Alternative Approaches to the Realisation of the Fundamental Spiritual Experience

It is not necessarily the case that each individual seeker follows the same path to the ultimate spiritual realisations. While some may follow the general development through the individual Self, others may find that the opening comes through a realisation of the universal Self.

Sri Aurobindo describes this experience: “I may see the Divinity first in the world outside me, not in myself but in others. I meet it there from the beginning as an indwelling and all-containing Infinite that is not bound up with all these forms, creatures and forces which it bears on its surface. Or else I see and feel it as a pure solitary Self and Spirit which contains all these powers and existences, and I lose my sense of ego in the silent Omnipresence around me. Afterwards it is this that begins to pervade and possess my instrumental being and out of it seem to proceed all my impulsions to action, all my light of thought and speech, all the formations of my consciousness and all its relations and impacts with other soul-forms of this one world-wide Existence. I am already no longer this little personal self, but That with something of itself put forward which sustains a selected form of its workings in the universe.”

Another starting point for the realisation may come from the experience of the Transcendent. “It is the awakening to an ineffable high transcendent Unknowable above myself and above this world in which I seem to move, a timeless and spaceless condition or entity which is at once, in some way compelling and convincing to an essential consciousness in me, the one thing that is to it overwhelmingly real. This experience is usually accompanied by an equally compelling sense either of the dreamlike or shadowy illusoriness of all thins here or else of their temporary, derivative and only half-real character.”

This last experience, in fact, is the direction taken by those who abandon the life in the world and focus entirely on the dissolution of their transitory being into the Infinite and Transcendent. Sri Aurobindo points out, however, that this need not be the outcome. “…it is possible, on the contrary, for me to wait till through the silence of this timeless unfilled liberation I begin to enter into relations with that yet ungrasped Source of myself and my actions; then the void begins to fill, there emerges out of it or there rushes into it all the manifold Truth of the Divine, all the aspects and manifestations and many levels of a dynamic Infinite.”

The reason is that the Transcendent is not just an emptiness, a void, or a lack of forms. It is the container, but also the Source. “If there were not that Source of all things, there could be no universe; all powers, all works and activities would be an illusion, all creation and manifestation would be impossible.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 4, The Sacrifice, The Triune Path and the Lord of the Sacrifice, pp. 108-109