Individual Standpoint Versus Universal Standpoint

The normal experience of the human individual is to see himself as separate and distinct from every other being and form that exists in the universal creation. This individual, acting from the ego-standpoint that characterizes this perspective, tries to survive and thrive against the pressure and conflicting needs and actions of all others. This fragmented and divided view of existence has a quite limited and temporary utility to allow the development of the powers of separation in order to increase the richness and diversity of the universal manifestation and bring out new forces through the apparent opposition created. Yet, in an ultimate sense, this viewpoint is a fictitious one which eventually must be abandoned for spiritual development to truly take hold of the consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “But this perfection cannot be attained or cannot be secure and entire in its largeness if the Purusha lays stress on individuality. To abandon identification with the physical, vital and mental ego, is not enough; he must arrive in soul also at a true, universalised, not separative individuality.”

Sri Aurobindo emphasizes that the separative ego-consciousness is a false premise: “His whole action starts from and is founded upon this self-conception and world-conception. But the conception is in fact an error. However sharply he individualises himself in mental idea and mental or other action, he is inseparable from the universal being, his body from universal force and matter, his life from the universal life, his mind from universal mind, his soul and spirit from universal soul and spirit. The universal acts on him, invades him, overcomes him, shapes itself in him at every moment; he in his reaction acts on the universal, invades, tries to impose himself on it, shape it, overcome its attack, rule and use its instrumentation.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 4, The Perfection of the Mental Being, pp. 613-614