The Secret Meaning of Individual Existence

To summarize the discussion of the Eternal and the Individual, Sri Aurobindo indicates: “We see then that there are three terms of the one existence, transcendent, universal and individual, and that each of these already contains secretly or overtly the two others.”

These three are always co-existent and there is no conflict or opposition between them. Our human tendency to set up division and opposition creates artificial distinctions which are not real.

The third term, the individual manifestation, is the lynch-pin of the “self-manifestation which appears to us as the involution and evolution of the divine consciousness between the two terms of the Ignorance and the Knowledge. The power of the individual to possess in his consciousness by self-knowledge his unity with the Transcendent and the universal, with the One Being and all beings and to live in that knowledge and transform his life by it, is that which makes the working out of the divine self-manifestation through the individual possible; and the arrival of the individual, — not in one but in all, — at the divine life is the sole conceivable object of the movement.”

This means that the individual term of existence has a real and meaningful purpose and is not some kind of illusion or useless dream to be discarded as the individual enters into an unmoving consciousness in Unity with the Transcendent.

The individual has the power of self-transcendence that allows this transformation to take place. “In that power lies the justification of individual existence; the individual and the universal unfolding in themselves the divine light, power, joy of transcendent Sachchidananda always manifest above them, always secret behind their surface appearances, tihs is the hidden intention, the ultimate significance of the divine play, the Lila. But it is in themselves, in their transformation but also their persistence and perfect relations, not in their self-annihilation that that must be unfolded. Otherwise there would be no reason for their ever having existed; the possibility of the Divine’s unfolding in the individual is the secret of the enigma; his presence there and this intention of self-unfolding the key to the world of Knowledge-Ignorance.”

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 3, The Eternal and the Individual, pp. 385-387

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