The Inner Spiritual Principle Underlying Swabhava and Swadharma

Sri Aurobindo reminds us that our struggles to understand our existence and raise up our human nature seem impossibly confusing and difficult primarily because we are rooted in the standpoint of the ego-consciousness. In reality the Gita’s teaching is based on the spiritual reality of the divine truth of existence, not the illusory consciousness of the fragmented and separated individual. From this deeper standpoint, we see that the question of our own inner intrinsic nature, Swabhava, and our own right action in the world, Swadharma, is resolved by the recognition that it is the Divine Master of all existence that resides in all, that is manifesting according to His determination, and who is actually using the apparent “machinery” of Nature as a tool to shape, sculpt and develop the entire manifested universe.

“The Gita’s philosophy of life and works is that all proceeds from the Divine Existence, the transcendent and universal Spirit. All is a veiled manifestation of the Godhead, Vasudeva, …, and to unveil the Immortal within and in the world, to dwell in unity with the Soul of the universe, to rise in consciousness, knowledge, will, love, spiritual delight to oneness with the supreme Godhead, to live in the highest spiritual nature with the individual and natural being delivered from shortcoming and ignorance and made a conscious instrument for the works of the divine Shakti is the perfection of which humanity is capable and the condition of immortality and freedom.”

This becomes possible when we realise the deeper truth: “A Godhead is seated in the heart of every man and is the Lord of this mysterious action of Nature….”

“This machinery of ego, this tangled complexity of the three Gunas, mind, body, life, emotion, desire, struggle, thought, aspiration, endeavour, this locked interaction of pain and pleasure, sin and virtue, striving and success and failure, soul and environment, myself and others, is only the outward imperfect form taken by a higher spiritual Force in me which pursues through its vicissitudes the proressive self-expression of the divine reality and greatness I am secretly in spirit and shall overtly become in nature. This action contains in itself the principle of its own success, the principle of the Swabhava and Swadharma.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 20, Swabhava and Swadharma, pp. 500-501

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