The Unity of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss

Sat-Chit-Ananda, Existence-Consciousness-Bliss is the term for the ultimate reality found in the ancient texts. (Sri Aurobindo identifies this term as “Sachchidananda” which is the transliteration of the combined form of the Sanskrit term, and which we will use interchangeably). “And the original unifying spirit-stuff of them all and the one substantial mode of them all is that which has been described for the convenience of our thought as the trinity of Sachchidananda. Existence, Consciousness, Bliss, these are everywhere the three inseparable divine terms.”

The intellect will try and parse these three into separate principles. Sri Aurobindo explains that this is not possible in reality. While we may focus on one aspect or another, they are always One. “Mind can say and think ‘I was, but unconscious’,–for no being can say ‘I am, but unconscious’,–and it can think and feel ‘I am, but miserable and without any pleasure in existence.’ In reality this is impossible. The existence we really are, the eternal ‘I am’, of which it can never be true to say ‘It was’, is nowhere and at no time unconscious. What we call unconsciousness is simply other-consciousness; it is the going in of this surface wave of our mental awareness of outer objects into our subliminal self-awareness and into our awareness too of other planes of existence. We are really no more unconscious when we are asleep or stunned or drugged or ‘dead’ or in any other state, than when we are plunged in inner thought oblivious of our physical selves and our surroundings. For anyone who has advanced even a little way in Yoga, this is a most elementary proposition and one which offers no difficulty whatever to the thought because it is proved at every point by experience. It is more difficult to realise that existence and undelight of existence cannot go together. What we call misery, grief, pain, absence of delight is again merely a surface wave of the delight of existence which takes on to our mental experience these apparently opposite tints because of a certain trick of false reception in our divided being–which is not our existence at all but only a fragmentary formulation or discoloured spray of conscious-force tossed up by the infinite sea of our self-existence.”

The Taittiriya Upanishad expounds upon the inherent nature of Bliss in the entire creation: “…for who could labour to draw in the breath or who could have strength to breathe it out, if there were not that Bliss in the heaven of his heart, the ether within his being? It is He that is the fountain of bliss; for when the Spirit that is within us findeth his refuge and firm foundation in the Invisible, Bodiless, Undefinable and Unhoused Eternal, then he hat passed beyond the reach of Fear.” (Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Taittiriya Upanishad, Brahmanandavalli, Chapter 7, pg. 271)

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 12, The Realisation of Sachchidananda, pp. 370-371

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