Viewing Prakriti as the Machinery of the Universal Manifestation

When the human being first looks out on the world of nature, it seems mysterious, incomprehensible. Over time, experience and detailed observation lead the individual to posit certain fixed laws of interaction in nature, and eventually, scientists provide us a somewhat detailed view of the complex, yet highly organized and defined, nature of the material universe and the living world. While in the first stage of ignorance that comes up against the mystery and wonder of the creation the human individual may explain things by reliance on “supernatural” powers of creation, God or gods, if you will, the next phase brings the individual to the view of what is essentially a mechanism or machinery of nature with fixed laws and relations. At this stage, the overpowering force of the mechanistic world view tends to overshadow the mystical worldview of the first impressions. It is this mechanistic view, and its apparent opposition to the religious, spiritual or mystical views, that has both dominated modern life, and led to the division between science and religion.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “It is this mechanical appearance of Prakriti which has preoccupied the modern scientific mind and made for it its whole view of Nature, and so much so that science still hopes and labours with a very small amount of success to explain all phenomena of life by laws of matter and all phenomena of mind by laws of living matter. Here soul or spirit has no place and nature cannot be regarded as power of spirit. Since the whole of our existence is mechanical, physical and bounded by the biological phenomenon of a brief living consciousness and man is a creature and instrument of material energy, the spiritual self-evolution of Yoga can be only a delusion, hallucination, abnormal state of mind or self-hypnosis. In any case it cannot be what it represents itself to be, a discovery of the eternal truth of our being and a passing above the limited truth of the mental, vital and physical to the full truth of our spiritual nature.”

The fallacy here, of course, is that it is impossible for a mentality, itself limited, to either understand or fully grasp an unlimited or unbounded Reality, and thus, the attempt to judge existence with the mind alone, based on our limited view conditioned by the limitations of our sense organs to even perceive reality, is doomed to failure.

Werner Heisenberg, one of the fathers of modern quantum physics, had this to say: “The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”

It is therefore not the truth of the spirit that should be denied, but rather, the completeness of the view of the scientist trying to fit all universal existence into a fixed mechanism operating under rules that the mind cannot fully grasp that should be challenged.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 16, The Divine Shakti, pp. 724-725