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  • Writer's pictureShrikant Soman

Meaning of Life 4 - Transcending Limits, Unraveling the Mysteries of the Absolute

Updated: May 5


Meaning of Life - 4

Meaning of Life 4 -Transcending Limits: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Absolute


Based on Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo

Part One - Chapter 25 - 4

(continued from Part One - Chapter 25 - 3)


This note challenges popular beliefs by refuting the notion of an inherently unreal universe stemming from the detachment of the Absolute Brahman. It argues against projecting human cognitive limitations onto the Absolute and suggests that the limitations of human consciousness cannot serve as a litmus test for absolute capacity. This challenges common misconceptions and popular interpretations of the Upanishadic concept of the Absolute. Instead, it embarks upon a re-interpretation of the true essence of the Upanishads by emphasizing the interconnectedness between the Absolute and the manifested universe, highlighting the fundamental unity underlying all aspects of existence.


In this note we will try to explore and answer following questions about the nature of reality

  • What is the nature of the Absolute?

  • How does the Absolute relate to the manifested universe?

  • Can human cognition fully comprehend the essence of the Absolute?

  • How does the concept of the Absolute challenge the notion of an inherently unreal universe?

  • What role do the limitations of human consciousness play in shaping our understanding of the Absolute?

  • Does the Absolute possess a connection to the apparent world of manifestation?

  • How does the concept of the Unknowable intersect with our understanding of reality?

  • What implications does the recognition of the Unknowable have on our perception of unity and diversity?

  • Is there a fundamental distinction between the essence of the Absolute and the transient nature of the relative universe?

  • How does the interplay between unity and multiplicity manifest within the realms of Spirit and Matter?

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Synopsis

This note explores the intricate interplay between the Absolute and the manifested universe, diving into philosophical inquiries regarding the nature of reality and the limitations of human cognition. It argues against the concept of an inherently unreal universe originating from the detachment of the Absolute Brahman, attributing such ideas to the constraints of human consciousness. The limitations of human cognition are contrasted with the infinite capacity of the Absolute, challenging the assumption that it must mirror human cognitive limitations.


Moreover, the discussion touches upon the notion of the Unknowable—the ineffable essence beyond human comprehension—and its various manifestations. It underscores the fundamental Oneness underlying the diversity of manifestation, suggesting that passing judgment on the process of Becoming overlooks this underlying unity.


In summary, this note highlights the dichotomy between unity and multiplicity, the finite and the infinite, Spirit and Matter, while also presenting the potential for liberation by transcending dualistic limitations and embracing the inherent unity within all aspects of existence.

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Full Text

While the Absolute is not inherently bound to manifest a cosmos of relations, neither is it bound to abstain from such manifestation. It is not a mere void; for an empty Absolute is no Absolute at all—our conceptualization of emptiness or zero merely reflects our cognitive inability to comprehend or grasp its essence. Instead, the Absolute embodies an ineffable essentiality encompassing all that is and all that can be.

An empty Absolute is no Absolute at all—our conceptualization of emptiness or zero merely reflects our cognitive inability to comprehend or grasp its essence.

Since it contains this essentiality and possibility within itself, it must also, in some manner of its absoluteness, encompass either the permanent truth or the inherent, albeit latent, realizable actuality of all that underpins our existence or the existence of the world.

While the Absolute is not inherently bound to manifest a cosmos of relations, neither is it bound to abstain from such manifestation.

This realizable actuality, when actualized, or the permanent truth unfolding its potentials, constitutes what we perceive as manifestation—the universe. Thus, in the conception or realization of the truth of the Absolute, there exists no inherent, inevitable consequence of rejecting or dissolving the truth of the universe. Instead, there is a dynamic interplay between the potentialities inherent in the Absolute and the unfolding of reality that we perceive as the universe.


The notion of an inherently unreal universe, somehow brought into existence by an inscrutable Power of illusion, with the Absolute Brahman indifferent or aloof to it, fundamentally stems from the limitations of our mental consciousness. This concept essentially projects onto the Absolute Brahman an incapacity that arises from our own cognitive constraints in grasping its nature. 

When our mental consciousness ventures beyond its boundaries, it loses its familiar means of understanding and gravitates towards inactivity or cessation. Consequently, it struggles to maintain a coherent conception of the reality it once perceived as absolute. 

The Absolute embodies an ineffable essentiality encompassing all that is and all that can be.

In attributing to the absolute Parabrahman—conceived as eternally unmanifest—a corresponding detachment or separation from what appears to us as unreal, we mirror our own cognitive limitations onto the Absolute. We assume that, like our own mental cessation or self-extinction, the Absolute must inherently lack any connection to this apparent world of manifestation. It is viewed as incapable of providing the cognitive or dynamic support necessary to confer reality upon it. Alternatively, if such support exists, it is perceived as a mystical illusion, a magical Maya.

In attributing to the absolute Parabrahman—conceived as eternally unmanifest—a corresponding detachment or separation from what appears to us as unreal, we mirror our own cognitive limitations onto the Absolute.

However, there is no compelling reason to accept the existence of such a chasm. The limitations of our relative human consciousness cannot serve as a litmus test for absolute capacity. Our conceptions are inadequate to gauge the depths of absolute self-awareness. What may be necessary for our mental ignorance to transcend itself cannot be presumed as a requirement for the Absolute, which has no need to escape from itself and no rationale for refusing to acknowledge whatever is cognizable to it. Therefore, the limitations of our cognition should not be projected onto the Absolute, which exists beyond the confines of our comprehension.

There exists the unmanifest Unknowable—the ineffable essence beyond human comprehension.

There exists the unmanifest Unknowable—the ineffable essence beyond human comprehension. Simultaneously, there is the manifest knowable, partially revealed to our limited understanding, yet fully unveiled to the divine Knowledge which encompasses it within its infinite grasp. While it remains true that neither our ignorance nor our most expansive mental acuity can fully grasp the Unknowable, it is equally true that this Unknowable manifests itself in various ways, whether through our knowledge or through our ignorance.

It is crucial to recognize that this manifestation cannot be anything other than the Unknowable itself, as nothing else can truly exist.

It is crucial to recognize that this manifestation cannot be anything other than the Unknowable itself, as nothing else can truly exist. Within this diversity of manifestation lies a fundamental Oneness, and it is through this diversity that we can apprehend the underlying unity. However, even with this acknowledgment of coexistence, there remains the possibility of passing a final judgment on the process of Becoming—a condemnation that advocates for a renunciation of it and a return to the state of absolute Being.


This verdict can be grounded in the differentiation between the genuine reality of the Absolute and the partial, often misleading reality of the relative universe. Despite the manifold manifestations of the Unknowable in the diversity of the cosmos, there persists a fundamental distinction between the unchanging essence of the Absolute and the transient nature of the relative universe.

Within the vast tapestry of knowledge, we encounter the profound dichotomy between unity and multiplicity, mirroring the duality of the finite and the infinite.

Within the vast tapestry of knowledge, we encounter the profound dichotomy between unity and multiplicity, mirroring the duality of the finite and the infinite. We witness the dynamic interplay between that which undergoes transformation and that which eternally exists, untouched by change. There exists the realm of embodiment, where forms manifest, and the realm beyond form, where essence resides unbounded. We confront the polarities of Spirit and Matter, traversing the realms of the highest Superconscience to the deepest Inconscience.


Yet, amidst this dualistic framework, there lies a potential liberation. We can conceive of Knowledge as the possession of one aspect while being devoid of the other, thereby defining the absence of understanding as Ignorance. Through this perspective, we navigate the intricacies of existence, seeking to transcend the limitations of dualism and embrace the unity underlying all apparent divisions.

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