The Unity of the Individual Self and the Cosmic Self With the Transcendent All-Existence

The human mind separates the experience of the Transcendent, the unmoving Absolute, the Silent Impersonal from the apparently contradictory experience of the manifested world of forms, beings and forces. The materialist takes the position that the Personal, as embodied in the world of forms and forces is the reality and there is nothing else beyond. The practitioner of the Yoga of knowledge, the seeker of the Infinite sees the Impersonal as the only reality and the world of forms is considered to be something illusory and ephemeral. Usually these two are considered to be opposite extremes that cannot be reconciled to one another. Sri Aurobindo has taken the stance, however, that there is an Omnipresent Reality that not only unifies these two apparent contradictory views, but exceeds them and transcends them.

The Mundaka Upanishad states: “All this is Brahman immortal, naught else; Brahman is in front of us, Brahman behind us, and to the south of us and to the north of us and below us and above us; it stretches everywhere. All this is Brahman alone, all this magnificent universe.” (Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Mundaka Upanishad Chapter 2 Section II, v. 12, page 204)

The human mind operates by analyzing, dividing and parsing out information into distinct and separated categories and types. This is a knowledge that seeks out differences and fixates on them. Sri Aurobindo holds that the true knowledge, however, is the knowledge that unites and unifies, that finds ways to incorporate and embrace the apparent contradictions through a higher synthesis that resolves the conflict. “Moreover, the knowledge that finds the true secret of multiplicity, personality, quality, play of relations, must show us some real oneness in essence of being and intimate unity in power of being between the impersonal and the source of personality, the qualityless and that which expresses itself in qualities, the unity of existence and its many-featured multiplicity. The knowledge that leaves a yawning gulf between the two, can be no ultimate knowledge, however logical it may seem to the analytical intellect or however satisfactory to a self-dividing experience. True knowledge must arrive at a oneness which embraces even though it exceeds the totality of things, not at a oneness which is incapable of it and rejects it. For there can be no such original unbridgeable chasm of duality either in the All-Existence itself or between any transcendent Oneness and the All-Existent.”

The individual forms do not exist independent of the Oneness. The Oneness is not destroyed because of the existence of these various forms within it. The Shwetashwatara Upanishad explains: “He who is one and without hue, but has ordained manifoldly many hues by the Yoga of his Force and holds within himself all objects, and in Him the universe dissolves in the end, that Godhead was in the beginning.” (op. cit. pg. 369)

and the Taittiriya Upanishad: “The Spirit who is here in man and the Spirit who is there in the Sun, lo, it is One Spirit and there is no other.” (Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli Chapter 10, pg. 281)

“He is all being and the one conscious Being. For the individual centre we call ourselves, to enter by its consciousness into this Divine and reproduce its nature in itself is the high and marvelous, yet perfectly rational and most supremely pragmatic and utilitarian goal before us. It is the fulfilment of our self-existence and at the same time the fulfilment of our cosmic existence, of the individual in himself and of the individual in his relation to the cosmic Many. Between these two terms there is no irreconcilable opposition: rather, our own self and the self of the cosmos having been discovered to be one, there must be between them an intimate unity.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 12, The Realisation of Sachchidananda, pp. 369-370