The Ego and the Divine Existence

While we may intellectually grasp the concept of earth rotating around the sun, and the entire solar system being part of the milky way galaxy and moving through space as part of that larger unity in a yet larger universal framework encompassing innumerable galaxies, yet we still experience in our daily lives, our practical vital existence, that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, moving around earth as if it is the center of the universe.

Analogously, the ego-consciousness creates the false and illusory experience of separation and division from other beings and the world which cuts us off from the Oneness and the greater omnipresent reality of our existence, to which we belong and of which we partake. It is thus essential for the ego-consciousness to give way through a shift of standpoint to the divine standpoint, that recognises, accepts, and experiences that larger universal being and purpose of which our individual ego-consciousness is a distorted appearance.

Sri Aurobindo explains: “The sense, the idea, the experience that I am a separately self-existent being in the universe, and the forming of consciousness and force of being into the mould of that experience are the root of all suffering, ignorance and evil. And it is so because that falsifies both in practice and in cognition the whole real truth of things; it limits the being, limits the consciousness, limits the power of our being, limits the bliss of being; this limitation, again, produces a wrong way of existence, wrong way of consciousness, wrong way of using the power of our being and consciousness, and wrong, perverse and contrary forms of the delight of existence. The soul limited in being and self-isolated in its environment feels itself no longer in unity and harmony with its Self, with God, with the universe, with all around it; but rather it finds itself at odds with the universe, in conflict and disaccord with other beings who are its other selves, but whom it treats as not-self; and so long as this disaccord and disagreement last, it cannot possess its world and it cannot enjoy the universal life, but is full of unease, fear, afflictions of all kinds, in a painful struggle to preserve and increase itself and possess its surroundings,–for to possess its world is the nature of infinite spirit and the necessary urge in all being.”

The being who thus experiences this separation, division, struggle, is unable to experience the unalloyed bliss of existence, nor the knowledge, power or self-possession that accompanies the divine consciousness. “…it has not the secret of harmony, because it has not the secret of its own unity and self-possession; and, secondly, not being in possession of its highest self, it has to struggle towards that, is not allowed to be at peace till it is in possession of its own true highest being. All this means that it is not at one with God; for to be at one with God is to be at one with oneself, at one with the universe and at one with all beings. This oneness is the secret of a right and a divine existence. But the ego cannot have it, because it is in its very nature separative and because even with regard to ourselves, to our own psychological existence it is a false centre of unity; for it tries to find the unity of our being in an identification with a shifting mental, vital, physical personality, not with the eternal self of our total existence. Only in the spiritual self can we possess the true unity; for there the individual enlarges to his own total being and finds himself one with universal existence and with the transcending Divinity.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 8, The Liberation of the Spirit, pp. 652-653