The Divine Standpoint Takes the Seeker Beyond Sin and Virtue

Sri Aurobindo translates Mundaka Upanishad, Chapter 3, Section 1, Verse 3:  “When, a seer, he sees the Golden-hued, the maker, the Lord, the Spirit who is the source of Brahman (Or, ‘whose source is Brahman’; Shankara admits the other meaning as an alternative, but explains it as ‘the source of the lower Brahman’) then he becomes the knower and shakes from his wings sin and virtue; pure of all stain he reaches the supreme identity. (Or, ‘pure of all staining tinge he reaches to a supreme equality’.)

In the Isha Upanishad, the rishi declares “the face of Truth is covered with a brilliant golden lid”.  The imagery of bright, golden color is not purely a poetic description, but rather the result of the experience as the seeker opens to higher realms of conscious awareness.  The experience takes one out of the normal mental awareness, through this brilliant gateway to a new standpoint that re-frames the entire experience of life and its significance.  As the current verse indicates “then he becomes the knower”.  A result of this shift is the recognition that neither sin nor virtue have any further relevance.  This is a truer meaning of the concept raised by Friedrich Nietzsche of going “beyond good and evil”.  This phrase has been used to justify self-aggrandisement and placing oneself, through that process, beyond judgment and without responsibility for effects; self-will has been taken as the right and due of the evolved man.  However, the actual sense is that it is through surrender of the ego-personality and a shift to the divine standpoint that brings an equal vision to all, the terms sin and virtue simply no longer apply.  This is not then a license to undertaken wanton fulfillment of desires, but a status whereby satisfaction of individual desires is not any longer a goal of the being.

It is through attaining identity with the Brahman in the shift to the divine standpoint that the seeker becomes free of the attachment and thereby the “stain” of karmic consequence.  The seeker becomes a “doer of divine works” as the Bhagavad Gita explains and does not get troubled by sin and virtue any longer.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Mundaka Upanishad, pp. 193-210