The Bliss of the Eternal

Sri Aurobindo asks us to look for a common thread that underlies the “infra-ethical”, the “ethical” and the “supra-ethical” stages of existence. While humans have clearly developed a framework of ethics, it is clear that the manifestation of the physical and vital world is non-ethical or “infra-ethical”. And it is also clear that there are potential stages beyond the human where ethics no longer is an issue as our solutions become “supra-ethical.”

The solution to the problem of pain and suffering comes with the recognition that the starting point is Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss) developing itself into manifestation and evolving through ever more complex forms and relationships, for the purpose of the innate delight of existence.

As the Taittiriya Upanishad puts it, “for who could labour to draw in the breath or who could have strength to breathe it out, if there were not that Bliss in the heaven of his heart, the ether within his being?” Taittirya Upanishad II.7 translated by Sri Aurobindo in The Upanishads.

As long as we are trapped within a purely human awareness with its limitations, we see only joy and pain, delight and suffering. But when we are able to move the consciousness to that place where we become one with the Eternal, Pure Existent, we relate to the impressions differently, and the delight that flows in the consciousness is not offset by pain, but rather, both joy and pain are part of a continuum of energy and vibration contained within that delight. Delight of existence is uncaused, universal, and not dependent on particular patterns, habits or causes. The pure Delight of Existence is not modified by desire or the failure to fulfill desire. In fact, it is the habitual motion of desire that tends to obscure it from our awareness.

We can see in our own limited experience that overcoming the impulsion of desire can yield a much stronger and more lasting joy than the fulfillment of that desire, which then wanes and needs to be repeated. When we can achieve the status of non-desiring, through unification with the all-embracing Existence, Consciousness and Bliss, then we find that we are not troubled by pain, grief or suffering.

The Buddha recognized the need to solve the problem of suffering through breaking the bonds of desire. The resultant state of consciousness need not be an empty, negative space, but can be one filled with the energy of manifestation and the Bliss of Existence not only of Being but of Becoming.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Chapter 11, Delight of Existence: The Problem

For more information on Sri Aurobindo visit our website at www.Aurobindo.net

For Sri Aurobindo’s books, visit the US publisher Lotus Press Website

Is Suffering in the Universe an Ethical Problem?

The issue of evil, suffering and pain being allowed, permitted or supported by the One existence that is “all delight” is not resolved, even though this removes the moral stigma of “God inflicting suffering on his Creatures” which the viewpoint of the external creating God implies.

The problem is one of perspective at this point, since we bring our dualistic and necessarily limited viewpoint to judge the One Existent, other than which there is none other, the purposes of which and the perspective of which we are unable to fathom. Is there here, through a change in perspective, a way out of the problem of pain and suffering?

The first point we have to recognize if we move out of our human-centric viewpoint is that human definitions such as ethics are not a part of the manifestation of Nature. “Good” and “Evil” do not really play a role in the workings of Nature. The tiger is not “evil” when it hunts down the antelope for food. The pain that is caused is not a “moral” issue in the sense that we humans like to frame the issue in our own lives.

The reaction that all beings in nature have to the pain, suffering, or fear of being devoured or harmed is a recoil of the Delight in those beings from that which threatens it. This is not an ethical reaction but a vital response that springs from the deeper sources of the evolutionary force for ever-increasing consciousness and delight in existence. In other words, it is a working out of that which is involved and that working out is accompanied by reactions we characterize as pain or suffering. There are stages where we begin to judge things according to ethics, but we cannot realistically overlay this on the forces of Nature in action.

Of course, we have not yet come to the solution we seek that addresses the existence of pain and suffering. That solution awaits us still as we explore the various ways of viewing life and its meaning.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Chapter 11, Delight of Existence: The Problem

For more information on Sri Aurobindo visit our website at www.Aurobindo.net

For Sri Aurobindo’s books, visit the US publisher Lotus Press Website

Our Viewpoint of God and Creation Determines the View of Evil

The real moral difficulty that we face is the question of why a benevolent and all-powerful creator God would create a world in which suffering and evil are allowed to exist. This question however is based on some basic underlying assumptions which must be clearly seen and understood. First, it presupposes that there is some God outside of the creation, separate and superior to it, who has either consciously created good and evil, or who, although all powerful, “permits” evil to exist for some reason. So God is either not “all powerful” in that evil or suffering is allowed to exist despite god’s position; or else, God is all-powerful which then supposes that God is not “all-loving”. This dilemma dogs the approach of saying that there is a personified Creator who has created and watches over and manages the world, the “personified Deity” viewpoint. And in fact, this approach almost implies a duality between God and the Creation.

The Vedantic approach does not allow such a duality as the Brahman is “one without a second” and “all this is the Brahman.” Thus, the approach here is not to permit a dichotomy between God and world and somehow to finesse the contradictions of suffering and evil; but rather, to confront the question of how can “Existence-Consciousness-Bliss” be reconciled within itself to what appears to be its opposite.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Chapter 11, Delight of Existence: The Problem

For more information on Sri Aurobindo visit our website at www.Aurobindo.net

For Sri Aurobindo’s books, visit the US publisher Lotus Press Website

Joy of Existence Outweighs Pain–But We Do Not Yet Have An Answer

Sri Aurobindo addresses the issue of pain and suffering both abstractly and concretely. In the abstract, he points out that there is an underlying satisfaction with life that is a positive background that supports the will to live and to avoid death; that this is the baseline characteristic of life and that this is more consistently opposed to the abnormal experience of pain or suffering than any kind of short-term intense joy or delight. That this positive is sufficient to have beings actively strive to avoid pain, suffering and death, which are thereby shown to be the “abnormal” rather than the normal state. If we weigh this positive background plus the active joy and delight in the universe, it is clear that the joy outweighs the pain and suffering in total. This is why there is a bias in favor of life and continuance rather than toward dissolution and avoidance of pain and suffering.

Of course, the abstract is unsatisfactory as a solution to the real problem of pain and suffering when brought down to a human, personal level. It is necessary therefore to also look at the personal level and deal with the reality of pain to respond effectively to this concern.

Some in fact believe that the only real solution is in fact avoidance, and dissolution into a motionless, desireless, abstract state of quiescence is the true answer. Needless to say, anyone who favors a positive rationale for the manifestation, consisting of the reality of Sat-Chit-Ananda must respond to these concerns.

We take up this issue further in the next few days.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Chapter 11, Delight of Existence: The Problem

For more information on Sri Aurobindo visit our website at www.Aurobindo.net

For Sri Aurobindo’s books, visit the US publisher Lotus Press Website

Delight of Existence Confronts the Problem of Pain

Sri Aurobindo raises the question at this point of “why”. Why should the pure Existent, the Infinite Consciousness, the Absolute already perfect within itself, undertake to throw itself into the myriad forms of manifestation through time?

The answer of the ancient sages as propounded in the Taittiriya Upanishad clearly responds “For who could live or breathe if there were not this delight of existence as the ether in which we dwell? From Delight all these beings are born, by Delight they exist and grow, to Delight they return.”

The answer we have been exploring, framed by the terms Sat-Chit-Ananda, continues to maintain its importance for the questions being raised. Having reviewed the term “Sat” as the Pure Existent; and having reviewed the term “Chit” as Consciousness; we now come to the term “Ananda”, Bliss, the delight of Existence.

“In everything that is there is the delight of existence and it exists and is what it is by virtue of that delight.”

But what about pain? What about suffering? What about evil? What about grief? If everything is delight, how do we account for these apparent opposites. It is this apparently irreconcilable disparity between the philosophical understanding that Delight is the underlying foundation of all existence, and the existence in our daily experience of suffering, disease, pain, and death, the “4 Noble Truths” of the Buddha, to which we are chained by the law of karma, cause and effect, which needs to be worked out and resolved.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Chapter 11, Delight of Existence: The Problem

For more information on Sri Aurobindo visit our website at www.Aurobindo.net

For Sri Aurobindo’s books, visit the US publisher Lotus Press Website

Conscious Force

In all aspects of Nature, in all forms of existence, there is the working of a detailed intelligence so precise, that it exceeds human mentality by an enormous degree. “We are entitled to see in this general fact the proof of a conscious Force at work in the animal and the insect which is more intelligent, more purposeful, more aware of its intention, its ends, its means, its conditions than the highest mentality yet manifested in any individual form on earth.”

There are those who argue that the profligate “waste” of nature argues against there being a Conscious Being in control of and mastering the world manifestation, but it must be admitted that human beings, who themselves do a lot of “wasteful” things, are not in a position to judge or interpret the inter-relationship and working of the vast outpourings of nature, and thereby cannot judge as to the element or usefulness of Nature’s wasteful ways.

It is quite clear that our human consciousness cannot have arisen out of pure inconscience, but can only have evolved out of a consciousness that was involved and existent, just as the oak tree inevitably comes out of the acorn because it was encoded and existed in its essential form therein.

“Man’s consciousness can be nothing else than a form of Nature’s consciousness.”

“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 which we can rationally conceive for its manifestation of this world of forms.”

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Chapter 10, Conscious Force

For more information on Sri Aurobindo visit our website at www.Aurobindo.net

For Sri Aurobindo’s books, visit the US publisher Lotus Press Website

Consciousness Manifests at all Levels of Existence

Consciousness is not limited to mental consciousness. The noted Indian scientist and researcher Jagdish Chandra Bose was able to prove conclusively the awareness and vital consciousness active in the plant kingdom. Plants clearly respond to stimuli, have attraction and repulsion responses and act under the impulsion of what we may call vital consciousness.

Following the thread of consciousness even further, we can see at work in material forms, for instance in the metal, responsiveness of a type that can be designated a physical consciousness.

There is in fact no reason to presume that any manifested form is devoid of all consciousness. What we take for a lack of consciousness may simply be a lack of instruments with which to communicate or actively show a response. As we develop measuring tools and methodologies, we begin to recognize the action of consciousness in matter.

As below, so also above. There is no reason to suppose that consciousness has reached its pinnacle in the human being. We can thus recognize and intuit that there is an ascending series of consciousness beyond the human mental level that we will term superconscient, or supra-mental.

Systematic study of the characteristics and rules of action we find in the physical consciousness, and then in the vital and mental consciousness, lead us to believe that there is a highly evolved structure and organization that has its own characteristic action at each level. We can thus also presume that the supramental levels of consciousness will also show a characteristic mode of action all its own, different in type and scope and intensity from the mental, vital and physical levels of consciousness.

Everywhere we look we see the unifying principle that consciousness inhabits, permeates and informs all existence, all manifested forms. Consciousness is thus inherent in Force, and indeed uses Force for its acts of creation of manifested forms.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Chapter 10, Conscious Force

For more information on Sri Aurobindo visit our website at www.Aurobindo.net

For Sri Aurobindo’s books, visit the US publisher Lotus Press Website

The Brain, The Senses and Beyond

“not only does the capacity of our total consciousness far exceed that of our organs, the senses, the nerves, the brain, but that even for our ordinary thought and consciousness these organs are only their habitual instruments and not their generators.” Consciousness is not bound by these physical organs, and modern science has begun to recognize this. Developments in the field of quantum physics as well as in psychology make it clear that consciousness extends out horizontally throughout the world, and there are also layers of consciousness that are subconscient to human awareness and those that are superconscient to human awareness. This is similar to the fact that our sense organs are able to perceive within a limited range, while other species have powers of perception that go above or below the vibrational range of human senses. Some animals can distinguish scent from miles away, and can track specific beings or find a specific road home, solely with the sense of smell. Some animals have a sense of sight that extends far beyond human, not only in range but in frequency. Similarly with the sense of hearing.

The human nerves and brain similarly are formed, through evolutionary need, to capture and process these sense reactions and direct mental impact in some cases, but generally within a limited range.

Quantum physics is now beginning to recognize that direct observation of a phenomenon, even a physical phenomenon such as a pattern created by atoms projected onto a screen, actually changes the results; and that the power of thought is able to both change physical nature and attract results; in other words, thought has the power to act directly in and on the material world without necessarily requiring the sense organs.

Some philosophers and researchers have discussed the existence of a noosphere, a “mental belt” around the world that carries the vibrations of thought just as there are other electro-magnetic belts. Psychologists such as C. G. Jung talk about a collective unconscious that contains the archetypal vibrational patterns that all humanity shares and responds to, on a subconscious level. Others, such as Sri Aurobindo, report levels above the mental range that we currently inhabit, and call this a supra-mental level of consciousness.

So it becomes clear that we are not bound or limited by the habitual mental patterns or the limitations of the physical senses and this becomes the jumping off place for profound changes in the way we see, interpret and respond to the opportunities of life.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Chapter 10, Conscious Force

For more information on Sri Aurobindo visit our website at www.Aurobindo.net

For Sri Aurobindo’s books, visit the US publisher Lotus Press Website

Force and Consciousness

The question arises as to the status of Force in relation to Existence. Some philosophies hold that Existence is subject to Force and at its mercy. But this would negate the experience of the pure Existent beyond all manifestation, the Transcendent all-containing, all-embracing One. When we recognize that the Existent also possesses Consciousness, and that it is this Consciousness that permeates all of the manifestation and creates the movement of Force and organizes it, it becomes clear that Force cannot be a dominant, independent principle, but must be inherent in the Existence and Consciousness behind.

We need to review the nature of the term Consciousness, as many still equate consciousness with mental awareness, and of course, any clear-eyed review of the world around us makes it certain that most of the manifested world does not have this form of consciousness. Scientists and philosophers nowadays readily admit that the limited waking awareness we used to consider “consciousness” is but a small portion of the actual action of consciousness which is aware during waking, sleep and dream, and which extends beyond and far outside the boundaries of the human mentality.

It can even be said that in its own way all of matter inherently has an involved consciousness which helps us understand the precise, organized and detailed nature of the organization of atoms and universes, eco-systems and interactions of all kinds that are so clearly the work of Intelligence as to prevent us from denying that there is an Intelligence at work in the universe. We may not be able to comprehend all aspects of that intellligence, but it is manifestly available to us wherever we turn and whatever we choose to investigate.

All actions of Force manifest this inherent all-embracing Consciousness and Consciousness is in no way limited by the physical instrumentality of the senses or the brain or the being of Mankind.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Chapter 10, Conscious Force

For more information on Sri Aurobindo visit our website at www.Aurobindo.net

For Sri Aurobindo’s books, visit the US publisher Lotus Press Website

The Five Elements and the Creation of Material Forms

If we look behind the forms of Matter, we find Energy. Scientists tell us that all matter in fact is energy, and that matter and energy can be converted into one another. We have uncovered the secrets of the atom with the tremendous force of energy that also acts with incredible discipline to create Forms.

In trying to explain the formation of matter from a state of pure quiescent existence, the ancient seers described five successive states of matter, which were called the five elements. Each one represented, successively, a further solidification of the Force of creation. Starting with the movement of force or vibration in endless Space, we have the first element called Ether. Ether however does not have any aggregating principle so that it does not form solid matter. The next development was the element of air, characterized by force meeting counter-force and setting up the basis for material forms, but not yet fully accomplishing it. By adding a sustaining principle we add the element of fire. We begin to see forms developing but not yet in a stable platform. The fourth principle is that of water, the liquid state. We see further solidification here and the characteristic action of diffusion and the action of attraction and repulsion. Finally, we see the development of the fifth element called earth, the solid state, characterised by cohesion.

All forms of Matter we see in nature are developed, combined, and changed through the action of these five elements, and from these elements come the characteristic vibrations that correspond to the objects of senses and the action of the sense organs.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Chapter 10, Conscious Force

For more information on Sri Aurobindo visit our website at www.Aurobindo.net

For Sri Aurobindo’s books, visit the US publisher Lotus Press Website