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object:2.12 - The Origin of the Ignorance
book class:The Life Divine

Chapter XII

The Origin of the Ignorance
By energism of consciousness1 Brahman is massed; from that
Matter is born and from Matter Life and Mind and the worlds.
Mundaka Upanishad.2

He desired, "May I be Many". He concentrated in Tapas, by Tapas he created the world; creating, he entered into it; entering, he became the existent and the beyond-existence, he became the expressed and the unexpressed, he became knowledge and ignorance, he became the truth and the falsehood: he became the truth, even all this whatsoever that is. "That
Truth" they call him.
Taittiriya Upanishad.3
Energism of consciousness4 is Brahman.
Taittiriya Upanishad.5


T BECOMES necessary and possible, now that so much has been fixed, to consider at close quarters the problem of the
Ignorance from the point of view of its pragmatic origin, the process of consciousness which brought it into existence. It is on the basis of an integral Oneness as the truth of existence that we have to consider the problem and see how far the different possible solutions are on this basis applicable. How could this manifold ignorance or this narrowly self-limiting and separative knowledge arise and come into action or maintain itself in action in an absolute Being who must be absolute consciousness and therefore cannot be subject to ignorance? How is even an apparent division effectively operated and kept in continuance in the Indivisible? The Being, integrally one, cannot be ignorant of itself; and since all things are itself, conscious modifications,
1 Tapas.

2 I. 1. 8.

3 II. 6.

4 Tapas.

5 III. 2-5.

The Origin of the Ignorance

determinations of its being, it cannot either be ignorant of things, of their true nature, of their true action. But though we say that we are That, that the Jivatman or individual self is no other than the Paramatman, no other than the Absolute, yet we are certainly ignorant both of ourselves and things, from which this contradiction results that what must be in its very grain incapable of ignorance is yet capable of it, and has plunged itself into it by some will of its being or some necessity or possibility of its nature. We do not ease the difficulty if we plead that Mind, which is the seat of ignorance, is a thing of Maya, non-existent, notBrahman, and that Brahman, the Absolute, the sole Existence cannot in any way be touched by the ignorance of mind which is part of the illusory being, Asat, the non-existence. This is an escape which is not open to us if we admit an integral Oneness: for then it is evident that, in making so radical a distinction and at the same time cancelling it by terming it illusory, we are using the magic or Maya of thought and word in order to conceal from ourselves the fact that we are dividing and denying the unity of the Brahman; for we have erected two opposite powers, Brahman incapable of illusion and self-illusive Maya, and pitchforked them into an impossible unity. If Brahman is the sole existence, Maya can be nothing but a power of Brahman, a force of his consciousness or a result of his being; and if the
Jivatman, one with Brahman, is subject to its own Maya, the
Brahman in it is subject to Maya. But this is not intrinsically or fundamentally possible: the subjection can only be a submission of something in Nature to an action of Nature which is part of the conscious and free movement of the Spirit in things, a play of its own self-manifesting Omniscience. Ignorance must be part of the movement of the One, a development of its consciousness knowingly adopted, to which it is not forcibly subjected but which it uses for its cosmic purpose.
It is not open to us to get rid of the whole difficulty by saying that the Jivatman and the Supreme are not one, but eternally different, the one subject to ignorance, the other absolute in being and consciousness and therefore in knowledge; for this contradicts the supreme experience and the whole experience


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which is that of unity in being, whatever difference there may be in the action of Nature. It is easier to accept the fact of unity in difference which is so evident and pervasive in all the building of the universe and satisfy ourselves with the statement that we are one, yet different, one in essential being and therefore in essential nature, different in soul-form and therefore in active nature. But we thereby only state the fact, leaving the difficulty raised by the fact unsolved, how that which belongs in the essence of its being to the unity of the Absolute and should therefore be one with it and with all in consciousness, comes to be divided in its dynamic form of self and its activity and subject to Ignorance.
It is also to be noted that the statement would not be wholly true, since it is possible for the Jivatman to enter into unity with the active nature of the One and not only into a static essential oneness. Or we may escape the difficulty by saying that beyond or above existence and its problems there is the Unknowable which is beyond or above our experience, and that the action of
Maya has already begun in the Unknowable before the world began and therefore is itself unknowable and inexplicable in its cause and its origin. This would be a sort of idealistic as opposed to a materialistic Agnosticism. But all Agnosticism is subject to this objection that it may be nothing but our refusal to know, a too ready embracing of an apparent and present restriction or constriction of consciousness, a sense of impotence which may be permitted to the immediate limitations of the mind but not to the Jivatman who is one with the Supreme. The Supreme must surely know himself and the cause of ignorance, and therefore the Jivatman has no ground to despair of any knowledge or deny his capacity of knowing the integral Supreme and the original cause of his own present ignorance.
The Unknowable, if it is at all, may be a supreme state of
Sachchidananda beyond our highest conceptions of existence, consciousness and bliss; that is what was evidently meant by the Asat, the Non-Existent of the Taittiriya Upanishad, which alone was in the beginning and out of which the existent was born, and possibly too it may be the inmost sense of the Nirvana of the Buddha: for the dissolution of our present state

The Origin of the Ignorance

by Nirvana may be a reaching to some highest state beyond all notion or experience of self even, an ineffable release from our sense of existence. Or it may be the Upanishad's absolute and unconditioned bliss which is beyond expression and beyond understanding, because it surpasses all that we can conceive of or describe as consciousness and existence. This is the sense in which we have already accepted it; for the acceptation commits us only to a refusal to put a limit to the ascension of the Infinite. Or, if it is not this, if it is something quite different from existence, even from an unconditioned existence, it must be the absolute Non-Being of the nihilistic thinker.
But out of absolute Nothingness nothing can come, not even anything merely apparent, not even an illusion; and if the absolute Non-existence is not that, then it can only be an absolute eternally unrealised Potentiality, an enigmatic zero of the Infinite out of which relative potentialities may at any time emerge, but only some actually succeed in emerging into phenomenal appearance. Out of this Non-existence anything may arise, and there is no possibility of saying what or why; it is for all practical purposes a seed of absolute chaos out of which by some happy - or rather unhappy - accident there has emerged the order of a universe. Or we may say that there is no real order of the universe; what we take for such is a persistent habit of the senses and the life and a figment of the mind and it is useless to seek for an ultimate reason of things.
Out of an absolute chaos all paradox and absurdity can be born, and the world is such a paradox, a mysterious sum of contraries and puzzles, or, it may be, in effect, as some have felt or thought, a huge error, a monstrous, an infinite delirium. Of such a universe not an absolute Consciousness and Knowledge, but an absolute Inconscience and Ignorance may be the source.
Anything may be true in such a cosmos: everything may have been born out of nothing; thinking mind may be only a disease of unthinking Force or inconscient Matter; dominant order, which we suppose to be existence according to the truth of things, may be really the mechanical law of an eternal self-ignorance and not the self-evolution of a supreme self-ruling conscious


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Will; perpetual existence may be the constant phenomenon of an eternal Nihil. All opinions about the origins of things become of an equal force, since all are equally valid or invalid; for all become equally possible where there is no sure starting-point and no ascertainable goal of the revolutions of the becoming.
All these opinions have been held by the human mind and in all there has been profit, even if we regard them as errors; for errors are permitted to the mind because they open doors upon truth, negatively by destroying opposite errors, positively by preparing an element in a new constructive hypothesis. But, pushed too far, this view of things leads to the negation of the whole aim of philosophy, which seeks for knowledge and not for chaos and which cannot fulfil itself if the last word of knowledge is the
Unknowable, but only if it is something, to use the words of the
Upanishad, which being known all is known. The Unknowable
- not absolutely unknowable, but beyond mental knowledge
- can only be a higher degree in the intensity of being of that
Something, a degree beyond the loftiest summit attainable by mental beings, and, if it were known as it must be known to itself, that discovery would not destroy entirely what is given us by our supreme possible knowledge but rather carry it to a higher fulfilment and larger truth of what it has already gained by self-vision and self-experience. It is then this Something, an
Absolute which can be so known that all truths can stand in it and by it and find there their reconciliation, that we must discover as our starting-point and keep as our constant base of thinking and seeing and by it find a solution of the problem; for it is That alone that can carry in it a key to the paradoxes of the universe.
This Something is, as Vedanta insists and as we have throughout insisted, in its manifest nature Sachchidananda, a trinity of absolute existence, consciousness and bliss. It is from this primal truth that we must start in approaching the problem, and it is evident then that the solution must be found in an action of consciousness manifesting itself as knowledge and yet limiting that knowledge in such a way as to create the phenomenon of the Ignorance, - and since the Ignorance is a

The Origin of the Ignorance

phenomenon of the dynamic action of Force of Consciousness, not an essential fact but a creation, a consequence of that action, it is this Force aspect of Consciousness that it will be fruitful to consider. Absolute consciousness is in its nature absolute power; the nature of Chit is Shakti: Force or Shakti concentrated and energised for cognition or for action in a realising power effective or creative, the power of conscious being dwelling upon itself and bringing out, as it were, by the heat of its incubation6 the seed and development of all that is within it or, to use a language convenient to our minds, of all its truths and potentialities, has created the universe. If we examine our own consciousness, we shall see that this power of its energy applying itself to its object is really the most positive dynamic force it has; by that it arrives at all its knowledge and its action and its creation. But for us there are two objects on which the dynamism within can act, ourselves, the internal world, and others, whether creatures or things, the external world around us. To Sachchidananda this distinction with its effective and operative consequences does not apply in the same way as for us, because all is himself and within himself and there is no such division as we make by the limitations of our mind. Secondly, in us only a part of the force of our being is identified with our voluntary action, with our will engaged in mental or other activity, the rest is to our surface mental awareness involuntary in its action or subconscient or superconscient, and from this division also a great number of important practical consequences emerge: but in Sachchidananda this division too and its consequences do not apply, since all is his one indivisible self and all action and result
6 Tapas means literally heat, afterwards any kind of energism, askesis, austerity of conscious force acting upon itself or its object. The world was created by Tapas in the form, says the ancient image, of an egg, which being broken, again by Tapas, heat of incubation of conscious force, the Purusha emerged, Soul in Nature, like a bird from the egg. It may be observed that the usual translation of the word tapasya in English books, "penance", is quite misleading - the idea of penance entered rarely into the austerities practised by Indian ascetics. Nor was mortification of the body the essence even of the most severe and self-afflicting austerities; the aim was rather an overpassing of the hold of the bodily nature on the consciousness or else a supernormal energising of the consciousness and will to gain some spiritual or other object.


The Life Divine
are movements of his one indivisible will, his consciousnessforce in dynamic operation. Tapas is the nature of action of his consciousness as of ours, but it is the integral Tapas of an integral consciousness in an indivisible Existence.
But here a question may arise, since there is a passivity in
Existence and in Nature as well as an activity, immobile status as well as kinesis, what is the place and role of this Force, this power and its concentration in regard to a status where there is no play of energy, where all is immobile. In ourselves we habitually associate our Tapas, our conscious force, with active consciousness, with energy in play and in internal or external act and motion. That which is passive in us produces no action or only an involuntary or mechanical action, and we do not associate it with our will or conscious force; still, since there too there is the possibility of action or the emergence of an automatic activity, it must have at least a passively responsive or automatic conscious force in it; or there is in it either a secretly positive or a negative and inverse Tapas. It may also be that there is a larger conscious force, power or will in our being unknown to us which is behind this involuntary action, - if not a will, at least a force of some kind which itself initiates action or else responds to the contacts, suggestions, stimulations of the universal Energy. In Nature also we know that things stable, inert or passive are yet maintained in their energy by a secret and unceasing motion, an energy in action upholding the apparent immobility. Here too, then, all is due to the presence of Shakti, to the action of its power in concentration, its Tapas. But beyond this, beyond this relative aspect of status and kinesis, we find that we have the power to arrive at what seems to us an absolute passivity or immobility of our consciousness in which we cease from all mental and physical activity. There seem, then, to be an active consciousness in which consciousness works as an energy throwing up knowledge and activity out of itself and of which therefore Tapas is the character, and a passive consciousness in which consciousness does not act as an energy, but only exists as a status and of which therefore absence of Tapas or force in action is the character. Is the apparent absence of Tapas in this state

The Origin of the Ignorance

real, or is there such an effective distinction in Sachchidananda?
It is affirmed that there is: the dual status of Brahman, quiescent and creative, is indeed one of the most important and fruitful distinctions in Indian philosophy; it is besides a fact of spiritual experience.
Here let us observe, first, that by this passivity in ourselves we arrive from particular and broken knowledge at a greater, a one and a unifying knowledge; secondly, that if, in the state of passivity, we open ourselves entirely to what is beyond, we can become aware of a Power acting upon us which we feel to be not our own in the limited egoistic sense, but universal or transcendental, and that this Power works through us for a greater play of knowledge, a greater play of energy, action and result, which also we feel to be not our own, but that of the
Divine, of Sachchidananda, ourselves only its field or channel.
The result happens in both cases because our individual consciousness rests from an ignorant limited action and opens itself to the supreme status or to the supreme action. In the latter, the more dynamic opening, there is power and play of knowledge and action, and that is Tapas; but in the former also, in the static consciousness, there is evidently a power for knowledge and a concentration of knowledge or at least a concentration of consciousness in immobility and a self-realisation, and that too is Tapas. Therefore it would seem that Tapas, concentration of power of consciousness, is the character of both the passive and the active consciousness of Brahman, and that our own passivity also has a certain character of an unseen supporting or instrumentalising Tapas. It is a concentration of energy of consciousness that sustains, while it lasts, all creation, all action and kinesis; but it is also a concentration of power of consciousness that supports inwardly or informs all status, even the most immobile passivity, even an infinite stillness or an eternal silence.
But still, it may be said, these are in the end two different things, and this is shown by their difference of opposite results; for a resort to the passivity of Brahman leads to the cessation of this existence and a resort to the active Brahman leads to its continuance. But here too, let us observe that this distinction


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arises by a movement of the individual soul from one poise to another, from the poise of Brahman-consciousness in the world, where it is a fulcrum for the universal action, to or towards the poise of Brahman-consciousness beyond the world, where it is a power for the withholding of energy from the universal action.
Moreover, if it is by energy of Tapas that the dispensing of force of being in the world-action is accomplished, it is equally by the energy of Tapas that the drawing back of that force of being is accomplished. The passive consciousness of Brahman and its active consciousness are not two different, conflicting and incompatible things; they are the same consciousness, the same energy, at one end in a state of self-reservation, at the other cast into a motion of self-giving and self-deploying, like the stillness of a reservoir and the coursing of the channels which flow from it. In fact, behind every activity there is and must be a passive power of being from which it arises, by which it is supported, which even, we see in the end, governs it from behind without being totally identified with it - in the sense at least of being itself all poured out into the action and indistinguishable from it. Such a self-exhausting identification is impossible; for no action, however vast, exhausts the original power from which it proceeds, leaving nothing behind it in reserve. When we get back into our own conscious being, when we stand back from our own action and see how it is done, we discover that it is our whole being which stands behind any particular act or sum of activities, passive in the rest of its integrality, active in its limited dispensation of energy; but that passivity is not an incapable inertia, it is a poise of self-reserved energy. A similar truth must apply still more completely to the conscious being of the Infinite, whose power, in silence of status as in creation, must also be infinite.
It is immaterial for the moment to inquire whether the passivity out of which all emerges is absolute or only relative to the observable action from which it holds back. It is enough to note that, though we make the distinction for the convenience of our minds, there is not a passive Brahman and an active Brahman, but one Brahman, an Existence which reserves Its Tapas in what

The Origin of the Ignorance

we call passivity and gives Itself in what we call Its activity. For the purposes of action, these are two poles of one being or a double power necessary for creation; the action proceeds on its circuit from the reservation and returns to it, presumably, the energies that were derived, to be again thrown out in a fresh circuit. The passivity of Brahman is Tapas or concentration of
Its being dwelling upon Itself in a self-absorbed concentration of
Its immobile energy; the activity is Tapas of Its being releasing what It held out of that incubation into mobility and travelling in a million waves of action, dwelling still upon each as It travels and liberating in it the being's truths and potentialities. There too is a concentration of force, but a multiple concentration, which seems to us a diffusion. But it is not really a diffusion, but a deploying; Brahman does not cast Its energy out of Itself to be lost in some unreal exterior void, but keeps it at work within Its being, conserving it unabridged and undiminished in all its continual process of conversion and transmutation. The passivity is a great conservation of Shakti, of Tapas supporting a manifold initiation of movement and transmutation into forms and happenings; the activity is a conservation of Shakti, of Tapas in the movement and transmutation. As in ourselves, so in Brahman, both are relative to each other, both simultaneously coexist, pole and pole in the action of one Existence.
The Reality then is neither an eternal passivity of immobile
Being nor an eternal activity of Being in movement, nor is It an alternation in Time between these two things. Neither in fact is the sole absolute truth of Brahman's reality; their opposition is only true of It in relation to the activities of Its consciousness.
When we perceive Its deployment of the conscious energy of
Its being in the universal action, we speak of It as the mobile active Brahman; when we perceive Its simultaneous reservation of the conscious energy of Its being kept back from the action, we speak of It as the immobile passive Brahman, - Saguna and
Nirguna, Kshara and Akshara: otherwise the terms would have no meaning; for there is one reality and not two independent realities, one immobile, the other mobile. In the ordinary view of the soul's evolution into the action, pravr.tti, and its involution


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into the passivity, nivr.tti, it is supposed that in the action the individual soul becomes ignorant, nescient of its passive which is supposed to be its true being, and in the passivity it becomes finally nescient of its active which is supposed to be its false or only apparent being. But this is because these two movements take place alternately for us, as in our sleep and waking; we pass in waking into nescience of our sleeping condition, in sleep into nescience of our waking being. But this happens because only part of our being performs this alternative movement and we falsely think of ourselves as only that partial existence: but we can discover by a deeper psychological experience that the larger being in us is perfectly aware of all that happens even in what is to our partial and superficial being a state of unconsciousness; it is limited neither by sleep nor by waking. So it is in our relations with Brahman who is our real and integral being. In the ignorance we identify ourselves with only a partial consciousness, mental or spiritual-mental in its nature, which becomes nescient of its self of status by movement; in this part of us, when we lose the movement, we lose at the same time our hold on our self of action by entering into passivity. By an entire passivity the mind falls asleep or enters into trance or else is liberated into a spiritual silence; but though it is a liberation from the ignorance of the partial being in its flux of action, it is earned by putting on a luminous nescience of the dynamic Reality or a luminous separation from it: the spiritual-mental being remains self-absorbed in a silent essential status of existence and becomes either incapable of active consciousness or repugnant to all activity; this release of silence is a status through which the soul passes in its journey towards the Absolute. But there is a greater fulfilment of our true and integral being in which both the static and the dynamic sides of the self are liberated and fulfilled in That which upholds both and is limited neither by action nor by silence.
For Brahman does not pass alternately from passivity to activity and back to passivity by cessation of Its dynamic force of being. If that were really true of the integral Reality, then, while the universe continued, there would be no passive Brahman

The Origin of the Ignorance

in existence, all would be action, and, if our universe were dissolved, there would be no active Brahman, all would become cessation and immobile stillness. But this is not so, for we can become aware of an eternal passivity and self-concentrated calm penetrating and upholding all the cosmic activity and all its multiply concentrated movement, - and this could not be if, so long as any activity continued, the concentrated passivity did not exist supporting it and within it. Integral Brahman possesses both the passivity and the activity simultaneously and does not pass alternately from one to the other as from a sleep to a waking: it is only some partial activity in us which seems to do that, and we by identifying ourselves with that partial activity have the appearance of this alternation from one nescience to another nescience; but our true, our integral being is not subject to these opposites and it does not need to become unaware of its dynamic self in order to possess its self of silence. When we get the integral knowledge and the integral liberation of both soul and nature free from the disabilities of the restricted partial and ignorant being, we too can possess the passivity and the activity with a simultaneous possession, exceeding both these poles of the universality, limited by neither of these powers of the Self in its relation or non-relation to Nature.
The Supreme, it has been declared in the Gita, exceeds both the immobile self and the mobile being; even put together they do not represent all he is. For obviously we do not mean, when we speak of his possessing them simultaneously, that he is the sum of a passivity and an activity, an integer made of those two fractions, passive with three fourths of himself, active with one fourth of his existence. In that case, Brahman might be a sum of nesciences, the passive three fourths not only indifferent to but quite ignorant of all that the activity is doing, the active one fourth quite unaware of the passivity and unable to possess it except by ceasing from action. Even, Brahman the sum might amount to something quite different from his two fractions, something, as it were, up and aloof, ignorant of and irresponsible for anything which some mystic Maya was at once obstinately doing and rigidly abstaining from doing in the two fractions of


The Life Divine
his existence. But it is clear that Brahman the Supreme Being must be aware both of the passivity and the activity and regard them not as his absolute being, but as opposite, yet mutually satisfying terms of his universalities. It cannot be true that Brahman, by an eternal passivity, is unaware, entirely separated from his own activities; free, he contains them in himself, supports them with his eternal power of calm, initiates them from his eternal poise of energy. It must be equally untrue that Brahman in his activity is unaware of or separated from his passivity; omnipresent, he is there supporting the action, possesses it always in the heart of the movement and is eternally calm and still and free and blissful in all the whirl of its energies. Nor in either silence or action can he be at all unaware of his absolute being, but knows that all he expresses through them draws its value and power from the power of that absolute existence. If it seems otherwise to our experience, it is because we identify with one aspect and by that exclusiveness fail to open ourselves to the integral Reality.
There necessarily follows an important first result, already arrived at from other view-points, that the Ignorance cannot have the origin of its existence or the starting-point of its dividing activities in the absolute Brahman or in integral Sachchidananda; it belongs only to a partial action of the being with which we identify ourselves, just as in the body we identify ourselves with that partial and superficial consciousness which alternates between sleep and waking: it is indeed this identification putting aside all the rest of the Reality behind us that is the constituting cause of the Ignorance. And if Ignorance is not an element or power proper to the absolute nature of the Brahman or to Its integrality, there can be no original and primal Ignorance. Maya, if it be an original power of the consciousness of the Eternal, cannot itself be an ignorance or in any way akin to the nature of ignorance, but must be a transcendent and universal power of self-knowledge and all-knowledge; ignorance can only intervene as a minor and subsequent movement, partial and relative. Is it then something inherent in the multiplicity of souls? Does it come into being immediately Brahman views himself in the

The Origin of the Ignorance

multiplicity, and does that multiplicity consist of a sum of souls each in its very nature fractional and divided from all the others in consciousness, unable to become aware of them at all except as things external to it, linked at most by communication from body to body or mind to mind, but incapable of unity? But we have seen that this is only what we seem to be in our most superficial layer of consciousness, the external mind and the physical; when we get back into a subtler, deeper, larger action of our consciousness, we find the walls of division becoming thinner and in the end there is left no wall of division, no
Body is the outward sign and lowest basis of the apparent division which Nature plunging into ignorance and self-nescience makes the starting-point for the recovery of unity by the individual soul, unity even in the midst of the most exaggerated forms of her multiple consciousness. Bodies cannot communicate with each other except by external means and through a gulf of externality; cannot penetrate each other except by division of the penetrated body or by taking advantage of some gap in it, some pre-existent division; cannot unite except by a breaking up and devouring, a swallowing and absorption and so an assimilation, or at most a fusion in which both forms disappear. Mind too, when identified with body, is hampered by its limitations; but in itself it is more subtle and two minds can penetrate each other without hurt or division, can interchange their substance without mutual injury, can in a way become parts of each other: still mind too has its own form which is separative of it from other minds and is apt to take its stand on this separateness.
When we get back to soul-consciousness, the obstacles to unity lessen and finally cease to exist altogether. The soul can in its consciousness identify itself with other souls, can contain them and enter into and be contained by them, can realise its unity with them; and this can take place, not in a featureless and indistinguishable sleep, not in a Nirvana in which all distinctions and individualities of soul and mind and body are lost, but in a perfect waking which observes and takes account of all distinctions but exceeds them.


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Therefore ignorance and self-limiting division are not inherent and insuperable in the multiplicity of souls, are not the very nature of the multiplicity of Brahman. Brahman, as he exceeds the passivity and the activity, so too exceeds the unity and multiplicity. He is one in himself, but not with a self-limiting unity exclusive of the power of multiplicity, such as is the separated unity of the body and the mind; he is not the mathematical integer, one, which is incapable of containing the hundred and is therefore less than the hundred. He contains the hundred, is one in all the hundred. One in himself, he is one in the many and the many are one in him. In other words, Brahman in his unity of spirit is aware of his multiplicity of souls and in the consciousness of his multiple souls is aware of the unity of all souls. In each soul he, the immanent Spirit, the Lord in each heart, is aware of his oneness. The Jivatman illumined by him, aware of its unity with the One, is also aware of its unity with the many. Our superficial consciousness, identified with body and with divided life and dividing mind, is ignorant; but that also can be illumined and made aware. Multiplicity, then, is not the necessary cause of the ignorance.
Ignorance, as we have already stated, comes in at a later stage, as a later movement, when mind is separated from its spiritual and supramental basis, and culminates in this earthlife where the individual consciousness in the many identifies itself by dividing mind with the form, which is the only safe basis of division. But what is the form? It is, at least as we see it here, a formation of concentrated energy, a knot of the force of consciousness in its movement, a knot maintained in being by a constant whirl of action; but whatever transcendent truth or reality it proceeds from or expresses, it is not in any part of itself in manifestation durable or eternal. It is not eternal in its integrality, nor in its constituting atoms; for they can be disintegrated by dissolving the knot of energy in constant concentrated action which is the sole thing that maintains their apparent stability. It is a concentration of Tapas in movement of force on the form maintaining it in being which sets up the physical basis of division. But all things in the activity are, we

The Origin of the Ignorance

have seen, a concentration of Tapas in movement of force upon its object. The origin of the Ignorance must then be sought for in some self-absorbed concentration of Tapas, of ConsciousForce in action on a separate movement of the Force; to us this takes the appearance of mind identifying itself with the separate movement and identifying itself also in the movement separately with each of the forms resulting from it. So it builds a wall of separation which shuts out the consciousness in each form from awareness of its own total self, of other embodied consciousnesses and of universal being. It is here that we must look for the secret of the apparent ignorance of the embodied mental being as well as of the great apparent inconscience of physical Nature. We have to ask ourselves what is the nature of this absorbing, this separating, this self-forgetful concentration which is the obscure miracle of the universe.

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1:Errors are permitted to the mind because they open doors upon truth. ~ Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine 2.12 - The Origin of the Ignorance,
2:No action, however vast, exhausts the original power from which it proceeds. ~ Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine 2.12 - The Origin of the Ignorance,
3:Absolute consciousness is in its nature absolute power; the nature of Chit is Shakti. ~ Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine 2.12 - The Origin of the Ignorance,
4:He desired, 'May I be Many'. He concentrated in Tapas, by Tapas he created the world; creating, he entered into it; entering, he became the existent and the beyond-existence, he became the expressed and the unexpressed, he became knowledge and ignorance, he became the truth and the falsehood: he became the truth, even all this whatsoever that is. 'That Truth' they call him. [Taittiriya Upanishad] ~ Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine 2.12 - The Origin of the Ignorance,

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2.12_-_The_Origin_of_the_Ignorance, #The Life Divine, #Sri Aurobindo, #Integral Yoga
  object:2.12 - The Origin of the Ignorance

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