The Nature & Origin of the Ignorance

As Sri Aurobindo has made clear in our previous posts, the Ignorance is not an essential power of the Brahman, but something which arises at some later point, for some specific purpose, and as it is a secondary created formation, it can also eventually be dissolved. The question arises, however, as to what the nature of the Ignorance may be.

We have defined it as the separative consciousness that creates artificial but seemingly real divisions between various manifested forms and forces, treating each one as if it is more or less totally independent of the whole. Such a standpoint leads to the attempts to aggrandise one form at the expense of another, and eventually leads to imbalance, pain and suffering, and death.

When we look more deeply into these apparently independent forms of matter, we see an intense energy at work to maintain these forms. This energy, and thus, these forms, continually are reorganised and recalibrated into new forms and new movements of energy, and thus we see the process of the creation and destruction of forms of matter, while the energy simply takes on new formations, and is not lost thereby.

Sri Aurobindo describes the development of the Ignorance: “The origin of the Ignorance must be then be sought for in some self-absorbed concentration of Tapas, of Conscious-Force in action on a separate movement of the Force; to us this takes the appearance of mind identifying itself with the separate movement and identifying itself also in the movement separately with each of the forms resulting from it. So it builds a wall of separation which shuts out the consciousness in each form from awareness of its own total self, of other embodied consciousnesses and of universal being. It is here that we must look for the secret of the apparent ignorance of the embodied mental being as well as of the great apparent inconscience of physical Nature. We have to ask ourselves what is the nature of this absorbing, this separating, this self-forgetful concentration which is the obscure miracle of the universe.”

We shall take up this question starting with tomorrow’s post.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 12, The Origin of the Ignorance, pg. 580


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