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  • Writer's pictureShrikant Soman

Meaning of Life 3 - Brahman as both Knowledge and Ignorance

Updated: May 5


Life Divine - Part One - Chapter 15

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Meaning of Life 3 - Brahman as both Knowledge and Ignorance

Based on Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo

Part One - Chapter 15 -3

(continued from Part One - Chapter 15 - 2)

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Key Takeaways

Brahman's Nature: Brahman is depicted as stable and mobile, internal and external, encompassing all aspects of existence in time and space.

Liberating Knowledge: True knowledge encompasses both the Self and its creations, perceiving them as emanations of the Self-existent.

Dual Perception:Liberated spirits perceive the universe as intrinsic to their being, unlike the limited mind which sees it as external.

Integration of Knowledge and Igorance: True understanding involves perceiving Brahman as both Knowledge and Ignorance simultaneously, uniting the transcendent with cosmic self-awareness.

Holistic Awareness: Integral knowledge is key to attaining Immortality, establishing a foundation in the supramundane while manifesting self-awareness in the mundane.

Absolute Reality Beyond Constraints: The Absolute transcends rigid oneness and is beyond finite definitions, descriptions, or human conception.

Affirmation and Negation: Approaching the Absolute involves both affirmation and negation, exploring different facets of existence.

Reality as Singular Being: Reality is characterized by absolute Self-Existence, leading to eternal Peace and Silence through negating the actions of the creative Power.

Dynamic Process of Becoming: Being and Becoming are intrinsic truths within the framework of one absolute Reality, transcending all relations and constraints.

Two Perspectives: One perspective negates the world of relativities to attain liberation, while the other views the Absolute as inherently unlimitable, beyond human comprehension.

Inherent Manifestation Potential: The Absolute's capacity to manifest in both unity and multiplicity on an infinite scale explains the existence of the cosmos.

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Synopsis

In the vast expanse of Vedantic philosophy, Brahman emerges as both the stable and the mobile, embodying all manifestations of existence across Time and Space. Liberating knowledge encompasses both the Self and its creations, perceiving the universe as intrinsic to the self. Understanding Brahman as both Knowledge and Ignorance simultaneously unlocks the path to Immortality and the Life Divine, uniting transcendent realization with cosmic self-awareness. This integral knowledge surpasses rigid definitions, embracing all facets of existence. Through the interplay of affirmation and negation, we approach the unfathomable Absolute, experiencing both its silent essence and dynamic potentiality. While the Absolute transcends our cognitive limitations, it also manifests itself in various ways, unveiling fundamental Oneness amidst diversity. Despite distinctions between absolute reality and the relative universe, a final judgment on the process of Becoming remains elusive, urging us to embrace the mystery of existence beyond comprehension.

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Full Note

In the intricate tapestry of Vedantic thought, Brahman is depicted as the stable and the mobile, the internal and the external, encompassing all that is near and far, both spiritually and in the vast expanse of Time and Space. Brahman is the essence of Being and all its manifestations, the Pure and Silent beyond action, yet also the Seer and Thinker who orchestrates the world and its myriad phenomena.

Brahman is depicted as the stable and the mobile, the internal and the external, encompassing all that is near and far, both spiritually and in the vast expanse of Time and Space.

The Upanishad further asserts that true and liberating knowledge does not exclude either the Self or its creations. The liberated spirit perceives all aspects of existence as emanations of the Self-existent, through an internal vision and a consciousness that envelops the universe within itself. Unlike the limited and egoistic mind, which perceives the world as external to itself, the liberated spirit sees the universe as an intrinsic part of its own being.


Living within the confines of cosmic Ignorance is akin to dwelling in blindness, yet to restrict oneself to the exclusive absolutism of Knowledge is equally blinding. True understanding lies in perceiving Brahman as both Knowledge and Ignorance simultaneously, embracing the supreme essence that encompasses both Becoming and Non-Becoming. It entails uniting the realization of the transcendent with the awareness of the cosmic self, establishing a foundation in the supramundane while manifesting self-awareness in the mundane. This integral knowledge is the key to attaining Immortality, for it encompasses the entirety of consciousness and knowledge. It is this holistic awareness that lays the groundwork for the Life Divine and renders its attainment achievable.

Living within the confines of cosmic Ignorance is akin to dwelling in blindness, yet to restrict oneself to the exclusive absolutism of Knowledge is equally blinding.

Therefore, the absolute reality of the Absolute transcends the constraints of rigid indeterminable oneness. It is not merely an infinity devoid of all that is not pure self-existence, achievable only through the exclusion of the many and the finite. Rather, it is something beyond such finite definitions, beyond any description—positive or negative—that the human mind can conceive.


All statements, whether affirmations or negations, serve as expressions of different facets of existence, each contributing to our understanding of the Absolute. It is through both the highest affirmation and the highest negation that we can approach the Absolute. 

True understanding lies in perceiving Brahman as both Knowledge and Ignorance simultaneously, embracing the supreme essence that encompasses both Becoming and Non-Becoming.

On one side, we encounter the Reality, characterized by absolute Self-Existence—an eternal, singular being. By experiencing the silent and motionless Self or the detached, uninvolved Purusha, we can progress towards this featureless, relationless Absolute. We negate the actions of the creative Power, whether perceived as illusory Maya or formative Prakriti, transcending the cyclic nature of cosmic error. This journey leads us to eternal Peace and Silence, where we shed our personal existence and either find or lose ourselves in the singular true Existence. Through this process of affirmation and negation, we inch closer to the unfathomable depths of the Absolute.


On the opposite end of the spectrum, we encounter a dynamic process of Becoming, which constitutes a genuine movement of Being. Both Being and Becoming are intrinsic truths within the framework of one absolute Reality.

It is this holistic awareness that lays the groundwork for the Life Divine and renders its attainment achievable.

The former perspective stems from a metaphysical conception that delineates an extreme perception within our thought, fostering an exclusive experience in our consciousness of the Absolute as a reality devoid of all relations and determinations. This viewpoint logically necessitates the denial of the world of relativities as a realm of false and unreal being—a state of non-existence (Asat), or at the very least, a lower, fleeting, temporal self-experience. Its objective is to sever this realm from consciousness to attain liberation of the spirit from its erroneous perceptions or its inferior creations.


In contrast, the latter perspective is rooted in the conception of the Absolute as inherently unlimitable, neither positively nor negatively bound. It transcends all relations in the sense that it remains untouched by any relativities or constraints in its essence. The Absolute cannot be confined or defined by our relative conceptions, whether they be lofty or base, affirmative or negative. It stands beyond the limitations of our knowledge or ignorance, existence or non-existence. It is this boundless nature that defies categorization, beyond any human capacity to fully comprehend or confine.


However, the Absolute cannot be constrained by any limitation in its capacity to contain, sustain, create, or manifest relations. On the contrary, the inherent ability to manifest itself in both unity and multiplicity on an infinite scale can be viewed as a direct consequence of its absolute nature. This potentiality alone serves as a profound explanation for the existence of the cosmos.

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............ to continue




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