The Impersonal and the Personal Aspects of Reality

The intellect struggles to understand existence. Due to the structure of the mind, it tends to adopt an exclusive position and deny the validity or truth of an opposing view. Thus, we see that different aspects of the integral Reality appeal to the intellect in different ways. For those who fix themselves on the Impersonal, they treat the Unmanifest, the Infinite, the Absolute, the Eternal as unmoving and without qualities, Nirguna. Sri Aurobindo declares: “Therefore the severest intellectual philosophy admits the Saguna, the divine Person, only as the supreme cosmic symbol; go beyond it to reality and you will arrive, it says, at last to the Nirguna, the pure Impersonal.”

There is however, another view that comes to the questions of existence from the other end, so to speak. In this view, it is the Saguna, the Divine Personality, the manifested universal creation, that is ultimately the “real” and the Nirguna is the substrate that is void of all qualities out of which the manifestation arises. “…that which is impersonal is, it will perhaps say, only the material, the stuff of his spiritual nature out of which he manifests the powers of his being, consciousness and bliss, all that expresses him; the impersonal is the apparent negative out of which he looses the temporal variations of his eternal positive of personality.”

From an integral perspective, both the Impersonal and the Personal, the Nirguna as well as the Saguna, are aspects of one and the same integral truth, which Sri Aurobindo elsewhere calls “Reality Omnipresent.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Three: The Yoga of Divine Love, Chapter 5, The Divine Personality, pg. 555


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