Understanding and Addressing the Relation of Purusha and Prakriti in the Material World

When we observe the relationship between the soul and Nature in the material world, we can relatively quickly determine that Nature rules and the soul appears to be subordinated and under the domination of Nature. This is the reason that the self-aware individual feels like he is fragmented and separated from the whole and is the underlying impetus for the ascetic drive to abandon Nature in order to find and live in the true principle of the soul. Sri Aurobindo observes in this regard: “All this means that the natural relations of Purusha to Prakriti in the material universe are the complete absorption of conscious being in the force of its workings, therefore the complete self-oblivion and self-ignorance of the Purusha, the complete domination of Prakriti and subjection of the soul to Nature. The soul does not know itself, it only knows, if anything, the workings of Prakriti.”

When the self-aware individual arises, with the evolution of the mental consciousness, it remains stuck in the control of the material principle of existence, even though it begins to reflect on other possibilities of relation between Purusha and Prakriti than that which obtains here. “These limitations of his power, knowledge, life, delight of existence are the whole cause of man’s dissatisfaction with himself and the universe.”

We can, however, envision other relations between Purusha and Prakriti. “And if the material universe were all and the material plane the only plane of his being, then man the individual Purusha could never arrive at perfection and self-fulfilment or indeed to any other life than that of the animals. There must be either worlds in which he is liberated from these incomplete and unsatisfactory relations of Purusha with Prakriti, or planes of his own being by ascending to which he can transcend them, or at the very least planes, worlds and higher beings from which he can receive or be helped to knowledge, powers, joys, a growth of his being otherwise impossible. All these things, the ancient knowledge asserts, exist,–other worlds, higher planes, the possibility of communication, of ascension, of growth by contact with and influence from that which is above him in the present scale of his realised being.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 19, The Planes of Our Existence, pp. 431-432

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