object:1.02.1 - The Inhabiting Godhead Life and Action
book class:Isha Upanishad
author class:Sri Aurobindo
class:chapter --- I - FIRST MOVEMENT  --- The Inhabiting Godhead: Life and Action
Verses 1 - 3*
THE BASIS OF COSMIC EXISTENCE
God and the world, Spirit and formative Nature are confronted and their relations fixed.
All world is a movement of the Spirit in Itself and is mutable and transient in all its formations and appearances; its only eternity is an eternity of recurrence, its only stability a semblance caused by certain apparent fixities of relation and grouping.
Every separate object in the universe is, in truth, itself the whole universe presenting a certain front or outward appearance of its movement. The microcosm is one with the macrocosm.
Yet in their relation of principle of movement and result of movement they are continent and contained, world in world, movement in movement. The individual therefore partakes of the nature of the universal, refers back to it for its source of activity, is, as we say, subject to its laws and part of cosmic Nature.
* 1. All this is for habitation by the Lord, whatsoever is individual universe of movement
in the universal motion. By that renounced thou shouldst enjoy; lust not after any man's
2. Doing verily works in this world one should wish to live a hundred years. Thus it
is in thee and not otherwise than this; action cleaves not to a man.
3. Sunless are those worlds and enveloped in blind gloom whereto all they in their
passing hence resort who are slayers of their souls.
Spirit is lord of Its movement, one, immutable, free, stable and eternal.
The Movement with all its formed objects has been created in order to provide a habitation for the Spirit who, being One, yet dwells multitudinously in the multiplicity of His mansions.
It is the same Lord who dwells in the sum and the part, in the Cosmos as a whole and in each being, force or object in the Cosmos.
Since He is one and indivisible, the Spirit in all is one and their multiplicity is a play of His cosmic consciousness. Therefore each human being is in his essence one with all others, free, eternal, immutable, lord of Nature.
The object of habitation is enjoyment and possession; the object of the Spirit in Cosmos is, therefore, the possession and enjoyment of the universe. Yet, being thus in his essence one, divine and free, man seems to be limited, divided from others, subject to Nature and even its creation and sport, enslaved to death, ignorance and sorrow. His object in manifestation being possession and enjoyment of his world, he is unable to enjoy because of his limitation. This contrary result comes about by Avidya, the Ignorance of oneness: and the knot of the Ignorance is egoism.
The cause of ego is that while by Its double power of Vidya and Avidya the Spirit dwells at once in the consciousness of multiplicity and relativity and in the consciousness of unity and identity and is therefore not bound by the Ignorance, yet It can, in mind, identify Itself with the object in the movement, absorbingly, to the apparent exclusion of the Knowledge which remains behind, veiled at the back of the mentality. The movement of Mind in Nature is thus able to conceive of the object as the reality and the Inhabitant as limited and determined by the appearances of the object. It conceives of the object, not as the universe in one of its frontal appearances, but as itself a separate existence standing out from the Cosmos and different in being from all the rest of it. It conceives similarly of the Inhabitant. This is the illusion of ignorance which falsifies all realities. The illusion is called ahamkara, the separative ego-sense which makes each being conceive of itself as an independent personality.
The result of the separation is the inability to enter into harmony and oneness with the universe and a consequent inability to possess and enjoy it. But the desire to possess and enjoy is the master impulse of the Ego which knows itself obscurely to be the Lord, although owing to the limitations of its relativity, it is unable to realise its true existence. The result is discord with others and oneself, mental and physical suffering, the sense of weakness and inability, the sense of obscuration, the straining of energy in passion and in desire towards self-fulfilment, the recoil of energy exhausted or disappointed towards death and disintegration.
Desire is the badge of subjection with its attendant discord and suffering. That which is free, one and lord, does not desire, but inalienably contains, possesses and enjoys.
THE RULE OF THE DIVINE LIFE
Enjoyment of the universe and all it contains is the object of world-existence, but renunciation of all in desire is the condition of the free enjoyment of all.
The renunciation demanded is not a moral constraint of self-denial or a physical rejection, but an entire liberation of the spirit from any craving after the forms of things.
The terms of this liberation are freedom from egoism and, consequently, freedom from personal desire. Practically, this renunciation implies that one should not regard anything in the universe as a necessary object of possession, nor as possessed by another and not by oneself, nor as an object of greed in the heart or the senses.
This attitude is founded on the perception of unity. For it has already been said that all souls are one possessing Self, the Lord; and although the Lord inhabits each object as if separately, yet all objects exist in that Self and not outside it.
Therefore by transcending Ego and realising the one Self,
we possess the whole universe in the one cosmic consciousness
and do not need to possess physically.
Having by oneness with the Lord the possibility of an infinite
free delight in all things, we do not need to desire.
Being one with all beings, we possess, in their enjoyment,
in ours and in the cosmic Being's, delight of universal selfexpression. It is only by this Ananda at once transcendent and
universal that man can be free in his soul and yet live in the
world with the full active Life of the Lord in His universe of
THE JUSTIFICATION OF WORKS
This freedom does not depend upon inaction, nor is this possession limited to the enjoyment of the inactive Soul that only
witnesses without taking part in the movement.
On the contrary, the doing of works in this material world
and a full acceptance of the term of physical life are part of its
For the active Brahman fulfils Itself in the world by works
and man also is in the body for self-fulfilment by action. He
cannot do otherwise, for even his inertia acts and produces effects in the cosmic movement. Being in this body or any kind
of body, it is idle to think of refraining from action or escaping
the physical life. The idea that this in itself can be a means of
liberation, is part of the Ignorance which supposes the soul to
be a separate entity in the Brahman.
Action is shunned because it is thought to be inconsistent with freedom. The man when he acts, is supposed to be necessarily entangled in the desire behind the action, in subjection to the formal energy that drives the action and in the results of the action. These things are true in appearance, not in reality.
Desire is only a mode of the emotional mind which by ignorance seeks its delight in the object of desire and not in the Brahman who expresses Himself in the object. By destroying that ignorance one can do action without entanglement in desire.
The Energy that drives is itself subject to the Lord, who
expresses Himself in it with perfect freedom. By getting behind
Nature to the Lord of Nature, merging the individual in the
Cosmic Will, one can act with the divine freedom. Our actions
are given up to the Lord and our personal responsibility ceases
in His liberty.
The chain of Karma only binds the movement of Nature
and not the soul which, by knowing itself, ceases even to appear
to be bound by the results of its works.
Therefore the way of freedom is not inaction, but to cease
from identifying oneself with the movement and recover instead
our true identity in the Self of things who is their Lord.
THE OTHER WORLDS
By departing from the physical life one does not disappear out
of the Movement, but only passes into some other general state
of consciousness than the material universe.
These states are either obscure or illuminated, some dark or
By persisting in gross forms of ignorance, by coercing perversely the soul in its self-fulfilment or by a wrong dissolution
of its becoming in the Movement, one enters into states of blind
darkness, not into the worlds of light and of liberated and blissful
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