Understanding the Limitations of the Soul in the Material Universe

The evolving human soul experiences a disconnect between his highest aspirations and inner sense of meaning, and the conditions of the material world within which he has to try to achieve these higher aims. He intuits unity and harmony, but experiences fragmentation, separation, division and disharmony. He intuits limitless consciousness yet experiences obstacles, conflicts and the unconsciousness that comes about through the influence of Matter. He intuits delight yet experiences pain and suffering.

As the life force begins to manifest out of Matter, it acts within the framework and limitations of the organization and qualities of Matter. As the mind begins to manifest out of the living forms in Matter, it too is subject to the dense and fragmented nature of Matter.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “His consciousness is always falling back towards the inconscience in which a large part of it is always involved, his life towards death, his physical being towards disaggregation. His delight of being depends on the relations of this imperfect consciousness with its environment based upon physical sensations and the sense-mind, in other words on a limited mind trying to lay hold on a world external and foreign to it by means of a limited body, limited vital force, limited organs. Therefore its power for possession is limited, its force for delight is limited, and every touch of the world which exceeds its force, which that force cannot bear, cannot seize on, cannot assimilate and possess must turn to something else than delight, to pain, discomfort or grief. Or else it must be met by non-reception, insensibility, or, if received, put away by indifference. Moreover, such delight of being as it possesses, is not possessed naturally and eternally like the self-delight of Sachchidananda, but by experience and acquisition in Time, and can therefore only be maintained and prolonged by repetition of experience and is in its nature precarious and transient.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 19, The Planes of Our Existence, pp. 430-431

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