In the supraterrestrial view of existence which Sri Aurobindo is examining at this point, we come to the question as to what the significance and meaning of the actual interlude on earth actually is. There are multiple different views on this, which Sri Aurobindo begins to successively examine.
“There is first the idea of certain religions, long persistent but now greatly shaken or discredited, that man is a being primarily created as a material living body upon earth into which a newly born divine soul is breathed or else with which it is associated by the fiat of an almighty Creator. A solitary episode, this life is his one opportunity from which he departs to a world of eternal bliss or to a world of eternal misery either according as the general or preponderant balance of his acts is good or evil or according as he accepts or rejects, knows or ignores a particular creed, mode of worship, divine mediator, or else according to the arbitrary predistining caprice of his Creator.”
Another option within this general view is “Taking the idea of the creation of a soul by the physical birth as our starting-point, we may still suppose that by a natural law, common to all, the rest of its existence has to be pursued beyond in a supraterrestrial plane, when the shoul has shaken off from its original matrix of matter like a butterfly escaped from the chrysalis and disporting itself in the air on its light and coloured wings.”
“Or we may suppose preferably a pre-terrestrial existence of the soul, a fall or descent into matter and a reascension into celestial being. If we admit the soul’s pre-existence, there is no reason to exclude this last possibility as an occasional spiritual occurrence,–a being belong to another plane of existence may, conceivably, assume for some purpose the human body and nature: but this is not likely to be the universal principle of earth-existence or a sufficient rationale for the creation of the material universe.”
More in the next post!
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 16, The Integral Knowledge and the Aim of Life; Four Theories of Existence