Supreme Nature and Individual Manifested Forms

It is a characteristic of the dualistic mental consciousness that we tend to see things as separate and fragmented. Thus, when we try to understand, from the level of the mind, the relationship between the supreme Nature and the individual nature of manifested forms, we tend to either try to treat them as totally separate and distinct; or else, we try to make them appear to be identical.

Sri Aurobindo, describing the Gita’s understanding of this issue, makes it clear that all Nature is One, and at the same time, it manifests through fragmentation and differentiation of forms into the individual beings that we experience in the world of manifestation. “…the eternal multiple soul of the Purushottama appears as individual spiritual existence in all the forms of the cosmos. All existences are instinct with the life of the one indivisible Spirit; all are supported in their personality, actions and forms by the eternal multiplicity of the one Purusha.”

There is however a serious distinction to be made to avoid the error of false correlation: “We must be careful not to make the mistake of thinking that this supreme Nature is identical with the Jiva manifested in Time in the sense that there is nothing else or that it is only nature of becoming and not at all nature of being: that could not be the supreme Nature of the Spirit. Even in time it is something more; for otherwise the only truth of it in the cosmos would be nature of multiplicity and there would be no nature of unity in the world. That is not what the Gita says: it does not say that the supreme Prakriti is in its essence the Jiva,…but that it has become the Jiva…; and it is implied in that expression that behind its manifestation as the Jiva here it is originally something else and higher, it is nature of the one supreme Spirit. The Jiva…is the Lord, isvara, but in his partial manifestation…; even all the multiplicity of beings in the universe or in numberless universes could not be in their becoming the integral Divine, but only a partial manifestation of the infinite One.”

“In them Brahman the one indivisible existence resides as if divided…. The unity is the greater truth, the multiplicity is the lesser truth, though both are a truth and neither of them is an illusion.”

The difficulty is primarily due to the attempt to intellectualize the Reality of the One manifesting through infinite finite forms. It is a limitation of the mental consciousness that hinders a complete understanding, not the Reality behind that is always One and Multiple concurrently.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part I, Chapter 1, The Two Natures, pp. 257-258