Ignorance Is Not Absolute

Sri Aurobindo takes up the important question of the origin and status of the Ignorance, for if the Ignorance were founded in the original absolute Brahman, then it too would be Absolute and thus, impossible to overcome. “And if Ignorance is not an element or power proper to the absolute nature of the Brahman or to Its integrality, there can be no original or primal Ignorance.” Maya, the “illusory power of creation” then cannot be of the nature of Ignorance either, and thus, the question arises as to how and in what manner, at at what point in the process of manifestation the Ignorance actually comes about.

Sri Aurobindo systematically approaches this question: “ignorance can only intervene as a minor and subsequent movement, partial and relative. Is it then something inherent in the multiplicity of souls? Does it come into being immediately Brahman views himself in the multiplicity, and does that multiplicity consist of a sum of souls each in its very nature fractional and divided from all the others in consciousness, unable to become aware of them at all except as things external to it, linked at most by communication from body to body or mind to mind, but incapable of unity? But we have seen that this is only what we seem to be in our most superficial layer of consciousness, the external mind and the physical; when we get back into a subtler, deeper, larger action of our consciousness, we find the walls of division becoming thinner and in the end there is left no wall of division, no Ignorance.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 12, The Origin of the Ignorance

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