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SHORTER WORKS — 1910-1950

Chapter XXVIII.
The Knowledge and the Ignorance: Argument1

The seven principles of existence are, then, one in their reality, inseparable in their sevenfold action. They create the harmony of the universe and there is no essential reason why this should not be a complete harmony free from the element of discord, division and limitation. – The Vedic seers believed in such a creation and held its formation in man – called immortality – to be the object of man's Godward effort. But this is difficult for the human mind to accept, except in a beyond, because here the Inconscient seems to be all and the conscient soul an accident or an alien unable fully to realise itself. Here Ignorance seems to be the law. – It is true that here we start from the Inconscient and are governed by the Ignorance; we must therefore examine this power of Consciousness and determine its operation and origin,– not accepting the refusal of some philosophies to consider the question because it is insoluble; and first we must fix what we mean by the Ignorance. – In the Veda the Ignorance is the non-perceiving of the essential unity which is beyond mind and of the essence and self-law of things in their original unity and actual universality; it is a false knowledge based on division of the undivided, insistence on the fragmentary and little and rejection of the vast and complete view of things; it is the undivine Maya. – The Vedantic distinction of Vidya and Avidya made the opposition more trenchant, Vidya being the knowledge of unity, Avidya the knowledge of multiplicity, but the knowledge of both was held to be necessary for the Truth and the Immortality; the Ignorance was not a mere falsehood and seeing of unreality. The One really becomes the Many. – Later, the opposition was supposed to be rigid and irreconcilable, the world unreal, a super-imposition of name and form on featureless Unity by Mind, the Ignorance an absolute nescience of the Truth. – This we reject, because such dialectical oppositions, flawed at their source, represent no actual reality of existence as a whole; there is no irreconcilable opposition of dual principles, Ignorance creative, Knowledge destructive of world-existence, but an essential unity. As pain is an effect of the universal Delight produced in the recipient by incapacity, as incapacity is a disposition of the universal Will-force, so ignorance is a particular action of the universal Knowledge. – Consciousness, which is Power, takes three poises; its plenitude of the divine knowledge invariable in unity and multiplicity and beyond; its dwelling upon apparent oppositions, the extreme being the superficial appearance of complete nescience in the Inconscient; and a mediary term or compromise between the two which is a superficial and partial emergence of self-conscious knowledge, our own egoistic ignorance or false-knowledge. The exact relations between these three have to be determined.

Arya. 02.1916 / 04.1917


1 Chapter XXVIII of The Life Divine as published in the Arya was extensively revised in 1939-40, becoming the present Book Two, Part I, Chapter VII.