The Unification of the Impersonal and the Personal Aspects of the Divine Reality

For the integral Yoga, the end result of the Yoga of knowledge is not a dissolution into the vast impersonal Brahman; rather it is the unification of the Impersonal with the Supreme Personality. Sri Aurobindo describes three steps in the relation between the individual seeker and the personal aspect of the Divine.

“…the first in which He is conceived with a particular form or particular qualities as the name and form of the Godhead which our nature and personality prefers (ishta-devata); a second in which He is the one real Person, the All-Personality, the Ananta-guna; a third in which we get back to the ultimate source of all idea and fact of personality in that which the Upanishad indicates by the single word He without fixing any attributes.”

The first of these can be seen in our attachment to a specific form of Divinity, our own conceptualization of the personality of God. The second recognizes the divinity can take and reflect a variety of forms encompassing all of the individual forms focused on by the various religious beliefs, but not limited by them. The third represents the culmination in which the Personal and the Impersonal come together:

“For the impersonal Divine is not ultimately an abstraction or a mere principle or a mere state or power and degree of being any more than we ourselves are really such abstractions….Through the realization of higher and higher principles of being and states of conscious existence we arrive not at the annulation of all in a sort of positive zero or even an inexpressible state of existence, but at the transcendent Existence itself which is also the Existent who transcends all definition by personality and yet is always that which is the essence of personality.”

The yogic process does not focus on an intellectual appreciation or understanding; rather, it emphasizes that a realization that takes up our existence and our conscious awareness into this new status is what is required: “When in That we live and have our being, we can possess it in both its modes, the Impersonal in a supreme state of being and consciousness, in an infinite impersonality of self-possessing power and bliss, the Personal by the divine nature acting through the individual soul-form and by the relation between that and its transcendent and universal Self. We may keep even our relation with the personal Deity in His forms and names; if, for instance, our work is predominantly a work of Love it is as the Lord of Love that we can seek to serve and express Him, but we shall have at the same time an integral realisation of Him in all His names and forms and qualities and not mistake the front of Him which is prominent in our attitude to the world for all the infinite Godhead.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 11, The Modes of the Self, pp. 365-366

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