Integral Realization of the Integral Reality
Sri Aurobindo points out in his "Synthesis of Yoga" that if we can cross beyond the Mind's frontier twilight into the vast plane of supramental Knowledge, another positive and direct and living experience of the supreme Infinite is attained. It is then seen that the Absolute is beyond personality and beyond impersonality, and yet it is both the Impersonal and the supreme Person and all persons. It is seen that the Absolute is beyond the distinction of unity and multiplicity, and yet it is the One and the Innumerable Many in all the universes. It is further seen that it is beyond all limitation by quality and yet it is not limited by a quality-less void but it is too all infinite qualities. In that supramental experience, the Absolute is the individual soul and all souls and more of them; it is the formless Brahman and the universe. In the words of Sri Aurobindo: "It is the cosmic and the supracosmic spirit, the supreme Lord, the supreme Self, the supreme Purusha and the supreme Shakti, the Ever Unborn who is endlessly bom, the Infinite who is innumerably finite, the multitudinous One, the complex Simple, the many-sided Single, the Word of the Silence Ineffable, the impersonal omnipresent Person, the Mystery, translucent in highest consciousness to its own spirit, but to a lesser consciousness veiled in its own exceeding light and
impenetrable for ever. These things are to the dimensional mind irreconcilable opposites, but to the constant vision and experience of the supramental Truth-Consciousness they are so simply and inevitably the intrinsic nature of each other that even to think of them as contraries is an unimaginable violence. The walls constructed by the measuring and separating Intellect have disappeared and the Truth in its simplicity and beauty appears and reduces all to terms of its harmony and unity and light. Dimensions and distinctions remain but as figures for use, not a separative prison for the self-forgetting Spirit."55
The New Synthesis of Yoga and the New Integral Aim of Life
The realization of the integral reality is the basic objective of the integral yoga, and to arrive at the supramental realization of the integral reality by the methods of the integral yoga that we find in Sri Aurobindo can be seen corroborated and confirmed by the description of the integral reality and supramental consciousness that we find in the records of the synthesis of yoga in the Veda, Upanishads and the Gita, and in the Tantra. But Sri Aurobindo and the Mother go farther and determine a new integral aim of life56 which can be fulfilled by new methods of their integral yoga. Let us elucidate this important point in some detail.
Supra-terrestrial Theories of the Aim of Life
The Vedic and Upanishadic experience has declared that Matter also is Spirit or Brahman; but, Sri Aurobindo points out, these two extreme terms are so far divided that this identification cannot be convincing unless we recognize a series of ascending terms between Spirit and Matter. But
here, again, the integral experience of the Veda and the Upanishads confirms a series of ascending terms, —Life, Mind, Supermind and the grades that unite Mind to Supermind - between Spirit and Matter. In fact, not only the Veda and the Upanishads but several other theories also maintain that there are supra-terrestrial worlds, which exist independent of the physical cosmos and earthly existence. These supra-terrestrial theories are not necessarily integral in their vision of the world and their aim of life, but from the integral point of view, their assertion of the insistence on supra-terrestrial planes can be confirmed by a large body of knowledge, which has been developed by efforts that make a transition from the physical to the supra-physical, and it is even contended that the evolutionary movement in the material world is constantly aided by the forces and beings of these supra-terrestrial systems or planes of existence.
There are, indeed, several theories concerning supra- terrestrial planes of existence which have been put forward in the least rational form of questionable creed or dogma. It has, for example, been maintained that man is a being primarily created as a material living body upon earth into which a newly born divine soul is breathed or else with which it is associated by the fiat of an almighty Creator. According to this view, each individual is given one opportunity to be on the earth and at the end of that opportunity the individual soul departs to a world of eternal bliss or to a world of eternal misery either according as the general or preponderant balance of his acts is good or evil or according as he accepts or rejects a particular creed, mode of worship, divine mediator or else according to the pre-destined judgment of his Creator. But there are many other views, — and there is also an Indian view, — which regard the world as a field of a
play or lila of the divine Being with the conditions of cosmic existence in this world of an inferior Nature. According to this view, the soul of man takes part in the play through a series of births, but it is destined to re-ascend at last into the proper plane of the Divine Being and there enjoy an eternal proximity and communion, or else be unified with the Divine Being or get extinguished in the Being or in the Ineffable Non-Being. This is not the place to discuss philosophical issues involved in various statements of the supra-terrestrial theory, but the integral theories of yogic experience and even some other exclusive theories, which are based on yogic experience and knowledge, admit that every individual soul is immortal and that through a protracted series of births in the terrestrial plane, every soul is required in due course of its evolution to develop ethical and spiritual being as a means of ascension and therefore the one proper business of life in this world of Matter. Finally, in all these theories, the role of the individual and the way in which the individual can relate itself with the cosmic life, cosmic consciousness and even with supra-cosmic reality is underlined.
Supra-cosmic Aim of Life
But there are theories and even yogic experiences which, even while admitting the relative validity of the material life and also of the existence of supra-terrestrial planes, maintain that both material life and supra-terrestrial life are temporary and that the entire cosmos and individual souls in the cosmos are ultimately unreal, and the only effort that must be concentrated upon is to find ways and means so that one can be led to realize the eternal supra-cosmic or acosmic Spaceless and Timeless Absolute. According to this supra- cosmic view, just as we can enter into the cosmic cons-
ciousness and be one with all cosmic existence, even so, we can enter into the world-transcending consciousness and become superior to all cosmic existence. But if it is asked whether this transcendence is necessarily a rejection of all individual and cosmic existence, reference is made to the experience of the Spirit, which stands at the gates of the Transcendent. The supreme and perfect Spirit is described as luminous, pure, sustaining the world but inactive in it, without sinews of energy, without flaw of duality, without scar of division, unique, identical, free from all appearance of relation and of multiplicity, — the inactive Brahman, the transcendent Silence. It is in the experience of this pure and inactive Brahman or of the pure Self that the supra-cosmic view takes its stand. It maintains that transcendence of cosmic consciousness means also the rejection of cosmic conscious-ness. The appeal of this view is that neither the cosmic nor the terrestrial nor the supra-terrestrial life has any ultimate meaning and that renunciation is a sole path of knowledge, that acceptation of physical life is the act of the ignorant, and that cessation from birth is the right use of human birth. This supra-cosmic view, which is held by certain schools of Vedantic monism in varying formulations, is reiterated even more trenchantly by the philosophy, which is often described as the philosophy of Nihilism. And this philosophy of Nihilism, too, is supported by one of the most powerful yogic experiences. According to this experience, it is possible to travel beyond the Silence of the Brahman by a greater negation to extinguish self into Non-Being. The Non- Being is absolute withdrawal. It is possible to pass in Silence beyond the Silence.
Ours is an age out of sympathy with the supra-cosmic attitude which rejects life in the world. Our age may even
attribute the negativistic and its ascetic spirit to the failing of the vital energy in ancient days of India where it became prominent. But according to Sri Aurobindo, the supra-cosmic view cannot be rejected simply because our age is out of sympathy with it, since it corresponds to the truth of our existence, a state of conscious realization which stands at the very summit of our possibility. On the other hand, it is true that the supra-cosmic view is easily associated with a sense of the entire vanity of human life, the unreality of cosmic existence, the bitter ugliness and cruelty of earth, the insufficiency of supra-terrestrial or heavenly existence, and the aimlessness of repetitions of births in the body.
But the idea of total vanity of life is not altogether an inevitable consequence of the supracosmic theory of existence. As Sri Aurobindo points out, in the Vedantic Monism of the Upanishads, the experience of the supracosmic being does not cancel the experience of the reality of the Becoming. The becoming of the Brahman is accepted as reality; there is room therefore for a truth of the becoming: there is in that truth a right law of life; there is even room for arriving at the delight in the midst of the temporal existence and for the effective utilization of practical energy. The Upanishadic Monism has, therefore, been considered as an integral form of Monism and under that Monism, an attempt could be made to integrate the truths of all the other theories of the aim of life. But there is a difficulty in arriving at a true and effective integration. For even if the object of the highest synthesis of the Upanishadic knowledge is integral, there is, according to Sri Aurobindo, no inevitable arrival at the highest possible integration of all the theories of existence and their corresponding aims of life. The question is as to whether the Upanishads put forward the possibility and
realization of the transformation of the inconscient and transformation of material life into divine life. For, the full integration would imply the conquest of the Inconscience by the superconscience, so that the super-conscience, if it is concealed in the inconscience, can also manifest in its fullness. For then only there could be the effective fulfillment of the cosmic aim of life, which insists on the utter fulfillment of cosmic activities or terrestrial activities.
Sri Aurobindo points out that despite the dynamic aspect of the aim of life that we find in the entire system of the synthesis of yoga in the Upanishads, what is counseled to the soul is that the truth and law of its temporal becoming once fulfilled, cosmic life has no ultimate fulfillment, and the soul has to turn back to its final self-realisation, for its natural highest fulfillment is a release, a liberation into its original being, its eternal self, its timeless reality. In the words of Sri Aurobindo: "There is a circle of becoming starting from eternal Being and ending in it; or, from the point of view of the Supreme as a personal or superpersonal Reality, there is a temporary play, a game of becoming and living in the universe. Here, evidently, there is no other significance of life than the will of the Being to become, the will of cons- ciousness and the urge of its force towards becoming, its delight of becoming; for the individual, when that is withdrawn from him or fulfilled in him and no longer active, the becoming ceases: but otherwise the universe persists or always comes back into manifestation, because the will to become is eternal and must be so since it is the inherent will of an eternal Existence. It may be said that one defect in this view of things is the absence of any fundamental reality of the individual, of any abiding value and significance of his natural or his spiritual activity... And yet the question
remains over; for the stress on our individual being, the demand on it, the value put on individual perfection and salvation is too great to be dismissed as a device for a minor operation, the coiling and uncoiling of an insignificant spiral amid the vast circlings of the Eternal's becoming in the universe57
Spiritual Evolution of the Soul and Terrestrial
Existence; Key to the new Integral Aim of Life
The central point of importance in the solution lies in the discovery of Sri Aurobindo that spiritual evolution is the sense of our birth and terrestrial existence. In the light of this discovery, he found that the evolution of mind, life and spirit in Matter would be the sign of the possibility and even eventual inevitability of the manifestation of the Supermind and of the transformation of Matter leading to true integration of the Spirit and Matter. That is the reason why he lays a great stress on the theme of spiritual evolution and regards a complete involution of all that Spirit is and its evolutionary self-unfolding as the secret meaning and significance of our material existence.
As Sri Aurobindo points out: "An involution of spirit in the Inconscience is the beginning; an evolution in the Ignorance with its play of the possibilities of a partial developing knowledge is the middle, and the cause of the anomalies of our present nature, — our imperfection is the sign of a transitional state, a growth not yet completed, an effort that is finding its way; a consummation in a deployment of the spirit's self-knowledge and the self-power of its divine being and consciousness is the culmination: these are the three stages of this cycle of the spirit's progressive self- expression in life. The two stages that have already their play
seem at first sight to deny the possibility of the later consummating stage of the cycle, but logically they imply its emergence; for if the inconscience has evolved consciousness, the partial consciousness already reached must surely evolve into complete consciousness. It is a perfected and divinized life for which the earth-nature is seeking, and this seeking is a sign of the Divine Will in Nature. Other seekings also there are and these too find their means of self- fulfilment; a withdrawal into the supreme peace or ecstasy, a withdrawal into the bliss of the Divine Presence are open to the soul in earth-existence: for the Infinite in its manifestation has many possibilities and is not confined by its formulations. But neither of these withdrawals can be the fundamental intention in the Becoming itself here; for then an evolutionary progression would not have been undertaken, — such a progression here can only have for its aim a self- fulfilment here: a progressive manifestation of this kind can only have for its soul of significance the revelation of Being in a perfect Becoming."58
Full Manifestation of Spirit in Matter
The manifestation of divine life on earth is the distinctive and unprecedented aim that has been explicitly stated by Sri Aurobindo as the aim of his integral yoga. Full manifestation of Spirit in Matter as the culmination of integration of Spirit and Matter has sometimes been envisaged in the past, and in the earliest synthesis of yoga of the Veda this aim may have been, it appears, attempted. There is also a view that the kingdom of heaven is within us and it is not dependent on any outer manifestation or instrumentation or formula of external being. According to Sri Aurobindo, this view is valid and there can undoubtedly be a spiritual life within, and inner life has a supreme spiritual importance and the outer has a value
only in so far as it is expressive of the inner status. The Gita, too, states that the man of spiritual realization dwells in the divine and lives and acts and behaves, in all ways of his being and acting, in the Divine. And when one lives inwardly a divine life, the reflection of that divine life would fall on his outer acts or existence, even if they did not pass beyond the ordinary instrumentation of human thought and action in this world of earth-nature. According to Sri Aurobindo, this is the first truth and the essence of the matter; but still, from the point of view of spiritual evolution, this would be only an individual liberation and perfection in an unchanged environmental existence. He points out that for a greater dynamic earth-nature itself, a spiritual change of the whole principle and instrumentation of life and action, the appearance of new order of being in a new earth-life must be envisaged in our idea of the total consummation. This would mean total transmutation of the whole nature. The divine life on the earth would imply a way of living that develops higher instruments of world-vision and world-action for dynamisation of consciousness in the physical existence and takes up and transforms the values of a world of material Nature.