The Key Role of the Individual Soul in the Divine Manifestation

The ancient texts stress the importance of the human incarnation, as the human life is the platform for evolution, spiritual practice and growth and experience. Even the Gods would have to take human birth if they want to grow or evolve! Our entire experience starts from the individual soul and its perceptions, aspirations and efforts. Whether one bases one’s life on the principles of materialism, or one seeks to abandon the material life in favor of spiritual development, all of this takes place from the experience of the individual soul. Sri Aurobindo observes: “This individual being of ours is that by which ignorance is possible to self-conscious mind, but it is also that by which liberation into the spiritual being is possible and the enjoyment of divine immortality.”

“All life, spiritual, mental or material, is the play of the soul with the possibilities of its nature; for without this play there can be no self-expression and no relative self-experience.”

For those who escape the play of manifestation through development of yogic trance, and unification with the silent, eternal Brahman, this also takes place in the context of the individual soul. The rest of the manifestation continues on in its cycle of development. Sri Aurobindo explains that “For the nature of the divine existence is to possess always its unity, but to possess it also in an infinite experience, from many standpoints, on many planes, through many conscious powers or selves of itself, individualities–in our limited intellectual language–of the one conscious being. Each one of us is one of these individualities.”

Self-knowledge, then is the uniting of our awareness of the oneness of creation with the awareness of the multiplicity of which each individual soul is one part. “To stand away from God in limited ego, limited mind is to stand away from ourselves, to be unpossessed of our true individuality, to be the apparent and not the real individual; it is our power of ignorance. To be taken up into the divine Being and be aware of our spiritual, infinite and universal consciousness as that in which we now live, is to possess our supreme and integral self, our true individuality; it is our power of self-knowledge.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 18, The Soul and Its Liberation, pp. 419-420