object:1.02.2.2 - Self-Realisation
book class:Isha Upanishad
author class:Sri Aurobindo
class:chapter --- III - SECOND MOVEMENT  --- Self-Realisation
Verses 6 - 7*
Brahman is, subjectively, Atman, the Self or immutable existence
of all that is in the universe. Everything that changes in us, mind,
life, body, character, temperament, action, is not our real and
unchanging self, but becomings of the Self in the movement,
In Nature, therefore, all things that exist, animate or inanimate, are becomings of the one Self of all. All these different
creatures are one indivisible existence. This is the truth each
being has to realise.
When this unity has been realised by the individual in every
part of his being, he becomes perfect, pure, liberated from ego
and the dualities, possessed of the entire divine felicity.
Atman, our true self, is Brahman; it is pure indivisible Being, selfluminous, self-concentrated in consciousness, self-concentrated
in force, self-delighted. Its existence is light and bliss. It is timeless, spaceless and free.
* 6. But he who sees everywhere the Self in all existences and all existences in the Self,
shrinks not thereafter from aught.
7. He in whom it is the Self-Being that has become all existences that are Becomings,
for he has the perfect knowledge, how shall he be deluded, whence shall he have grief
who sees everywhere oneness?
THE THREEFOLD PURUSHA1
Atman represents itself to the consciousness of the creature in
three states, dependent on the relations between Purusha and
Prakriti, the Soul and Nature. These three states are Akshara,
unmoving or immutable; Kshara, moving or mutable; and Para
or Uttama, Supreme or Highest.
Kshara Purusha is the Self reflecting the changes and movements of Nature, participating in them, immersed in the consciousness of the movement and seeming in it to be born and
die, increase and diminish, progress and change. Atman, as the
Kshara, enjoys change and division and duality; controls secretly
its own changes but seems to be controlled by them; enjoys the
oppositions of pleasure and pain, good and bad, but appears to
be their victim; possesses and upholds the action of Nature, by
which it seems to be created. For, always and inalienably, the
Self is Ishwara, the Lord.
Akshara Purusha is the Self standing back from the changes
and movements of Nature, calm, pure, impartial, indifferent,
watching them and not participating, above them as on a summit, not immersed in these Waters. This calm Self is the sky that
never moves and changes looking down upon the waters that are
never at rest. The Akshara is the hidden freedom of the Kshara.
Para Purusha or Purushottama is the Self containing and
enjoying both the stillness and the movement, but conditioned
and limited by neither of them. It is the Lord, Brahman, the All,
the Indefinable and Unknowable.
It is this supreme Self that has to be realised in both the
unmoving and the mutable.
PURUSHA IN PRAKRITI2
Atman, the Self, represents itself differently in the sevenfold
movement of Nature according to the dominant principle of
the consciousness in the individual being.
1 Gita XV. 16, 17. See also XIII passim.
2 Taittiriya Upanishad II. 1 - 6.
In the physical consciousness Atman becomes the material
being, annamaya purus.a.
In the vital or nervous consciousness Atman becomes the
vital or dynamic being, pran.amaya purus.a.
In the mental consciousness Atman becomes the mental
being, manomaya purus.a.
In the supra-intellectual consciousness, dominated by the
Truth or causal Idea (called in Veda Satyam, Ritam, Brihat, the
True, the Right, the Vast), Atman becomes the ideal being or
great Soul, vijnanamaya purus.a or mahat atman.3
In the consciousness proper to the universal Beatitude,
Atman becomes the all-blissful being or all-enjoying and allproductive Soul, anandamaya purus.a.
In the consciousness proper to the infinite divine selfawareness which is also the infinite all-effective Will (ChitTapas), Atman is the all-conscious Soul that is source and lord
of the universe, caitanya purus.a.
In the consciousness proper to the state of pure divine
existence Atman is sat purus.a, the pure divine Self.
Man, being one in his true Self with the Lord who inhabits
all forms, can live in any of these states of the Self in the world
and partake of its experiences. He can be anything he wills from
the material to the all-blissful being. Through the Anandamaya
he can enter into the Chaitanya and Sat Purusha.
Sachchidananda is the manifestation of the higher Purusha; its
nature of infinite being, consciousness, power and bliss is the
higher Nature, para prakr.ti. Mind, life and body are the lower
nature, apara prakr.ti.
The state of Sachchidananda is the higher half of universal
existence, parardha, the nature of which is Immortality, Amritam. The state of mental existence in Matter is the lower half,
3 The mahat atman or Vast Self is frequently referred to in the Upanishads. It is also
called bhuma, the Large.
aparardha, the nature of which is death, Mrityu.
Mind and life in the body are in the state of Death because by Ignorance they fail to realise Sachchidananda. Realising
perfectly Sachchidananda, they can convert themselves, Mind
into the nature of the Truth, Vijnana, Life into the nature of
Chaitanya, Body into the nature of Sat, that is, into the pure
When this cannot be done perfectly in the body, the soul
realises its true state in other forms of existence or worlds, the
"sunlit" worlds and states of felicity, and returns upon material
existence to complete its evolution in the body.
A progressively perfect realisation in the body is the aim of
It is also possible for the soul to withdraw for an indefinable
period into the pure state of Sachchidananda.
The realisation of the Self as Sachchidananda is the aim of
THE CONDITION OF SELF-REALISATION4
Sachchidananda is always the pure state of Atman; it may either
remain self-contained as if apart from the universe or overlook,
embrace and possess it as the Lord.
In fact, it does both simultaneously. (Verse 8)
The Lord pervades the universe as the Virat Purusha, the
Cosmic Soul (paribhu of the eighth verse, the One who becomes
everywhere); He enters into each object in the movement, to
the Knowledge as Brahman supporting individual consciousness
and individual form, to the Ignorance as an individualised and
limited being. He manifests as the Jivatman or individual self in
the living creature.
From the standpoint of our lower state in the kingdom of
death and limitation Atman is Sachchidananda, supra-mental,
4 I have collected under this and the preceding headings the principal ideas of the
Upanishads with regard to the Self, although not expressly mentioned or alluded to in
our text, because they are indispensable to an understanding of the complete philosophy
of these Scriptures and to the relations of the thought which is developed in the Isha.
but reflected in the mind. If the mind is pure, bright and still,
there is the right reflection; if it is unpurified, troubled and obscured, the reflection is distorted and subjected to the crooked
action of the Ignorance.
According to the state of the reflecting mind we may have
either purity of self-knowledge or an obscuration and distortion
of knowledge in the dualities of truth and error; a pure activity
of unegoistic Will or an obscuration and deflection of Will in the
dualities of right and wrong action, sin and virtue; a pure state
and unmixed play of beatitude or an obscuration and perversion
of it in the dualities of right and wrong enjoyment, pleasure and
pain, joy and grief.
It is the mental ego-sense that creates this distortion by
division and limitation of the Self. The limitation is brought
about through the Kshara Purusha identifying itself with the
changeable formations of Nature in the separate body, the individual life and the egoistic mind, to the exclusion of the sense of
unity with all existence and with all existences.
This exclusion is a fixed habit of the understanding due to
our past evolution in the movement, not an ineffugable law of
human consciousness. Its diminution and final disappearance
are the condition of self-realisation.
The beginning of wisdom, perfection and beatitude is the
vision of the One.
THE STAGES OF SELF-REALISATION
THE VISION OF THE ALL
The first movement of self-realisation is the sense of unity with
other existences in the universe. Its early or crude form is the
attempt to understand or sympathise with others, the tendency
of a widening love or compassion or fellow-feeling for others,
the impulsion of work for the sake of others.
The oneness so realised is a pluralistic unity, the drawing
together of similar units resulting in a collectivity or solidarity
rather than in real oneness. The Many remain to the consciousness as the real existences; the One is only their result.
Real knowledge begins with the perception of essential oneness, - one Matter, one Life, one Mind, one Soul playing in
When this Soul of things is seen to be Sachchidananda,
then knowledge is perfected. For we see Matter to be only a
play of Life, Life a play of Mind energising itself in substance,
Mind a play of Truth or causal Idea representing truth of being
variously in all possible mental forms, Truth a play of Sachchidananda, Sachchidananda the self-manifestation of a supreme
Unknowable, Para-Brahman or Para-Purusha.
We perceive the soul in all bodies to be this one Self or
Sachchidananda multiplying itself in individual consciousness.
We see also all minds, lives, bodies to be active formations of
the same existence in the extended being of the Self.
This is the vision of all existences in the Self and of the Self in
all existences which is the foundation of perfect internal liberty
and perfect joy and peace.
For by this vision, in proportion as it increases in intensity
and completeness, there disappears from the individual mentality all jugupsa, that is to say, all repulsion, shrinking, dislike, fear,
hatred and other perversions of feeling which arise from division
and personal opposition to other beings or to the objectivities
that surround us. Perfect equality5 of soul is established.
THE VISION OF THE SELF IN ITS BECOMINGS
Vision is not sufficient; one must become what inwardly one
sees. The whole inner life must be changed so as to represent
perfectly in all parts of the being what is understood by the
intellect and seen by the inner perception.
5 The state described in the Gita as samatva. Jugupsa is the feeling of repulsion caused
by the sense of a want of harmony between one's own limited self-formation and the
contacts of the external with a consequent recoil of grief, fear, hatred, discomfort,
suffering. It is the opposite of attraction which is the source of desire and attachment.
Repulsion and attraction removed, we have samatva.
In the individual soul extending itself to the All by the vision
of unity (ekatvam anupasyatah., seeing everywhere oneness), arranging its thoughts, emotions and sensations according to the
perfect knowledge of the right relation of things which comes by
the realisation of the Truth (vijanatah., having the perfect knowledge), there must be repeated the divine act of consciousness by
which the one Being, eternally self-existent, manifests in itself
the multiplicity of the world (sarvan.i bhutani atmaiva abhut,
the Self-Being became all Becomings).
That is to say, the human or egoistic view is that of a world of
innumerable separate creatures each self-existent and different
from the others, each trying to get its utmost possible profit
out of the others and the world, but the divine view, the way
in which God sees the world, is Himself, as the sole Being, living in innumerable existences that are Himself, supporting all,
helping all impartially, working out to a divine fulfilment and
under terms fixed from the beginning, from years sempiternal,
a great progressive harmony of Becoming whose last term is
Sachchidananda or Immortality. This is the view-point of the
Self as Lord inhabiting the whole movement. The individual
soul has to change the human or egoistic for the divine, supreme
and universal view and live in that realisation.
It is necessary, therefore, to have the knowledge of the transcendent Self, the sole unity, in the equation so'ham, I am He,
and in that knowledge to extend one's conscious existence so as
to embrace the whole Multiplicity.
This is the double or synthetic ideal of the Isha Upanishad;
to embrace simultaneously Vidya and Avidya, the One and the
Many; to exist in the world, but change the terms of the Death
into the terms of the Immortality; to have the freedom and peace
of the Non-Birth simultaneously with the activity of the Birth.
(Verses 9 - 14)
All parts of the lower being must consent to this realisation;
to perceive with the intellect is not enough. The heart must consent in a universal love and delight, the sense-mind in a sensation
of God and self everywhere, the life in the comprehension of all
aims and energies in the world as part of its own being.
THE ACTIVE BEATITUDE
This realisation is the perfect and complete Beatitude, embracing
action, but delivered from sorrow and self-delusion.
There is no possibility of self-delusion (moha); for the soul,
having attained to the perception of the Unknowable behind all
existence, is no longer attached to the Becoming and no longer
attributes an absolute value to any particularity in the universe,
as if that were an object in itself and desirable in itself. All
is enjoyable and has a value as the manifestation of the Self
and for the sake of the Self which is manifested in it, but none
for its own.6 Desire and illusion are removed; illusion is replaced by knowledge, desire by the active beatitude of universal
There is no possibility of sorrow; for all is seen as Sachchidananda and therefore in the terms of the infinite conscious
existence, the infinite will, the infinite felicity. Even pain and grief
are seen to be perverse terms of Ananda, and that Ananda which
they veil here and for which they prepare the lower existence
(for all suffering in the evolution is a preparation of strength
and bliss) is already seized, known and enjoyed by the soul thus
liberated and perfected. For it possesses the eternal Reality of
which they are the appearances.
Thus it is possible, by the realisation of the unity of God
and the world (s and jagat ) in the complete knowledge of the
Brahman, to renounce desire and illusion through the ascent to
the pure Self and the Non-Becoming and yet to enjoy by means
of all things in the manifestation God in the universe through a
free and illuminated self-identification with Sachchidananda in
We have, therefore, in the second movement the explanation of
the first verse of the Upanishad. The first line, asserting that all
6 Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.
Isha Upanishad: Analysis
souls are the one Lord inhabiting every object in the universe
and that every object is universe in universe, movement in the
general movement, has been explained in the terms of complete
oneness by the Brahman, transcendental and universal even in
the individual, One in the Many, Many in the One, Stable and
Motional, exceeding and reconciling all opposites. The second
line, fixing as the rule of divine life universal renunciation of
desire as the condition of universal enjoyment in the spirit, has
been explained by the state of self-realisation, the realisation
of the free and transcendent Self as one's own true being, of
that Self as Sachchidananda and of the universe seen as the
Becoming of Sachchidananda and possessed in the terms of the
right knowledge and no longer in the terms of the Ignorance
which is the cause of all attraction and repulsion, self-delusion
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