Universality in Action: The Law of Divine Living

When we act in the world, we generally start from the viewpoint of the egoistic individual. As we grow and evolve we begin to try to expand our action to include family and various groupings of people, whether team, tribe, nation, or affinity groupings including religious organisations. In each such expansion, we consciously try to incorporate the needs and values of a larger formation. However, it should be noted, that the methodology we generally employ leads to an expansion of the ego and widening of its action. In order to achieve this action, we rely on idea, emotion & vital sympathy to act as the force of implementation.

Sri Aurobindo points out that for the gnostic being, this mode of action will no longer be operative. Rather, the gnostic being and life involves “a close and complete consciousness of the self of others, a consciousness of their mind, life, physical being which are felt as if they were one’s own.”

“The gnostic being will act, not out of a surface sentiment of love and sympathy or any similar feeling, but out of this close mutual consciousness, this intimate oneness. All his action in the world will be enlightened by a truth of vision of what has to be done, a sense of the will of the Divine Reality in him which is also the Divine Reality in others, and it will be done for the Divine in others and the Divine in all, for the effectuation of the truth of purpose of the All as seen in the light of the highest Consciousness and in the way and by the steps through which it must be effectuated in the power of the Supernature.”

The gnostic individual is not fixated on his own personal success or aggrandisement, but rather, on the implementation of the divine purpose in all of the creation. “He sees a divine working everywhere; what goes out from him into the sum of that divine working, from the inner Light, Will, Force that works in him, is his action.”

The individual action becomes a nexus of manifestation of the Universal and Transcendent. “As he does not live for a separate ego, so too he does not live for the purpose of any collective ego; he lives in and for the Divine in himself, in and for the Divine in the collectivity, in and for the Divine in all beings. This universality in action, organised by the all-seeing Will in the sense of the realised oneness of all, is the law of his divine living.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 28, “The Divine Life”

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The Realisation of Spiritual Oneness and Universality

While we tend to look upon an inward turn of the consciousness as a narrowing or focus on the individual’s personal being, in fact, getting in contact with the inner spiritual entity, the soul, allows one to break free of the bond of the personality and universalise oneself. Sri Aurobindo explains: “For this inner living can extend itself and embrace the universal life, it can contact, penetrate, englobe the life of all with a much greater reality and dynamic force than is in our surface consciousness at all possible. Our utmost universalisation on the surface is a poor and limping endeavor,–it is a construction, a make-believe and not the real thing: for in our surface consciousness we are bound to separation of consciousness from others and wear the fetters of the ego.”

The idea that we can outwardly bridge gaps of separation to embrace universality and oneness is in reality somewhat delusional, and it tends to enhance the ego that believes itself to be altruistic or selfless. Even the best attempts have severe limitations based on the fragmentation and separation that we experience in our surface life.

Sri Aurobindo points out that the true source of oneness and universality is in the spiritual consciousness: “The spiritual consciousness, the spiritual life reverses this principle of building; it bases its action in the collective life upon an inner experience and inclusino of others in our own being, an inner sense and reality of oneness. The spiritual individual acts out of that sense of oneness which gives him immediate and direct perception of the demand of self on other self, the need of the life, the good, the work of love and sympathy that can truly be done. A realisation of spiritual unity, a dynamisation of the intimate consciousness of one-being, of one self in all beings, can alone found and govern by its truth the action of the divine life.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 28, “The Divine Life”