Synopsis, Chapter XVII : The Divine Soul – Isha Upanishad

Study Notes


  • Delight is the sole cause of cosmic existence. Our real self enjoys the Divine play and delight eternally and inseparably. Our real self is concealed from us by our false ego-self. We can attain to Divine Life only by uncovering this real self within us. The soul is shrouded by the ignorance of ego. Because of this the delight cannot be felt outwardly.
  • Sachchidananda is unity – the consciousness of Oneness. Our mentality is divided in consciousness. Faced with these two opposites, we conclude that one of which must be false or abolished if the other is to be enjoyed. If we have to abolish our body, mind and life, then divine life in this world is not possible. If we can find an intermediary link between these two opposites then it would realise the Sachchidananda in the mould of our mind, life and body. The intermediate link is the Supermind or the Truth-Consciousness. It exists, acts and proceeds in the fundamental truth and unity of things.
  • All possibilities are worked out in the world by causality in Time and Space. The true name of Causality is Divine Law. Whatever is the truth of things that inevitably leads to its self-development. The Divine Law is the previously fixed determination out of the infinite possibilities in Space and Time. It is the Knowledge-Will or Conscious-Force which develops all things. Therefore, what appears to us as Causality is really the work of Conscious-Force.
  • Sachchidananda has two statuses. One is its status of pure infinite invariable consciousness. This is its primal poise. Second is its status of movement which is its form of Energy and instrument of cosmic creation. The first status forms the base and continent of its second status of movement. This Sachchidananda in movement is the principle of Supermind with its Knowledge-Will. Knowledge and Will must be the form which that Power takes in creating this relative world in Time and Space.
  • Knowledge and Will must be one, infinite and all-embracing. The Supermind moves out into a self-knowledge that determines. It perceives certain truths of itself. It wills to realise them in an extension of Time and Space. Yet, it does it from its own timeless and spaceless existence.
  • It is the Divine Consciousness which creates all things in the Universe, by movement of its conscious-force. It is by the self-evolution of the knowledge-will the development of things is governed. We call this conscious Being as God. He is omnipresent-present in all, Omniscient-possesses all, Omnipotent-all possessing Force.
  • In Supermind, Will and Knowledge are not in conflict with each other. In this world we see a clash of wills and forces because, we dwell in the particular and divided space and time. The Supermind sees the totality of things eternally. What we see as conflict of wills, Supermind sees as the conspiring elements of a predetermined harmony.
  • The nature of the Supermind Consciousness will remain the same whatever be the poise or form taken by it. Human beings can live only in our surface consciousness which is all we know of ourselves. Our consciousness can remain in one thing at a time, one formation, one poise of being and one whole of experience. We acknowledge only one thing as the truth of ourselves.
  • In the principle of Supermind itself there are three general poises of its world-founding consciousness. The first one establishes the inalienable unity of things. The second poise modifies that unity so as to support the manifestation of the Many in One and One in Many. The third poise further modifies it so as to support the evolution of a diversified individuality.
  • The first and primary poise of the Supermind establishes the inalienable unity of things. It is not the pure unitarian consciousness that relates to a timeless and spaceless concentration of Sachchidananda. That is the state of Sachchidananda in which the Conscious Force does not throw itself out in extension. On the contrary, the Supermind in its first poise is an equal self-extension of Sachchidananda. It is all-comprehending, all-possessing and all-constituting.
  • In this first poise of Supermind we lose all sense of individuality when its reflection falls upon our stilled and purified self. All is held as One and not as separate. As the thoughts and images that occur in our mind are not separate existences to us, but forms taken by our consciousness, so are all names and forms to this primary Supermind.
  • In the second poise the Divine Consciousness stands back in the idea from the movement. It realises the idea by apprehending consciousness. The consciousness follows its force, occupy and dwell in its works. The consciousness distributes itself in its names and forms. In each name and form it would realise itself as stable Conscious-Self. The Conscious-Self, in its distribution of itself in forms, is the same everywhere in soul essence yet it varies in soul form.
  • This concentration supporting the soul form is the individual Divine or Jivatman. It is distinguished from universal Divine or one all-constituting Cosmic-Self (Atman). There would be no essential difference among the individual soul-forms. There is only practical differentiation for the individual play. At the same time the real unity is the underlying truth.
  • The individual Divine, the Jivatman sees its existence as a soul-form and soul-movement of the One. By its comprehending action of consciousness, it enjoys its unity with the One and with the other soul forms. At the same time by its forward or frontal apprehending action, it supports and enjoys its individual movement and its relations of a free difference in unity both with the One and with all its forms.
  • Supposing our purified mind could reflect this secondary poise of Supermind and our soul could support and occupy its individual existence and yet the individual soul would see itself as the One that has become all. Even in its particular individual modification it still enjoys its unity with the God and with the fellow souls.
  • In the third poise of the Supermind the supporting concentration would no longer stand at the back of the movement. But it is involved in the movement. The individual Divine makes the play of relations with the universal and with its other forms the practical field of its conscious experience. The unity with the universal and other forms becomes the constant culmination of all experience. The unity with the One and with the multiplicity exist, each on its own right, not as a qualified one.
  • We may think that the first consequence of the third poise of Supermind would be lapse into ignorance of Avidya, the multiplicity. Such a lapse is not necessary. Because the individual Divine would be conscious that it has come from One and the Many are its multiple self-concentration.
  • The individual Divine is the true spiritual Individual in each and every existence. It would not make the unjustified claim that it is a separate existence. The individual Divine enjoys the joy of its unity with the One. It would insist on the joy of differentiation (in multiplicity) as a necessary condition to the fullness of the joy of the unity.
  • The three poises of Supermind are only the different ways of dealing with the same Truth. The Ananda would vary with each poise. Yet it would remain fixed within the status of Truth-consciousness. There would not be any lapse into the Falsehood and Ignorance. The Upanishads, the supreme ancient authority validates all these three experiences.
  • Oneness of consciousness is prior to everything. This priority is not in terms of time but in relation of consciousness. We deny the essential reality of the Many because they appear and disappear within the boundaries of Time. Their existence does not seem to be eternal. But their eternal recurrence of the manifestation in Time is a proof that the divine multiplicity is an eternal fact. It is in no way inferior to the divine unity.
  • The reason for the appearance of mutually destructive philosophical schools is the exclusive emphasis laid on one side of spiritual experience by our human mind.
  • We wrongly interpret the play of divine unity by our mind and as real difference. Instead of correcting this error of the mind by a higher principle (supramental) we call this world as an illusion (Adwaitic Monism).
  • We emphasise the play of the One in the Many. We declare a qualified unity (Visishtavdvaita). We assert the eternity of this qualified existence. We deny the experience of a pure consciousness in an unqualified oneness.
  • We emphasise the play of the difference. We assert that the Supreme and the human soul are eternally different (Dvaita). We reject the truth of the experience that goes beyond the difference and abolish it.
  • We have taken a position that the three poises of Supermind are only the different ways of dealing with the same Truth. The position we have thus taken, frees us from the necessity of the negations and exclusions that characterised the three philosophical schools. We affirm the absolute absoluteness of That, not limited by our ideas of unity, not limited by our ideas of multiplicity. We affirm that the unity is the basis for the manifestation of multiplicity; multiplicity is the basis for the return to oneness.
  • With these affirmations taken by us, we need not burden ourselves with the discussions stated in the above three philosophies. We need not enslave the absolute freedom of the Divine Infinite to our mental distinctions and definitions.

Chapter XVII
The Divine Soul

     He whose self has become all existences, for he has the knowledge, how shall he be deluded, whence shall he have grief, he who sees everywhere oneness?
                                                                                                                                 Isha Upanishad.1

     There is delusion and conflict as long as one has the sense of otherness with those around. Due to the spell of Ignorance overshadowing life in this world, man feels separate from everything. The division that he makes between himself and all else is too deep for the mind to remove. Physically, the division is crystallised. Vitally, the fact of separateness is a constant challenge. Mentally, the very basis of the functioning of the faculties of the mind is to regard all as distinct from itself. It is only when he reaches his soul that man comes to touch the truth of oneness of all life.
     As he realises the reality of his self that is the bedrock of his multifarious existence, he also experiences unity with the self of all. For the self of the individual and the self of the universe are one and the same. The personal I and the impersonal I are one. When he not only realises this truth in the depths of his existence but is also activated in all his parts by this knowledge of Unity, he sees that all existences are in fact the becomings of the one-self, which is also his own. There is a spontaneous awareness that he and all are one, formed of the Reality of the same self. And when he perceives that all are himself in extension, where is the room for friction, for error of understanding, for sorrow which is always rooted in the divisive ego? With the integral knowledge and comprehensive vision of this One Existence there is a perennial joy welling out of the soul.

(Source: Shri M.P.Pandit – Legends in The Life Divine – p.50 – Dipti Publications, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry)