Masculine and Feminine Cosmic Principles

The apparent duality between the Existent and Nature actually resolves itself into Oneness as we have seen. But there is a truth to the dual functions that represent two aspects of one reality, what we may call a masculine and a feminine principle. Each of these corresponds to one of the major experiences of consciousness. The masculine corresponds to the unmoving supporting consciousness and the feminine the creative effective power of consciousness. Sri Aurobindo describes it thus: “we see the biune aspect of Self and Self-Power, then in the Person Aspect a dual Person emerges, Ishwara-Shakti, the Divine Self and Creator and the Divine Mother and Creatrix of the universe; there becomes apparent to us the mystery of the masculine and feminine cosmic Principles whose play and interaction are necessary for all creation.”

At the level of pure existence, these two principles are joined and One, but as the universe begins to manifest, the dual principles become active and distinguishable. Everything in Nature manifests through the power of this creative “Mother-Energy” which is known under various names to describe different views of this action “universal creatrix, Maya, Para-Prakriti, Chit-Shakti”. The Existent, the Ishwara or Purushottama, does not act separate from this power of Nature. “it is through her that the Being, the Self, the Ishwara, acts and he does nothing except by her; though his Will is implicit in her, it is she who works out all as the supreme Consciousness-Force who holds all souls and beings within her and as executive Nature; all exists and acts according to Nature, all is the Consciousness-Force manifesting and playing with the Being in millions of forms and movements into which she casts his existence.”

“One Being, one Reality as Self bases, supports, informs, as Purusha or Conscious Being experiences, as Ishwara wills, governs and possesses its world of manifestation created and kept in motion and action by its own Consciousness-Force or Self-Power, — Maya, Prakriti, Shakti.”

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 2, Brahman, Purusha, Ishwara–Maya, Prakriti, Shakti, pp. 356-357

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Tathastu–Let It Be So

The relationship between the Self-Existent and the Consciousness-Force that creates and manifests the world is sometimes viewed as one of imposition of that dynamic action of Nature, sometimes called Maya or an Illusion, upon the ever-moving, silent all-aware Being who does not participate or get involved in the actions of Nature. Nature appears to act “on its own” to turn the substance of existence into the manifold forms that populate the creation and interact with one another. And while some may consider this manifestation to be an illusion, it nevertheless must have some essential reality or it could not exist.

Sri Aurobindo points out that in fact the action of Nature, in the form of Consciousness-Force, Maya or Shakti, is upheld, supported, consented to, and eventually controlled by the Self-Existent. “But when we step back from the outer dynamic appearances of things, we see him doing everything in his own sovereignty as the creator and ruler of his own manifestation; or, if he stands back and allows freedom of action to the forces of Nature and her creatures, his sovereignty is still innate in the permission, at every step his tacit sanction, “Let it be so”, tathastu, is there implicit; for otherwise nothing could be done or happen. Being and its Consciousness-Force, Spirit and Nature cannot be fundamentally dual: what Nature does, is really done by the Spirit.”

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 2, Brahman, Purusha, Ishwara–Maya, Prakriti, Shakti, pp. 354-355