Mortal Life and the Pursuit of Immortality, Part 2

Spiritual practitioners through the ages have recognized that the world of dualities within which we live and act is not the entire existence, and the process of birth, growth, decline and death does not encompass the entire universal process.  This has led many to attempt to distance themselves entirely from the world and focus exclusively on achieving oneness with the Absolute.  Sri Aurobindo notes that the Upanishad insists on a fulfillment “here itself” within the world.  This leads to the examination of what constitutes such a fulfillment “here itself” and how to go about achieving it.

Sri Aurobindo notes:  “The wise, therefore, the souls seated and accomplished in luminous thought-power put away from them the dualities of our mind, life and senses and go forward from this world; they go beyond to the unity and the immortality.  The word used for going forward is that which expresses the passage of death; it is also that which the Upanishad uses for the forward movement of the Life-force yoked to the car of embodied mind and sense on the paths of life.  And in this coincidence we can find a double and most pregnant suggestion.”

“It is not by abandoning life on earth in order to pursue immortality on other more favourable planes of existence that the great achievement becomes possible.  It is here, ihaiva, in this mortal life and body that immortality must be won, here in this lower Brahman and by this embodied soul that the Higher must be known and possessed.  ‘If here one finds it not, great is the perdition.’  This Life-force in us is led forward by the attraction of the supreme Life on its path of constant acquisition through types of the Brahman until it reaches a point where it has to go entirely forward, to go across out of the mortal life, the mortal vision of things to some Beyond.  So long as death is not entirely conquered, this going beyond is represented in the terms of death and by a passing into other worlds where death is not present, where a type of immortality is tasted corresponding to that which we have found here in our soul-experience; but the attraction of death and limitation is not overpassed because they still conceal something of immortality and infinity which we have not yet achieved; therefore there is a necessity of return, an insistent utility of farther life in the mortal body which we do not overcome until we have passed beyond all types to the very being of the Infinite, One and Immortal.”

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