Awakening of the Soul to Universality and Transcendence

Sri Aurobindo next reviews the role of the individual in this great process of integration between the earthly life, the cosmic universality, and the transcendent Supreme. He emphasizes that the supreme Truth of being, the supracosmic Reality is not only beyond all manifestation, but is itself the cause and substance of all that is manifested. “Cosmic being is not a meaningless freak or phantasy or a chance error; there is a divine significance and truth in it: the manifold self-expression of the spirit is its high sense, the Divine itself is the key of its enigma.”

For the individual to achieve this integration it is essential that one becomes aware of and in contact with the Supreme; while it is also essential that one not, at the same time, lose one’s connection to and activity in the cosmic manifestation. “The individual separating himself from the All to reach the Highest, loses himself in the supreme heights; including in himself the cosmic consciousness, he recovers his wholeness of self and still keeps his supreme gain of transcendence; he fulfils it and himself in the cosmic completeness. A realised unity of the transcendent, the universal and the individual is an indispensable condition for the fullness of the self-expressing spirit: for the universe is the field of its totality of self-expression, while it is through the individual that its evolutionary self-unfolding here comes to its acme. But this supposes not only a real being of the individual, but the revelation of our secret eternal oneness with the Supreme and with all cosmic existence. In his self-integration the soul of the individual must awake to universality and to transcendence.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 16, The Integral Knowledge and the Aim of Life; Four Theories of Existence

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Reconciling Life and Spirit

Sri Aurobindo provides the clue toward integrating life in the world with the call of the spirit. “A spiritual evolution, an unfolding here of the Being within from birth to birth, of which man becomes the central instrument and human life at its highest offers the critical turning-point, is the link needed for the reconciliation of life and spirit; for it allows us to take into account the total nature of man and to recognize the legitimate place of his triple attraction, to earth, to heaven and to the supreme Reality. But a complete solution of its oppositions can be arrived at only on this basis that the lower consciousness of mind, life and body cannot arrive at its full meaning until it is taken up, restated, transformed by the light and power and joy of the higher spiritual consciousness, while the higher too does not stand in its full right relation to the lower by mere rejection, but by this assumption and domination, this taking up of its unfulfilled values, this restatement and transformation,–a spiritualising and supramentalising of the mental, vital and physical nature.”

Accepting the material, physical life as the highest goal of terrestrial life is eventually empty and limiting. While it is an important aspect needed to provide a foundation for further evolutionary growth, it is in the end unsufficient to stand on its own. Similarly, the mental life adds new wideness and opportunity, but also does not encompass all ranges of existence and potential meaning. It is only when these two are joined with the spiritual evolution that we can integrate and thereby reconcile the view of existence that joins life and the spirit.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 16, The Integral Knowledge and the Aim of Life; Four Theories of Existence