The Bondage of the Soul To the Lower Nature

The question arises as to how the eternal Soul of existence can become bound in the lower nature and its activities. When we look at the original Sat-Chit-Ananda we see infinite Existence, Consciousness and Bliss. The question really can only be answered if we look at the process of differentiation and the creation of forms that takes place to achieve the manifestation of the world in the first place. As an intermediate phase, there is the level of the Gnosis or, as the Upanishads name it, the Vijnana. This level retains the full awareness and knowledge of the Oneness, while at the same time developing the multitude of forms and forces and setting each one in motion to carry out its own characteristic action within the larger play that is being created. The process of this creation leads to the development of first, the “overmental” state of consciousness in which the power of exclusive concentration becomes possible, and then the world consisting of the interplay of mind, life and matter which we inhabit, where exclusive concentration is perfected in an ultimate form of self-involvement and “ignorance” that makes up the state of dense Matter.

As we tend to live primarily in the consciousness of mind-life-matter, we identify ourselves with that state of existence, and through the process of exclusive concentration, we lose contact with and awareness of our true spiritual, eternal and infinite nature.

As we become involved in these forms, we become “attached”. This is what leads to bondage, as Sri Aurobindo describes the Gita’s view on this: “The reason, says the Gita, is our attachment to the Gunas and to the result of their workings. Sattwa, it says, attaches to happiness, Rajas attaches to action, Tamas covers up the knowledge and attaches to negligence of error and inaction.”

“…the soul, by attachment to the enjoyment of the Gunas and their results concentrates its consciousness on the lower and outward action of life, mind and body in Nature, imprisons itself in the form of these things and becomes oblivious of its own greater consciousness behind in the spirit, unaware of the free power and scope of the liberating Purusha. Evidently, in order to be liberated and perfect we must get back from these things, away from the Gunas and above them and return to the power of that free spiritual consciousness above Nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 14, Above the Gunas, pp. 417