Bound In The Present, Ignorant About Past & Future

As we discussed in the prior post, the human individual is very much bounded in his awareness by “present time”; with only partial memory to shadow the past, and intuition or speculation to foreshadow the future. Sri Aurobindo continues his exploration of the implications when he describes our predicament: “Therefore in his superficial consciousness man is to himself dynamically, practically, the man of the moment, not the man of the past who once was but is no longer in existence, nor the man of the future who is not yet in being; it is by memory that he links himself with the one, by anticipation with the other: a continuous ego-sense runs through the three times, but this is a centralising mental construction, not an essential or an extended existence containing what was, is and will be.”

This superficial personality is governed from behind by the true self which has real knowledge of the three times as one integrated flow of existence. The ignorance at the surface level is a device to concentrate and focus the action on the present time, but there still remains the inner reality which governs, and guides the surface person. Sri Aurobindo continues his development of this theme: “it is after all a knowledge behind which really determines the formed course of his existence; the superficial ignorance erects a necessary limiting outline and supplies the factors by which the outward colour and turn needed for his present human life and his present moment are given to his consciousness and his action. In the same way and for the same reason man identifies himself solely with the name and form he wears in his present existence; he is ignorant of his past before birth even as of his future after death. Yet all that he forgets is contained, present and effective, in the all-retaining integral consciousness within him.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 13, Exclusive concentration of Consciousness-Force and the Ignorance

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