Knowledge of Oneness: Transcendent, Universal and in the Individual Forms of Manifestation

When we reflect on the utterances of wise men throughout the ages, from all cultures and backgrounds, several things stand out.  First, we are advised to seek for  “that by knowing which all is known”.   We are also advised to “know thyself”.  We are told in the Upanishads that the Divine Transcendent, the Brahman, is “one without a second”.  And we are further advised that “All this is the Brahman.”

The ancient Greek sage, Socrates, held that all knowledge is within us and that education is in reality a drawing out of that innate knowledge, “e ducare — to draw out”.

What do we make of these directives?  We have frequently latched onto one or another of these statements to the exclusion of the others and drawn conclusions that lead us either into or away from the world of existence, depending on our particular background and focus.  If we, however, recognise that they are all various ways of describing the reality that all is One, that the Transcendent, the Universal and the Individual are all aspects of one divine Truth, and that our seeking must then be able to embrace all these aspects to gain complete understanding, we approach the stance that Sri Aurobindo describes as belonging to the gnostic being.

Sri Aurobindo writes in The Life Divine:  “Mind seeks for light, for knowledge, — for knowledge of the one truth basing all, an essential truth of self and things, but also of all truth of diversity of that oneness, all its detail, circumstance, manifold way of action, form, law of movement and happening, various manifestation and creation; for thinking mind the joy of existence is discovery and the penetration of the mystery of creation that comes with knowledge.  This the gnostic change will fulfil in an ample measure; but it will give it a new character.  It will act not by the discovery of the unknown, but by the bringing out of the known; all will be the finding ‘of the self by the self in the self.’ ”

Sri Aurobindo, The Future Evolution of Man, Chapter Eight, The Gnostic Being, pg. 104

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