In that case, the only reasonable explanation of such a paradoxical manifestation or creation is that it is a cosmic game, a Lila, a play, an amusement of the Divine Being. It may be He pretends to be undivine, wears that appearance like the mask or make-up of an actor for the sole pleasure of the pretence or the drama. Or else He has created the undivine, created ignorance, sin and suffering just for the joy of a manifold creation.
The only reasonable explanation of such a paradoxical manifestation in the world is that everything is a cosmic game, a Divine Leela enacted for the amusement of the Divine Being. The Divine pretends to be undivine, wears that contrary appearance like the mask. It is like the make-up put up by an actor for the sole joy of pretence or drama. Or else the Divine has created the undivine, the ignorance, the sin and suffering just for the joy of creation that represents manifold aspects of itself instead of a monotonous sameness.
Or, perhaps, as some religions curiously suppose, He has done this so that there may be inferior creatures who will praise and glorify Him for his eternal goodness, wisdom, bliss and omnipotence and try feebly to come an inch nearer to the goodness in order to share the bliss, on pain of punishment—by some supposed eternal—if, as the vast majority must by their very imperfection, they fail in their endeavour.
Or perhaps, as some religions assume that there is some ulterior motive in the Divine’s creation of imperfection and evil. The human beings are supposed to be inferior creatures; they would wish to come closer to the Divine by praising and glorifying him for his divine qualities; fearing the likely event of punishment for their imperfection (as majority of the human beings are prone to) by some greater power, they come nearer to the goodness in order to share his bliss.
But to the doctrine of such a Lila so crudely stated there is always possible the retort that a God, himself all-blissful, who delights in the suffering of creatures or imposes such suffering on them for the faults of his own imperfect creation, would be no Divinity and against Him the moral being and intelligence of humanity must revolt or deny His existence.
This doctrine of Lila so stated here appears to be crude. It would create the impression that there is a God who is himself all-blissful but who delights in the suffering of creatures; or he imposes such suffering on them for the faults of his own imperfect creation.
In that case there would be no divinity in such a God. Therefore, the natural reaction would be that the moral being and intelligence of humanity must revolt against Him or deny His existence.
But if the human soul is a portion of the Divinity, if it is a divine Spirit in man that puts on this imperfection and in the form of humanity consents to bear this suffering, or if the soul in humanity is meant to be drawn to the Divine Spirit and is His associate in the play of imperfection here, in the delight of perfect being otherwhere, the Lila may still remain a paradox, but it ceases to be a cruel or revolting paradox; it can at most be regarded as a strange mystery and to the reason inexplicable.
But this Leela would cease to be a cruel and revolting paradox if we take a different view. We can say that the human soul is a portion of the Divinity. It is a divine Spirit in man (his soul) that puts on this imperfection. In the form of humanity, it consents to bear this suffering. It is meant to be drawn to the Divine Spirit. It is His associate in the play of imperfection here, in the delight of perfect being elsewhere.
Yet, the Lila would still remain a paradox and a strange mystery, inexplicable to the reason.
To explain it there must be two missing elements, a conscious assent by the soul to this manifestation and a reason in the All-Wisdom that makes the play significant and intelligible.
To explain this mystery two missing elements are required. One, there should be a conscious assent by the soul to this manifestation. Second, there should be a reason in the All-Wisdom that makes the play significant and intelligible.
(If it is a portion of the Divine himself who comes as the soul into this imperfection, then it would be intelligible, as the Divine is not imposing this imperfection and suffering onto someone else. However, even then he says, there would have to be a conscious assent by the soul, the portion of the Divine that enters into manifestation. It could not be just the universal Divine that is enforcing this Lila. The individual soul must be a partner in the game. And secondly, there would also have to be some reason for the pain and suffering, it could not be just for the sake of taking delight in suffering. What Sri Aurobindo does in The Life Divine is to give a rational explanation for this world which is significant and intelligible. His evolutionary theory in The Life Divine has intelligibility and a kind of acceptance of life as it is a precursor to a greater divine life that is yet to come – Dr. Ananda Reddy: Deliberations of The Life Divine: Vol VI: p.244: SACAR)
A Magician’s formulas have made Matter’s laws
And while they last, all things by them are bound;
But the spirit’s consent is needed for each act
And Freedom walks in the same pace with Law.
(Savitri: Book VI: The Book of Fate: Canto II: p.457: 737-740)
The strangeness of the play diminishes, the paradox loses its edge of sharpness if we discover that, although fixed grades exist each with its appropriate order of nature, they are only firm steps for a progressive ascent of the souls embodied in forms of matter, a progressive divine manifestation which rises from the inconscient to the superconscient or all-conscient status with the human consciousness as its decisive point of transition.
We have seen in the earlier paragraph that the manifestation or creation is a cosmic game, Lila, an amusement of the Divine Being. The Divine pretends to be undivine, wears that mask for the sole pleasure of the drama. Yet this Lila appears to us a strange mystery and inexplicable to our reason.
But there is a truth behind this Lila. Although fixed grades (matter, life, mind) exist each with its appropriate order of nature they are only firm steps for a progressive ascent of the souls embodied (the spirit within the material forms) in forms of matter. Through these grades of existence a progressive divine manifestation takes place; it rises from the inconscient to the superconscient or all-conscient status. In this progressive manifestation, the human consciousness serves as its decisive point of transition.
Imperfection becomes then a necessary term of the manifestation: for, since all the divine nature is concealed but present in the Inconscient, it must be gradually delivered out of it; this graduation necessitates a partial unfolding, and this partial character or incompleteness of the unfolding necessitates imperfection. An evolutionary manifestation demands a mid-stage with gradations above and under it,—precisely such a stage as the mental consciousness of man, part knowledge, part ignorance, a middle power of being still leaning on the Inconscient but slowly rising towards the all-conscious Divine Nature.
In this intermediary stage, imperfection becomes a necessary term of the manifestation. We have seen that all the divine nature is concealed but present in the Inconscient. It must be gradually delivered out of the Inconscient. This gradual process necessitates a partial unfolding (a partial emergence of consciousness from the inconscient). This partial unfolding necessitates imperfection.
The nature of evolutionary manifestation is such that there should be a mid-stage with gradations above and under it. This mid-stage is precisely the one in which the mental consciousness of man is placed. It is characterised by part knowledge and part ignorance. It is a middle power of being still leaning on the Inonscient but slowly rising towards Divine Nature which is all-conscious.
A partial unfolding implying imperfection and ignorance may take as its inevitable companion, perhaps its basis for certain movements, an apparent perversion of the original truth of being. For the ignorance or imperfection to endure there must be a seeming contrary of all that characterises the divine nature, its unity, its all-consciousness, its all-power, its all-harmony, its all-good, its all-delight; there must appear limitation, discord, unconsciousness, disharmony, incapacity, insensibility and suffering, evil.
A partial unfolding of consciousness implies imperfection and ignorance. As its inevitable companion we find an apparent perversion of the original truth of being which is perhaps its basis for certain contrary movements which appear to us undivine.
For the continuance of ignorance or imperfection there must be a seeming contrary of all that characterises the divine nature. There must be limitation, discord, unconsciousness, disharmony, incapacity, insensibility and suffering, evil.
For without that perversion imperfection could have no strong standing-ground, could not so freely manifest and maintain its nature as against the presence of the underlying Divinity. A partial knowledge is imperfect knowledge and imperfect knowledge is to that extent ignorance, a contrary of the divine nature: but in its outlook on what is beyond its knowledge, this contrary negative becomes a contrary positive; it originates error, wrong knowledge, wrong dealing with things, with life, with action; the wrong knowledge becomes a wrong will in the nature, at first, it may be, wrong by mistake, but afterwards wrong by choice, by attachment, by delight in the falsehood,—the simple contrary turns into a complex perversion.
The perversion provides the strong standing-ground for imperfection to exist. Without perversion imperfection could not so freely manifest and maintain its nature against the presence of the underlying Divinity.
A partial knowledge results on account of partial unfolding of consciousness. A partial knowledge is imperfect knowledge and imperfect knowledge is to that extent ignorance. It is contrary to all-wisdom, the divine nature. Again, this ignorance is only an intermediary stage. When it tries to go beyond its partial knowledge, the ignorance turns into wisdom, a contrary positive.
The ignorance originates error, wrong knowledge, wrong dealing with things, with life, with action. The wrong knowledge becomes a wrong will in the nature. It is wrong, at first, by mistake. Afterwards it becomes wrong by choice, by attachment, by delight in the falsehood. The simple contrary, that is ignorance, turns into a complex perversion.
Inconscience and ignorance once admitted, these form a natural result in a logical sequence and have to be admitted also as necessary factors. The only question is the reason why this kind of progressive manifestation was itself necessary; that is the sole point left obscure to the intelligence.
The inconscience and ignorance once admitted, these form a natural result in a logical sequence. From the inconscience partial knowledge emerges resulting in ignorance. They have to be admitted also as necessary factors.
But our intelligence fails to understand why this kind of progressive manifestation was itself necessary.
A manifestation of this kind, self-creation or Lila, would not seem justifiable if it were imposed on the unwilling creature; but it will be evident that the assent of the embodied spirit must be there already, for Prakriti cannot act without the assent of the Purusha. There must have been not only the will of the Divine Purusha to make the cosmic creation possible, but the assent of the individual Purusha to make the individual manifestation possible.
We may ask the question whether the manifestation, self-creation or Lila was imposed on the unwilling creature. If it were so, it would not be justifiable. But it will be evident that the assent (approval) of the soul must be there already. Because Prakriti cannot act without the assent of the Purusha.
There must have been the will of the Divine Purusha to make the cosmic creation possible. Not only that, there must have been the assent of the individual Purusha (soul) to make the individual manifestation possible. The Divine Will and the soul’s assent both are required in manifestation.
But it may be said that the reason for the Divine Will and delight in such a difficult and tormented progressive manifestation and the reason for the soul’s assent to it is still a mystery. But it is not altogether a mystery if we look at our own nature and can suppose some kindred movement of being in the beginning as its cosmic origin.
But the reason for the Divine Will and delight in such a difficult and tormented progressive manifestation and the reason for the soul’s assent still remain a mystery.
But if we look at our own nature we would see a similar movement in ourselves as its cosmic origin in the beginning.
On the contrary, a play of self-concealing and self-finding is one of the most strenuous joys that conscious being can give to itself, a play of extreme attractiveness. There is no greater pleasure for man himself than a victory which is in its very principle a conquest over difficulties, a victory in knowledge, a victory in power, a victory in creation over the impossibilities of creation, a delight in the conquest over an anguished toil and a hard ordeal of suffering.
In the manifestation there is self-concealment of the Divine and again there is self-finding of the Divine. It is one of the most strenuous joys that the conscious being can give to itself. It is a play of extreme attractiveness.
If we take the man himself, nothing gives him greater joy than a victory which is in principle a conquest over difficulties, a victory in knowledge (over ignorance), a victory in power (over weakness), a victory in creation over the impossibilities of creation, a delight in the conquest over suffering.
(Identity’s reconciling happiness gave
A rich security to difference.
On a meeting line of hazardous extremes
The game of games was played to its breaking-point,
Where through self-finding by divine self-loss
There leaps out unity’s supreme delight
Whose blissful undivided sweetness feels
A communality of the Absolute.
Savitri:Book III: Canto III:p.364)
(If we look into ourselves, we find that one of the most mysterious and compelling joys that we experience in life is in self-concealment and self-finding, the game of hide and seek. There is a joy of finding something which we have lost. Sri Aurobindo says that each individual soul consents to the play in order to conceal its true nature and then through an adventure to find it. So this joy of self-finding is not only of the divine being but also of each individual being – Shri M.P.Pandit: Talks on The Life Divine, p. 55)
At the end of separation is the intense joy of union, the joy of a meeting with a self from which we were divided. There is an attraction in ignorance itself because it provides us with the joy of discovery, the surprise of new and unforeseen creation, a great adventure of the soul; there is a joy of the journey and the search and the finding, a joy of the battle and the crown, the labour and the reward of labour. If delight of existence be the secret of creation, this too is one delight of existence; it can be regarded as the reason or at least one reason of this apparently paradoxical and contrary Lila.
There is the intense joy of union at the end of separation, the joy of meeting with a self from which we were divided. There is attraction in ignorance because it gives us the joy of discovery. We find the surprise of new and unforeseen creation. In all these there is a great adventure of the soul.
There is a joy of the journey and the search and the finding. There is a joy of the battle and the crown. There is a joy of the labour and the reward of labour.
We know that the secret of creation is the delight of existence. This play of the Divine in self-finding in its opposites is also one delight of existence. It can be regarded as the reason or at least one reason of this apparently paradoxical and contrary Lila.
(Arrived from the other side of boundlessness
An eye of deity peered through the dumb deeps;
A scout in a reconnaissance from the sun,
It seemed amid a heavy cosmic rest,
The torpor of a sick and weary world,
To seek for a spirit sole and desolate
Too fallen to recollect forgotten bliss.
Intervening in a mindless universe,
Its message crept through the reluctant hush
Calling the adventure of consciousness and joy
And, conquering Nature’s disillusioned breast,
Compelled renewed consent to see and feel.
Savitri: Book I: Canto1: Page 2)
But, apart from this choice of the individual Purusha, there is a deeper truth inherent in the original Existence which finds its expression in the plunge into Inconscience; its result is a new affirmation of Sachchidananda in its apparent opposite. If the Infinite’s right of various self-manifestation is granted, this too as a possibility of its manifestation is intelligible and has its profound significance.
We have seen that there is the choice of the individual Purusha in individual manifestation. Apart from that there is a deeper truth inherent in the original Existence. This deeper truth finds its expression in the plunge of the original Existence into Inconscience. Its result is a new affirmation of Sachchidananda in its apparent opposite.
We must admit the Infinite’s right of various self-manifestations. It is bound by nothing. That being the case, the progressive manifestation of the Divine Consciousness through its contrary aspects of inconscience and ignorance as a possibility becomes intelligible to our reason. It has its profound significance.
(These are three reasons that Sri Aurobindo beautifully elucidates for the soul’s acceptance of the experience of manifesting itself in this ignorant and painful world: (1) to play hide and seek, (2) to overcome its difficulties; and (3) to experience the joy of reunion after a long separation. These are the three principles behind this evolution and are answers to the “why” of this suffering and the “why” of the delay in the progressive manifestation of the Divine in Life – Dr. Ananda Reddy: Deliberations on The Life Divine: Vol VI: p. 246-247: SACAR)