In this chapter Sri Aurobindo discusses the following questions:
Consciousness-Force is the leading factor at work in this universe. But the Consciousness turned into Nescience, absence of Consciousness forms the foundation. Before creation came out, there is a general indeterminism – a sense of an infinite which cannot determine definitely. In that Indeterminate there are a number of determinants, formed things but they all come out of a base that is indeterminate. How indeterminate gives birth to determinate. What is responsible for this creation? There is Absolute which is indescribable, indeterminable and there is this universe. How has this universe come into existence?
The Unseen with whom there can be no pragmatic relations, unseizable, featureless, unthinkable, undesignable by name, whose substance is the certitude of One Self, in whom world existence is stilled, who is all peace and bliss—that is the Self, that is what must be known.
Mandukya Upanishad. (Verse 7)
All the forms that are in the universe, all the objects we can sense, all the sights we see, all the thoughts our mind can think of, all the movements that we experience do not exhaust the Divine Reality. Behind all, above all, there is the Self which is apart, which transcends and refuses to be contained in any manner by the largest mind. All movement of the universe ceases in the Self which is absolute Calm, utter Bliss. . It cannot be determined nor defined. If Self is known all is known……..
One sees it as a mystery or one speaks of it or hears of it as a mystery, but none knows it.
The Supreme Reality in itself cannot be seen. It is beyond our sight, physical or non-physical. ….. It is a mystery. It is there and yet it cannot be seen. It cannot be described either. It is ineffable……..
Those who have experienced this Reality are unable to communicate their encounter. They can only say it is a mystery.
In short, the Absolute cannot be known by our mental faculties or rendered by our sense organs. It can only be realised in our consciousness. It is only by identity that we can know it as far as it lends itself to be thus known…….
When men seek after the Immutable, the Indeterminable, the Unmanifest, the All-Pervading, the Unthinkable, the Summit Self, the Immobile, the Permanent,—equal in mind to all, intent on the good of all beings, it is to Me that they come.
The Highest is indeed unknowable. It is Alone beyond change, beyond defining, beyond manifestation, beyond thought and yet it is all pervasive. It is the Self transcendent which is immobile, above all transient movements, it is the Permanent whether we recognise it or not.
It can be realised only by those who have attained utter silence in the mind, a perfect equality to all things…who is always turned to the auspicious good of all existences…..
Whichever way you approach the Supreme, through the multiplicity of manifestation or the transcendence of the manifest into unmanifest, it is to the Supreme Lord of all that you arrive.
High beyond the Intelligence is the Great Self, beyond the Great Self is the Unmanifest, beyond the Unmanifest is the Conscious Being. There is nothing beyond the Being,—that is the extreme ultimate, that the supreme goal.
In the ladder of existence, if the senses are taken to be the first of the grades from below, the objects of senses are higher. Higher than the objects is the Mind. Higher than the Mind is Intelligence, buddhi. Higher than this Intelligence is the wielder of that faculty, the Great Self who presides over the movement of manifestation. Above this Self is the unmanifest, the Reality that transcends the manifest. Still higher is the Purusha, the Conscious Being of whom the manifest and the unmanifest are two aspects. This Being is the Supreme, the highest goal of the Journey.
Thus the Ultimate is the Divine Being, the Supreme Existent who is all Existence, the Conscious One from whom all Consciousness derives. All is a Becoming of this Being.
Rare is the great of soul to whom all is the Divine Being.
Gita. (vasudevah sarvamitti), VII.19
Some realise the Divine in particular Godheads viz. Shiva, Vishnu, Maheshwara etc. Some realise in the depths of their being, in the heart cave, as described in the Upanishads. Some attain to the Divine on the heights of their being. There are other ways too in which men perceive the Divine in special objects of adoration and concentration. It is possible to have a comprehensive realisation of the Divine as All. The Divine Being is perceived and realised as present in everything in the universe. It is only a rare few who are vouchsafed this great realisation:
Sarvam Khalu idam brahma ( Chhandogya Upanishad)
Vasudevah sarvam iti ( Bhagvat Gita)
(Source: Shri M.P.Pandit: Legends in the Life Divine, p 97-102, Dipti Publications, Puducherry)
(There is one divine Force which acts in the universe and in the individual and is also beyond the individual and the universe. The Mother stands for all three, but she is working here in the body to bring down something not yet expressed in this material world so as to transform life here – it is so that you should regard her as the Divine Shakti working here for that purpose. She is that in the body, but in her whole consciousness she is also identified with all the other aspects of the Divine Force. – Sri Aurobindo – Darshan card message 21 February 2022)
A Consciousness-Force, everywhere inherent in Existence, acting even when concealed, is the creator of the worlds, the occult secret of Nature. But in our material world and in our own being consciousness has a double aspect; there is a force of Knowledge, there is a force of Ignorance. In the infinite consciousness of a self-aware infinite Existence knowledge must be everywhere implicit or operative in the very grain of its action; but we see here at the beginning of things, apparent as the base or the nature of the creative world-energy, an Inconscience, a total Nescience.
It is the Consciousness-Force which is the creator of the worlds. It is everywhere inherent in Existence, acting even when concealed. It is the occult secret of Nature.
But in our material world and in our own being consciousness has a double aspect: there is a force of Knowledge, there is a force of Ignorance.
We know that the Existence (Sat) is self-aware and infinite. In its infinite consciousness knowledge must be everywhere implicit or must be present in the very grain of its action. On the contrary we see an Inconscience or a total Nescience at the beginning of things. Nescience (absence of consciousness) is the apparent feature as the base or the nature of the creative world-energy.
This is the stock with which the material universe commences: consciousness and knowledge emerge at first in obscure infinitesimal movements, at points, in little quanta which associate themselves together; there is a tardy and difficult evolution, a slowly increasing organisation and ameliorated mechanism of the workings of consciousness, more and more gains are written on the blank slate of the Nescience. But still these have the appearance of gathered acquisitions and constructions of a seeking Ignorance which tries to know, to understand, to discover, to change slowly and strugglingly into knowledge.
This is the stock or base from which the material universe commences. We have seen that there is Inconscience in the beginning. From this, consciousness and knowledge emerge in obscure (not clearly perceived) infinitesimal movements. It happens at points in little quantities which associate themselves together.
There is a slow and difficult evolution. There is a slowly increasing organisation. There is an improvement in the mechanism of the working of consciousness. More and more signs of the working of consciousness appear on the blank base of Nescience.
Still Knowledge at its fullness is not yet reached. Knowledge has the appearance of gathered acquisitions and constructions of a seeking Ignorance. In other words Knowledge is not self-possessed. It is more of an Ignorance seeking for Knowledge. There is a struggle to understand, to discover and to change slowly into knowledge. This situation is similar to a blind man trying to find his way out with struggle.
As Life here establishes and maintains its operations with difficulty on a foundation and in an environment of general Death, first in infinitesimal points of life, in quanta of life-form and life-energy, in increasing aggregates that create more and more complex organisms, an intricate life-machinery, Consciousness also establishes and maintains a growing but precarious light in the darkness of an original Nescience and a universal Ignorance.
There is appearance of Life. Life maintains itself with difficulty on a foundation and in an environment of general Death. Life is accompanied by Death.
Life at first appears in infinitesimal points. It is represented by quantities of life-form and life-energy. Gradually more and more complex organisms are created in combining life-forms and life-energy. The life-machinery becomes intricate and complex like that of animals and man.
As Life assumes more complex forms Consciousness also establishes itself. It maintains a growing but precarious (not securely positioned) light. Precarious because, Consciousness grows in the background of darkness of an original Nescience and a universal Ignorance.
Moreover the knowledge gained is of phenomena, not of the reality of things or of the foundations of existence. Wherever our consciousness meets what seems to be a foundation, that foundation wears the appearance of a blank,—when it is not a void,—an original state which is featureless and a multitude of consequences which are not inherent in the origin and which nothing in it seems to justify or visibly to necessitate; there is a mass of superstructure which has no clear native relation to the fundamental existence.
We have seen in the previous paragraph that as Consciousness grows there is a seeking Ignorance, struggling to attain knowledge. In this process whatever knowledge it gains pertains to phenomena of the material world only. It does not pertain to the foundations of existence.
Wherever our consciousness meets what seems to be a foundation, that foundation wears the appearance of a blank. This original state is not a void or emptiness. But it is featureless.
What comes off this original state? It is very interesting to see that we come across a multitude of consequences (all the creations in the universe) from this original state which seems to be blank. Whatever the consequences that appear are not inherent in the origin. There is nothing in that original state which seems to justify or visibility necessitate such a consequence. For example, apparently we do not find any reason for the appearance of Man on earth in the original base of Nescience.
What we see in this material universe is a mass of superstructure which has no clear native relation to the fundamental existence.