Are We Trapped In a Subjective World Devoid of Objective Reality?

Sri Aurobindo addresses the question that arises from time to time, and which has provided the underpinning for the illusionist theories of existence; namely, that everything is actually a creation of subjective consciousness and that there is no real external objective reality. In this viewpoint, human consciousness creates the universe, and has created–and in some views, destroyed–God. “it is claimed even that God himself was created by man, was a myth of his consciousness, and has now been abolished by man! All these things then may be a sort of myth of the developing consciousness in which it is able to dwell, a captive in its own buildings, and by a kind of realising dynamisation maintain itself in its own imaginations. But pure imaginations they are not, they can only be so treated by us so long as the things they represent, however incorrectly, are not part of our own experience.”

“But if that were so, if a subjective consciousness can thus create worlds and beings, it might well be that the objective world also is a myth of Consciousness or even of our consciousness, or that Consciousness itself is a myth of the original Nescience. Thus, on this line of thinking, we swing back towards a view of the universe in which all things assume a certain hue of unreality except the all-productive Inconscience out of which they are created, the Ignorance whcih creates them and, it may be, a superconscient or inconscient impersonal Being into whose indifference all finally disappears or goes back and ceases there.”

The underlying fallacy of this “subjective reality” viewpoint of course is that it does not answer the question of where the human consciousness derives from and the basis upon which it comes to exist and thereafter “create” its seemingly objective world, nor provide any meaning or purpose to existence. Having previously explored these viewpoints at length in the review of the “refusal of the ascetic” we need only point out that it is always possible for the human mind to trap itself in a “loop” of thought that is apparently self-contained and self-perpetuating. This does not mean that such a viewpoint in fact reflects the ultimate Reality of the manifested Universe or the Consciousness that permeates, creates, sustains and encompasses it. We simply see here the limits of human thought when confronting the ultimate questions of creation, existence and meaning.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 21, The Order of the Worlds


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