Reconciling Freedom and Order in the Gnostic Being

Many people treat the concepts of “freedom” and “order” as being in conflict with one another.  In the United States, one frequently hears the refrain “It’s a free country, I can do what I like” to justify acting upon whatever impulse or idea of the moment comes to the forefront for an individual, without regard for any rule, law or restraint.  Freedom quickly turns into license with the sense of a total lack of any responsibility to anyone or anything, and order justifies itself as a needed restraint upon freedom, eventually turning into a strict, stifling regimen of control.

If we go back to first principles however, we can see that freedom is the impulse towards progress and development, while order is the impulse to secure a solid foundation.  In the mind and the vital life, it becomes difficult, if not impossible to identify the correct balance and harmony between these two essential principles.  There is a balance possible, however, where freedom and order are no longer in conflict, but become mutually supportive aspects of existence.  At such a point of harmony, we recognize both the need for development and the need for a solid foundation to avoid the chaos that can come with unrestricted license, unbound by any guiding lessons garnered from past experience.  At this level, freedom bases itself on order, and order embraces freedom.

Sri Aurobindo notes in The Life Divine:  “The two principles of freedom and order, which in mind and life are constantly representing themselves as contraries or incompatibles, though they have not need to be that if freedom is guarded by knowledge and order based upon truth of being, are in the supermind consciousness native to each other and even fundamentally one.  This is so because both are inseparable aspects of the inner spiritual truth and therefore their determinations are one; they are inherent in each other, for they arise from an identity and therefore in action coincide in a natural identity.  The gnostic being does not in any way or degree feel his liberty infringed by the imperative order of his thought or actions, because that order is intrinsic and spontaneous; he feels both his liberty and the order of his liberty to be one truth of his being.  His liberty of knowledge is not a freedom to follow falsehood or error, for he does not need like the mind to pass through the possibility of error in order to know, — on the contrary, any such deviation would be a departure from his plenitude of gnostic self, it would be a diminution of his self-truth and alien and injurious to his being; for his freedom is a freedom of light, not of darkness.  His liberty of action is not a license to act upon wrong will or the impulsions of the Ignorance, for tht too would be alien to his being, a restriction and diminution of it, not a liberation.  A drive for fulfilment of falsehood or wrong will would be felt by him, not as a movement towards freedom, but as a violence done to the liberty of the Spirit, an invasion and imposition, an inroad upon his Supernature, a tyranny of some alien Nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Future Evolution of Man, Chapter Eight, The Gnostic Being, pp. 116-117

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