The Ascent of the Spirit
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 15: The Aims of Human Existence - II

It has been held by some leading scientific minds of the present day that the universe had its origin in a vast and incomprehensible Single Cell or Atom which split itself into parts or fragments, evidently beginning with two parts of one whole and then ramifying into innumerable individual bits of itself scattered in different directions. It is also held that millions and millions of years ago, the nucleus of the universe was an inconceivably hot boiling centre of a homogeneous primordial substance in which nothing could be distinguished either as physical elements or as molecules or atoms etc., and that when some millions of years passed, this atrocious temperature dropped down gradually and the internal constituents of this universal mass condensed into more concrete forms, and electrons began to be emitted which revolved round a nucleus in all such innumerable centres, and thus atoms were formed. In this manner, all the elements in the universe were created long, long ago in the dim inconceivable past and the functions or roles of these elements were fixed for all future times to come. The gradual continuance of this creative and formative activity of the universe is said to finally tend towards the diffusion of substance and energy both inside the atom and in outer space. All this is supposed to indicate the coming in of a time when the energy of the universe would be equally distributed throughout its structure and then there would be no motion, no force, no activity and so no light, no warmth and no life. This is a dark and ominous future predicted, indeed. But there are others who hold the opinion that somehow, somewhere beyond mind’s understanding, the universe will rebuild itself and the diffused radiation in space will get condensed once more into electrons, atoms, molecules and material substances, which may then form themselves by their gravitational force into nebulae, stars, suns and galaxies, and thus the creation and dissolution of the universe may go on repeating themselves for eternity.

These conclusions of modern science would precipitate into the concept of a self-directed, purposeful activity of the universe through never-ending aeons of time. Geniuses in science like Albert Einstein have stumbled upon the existence of a mystical grandeur and mystery which forced them into accepting the possibility of a cosmic spiritual consciousness, hinting that there is perhaps an Infinite Spirit and Power which plays this drama of the universe not only in its large cosmic magnificence but also in all its minute details. The mysterious discovery of science known as the Unified Field Theory is said to have attempted a unification of the concepts of space, time and gravitation with those of the sub-atomic structures of matter forming the electromagnetic field, thus bringing into union the laws of outer space and time with the laws of the inner constitution of individual and material bodies under a single law which is universally applicable. This outlook should show that the whole universe is governed by a central law, and the cosmic and the individual are not separate realities; they are one: “Tat-Tvam Asi” -That thou art, says the Upanishad. Science, here, seems to echo the great Upanishadic discovery that the particular and the universal are one and the same, that the gravitational and electromagnetic fields imply a deeper reality, a fundamental universal being within which these two aspects of function appear as mere conditions or states. The universe is one comprehensive whole and is declared to be indivisible, a central elemental field in which every material content, whether the blazing sun or the minute atom, is like a ripple in the four-dimensional space-time continuum. Thus the scientific discoveries of today have, after all, been obliged to accept as their final conclusion a deeper underlying unity of the universe. True knowledge is a knowledge of ‘being’, and every aspiration of everyone is a constructive struggle to achieve this reality in one’s own experience. The reason is simple; man is limited by the conditions of his own individuality, but his finite bodily structure and mental constitution are restrained and governed by the law of the universe. It was the physicist, Niels Bohr, who is reported to have proclaimed that man is both a spectator and an actor in the drama of existence. Since man is, unfortunately for him, a part of the universe which he is trying to understand, and his body and mind are made up of the same substance as anything else in the universe of galaxies, his personality is a part of the vast phenomenon of the four-dimensional space-time continuum, he cannot understand the universe into which he has been born, because it is not ‘outside’ him as an object of thought and sense. Man is an inseparable part of the universe, and so it follows that he cannot know it, or know anything for the matter of that, as long as he does not know himself. Knowledge of the Self is a knowledge of the universe. The highest wisdom, then, consists in the realisation and experience that man is organically related to the universe, so that there is no such thing as ‘man’ or any individual independently, for the universal organism alone is. In this universal knowledge, man transcends himself, and knows the universe in the knowledge of himself. This is the surprising conclusion of the present-day physical science.

One’s duties, as well as character and conduct, are determined by the nature of the meaning that one is able to see in life, or, rather, one’s aim of life which is the ultimate objective towards the achievement of which every activity in one’s life is directed. This would mean that the way in which one thinks, lives and acts, the manner of one’s behaviour towards others, and one’s relationship with the general atmosphere around, are all fixed by the pattern of the meaning that is discoverable in life, or the final aim of one’s life. Though it may appear that the ultimate goal towards which one is directing one’s life is far remote somewhere in the future, it goes without saying that even the minimum step that one takes in any direction at the present moment is entirely governed by the law and the significance of the ultimate aim. Why is it that we find different people or groups of people exhibiting different types of character and modes of conduct and behaviour in their personal lives and in their relationship with human society and with things in general? It should be clear that the reason behind all this is definitely a sort of diversity and an apparent unconnectedness among the purposes for which people think they are living or the aims which they imagine are their ultimate goal in life. Though it is doubtful if there can be different aims of life for different kinds of people, entirely disconnected from one another, it is a daily observation that people take it for granted that they have all rather different purposes to be achieved in their personal and social lives, that they have differing desires and divergent ambitions which would indicate that they have, perhaps, different aims of life not necessarily connected with the purposes or aims of others, with any significant relevance to others, let alone any organic blendedness of relation with the aims others are pursuing.

But, the analysis that we have been able to conduct earlier of the true state of affairs which are, perhaps, the leading principles determining life as a whole, and of the nature of existence in its totality, would have made it obvious that it would be very far from being true for anyone to imagine that the ultimate purposes of life can be really divergent and that the laws of existence can be different for different sets of people. Rather, it should be the conclusion accepted by thoughtful intelligences everywhere that the universe is tending and evolving towards the realisation of a single purpose or aim and that, therefore, its contents, the many persons and things forming its parts, have perforce to abide by this ubiquitous law of the universe which governs everyone equally and determines the characters and behaviours, and even the thoughts, feelings and actions of everyone, and everything ought to have a relevance of the nature of an organic connectedness with a cosmic purpose, which can be, in the end, only one and absolute.

Then, why is it that people are often seen not to recognise this secret principle of all life and take to different directions of thought, feeling, behaviour and action in their lives? The reason is that people in general are able to direct their consciousness only within a circumscribed circle of the limited area of sense-perception forming just a bit or atomic part within the vast cosmic whole, to the farthest ends of which human sense-perception cannot reach. Thus people make a mistake in thinking that their limited circles of perception constitute the whole of the reality for them and what is real and meaningful to others has nothing to do with them. This is because the smaller circles, though they are all contained within the large Circle of the Universe with its ‘circumference nowhere and centre everywhere’, are unfortunately segregated from one another by the intense self-assertive selfish centres known as personal egos and the limitation of consciousness to the complex structure of the body-mind individuality which, with its limited sense operations, sees reality only within its own isolated circle of perception, thought and feeling, towards the fulfilment of which it works indefatigably throughout its life. Naturally, the selfishness of these personalised centres of life can come in conflict with other such centres because of each one’s inability to see beyond the limit of one’s own circle, and then there can be tension among people, strife or wars among them. This is life. This, indeed, is the misfortune of mankind’s present-day wisdom which it so much parades with an intolerable pride and ostentation.

It is, therefore, urgently called for that the limited centres of personalities and groups should try to see through and beyond their own circles and be able to recognise a larger interconnectedness of all circles everywhere, so that each one in this infinite number of circles would then be seen to form a phase of a single Universal Whole, or a focus of the projection of aspects of the Light of the single completeness which is the Absolute Reality. There would not then be many realities or many aims in life for different kinds of people, since it would be seen that the little purposes apparently visible are the divergent spectra of a single Universal Light passing through the prisms of the various individualities which these so-called persons and things in life appear to be. When this recognition comes, and this knowledge dawns, it becomes possible to organise persons or societies into a larger comprehensive atmosphere of a wider reality. The implementation of this knowledge in the practical affairs of life is the wisdom of life which would at once cause a living change and reorientation in the life of humanity, pointing to the fact that the rise of the vitalising, illumining and warming sun with the daylight of an insight into the real meaning of life is, after all, a possibility.