Ignorance and Knowledge

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “To live in our present state of self-consciousness is to live and to act in ignorance.  We are ignorant of ourselves, because we know as yet only that in us which changes always, from moment to moment, from hour to hour, from period to period, from life to life, and not that in us which is eternal.  We are ignorant of the world because we do not know God; we are aware of the law of appearances, but not of the law and truth of being.”

The knowledge we acquire so painstakingly is generally knowledge of process and function, and it allows us to manipulate factors in our outer lives within the framework and limits of action in the world.  We do not thereby get any closer to any understanding of wherefrom we originate, what upholds our existence, and where we go when we die, nor what the significance of this entire life may be.

“The ignorance in which we live is not a baseless and wholesale falsehood, but at its lowest the misrepresentation of a Truth, at its highest an imperfect representation and translation into inferior and to that extent misleading values.”

“The true knowledge is that of the highest, the inmost, the infinite.  The knower of the Brahman sees all these lower things in the light of the Highest, the external and superficial as a translation of the internal and essential, the finite from the view of the Infinite.  He begins to see and know existence no longer as the thinking animal, but as the Eternal sees and knows it.  Therefore he is glad and rich in being, luminous in joy, satisfied of existence.”

A shift in viewpoint, from the ego-standpoint to the divine-standpoint, takes us outside the framework of the outer world and thereby allows us to see it for what it is, its role, its value, its significance, while at the same time, opening up to us the view of the wider intentions of the universal manifestation.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Readings in the Taittiriya Upanishad, pp. 245-250, M. P. Pandit, Upanishads: Gateways of Knowledge, pp. 109-182