The Seeker’s Commitment to the External Manifestation

The Buddhist conception of the Bodhisattva, the enlightened soul who refuses to enter into the dissolution of Nirvana “until all other beings attain enlightenment” sets forth a high ideal for the spiritual seeker which acknowledges the Absolute, while at the same time, recognizing the need for the realized soul to remain active in the world of manifestation “for the good of all creatures”.  The idea of individual salvation represents in its deepest sense a “duality”, a separation between the Eternal and the created universe; but the ultimate Oneness implies that the Eternal Absolute and the world of forms, forces and actions, are unified and thus, there is a purpose or significance to this world that all those that abide in it have a role to carry out.  The attainment of Oneness with Brahman, therefore, does not either imply nor necessitate a withdrawal entirely from the actions of the world; rather it implies the opposite, the need to remain engaged and act for the “good of all creatures”.

Sri Aurobindo comments:  “Fortunately, there is no need to go to such lengths and deny one side of the truth in order to establish another.  The Upanishad itself suggests the door of escape from any over-emphasis in its own statement of the truth.  For the man who knows and possesses the supreme Brahman as the transcendent Beatitude becomes a centre of that delight to which all his fellows shall come, a well from which they can draw the divine waters.  Here is the clue that we need.  The connection with the universe is preserved for the one reason which supremely justifies that connection; it must subsist not from the desire of personal earthly joy, as with those who are still bound, but for help to all creatures.  Two then are the objects of the high-reaching soul, to attain the Supreme and to be for ever for the good of all the world, — even as Brahman Himself; whether here or elsewhere, does not essentially matter.  Still where the struggle is thickest, there should be the hero of the spirit, that is surely the highest choice of the son of Immortality; the earth calls most, because it has most need of him, to the sol that has become one with the universe.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Kena Upanishad and analysis, pg. 189

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