Archive for October 2013
The argument goes along the lines of human beings either having “free will” or else, everything is “pre-determined” and we have no free will. If it is not the one, it must be the other. This debate, however, represents actually a “false choice” inasmuch as both sides are bound within the framework of the ego-sense within the machinery of the modes of Nature. Thus, our apparent free will is an illusion and is in fact determined by the action of the modes of Nature. The Gita, as Sri Aurobindo explains, does not get caught in this false choice, by virtue of the fact that the Gita recognizes that one cannot truly understand the frame within which one is bound until one steps outside that frame and views it from a new standpoint. This is the key recognition that there is a divine standpoint that can observe, participate and master the…
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The Sankhya philosophy differs from that of the Gita particularly in the understanding and treatment of the position and role of the Purusha, the true Self, the Witness consciousness. The Sankhya essentially sets up a duality of Purusha and Prakriti, the Purusha constituting the non-acting, silent witness that provides the sanction to Nature, and the Prakriti as the executive Nature that “acts” under the passive sanction, but non-intervention of the Purusha. The Purusha’s role is to either provide a sanction, at which point it is at least apparently bound by the actions of the modes of Nature, or withdraw the sanction, which leads to renunciation of action and works in the world, and a dissolution into the pure, silent witness consciousness.
The Gita, however, does not rest satisfied with this conclusion and the implications of this duality. The Gita presents the idea that the Purusha can go beyond passive acquiescence…
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The Gita’s analysis has shown that human actions, including those that are based predominantly on the action of sattva, are operations of the Gunas of Nature and thus, do not constitute the action of free will. Nevertheless, our internal experience continues to contradict this knowledge and leads us to assert that we are exercising free will. Some philosophies or religions attribute this purely to the action of Maya, the cosmic Illusion, and they point to this sense as being evidence of the extent of our delusion.
Sri Aurobindo does not, however, casually dismiss even this illusory sense of free will in man. “And error or not, illusion or not, this idea of our will, of our action is not a thing of no consequence, of no utility; everything in Nature has a consequence and a utility. it is rather that process of our conscious being by which Nature in us…
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While the Gita rejects the idea of free will at the level of Nature and the actions of the egoistic personality, it nevertheless asserts that free will is real. The distinction comes about through the conception of the separation of Purusha and Prakriti, and the true Self and the egoistic personality bound within the action of the Gunas of Nature. To the extent that we identify ourselves with the human personality, we believe we have free will, but analysis shows us that we do not truly have it. When we transfer our view and standpoint to the divine standpoint, outside the workings of Nature, then we identify with the divine Consciousness, the true Self, and at that level, free will exists and can master the actions of Nature.
Sri Aurobindo discusses this further: “The self-assertion of ego-sense is the broken and distorted shadow in our minds of the truth that…
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“Immortal India—Towards the Ideal Society”, “The Gnostic Cycle—Towards the Supermind”, “Sri Aurobindo—Compassionate Grace and Laughter” and “Becoming One—The Psychology of Integral Yoga”
Posted October 29, 2013on:
We experience as human beings a consciousness that includes a discriminating intelligence and will (buddhi), and we believe that this represents “free will” now operative. The Bhagavad Gita, however, asserts that the increased operation of sattva, and the reflective light that comes with it, acting upon what after all is one of the instruments of nature, the Buddhi, is still the operation of Nature and not outside of the play of the Gunas or the influence and control of the forces of Nature. It therefore asserts that this does not represent free will.
Sri Aurobindo takes up the thread of the discussion, speaking of our will to action: “…that will is created and determined not by its own self-existent action at a given moment, but by our past, our heredity, our training, our environment, the whole tremendous complex thing we call Karma, which is, behind us, the whole…
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An intensive examination of even the most high and refined human actions, leads us to see that they remain fully subject to the action of the modes of Nature, the 3 Gunas. An increase in the element of Sattva creates a higher and purer intelligence and understanding, but it is still subject to being clouded over or overrun by the inevitable uprush of Tamas or Rajas. The sattwic ego is considered to be an especially tenacious form of ego because of the self-delusion that the sattwic personality has that fails to see the egoism that has a deep hold on him.
Sri Aurobindo discusses the ongoing interaction of the Gunas even in a predominantly sattwic personality: “When we think that we are acting quite freely, powers are concealed behind our action which escape the most careful self-introspection; when we think that we are free from ego, the ego is there…
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