A State of Entire Spiritual Freedom

Sri Aurobindo observes: “This status of an inner passivity and an outer action independent of each other is a state of entire spiritual freedom.” The Isha Upanishad declares “Action cleaves not to a man.” The Bhagavad Gita counsels not to abandon action, but to undertake it from a state of inner detachment and by abandoning the fruits of action. They embody this concept of the separation of the passive witness consciousness observing but not actively engaging in the action of Nature, which carries on whether or not we choose to engage. The Gunas, or qualities, of Nature are ever-changing and they bring about the whirl of action. Yet the passive soul, focused on the Eternal, regards not the play of the Gunas and lets them just continue unabated, and unchanged. Sri Aurobindo comments: “Therefore, this would seem to be the poise the uplifted soul ought to take, if it has still to preserve any relations with human action in the world-existence, an unalterable silence, tranquility, passivity within, an action without, regulated by the universal Will and Wisdom which works, as the Gita says, without being involved in, bound by or ignorantly attached to its works.”

Yet he cautions about remaining fixed upon this as the final stage of realization: “But here in this status of self-knowledge at which we have arrived, there is an evident absence of integrality; for there is still a gulf, an unrealized unity or a cleft of consciousness between the passive and the active Brahman.” Underlying this attitude is still the sense of a difference and separation, and a preference for the passive Brahman at the expense of the active Brahman. But what they is the reason or purpose for the existence? “We have still to possess consciously the active Brahman without losing the possession of the silent Self. We have to preserve the inner silence, tranquility, passivity as a foundation; but in place of an aloof indifference to the works of the active Brahman we have to arrive at an equal and impartial delight in them; in place of a refusal to participate lest our freedom and peace be lost we have to arrive at a conscious possession of the active Brahman whose joy of existence does not abrogate His peace, nor His lordship of all workings impair His calm freedom in the midst of His works.”

This then represents the integration of the passive and the active, of peace and wisdom with power of action and joy. This is the state of spiritual freedom envisioned in the integral Yoga.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 14, The Passive and the Active Brahman, pg. 389

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