The True Relations of the Soul and Nature

Materialists believe that the spiritual quest is essentially illusory and the only reality is the world of manifestation. Their goal is to achieve success within the scope of that reality and they tend to treat matters unseen or occult as self-deception or scams.

Those engaged in the spiritual quest, conversely, tend to believe that the world of manifestation is illusory, a huge distraction from the true focus of existence. The world is treated as Maya, as a lesser reality or as something of a dream-state.

Sri Aurobindo indicates that there is an underlying truth and reality to each of these positions, and that neither should be dismissed outright; rather, the seeker should find out how to integrate the truth of each into an wholistic perspective that incorporates and embodies both, “…when the soul accepts its complete function as the knower, lord and enjoyer of Nature.”

“As the knower the soul possesses the knowledge of the force that acts and determines, it sees the values of being which are realising themselves in cosmos, it is in the secret of Fate. But the force is itself determined by the knowledge which is its origin and the source and standardiser of its valuations and effectuations of values. Therefore in proportion as the soul becomes again the knower, it becomes also the controller of the action. Nor can it do this without becoming the active enjoyer….”

Enjoyment it his higher sense is not conditioned by the dualities that plague us in the human standpoint. Joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain are the positive and negative poles of enjoyment in the lower nature. “…but in the higher it is an actively equal enjoyment of the divine delight in self-manifestation.”

“There is no loss of freedom, no descent into an ignorant attachment. The man free in his soul is aware that the Divine is the lord of the action of Nature, that Maya is his Knowledge-Will determining and effecting all, that Force is the Will side of this double divine Power in which knowledge is always present and effectual; he is aware of himself also, even individually, as a centre of the divine existence,–a portion of the Lord, the Gita expresses it,–controlling so far the action of Nature which he views, upholds, sanctions, enjoys, knows and by the determinative power of knowledge controls; and when he universalises himself, his knowledge reflects only the divine knowledge, his will effectuates only the divine will, he enjoys only the divine delight and not an ignorant personal satisfaction.”

“Thus the Purusha preserves its freedom in its possession, renunciation of limited personality even in its representative enjoyment and delight of cosmic being. It has taken up fully in the higher poise the true relations of the soul and Nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 17, The Soul and Nature, pg. 415