The Divine Is Beyond All Positive and Negative Definitions

The traditional Yoga of knowledge focuses on the undefined, absolute status of the Divine and treats the phenomenal world of forms, forces and actions as having a lesser reality. Sri Aurobindo makes the point that the Divine is not limited by either its qualities or its “quality-less” condition: “We have again two essential modes, two fundamental aspects, two poles of eternal being, both of them exceeded in the transcendent divine Reality. They correspond practically to the Silent and the Active Brahman.”

The Silent, unmoving Absolute is not limited by its silence or lack of motion. The Active Being of the Divine is not limited by its forms, forces and actions. “His being assumes by conscious Will all kinds of properties, shapings of the stuff of conscious being, habits as it were of cosmic character and power of dynamic self-consciousness, gunas, into which all the cosmic action can be resolved. But by none of these nor by all of them nor by their utmost infinite potentiality is He bound; He is above all His qualities and on a certain plane of being rests free from them. The Nirguna or Unqualified is not incapable of qualities, rather it is this very Nirguna or No-Quality who manifests himself as Saguna, as Ananta-guna, infinite quality, since He contains all in His absolute capacity of boundlessly varied self-revelation. He is free from them in the sense of exceeding them; and indeed if He were not free from them they could not be infinite; God would be subject to His qualities, bound by His nature, Prakriti would be supreme and Purusha its creation and plaything. The Eternal is bound neither by quality nor absence of quality, neither by Personality nor by Impersonality; He is Himself, beyond all our positive and all our negative definitions.”

“The Upanishad indicates clearly enough the relative nature of this opposition, when it speaks of the Supreme as the “Qualitied who is without qualities.”

Once again, the mental tendency to create apparently irreconcilable opposition between two aspects, poles or statuses is shown to be the limiting factor. The Divine is beyond the ability of the mental being to resolve these apparent oppositions and we see why it is essential to go beyond mental gymnastics, philosophical dogma or religious creed to begin to experience and thereby understand the Divine as embracing both the manifestation and the non-manifest without being divided, limited or restricted by either.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 11, The Modes of the Self, pp. 363-364