterminable in the sense that it cannot be limited by any determination or any sum of possible determinations, but not in the sense that it is incapable of creating true self-determination of its being, incapable of upholding a real self-creation or manifestation in its self-existent infinite. And the power of self-determination of the Absolute is the Supermind.
A Supramental Truth-Consciousness is at once the self-awareness of the Infinite and Eternal and a power of self-determination inherent in that self-awareness; the first is its foundation and status, the second is its power of being, the dynamis of its self-existence.
To Supermind the Supreme is not a rigid Indeterminable, an all-negating Absolute; it is an infinite and eternal Existence, an infinite and eternal Consciousness, an infinite and eternal Delight of Existence. And Love, Joy and Beauty are the fundamental determinates of the Divine Delight of Existence.
The Absolute is not limitable or definable by any one determination or by any sum of determinations; on the other side, it is not bound down to an indeterminable vacancy of pure existence. On the contrary, it is the essence and the source of all determinations: its indeterminability is the natural, the necessary condition both of its infinity of being and infinity of power of being. The Absolute is not a mystery of infinite blankness nor a supreme sum of negations; nothing can manifest that is not justified by some self-power of the original and omnipresent Reality.
Brahman, Purusha, Ishvara — Maya, Prakriti, Shakti
Though the supreme Reality, absolute and infinite, it is indefinable and inconceivable by finite and defining Mind, it is self-evident to itself, self-evident by a knowledge by identity of which the spiritual being in us must be capable, for that spiritual being is in its essence and its original and intimate reality not other than this Supreme Existence. And we discover that this Supreme and Eternal Infinite determines itself to our consciousness in the universe by real and fundamental truths of its being which are beyond the universe and in it are the very foundation of its existence.
The supreme Truth-aspect which thus manifests itself to us is an eternal and infinite and absolute self-existence, self-awareness, self-delight of being; this founds all things and secretly supports and pervades all things. This Self-existent Brahman reveals itself again in three terms of its essential nature, — Atman, Purusha, Ishwara.
And its power of Consciousness too appears to us in three aspects: Maya, the self-force of that consciousness conceptively creative of all things; Prakriti, Nature or Force made dynamically executive, working out all things under the witnessing eye of the Conscious Being; Shakti, the conscious power of the Divine Being, which is both conceptively creative and dynamically executive of all the divine workings.
These three aspects and their powers reconcile the apparent disparateness and incompatibility of the supracosmic Transcendence, the cosmic universality and the separativeness of our individual existence.
There is no contradiction or incompatibility between these three aspects of Existence, or between them in their eternal status and the three modes of its Dynamis working in the universe. One Being, one Reality as Self bases, supports informs, as Purusha or Conscious Being experiences, as Ishwara wills, governs and possesses its world of manifestation created and kept in motion and action by its own Consciousness-Force or Self-Power, — Maya, Prakriti, Shakti.
In this view, the Many are themselves the Divine One in their inmost reality, individual selves of the supreme and universal Self-Existence, eternal as he is eternal but eternal in his being: our material existence is indeed a creation of Nature, but the soul in an immortal portion of the Divinity and behind it is the Divine Self in the natural creature. Still the One is the fundamental Truth of existence, the Many exist by the One and there is therefore an entire dependence of the manifested being on the Ishwara.
One problem still remains to be solved, and it can be solved on the same basis; it is the problem of the opposition between the Non-Manifest and the manifestation. The timeless Spirit is not necessarily a blank; it may hold all in itself, but in essence. Eternity is the common term between Time and the Timeless Spirit. Space is Brahman extended for the holding together of forms and objects; Time is Brahman self-extended for the development of the movement of self-power carrying forms and objects; the two are a dual aspect of one and the same self-extension of the cosmic Eternal.
The Eternal and the Individual
There is a fundamental truth of existence, an Omnipresent Reality, omnipresent above the cosmic manifestation and in it and immanent in each individual. And there is a dynamic power of this Omnipresence, a creative or self-manifestation of its infinite Consciousness-Force. There is as a phase of the self-manifestation a descent into an apparent material inconscience, an awakening of the individual out of the inconscience and an evolution of his being into the spiritual and supramental consciousness and power of the Reality, into his own universal and transcendent Self and source of existence. It is on this foundation that we have to base our conception of a truth in our terrestrial being and the possibility of a divine Life in material Nature. But how, given the immanence of the Divine in us, given our individual consciousness as a vehicle of progressive evolutionary manifestation, the individual can in any sense be considered eternal or, at least, any persistence of individuality after liberation has been attained by unity and self-knowledge?
Human reason has always been accustomed to identify the individual self with the ego and to think of it as existing only by the limitations and exclusions of the ego. But we have to see that our individualisation is only a superficial formation, and behind it there is a Purusha, who is not determined or limited by his individualisation or by this synthesis but on the contrary determines, supports and yet exceeds it.
This Purusha, while embracing the whole world and all other beings in a sort of conscious extension of itself and perceiving itself as one with the world-being, he still individualises: the unity is its being, but the cosmic differentiation and the multiple individuality are the power of its being which is constantly displaying and which it is its delight and the nature of its consciousness to display. The action of the Divine in himself is that with which he is particularly and directly concerned; the action of the Divine in his other selves is that with which he is universally concerned, not directly, but through and by his union with them and with the Divine. The individual therefore exists though he exceeds the little separative ego; he has the perfect union in His being and can absorb himself in it at any time, but he have also this other differentiated unity and can emerge into it and act freely in it at any time without losing oneness.
The differentiation has it divine purpose: it is a means of greater unity, not as in the egoistic life a means of division; for we enjoy by it our unity with our other selves and with God in all. It is the Divine in the individual possessing and enjoying in one case the Divine in His pure unity or in the other the Divine in that and in the unity of the cosmos; it is not the absolute Divine recovering after having lost His unity.
Cosmos and individual go back to something in the Absolute which is the true truth of individuality, the true truth of cosmic being and not their denial and conviction of their falsity. Brahman is the all, and is beyond the all. The Absolute is not opposed to the relative: Brahman is the infinite and the finite, the conditioned and unconditioned, the qualitied and unqualitied, the impersonal and the personal. In Brahman there are no real oppositions. The possibility of the Divine’s unfolding in the individual is the secret of the enigma; his presence there and this intention of self-unfolding are the key to the world of Knowledge-Ignorance.
The Divine and the Undivine
The universe is a manifestation of an infinite and eternal All-Existence: the Divine Being dwells in all that is; we ourselves are that in our self, in our own deepest being; our soul, the secret indwelling psychic entity, is a portion of the Divine Consciousness. But at the same time we speak of a divine life as the culmination of the evolutionary process, and the use of the phrase implies that our present life is undivine and all the life too that is below us.
In a world that is slowly and with difficulty evolving out of an original Inconscience, all life that has still this Inconscience for its basis is stamped with the mark of a radical imperfection: that is the mark of the undivine; a divine life, on the contrary, would be at each stage harmonious in its principle and detail: it would be a secure ground upon which freedom and perfection could naturally flower or grow towards their highest stature, refine and expand into their most subtle opulence.
The imperfection consist first in a limitation in us of the divine elements which robs them of their divinity, then in a various many-branching distortion, a perversion, a contrary turn, a falsifying departure from some ideal Truth of being. Our being, consciousness, force, experience of things represent — not in their very self, but in their surface pragmatic nature — a principle or an effective phenomenon of division or rupture in the unity of the Divine Existence. From there arises a perversion of the divine element, incapacity inertia, falsehood, error, pain and grief, wrong-doing, discord, evil.
An exclusive inner concentration on the Real, the Eternal is possible, even a self-immersion by which we can lose or put away the dissonances of the universe, but so long as the world is not divinely explained to us, the Divine remains imperfectly known; for the world too is That.
To find the Divine within us and above us would be the real solution, to become perfect as That is perfect. The real sign is an elevation towards the spiritual knowledge and power which will transform the law and phenomena and external forms of our life nearer to a true image of the divine sense and purpose.
The concealed Divinity has lit the flame of aspiration, picture the image of the ideal, keeps alive our discontent and pushes us to throw off the disguise and to form and disclose the Godhead in the manifest spirit, mind, life and body of this terrestrial creature. Our present nature can only be transitional, our imperfect status a starting-point and opportunity for the achievement of another higher, wider and greater that shall be divine and perfect not only by the secret spirit within but in its manifest and most outward form of existence.
There is an attraction in ignorance because it provides us with the joy of discovery, the surprise of new and unforeseen creation, a great adventure of the soul. If delight of existence be the secret of creation, this too is one delight of existence. The result of the plunge into Inconscience is a new affirmation of Sachchidananda in its apparent opposite.
The Cosmic Illusion;
Mind, Dream and Hallucination
The physical mind perceives the actual, the physical, the objective and accepts it as a fact and this fact as self-evident truth beyond question. The life-mind seeks the satisfaction of desire. The thinking mind inquires into everything, questions everything, builds up affirmations and unbuilds them, erects systems of certitude but finally accepts none of them as certain, affirms and questions the evidence of the senses, follows out the conclusions of the reason but undoes them again to arrive at different or quite opposite conclusions, and continues ad infinitum. This is the history of human thought and human endeavour, a constant breaking of bounds only to move always in the same spiral enlarged perhaps but following the same or constantly similar curves of direction.
But, at a certain point of this constant unrest and travail, the physical mind loses its conviction of objective certitude and enters into an agnosticism which questions all; the vital mind finds that all is vanity or vexation of spirit; the thinking mind discovers that all are mere mental constructions and there is no reality in them. Thence arise the great world-negating religions and philosophies. They proceed from the conception of an unreal or real-unreal universe reposing on a transcendent Reality.
The cosmic Illusion is sometimes envisaged as something that has the character of a dream, as something unreal and evanescent, but if we examine the dream state we can find that it is something real, but a gate of access — with the state of sleep — to our subliminal self and, by it, to supraphysical worlds. These three states, waking, dream and sleep, are three different orders of One Reality, three states of consciousness in which is embodied our contact with three different grades of self-experience and world-experience.
The analogy of hallucination is similarly fallacious. Hallucinations are of two kind: mental (as when we see a rope taken for a snake) and visual (as the mirage). But in both cases, the hallucination is not of something quite non-existent, but an image of something existent and real but not present in the place on which it has been imposed by the mind’s error or by a sense error.
Our own mind is not an original and primal creative power. It is an instrument of the cosmic Ignorance, and not of a cosmic Illusion; it is an ignorance trying to know. Mental ignorance it is an error of transcription of the reality, a deviation from an original Truth-Consciousness creative of a true universe.
the Cosmic Illusion
Illusionism accepts as the only reality the eternal relationless Absolute, a sole and supreme spiritual Existence — the One without a second. But the self-creations of the absolute Reality must be real and not illusions. Eternal status and eternal dynamis are both true of the Reality which itself surpasses both status and dynamis; the immobile and the mobile Brahman are both the same Reality.
All that is is the Brahman, and all that is is the Self seen by the Self in four states of its being: from its status of superconscience (“the fourth status”), where there is neither subject or object, the Self passes in a massed consciousness (“sleep-self”) which is the origin of cosmic existence, from which emerges the state continent of all subtle, subjective or supraphysical experience (“dream-self”) and the self which is the support of all physical experience (“the self of waking”, that is the mental outward consciousness).
If we make the transition through a spiritual awakening into these higher states, we become aware in all of them of the one omnipresent Reality. In this transition it is possible to be awake to all the states of being together in a harmonised and unified experience and to see the Reality everywhere. If, on the contrary, we plunge by a trance of exclusive concentration into a mystic sleep state or pass abruptly in waking Mind into a state belonging to the Superconscient, then the mind can be seized in the passage by a sense of unreality of the cosmic Force; but this consequence is not conclusive, since a larger and more complete conclusion superseding it is possible to spiritual experience.
The absolute Reality is in its nature eternally one, supracosmic, static, immobile, immutable, self-aware of its pure existence, and a phenomenon of cosmos, dynamism, motion, mutability, modification of the original pure existence, differentiation, infinite multiplicity.
The essence of being remains the same in all action and formation, and the limitations freely accepted do not take from the being’s totality; they are accepted and self-imposed; they are a means of expression of our totality in the movement of Time, an order of things imposed by our inner spiritual being in our outer nature-being, not a bondage inflected on the ever-free spirit. It is a temporal order of reality, but it is still a reality of the Real. The becoming is a movement of the being; Time is a manifestation of the Eternal.
All is one Being, one Consciousness, one even in infinite multiplicity, and there is no need to bisect it into an opposition of transcendent Reality and unreal cosmic Maya.
The Brahman, the supreme Reality, is That which being known all is known. What our mind sees as contraries are the infinite consciousness not contraries but complementaries: essence and phenomenon of the essence are complementary to each other, not contradictory.
and the Ignorance
The seven principles are, then, one in their reality, inseparable in their sevenfold action. They create the harmony of the universe and there is no essential reason why this should not be a complete harmony free from the element of discord, division and limitation.
The Vedic seers believed in such a creation and held its formation in man — called immortality — to be the object of man’s Godward effort. But this is difficult for the human mind to accept, except in a beyond, because here the Inconscient seems to be all and the conscient soul an accident or an alien unable fully to realise himself. Here Ignorance seems to be the law.
It is true that here we start from the Inconscient and are governed by the Ignorance; we must therefore examine this power of Consciousness and determine its operation and origin, — not accepting the refusal of some philosophies to consider the question because it is insoluble; and first we must fix what we mean by Ignorance.
In the Veda the Ignorance is the non-perceiving of the essential unity which is beyond mind and of the essence and self-law of things in their original unity and actual universality; it is a false knowledge based on division of the undivided, insistence on the fragmentary and little and rejection of the vast and complete view of things; it is the undivine Maya.
The Vedantic distinctions of Vidya and Avidya made the opposition more trenchant, Vidya being the knowledge of unity, Avidya the knowledge of multiplicity, but the knowledge of both was held to be necessary for the Truth and the Immortality; the Ignorance was not a mere falsehood and seeing of unreality. The One really become the Many.
Later, the opposition was supposed to be rigid and irreconcilable, the world unreal, a super-imposition of name and form on featureless Unity by Mind, the Ignorance an absolute Nescience of the Truth.
This we reject, because such diametrical opposition, flawed at their source, represent no actual reality of existence as a whole; there is no irreconcilable opposition of dual principles, but an essential unity. As pain is an effect of the universal Delight produced in the recipient by incapacity, as incapacity is a disposition of the universal Will-force, so ignorance is a particular action of the universal Knowledge.
Consciousness, which is Power, takes three poises: its plenitude of the divine knowledge invariable in unity and multiplicity and beyond; its dwelling upon apparent oppositions, the extreme being the superficial appearance of complete nescience in the Inconscient; and a mediary term or compromise between the two which is a superficial and partial emergence of self-conscious knowledge, our own egoistic ignorance or false-knowledge. The exact relations between these three have to be determined.
and the Ignorance
Memory is believed by some schools to be the constituent of our continuous personality; but memory is only the mechanism, a device, a substitute for direct consciousness. The mind is directly conscious of existence in the present, holds existence in the past by its substitute memory, infers its future existence from this direct present self-consciousness and the memory of its continuity in the past.
This sense of self-conscious existence it extends into the idea of eternity, but the only eternity the mind really seizes is a continuous succession of moments of being in eternal Time; of this eternity he possesses only the present moment, a limited portion of the past held fragmentarily and nothing at all of the future, while it is unable to know any timeless eternity of conscious being, any real eternal Self. Therefore the nature of our Mind is an Ignorance seizing at knowledge by successive action in the moments of Time.
If mind is all, then we must remain forever in this Ignorance which is not absolute nescience, but an ineffectual and fragmentary seizing at knowledge; But there are really two powers of our conscious being, Ignorance of the mind, Knowledge beyond mind, simultaneously existing, either separately in an eternal dualism or, as is really the fact, as superior and inferior, sovereign and dependent states of the same consciousness, by which the Knower sees his timeless being and the action of Time in that self through the knowledge while he sees himself in Time and travelling in the succession of its moments by the Ignorance. For this reason the Upanishad declares that Brahman can really be known only by knowing him as both the Knowledge and the Ignorance and so only can one arrive at the status of Immortality.
Ignorance is therefore the consciousness of being in the succession of Time, and it is so called because, actually self-divided by the moments of Time, the field of space and the forms of the multiplicity, it cannot know either eternal Being or the World, either the transcendent or the universal reality. Its knowledge is partly true, partly false, because it ignores the essence and sees only fugitive parts of the phenomenon.
It is through self-consciousness that the mind can arrive most readily at the eternal Reality; the rest of its means of knowledge are, like memory, devices and substitutes for direct consciousness. It is easy therefore to regard the knowledge and the self within as real and the rest as not-self and illusion. But the distinction is illusory and self-absorption in the stable self within is only one state of consciousness like self-dispersion in thought and memory and will. The real self is the Eternal who is capable simultaneously of the mobility in Time and the immobility basing Time. All object of knowledge in that real and eternal self whether seen in essence and stability or in phenomenon and instability of Time.
The Ignorance is a means by which it is rendered into values of knowledge and action, Time being a sort of bank on which we draw for valuation and action in the present, with a realised store in the account of the past and an unrealised infinite deposit to be taken from the future so as to be made valuable for Time-experience and valid for Time-activity. But, behind, all is known and ready for use according to the will of the Self in its dealings with Time and Space and Causality.
Consciousness of Self has two different aspects, the awareness of a stable, immutable and timeless Self beyond mentality and the awareness of a various self-experience in the process of Time and the field of Space. There is a constant shifting of the point of Time, a constant though less obvious changing of the habitation and the environment and in these a constant subjective modifying of the experience of the states of personality and the experience of the environment.
Memory here is an indispensable factor in the linking of past and present experience and is necessary to secure its continuity and coherence. Still Memory is not all. It is only a mediator between the mind-sense and the coordinating mind.
It is the mind-sense which shapes the object of experience as a wave of the conscious being into a movement of emotion, vitality, sensation or thought-perception. There is also an act of mental observation and valuation of this wave in the sense-mind. There is also the subject or mental being who thus modifies his mental becoming and observes and values it by an act of mind. It is when the mental being stands back from the mental becoming and even from the mental act that he begins to perceive himself as something different from the all becoming, mutable in that, but immutable beyond it. He is not two selves, one that is and one that becomes, but one immutable who sees changing phenomena of his being, the immutability evident to a direct and pure self-consciousness, the mutable evident indirectly through a conditional and secondary mental consciousness.
It is the character of this indirect mental consciousness which can experience only by succession of Time that brings in the device of Memory. Memory is not the essence of mental experience of becoming, nor of its continuity, nor of the recurrence of the same experience of the same cause and effect in Time. Memory is a device by which the experiences of the mind-sense are linked together and these artificial divisions in Time bridged over so that the coordinating mind and will may better and better use the material of experience and impose order of conscious knowledge of its self and its conscious action in its environment.
The ego-sense is a mental device by which the mental being develops towards knowledge of that which experiences as well as that which is experienced.
Mind-substance suffers the changes of becoming; mind-sense experiences them; memory assumes the mind-sense of its continuity and experience; the coordinating mind of knowledge relates them together and relates them also to the ego or being who, it says, is the same in past and present whether he forgets or remembers.
But it is itself only a device and basis for self-development of true self-knowledge; it is a stage in the evolution from nescience to partial knowledge and from partial knowledge to true self-consciousness. That is the natural goal of our evolution which is the movement of the ignorance to exceed itself and arrive at the conscious Truth of its being and conscious knowledge of all being.
Knowledge by Identity
and Separative Knowledge
A knowledge by identity, a knowledge by intimate direct contact, a knowledge by separative direct contact, a wholly separative knowledge by indirect contact are the four cognitive methods of Nature.
Our self-ignorance and our world-ignorance can only grow towards integral self-knowledge and integral world-knowledge in proportion as our limited ego and its half-blind consciousness open to a greater existence and consciousness and a true self-being and become aware too of the not-self outside is also as self, — on one side a Nature constituent of our own nature, on the other an Existence which is a boundless continuation of our own self-being. Our being has to break the walls of ego-consciousness which it has created, it has to extend itself beyond its body and inhabit the body of the universe. In addition of its knowledge by indirect contact it must arrive at a knowledge by direct contact and proceed to a knowledge by identity. Its limited finite of self has to become a boundless finite and an infinite.
The first of these two movements, the awakening to our inner realities, imposes itself as the prior necessity because it is by this inward self-finding that the second — the cosmic self-finding — can become entirely possible: we have to go into our inner being and learn to live in it and from it. All that we are on the outside is indeed conditioned by what is within, occult, in the inner depths and recesses.
Knowledge by identity can enlarge itself to a clear and direct intrinsic awareness of the whole entity within: we can enter into possession of our whole conscious mental being and life and arrive at a close intimacy of direct penetrating and enveloping contact with the total movements of our mental and vital energy. Moreover, the subliminal has also a larger direct contact with the world. To go farther and see what the knowledge by identity is in its purity and in what way and to what extent it originates, admits or uses the other powers of knowledge, we have to go beyond the inner mind and life and subtle-physical to the two other ends of the subliminal, interrogate the subconscient and contact or enter into the superconscient.
At the base of all spiritual knowledge is this consciousness of identity and by identity, which knows or is simply aware of all as itself. Translated into our way of consciousness this becomes the triple knowledge thus formulated in the Upanishad, “He who sees all existences in the Self”, “He who sees the Self in all existences”, “He in whom the Self has become all existences” — inclusion, indwelling and identity. But in this fundamental self-experience a regard of consciousness brings in another status of the supreme spiritual consciousness: the Spirit regards itself, it become the knower and the known, in a way the subject and object — or rather the subject-object in one, — of its own self-knowledge. The Spirit’s infinite self-experience moves between sheer identity and a multiple identity, a delight of intimately differentiated oneness and an absorbed self-rapture.
of the Ignorance
We know only a part even of our superficial life and conscious becoming, fastening only on a little of our experience of self and things, memorising less, using still less for knowledge and action. What we reject, Nature stores and uses in our development, for the most part by her subconscious action. Our waking self is only a superimposition, a visible summit; the great body of our being is submerged or subliminal.
The subliminal self perceives, remembers, understands, uses all that we fail to perceive, remember or use. It provides all the material of our surface being which is only a selection from its wider existence and activity. It is only the physical and vital part of our existence which is, properly speaking, subconscient; the subliminal self is the true mental being and in relation to our waking mind is rather secretly circumconscient; for it envelops as well as supports. Of all this larger part of our being we are ignorant.
We are ignorant also of the superconscient, that which we ordinarily call spirit or oversoul; yet this we find to be our highest and widest self, Sachchidananda creating and governing all that we are and become by His divine Maya. We are ignorant of the subliminal sea of our being which casts up the wave of our superficial existence; we are ignorant also of the superconscient ether of our being which constitutes, contains, overroofs and governs both the subliminal sea and the superficial wave.
We are ignorant of ourselves in Time, for we know only a part of the present life we are living, yet that exists only by all our past of which we are ignorant and its trend is determined by all our future of which we are still more ignorant. For our superconscient Self is eternal in its being and Time is only one of its modes, our subliminal is eternal in its becoming and Time is its infinite field of experience.
We are equally ignorant of the world, holding it to be not-self, ignorant of ourselves in Space; for the world is one Self developing the movement of its conscious force in its self-conceptive extention as Space. We confine ourselves in our consciousness to a single knot of the one indivisible Matter, a single eddy of the one indivisible Life, a single station of the one indivisible Mind, a single soul-manifestation of the one indivisible Spirit. Yet it is only by knowing the One that this individual mind, life, body, soul can know itself or its action.
Thus ignorance of self is the nature of our mind, but an ignorance full of the impulse towards self-possession and self-knowledge. A many-sided Ignorance striving to become an all-embracing Knowledge is the definition of man, the mental being.
The Origin of the Ignorance
Ignorance must be part of the movement of the One, a development of its consciousness knowingly adopted, to which it is not forcibly subjected but which it uses for its cosmic purpose.
Absolute consciousness is in its nature absolute power; the nature of Chit is Shakti: Force or Shakti concentrated and energised for cognition or for action in a realising power effective or creative, the power of conscious being dwelling upon itself and bringing out, as it were, by the heat of incubation the seed and development of all that is within it.
The passive consciousness of Brahman and its active consciousness are not two different, conflicting and incompatible things; they are the same consciousness, the same energy, at one in the state of self-reservation, at the other cast into a motion of self-giving and self-deploying. In fact, behind every activity there is and must be a passive power of being from which it arises, by which it is supported, which governs it from behind without being totally identified with it. The power of the conscious being of the Infinite, in silence of status as in creation, must also be infinite.
In reality, there is not a passive Brahman and an active Brahman, but one Brahman, an Existence which reserves Its Tapas in what we call passivity and gives itself in what we call Its activity.
Brahman does not cast Its energy out of Itself to be lost in some unreal exterior void, but keeps it at work within Its being, conserving it unabridged and undiminished in all its continual process of conversion and transmutation.
The Reality is neither an eternal passivity of immutable Being nor an eternal activity of Being in movement, nor is It an alternation in Time between these two things. Integral Brahman possesses both the passivity and the activity simultaneously and does not pass alternately from one to the other. When we get the integral knowledge and the integral liberation of both soul and nature free from the disabilities of the restricted partial and ignorant being, we too can possess the passivity and the activity with a simultaneous possession, exceeding both these poles of the universality, limited by neither of these powers of the Self in the relation or non-relation to Nature.
The Supreme exceeds both the immobile self and the mobile being; even put together they do not represent all he is. So, He exceeds the unity and multiplicity.
Ignorance and self-limiting division are not the very nature of the multiplicity of Brahman. Maya, being an original power of the consciousness of the Eternal, cannot itself be an ignorance or in any way akin to the nature of ignorance, but is a transcendent and universal power of self-knowledge and all-knowledge. The origin of the ignorance must then be sought for in some self-absorbed concentration of Tapas, of Consciousness in action on a separate movement of the Force; to us this takes the appearance of mind identifying itself with the separate movement and identifying itself also in the movement separately in each of the forms resulting from it. So it builds a wall of separation.
and the Ignorance
Brahman is in the essentiality of its universal being a unity and a multiplicity aware of each other and in each other and in its reality is something beyond the One and the Many. Ignorance can only came as a subordinate phenomenon by some concentration of consciousness absorbed in a part knowledge or a part action of the being and excluding the rest from its awareness. Ignorance is Nature’s purposeful oblivion of the Self and the All, leaving them aside, putting them behind herself in order to do solely what she has to do in some outer play of existence.
The concentration may be essential: at one end is the superconscient Silence and at the other the Inconscience; it may be also the total consciousness of Sachchidananda, the supramental concentration; or it may be multiple, the totalising or global overmental awareness; or it may be separative, the characteristic nature of the Ignorance. The supreme integrality of the Absolute holds all these states or powers of its consciousness together as a single indivisible being looking at all itself in manifestation with a simultaneous self-vision.
In man, the being’s dynamic force of consciousness is concentrated on the surface in a certain mass of superficial workings. By this absorbed movement in front, he is not aware of his real self. But it is really the hidden sea and not the superficial stream which is doing all the action: it is the sea that is the source of this movement. And that sea, the real self, the integral conscious being, the integral force of being, is not ignorant; even the wave is not essentially ignorance, but it is self-oblivious, too absorbed in its own movement to note anything else.
Man lives from moment to moment. But the real self lives indivisibly in the three times and contain all their apparent divisions, and sends it up from time to time in memory or more concretely in result of past action or past causes to the superficial conscious being — that is indeed the true rationale of what is called Karma.
And as in man so in the atom, the metal, the plant, in every form of material Nature, in every energy of material Nature, there is a secret soul, a secret will, a secret intelligence at work, the Conscient — conscient even in unconscious things, of the Upanishad, without whose presence and informing conscious-force or Tapas no work of Nature could be done.
It is to find himself in the apparent opposites of his being and his nature that Sachchidananda descends into the material Nescience and puts on its phenomenal ignorance as a superficial mask in which he hides himself from his own conscious energy, leaving it self-forgetful and absorbed in its works and forms. And it is in those forms that the slowly awakening soul has to accept the phenomenal action of an ignorance which is really knowledge awaking progressively out of the original nescience, to rediscover itself and fulfil the purpose of its descent: to embody the Ananda in Matter.
The Origin and Remedy
of Falsehood, Error,
Wrong and Evil
In the complete and inalienable self-knowledge of the Brahman which is necessarily all-knowledge, since all this that is is the Brahman, the Falsehood, Error, Wrong and Evil cannot have come in as a chance, an intervening accident, an involuntary self-forgetfulness or confusion in the Consciousness-Force of the All-Wise in the cosmos.
These contrary phenomena have no direct root in the supreme Reality itself, there is nothing there that has this character. Only in cosmic manifestation they become possible; as the manifestation of existence, consciousness and delight made the manifestation of non-existence, inconscience insensibility conceivable and, because conceivable, therefore in a way inevitable, for all possibilities push towards actuality until they reach it, so is it with these contraries of the aspects of the Divine Existence.
In cosmos also they cannot come into being except by a limitation of truth and good into partial and relative forms and by a breaking up of the unity of existence and consciousness into separative consciousness and separative being. For where there is oneness and complete mutuality of consciousness-force even in multiplicity and diversity, there truth of self-knowledge and mutual knowledge is automatic and error of self-ignorance and mutual ignorance is impossible.
The duality begins with conscious life and emerges fully with the development of mind and life; the vital mind, the mind of desire and sensation, is the creator of the sense of evil and of the fact of evil. The emergence of mind in life brings an immense increase of the range and capacity of the evolving consciousness-force; but it also brings and immense increase in the range and capacity of error. The method chosen by Nature is a slow and difficult evolution of Inconscience developing into Ignorance and Ignorance forming itself into a mixed, modified and partial knowledge before it can be ready for transformation into a higher truth-consciousness and truth-knowledge. Our imperfect mental intelligence is a necessary stage of transition before this higher transformation can be made possible.
A total change of consciousness, a radical change of nature is the one remedy and the sole issue. The true solution can intervene only when by our spiritual growth we can become one self with all beings, know them as part of our self, deal with them as if they were our other selves; for then the division is healed. To be ourselves liberated from ego and realise our true selves is the first necessity; all else can be achieved as a luminous result, a necessary consequence.
In the spiritual knowledge of self there are three steps of its self-achievement which are at the same time three parts of the one knowledge. The first is the discovery of the soul, the secret psychic entity, the divine element within us. The second is to become aware of the eternal self in us unborn and one with the self of all beings. The third is to know the Divine Being who is at once our supreme transcendent Self, the Cosmic Being, foundation of our universality, and the Divinity within of which our psychic being, the true evolving individual in our nature, is a portion, a spark, a flame growing into the eternal Fire from which it was lit and in which it is the witness ever living within us and the conscious instrument of its light and power and joy and beauty. Aware of the Divine, we can learn to become channels of his Shakti, the Divine Puissance, and act according to her dictates or her rule of light and power within us. An eternal Truth-Consciousness must possess us and sublimate all our natural modes into its own modes of being, knowledge and action.
Part II - THE KNOWLEDGE AND THE SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION
Reality and the
The ignorance in which we live is a sevenfold self-ignorance; an ignorance of the Absolute and knowledge only of the relations of being and becoming; an ignorance of our timeless and immutable self-existence and knowledge only of the cosmic becoming; an ignorance of our cosmic self and knowledge only of our egoistic existence; an ignorance of our eternal becoming in Time and knowledge only of the one life present to our memory; an ignorance of our larger and complex being in the world and knowledge only of our surface waking existence; an ignorance of the higher principles of our existence and knowledge only of the life, mind and body; an ignorance therefore of the right law and enjoyment of living and a knowledge only of the confused strife of the dualities.
Our conception of the Ignorance determines our conception of the knowledge and by that of the aim of our existence, which coincides with the ideal of the earlier Vedic thought.
We confirm by it our rejection of the extreme views which hold the absolute Non-existence or absolute Existence to be alone true and relative world of being and becoming an ignorance to be renounced. There is the unmanifest Absolute and there is its manifestation; to fulfil the manifestation and live in the sense of it as the Absolute manifesting himself is the Knowledge.
We reject the view that regards the One, Infinite, Formless, Spirit, Superconscient as the sole truth and the opposite terms as unreal or eventually false and vain values to be abandoned. We accept it and them also not as alternates, but as simultaneous values of the manifestation and their union in our consciousness and right use of their relations as the knowledge.
We reject equally the views that affirm a pluralistic Becoming without Being or see Mind, Life or Matter as the original principle, and we reject the limitation to our apparent Nature which is their practical conclusion. Becoming as the working out of the energies of Being, Mind, Life and Matter as inferior terms of the higher divine Nature to be illumined, uplifted, transformed by the higher terms is our view of the knowledge.
We reject also intermediate theories like that which makes God and cosmos one, — perceiving as we do that cosmos exists in God who exceeds it and not God by the cosmos, — or like that which seeks to abandon the earth and find fulfilment only in heavens where the Many enjoy the presence of the One, — perceiving, as we do, that there is a higher knowledge which leads to complete identity and that divine life based upon it need not to be confined to heavens beyond, but may embrace the earth also.
Ignorance is an initial state of knowledge the essence of which is to create a sense of limitation and division; it is this which we have to overcome and transcend without creating an opposite self-limitation. The integral aim of our existence can only be the possession and power and joy of our integral self-knowledge.
The Integral Knowledge
and the Aim of Life;
Four Theories of Existence
The Absolute manifests itself in two terms, a Being and a Becoming. The fundamental reality of the Absolute is to our spiritual perception a Divine Existence, Consciousness and Delight of Being — Sachchidananda.
The Being is one, but this oneness is infinite and contains in itself an infinite plurality or multiplicity of itself: the One is the All; it is not only an essential Existence, but an All-Existence. The infinite multiplicity of the One and the eternal unity of the Many are the two realities of one reality on which the manifestation is founded.
The Being presents itself to our cosmic experience in three poises, — the supracosmic Existence, the cosmic Spirit and the individual Self in the Many.
This Divine Being, Sachchidananda, is at once impersonal and personal.
The manifestation of the Being in our universe takes the shape of an involution which is the starting-point of an evolution, — Matter the nethermost stage, Spirit the summit.
There can be distinguished seven principles of manifested being. The first three are the original and fundamental principles: the unity of the Divine Existence (sat), the power of the Divine Consciousness (cit), the bliss of the Divine Delight of existence (ânanda). A fourth principle of supramental truth-consciousness (vijñâna) is associated with them, manifesting unity in infinite multiplicity. This quadruple power (parârdha) constitutes an upper hemisphere of manifestation based on the Spirit’s eternal self-knowledge. The other three principles form a lower hemisphere of the manifestation (aparârdha), a hemisphere of Mind (manas), Life (prâna) and Matter (anna). These are in themselves powers of the superior principles; but wherever they manifest in a separation from their spiritual sources, they undergo a phenomenal lapse, which culminates in a total Inconscience our of which an involved Being and Consciousness have to emerge by a gradual evolution.
This inevitable evolution first develops Matter and a material universe; in Matter, Life appears and living physical beings; In Life, Mind manifests and embodied thinking and living beings; in Mind, ever increasing its powers and activities in forms of Matter, the Supermind or Truth-Consciousness must appear, inevitably.
There are, from this view-point, four main metaphysical theories: the supracosmic, the cosmic and terrestrial, the supraterrestrial or other-worldly, and the integral or synthetic or composite. In this last category would fall our view of our existence here as a Becoming with the Divine Being for its origin and its object, a progressive manifestation, a spiritual evolution with the supracosmic for its source and support, the other-worldly for a condition and connecting link and the cosmic and terrestrial for its field, and with human mind and life for its nodus and turning-point of release towards a higher and a highest perfection.
The Progress to Knowledge
— God, Man and Nature
To rise out of the sevenfold Ignorance into the integral Knowledge is the progress of man’s being; it is to grow in all his complex existence and consciousness into the full possession and enjoyment of his whole and his true being.
He starts with three categories, himself, Nature or cosmos and God, and though he tries to deny any two of these in order to affirm the third only, he cannot really succeed; for he is neither separate nor sufficient to himself, cosmos also is not sufficient to itself, but points always to an infinite, one and absolute behind it, and to affirm the Absolute to the exclusion of these two others leaves man unsatisfied and cosmos unexplained.
In affirming himself man has first to put himself in front and act and feel as if God and the world existed for him and were less important to him then himself; this is his egoistic phase necessary to disengage his individuality out of Nature and as if against her and to bring it out into force and capacity. He has to affirm himself in the Ignorance before he can perfect himself in the Knowledge. Afterwards he has to seek for himself in Nature and God and others, but it is still himself that he seeks to know and possess and his own perfection or salvation which is his motive.
In the progressive enlargement of his knowledge he gets rid of his sevenfold ignorance; of the temporal by growing into his eternal being with its pre-existence and subsequent existence in Time; of the psychological by enlarging his self-knowing beyond the waking self into the subconscient and superconscient; of the constitutional by realising his spiritual being and its categories; of the cosmic by discovering his timeless Self; of the egoistic by realising the cosmic consciousness; of the original by opening to the Absolute of whom Self, individual and Nature are so many faces.
At the same time he realises the unity of himself and Nature in the first three steps of knowledge, of himself and God in the others; of himself with all beings relatively in Nature and absolutely in God; of God and Nature because it is the Self who has become all these things and the nature of the Lord which is apparent in cosmos.
The knowledge of Nature leads him to the same results as soon as he goes beyond Matter and Life to Mind; for he discovers a subconscient and superconscient, a soul in Matter, and perceives a supernature in which he realises the Self, the Spirit, the Absolute.
In the quest of God he begins by seeing him through Nature and himself, crudely and obscurely at first, till he finds more luminously the one Truth behind all religions; for all seize on the Divine in many aspects and their variety is necessary in order that man should come to know God entirely.
When he arrives at the unity of his knowledge of God, man and Nature, he has the complete knowledge, the sense and goal of humanity’s progress and labour and the sure foundation of all perfections and all harmonies.
The Evolutionary Process
— Ascent and Integration
The evolutionary process that out of a material Inconscience ascends to a spiritual consciousness is a process that has a triple character. An evolution of forms of Matter more and more subtly and intricately organised so as to admit the action of a growing, a more and more complex and subtle and capable organisation of consciousness is the indispensable physical foundation. An upward evolutionary progress of the consciousness itself from grade to higher grade, an ascent, is the evident spiral line or emerging curve that, on this foundation, the evolution must describe. A taking up of what has already been evolved into each higher grade as it is reached and a transformation more or less complete so as to admit of a total changed working of the whole being and nature, an integration, must be also part of the process, if the evolution is to be effective..
The end of this triple process must be a radical change of the action of the ignorance into the action of Knowledge, of our basis of inconscience into a basis of complete consciousness, — a completeness which exists at present only in what is to us the superconscience.
Matter is the primal substance; Mind and Life are evolved in Matter, but they are limited and modified in their action. For they do transform its substance, first into living substance and then into conscious substance, but they do not succeed in transforming it altogether, because neither of them is the original creative Power. If there is to be an entire transformation, it can only be by the full emergence of the law of the spirit; its power of supermind or gnosis must have entered into Matter and it must evolve in Matter.
In fact, life, mind, supermind are present in the atom, are at work there, but invisible, occult, latent in a subconscious or apparently unconscious action of the Energy. The electron are in this view eternal somnambulists. In the plant this outer form form-consciousness is still in the state of sleep, but a sleep full of nervous dreams, always on the point of waking, but never waking. Animal being is mentally aware of existence, its own and others, puts forth a subtler grade of activities, receives a wider range of contacts. The higher animal is not the somnambulist, — as the very lowest animal forms still mainly or almost are, — but is has only a limited waking mind, capable of just what is necessary for its vital existence: in man the conscious mentality enlarges its wakefulness and, though not at first fully self-conscious, though still conscious only on the surface, can open more and more to his inner and integral being.
Out of the Sevenfold
Ignorance towards the
There are in us other principles beyond mind and more near to the spiritual nature, powers more directs and instruments more luminous, a more elevated state, spheres of dynamic action more vast that those that belongs to our present physical, vital and mental existence.
The divine life will not only assume into itself the mental, vital, physical life transformed and spiritualised, but it will give them a much more wider and fuller play than was open to them so long as they were living on their own level.
This evolution, this process of heightening and widening and integralisation, is in its nature a growth and an ascent out of the sevenfold ignorance into the sevenfold knowledge.
The crux of that ignorance is the constitutional; it resolves itself into a manifold ignorance of the true character of our becoming, an unawareness of our total self.
From this derives our psychological ignorance, which consists in a limitation of our self-knowledge to that little wave or superficial stream of our being which is the conscient waking self. We must learn to live within and no longer on the surface and be and act from the inner depths and from a soul that has become sovereign over the nature.
The first indispensable step in an upward evolution would be to elevate our force of consciousness into those higher parts of Mind from which we already receive, but without knowing the source, much of our larger mental movements, those, especially, that come with a greater power and light, the revelatory, the inspirational, the intuitive.
Any such evolutionary change must necessarily be associated with a rejection of our present narrowing temporal ignorance. There arises a knowledge of our being, no longer as a consciousness dependent on the body, but as an eternal spirit which uses all the worlds and all lives for various self-experience; we see it to be a spiritual entity possessed of a continuous soul-life perpetually developing ita activities through successive physical existences, a being determining its own becoming. In that knowledge, not ideative but felt in our very substance, it becomes possible to live, not as slaves of a blind Karmic impulsion, but as masters of our being and nature.
As our consciousness changes into the height and depth and wideness of the spirit, the ego can no longer survive there. The being breaks out of its imprisonment in a separated individuality, becomes universal. This disappearance of the ego does not bring with it the destruction of our true individuality, our spiritual existence, for that was always universal and one with the Transcendence; but there is a transformation which replaces the separative ego by the Purusha.
In the same movement, by the very awakening into the spirit, there is a dissolution of the cosmic ignorance. And this knowledge becomes the basis of the Divine Play in time, reconciles the one and the many, the eternal unity and the eternal multiplicity, reunites the soul with God and discovers the Divine in the universe.
The Philosophy of Rebirth
That which has no end must necessarily have had no beginning. The spirit is immortal; the soul in us is not dependent on the body for its coming into existence, and therefore it cannot end after the disappearance of the body.
Again, where we see in Time a certain stage of development, there must have been a past to that development. Therefore, if the soul enters this life with a certain development of personality, it must have prepared it in other precedent lives here or elsewhere. If the soul is real and immortal, it must also be eternal.
Rebirth is an indispensable machinery for the working out of a spiritual evolution; it is the only possible effective condition, the obvious dynamic process of such a manifestation in the material universe.
The universe is a self-creative process of a supreme Reality whose presence makes spirit the substance of things — all things are there as the spirit’s powers and means and forms of manifestation. Sachchidananda is the Reality secret behind the appearances of the universe; its divine Supermind has arranged the cosmic order, but arranged it indirectly through the three subordinate and limiting terms of which we are conscious here, Mind, Life and Matter.
The material universe is the lowest stage of a downward plunge of the manifestation, an involution of the manifested being of this triune Reality into an apparent nescience of itself, that which we now call the Inconscient; but out of this nescience the evolution of that manifested being into a recovered self-awareness was from the very first inevitable. And it is through the conscious individual being that this recovery is possible; it is in him that the evolving consciousness becomes organised and capable of awaking to its own Reality. Rebirth it becomes then a necessity, an inevitable outcome of the root nature of our existence.
The individual is a persistent reality, an eternal portion or power of the Eternal. The cosmos is a conditioned manifestation of the play of the eternal One in the being of Sachchidananda with the eternal Many.
The imperfection of Man is not the last word of Nature, but his perfection too is not the last peak of the Spirit.
Being the supermind a power of consciousness concealed here in the evolution, the mental nature will be replaced by the supramental nature and an embodied supramental being shall becomes the leader of terrestrial existence.
Rebirth is a necessity, for without it birth would be an initial step without a sequel, the starting of a journey without its farther steps and arrival. It is rebirth that gives to the birth of an incomplete being in a body its promise of completeness and its spiritual significance.
The Order of the Worlds
The cosmos is a self-graded devolution out of the superconscient Sachchidananda.
Matter is a product of energy, and mind and life must be regarded as products of the same Energy. Spirit must then be capable of basing its manifestation on the Mind principle or on the Life principle and not only on the principle of Matter; there can be logically worlds of Mind and worlds of Life; there may even be worlds founded on a subtler and more plastic, more conscious principle of Matter.
These domains of larger being are not altogether remote and separate from our own being and consciousness; for, though they subsist in themselves and have their own play and process and formulations of existence and experience, yet at the same time they penetrate and envelop the physical plane with their invisible presence and influences, and their powers seem to be here in the material world itself behind its action and objects.
This organisation includes, as on our earth, the existence of beings who have or take forms, manifest themselves or are naturally manifested in an embodying substance, but a substance other than ours, a subtler substance tangible only to subtle sense, a supraphysical form-matter. These worlds and beings may enter into secret communication with earth-existence, obey or embody and are the intermediaries and instruments of the cosmic powers and influences of which we have a subjective experience, or themselves act by their own initiation upon the terrestrial world’s life and motives and happenings.
It is possible to receive help or guidance or harm or misguidance from these beings. At times the progress of earthly life seems to be a vast field of battle between supraphysical Forces of either character, those that strive to uplift, encourage and illumine and those that strive to deflect, depress or prevent or even shatter our upward evolution or the soul’s self-expression in the material universe.
It is possible also to pass beyond a subjective contact or a subtle-sense perception and, in certain subliminal states of consciousness, to enter actually into other worlds and know something of their secrets.
It is the pressure of the life-world which enables life to evolve and develop here in the forms we already know. It is the pressure of the mind-world which evolves and develops mind here and helps us to find a leverage for our mental self-uplifting and expansion, so that we may hope to enlarge continually our self of intelligence and even to break the prison walls of our matter-bound physical mentality. It is the pressure of the supramental and spiritual worlds which is preparing to develop supramental and spiritual worlds which is preparing to develop here the manifest power of the spirit and by it open our being on the physical plane into the freedom and infinity of the superconscient Divine; that contact, that pressure alone liberate from the apparent Inconscience, which was our starting-point, the all-conscient Godhead concealed in us.
These other worlds are not evolutionary, but typal. And they are not in their original creation subsequent in order to the physical universe but prior to it, — prior, if not in time, in their consequential sequence. They are at least coeval and coexistent with that which presents itself to us as the physical universe.
Rebirth and Other Worlds;
Karma, the Soul and Immortality
There is a life on other planes after death and before the subsequent rebirth, a life consequent on the old and preparatory of the new stage of terrestrial existence.
Other planes coexist with ours, are part of one complex system and act constantly upon the physical which is their own final and lowest term, receive its reactions, admit a secret communication and commerce. Vital worlds exists, natural domains of the universal Life principle. And mental worlds even exists, in which man, the mental being, shall find his natural habitat.
It is the soul-person, the psychic being, that survives and carries mind and life with it in its journey. It is the soul, the psychic being, and not the mind, that is the traveller between death and birth, and the mental being is only a predominant element in the figure of its self-expression.
Ordinarily, the normally developed human being, who has risen to a sufficient power of mentality, pass successively through the subtle-physical, vital and mental planes, on his way to his psychic habitation. At each stage he would exhaust and get rid of the fractions of formed personality structure, temporary and superficial, that belonged to the past life; he would cast off ho mind sheath and life sheath as he had already cast off his body sheath: but the essence of the personality and its mental, vital and physical experiences would remain in latent memory or as a dynamic potency for the future.
The law of Karma may also be accepted as a fact, as part of the cosmic machinery. But Karma is only an outward machinery and cannot be elevated to a greater position as the sole and absolute determinant of the life-working in the cosmos. If a certain amount of results of past Karma is formulated in the present life, it must ne with the consent of the psychic being which presides over the new formation of its earth-experience and assents not merely to an outward compulsory process, but to a secret Will and Guidance. There is not only a machinery but a Spirit in things, and the law of Karma can only be one of the processes it uses for that purpose: our Spirit, our Self must be greater than its Karma.
The principle is not the working out of a mechanism of Law, but the development of the nature through cosmic experience so that eventually it may grow out of the Ignorance. Fate, whether purely mechanical or created by ourselves, is only one factor of existence; Being and its consciousness and its will are a still more important factor.
All the secret of the circumstances of rebirth centres around the one capital need of the soul, the need of growth, the need of experience; that governs the line of its evolution and all the rest is accessory. Cosmic existence is not a vast administrative system of universal justice with a cosmic Law of recompense and retribution as its machinery or a divine Legislator and Judge at its centre.
There are certain circumstances in which the survival of the outer personality could be possible, when the wall between the inner self and the outer man have been broken down and the permanent mental and vital being from within, the mental and vital representatives of the immortal psychic entity, govern the life. The immortality of the nature completing the essential immortality of the spirit might be the crown of rebirth and a momentous indication of the conquest of the material Inconscience and Ignorance even in the very foundation of the reign of Matter. But the true immortality would still be the eternity of the spirit.
Man and the Evolution
A spiritual evolution, an evolution of consciousness in Matter in a constant developing self-formation till the form can reveal the indwelling spirit, is then the key-note, the central significant motive or the terrestrial existence.
Admitting that the creation is a manifestation of the Timeless Eternal in a Time Eternity, admitting that there are the seven grades of Consciousness and that the material Inconscience has been laid down as a basis for the reascent of the Spirit, admitting that rebirth is a fact, a part of the terrestrial order, still a question remain. How did all these various gradations and types of being come into existence?.
Man is the head of the earthly creation, but he does not exceed it. The spiritual aspiration in innate in man; for he is, unlike the animal, aware of imperfection and limitation and feels that there is something to be attained beyond what he now is: this urge towards self-exceeding is not likely ever to die out totally in the race.
Man can go deeper within himself and discover the means, the secret energy, the intended operation of the Consciousness-Force within which is the hidden reality of what we call Nature.
If a spiritual unfolding on earth is the hidden truth of our birth into Matter, if it is fundamentally an evolution of consciousness that has been taking place in Nature, then man as he is cannot be the last term of that evolution: he is too imperfect an expression of the spirit, mind itself a too limited form and instrumentation; the mental being can only be a transitional being. If, the, man is incapable of exceeding mentality, he must ne surpassed and supermind and superman must manifest and take the lead of the creation. But if his mind is capable of opening to what exceeds it, then there is no reason why man himself should not arrive at supermind and supermanhood or at least lend his mentality, life and body to an evolution of that greater term of the Spirit manifesting in Nature.
Ananda is the secret principle of all being and the support of all activity of being; but Ananda does not exclude a delight in the working our of a Truth inherent in being, immanent in the Force or Will of being, upheld in the hidden self-awareness of its Consciousness-Force which is the dynamic and executive agent of all its activities and the knower of their significance.
of the Spiritual Man
Evolution is an inverse action of the involution: what is an ultimate and last derivation in the involution is the first to appear in the evolution; what was original and primal in the involution is in the evolution the last and supreme emergence.
The lines of development utilised by Nature in her attempt to open up the inner being are four, — religion, occultism, spiritual thought and inner spiritual realisation and experience; the three first are approaches, the last is the decisive avenue of entry.
When spirituality disengages itself in the consciousness and puts on its distinctive character, it is only at first a small kernel, a growing tendency an exceptional light of experience amidst the great mass of normal unenlightened human mind, vitality, physicality which forms the outer self and engrosses our natural preoccupation. There are tentative beginnings and a slow evolution and hesitating emergence. In the very nature of things all evolution must proceed at first by a slow unfolding; for each new principle that evolves its powers has to make its way out of an involution in Inconscience and Ignorance.
The first true formations take the shape of a spiritualisation of our natural activities, a permeating influence on them or a direction: there is a preparatory influence or influx in some part or tendency of the mind of life, — a spiritualised turn of thought with uplifting illuminations, or a spiritualised turn of the emotional or the aesthetic being, a spiritualised ethical formation in the character, a spiritualised urge in some life-action or other dynamic vital movement of the nature.
The last or highest emergence is the liberated man who has realised the Self and Spirit within him, entered into the cosmic consciousness, passed into union with the Eternal and, so far as he still accepts life and action, acts by the light and energy of the Power within him working through his human instruments of Nature.
The largest formulation of this spiritual change and achievement is a total liberation of soul, mind, heart and action, a casting of them all into the sense of the cosmic Self and the Divine Reality.
The spiritual evolution of the individual has then found its way and thrown up its peaks of highest nature. Beyond this height and largeness there opens only the supramental ascent or the incommunicable Transcendence.
In the spiritual evolution it is inevitable that there should be a many-sided passage and reaching to the one Truth, a many-sided seizing of it. Moreover, the domain of pure spiritual self-realisation and self-expression need not be a single white monotone, there can be a great diversity in the fundamental unity.
A diversity in oneness is the law of the manifestation; the supramental unification and integration must harmonise these diversities, but to abolish them is not the intention of the Spirit in Nature.
The Triple Transformation
If it is the sole intention of Nature in the evolution of the spiritual man to awaken him to the supreme Reality and release him from herself, or from the Ignorance in which she as the Power of the Eternal has masked herself, by a departure into a higher status of being elsewhere, then in the essence her work has been already accomplished.
But we have supposed that there is a farther intention, — not only a revelation of the Spirit, but a radical and integral transformation of Nature. The spiritual man has evolved, but not the supramental being who shall thenceforward be the leader of that Nature.
As mind is established here on a basis of Ignorance seeking for Knowledge and growing into Knowledge, so supermind must be established here on a basis of Knowledge growing into its own greater Light. This can be done by a triple transformation:
1) the psychic change — the unveiling of the psychic being and the conversion of our whole present nature into a soul-instrumentation;
2) the spiritual change — the descent of a higher Light, Knowledge, Power, Force, Bliss, Purity into the whole being, even into the lowest recesses of the life and body, even into the darkness of our subconscience;
3) the supramental transmutation — the ascent into the supermind and the transforming descent of the supramental Consciousness into our entire being and nature.
It is only when man awakes to the knowledge of the soul and feels a need to bring it to the front and make it the master of his life and action that a quicker conscious method of evolution intervenes and a psychic transformation becomes possible.
We have within us and discover when we go deep enough inwards a mind-self, a life-self, a physical self. Man is in his self a unique Person, but he is also in his manifestation of self a multiperson; he will never succeed in being master of himself until the Person imposes itself on his multipersonality and governs it.
The consequence of the spiritualisation of the nature is a free inflow of all kinds of spiritual experience, experience of the Self, experience of the Ishwara and the Divine Shakti, experience of cosmic consciousness, a direct touch with cosmic forces and with the occult movements of universal Nature, a psychic sympathy and unity and inner communication and interchanges of all kinds with other beings and with Nature, illuminations of the mindly knowledge, illuminations of the heart by love and devotion and spiritual joy and ecstasy, illuminations of the sense and the body by higher experience, illuminations of dynamic action in the truth and largeness of a purified mind and heart and soul, the certitudes of the divine light and guidance, the joy and power of the divine force working in the will and the conduct.
But a third movement is necessary, of descent, an experience of reception and retention of the Spirit. And only the Supermind can thus descend without losing its full power of action.
As the psychic change has to call in the spiritual to complete it, so the spiritual change has to call in the supramental transformation to complete it. The supramental being will be the first unveiled manifestation of the truth of the Self and Spirit in the material universe.
As the summits of human mind are beyond animal perception, so the movements of supermind are beyond the ordinary human mental conception.
The transition to Supermind through overmind is a passage from Nature as we know it into Super-Nature.
In place of the Nature of Ignorance with the individual as its closed field and unconscious or half-conscious instrument, there would be a Super-Nature of the divine Gnosis and the individual soul would be its conscious, open and free field and instrument, a participant in its action, aware of its purpose and process, aware too of its own greater Self, the universal, the transcendent Reality, and of its own Person as illimitably one with that and yet an individual being of Its being, and instrument and a spiritual centre.
But this highest condition is difficult and must evidently take long to bring about; for the participation and consent of the Purusha to the transition is not sufficient, there must be also the consent and participation of the Prakriti.
The spiritual evolution obeys the logic of a successive unfolding; it can take a new decisive main step only when the previous main step has been sufficiently conquered: even if certain minor stages can be swallowed up or leaped over by a rapid and brusque ascension, the consciousness has to turn back to assure itself that the ground passed over is securely annexed to the new condition. It is true that the conquest of the spirit supposes the execution in one life or a few lives of a process that in the ordinary course of Nature would involve a slow and uncertain procedure of centuries or even of millenniums: but this is a question of the speed with which the steps are traversed; a greater or concentrated speed does not eliminate the steps themselves or the necessity of their successive surmounting.
This law of Nature’s procedure brings in the necessity of a gradation in the last transitional process, a climbing of degrees, an unfolding of higher and higher states that lead us from the spiritualised mind to supermind, — a steep passage that could not be accomplished otherwise.
The gradation can be resolved into a stairway of four main ascents, each with its high level of fulfilment. These gradations may be summarily described as a series of sublimations of the consciousness through Higher Mind, Illumined Mind and Intuition into Overmind and beyond it; there is a succession of self-transmutations at the summit of which lies the Supermind or Divine Gnosis.
A supramental change of the whole substance of the being and therefore necessarily of all its characters, powers, movements takes place when the involved supermind in Nature emerges to meet and join with the supramental light and power descending from Supernature.
On this basis the principle of a divine life in terrestrial Nature would be manifest; even the world of ignorance and inconscience might discover its own submerged secret and begin to realise in each lower degree its divine significance.
The Gnostic Being
As there has been established on earth a mental Consciousness and Power which shapes a race of mental beings and takes up into itself all of earthly nature that is ready for the change, so now there will be established on earth a gnostic Consciousness and Power which will shape a race of gnostic spiritual beings and take up into itself all of earth-nature that is ready for this new transformation. It will also receive into itself from above, progressively, from its own domain of perfect light and power and beauty all that is ready to descend from that domain into terrestrial being.
The rule of the Inconscient will disappear: for the Inconscience will be changed by the outburst of the greater secret Consciousness within it, the hidden Light, into what it always was in reality, a sea of the secret Superconscience. A first formation of a gnostic consciousness and nature will be the consequence.
There is something in the nature of supermind itself that would make this great result inevitable. It is in its foundation a unitarian and integralising and harmonic consciousness, and in its descent and evolutionary working out of the diversity of the Infinite it would not lose its unitarian trend, its push towards integralisation or its harmonic influence.
Supramental Nature sees everything from the standpoint of oneness and regards all things, even the greatest multiplicity and diversity, even what are to the mind the strongest contradictions, in the light of that oneness; its will, ideas, feelings, sense are made of the stuff of oneness, its actions proceeds upon that basis.
The supramental, the divine life is a life of essential, spontaneous and inherent unity.
A supramental or gnostic race of beings would not be a race made according to a single type, moulded in a single fixed pattern; for the law of the supermind is unity fulfilled in diversity, and therefore there would be an infinite diversity in the manifestation of the gnostic consciousness although that consciousness would still be one in its basis, in its constitution, in its all-revealing and all-uniting order.
The gnosis is the effective principle of the Spirit, a highest dynamis of the spiritual existence. The gnostic individual would be the consummation of the spiritual man; his whole way of being, thinking, living, acting would be governed by the power of a vast universal spirituality.
The existence of the supramental being would be the play of a manifoldly and multiply manifesting truth-power of one-existence and one-consciousness for the delight of one-existence. Delight of the manifestation of the Spirit in its truth of being would be the sense of the gnostic life. All its movements would be a formulation of the truth of the spirit, but also of the joy of the spirit.
As a consequence of the total change and reversal of consciousness establishing a new relation of spirit with mind and life and matter, and a new significance and perfection in the relation, there will be a reversal, a perfecting new significance also of the relations between the spirit and the body it inhabits. And, as a result of this new relation between the Spirit and the body, the gnostic evolution will effectuate the spiritualisation, perfection and fulfilment of the physical being; it will do for the body as for the mind and life.
At the higher end of the evolution the ascending ranges and summits of supermind would begin to rise towards some supreme manifestation of the pure spiritual existence, consciousness and delight of being of Sachchidananda.
The Divine Life
A life of gnostic beings carrying the evolution to a higher supramental status might fitly characterised as a divine life; for it would be a life in the Divine, a life of the beginnings os a spiritual divine light and power and joy manifested in material Nature.
If life has to become a manifestation of the Spirit, it is the manifestation of a spiritual being in us and the divine life of a perfected consciousness in a supramental or gnostic power of spiritual being that must be the secret burden and intention of evolutionary Nature.
A spiritual change of the whole principle and instrumentation of life and action, the appearance of a new order of beings and a new earth-life must be envisaged in our idea of the total consummation, the divine issue. Here the gnostic change assumes a primary importance; all that precedes can be considered as an upbuilding and a preparation for this transmuting reversal of the whole nature For it is a gnostic way of dynamic living that must be the fulfilled divine life on earth, a way of living that develops higher instruments of world-knowledge and world-action for the dynamisation of consciousness in the physical existence and takes up and transforms the values of a world of material Nature.
An entirely new consciousness in many individuals transforming their whole being, transforming their mental, vital and physical nature-self, is needed for the new life to appear; only such a transformation of the general mind, life, body nature can bring into being a new worthwhile collective existence.
In a supramental world, there will be the affirmation of the Divine in himself and a sense of the Divine in others and the sense of oneness with all other beings, with all the world because of the Divine in them and a lead towards a greater and better affirmation of the growing Reality in them will be part of his life action. In all directions the Spirit within determining the law of the nature would determine the frame of the life and its detail and circumstance.
A unique Conscious-Force, perceived by all and of which all will be the instruments, will act by all and will harmonize their action.
It is for the taste of the Ignorance, its surprise and adventure, one might say, that the soul has descended into the Inconscience and assumed the disguise of Matter, for the adventure and the joy of the creation and discovery, an adventure of the spirit, an adventure of the mind and life and the hazardous surprises of their working in Matter, for the discovery and conquest of the new and the unknown. And the entry into the gnostic consciousness would be an entry into the Infinite. It would be a self-creation bringing out the Infinite infinitely into form of being, and the interest of the Infinite is much greater and multitudinous as well as more imperishably delightful than the interest of the finite. The evolution in the Knowledge would be a more beautiful and glorious manifestation with more vistas ever unfolding themselves and more intensive in all ways than any evolution could be in the Ignorance. The delight of the Spirit is ever new, the forms of beauty it takes innumerable, its godhead ever young and the taste of delight of the Infinite eternal and inexhaustible.
The self, the spirit, the reality that is disclosing itself out of the first inconscience of life and matter, would evolve its complete truth of being and consciousness in that life and matter.
And earthly life become the life divine.