Resolving the Conflicts in Our Mental View About the Nature of our Reality

The human mind looks for clear demarcation of things into separate categories. As a result, we either seek for a “personal” God or an Impersonal. We believe these are in conflict with one another and follow an “either/or” logic pattern. This has led to the vast divergence which Sri Aurobindo has described in The Life Divine between the focus of the seeker who abandons the life in the world to follow the realisation, and the contrary path of the materialist who asserts that the world is real and needs to be our field of focus and action. For Sri Aurobindo, there is an omnipresent Reality that has transcendental and universal aspects as well as an individual aspect; and which incorporates both an Impersonal and the Personal which are complementary, not conflicting with one another.

It is difficult in the extreme for the mind to hold what appear to be two contradictory positions at the same time, yet the reality of the universe and the universal Being who embodies and is embodied in the universal creation, requires just such an integration.

This means that the equally difficult contradictory thoughts about the Infinite and the finite, and about Time and timelessness are also not actually in conflict with one another, but are the same thing seen from two different viewpoints, each of which is valid, but is incomplete without the other.

If we picture for a moment an observer outside the earth in a space ship, he can see the entire globe and its oceans, clouds, land masses as a “unified whole”. That same person, landing somewhere on earth, only sees a small part of the whole and identifies specific land areas, or specific areas of the ocean and sees specific clouds, yet does not see them at that moments as part of the greater whole. This is one of the flaws of the mental vision which needs to be addressed with the next phase of the evolution of consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The supramental knowledge, the truth-consciousness of the Supermind is in itself one and total: even when there is a voluntary limitation of the knowledge or what might seem to be a partial manifestation, it is so voluntarily; the limitation does not proceed from or result in any kind of ignorance, it is not a denial or withholding of knowledge, for all the rest of the truth that is not brought into expression is implicit there. Above all, there are no contradictions: whatever would seem to be opposites to the mind, here carry in themselves their own right relation and reconciling agreement, — if indeed any reconciliation were needed, for the harmony of these apparent opposites is complete. The mind tends to put the personal and the impersonal in face of each other as if they were two contraries, but the Supermind sees and realises them as, at the lowest, complements and mutually fulfilling powers of the single Reality and, more characteristically, as interfused and inseparable and themselves that single Reality. The Person has his aspect of impersonality inseparable from himself without which he could not be what he is or could not be his whole self: the Impersonal is in its truth not a state of existence, a state of consciousness and a state of bliss, but a Being, self-existent, conscious of self, full of his own self-existent bliss, bliss the very substance of his being, — so, the one single and illimitable Person, Purusha. In the Supermind the finite does not cut up or limit the infinite, does not feel itself contrary to the infinite; but rather it feels its own infinity: the relative and temporal is not a contradiction of eternity but a right relation of its aspects, a native working or an imperishable feature of the eternal. Time there is only the eternal in extension and the eternal can be felt in the momentary.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, Supermind and the Life Divine, pp. 66-67

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