The Complex Mechanism of the Soul’s Relationship to Nature

When we start from our normal mental perspective on things, we immediately create a duality, because this is the nature of the mental consciousness. However, to gain a true understanding of the relationship of the Soul to Nature, it becomes essential to both adjust our perspective and our standpoint.

We normally would look at there being a duality between “Soul” and “Nature”. From this perspective we then treat the Soul as being bound or misled by the action of Nature, and thus, the solution is generally presented as an escape from the bondage of Nature and its modes of action.

The Bhagavad Gita consistently seeks to overcome both this viewpoint and the standpoint from which it arises by its emphasis on the Supreme Purusha, the Purushottama, and the oneness, as two aspects of one Being, of the Soul and Nature.

The Soul takes on three aspects, which are essentially poises as seen from the mental consciousness, but One in their essence and reality. Once we recognize this, we see that it is the Soul which directs and informs Nature, which executes the intention of the Soul. The individual forms, as well as the cosmic manifestation of multiple forms are both simply aspects of the One, which transcends both of these terms.

Sri Aurobindo describes the relationship: “Nature is the action, the mutation, the becoming, and it is the Power that executes all these; but the Soul is the conscious Being from which that Power proceeds, from whose luminous stuff of consciousness she has drawn the variable will that changes and expresses its changes in her actions. And this Soul is One and Many; it is the one Life-being out of which all life is constituted and it is all these living beings; it is the cosmic Existent and it is all this multitude of cosmic existences, …, for all these are One; all the many Purushas are in their original being the one and only Purusha. But the mechanism of the ego-sense in Nature, which is part of her action, induces the mind to identify the soul’s consciousness with the limited becoming of the moment, with the sum of her active consciousness in a given field of space and time, with the result from moment to moment of the sum of her past actions. It is possible to realise in a way the unity of all these beings even in Nature herself and to become aware of a cosmic Soul which is manifest in the whole action of cosmic Nature. Nature manifesting the Soul, the Soul constituting the Nature. But this is to become aware only of the great cosmic Becoming, which is not false or unreal, but the knowledge of which alone does not give us the true knowledge of our Self; for our true Self is always something more than this and something beyond it.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 22, Beyond the Modes of Nature, pp. 218-219


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