The Divine Force in Manifestation and the Transcendent Divine

Yoga can be understand, in one sense, as applied psychology. The responses of the mind, vital and physical parts of the being, and the attempt to both detach from them and eventually modify them, are one of the key features of the yogic process. Thus, when Sri Aurobindo describes the differences that occur when the Divine Force is active, versus the normal action of the lower nature, this is a description of an actual psychological activity not just an abstract philosophical statement.

Sri Aurobindo’s description of the divine force is vivid and detailed: He describes “…a Force greater than body, mind and life which takes hold of our limited instruments and drive all their motions. There is no longer the sense of ourselves moving, thinking or feeling but of that moving, feeling and thinking in us. This force that we feel is the universal Force of the Divine, which, veiled or unveiled, acting directly or permitting the use of its powers by beings in the cosmos, is the one Energy that alone exists and alone makes universal or individual action possible. For this force is the Divine itself in the body of its power; all is that power of act, power of thought and knowledge, power of mastery and enjoyment, power of love. Conscious always and in everything, in ourselves and in others, of the Master of Works possessing, inhabiting, enjoying through this Force that is himself, becoming through it all existences and happenings, we shall have arrived at the divine union through works and achieved by that fulfilment in works all that others have gained through absolute devotion or through pure knowledge.”

At the same time, Sri Aurobindo makes clear that this experience, this identification with the divine Force in the manifestation is not the entirety of the divine consciousness. There is also the transcendent aspect of the Divine, which is not limited nor bound by all the vast universal manifestation, but both encompasses it and surpasses it. This is Sri Aurobindo’s response to the more narrow “pantheism” that equates the world with God–while that defines the world, it does not define the Divine which transcends all that is. “The world is an emanation; it depends on something that manifests in it but is not limited by it: the Divine is not here alone; there is a Beyond, an eternal Transcendence. The individual being also in its spiritual part is not a formation in the cosmic existence–our ego, our mind, our life, our body are that; but the immutable spirit, the imperishable soul in us has come out of the Transcendence.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 11, The Master of the Work, pp. 241-242