The Life Divine
The Life Divine is Sri Aurobindo's major philosophical opus. It combines a synthesis of western thought and eastern spirituality with Sri Aurobindo's own original insights, covering topics such as the nature of the Divine (the Absolute, Brahman), how the creation came about, the evolution of consciousness and the cosmos, the spiritual path, and human evolutionary-spiritual destiny
The universe was created from the Real Idea of the Absolute that ended in its Involution in and as the universe. Since the universe came into being as a result of powers of an Original Consciousness and Force (Spirit - Satchidananda and Supermind), then we (and all beings) must also somehow consist of spirit. That spirit is concealed in the Physical, Vital, and Mental nature, into which it descended through involution.
Through Evolution the universe evolves from matter to life to mind and spirit. The purpose of existence is to discover the latent spirit in all things, and release infuse and elevate all of life with its spiritual attributes of peace, power, knowledge, wisdom, love, beauty, and delight and joy of being. This is achieved by overcoming the inherent Ignorance born of creation. Through a movement into the soul within and to Spirit above one establishes contact with the Divine, grows in consciousness, and progressively overcomes the inherent Ignorance born of creation.
Finally, through the ultimate state of Supramentalisation, evolution leads to the ultimate divinised evolutionary individuals, who have totally transcended the current human status to become Supramental Beings, gaining all of the powers and possibilities of the infinite manifest Divine (the Supermind) in physical existence. When a number of such beings develop, there is then the emergence of the basis for a Divine collective life on earth, the "Life Divine".
Development of The Book
In 1939 Sri Aurobindo revised and enlarged these chapters for publication in book form. Volume I was published in November 1939. It included the first twenty seven chapters from the Arya, with an entirely new twenty-eighth chapter. Chapters 19 and 23 also had major revisions. The other chapters were only revised in a minor way.
Volume II, recast and enlarged, followed in July 1940, in two separately bound parts. Of the twenty eight chapters there were twelve that were entirely new: chapters 1,2, 5,6, 10, 14, and 23 through to 28. All the remaining chapters were revised (chapters 18 and 21 thoroughly) and several had been given new titles.
The Arya Publishing House brought out a second edition of Book One (now called "Volume I") in 1943, and of Book Two ("Volume II") in 1947. These incorporate only a few minor corrections and changes. A third edition of Book One was published in 1947.
The first American edition was issued by the Sri Aurobindo Library, New York, as a single volume in 1949 and a comprehensive index provided; this edition was reprinted in 1951.
The India Library Society Edition (New York) came out in 1965, while the sixth Indian edition is part of the deluxe Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library, and appeared in 1970 in two volumes, Book One and Book Two Part I comprising volume 18, and Book Two Part II volume 19 of the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.
Three following editions were reproduced by photo-offset from the Birth Centenary Library; the ninth edition included a glossary of Sanskrit terms and two appendixes, and the tenth (1977) was once again a single volume.
List of Chapters
- Ch.1: The Human Aspiration
- Ch.3: The Two Negations I. The Materialist Denial
- Ch.3: The Two Negations II. The Refusal of the Ascetic
- Ch.4: Reality Omnipresent
- Ch.5: The Destiny of the Individual
- Ch.6: Man and the Universe
- Ch.7: The Ego and the Dualities
- Ch.8: The Methods of Vedantic Knowledge
- Ch.9: The Pure Existent
- Ch.10: Conscious Force
- Ch.11: Delight of Existence: the Problem
- Ch.12: Delight of Existence: the Solution
- Ch.13: The Divine Maya
- Ch.14: The Supermind as Creator
- Ch.15: Supermind, Truth Consciousness
- Ch.16: The Triple Status of Supermind
- Ch.17: The Divine Soul
- Ch.18: Mind and Supermind
- Ch.19: Life
- Ch.20: Death, Desire and Incapacity
- Ch.21: The Ascent of Life
- Ch.22: The Problem of Life
- Ch.23: The Double Soul of Man
- Ch.24: Matter
- Ch.25: The Knot of Matter
- Ch.26: The Ascending Series of Substance
- Ch.27: The Sevenfold Chord of Being
- Ch.28: Supermind, Mind and the Overmind Maya
- Part One:
- Ch.1: Indeterminates and Cosmic Determinations
- Ch.2: Brahma, Purusha, Ishwara
- Ch.3: The Eternal and the Individual
- Ch.4: The Divine and the Undivine
- Ch.5: Cosmic Illusion
- Ch.6: Reality and the Cosmic Illusion
- Ch.7: The Knowledge and the Ignorance
- Ch.8: Memory, Self-Consciousness and the Ignorance
- Ch.9: Memory, Ego, and Self-Experience
- Ch.10: Knowledge by Identity and Separative Knowledge
- Ch.11: The Boundaries of the Ignorance
- Ch.12: The Origin of the Ignorance
- Ch.13: Exclusive Concentartion of Consciousness-Force and the Ignorance
- Ch.14: The Origin and Remedy pof Falsehood, Error, Wrong, and Evil
- Part Two:
- Ch.15: Reality and the Integral Knowledge
- Ch.16: The Aim of Life; Four Theories of Existence
- Ch.17: The Progress to Knowledge -- God, Man and Nature
- Ch.18: The Evolutionary Process -- Ascent and Integration
- Ch.19: Out of the Sevenfold Ignorance towards the Sevenfold Knowledge
- Ch.20: The Philosophy of Rebirth
- Ch.21: The Order of the Worlds
- Ch.22: Rebirth and Other Worlds; Karma, the Soul and Immortality
- Ch.23: Man and the Evolution
- Ch.24: The Evolution of the Spiritual Man
- Ch.25: The Triple Transformation
- Ch.26: The Ascent towards Supermind
- Ch.27: The Gnostic Being
- Ch.28: The Divine Life
Structure of The Life Divine
Book I is an examination of the ways of Nature's progress, the spiritual path, the reasons for the divisions and dualities in creation, and a detailed account of the nature of The Absolute, and how this unknowable, immutable omnipresent Reality became the universe we live in.
Book II Part 1 explores the original Knowledge and state of the Absolute, and the cosmic Ignorance which is the source of our false perceptions of divisions and dualities in finite existence. It examines the cause of the Ignorance, and the way out by discovering the Spirit or Divine within.
Book II Part 2 explains how through shedding the Ignorance we begin to more fully come in touch with the Spirit or Divine, and can then progress to ever higher levels of spiritual consciousness. From a practical point of view the last four chapters are perhaps the most important in the book, providing a roadmap to higher spiritual attainment, from spiritual awakening to Psychicisation, Spiritualisation, the Ascent to Supermind, the nature of Supramental consciousness and existence as a Gnostic being, and the foundation of a collective Divine Life on Earth.
- Sri Aurobindo The Life Divine, Sri Aurobidno Ashram, Pondicherry
- Bibliographical Note, The Life Divine, 10th ed pp.1113-4
- The Life Divine, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-61-2