Brahman as the Self of All Existence

We recognize the Brahman as the transcendent Eternal, immobile, silent and without Form, but we also can experience the Brahman in the manifestation of the universe as (as Sri Aurobindo aptly describes it) the “Self of all existence, Atman, the cosmic Self, but also as the Supreme Self transcendent of its own cosmicity and at the same time individual-universal in each being…” Because “all this is the Brahman” we cannot simply choose to deny the reality of the manifested Universe and we must be able to see Brahman as that “Self” of existence, in all the levels or aspects, the individual form, the universal cosmic Being and transcendent of both.

Maya is the creative power of the Brahman, the “Atma-Shakti”. Sri Aurobindo describes Maya thus “…we can see that the Conscious-Power, the Shakti that acts and creates, is not other than the Maya or all-knowledge of Brahman; it is the Power of the Self…”

The first experience in consciousness of the Self is usually “in a silence of the whole being or at the least in a silence within which draws back or stands away from the surface action; this Self is then felt as a status in silence, an immobile immutable being, self-existent, pervading the whole universe, omnipresent in all, but not dynamic or active, aloof from the ever mobile energy of Maya.”

This experience, while overpowering and essential is, however “not the total realisation.” Sri Aurobindo points out “there can also be a realisation of Self in its power, Self as the condition of world-activity and world-existence.” “This Self can be experienced as the Self of the individual, the Self of the thinker, doer, enjoyer, but even so it always has this greater character; its individuality is at the same time a vast universality…and the next step to that is a sheer transcendence or a complete and ineffable passing into the Absolute.” The Self can then be recognized as both constituting and pervading the entire manifestation, and it is not therefore subjugated to the dynamic working of the power of the universe, but constituting and supporting it.

“To realise the Self is to realise the eternal freedom of the Spirit.”

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 2, Brahman, Purusha, Ishwara–Maya, Prakriti, Shakti, pp. 346-347

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