Skip to content

Improvising the Life Divine, chapters 1 to 16

Chapter 1: The Human Aspiration

The Life Divine begins by pointing us to an ever-present movement of our deepest heart, a remembrance of That from which we have become alienated.  There is, Sri Aurobindo tells us, an aspiration within, which, if we contact it and remember it at each moment, can, in itself, take us all the way to the Divine Life.  In his letters on the Mother, he begins by saying there are only two things necessary for the Divine Life, an aspiration from below (from within us) and a Grace answering from above (the Grace of the Divine Energy which creates and moves every particle, every process of this and all universes).

Chapters 2 and 3: The Materialists and Spiritualists:

Sri Aurobindo goes on to consider the extremes to which humanity has gone in its beliefs about the world. On the one hand, the modern materialists, denying the validity of this aspiration, denying even the possibility that energy that even scientists recognize is inevitably associated with “matter” may be conscious, intelligent, meaningful and purposeful.  But the modern materialists are really just reacting to those who have for several thousand years gone to the opposite extreme – denied the reality of matter (despite lip-synching the words “All is Brahman”).

Chapters 4-12:  Omnipresent Reality, the Individual and the Universe, the Ego, Intuitive Knowledge, Existence, Consciousness, Bliss

But there is a reality which embraces stillness and movement, the Silence and the Rhythms of the music of the stars.   We can find the “calm” within and from within that calm, perceive the infinite energies welling up and out through every flower, rock, star, galaxy, dancer, sax player, businessman, conqueror, street sweeper, ant… through all.   Through the unfolding of intuitive knowledge – “knowledge by identity” – we recognize the value of the individual as essetial to the expression of this vast, infinite Reality.  We recognize “Being” in that Silence and Stillness; we recognize Consciousness pervading all as the rhythm, the intensity of Being; freeing ourselves from the divided consciousness of the separate ego, we come to experience all contacts, all sensations, as movements of that infinite Delight.

Chapter 13: The Divine Maya:

If you listen carefully to the “pop” nondualists of our day, while repeating over and over “All is Brahman” (or All is Awareness or whatever flavor of the day they are tasting), while they appear to be conceptually celebrating nonduality, Unity, in their ambivalent attitude toward differentiation (see Jackson Peterson on individuality; see Gary Weber and Rich Doyle on free will; see Culadasa and Daniel Ingram, even Adyashakti and Cynthia Bourgeault, though Cynthia at least is struggling to get out of this trap) there seems so often a “leaning” toward the Silence. Or, when Cynthia tries to escape the trap, she ends up losing the Silence, and falling back into the disenchanted differentiated world.

So Sri Aurobindo, after telling us of the omnipresent Reality, after singing of Sat-Chit-Ananda, adds that a key part of the riddle is left unsolved. We have discovered that indeed all is Brahman, but we can’t as yet understand how that “All” become this Many.   Not that we need to, or even can possibly “understand” this mentally. In fact, Sri Aurobindo TELLS us we can’t understand it mentally. But he says there is a Consciousness which embraces and pervades all, which serves as the “link” between the Divine Maya, the creative, dynamic, Consciousness-Force which is ever unfolding this ever-evolving universe and all universes.


That Consciousness is the Supramental Consciousness.


Chapters 14-16 Supermind as Creator, Truth Consciousness – and the Triple Status of Supermind – (1) Oneness; (2) Oneness and Multiplicity; (3) Multiplicity without losing Oneness


The mind can only know, even at its highest intuitive peak, by some kind of subtle differentiation. So you have all the “schools” of competing non-dualities, claiming the impersonal is higher than the personal, or claiming the personal is higher than the impersonal, or claiming emptiness is form is emptiness but not truly “seeing” emptiness IN form or form IN emptiness, or resting with those differentiations and not realizing That which is beyond (though not beyond:>))) emptiness and form, Oneness and Many, and so on.


The Supermind is the direct power of the Supreme Reality, which links the infinite Sat-Chit-Ananda with the differentiated manifestation.


Resting in Silence, and Stillness, there is peace, unutterably rich serenity and equanimity.  Looking out at a flower, seeing – in that very looking – the Beingness of all, and the movement of Conscious-Energy, Shakti, forming the flower and the one looking, together.   In that rich, variegated flower, the colors, the shapes, the undulating leaves, is the whole play of Sat-Chit-Ananda, the Supramental bringing that “Idea’ (“REAL-IDEA”) out of the unmanifest, always Oneness in Many and Many in One, the mind further differentiating but, resting in Being, not dissociating, the vital energy coursing through the flower, and manifesting as that sensory appearance.

And the heart aspires, spontaneously, longing, as St. Paul said, for the “return of Christ,” feeling the pain of the absence of the “hidden treasure” of which the Koran speaks.
And the heart, the deepest heart, the psychic being, aspires, and opens, and lets go, and doesn’t know, but knows it doesn’t know, and waits for That, for the Divine Shakti, to move it, to move the mind, the heart, the vital energy, the body, in this endless, ever-evolving Divine Dance.



The philosopher Zizek tells us that ‘localism” is not enough, that we need to “figure out” how to move to a new global “politics.”

We can’t, and we won’t.

Look again at the first chapter of Life Divine, and feel the yearning in your heart for what Charles Eisenstein calls “that more beautiful world our hearts desire.”   That aspiration is key.

Now consider the last chapter of Life Divine, where Sri Aurobindo seems to endorse a variety of “localism” – “gnostic communities” (like Auroville) springing up around the globe, linking up, perhaps (as he describes in “The Ideal of Human Unity”) with some kind of central (but not authoritarian) coordinating structure.

The most important thing to realize is, our minds will NEVER be able to create such a global structure, not one that is sustainable.  But, if we aspire, and are open to the inspiration of the Conscious-Energy that pervades the universe, these local communities may flourish, and we will discover (to our surprise, if the discovery is genuine, to our utter, astonished, blown-minded surprise) that ways of evolving a World-Union (NOT a “World-State!!#$@!”) will emerge spontaneously.

But first, we need to reverse our entire outlook on how we create our institutions, means of governance, economies, and so on.  If it actually is true that our hearts aspire for this greater consciousness, for the guidance of this Conscious-Energy, this “Shakti,” then we can begin right here at home, in our neighborhoods, in our communities, to reshape the way we manage our food, our schooling, our healing, our businesses, our sports, our arts, our media, and see that the #1 thing is to “manage” them with the aim of creating inspiring “containers for the emergence of this consciousness. Let’s build buildings that evoke for us a sense of That, let’s create art that evokes for us a sense of that Infinite Presence, all-pervading, let’s create businesses and sports arenas that evoke for us the visceral sense of the Present of That “in which we live and move and have our being.”

And we continue to create the music of joy, the dance of delight, improvising, ever-changing variations of that One Reality which we can awaken to and align ourselves with and which our deepest hearts already know and feel.

%d bloggers like this: