The Playful Self-Involution of Divine Consciousness: Sri Aurobindo’s Evolutionary Cosmopsychism and His Response to the Individuation Problem

The Monist 105 (1):92-109 (2022)
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Abstract

This article argues that the Indian philosopher-mystic Sri Aurobindo espoused a sophisticated form of cosmopsychism that has great contemporary relevance. After first discussing Aurobindo’s prescient reflections on the “central problem of consciousness” and his arguments against materialist reductionism, I explain how he developed a panentheistic philosophy of “realistic Adwaita” on the basis of his own spiritual experiences and his intensive study of the Vedāntic scriptures. He derived from this realistic Advaita philosophy a highly original doctrine of evolutionary cosmopsychism, according to which the Divine Saccidānanda is “involved” in everything in the universe and gradually manifests itself at each stage of the evolutionary process from matter to life to mind, and ultimately, to Supermind—the final stage that is yet to come, upon the attainment of which we will attain knowledge of our true divine nature as Saccidānanda. I then reconstruct Aurobindo’s novel solution to the individuation problem, according to which the Divine Saccidānanda individuates into various distinct consciousnesses by playfully limiting itself through a process of “exclusive concentration.” Finally, I highlight the continued relevance of Aurobindo’s evolutionary cosmopsychism by bringing him into conversation with Itay Shani, a contemporary proponent of cosmopsychism.

Author's Profile

Swami Medhananda
University of California, Los Angeles

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