Skip to Content

Construction of Book I of Life Divine


Sept. 5, 1998

   Sri Aurobindo posits that Satchidananda created the world of mind, life and matter. He further says what human mind sees as Satchidananda is in fact the Omnipresent Reality. It is not as if the Reality created the world, but the Reality created the world out of itself. For this purpose, He explains what Satchidananda is in rational terms. Existence, consciousness, and Delight are explained as energy, force and delight. In His cosmology, they convert themselves into matter, life and psychic. Mind, He adds, is created out of Supermind.

   The Indian tradition at least assumes that the world is created by Mind. His position is Mind is an instrument in the descent. In the ascent, mind takes up the evolution to continue it, not to complete it. Supermind creates with the help of Maya which is a limiting faculty. Mind is a subordinate power of Supermind which is created for purposes of division. Division is the first necessity if the Truths of Supermind are to realize their full possibilities. He gives up the description of Maya as illusion and goes to the Vedic definition of wisdom and a faculty of limitation that makes possible the conversion of One into Many. Hence his chapters on Satchidananda are followed by chapters on Maya and Supermind as creator. Supermind creates assuming three poises of God, Jiva and Ego by creating the apprehending Supermind and separating it from the comprehending Supermind. Before explaining the creation of Mind from Supermind, He adds a chapter on Divine Soul, saying we have to know God in the ascent as we know it in the descent.

   All these are preceded by Vedantic knowledge which says reason purified of senses becomes intuition and discovers the inner self through which the Self of the world is known.

   In the first four chapters, He speaks of the human aspiration for the divine life which cannot be fulfilled by the denial of either matter or spirit. He justifies evolution by the Vedantic idea and indicates man has to go the whole hog in pursuit of his enquiry and not stop in the middle. In the second chapter he emphasizes the unity of matter and spirit, answers the Atheist that the answer for his quest lies in consciousness, the origin of thought.  Consciousness reveals mind, life and matter as energy. If that is so, He leads us to perceive a will behind the energy, as it is fully rational to say will creates energy. Further, He lays bare the intention behind creation, which is not a conflict between matter and spirit but unity, showing how the will tries to abolish the limits, a characteristic of unity. Nor does he endorse the refusal of the ascetic. Drawing our attention to the insufficiency of the tradition, He assigns four quests for us:

1. To reconcile 'One without a second' with 'All is Brahman.'

2. To know God in the ascent as we know Him in the descent.

3. To know Matter as fully as we know the Spirit.

4. To restore the Aryan balance at a higher level.

 The question arises, who is to do this? It is Man whose destiny it is to accomplish this task. He says man is to do this by uniting in himself the subconscious and the Superconscious. Also, another unity Man is to achieve is with the universe.

   Sri Aurobindo departs from the tradition that enjoins on the soul to directly reach the Superconscient Transcendent. The soul that does so achieves liberation but not perfection or fullness. To attain to integrality it is necessary to expand into the universe before reaching the Transcendent. Only then the human soul discovers what it set forth to discover.

   In the chapter on Mind, He shows mind is in its origin eternal when He gives the argument that mind depieces and aggregates. Had the Mind been a partial instrument only, it would only depiece and stop with that. As it is of the Supermind, when depiecing is no longer possible, it begins to reverse its operations and aggregates.

   To appreciate a book like Life Divine, it is not enough to understand the definitions of concepts like mind, but it is necessary to perceive their constitution more fully.

   Four chapters on Life follow where He is at great pains to reveal the original creation of Life out of the interaction of Force and Mind whose part of the Mind is lost. Life is in pursuit of delight. For this purpose, it strains its incapacity and desire to produce unity in the psychic at the level of Mind.

   The next chapter is on the psychic which arose by the inverse involution of Ananda. The two chapters on Matter show the origin of Matter, the creation of Ego and where the knot of Matter lies and how it can be used to transform it. Matter is only Satchidananda which hides the Godhead. It is tempted to come out of its involution by the hidden delight.

   There are two more chapters: one says evolution is made possible by the substance of all seven levels being of the same type in varying intensities. The other explains the four quaternaries above inverting into the lower ones. The last chapter "Supermind, Mind and Overmind Maya" which was added twenty years later was meant to explain two things: 1) the function of Overmind that completes what the Supermind begins, i.e. by division it takes each possibility to its extreme, and 2) to declare that the divine life, which he said in the first chapter is possible, is inevitable.

   The First Book describes how the Omnipresent Reality converted itself into the universe in rational terms by defining all the involved concepts like Existence, consciousness, Delight, Supermind, Mind, Life and Matter. He disregards the description of creation of men by breathing life into dolls of clay.

   His own intuitive experience, a spiritual fact by itself, is explained in complete rational terms and logically to a mind that quests for knowledge. At that point of quest, human mind crosses its borders and is capable of acquiring the knowledge, which escapes the enquiry when it is confined to physical facts.


Could not spot any error 

Could not spot any error 

story | by Dr. Radut