The Self, the Gods and the Brahman

The human mindset looks at the universe as a compilation of different individuals, forms, and forces, separated and fragmented, joined together and either clashing or harmonizing as the case may be.  From the standpoint of the divine, however, there is one creation that is unified, one and inseparable and the fragmented parts are simply aspects, faces or expressions of that one in the universal creation.  From this standpoint, the gods are identified with the universal forces that create and carry out the manifestation.  What then is the purpose and role of the individual?

Sri Aurobindo comments:  “The other entity which represents the Brahman in the cosmos is the self of the living and thinking creature, man.  This self also is not an external mask; it is not form of the mind or form of the life or form of the body.  It is something that supports these and makes them possible, something that can say positively like the gods, ‘I am’ and not only ‘I seem’.  We have then to scrutinise these two entities and see what they are in relation to each other and to the Brahman; or, as the Upanishad puts it, ‘That of it which is thou, that of it which is in the gods, this is what thy mind has to resolve.’  Well, but what then of the Brahman is myself?  and what of the Brahman is in the Gods?  The answer is evident.  I am a representation in the cosmos, but for all purposes of the cosmos a real representation of the Self; and the gods are a representation in the cosmos — a real representation since without them the cosmos could not continue — of the Lord.  The one supreme Self is the essentiality of all these individual existences; the one supreme Lord is the Godhead in the gods.”

“The Self and the Lord are one Brahman, whom we can realise through our self and realise through that which is essential in the cosmic movement.  Just as our self constitutes our mind, body, life, senses, so that Self constitutes all mind, body, life, senses; it is the origin and essentiality of things.  Just as the gods govern, supported by our self, the cosmos of our individual being, the action of our mind, senses and life, so the Lord governs as Mind of the mind, Sense of the sense, Life of the life, supporting His active divinity by His silent essential self-being, all cosmos and all form of being.  As we have gone behind the forms of the cosmos to that which is essential in their being and movement and found our self and the gods, so we have to go behind our self and the gods and find the one supreme Self and the one supreme Godhead.  Then we can say, ‘I think that I know.’ ”

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Kena Upanishad and analysis, pp. 103-104, 165-170