The Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo: The Ego and the Dualities

This post has my personal notes and reflections of the chapter called The Ego and the Dualities  from The Life Divine written  by Sri Aurobindo.

If all is Sat-Chit-Ananda, then why do we experience death, suffering, evil and limitation? We do so because these are the creations of a distorting consciousness. The consciousness has become distorted because it is has fallen away from the Divine and now recognizes itself as separate and divided from the Divine. Even this distortion is a necessary step as the Divine descends into Matter and slowly but surely transforms Matter into Life, then Mind and then Supermind (the Divine). As we ascend this path towards the Divine and the Divine fully descends into us, these dualities transform into something greater than their opposites and all become the Divine in full action.

At the moment, for the mind of man, these dualities are the reality because that is how much he has evolved. As he evolves more and more towards the Divine, he realizes that the dualities he experiences are just an experience of the universe in a particular way and there are other ways to experience them as manifestations of the Divine- the eternal Existence-Consciousness and Bliss.

This is not to mean that we reject the dualities of life in our present condition. The dualities of life have their own purpose for the level to which our senses and consciousness have developed. To enlarge either the senses or the consciousness without the right base of knowledge can lead to serious problems, just as reading a PhD level book can cause serious problems to a child of four.

Some while trying to do this reject something of this life to gain access to a universal Divine Consciousness. But this will not lead to an integral change. For example, in our daily life, we see the sun moving from one place to another and hence to our senses, the sun moves around the earth. But we know, through science that the earth moves around the sun. But just knowing that the earth moves around the sun without the accompanying scientific knowledge is not useful at all.

Similarly at this time, for the mental consciousness, God moves around the personal ego and we view all his Works and Ways in a certain way and judge it according to our ego, perception and conception which although not Truth in the greatest sense is true for us in the sense of how we view the sun as moving around the earth. These views and perceptions have their own utility in the progress of man towards the Divine. However in reality, the Divine is the centre and man has to realize his own truth in terms of the Universal and the Transcendent. But this cannot be rushed. Sometimes the rushing of this conception creates new useful religions and new revolutions. But unless we have the right base of knowledge around which we can transform ourselves into something more closer to the Divine, we will not reach the true goal.

This knowledge can be achieved only if we renounce the false conceptions and perceptions of the ego and enter into a right relation with the Universe and the Transcendent. This is not possible as long as we view our life as an individual phenomenon and the dualities an inevitable part of  our life forever. If we think this is so, then the only way to get out of it is to merge in a Nirvana beyond all existence or by going into another Divine world than this material universe.

It is difficult for us to imagine a world, still human but radically changed. The Ape of yester years would not have been able to conceive that the same world in which he lived would be radically changed by a new animal, the man, who would harness the earth and its materials and develop himself to such an extent as we see today. Even if he could conceive it, he would not have though that he could transform himself into man by the progress of nature or effort. Man, because he is more developed can conceive the Ultimate-Knowledge without error, Bliss without suffering, Power without limitation. He conceives his Gods and Heaven based on this: these are dreams of his own perception. But he does not accept that this is possible in this earth here. To his reasoned mind, just like the Ape of yesteryear, this is impossible. He cannot conceive of a world without pain and death. He starts to accept that what is possible her is only a conditioned happiness, power and existence. But in reality we do pursue to end disease, suffering, death, and error. However we still do not work at the root. We work at secondary causes, the leaves and the branches and hence we cannot conceive of completely getting rid of them.

The root solution is this: The ancient Vedanta presents us with such a solution in the conception and experience of Brahman as the one universal and essential fact and of the nature of Brahman as SatChitAnanda.

This one Brahman become multiple. Ego then arises. Ego arises because of a self limitation of the Consciousness, by focusing on one thing to the exclusion of the rest. Error, sorrow, pain and death and perceived as separate and not in relation to the Divine existence, peace, bliss and good. Ego will fall as we realize the right relation to the Universe and the Transcendent and as it falls, these ego reactions will also disappear.

Later religions then put forth the concept that the ego is the essential condition for the existence of the universe. Therefore when we eliminate the ego, we end existence and hence they said that perfection is not possible in this world.

The true conception is as follows: The essential cause and condition of universal existence is the Lord, Ishwara or Purusha,manifesting and occupying individual and universal forms. The limited ego is only an intermediate phenomenon of consciousness necessary for a certain line of development. Following this line the individual can arrive at that which is beyond himself, that which he represents, and can yet continue to represent it, no longer as an obscured and limited ego, but as a centre of the Divine and of the universal consciousness embracing, utilising and transforming into harmony with the Divine all individual determinations.

 So we have the Divine manifesting in this universe as the foundation of human existence. This Divine evolves as Life, Mind and Supermind. This evolution is what has helped Man appear in Matter. This evolution is what will help Man become Superman( the Universal Incarnation). The ego and dualities are necessary steps on the way. At a certain point in the evolution, the ego opens itself to the Universe and the Transcendent. The Transcendent and the Universal establishes itself in Full in Man. Man becomes Divine. This is where we are evolving to and what we aspire to be.