Understanding the True Relation Between Soul and Nature

“The Spirit who is here in man and the Spirit who is there in the Sun, lo, it is One Spirit and there is no other.” Thus states the Taittiriya Upanishad in Bhriguvalli, Chapter 10 as translated by Sri Aurobindo in The Upanishads, pg. 281.

The duality described by Sankhya and others, the separation of the Soul and Nature, is a limited and practical distinction but not a real or ultimate duality. In The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo concludes that there is one “omnipresent Reality” which encompasses the Divine Spirit and the manifesting force of the Spirit. Nature represents that manifesting force. It is not other than Spirit, but essentially a quality or characteristic of Spirit in its unfoldment into universal form and action.

“The highest and real truth of existence is the one Spirit, the supreme Soul, Purushottama, and it is the power of being of this Spirit which manifests itself in all that we experience as universe. This universal Nature is not a lifeless, inert or unconscious mechanism, but informed in all its movements by the universal Spirit. The mechanism of its process is only an outward appearance and the reality is the Spirit creating or manifesting its own being by its own power of being in all that is in Nature.”

This understanding is not limited to the macro-universe, but also is implied within human nature. Thus, the subjective experience of an entity that is capable of free will is an expression of the Soul, an expression and part of the universal Spirit, with its inalienable freedom from all limitations of form, while sanctioning and supporting the limitations for purpose of the progressive manifestation and play of the universe that the Spirit is creating. The objective experience of an entity that is bound by the laws of Nature is due to the self-limiting of the focus of the Soul for purposes of the manifestation, and represents the organized form and force of Nature as the executive power carrying out the Spirit’s intention.

“The universal energy acts in us, but the soul limits itself by the ego-sense, lives in a partial and separate experience of her workings, uses only a modicum and a fixed action of her energy for its self-expression. It seems rather to mastered and used by this energy than to use it, because it identifies itself with the ego-sense which is part of the natural instrumentation and lives in the ego experience. The ego is in fact driven by the mechanism of Nature of which it is a part and the ego-will is not and cannot be a free will. To arrive at freedom, mastery and perfection we have to get back to the real self and soul within and arrive too thereby at our true relations with our own and with universal nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 16, The Divine Shakti, pg. 726