Form and Formlessness

Another apparent contradiction for the human reason is Form versus Formlessness. The Infinite in our conception is vast, empty and essentially without form. We see this as somehow being in opposition to the myriad of forms that go into the manifestation of the universe.

Sri Aurobindo once again broadens our conception of the essence of Formlessness: “the Formless is not a negation of the power of formation, but the condition for the Infinite’s free formation: for otherwise there would be a single Form or only a fixity or sum of possible forms in a finite universe. The formlessness is the character of the spiritual essence, the spirit-substance of Reality; all finite realities are powers, forms, self-shapings of that substance: the Divine is formless and nameless, but by that very reason capable of manifesting all possible names and shapes of being.”

The Forms in their turn are real manifestations of an “unseen reality made visible”. And thus, they can convey revelations to our awareness of the occult, hidden sense, the “Name” that carries the power of the manifestation of the form. “The Infinite is nameless, but in that namelessness all possible names, Numens of the gods, the names and forms of all realities, are already envisaged and prefigured, because they are there latent and inherent in the All-Existence.”

Thus, at every turn we see that the contradictions we cherish, struggle with and fight over, are actually complementary relations, 2 sides of one coin, if you will, that are the negative and positive poles of the Existence, with the negative providing freedom and infinite potential, and the positive providing actual worked out possibilities as they manifest and become real.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 2, Brahman, Purusha, Ishwara–Maya, Prakriti, Shakti, pp. 337-338


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