Doing Works As a Means of Liberation

The unique synthesis of the Gita brings together the various essential powers of our being into a unified, coordinated harmony focused on achieving the spiritual realisation of Oneness. The Gita looks beyond the surface differences of approach and methodology to recognise that the powers of knowledge, devotion and dedicated action actually complement, support and complete one another. A highest knowledge brings about a deep devotion. Having attained to a status of unity with the Divine, one takes on the characteristics of selfless action for the benefit of all beings and the entire manifestation. Starting from the dedication of one’s works, one can achieve the results of knowledge and devotion as well.

Sri Aurobindo cites the Gita: “And by doing also all actions always lodged in Me he attains by My grace the eternal and imperishable state.”

“This liberating action is of the character of works done in a profound union of the will and all the dynamic parts of our nature with the Divine in ourself and the cosmos. It is done first as a sacrifice with the idea still of our self as the doer. It is done next without that idea and with a perception of the Prakriti as the sole doer. It is done last with the knowledge of that Prakriti as the supreme power of the Divine and a renunciation, a surrender of all our actions to him with the individual as a channel only and an instrument. Our works then proceed straight from the Self and Divine within us, are a part of the indivisible universal action, are initiated and performed not by us but by a vast transcendent Shakti. All that we do is done for the sake of the Lord seated in the heart of all, for the Godhead in the individual and for the fulfilment of his will in us, for the sake of the Divine in the world, for the good of all beings, for the fulfilment of the world action and the world purpose, or in one word for the sake of the Purushottama and done really by him through his universal Shakti.”

At this point, there is no bondage of works, and in fact, works become a means of liberation. “Disengaged from these mixed and limited Dharmas, we escape into the immortal Dharma which comes upon us when we make ourselves one in all our consciousness and action with the Purushottama. That oneness here brings with it the power to rise there into the immortality beyond Time. There we shall exist in his eternal transcendence.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 21, Towards the Supreme Secret, pp. 519-520

Supreme Bhakti Leads To Supreme Knowledge

The heart of the Gita’s path lies in the recognition that the Immutable, the Supreme Brahman, is not the final stage or goal of the spiritual path. The essential truth lies in the recognition that there is a higher Supreme Person, the Purushottama, beyond this silent, vast, unmoving awareness, known as the Akshara Purusha. The Purushottama integrates both the unmoving and the moving, the unmanifest and the manifestation.

Just as the status of the Brahman is achieved through an identification with the vast silent awareness, accomplished through a systematic renunciation of the attachment to the outer world and the objects of desires engendered there, the subsequent step requires us to find the way to reintegrate the outer with the inner, the manifestation with the unmanifest.

Sri Aurobindo describes the process: “When the soul has lost its separative personality, when it has become the Brahman, it is then that it can live in the true Person and can attain to the supreme revealing Bhakti for the Purushottama and can come to know him utterly by the power of its profound Bhakti, its heart’s knowledge…. That is the integral knowledge, when the heart’s fathomless vision completes the mind’s absolute experience….”

Sri Aurobindo cites the Gita’s statement on this topic: “He Comes to know Me,” says the Gita, “who and how much I am and in all the reality and principles of my being.”

“This integral knowledge is the knowledge of the Divine present in the individual; it is the entire experience of the Lord secret in the heart of man, revealed now as the supreme Self of his existence, the Sum of all his illumined consciousness, the Master and Power of all his works, the divine Fountain of all his soul’s love and delight, the Lover and Beloved of his worship and adoration. It is the knowledge too of the Divine extended in the universe, of the Eternal from whom all proceeds and in whom all lives and has its being, of the Self and Spirit of the Cosmos, of Vasudeva who has become all this that is, of the Lord of cosmic existence who reigns over the works of Nature. it is the knowledge of the divine Purusha luminous in his transcendent eternity, the form of whose being escapes from the thought of the mind but not from its silence; it is the entire living experience of him as absolute Self, supreme Brahman, supreme Soul, supreme Godhead….”

The liberated soul is unified with all these aspects of the supreme Person, the individual, the universal and the transcendent, and thus unified with all that exists, all the multitude of forms and creatures in the universe, and the supreme Bhakti thereby leads to supreme Knowledge.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 21, Towards the Supreme Secret, pp. 518-519