The Gita’s View of the Meaning of Existence

The Gita does not accept the idea that the goal of existence is to extinguish that existence in the infinite, unmoving vast consciousness that has been the goal of yogis for millenia. To accept such a goal would be a devaluing of the entire manifestation of life and existence itself. Works, in the Gita’s view, are not simply required until liberation has been attained, but are actually the expression of the divine Being in its own self-manifestation, and have therefore an intrinsic and essential value and role.

Sri Aurobindo goes through the Gita’s analysis: “But the Gita insists that the nature of the action does matter and that there is a positive sanction for continuance in works, not only that one quite negative and mechanical reason, the objectless compulsion of Nature.”

There is a divine Being, impersonal in one aspect, personal in another, which manifests the universe. “The impersonal Brahman is not the very last word, not the utterly highest secret of our being; for impersonal and personal, finite and infinite turn out to be only two opposite, yet concomitant aspects of a divine Being unlimited by these distinctions who is both these things at once.”

“God is an ever unmanifest Infinite ever self-impelled to manifest himself in the finite; he is the great impersonal Person of whom all personalities are partial appearances; he is the Divine who reveals himself in the human being, the Lord seated in the heart of man.”

The first steps in the realisation process inevitably involve opening up to the impersonal and the vast, to help us break away from the hold of the ego and its too personal and too narrow focus. But once that is achieved, we still need to recognise the larger framework which the Gita calls the Purushottama, which encompasses both the moving and the unmoving, the finite and the infinite, the impersonal and the personal without conflict or contradiction.

“The real goal of Yoga is then a living and self-completing union with the divine Purushottama and is not merely a self-extinguishing immergence in the impersonal Being. To raise our whole existence to the Divine Being, to dwell in him…., to be one with him, unify our consciousness with his, to make our fragmentary nature a reflection of his perfect nature, to be inspired in our thought and sense wholly by the divine knowledge, to be moved in will and action utterly and faultlessly by the divine will, to lose desire in his love and delight, is man’s perfection; it is that which the Gita describes as the highest secret.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 13, The Lord of the Sacrifice, pp. 124-125

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