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Individuality and the Manifestation of Infinity

To mortal, limited beings living in ephemeral, physical bodies in a transient, material world of visible and tangible finite forms, the existence of an invisible, insubstantial, infinite, eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, universal and transcendent Divine is a wonder of wonders beyond conception. But Sri Aurobindo says the greatest mystery in not the existence of God. A still greater wonder is how an insubstantial Infinite and Eternal Spirit could create the finite, temporal material universe we live in. How can the Infinite conceal itself in such a manner as to appear finite? The problem arises because the Infinite cannot create anything outside of itself, for there is nothing beyond that Infinite, so where shall it create a world? Nor can it create anything that it is not already, since it is already the All and more than All, so what shall it create? Furthermore, creation means creation of form and that means creation of limitations and boundaries that define the form. Since Infinity has no boundaries or limitations, how can it take form? The manifestation of Infinity as finite form in space and time is the mystery of mysteries which Sri Aurobindo unravels in The Life Divine.

The Absolute, Brahman, the Omnipresent Reality is Infinite. It is infinite not just in quantity. It is also infinite in qualities, as well as in the dimensions of space, time, property, color, texture or design. It is Infinite in each of these dimensions and there is an infinity of dimensions – dimensions of consciousness, knowledge, energy, force, power, form, beauty, love and ananda. Thus, the Absolute is an Infinity of Infinities. It is Infinity to the power of Infinity, Infinity.
Sri Aurobindo tells us that the Infinite and Eternal Absolute did not create the universe. It became the universe for the sheer delight of self-manifestation, of becoming in Space and Time. The unmanifest Pure Existence experiences itself as a static bliss. Manifestation adds to that the Self-experience of active Delight. If we can speak of a goal at all, its goal is to experience the infinite delight of a progressive manifestation in endless Space and eternal Time, in which it is at once the creator, the creation and the act of creating.
Brahman is the Omnipresent Reality which includes both the Absolute and the relative, the Infinite and the finite, the One and the many, the Eternal unity and the temporal universe. This manifestation did not commence at a particular point in time. Its manifestation in Time Eternity is a natural counterpart to its unmanifest existence as the Timeless Eternal. The entire manifestation is an evolutionary adventure of consciousness and delight in Time. The entire universal manifestation is evolving through time. The soul too evolves progressively as the Psychic Being. He says that even the Divine Being, the Iswara is evolving.
What possible relation can this Infinity and this manifestation have to insignificant moral man? What possible relevance can this knowledge of the Infinite have to our lives on earth? When rightly understood, the implications are momentous. The practical power of this knowledge for accomplishment in life is without limit. For man is not merely the small separative, limited ego which he thinks he is. The Individual too is a form or representative of the Infinite Eternal. While becoming the universe, the Divine retains at all times its essential divinity. It is at once the Transcendent Godhead, the Cosmic Being and the Spiritual Individual, which are forms it assumes for the purpose of its manifestation. Each individual is in its inmost psychic being a portion of that Infinite, a portion but not a part or a proportion. Each individual contains within itself the whole Divine, the Absolute. For the Infinite is indivisible. It resides fully in each of the forms it creates. As a consequence, each individual has the potential to get in touch with the Infinity within itself and to wield the same creative power and process by which the One has created the universe. Thus, a precise knowledge of that process is of the greatest value.
Process of Creation
Being Infinite and therefore indefinable, how does the Infinite All create something out of itself? It does so by projecting forth an aspect of its Infinite being and holding back all the rest. The Spirit is like white light which contains all the possible colors of the spectrum (an infinite number of different wavelengths), yet when we look at it, we do not see the colors. Color manifests only when most of the wavelengths of white light are held back and a small portion of the wavelength spectrum is reflected. An object appears blue because the substance of the object absorbs all colors except blue and reflects only the blue. When all the wavelengths of light are absorbed by an object, it appears black, like the inconscient. That inconscience is only an appearance, because the entire consciousness lies hidden within it. Spirit, which is featureless and formless, is like the white light in which we cannot see anything and it manifests its hidden contents in the same way, by holding back the All and projecting only one aspect at a time.
When Jane Austen wrote Pride & Prejudice, she concentrated on one aspect of herself, her capacity as a writer, and one aspect of consciousness, her ideas of love and romance. She conceived a love story in which a courageous young woman of strong and independent character wins the heart of a wealthy nobleman and rises to the grandeur of high society. While writing this story, the author pushes away from her mind her thoughts on other themes and other aspects of her life and relationships. So deeply may she be absorbed in the conception and writing of the story that she may forget for a time other interests, responsibilities, people and events. So intensely did the actors who played the part of Darcy and Elizabeth in the BBC version of the movie concentrate on the parts they played, that they came to fully identify themselves with the characters they portrayed. They actually came to feel themselves like these characters and fell in love with one another.
The Divine creates the same way, by concentrating on one aspect of its infinite existence and withholding everything else in the background. Supermind is the Divine’s power for manifesting the Infinite by a process of Self-conception, Self-limitation and Self-absorption. By this process of creation, the Spirit gives form to different aspects of itself. By Self-conception, the Spirit projects truths of itself as Real-Ideas, which are powers or vibrations of the Self-Conscious Being. This is akin to the way Jane Austen conceived the general theme and story line of her novel. By Self-limitation, it holds back other aspects of itself, like the other wavelengths of white light, so that each aspect can manifest as a distinct vibration. Then Austen fashioned from her own personality and personal experience specific characters and events through which to manifest the theme of romantic love. By Self-absorption, the Infinite Consciousness of which each aspect is an expression conceals or absorbs itself within the form it manifests, hidden from view within each form as the Individual Divine. By concentrating solely on the unique attributes of each character, the people in Austen’s story acquire their own distinct and separate personalities. Each of these characters and events is a creation of the author’s creative consciousness, which is its source and the very substance of which they are composed.
Cosmic Determinates
Since the Absolute is Infinite, it must be capable of an infinite number and variety of determining vibrations. The Absolute objectifies itself as Sachchidananda, (Existence, Consciousness, Bliss), from which all creation is derived. That Existence (Sat) reveals itself to the evolving soul as Atman (Self), Purusha (Conscious Being), Iswara (the Divine or God). Consciousness (Chit) extends itself as Knowledge and Will. Bliss (Ananda) expresses itself as Beauty, Love and Joy. Other essential powers and attributes of the Spirit include Silence, Peace, Infinity, Eternity, Freedom, Truth, and Goodness. He calls these the fundamental spiritual determinations of the Infinite. Each of these has the capacity to combine with any of the others to form new determinates, which can in turn combine with one another and with the fundamental determinates to create other determinates. Jane manifests Goodness, which is formed by uniting Knowledge and Truth; while Elizabeth manifests goodwill for her sister, which is formed by uniting Goodness with Will. Furthermore, each of these determinates can also differentiate itself as subject, object and experience (as knower, object of knowledge, and act of knowing; as lover, beloved and act of love; etc.). Each of these combinations of determinates represents a unique vibration of Being, a potentiality of the Infinite Absolute, which seeks to manifest itself for the sheer delight of existence. Darcy as the Lover beholds the Beauty of Elizabeth’s fine eyes, finds Love welling up within him, and feels the ecstatic Joy when his Beloved accepts his second proposal. In this manner, the Infinite can formulate an infinite number of possible combinations of determinates seeking to manifest themselves in infinite Space and Eternal Time.  
This explains the capacity of the Infinite to manifest an infinite variety of characteristics and forms. But it does not fully explain our own experience. For in life we often encounter qualities that appear to be the very opposite of the spiritual determinates – ignorance, falsehood, suffering and evil. Man has always wondered why and how these contradictions of the Spirit exist. Do they too come from the Infinite? Sri Aurobindo explains that while the spiritual determinates exist absolutely in the Absolute, their opposites do not. They are like shadow and darkness, which do not really exist as things in themselves. A shadow is formed when light falls on an object from only one direction. You can dispel a shadow by bringing more light, you cannot add a shadow to anything. Darkness is perceived when light is absent. You can add light, but you cannot take away darkness.
The negative attributes we experience are limitations and distortions of the spiritual determinates created by self-absorption of Divine Consciousness through Involution by the action of dividing Mind. This involution creates Ignorance and Ego, which are mechanisms for distorting the appearance of the spiritual determinates so they appear as their opposites. We find many such negative qualities in the story, which are created by the suppression or partial concealment of a spiritual determinate. Darcy’s Pride is the tarnished egoistic version of the psychic quality of Dignity, an ennobling characteristics of high cultural aristocracy. His domineering interference in Bingley’s relationship with Jane is the egoistic expression of a spiritual attitude of consciousness responsibility, which he expresses when he gives up his selfishness and saves Lydia and her family from complete disgrace. When Dignity and Responsibility express through the ego, they appear as lower or even opposite qualities. Darcy’s pride offends others and discredits his own character. His domineering interference disrupts and destroys relationships between other people, which his capacity to assume consciousness responsibility for the problems not his own saves others and restores harmonious relations.
Through this projection of spiritual determinants and their distortion by Ignorance and Ego, the Absolute is able to manifest a universe of create diversity. But Infinity, by definition, is without limit, so it can never be exhausted. This manifestation of an Infinitude of Infinities in a finite world of space and time still poses a problem. You might say the universe is simply too small and limited for the manifestation of Infinity. Some additional mechanism is required. The key is Individuality or uniqueness.
Each form, each being or soul represents a unique combination of determinates, a unique vibration of the Infinite Being. As every human being has a unique set of fingerprints, each soul represents a unique vibration of Being. Darcy’s pride, Wickham’s charming falsehood, Elizabeth’s impertinence, Collins’ sycophancy, Mrs. Bennet’s nerves, Mr. Bennet’s aloofness, Mrs. Gardiner’s self-restraint, Lady Catherine’s vanity, Lydia’s shamelessness, Mary’s pedantry, Jane’s goodness, and Charlotte’s practicality represent vibrations of that Being in various degrees of purity and distortion. Still this is an oversimplification. For each soul is in fact a microcosm of unique vibrations in combination.  Apart from a rich man’s self-importance, Darcy has traces of goodness, truthfulness, clumsiness, domineering will, a master’s kindness, a brother’s affection, a lord’s generosity, a friend’s concern, a man’s passion and a lover’s idealism. He is himself a profusion of human qualities, a unique combination of all the basic characteristics of human nature, the society and class from which he comes. All these elements that add to the complexity of personality add to the capacity of the Absolute to manifest infinity.
Furthermore, each of these souls has the capacity to relate, interact and creatively combine in experience with every other unique soul, creating an infinite combination of influences and relationship. Oversimplifying again, we might quantity the potential combinations that can be formed from the world’s current population of 7 billion as 7x1018 possible interactions at any instant in time. The interactions of Darcy, Bingley, Caroline, Lady Catherine, Lady Anne, Collins, Mrs. Hurst, Wickham, Georgiana, Mrs. Young, Mrs. Reynolds, Colonel Foster, the Gardiners, the Hursts, the chambermaid at Lambton, Elizabeth and her family with one another represent only a few of an infinite number of possible combinations.
Space and Time add additional dimensions of complexity and uniqueness. Each point in space and each moment in time is an infinitesimal drop in the infinite and eternal ocean of the Absolute’s self-experience. Each point in boundless universal Space is unique and each of these possibilities can occur at any, many or every different point in space, once or any number of times in any sequence. Each moment in Eternal Time is also unique and each of these possibilities can occur at any, many or every different moment of time or any number of times in any order. So we see Darcy and Elizabeth, two souls, meeting at the first Meryton ball where she accidently overhears Darcy call her ‘tolerable’; at the Meryton dance where she refuses Darcy’s offer to dance; at Netherfield Hall when she goes to care for Jane; at the Netherfield ball where they do dance; at Rosings and on its grounds; in the Hunsford parsonage where he calls on her twice and proposes; twice again at Pemberley; twice at Lambton Inn; and finally at Longbourn. Each time the situation is slightly altered, their own thoughts and feelings are different and the action is unique. During their first meeting, Darcy is stiff, aloof and provoked when Bingley calls him stupid. At the next dance, she has already decided she does not like him, while he is already drawn to admire her fine eyes. At Netherfield Hall, she is bewildered when he invites her to waltz. When he stares at her in admiration, she is sure he means to silently mock and condemn, further aggravating her dislike. When he comes to propose at Hunsford, she is furious with him, having just learned from Fitzwilliam of Darcy’s successful efforts to separate Bingley and Jane.
There are other unique circumstances surrounding each of these events. He is 27, she 21, not the reverse. She has a vulgar mother, he is parentless with a sister that needs a guardian and a domineering aunt trying to marry him to her own sickly daughter. Both, importantly, are not yet married nor too old or disinclined to wedlock. They met at the time of the French Revolution, not 50 years too early for such a marriage between the classes or 50 years too late for it to have any particular significance. The setting is evolutionary England, not Revolutionary France, where even their meeting is highly improbable. Wickham, Collins and Fitzwilliam are potential rival suitors hovering about, whose very presence prompts Darcy to propose. Each of their meetings is unique in its circumstances, its action and the disposition of the characters. The atmosphere of each of these places has its influence on their self-experience. When Bingley prods Darcy to dance with her, he calls her ‘tolerable’. Caroline catches him staring at Elizabeth’s fine eyes. He frowns on her muddy shoes and petticoat when she walks to Netherfield after the rains. In reply to Caroline’s inquiry, he observes his sister is about the same height as Ms. Bennet. She feels an irresistible urge to taunt him during their dance at the Netherfield ball when she discovers that Wickham has not come. She teases him when he approaches her playing the piano at Rosings. When he proposes so clumsily, she calls him the last man on earth she would ever marry. Space and time are ultimately important when she visits Pemberley with the Gardiners. Had they departed just a few minutes earlier or had he arrived a few minutes later, they may never have met again. Later he calls on her at the inn precisely at the moment she is overwhelmed by the news of Lydia’s elopement and confesses all to him. As the experience of Darcy and Elizabeth varies with each place, moment, circumstance and event, the whole experience of the universe can be described as the subjective Self-experience of the Divine.
So too, each soul is capable of an inner self-experience of the various aspects of its own being – ideas, thoughts, feelings, sensations, and movements as well as spiritual experiences. Elizabeth laughs to herself when he calls her ‘tolerable’. She keenly observes the silent coolness between Darcy and Wickham during their chance meeting on the road at Meryton. Anger rises when she believes Darcy had prevented Wickham’s attendance at the ball. In spite of their angry confrontation at Hunsford, he wishes her health and happiness before he departs. The following day she observes the budding flowers announcing the start of Spring. She feels herself humiliated and absurd when she reads his letter and is ashamed of her own genius. They are both startled speechless by their unexpected meeting at Pemberley. Elizabeth falls from the heights of anticipation to the depths of despair in a single day when she reads Jane’s letter at Lambton Inn. By an accidental word, Lydia reveals the secret of Darcy’s noble intervention to save the family.
Moreover, each individual is evolving in time from ignorance to knowledge or knowledge to greater knowledge, so that we are never the same from one moment to the next.  Early in the story Elizabeth is an unselfconscious member of the Bennet family, accepting but not reflecting on her own psychological inheritance or that of her parents. Mrs. Bennet’s attempt to compel her to accept Collins’ proposal is a turning point. When she refuses, her mother rejects her and says she will never speak to her again. Reading Darcy’s letter at Hunsford, Elizabeth discovers that she never knew herself till them. She realized how blindly and foolishly she had been taken in by Wickham’s charms and falsehood. She recognized the ‘genius’ (genii) within herself that took great joy in unjustly condemning and abusing Darcy. Still she makes excuses for Wickham and suppresses information about his character. But when she learns of Lydia’s elopement, her vital falsehood is nakedly exposed to herself. She recognizes that in her which clung to what she knew to be untrue, bringing ruin on her own family. This transition from blissful ignorance to mature self-knowledge marked a progressive evolution of her consciousness from subconscious vitality to mental self-consciousness. Darcy underwent a parallel but more radical transformation from offensive and arrogant self-conceit to magnanimous goodness and self-effacing self-giving. He confesses that in abusing her, she had taught him a hard and painful lesson in self-awareness, but one that prompted him to drastically alter his attitudes and behavior. Their evolution adds marvelous new dimensions to the manifestation of spiritual determinates in their personalities and lives.
And their world too is evolving. The French Revolution has stirred the aspirations of the lower classes in society. Wickham dares to attempt to elope with Georgiana. Collins dares to introduce himself to Darcy. Lydia has no fear of eloping with Wickham. Lady Catherine condescends to call on Elizabeth at Longbourn to press her case. Georgiana’s governess, Mrs. Young, dares to conspire against Pemberley. Sir Lucas presumptuously offers to introduce Caroline at court. Mrs. Bennet does not fear to insult Darcy to his face. Tectonic shifts in the relationship between the classes alter opinions, attitudes, motives and actions at all levels of the society.
Space and Time form the field or playground for this infinite, never ending quest for the delight of self-manifestation. The interaction of each unique evolving soul with itself, other souls, each moment, act and event, with the evolving world of forms and forces in which it lives and with the Transcendent Eternal from one unique, infinitesimal moment to another, from one infinitesimal point to another, through myriad infinitesimal acts in boundless Space and Eternal Time is lila.
The ultimate secret of that manifestation is concealed in the infinitesimal. A thoughtless word overheard at a dance, circumstances compelling a change in Gardiners’ holiday destination, Elizabeth’s humiliating disclosure during a moment of distress later regretted, Darcy’s fortuitous arrival in time to save his sister and to meet the woman he loved, Lydia’s unintentional revelation of Darcy’s presence at her marriage. These are the minute details of which our lives are woven, each concealing and occasionally revealing a universe of significance, for the entire Infinite resides in them all. Illusions of quantity and quality mask the Infinite in the infinitesimal.
From Knowledge to Power
To know the significance of the infinitesimal is to discover the power of the Infinite. All that we see as finite, limited, ignorant and impotent is in reality a frontal appearance of the Infinite. Behind every finite appearance lies an infinite potential. It means that every individual, every circumstance and every moment possesses infinite possibilities. But what sort of possibilities? If anything can happen at any moment, does it mean that we live in a world of pure chance? A world governed by pure mechanical chance in which nothing is predictable and anything can happen by chance would be a world of chaos. Yet, in spite of the appearances, that manifestation is not random or whimsical. It is a manifestation with a purpose and an evolutionary direction. Infinite possibilities might be the action of an inconscient force acting randomly, but infinite potentials are the expression of a conscious creative power. The Infinite potential we speak of is an infinite potential for creation. The Infinite we are describing is a conscious Infinite, an Infinite that has the capacity to become whatever it wants to become, to manifest whatever it chooses to manifest at any and every moment.
And what does this omnipotent creative will have to do with us and our lives? Are we mere objects of the Infinite’s creative imagination, playthings for its amusement? Sri Aurobindo says otherwise. He says we ourselves are part of that creative Infinite. Every soul, every individual is in its inmost being a part and portion of that Infinite, its representative, its delegate. Our very being is a portion of its Being, our personalities are richly woven fabrics composed of myriad colorful threads of that Being, vibrations of Being which are true aspects of Spirit. These same threads are the cosmic determinates of which the entire universe is constituted. And the Divine’s purpose and goal is to manifest or realize some aspect of its Infinite power and glory in each individual, to give birth to the Divine in man. Each person is a form of that one Individual Divine which lives within each of us, yet is at the same time a unique Spiritual Individual, a unique combination of threads and fibers, an original manifestation of the Infinite. Therefore, he says, why do you want to worship God when you can become God? He asks us to discover that the Individual is the Infinite. For that Individuality to emerge, we must cease to identify with the ego.
Momentous consequences follow. We each possess the creative power of the Infinite to manifest Infinity in our own lives. We are each the creator of our lives. We are the determinate of our own creation. The Infinite possibility he speaks of is not an infinite chaos, but an infinite power for accomplishment. The creation is not a creation of chance but a creation without any limitations.
What then, determines the manifestation of the Infinite in our lives and how can we determine what it manifests? Our view of the world determines how we experience the Unknowable. He says that the Unknowable manifests itself according to the values of our human consciousness. It is our choice of values, attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, aspirations and subconscious urges that determines what comes to us in Life and how we experience it. Yet we have the power to alter that choice at every moment, to choose differently. The first essential step is to recognize that the life we lead, the circumstances we experience, the problems we face are not inevitable. They are only a rendering of the Infinite in terms of our consciousness and, if we will, we can change that representation. In what way, with what effect? In any way and with any effect. Because our lives are a frontal representation of the Infinite, we can make of our lives whatever we choose. But first we must recognize and accept that we are the determinate. Then we must discover that we have the power to change that determination. Still further we must experience that by such a change, the circumstances and events in our lives can be altered to any extent, that anything is possible. Finally we must make the decision to change our view to change our lives. We must rent the veil of finite Nature to reveal the Unknowable.
How shall we change that view? In order to reveal the Infinite in the finite, we must discard the mind’s ordinary, superficial egoistic view of life and replace it with a non-egoistic regard. The Unknowable appears to the divided ego as a life of limitations and dualities. We view life in terms of the opposites – good and evil, right and wrong, like and dislike, success and failure. But that is only the ego’s limited, narrow response to Life. When we widen our view to embrace the totality of existence, the Unknowable reveals a greater truth behind the dualities. We discover that all that comes to us, comes for our progress; every problem contains within it an opportunity, every evil directs us toward a greater Good, every error points toward a greater Truth, if only we give up the limitations of the ego. Life brings to us circumstances and reactions perfectly designed to awaken our consciousness and facilitate our progress.
The ego expresses in everything we are and all we do. It divides the totality, distorts the reality. It generates competition, conflict and contradictions in place of universal harmony. We overcome ego physically by withdrawing egoistic initiatives, such as the desire of Mrs. Bennet to gloat in triumph over Jane’s superiority to Lady Lucas’ daughters, which drove Bingley away from Netherfield, and her insistent demand that Elizabeth marry Collins, which drove Collins and the entail into the arms of Charlotte. Egoistic initiative inevitably leads to an equal and opposite reaction, as Lady Catherine’s initiative to prevent Darcy from marrying Elizabeth actually facilitated and expedited that very act she sought to prevent. When we withdraw initiative, contradictions and conflicts vanish. Darcy, who took egoistic initiative to interfere with Bingley’s engagement to Jane is prompted by this knowledge to reverse his attitude and take a non-egoistic initiative to arrange the engagement of Lydia with Wickham.
We overcome ego vitally by withdrawing reactions of all types. Anything that disturbs, aggravates, annoys or provokes is a reaction of the ego that generates its own opposite reaction from life. Darcy’s false pride attracted Wickham’s false scandal and Elizabeth’s wrongful prejudice. His refusal to dance with Elizabeth led him to later beg for the opportunity thrice before she was finally compelled to accept. His calling her tolerable led her in turn to later describe him as the last man on earth she would ever marry. When we withdraw our reactions, opposition disappears. When he took her hard lessons to heart, she found him quite amiable and pleasing. When she fully accepted her vital complicity in Lydia’s elopement, the family’s honor was restored. 
We overcome ego mentally by withdrawing our opinions and preferences. That is what Darcy did when he overcame his sense of class superiority and selfishness. When we withdraw preferences, problems are transformed into opportunities. The woman who had spurned him so violently appeared at his very door and welcomed a renewal of his proposal. Mr. Bennet’s sincere recognition of his own irresponsible conduct got three daughters married within a few months at no expense to himself.
More than anything, Darcy wanted to win Elizabeth’s approval and her love, but he was too manly and sensitive to ask for it. In pursuing the wayward and disgraced Lydia to London, hunting down the scoundrel Wickham and negotiating with him, paying off his debts and purchasing an army commission for him –equivalent perhaps to a year’s income for Darcy – these are, indeed, mortifying acts for anyone, let alone one so proud as Darcy. Yet he did it for her. And as an ultimate act of self-giving, we desired that his deeds be kept secret. That one small request on top of all else confirmed his transformation from an ordinary selfish man to an extraordinary individual. The single act of rejecting the claims of ego for credit, recognition and reward was sufficient to open the floodgates of the Infinite for a single moment and let one short phrase escape from secrecy. Thus, Lydia inadvertently disclosed to Elizabeth that Darcy was at her wedding. In time the whole secret of his magnificent generosity comes out. At that moment Elizabeth is assured of her future status as mistress of Pemberley and Darcy of the emotional fulfillment he so deeply longs for.
We search in the wrong place for answers to the secret of our lives. It is there right before us in the smallest and apparently least significant details. Our perfection is not measured in our conduct at moments of social importance when the eyes of the world are upon us, but in our attitudes to the smallest acts and least important persons. For what looks small and least important to our egos is Infinite. As Ganesh won the race around the world by circling his parents while his brother circled the globe, we need not travel the world to accomplish, but to master the world within ourselves.


story | by Dr. Radut