The Supreme and Integral Self of the Individual

The human being normally experiences life as an egoistic personality bounded by the limitations of the mental-vital-physical being; thus, there is struggle, limitation, division, fragmentation and the suffering that accompanies these things. This is however not the entirety of what we are or can experience in life. Sri Aurobindo observes: “But this indulgence of the lower being is not our whole possibility; it is not the sole or crowning experience for which we exist as human beings even in this material world.” The deeper aspiration after an unrealised ideal, the search for meaning, for God, for freedom, all represent the opportunity that lies before the individual when he awakens to these other possibilities of life.

The essential change of consciousness required is a shift from the human standpoint to the divine standpoint. In the divine standpoint, Purusha and Prakriti, the Self and the Nature, are united and are the consciousness and the force of implementation of the divine manifestation. “An active force of conscious-being which realises itself in its powers of self-experience, its powers of knowledge, will, self-delight, self-formulation with all their marvellous variations, inversions, conservations and conversions of energy, even perversions, is what we call Prakriti or Nature, in ourselves as in the cosmos. But behind this force of variation is the eternal equilibrium of the same force in an equal unity which supports impartially, governs even as it has originated the variations and directs them to whatever aim of its self-delight the Being, the Purusha, has conceived in its consciousness and determined by its will or power of consciousness. That is the divine Nature into unity with which we have to get back by our Yoga of self-knowledge. We have to become the Purusha, Sachchidananda, delighting in a divine individual possession of its Prakriti and no longer mental beings subject to our egoistic nature. For that is the real man, the supreme and integral self of the individual, and the ego is only a lower and partial manifestation of ourselves through which a certain limited an preparatory experience becomes possible and is for a time indulged.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 18, The Soul and Its Liberation, pp. 418-419