The All-Uniting Experience That Underpins Self-Knowledge and World-Knowledge

When the seeker following the path of the Yoga of knowledge considers the world, its forms, and the individual ego-personality to be false and illusory, he is responding to the overwhelming intensity of the spiritual truth he experiences. At the same time, the human propensity to take everything to extremes and to highlight the opposites as if they are irreconcilable also plays a role here in overstating the case. The world, the individual manifestation in the world, has also its underlying truth of existence. The falsehood and illusion that are perceived are not “ultimate” falsehood or total illusion, but simply an acknowledgement of the limitations of the mental consciousness and our inability to seize with the mind the all-embracing, all-unifying truth of the spirit which constitutes the individual, the universal and the transcendent in one “omnipresent reality”, as Sri Aurobindo has called it. Even in the realm of ordinary life, we can see that the process of learning, the growth of knowledge, is one that is progressive in nature. We therefore cannot call our first stages of knowledge totally false; rather, we can see them as first framings of what will later be a much larger structure of knowledge. Similarly, the Truth-Consciousness, the level that exists far beyond our mental limitations, can recognize the limits that gave rise to the concept of the illusion of the world, and see that all of these facts become the basis for the next perception, and thus are not entirely false.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “…we find that the ignorance of the mind and the senses and all the apparent futilities of human life were not an useless excursion of the conscious being, an otiose blunder. Here they were planned as a rough ground for the self-expression of the Soul that comes from the Infinite, a material foundation for its self-unfolding and self-possessing in the terms of the universe. It is true that in themselves they and all that is here have no significance, and to build separate significances for them is to live in an illusion, Maya; but they have a supreme significance in the Supreme, an absolute Power in the Absolute and it is that that assigns to them and refers to that Truth their present relative values. This is the all-uniting experience that is the foundation of the deepest integral and most intimate self-knowledge and world-knowledge.”

The world and the actions the individual undertakes in the world do not exist separate and for themselves; they are manifestations of the Divine for the Divine’s purpose and from the Divine standpoint, and it is from that standpoint that the true relevance can be seen; the apparent illusion we see while observing from the human standpoint gets resolved into the self-existent truth and reality from the divine standpoint.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 1, The Object of Knowledge, pp. 279-280

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