The Divine Impulsion To Evolutionary Action In the World

The human mind, with its tendency to try to categorize and simplify all things, easily falls into a pattern of going from one extreme to another without finding the higher resolution that encompasses the two extremes. Some say, then, that all action is an illusion and should be abandoned, while others come to conclude that since there is no “better” work, one should simply adopt and carry on the mode of life and work into which one is born. Sri Aurobindo takes issue with this approach, both on the basis of treating the manifested world as an illusion, and on the basis that one is trapped by one’s past karmic connections to remain in the work into which one has been born. “A false conclusion is sometimes drawn from this that the spiritual man, accepting the position in which Fate or God or his past Karma has placed him, content to work in the field and cadre of the family, clan, caste, nation, occupation which are his by birth and circumstance, will not and even perhaps ought not to make any movement to exceed them or to pursue any great mundane end.”

The argument Sri Aurobindo is answering is essentially as follows: “To insist on any particular end or to work for some great mundane object is to fall into the illusion of works; it is to entertain the error that terrestrial life has an intelligible intention and contains objects worth of pursuit.”

Sri Aurobindo’s response is that the Divine is not simply a static Presence beyond, but also exists in the dynamic unfolding evolution of the world: “But the Divine is here in the world,–not only in status but in dynamis, not only as a spiritual self and presence but as power, force, energy, and therefore a divine work in the world is possible.”

The seeker who has advanced to the stage where the work being done is not for personal preference or gain, but is an expression of the Divine impulsion, may find that he is called upon to participate in the evolutionary cycle, to be part of the great upward movement of consciousness that represents the Divine Manifestation in the world. And thus called, he clearly cannot accept the conclusion that he should simply fit himself into the existing structure into which he was born and repeat the old cycle once again. For there to be any progressive manifestation, individuals will be compelled to exceed, go beyond and develop, thereby leaving behind the old framework and discovering or creating the new development called for in the Divine impulsion. And seeing the Divine in the world-manifestation, he recognises that this is the “omnipresent reality” of the Divine, and therefore, not an “illusion” in any ultimate sense.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 12, The Divine Work, pg. 255