Diversity in Oneness

Because of our foundation in the material and mental levels of consciousness, we tend to try to systematise and unify everything in such a way that we want things to be “black and white”. We want everyone to accept the same logic, the same direction, the same goal, the same methodologies, and we treat anyone who differs in their approach or conclusions or the language they use to describe their experience as simply “wrong”. This has led to unfortunate results such as crusades, ethnic cleansing, religious warfare, conversions, religious suppression, excommunications, holy inquisitions and other similar attempts to suppress one line of expression or experience in favor of another. Sri Aurobindo takes strong exception to this attempt to “unify” through uniformity.

“In the evolution of the spiritual man there must necessarily be many stages and in each stage a great variety of individual formations of the being, the consciousness, the life, the temperament, the ideas, the character. The nature of instrumental mind and the necessity of dealing with the life must of itself create an infinite variety according to the stage of development and the individuality of the seeker. But, apart from that, even the domain of pure spiritual self-realisation and self-expression need not be a single white monotone, here can be a great diversity in the fundamental unity; the supreme Self is one, but the souls of the Self are many and, as is the soul’s formation of nature, so will be its spiritual self-expression. A diversity in oneness is the law of the manifestation; the supramental unification and integration must harmonise these diversities, but to abolish them is not the intention of the Spirit in Nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 24, “The Evolution of the Spiritual Man”