At a certain point we come to the conclusion that our minds cannot finally determine the truth or the meaning of our existence. We recognise that many of our daily perceptions and assumptions about the world and, in fact, all of existence, are simply inaccurate. We see the sun rise in the East and set in the West, and assume the sun moves across the sky, with our world at the center of the process, when in fact, an entirely different set of circumstances apply. The realisation that perception and mental determination based on that perception does not define the truth of existence is a first step towards attaining knowledge.
This leads to the idea that the world and all its names, forms, events and circumstances are an illusion and that to discover the reality we must abandon all we experience and find out what lies beyond. The experience of the illusion of the world and the reality of a transcendent Absolute, is the basis of the Vedantic understanding. The Vedantic works to disentangle himself from each name and form in the world, with the idea that it is “not this, not that”. As the process unfolds, the seeker gives up all ambition for achieving the things of the world, all attachment to fame and fortune, social status and family, eventually even giving up the identification with the individual ego-personality. This brings the seeker eventually to the experience of the substrate, the foundation of pure Existence, “Sat”, “one without a second.”
But what about the world? Is it entirely unreal, or do we simply misinterpret and misunderstand and thereby distort the meaning of the reality? Can we achieve a status whereby we recognise the illusory nature of our normal standpoint, yet still accept the reality and necessity, from the divine standpoint, of the manifested universal action? At a certain point we may recognise that the Eternal is not bound by his transcendence, and that the world is also an expression of the Divine. “All this is the Brahman”, is not a statement of illusion, but a statement of inclusiveness. This brings us to the experience of the Tantra, which attempts to find and recognise the Divine in the manifestation. “Chit-Shakti”, consciousness-force, is the reality co-equal with the pure Existence “Sat”. The tantric practitioner seeks to overcome the entanglement of the ego in the forms and forces of the world and to thereby attain realisation of the divine nature of the entire creation.
Sri Aurobindo notes: “Unless one realises the Supreme on the dynamic as well as the static side, one cannot experience the true origin of things and the equal reality of the active Brahman. The Shakti or Power of the Eternal becomes then a power of illusion only and the world becomes incomprehensible, a mystery of cosmic madness, an eternal delirium of the Eternal. Whatever verbal or ideative logic one may bring to support it, this way of seeing the universe explains nothing; it only erects a mental formula of the inexplicable. It is only if you approach the Supreme through his double aspect of Sat and Chit-Shakti, double but inseparable, that the total truth of things can become manifest to the inner experience. This other side was developed by the Shakta Tantriks. The two together, the Vedantic and the Tantric truth unified, can arrive at the integral knowledge.”
Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, The Integral Yoga and Other Systems of Yoga and Philosophy, pp.30-31