East Meets West

It is a common observation that the focus of the West and the focus of the East diverge and are opposed to one another. The West has developed a society based on incredible concentration on the organization and enhancement of the vital force of life in the material sphere. The East meanwhile is noted for its attention on the life of the Spirit, with its signature achievement being the abandonment of the things of this world for the spiritual realization.

Each of these two directions, however, gains support and significance through the perfection of both sides of the equation. They are complementary directions rather than opposites.

The Truth of the spiritual principle encompasses both the transcendent Beyond, and the manifest universe, which is the carrying out into form of the Spirit. Matter, Life and Mind are all principles of spiritual action and when properly understood, must obtain their sustenance from the Spirit. At the same time a concentration solely on the material sphere, without recognition of the spiritual principles that are the source and meaning of the manifestation, is doomed to transitory results and ends in vain material aggrandisement.

Sri Aurobindo brings the two together as complementary and, indeed, aspects of the same Truth: “The truths of universal existence are of two kinds, truths of the spirit which are themselves eternal and immutable, and these are the great things that cast themselves out into becoming and there constantly realise their powers and significances, and the play of the consciousness with them, the discords, the musical variations, soundings of possibility, progressive notations, reversions, perversions, mounting conversions into a greater figure of harmony; and of all these things the spirit has made, makes always his universe. But it is himself that he makes in it, himself that is the creator and the energy of creation and the cause and the method and the result of the working, the mechanist and the machine, the music and the musician, the poet and the poem, supermind, mind and life and matter, the soul and Nature.”

Sri Aurobindo,