The Purusha–Transcendent, Universal and Individual

When people reflect on the nature of the soul, they are generally caught in the dividing and limiting power of the mental intellect and try to distinguish it from Nature or from God, and thus, they create a “construct” that represents the essence of the individual soul in existence. The Purusha however represents not just an individual principle, but also has universal and transcendent aspects in its deeper and wider essential nature as an eternal principle.

It is the Purusha who is expressing himself in names and forms and ultimately, even if he seems to be uninvolved or distinctly separated from the forms of nature, he is still there secretly involved and developing the forms and actions out of his will.

Sri Aurobindo describes the role and action of the Purusha: “It is eternal soul and spirit in its own power of self-existence superior to and governing its manifestations; it is universal soul and spirit developed in power of becoming of its existences, infinite in the finite; it is individual soul and spirit absorbed in development of some particular course of its becoming, in appearance mutably finite in the infinite.” These are not successive forms that can be taken, but simultaneous expressions of various aspects of the completeness of being of the Purusha.

For purposes of its play it can take on an abstract poise, a universal poise or an individual poise, and based on the specific limitations it accepts to carry out a specific role or poise, it acts as if it is that and nothing more, even though it is always all these forms, forces, beings and poises at the same time. “Whatever the formulation of its nature, soul can seem to become that and view itself as that only in the frontal active part of its consciousness; but it is never only what it seems to be; it is too the so much else that it can be; secretly, it is the all of itself that is yet hidden.”

The Purusha can be or become whatever it sees and it controls the action of Nature, Prakriti, through its will of manifestation: “What it believes itself to be by the whole active will of its consciousness in its instruments, that it is or tends to become….; what it believes it can be and has full faith in becoming, that it changes to in nature, evolves or discovers.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 3, The Psychology of Self-Perfection, pp. 601-602

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