The Relation Between the Absolute Brahman and the World of Existence

Through the extensive exploration of the Mind behind the mind, Sense behind the senses and Life behind the life, the Kena Upanishad has made it clear that there are two types of knowledge, one that is range-bound within the world of forms and forces in the creation, and one that exists beyond the limits of all these forms, forces and changing circumstances through Time.  This has led some to decide that the manifestation is an illusion and it is our goal to abandon that “lower” form of knowledge and seek only the Absolute.  Knowledge for those seekers is knowledge of the Absolute Brahman.  Yet there is a manifested universe, and the Upanishad does not deny the reality of this universe, but implies simply that it is not other than the Brahman.  This leaves room for gaining both types of knowledge, and unifying the Absolute with the created universe in some manner.  The issue is the standpoint and focus that is placed on the knowledge of the unity, the Absolute, versus the dispersed and limited understanding provided by the fragmented process of the mind, life and body struggling for existence, knowledge and growth in the world of forms.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “The Upanishad does not assert the unreality, but only the incompleteness and inferiority of our present existence.  All that we follow after here is an imperfect representation, a broken and divided functioning of what is eternally in an absolute perfection on that higher plane of existence.  This mind of ours unpossessed of its object, groping, purblind, besieged by error and incapacity, its action founded on an external vision of things, is only the shadow thrown by a superconscient Knowledge which possesses, creates and securely uses the truth of things because nothing is external to it, nothing is other than itself, nothing is divided or at war within its all-comprehensive self-awareness.”

“Our life, a breath of force and movement and possession attached to a form of mind and body and restricted by the form, limited in its force, hampered in its movement, besieged in its possession and therefore a thing of discords at war with itself and its environment, hungering and unsatisfied, moving inconstantly from object to object and unable to embrace and retain their multiplicity, devouring its objects of enjoyment and therefore transient in its enjoyments, is only a broken movement of the one, undivided, infinite Life which is all-possessing and ever satisfied because in all it enjoys its eternal self unimprisoned by the divisions of Space, unoccupied by the moments of Time, undeluded by the successions of Cause and Circumstance.”

“This superconscient Existence, one, conscious of itself, conscious both of its eternal peace and its omniscient and omnipotent force, is also conscious of our cosmic existence which it holds in itself, inspires secretly and omnipotently governs. … It is our self and that of which and by which we are constituted in all our being and activities, the Brahman.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Kena Upanishad and analysis, pg. 102, 161-164