Archive for January 2014
The Gita makes a number of statements that create apparent opposition when viewed from our normal mental standpoint. For instance, Sri Aurobindo provides the following examples: “Thus the Gita begins by affirming that the Supreme contains all things in himself, but is not in any,…, ‘all are situated in Me, not I in them,’ and yet it proceeds immediately to say, ‘and yet all existences are not situated in Me, My self is the bearer of all existences and it is not situated in existences.’ And yet again it insists with an apparent self-contradiction that the Divine has lodged himself, has taken up his abode in the human body,…, and that the recognition of this truth is necessary for the soul’s release by the integral way of works and love and knowledge.”
The apparent contradictions contained here are resolved when on recognizes that each one is a statement from one…
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The Gita systematically takes up four major aspects of the Divine in order to provide a framework for the understanding it wants to provide to Arjuna. Each of these four aspects is based in a spiritual experience, not a philosophical system. They describe the sense, as Sri Aurobindo sets it forth, that “the Godhead is all that is universe and all that is in the universe and all that is more than the universe.”
The first aspect that the Gita emphasizes is the “supracosmic existence” of the Divine. This takes precedence in order to ensure that the seeker does not get fixated solely on the manifestation and thereby lose the sense of transcendence that frees one from the bondage to the life in the world.
The second aspect is “…his universal existence in which all moves and acts. For that is the justification of the cosmic effort and that is…
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Posted January 28, 2014on:
The transcription of spiritual experience into mental consciousness and the limitations of the terms and format of such a transcription force us to consider carefully to avoid the error of ascribing qualities or functions to one aspect that belong to another aspect. While they are “one”, they nevertheless manifest according to the specific conditions or terms of the aspect being reviewed. Sri Aurobindo describes this issue: “The supreme Godhead, the Self immutable behind the cosmic consciousness, the individual Divinity in the human being and the Divine secretly conscious or partially manifested in cosmic Nature and all her works and creatures, are then one reality, one Godhead. But the truths that we can put forward the most confidently of one, are reversed or they alter their sense when we try to apply them to the other poises of the one Being.”
For a sense of the difficulty, it is like a…
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We run the risk, or rather the certainty, that whenever we begin to try to define the Supreme, even by the most expansive terms we can conceive of, that we are misrepresenting and distorting the reality. This is a limitation of the mental formations and the language that we use, and we therefore are constantly urged by the sages and seers to not allow ourselves to be tied up in the knots of language or the processes of our logical intellect, but to recognize at all times that these symbolic representations cannot encompass the Truth of existence. The truth must be experienced in consciousness, not defined in words or concepts.
Sri Aurobindo explores the limits of our definitions: “And even to say of him that all exists in him is not the whole truth of the matter, not the entirely real relation: for it is to speak of him with…
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Inasmuch as the reality of the universal Being, the Supreme is outside the scope of our mental conceptual nature, it is essential for us to recognize that any true knowledge of that reality must occur through other capabilities or modes of experience. The statements we make about the nature of the Divine are therefore at best transcriptions or approximations of an experience that takes place. The symbolic terms used are not the experience themselves, and cannot capture the complete experience; they point to it and indicate its presence at best. Depending on the experience granted to each individual, the description may take various forms. It is something like the story of the blind men trying to describe an elephant based on touch. Each one felt a different part of the elephant and thus, the descriptions were widely varied and apparently inconsistent with one another, although they each described a part…
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Posted January 26, 2014on:
The mental viewpoint that dominates our ordinary lives makes us believe that we are individual beings, separate and fragmented from the rest of creation, and certainly separate and different than the Divine. As long as we are locked into that viewpoint, we cannot know or understand the deeper spiritual truths of existence. With the development of spiritual experience, however, we can enter into a state of awareness that overcomes the experience of separation and we then can know the Divine existence through knowledge by identity.
Sri Aurobindo describes some aspects of this deepening spiritual awareness: “We perceive a one self of all and of that we have the consciousness and the vision: we can no longer say or think that we are entirely different from him, but that there is self and there is phenomenon of the self-existent; all is one in self, but all is variation in the phenomenon.”
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Combining knowledge, action and dedication, the seeker is able to understand the order of the cosmos and his role in it, and devote his life and action to the fulfillment of the divine purpose of existence. This brings about the transcendence of the ego-sense, and a new perspective or standpoint which alters the seeker from the basis of Ignorance to a new foundation in Knowledge. Ignorance is understood to be the mistaking of the illusion for the ultimate reality, and for the fixation on the action of the lower Nature of the Gunas and the fragmented ways of seeing and thinking that are operative at the mental and vital levels. Knowledge is understood to be the liberation from the divided and separative view of things to take a new stand from a position of unity and Oneness.
Sri Aurobindo describes the manifestation of the universal Being: “First as the immutable…
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