The Reality of the Illusion

The operation of the Vital Mind puts objectives in front of the individual to strive for and to achieve. The operation of desire provides an impulsion of hope and a wish for success. When the desire is frustrated, however, it tends to recoil into frustration, despair and hopelessness. This recoil of the desire mind leads to a sense of disappointment. Sri Aurobindo points out that neither the hope, nor the despair, are true measures of reality, but more than anything else, the functioning of the desire mind moving between the two poles of its action. At the same time, Sri Aurobindo grants “a certain validity in the mental support of this sense of frustration, in the perception at which the thinking mind arrives that there is an illusion behind all human effort and terrestrial endeavor, the illusion of his political and social gospels, the illusion of his ethical efforts at perfection, the illusion of philanthropy and service, the illusion of works, the illusion of fame, power, success, the illusion of all achievement. Human, social and political endeavor turns always in a circle and leads nowhere; man’s life and nature remain always the same, always imperfect, and neither laws nor institutions nor education nor philosophy nor morality nor religious teachings have succeeded in producing the perfect man, still less a perfect humanity,–straighten the tail of the dog as you will, it has been said, it always resumes its natural curve of crookedness.” Eventually the mind, taking up this sense of vital frustration, and examining the world from that viewpoint, can find a way to recognize the illusory nature of all life and the goals we have set before ourselves. Sri Aurobindo points out “This view of things may be exaggerated, but it has an undeniable force; it is supported by the experience of man’s centuries and it carries in itself a significance which at one time or another comes upon the mind with an overwhelming air of self-evidence.”

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 5, The Cosmic Illusion; Mind, Dream and Hallucination, pp. 416-417


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