The Gita’s Solution to the Apparent Contradictions Between Soul and Nature

The Gita does not attempt to cut the knot of the difficulty of the apparent irreconcilable nature of Spirit and the manifested world of Nature. It does not accept that the world is an illusion, maya, and that therefore the solution would be to abandon it to live in the eternal silence and stillness of the Spirit. Nor does it accept the idea that the abstract life of the uninvolved soul is better or higher than the life of participation in the world. The Gita’s stance rather is that when we achieve the integrative standpoint, the manifested life and the spirit are seen and experienced as one “omnipresent reality” as Sri Aurobindo has elsewhere named it.

It is interesting to note that some Buddhist commentaries hold that samsara and nirvana are both “here” and “present” at the same time; it is a matter of standpoint. These commentaries essentially recognize that the consciousness that integrates and unifies does not create a duality from which we need to escape.

The Isha Upanishad in verse 7 sums it up: “He in whom it is the Self-Being that has become all existences that are Becomings, for he has the perfect knowledge, how shall he be deluded, whence shall he have grief who sees everywhere oneness?” (Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, pg. 21, Isha Upanishad, v. 7)

Sri Aurobindo explains the Gita’s position thus: “When we transcend this Maya, the world does not disappear, it only changes its whole heart of meaning. In the spiritual vision we find not that all this does not really exist, but rather that all is, but with a sense quite other than its present mistaken significance: all is self and soul and nature of the Godhead, all is Vasudeva. The world for the Gita is real, a creation of the Lord, a power of the Eternal, a manifestation from the Parabrahman, and even this lower nature of the triple Maya is a derivation from the supreme divine Nature.”

“…the Gita insists that we can and should, while we live, be conscious in the self and its silence and yet act with power in the world of Nature. And it gives the example of the Divine himself who is not bound by necessity of birth, but free, superior to the cosmos, and yet abides eternally in action….”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 15, The Three Purushas, pp. 425-426