From the Finite to the Infinite

The Buddhist tradition clearly defines the circumstance of the life of desire bounded by the limitations of the egoistic consciousness. The four noble truths drive home this idea that attachment to this life and fulfillment of the ego’s desires is a life of suffering, with no way out as long as we remain fixed in the attachment to the impulsions of desire which in turn maintains the chain of cause and effect, karma.

The Gita, while asking us to continue acting in the world, recognises clearly the limitations of the egoistic consciousness and therefore points us toward achievement of what it calls the Brahmic consciousness, the consciousness of the Infinite. This is the standpoint that frees us from attachment and the limitations of ego and allows us to act by seeing “all beings in this one Self”.

Sri Aurobindo has also described the need to move from the finite consciousness to the infinite: “It is his ancient and constant experience that the more he opens himself to the impersonal and infinite, to that which is pure and high and one and common in all things and beings, the impersonal and infinite in Nature, the impersonal and infinite in life, the impersonal and infinite in his own subjectivity, the less he is bound by his ego and by the circle of the finite, the more he feels a sense of largeness, peace, pure happiness. The pleasure, joy, satisfaction which the finite by itself can give or the ego in its own right attain, is transitory, petty and insecure. To dwell entirely in the ego-sense and its finite conceptions, powers, satisfactions is to find this world for ever full of transience and suffering… ;the finite life is always troubled by a certain sense of vanity for this fundamental reason that the finite is not the whole or the highest truth of life; life is not entirely real until it opens into the sense of the infinite.”

The goal, then: “…to raise one’s consciousness and the poise of one’s being out of limited personality into this infinite and impersonal Brahman is the first spiritual necessity. To see all beings in this one Self is the knowledge which raises the soul out of egoistic ignorance and its works and results; to live in it is to acquire peace and firm spiritual foundation.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 13, The Lord of the Sacrifice, pp. 121-122