The Individual and the Cosmic Being

Humanity has tended to the extremes when looking at the role and purpose of the individual being. Those who place their focus on the Eternal tend to treat the individual as an aberration, something to be dissolved in order to achieve Oneness with the Eternal. On the other hand, most of humanity has tended to accentuate the individual, and focus on individual fulfillment and achievement. Sri Aurobindo, as he recognizes that all is done by the Divine Being, does not at the same time try to eliminate the role of the individual; rather, he recognizes that the individual has been developed and formed so as to carry out the Divine evolutionary process in the stage of individualisation and growth of consciousness through and beyond the mental level.

“He is a centre only–a centre of differentiation of the one personal consciousness, a centre of determination of the one total movement; his personality reflects in a wave of persistent individuality the one universal Person, the Transcendent, the Eternal.”

The individual does not recognize fully the reality of the situation because of the limitations of the human mental consciousness: “In the Ignorance it is always a broken and distorted reflection because the crest of the wave which is our conscious waking self throws back only an imperfect and falsified similitude of the divine Spirit. All our opinions, standards, formations, principles are only attempts to represent in this broken, reflecting and distorting mirror something of the universal and progressive total action and its many-sided movement towards some ultimate self-revelation of the Divine. Our mind represents it as best it can with a narrow approximation that becomes less and less inadequate in proportion as its thought grows in wideness and light and power; but it is always an approximation and not even a true partial figure.”

Because the Divine Will is working to express and manifest the Unity of creation through the manifold forms and beings of the created universe, each aspect, each form, each individual carries within itself a secret sense of that Divine Power, Will and Knowledge. “Therefore there is in the cosmos, in the collectivity, in the individual, a rooted instinct or belief in its own perfectibility, a constant drive towards an ever increasing and more adequate and more harmonious self-development nearer to the secret truth of things. This effort is represented to the constructing mind of man by standards of knowledge, feeling, character, aesthesis and action,–rules, ideals, norms and laws that he essays to turn into universal Dharmas.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 7, Standards of Conduct and Spiritual Freedom, pg. 179