Achieving the Truth and Perfection of Our Complete Being Without Abandoning Nature

There is a very strong thread in spiritual traditions around the world that essentially holds that the world we live in, the manifestation of Nature, is either an illusion or a distraction from the required focus of the soul to achieve Oneness and thereby achieve the true and essential meaning of our existence. The ascetic Yogis, and the anchorites in the desert in the Christian tradition, as well as monks who live a life of seclusion or retreat, all testify to the strength of this line of understanding.

It is true that the seeker must overcome the fascination with and distraction by Nature in order to unify with the higher Reality; however, the reality of Nature as the Spirit’s action and manifestation must also be recognized. Sri Aurobindo notes: “But while the possession of the being, consciousness, delight, power of the Self is the condition of perfection,–for it is only by knowing and possessing and living in the truth of itself that the soul can become free and perfect,–we hold that Nature is an eternal action and manifestation of the Spirit; Nature is not a devil’s trap, a set of misleading appearances created by desire, sense, life and mental will and intelligence, but these phenomena are hints and indications and behind all of them is a truth of Spirit which exceeds and uses them. We hold that there must be an inherent spiritual gnosis and will by which the secret Spirit in all knows its own truth, wills, manifests and governs its own being in Nature; to arrive at that, at communion with it or participation in it, must be part of our perfection. The object of the purification of the Buddhi will then be to arrive at the possession of our own truth of self-being, but also at the possession of the highest truth of our being in Nature. For that purpose we must first purify the Buddhi of all that makes it subject to the sense-mind and, that once done, purify it from its own limitations and convert its inferior mental intelligence and will into the greater action of a spiritual will and knowledge.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 7, Purification–Intelligence and Will, pp. 639-640