Every Symbol is a Partial Expression of God

God is That which is the All and yet exceeds and transcends the All; there is nothing in existence which is not God, but God is neither the sum of existence nor anything in that sum, except symbolically, in image to His own consciousness.

Published: 24th December 2013 07:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th December 2013 07:48 AM   |  A+A-

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God is That which is the All and yet exceeds and transcends the All; there is nothing in existence which is not God, but God is neither the sum of existence nor anything in that sum, except symbolically, in image to His own consciousness.

In other words, everything that exists, separately, is a particular symbol and the whole sum of existence is a general symbol which tries to translate the untranslatable existence, God, into the terms of world-consciousness. It is intended to try, it is not intended to succeed; for the moment it succeeds, it ceases to be itself and becomes that untraslatable something from which it started, God.

No symbol is intended to express God perfectly, not even the highest; but it is the privilege of the highest symbols to lose in Him their separate definiteness, cease to be symbols and become in consciousness that which is symbolised.

Humanity is such a symbol or eidolon of God; we are made, to use the Biblical phrase, in His image; and by that is meant not a formal image, but the image of His being and personality; we are of the essence of His divinity and of the quality of His divinity; we are formed in the mould and bear the stamp of a divine being and a divine knowledge.

In everything that exists phenomenally, or, as I shall prefer to say, going deeper into the nature of things, symbolically, there are two parts of being, thing in itself and symbol, Self and Nature, res (thing that is ) and factum (thing that is done or made), immutable being and mutable becoming, that which is supernatural to it and that which is natural.

Every state of existence has some force in it which drives it to transcend itself. Matter moves towards becoming life, Life travails towards becoming Mind, Mind aspires towards becoming ideal Truth, Truth rises towards becoming divine and infinite Spirit.

The reason is that every symbol, being a partial expression of God, reaches out to and seeks to become its own entire reality; it aspires to become its real self by transcending its apparent self.

Thing that is made, is attracted towards thing that is, becoming towards being, the natural towards the supernatural, symbol towards thing-in-itself, Nature towards God.

The upward movement is, then, the means towards self-fulfillment in this world; but it is not imperative on all objects. For there are three conditions for all changeable existences, the upwards ascension, the arrested status and the downward lapse. Nature in its lower states moves upward indeed in the mass, but seeks the final salvation for only a limited number of its individuals. It is not every form of matter that organises life although every form of matter teems with the spirit of life and is full of its urgent demand for release and self-manifestation. Not every form of life organises mind, although in all forms of life mind is there, insistent, seeking for its escape and self-expression.

Nor is every mental being fitted to organise the life of ideal truth, although in every mental being, in dog and ape and worm no less than in man, the imprisoned spirit of truth and knowledge seeks for its escape and self-expression.

Nature in each realised state of her building seeks first to assure the natural existence of her creatures in that state; only after this primary aim is accomplished does she seek through the best fitted of them to escape from her works, to break down what she has built and arrive at something beyond.

It is not till she reaches man that she arrives at a type of being of which every individual is essentially capable of realising not only the natural but the supernatural within it; and even this is true with modifications, with qualifications. But of this it will be better to speak at greater length in another connection.

Nevertheless, it remains true that the upward movement is the master movement of Nature; arrested status is a lower fulfillment, and if perfect, a transient perfection.

It is a perfection in the realms of struggle and in the style of passing forms, a fulfillment in the kingdoms of Ashanaya Mrityu, Hunger who is death, Hunger that creates and feeds upon its creations; the upward movement is that which leads up through death to immortality and realises in this earth of the body the blissful and luminous kingdom of heaven; the downward lapse is destruction, Hell, a great perdition, mahati vinashtih.

These are the three gatis or final states of becoming indicated in the Gita - uttama, madhyama and adhama - highest, middle and lowest, offered to the choice of humanity. It is for each individual of us to choose. For as we choose, God shall fulfil Himself in us, towards a transient human satisfaction, a divine perfection or a decomposition of our humanity into the fruitful waste-matter of Nature.

Excerpt from the book Essays Divine and Human by Sri Aurobindo

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