The Nature of the Supreme Being

The human mind continually struggles with the apparent contradictions that arise when trying to reconcile the characteristics of the supreme Being as being unmanifest, eternal, unmoving, etc. with the personal aspect that is required for devotion to have any true significance. The Gita repeatedly reminds us that this is really a limitation of the mental process that cannot embrace two apparently opposite concepts at the same time, and which tends to treat them as opposites rather than complements to one another.

Thus, in addition to the impersonal aspects of the Supreme, there is a personal aspect as well, which manifests in “all that is”. Sri Aurobindo explains the nature of the devotion required to attain to this status: “In other words, the supreme Purusha is not an entirely relationless Absolute aloof from our illusions, but he is the Seer, Creator and Ruler of the worlds…, and it is by knowing and loving him as the One and the All,…that we ought by a union with him of our whole conscious being in all things, all energies, all actions to seek the supreme consummation, the perfect perfection, the absolute release.”

This requires a total turning of all the elements of our being toward that supreme Truth: “One might easily imagine that this eternally unmanifest Being whose status seems to have nothing to do with the manifestation or the non-manifestation, must be the ever undefined and indefinable Absolute, and the proper way to reach him is to get rid of all that we have become in the manifestation, not to carry up to it our whole inner consciousness in a combined concentration of the mind’s knowledge, the heart’s love, the Yogic will, the vital life-force.” ” ‘But’, insists the Gita,–although this condition is supracosmic and although it is eternally unmanifest,–still ‘that supreme Purusha has to be won by a Bhakti which turns to him alone in whom all beings exist and by whom all this world has been extended in space.’ ”

The point here is that we need to embrace the Creator, not only in the abstract, but in the specific; not only as unmanifest and absolute, but also as each element and form in the universe. Denying the reality of the existence within which we live and experience really means denying some major element of the Supreme Being at the same time. The Gita expects the Yogin to surpass the mental limitations and embrace all that is in a supreme act of love and devotion.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part I, Chapter 3, The Supreme Divine, pp. 284-285