The Infinite Manifests through the Power of Self-Limitation

Another power of the Infinite must be its power of self-limitation. This is the mechanism that is used to create the multiplicity of forms that each act as if separate, even though in essence they are all one and unified. This power of self-limitation is actually an essential action for any creation that contains manifold diversity.

At the individual level we can illustrate the general concept with the power of focused action or concentration. A disciplined focused approach to application of our energy yields, generally, a much more effective result than an uncoordinated and unfocused spending of energy. This focus does not do away with our awareness of other powers of action or knowledge that we may have available, but it puts them into the background to accomplish a specific purpose.

At the universal level, each individual being or form is given the focus appropriate to itself from its own center of vision. Each one treats itself as unique, sole and having its own viewpoint and leverage of action. Once again, this does not overcome the inherent oneness of all these forms, or the unified field within which they then interact, but this is also put back behind the individual’s own viewpoint. This allows the multiplicity to have a real and independent interaction and create a universe with innumerable forms, powers and actions all taking place in such a way as to create the feeling of independence.

This can of course take place in a standpoint of ignorance, where the beings fail to recognize their inherent underlying Oneness; or it can take place from a standpoint of knowledge, where they act as if independent but still remain aware of and thus responsive to the Oneness.

Sri Aurobindo describes the possibliity of this self-limiting action based on a foundation of knowledge as follows: “the spiritual individual would act from his own centre of the one Truth and according to his self-nature, but on a common basis and not with any blindness to other-self and other-nature. It would be consciousness limiting its action with full knowledge, not a movement of ignorance.”

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 2, Brahman, Purusha, Ishwara–Maya, Prakriti, Shakti, pp. 342-343

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