The Freedom of the Infinite

The “negative” affirmations about the nature of the Infinite are not intended as limitations but as statements of “freedom”. The mind gets caught up in the play of language and imputes more rigidity into these conceptual expressions than is really intended. The “freedom” of the Infinite means that it cannot be nailed down and fully described or defined by any particular formulation, expression or factual statement. The Infinite is “free” to take innumerable forms and express itself in limitless ways.

Sri Aurobindo describes it thus: “But the contradiction disappears when we understand that the indeterminability is not in its true sense negative, not an imposition of incapacity on the Infinite, but positive, a freedom within itself from limitation by its own determinations and necessarily a freedom from all external determination by anything not itself, since there is no real possibility of such a not-self coming into existence. The Infinite is illimitably free, free to determine itself infinitely, free from all restraining effect of its own creations.”

The indeterminable nature of the Infinite is simply an affirmation of that freedom. This is not a negative limitation but a positive attribute of the Infinite. The apparent contradiction between the Essence sought after by the ascetic, and the Dynamic aspect of creation, sought after by the materialist is actually itself not a real contradiction. “One statement is complementary to the other, there is no mutual cancellation, no incompatibility; it is only the dual statement of a single inescapable fact by human reason in human language.”

As we struggle to try to express our understanding, it is important to remind ourselves that human reason and language cannot entirely capture the essence of the Infinite. All expressions in human thought are doomed to coming up short, expressing only part of the Reality, and distorting it to the extent that it does not make room for its apparent opposite formulation.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 2, Brahman, Purusha, Ishwara–Maya, Prakriti, Shakti, pp. 333-334

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