Reconciling the Different Poises and States of Consciousness of the Divine Reality

The transcription of spiritual experience into mental consciousness and the limitations of the terms and format of such a transcription force us to consider carefully to avoid the error of ascribing qualities or functions to one aspect that belong to another aspect. While they are “one”, they nevertheless manifest according to the specific conditions or terms of the aspect being reviewed. Sri Aurobindo describes this issue: “The supreme Godhead, the Self immutable behind the cosmic consciousness, the individual Divinity in the human being and the Divine secretly conscious or partially manifested in cosmic Nature and all her works and creatures, are then one reality, one Godhead. But the truths that we can put forward the most confidently of one, are reversed or they alter their sense when we try to apply them to the other poises of the one Being.”

For a sense of the difficulty, it is like a driver attempting to apply the rules of the road for driving in countries that drive on the left side of the road for those countries that drive on the right side of the road. While there is an essential basic understanding of “how to drive”, the signals and reactions are opposite. Similarly, if we try to apply the “rules” of the supreme Lord of creation to the experience of the individual soul in its fragmented individual consciousness state, we will quickly find that this does not work.

The various manifested forms and forces each act under their own rules within their own sphere. So Matter, with the qualities of (apparent) immobility and solidity, responds differently than the Life-Force, or the Mental-Consciousness, with each level exhibiting characteristics that define that poise and that are apparently opposite or at least radically different than the preceding level.

It is possible, and one of the goals of spiritual development, for us to reach a state of Identity with any of the multiple poises or aspects of the Divine Reality, and from that status, we share the experience and understanding that goes along with it. The complexity of the Divine Creation, however, requires us to clearly distinguish between the action in one poise, and the action in another. “This is a thing we have to see clearly in the Gita; we have to allow for this variation of the sense of the same truth according to the nodus of relation from which its application comes into force. Otherwise we shall see mere contradiction and inconsistency where none exists or be baffled like Arjuna by what seems to us a riddling utterance.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part I, Chapter 5, The Divine Truth and Way, pp. 302-303