Exclusive Concentration on the Active or the Passive Brahman

The natural tendency of the human mind is to divide, separate and concentrate on these divisions, making each of them appear to be the totality of the existence. When this mental tendency is applied to the Reality of existence, we find that those who concentrate on the Passive Brahman get fixed in the peace and abstract reality of pure existence; while those who concentrate on the Active Brahman treat the outer world, its forms, forces and actions, as the one reality. In each case, the opposite view is held to be something of a lesser reality or an illusion.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The difficulty is created by the exclusive concentration of the mental being on its plane of pure existence in which consciousness is at rest in passivity and delight of existence at rest in peace of existence. It has to embrace also its plane of conscious force of existence in which consciousness is active as power and will and delight is active as joy of existence.”

The challenge that the seeker has at this point is an enormous one as the mind will tend to want to go to the opposite extreme, and thus, become fully absorbed in the action of the world-energy. “Here the difficulty is that mind is likely to precipitate itself into the consciousness of Force instead of possessing it. The extreme mental state of precipitation into Nature is that of the ordinary man who takes his bodily and vital activity and the mind-movements dependent on them for his whole real existence and regards all passivity of the soul as a departure from existence and an approach towards nullity.”

Thus, “In one the passive Brahman stands aloof from the active and does not share in its consciousness; in the other the active Brahman stands aloof from the passive and does not share in its consciousness nor wholly possess its own. Each is to the other in these exclusivenesses an inertia of status or an inertia of mechanically active non-possession of self if not altogether an unreality.”

For the seeker of the integral Yoga, however, neither of these forms of exclusive concentration will be suitable. The seeker will not want to give up the peace and freedom of the pure status of existence; while at the same time, he needs must embrace the aspect of Power and engage in the world-play. “Whatever new status he may acquire, will only satisfy him if it is founded upon and includes that which he has already found to be indispensable to real self-knowledge, self-delight and self-possession.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 14, The Passive and the Active Brahman, pp. 389-390