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Study Notes

Chapter XII

Delight of Existence: The Solution


The name of That is the Delight; as the Delight we must worship and seek after It.

Kena Upanishad IV.6


Brahman, the Reality in manifestation reveals itself in its triple poise of Sat-chit-ananda. It is a sheer Existence; and the nature of that Existence is Consciousness; and the nature of this Conscious Existence is Delight. Where there is existence, there is consciousness and where there is consciousness there is delight. Sat-chit-ananda is One and indivisible, wherever it is, on whatever level, in whatever form, this Delight is inseparable.

Just as the consciousness may or may not be obvious, the delight may or may not be always palpable. It may be hidden or deformed by imperfect expressions in life, but it is there all the same. In fact, everything is in existence because of this underlying Delight. All contrary movements are only tentative and half-arrested efforts of this Delight which throws itself in varied movements, in thousand movements of the One. Joy is the pale reflection of this Delight and pain a violent backwash. As long as there is Ignorance, the Delight of life cannot manifest itself in its purity and fullness. The more our consciousness is pure, the nearer is our experience of this self-existent Delight.

The highest consciousness, the Supreme Being is anandamaya, constituted of Ananda, Delight. Delight is the intrinsic nature of Reality whether it is manifest in form or unmanifest in formless state. We must conceive of it as Delight and adore it as Delight. It will reveal Itself as Delight whether in this world or beyond it. It will manifest itself as Delight in every form and every movement in our life. The world will reveal itself as an ecstatic play of God’s delight. He who realises this truth of existence as manifestation of That which is realisable by soul as innate delight, himself becomes an embodiment of that Delight and all creatures yearn towards him.

The one way that makes life meaningful to us, justifies Nature to God and God to Nature, is to worship the Supreme as Delight. For He is, indeed, everywhere as Delight.

The world’s senseless beauty mirrors God’s delight.
That rapture’s smile is secret everywhere;
It flows in the wind’s breath, in the tree’s sap,
Its hued magnificence blooms in leaves and flowers.
(Savitri: Book II: Canto IV: p.139:256-259)

(Courtesy: Legends in the Life Divine – By Shri M.P.Pandit:-p.37-39 – Dipti Publications, Sri Aurobindo Ashram)


IN THIS conception of an inalienable underlying delight of existence of which all outward or surface sensations are a positive, negative or neutral play, waves and foamings of that infinite deep, we arrive at the true solution of the problem we are examining. The self of things is an infinite indivisible existence; of that existence the essential nature or power is an infinite imperishable force of self-conscious being; and of that self-consciousness the essential nature or knowledge of itself is, again, an infinite inalienable delight of being.


All our surface sensations are a positive, negative or neutral play of the underlying delight of existence. They are like waves and foamings of infinite deep ocean which is the delight of existence. The true solution to the problem of pain and evil lies in this conception of delight of existence.

We come across finite forms in the world. Behind these finite forms there is self of things which is an infinite and indivisible existence. The essential nature or power of that existence is an infinite and imperishable force of self-conscious being. The essential nature or knowledge of this self-conscious being is an infinite, inseparable delight of being.

In formlessness and in all forms, in the eternal awareness of infinite and indivisible being and in the multiform appearances of finite division this self-existence preserves perpetually its self-delight. As in the apparent inconscience of Matter our soul, growing out of its bondage to its own superficial habit and particular mode of self-conscious existence, discovers that infinite Conscious-Force constant, immobile, brooding, so in the apparent non-sensation of Matter it comes to discover and attune itself to an infinite conscious Delight imperturbable, ecstatic, all-embracing.


The eternal Being assumes the status of formlessness and in manifestation assumes forms. Its status is infinite and indivisible. At the same time, it assumes multiform appearances of finite division. In all these statuses the self-existence preserves its self-delight without break.

Our soul is submerged in an apparent inconscience of Matter. It is in bondage to its own superficial habit and a particular mode of self-conscious existence. Freeing itself from the bondage and inconscience, it discovers that Conscious-Force which is constant, immobile and withdrawn. As it discovers this Conscious-Force so it discovers the Delight in apparent non-sensation of Matter. This Delight is conscious, infinite, imperturbable (cannot be disturbed), ecstatic (overwhelming happiness) and all-embracing.

This delight is its own delight, this self is its own self in all; but to our ordinary view of self and things which awakes and moves only upon surfaces, it remains hidden, profound, subconscious. And as it is within all forms, so it is within all experiences whether pleasant, painful or neutral. There too hidden, profound, subconscious, it is that which enables and compels things to remain in existence.


This delight of existence is its own delight. The self in existence is the self in all, i.e. universal. The delight of existence is hidden and subconscious to our ordinary view of self which moves on surfaces. It is within all forms. So also, it is within all experiences whether pleasant, painful or neutral. Hidden in all things, it is that which enables and compel things to remain in existence.

It is the reason of that clinging to existence, that overmastering will-to-be, translated vitally as the instinct of self-preservation, physically as the imperishability of matter, mentally as the sense of immortality which attends the formed existence through all its phases of self-development and of which even the occasional impulse of self-destruction is only a reverse form, an attraction to other state of being and a consequent recoil from present state of being.


We find that everything in the universe wants to cling to its existence. There is a dominating will to exist in all forms. All life forms have the instinct of self-preservation. We find this quality in matter in its imperishability. It is found in man in his sense of immortality. This instinct is found in all phases of self-development of existence with forms. Even the occasional impulse to end one’s life is the reverse form of this instinct to live; it is the result of recoil (shrinking) from the present state in its attraction to the other state of being.

Delight is existence, Delight is the secret of creation, Delight is the root of birth, Delight is the cause of remaining in existence, Delight is the end of birth and that into which creation ceases. “From Ananda” says the Upanishad “all existences are born, by Ananda they remain in being and increase, to Ananda they depart.”


Delight is existence, secret of creation, root of birth, the cause to remain in existence, the end of birth and into Delight creation ceases. From Delight all these beings are born, by Delight they exist and grow, to Delight they return (Taittiriya Upanishad).


As we look at these three aspects of essential Being, one in reality, triune to our mental view, separable only in appearance, in the phenomena of the divided consciousness, we are able to put in their right place the divergent formulae of the old philosophies so that they unite and become one, ceasing from their agelong controversy. For if we regard world-existence only in its appearances and only in its relation to pure, infinite, indivisible, immutable Existence, we are entitled to regard it, describe it and realise it as Maya.


Sat-chit-Ananda are the three aspects of essential Being. In reality It is one. But to our mind it appears as three. The three aspects are separable in appearance as it is observed in our divided consciousness. Viewed from the wholistic perspective of Sachchidananda, we can put the divergent views of the old philosophies in their right place so that they become united, ending the agelong controversy.

We can regard the world existence only in its appearance. We can take a view that everything in the world exist only in relation to Brahman which is pure, infinite, indivisible and immutable. Such a standpoint would make us regard this world as Maya.

Maya in its original sense meant a comprehending and containing consciousness capable of embracing, measuring and limiting and therefore formative; it is that which outlines, measures out, moulds forms in the formless, psychologises and seems to make knowable the Unknowable, geometrises and seems to make measurable the limitless. Later the word came from its original sense of knowledge, skill, intelligence to acquire a pejorative sense of cunning, fraud or illusion, and it is in the figure of an enchantment or illusion that it is used by the philosophical systems.


What is meant by ‘Maya’ in its original sense? It means an inclusive consciousness which contains everything. It is capable of embracing, measuring and limiting therefore capable of creating forms. It shapes the shapeless, measures the measureless, moulds forms in the formless. It makes the Unknowable as knowable. It makes the forms appear in geometric shapes. It makes the limitless measurable.

Originally the word is meant to refer knowledge, skill and intelligence. Later on, the word Maya acquired the negative meaning of cunning, fraud or illusion. In philosophical systems it is used to denote enchantment or illusion.


World is Maya. World is not unreal in the sense that it has no sort of existence; for even if it were only a dream of the Self, still it would exist in It as a dream, real to It in the present even while ultimately unreal. Nor ought we to say that world is unreal in the sense that it has no kind of eternal existence; for although particular worlds and particular forms may or do dissolve physically and return mentally from the consciousness of manifestation into the non-manifestation, yet Form in itself, World in itself are eternal.


World is indeed Maya in its original sense of the term. By this, Sri Aurobindo means that it is measured out of the Supreme. Therefore, it is a real world. But it is not unreal that it has no existence. If we consider world to exist only in our dream, still it is a fact that it exists in our dream. It is real to It in the present even while being ultimately unreal.

         We cannot call the world unreal because it has no eternal existence. Particular forms and particular worlds do appear and disappear. From mental consciousness forms may dissolve from manifestation into non-manifestation. Yet Form in itself, World in itself are eternal. 

From the non-manifestation they return inevitably into manifestation; they have an eternal recurrence if not an eternal persistence, an eternal immutability in sum and foundation along with an eternal mutability in aspect and apparition. Nor have we any surety that there ever was or ever will be a period in Time when no form of universe, no play of being is represented to itself in the eternal Conscious-Being, but only an intuitive perception that the world that we know can and does appear from That and return into It perpetually.


Forms and worlds have eternal recurrence though particular form may not persist for ever. From non-manifestation they return to manifestation. The forms, in their sum and foundation, have eternal immutability (unchangingness). Yet there is an eternal mutability (change) in aspect(quality) and appearances.

We cannot for sure say that there was never or there will be never a period in Time when the form of universe or play of being represent to itself in the eternal Conscious Being. Nor can we say the worlds and forms are only intuitive perception that appear from the Conscious Being and again return to It perpetually (continuously). Here Sri Aurobindo says that we cannot say that the forms of the Universe or the universal play never existed at a point of time. Universe & its forms always existed and always will exist.


Still world is Maya because it is not the essential truth of infinite existence, but only a creation of self-conscious being,—not a creation in the void, not a creation in nothing and out of nothing, but in the eternal Truth and out of the eternal Truth of that Self-being; its continent, origin and substance are the essential, real Existence, its forms are mutable formations of That to Its own conscious perception, determined by Its own creative conscious-force. They are capable of manifestation, capable of non-manifestation, capable of other-manifestation.


If we admit only the pure Existence (Sat) aspect ignoring the conscious force and Ananda, the world is not the essential truth of infinite existence. In that respect it is still Maya. Because it is something which is created. But it is a creation of self-conscious being. It is not a creation in emptiness. It is not created out of nothing. It is created in the eternal truth and out of the eternal Truth of that Self-being. The substance and origin are the essential real existence. The forms of the world are mutable (changing) formations of Brahman to Its own conscious perception. This means, they happen under the conscious knowledge of Brahman, not in a blind manner. They are created by the conscious-force of Brahman. The forms can manifest or choose not to manifest or manifest in a way unknowable to us.


We may, if we choose, call them therefore illusions of the infinite consciousness, thus audaciously flinging back a shadow of our mental sense of subjection to error and incapacity upon that which, being greater than Mind, is beyond subjection to falsehood and illusion. But seeing that the essence and substance of Existence is not a lie and that all errors and deformations of our divided consciousness represent some truth of the indivisible self-conscious Existence, we can only say that the world is not essential truth of That, but phenomenal truth of Its free multiplicity and infinite superficial mutability and not truth of Its fundamental and immutable Unity


Can we call the forms in the world as illusions created by infinite consciousness? If we do so, we are casting the shadow of our mind which is limited by error and incapacity on the infinite consciousness which is beyond falsehood and illusion. The essence and substance of Existence is not a lie. Our divided consciousness creates errors and deformations. Yet, they represent some truth of the indivisible self-conscious existence.

What we can say is, the world is not essential truth of That (Brahman). It does not represent Its fundamental and immutable Unity. But the world is a place of multiplicity. It is also a place where Brahman effects superficial change in Its infinite forms. Brahman in Its free multiplicity manifests Itself in multifarious forms. As unity and immutability of Brahman is the essential Truth, this multiplicity and mutability of Brahman is a phenomenal truth. Unity is truth. Multiplicity in the world of forms is also truth. It is not an illusion.

In this paragraph Sri Aurobindo describes the Adwaitic point of view of world existence. He also touches upon Buddhist point of view.

(There were two stages: the unmanifest and the manifest. The Unmanifest is Tat and the manifest is Sachchidananda. The reality of the universe is that Sachchidananda brings the world out of Himself. The basic view of both Sri Aurobindo and the Upanishads is that it is by Chit-Tapas that the world has been brought forth.

Before the manifestation took place there was only Tat, which means ‘That’. The first truth, the absolute truth is Tat. Creation comes as a secondary step. So, Sri Aurobindo says that the world is Maya because it is not the first truth. He says, the world is real, but it not the primary truth; it is secondary truth of manifestation. Or to put it another way, one could say the world is not the essential truth of Tat, but rather is the phenomenal truth of multiplicity. This is the first relation to understand.

(Courtesy: Deliberations on the Life Divine – By Dr Ananda Reddy, SACAR, p. 148)


If, on the other hand, we look at world-existence in relation to consciousness only and to force of consciousness, we may regard, describe and realise it as a movement of Force obeying some secret will or else some necessity imposed on it by the very existence of the Consciousness that possesses or regards it. It is then the play of Prakriti, the executive Force, to satisfy Purusha, the regarding and enjoying Conscious-Being or it is the play of Purusha reflected in the movements of Force and with them identifying himself. World, then, is the play of the Mother of things moved to cast Herself for ever into infinite forms and avid of eternally outpouring experiences.


Supposing we take the world only in relation to consciousness and its force (chit-shakti aspect) then we will regard it only as a movement of Force. Here Sri Aurobindo takes us to the second relation. We will regard it as a Force obeying some secret will imposed on it by the consciousness which possess it.

It then becomes the executive Force, play of Prakriti to satisfy the Purusha. The Purusha is a conscious Being which enjoys the play of Prakriti. Or it may be a play of Purusha reflected in the activities of Force and Purusha being totally identified with the Force. Then the world is regarded the play of the Mother of things (Executive Force). She casts Herself into infinite forms and enthuse Herself in eternal outpouring of experiences.

In this paragraph Sri Aurobindo describes the view of Sankhya philosophy.