The Relation Between God, Nature and the Individual Soul

When we start from the awareness of the individual self or soul, we eventually come to understand three elements or poises that interact in our relationship to our lives. There is God, whom we may see as an external creator, or power of consciousness outside the actions of Nature. There is Nature, which seems to carry on its complex operations in an incredibly detailed manner, but which does not immediately to us display any form of self-conscious awareness. And there is the individual soul, which sees itself as a separate ego-individual trying to interact with others within the framework of Nature, and trying to achieve a realisation or relationship, as the case may be, with God in some form or manner.

When we begin to experience the spiritual vision, the definitions change somewhat, as Sri Aurobindo has described: “In the spiritual experience, we see God as the supreme Self or Spirit, or as the Being from whom we come and in whom we live and move. We see Nature as his Power or God as Power, Spirit in Power acting in ourselves and the world. The Jiva is then himself this Self, Spirit, Divine, so’ham, because he is one with him in essence of his being and consciousness, but as the individual he is only a portion of the Divine, a self of the Spirit, and in his natural being a form of the Shakti, a power of God in movement and action, para prakrtir jivabhuta.”

The persistence of the ego-consciousness complicates the relationship, as it continues to insert and insist upon fulfillment of the ego’s desires and demands. “The ego in us makes claims on the Divine other than the spiritual claim, and these claims are in a sense legitimate, but so long as and in proportion as they take the egoistic form, they are open to much grossness and great perversions, burdened with an element of falsehood, undesirable reaction and consequent evil, and the relation can only be wholly right, happy and perfect when these claims become part of the spiritual claim and lose their egoistic character.”

The solution is the ever-increasing identification with the Divine, in consciousness and in power of action, so that we see a progressive dissolution of the hold of the ego as the standpoint shifts to the Divine standpoint. “This is the sense of the self-surrender of the individual self to the Divine…. It does not exclude a will for the delight of oneness, for participation in the divine consciousness, wisdom, knowledge, light, power, perfection, for the satisfaction of the divine fulfilment in us, but the will, the aspiration is ours because it is his will in us. At first, while there is still insistence on our own personality, it only reflects that, but becomes more and more indistinguishable from it, less personal and eventually it loses all shade of separateness, because the will in us has grown identical with the divine Tapas, the action of the divine Shakti.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 17, The Action of the Divine Shakti, pp. 737-738


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