The Transcendent and the Manifest Divine

Sri Aurobindo describes the relation between the Transcendent and the Manifest as presented by the Gita: “The idea of the Divine on which the Gita insists as the secret of the whole mystery of existence, the knowledge that leads to liberation, is one that bridges the opposition between the cosmic procession in Time and a supracosmic eternity without denying either of them or taking anything from the reality of either.”

It is important to recognize that this is actually a unique position that sets the Gita quite apart from many spiritual traditions past and present. Generally the human mind wants to affirm one truth, while denying its opposite. The Gita asks us to find the standpoint where we can hold two apparently opposite concepts together and recognize the reality and necessity of each of them. The real issue here is the incapacity of the human mind and human language to grasp, rather than the Reality that it is asked to understand.

“It harmonises the pantheistic, the theistic and the highest transcendental terms of our spiritual conception and spiritual existence.”

The knowledge required to unify is necessarily not an ordinary intellectual understanding of things, but a spiritual experiential knowledge by identity. The experience of the unborn Eternal, unmoving and unmoved by the manifested forms, is one which has been at the heart of the ascetic paths that renounce the world to discover the Eternal. Similarly, the experience of the immanent Divine, in the heart of all beings, sum and substance of all that exists is one that underpins other traditions, such as those of devotional religion and those that focus on works in the world.

“The human soul that can dwell in the light of this supreme spiritual knowledge is lifted by it beyond the ideative or sensible formulations of the universe. It rises into the ineffable power of an all-exceeding, yet all-fulfilling identity, the same beyond and here. This spiritual experience of the transcendental Infinite breaks down the limitations of the pantheistic conception of existence.”

God cannot be bound by his creation, and all the galaxies, and universes together do not limit or constrict the Eternal. The Divine transcends, exceeds and yet constitutes all that is.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part I, Chapter 7, The Supreme Word of the Gita, pp. 331-332

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