The Life Divine Chapter Summaries

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Chapter 1 - The Human Aspiration

Impulse toward perfection.

Chapter 2 - The Two Negations - I: The Materialist Denial

The materialist negation denies spirit, and affirms that only matter or force is real.

Chapter 3 - The Two Negations - The Refusal of the Ascetic

The ascetic insists on pure spirit as the sole reality, free from change, death.

Chapter 4 - Reality Omnipresent

World and non-being are affirmations of omnipresent Reality.

Chapter 5 - The Destiny of the Individual

Liberation of the individual is the keynote of the definitive divine action.

Chapter 6 - Man in the Universe

Universe and individual are necessary to each other, and the conditions of the universe provide the means for our progress.

Chapter 7 - The Ego and the Dualities

Dualities (pain, etc.) are the first inevitable outcome of the attempt to realize unity through the self-limitation of the ego.

Chapter 8 - The Methods of Vedantic Knowledge

Vedanta starts from reason but uses intuition as the final authority, in order to know truths that are beyond ordinary experience.

Chapter 9 - The Pure Existent

The pure existence can be known by identity, intuition, but not by thought.

Chapter 10 - Conscious Force

The existent is also a self-aware force of consciousness, Chit.

Chapter 11 - Delight of Existence: The Problem

If delight is the nature of existence, how can pain exist?

Chapter 12 - Delight of Existence: The Solution

Delight is at the root of all experiences, hidden behind our superficial responses.

Chapter 13 - The Divine Maya

The power of the self-existence to measure out and order itself is the higher Maya. At the level of mind, this is seen as a lower Maya.

Chapter 14 - The Supermind as Creator

Supermind is the intermediary creatrix between the one and the divided many. It puts forth forms out of its own substance.

Chapter 15 - The Supreme Truth-Consciousness

The supermind is a cosmic vision and a power of projecting concentration, everywhere present as an ordering self-knowledge.

Chapter 16 - The Triple Status of Supermind

Supermind takes a triple status in its role as the intermediary between the absolute Sacchidananda and the separate mind. The triple status is: 1) equal self-extension, 2) individual divine, Jivatman, 3) divine projected into existence, the psychic.

Chapter 17 - The Divine Soul

The divine soul in itself, not descended into the ignorance.

Chapter 18 - Mind and Supermind

The fundamental error, Avidya, of mind lies in conceiving of things as separate. This is the final stage of the apprehending movement, Prajnana, of the supermind.

Chapter 19 - Life

Life is a universal operation of conscious-force, acting to create, maintain, and destroy forms.

Chapter 20 - Death, Desire, and Incapacity

Death, desire, and incapacity are necessary processes of life as it is in a limited form.

Chapter 21 - The Ascent of Life

Life ascends through four statuses: physical matter; vitality; mind; and spirit. It has different expressions at each stage.

Chapter 22 - The Problem of Life

The problem of life is that it is an infinite force in a divided action, which results in the clash of forces.

Chapter 23 - The Double Soul in Man

Like all principles, the soul has a surface form and a true form. The surface is the desire-soul, whereas the true form is the psychic being, the caitya purusha.

Chapter 24 - Matter

Matter is the result of the dividing action of cosmic mind, causing extreme fragmentation as the basis of evolution. In reality it is a form of conscious-force, but we know it only as the senses contact it.

Chapter 25 - The Knot of Matter

Matter presents a practical difficulty, due to three characteristics: its self-lost inconscience; its bondage to material law; and the principle of division and struggle.

Chapter 26 - The Ascending Series of Substance

Substance itself has an ascending series from matter to the spirit, and in each level there is less bondage to form, greater force, flexibility, and power of transmutation.

Chapter 27 - The Sevenfold Chord of Being

Mind, life, matter, supermind, sat-chit-ananda is the sevenfold chord. The nodus of the psyche adds an eighth.

Chapter 28 - Supermind, Mind, and the Overmind Maya

Overmind is the link between supermind and mind, and has ranges (higher mind, etc.). Overmind itself is still a realm of knowledge, the higher Maya.

Book Two -- The Knowledge and the Ignorance

Chapter 1 - Indeterminates, Cosmic Determinations, and the Indeterminable

Specific things (determinates) arise in the infinite (indeterminable) because a secret involved consciousness is behind the material universe. The freedom of the infinite from specific form is positive, not negative.

Chapter 2 - Brahman, Purusha, Ishwara - Maya, Prakriti, Shakti

In each status of being, the spirit takes a poise proper to that level. Brahman meets us in three general modes of self (Brahman, Purusha, Ishwara) and power of self (Maya, Prakriti, Shakti). The Reality can simultaneously inhabit the individual and the cosmic, time and timelessness, etc.

Chapter 3 - The Eternal and the Individual

The question of the individual comes from the reason thinking of the temporary ego as the individual. In reality there is a Person (purusha) behind the individual, which has a spiritual unity with other selves and the world. All particulars have the absolute behind them, and the presence of the human individual is the key to the divine unfolding.

Chapter 4 - The Divine and the Undivine

The experience of what is undivine (suffering, limitation, etc.) is because consciousness is limited, not the divine being. It is a necessary consequence of the divine limiting itself, and of a progressive evolution. Even so, our revolt against them is necessary, and part of the adventure of the soul in self-concealing and self-finding.

Chapter 5 - The Cosmic Illusion: Mind, Dream, and Hallucination

Dreams and hallucinations do not provide a valid analogy for the world, since they are themselves based on realities. Dreams are a transcript or symbol of reality, but so is the surface consciousness. It appears that mind is not an original creator, but rather an instrument of ignorance of a truth-consciousness.

Chapter 6 - Reality and the Cosmic Illusion

Classical theory of illusion is that there is a sole reality, and the phenomenal world is an illusion. But the premises for this do not hold up. The true premise is that an eternal oneness supports an eternal dynamism, and there are multiple real statuses of being and consciousness. So the real question is how these statuses (knowledge and ignorance) arose, and what is the relation between them.

Chapter 7 - The Knowledge and the Ignorance

If mind were the original form of consciousness, then illusion might be the source of the world. But the integral view (from the Vedas), is that ignorance is a limited form of knowledge.

Chapter 8 - Memory, Self-Consciousness, and the Ignorance

A consideration of memory leads us to see an eternal conscious being who supports the action of mind in time on a basis of stable consciousness free from time. Our surface being is really our deeper self adventuring through time, using memory as coin of experience.

Chapter 9 - Memory, Ego, and Self-Experience

Memory and ego are devices used by the mental being; they do not constitute direct or continuous experience of past, present, future. There is in fact one being, but the immutable self is not experienced by the surface mental consciousness.

Chapter 10 - Knowledge by Identity and Separative Knowledge

Knowledge goes from identity in the absolute to separative ignorance on the surface. Opening to the subliminal is the critical movement in developing knowledge by direct contact, and the cosmic being.

Chapter 11 - The Boundaries of the Ignorance

In our surface mentality we are ignorant of our own inner being, of the world around, and of our superconscient being. The world currents run in us, but we think that these things take place separately.

Chapter 12 - The Origin of the Ignorance

Being is unitary, so ignorance must be a movement of the one conscious reality. Just as the experience of passive and active Brahman must be a seeming alternation, not a fundamental one, so the ignorance cannot be primal and original - it must be a partial and relative movement of the reality.

Chapter 13 - Exclusive Concentration of Consciousness-Force and the Ignorance

Ignorance is really a positive power of the infinite for exclusive concentration. It is required for the individual to exist and evolve in the cosmos. The ignorance of inconscient matter is complete, but superficial, and underneath it is the awareness of the eternal.

Chapter 14 - The Origin and Remedy of Falsehood, Error, Wrong and Evil

Origin of falsehood and evil is a limited consciousness growing out of nescience, personal attachment to the limitation, a consciousness governed by the life-ego. The true solution is to find the soul, become one with all beings, realize the divine, and heal the division between nature and supernature.

Book II - The Knowledge and the Ignorance - The Spiritual Evolution

Chapter 15 - Reality and the Integral Knowledge

Integral conception sees finite/infinite, many/one, etc. as complementary. Both the subjective and the objective must be known, in their entirety, and we must have freedom in our methods. The sevenfold ignorance must be replaced by a sevenfold knowledge.

Chapter 16 - The Integral Knowledge and the Aim of Life; Four Theories of Existence

The four theories are the supracosmic; terrestrial; other-worldly; integral. Taking into account the absolute as the origin, and involution/evolution, the only sense of life must be that of an evolution in consciousness towards a perfect expression of the spirit here and elsewhere.

Chapter 17 - The Progress to Knowledge - God, Man, and Nature

God, individual, nature are the three categories, approaches in our search for knowledge. In the conscious unity, all three are realized and harmonized.

Chapter 18 - The Evolutionary Process - Ascent and Integration

Evolution has the triple character of development of forms, progress of consciousness, and integration of previous elements. In each, a latent power of consciousness emerges. Human development so far has been on the surface; the next stage is the conscious and inner development.

Chapter 19 - Out of the Sevenfold Ignorance towards the Sevenfold Knowledge

The method and result of a conscious spiritual evolution is a transformation of the ignorant mental life into the divine life of the truth-conscious spirit, a self-expansion. It is a heightening and a greatening of consciousness.

Chapter 20 - The Philosophy of Rebirth

If there is an evolution of consciousness in a body, and an individual soul inhabiting the body, then rebirth is a necessary machinery for progressive experience.

Chapter 21 - The Order of the Worlds

Inner experience indicates that there are other worlds, independent of the physical, which communicate with the physical and have influences here. They are based on the seven principles of the spirit (sat-chit-ananda-supermind-mind-life).

Chapter 22 - Rebirth and Other Worlds; Karma, the Soul, and Immortality

The nature of evolution and other worlds necessitates an internatal period, and ultimately the soul goes to its own plane for assimilation of experiences. The processes of reincarnation involve all our energies and bodies, as well as the conscious will of the soul. What continues is the spiritual person, not the outer personality.

Chapter 23 - Man and the Evolution

The true meaning of evolution is the evolution of consciousness in matter. It has produced change in outward forms and in principles of consciousness. At the human level, change through consciousness becomes primary, instead of change of form. Human is an intermediate term, with a future supramental level yet to emerge.

Chapter 24 - The Evolution of the Spiritual Man

Spiritual first emerges in common activities, through the mind or emotions. Has been through religion, occultism, spiritual thought, and finally realization. Spiritual realization so far has not been transformative, but still it is to prepare the being. Though the lines are general, there must be a great variety.

Chapter 25 - The Triple Transformation

The first transformation comes by the emergence of the psychic being, which uses and then purifies our current instruments through the contact with the divine. It results in a guidance, and a free inflow of all kinds of spiritual experience. The second transformation is the descent from and ascent to the infinity and eternal spiritual consciousness above. The higher ranges of mind begin to form, but its work is still hampered by the disabilities of the lower consciousness. These are preparatory to the supramental transformation.

Chapter 26 - The Ascent towards Supermind

Inner awareness and a breaking down of the barrier between inner and outer are the first conditions of this transition. The psychic and spiritual transformations are crucial and prepare the being. The four main stages are higher, illumined, intuitive, and overmind. Each has its own substance, power. The actuality is more complex, owing to the necessity of integration, gradations, interpenetration of degrees, and the necessity to transform the outer, dynamic side of our nature.

Chapter 27 - The Gnostic Being

The emergence of the gnostic being will be gradual, and it will be continue to evolve, with a great diversity. It will be the consummation of the spiritual life, always having the experience of the divine, acting from the divine will, in perfect harmony with all forces and beings. Discovery (mind), growth (life), and the body will continue, but based on a divine identity. The person will not be a fixed set of qualities, but rather an index of the infinite behind. Standards of conduct will not be necessary, because the gnostic will automatically obey the inherent law in each instance.

Chapter 28 - The Divine Life

Consciousness and life are the keywords of evolution, but they are still imperfect. The foundation of the spiritual and divine life must be an inner growth; the outer is then transformed by that inner reality. A gnostic collectivity is held together by the same principle of oneness, mutuality, harmony as the gnostic individual. The supernature that we have to evolve includes new powers of consciousness, which are natural to it. The perfection of society comes by the perfection of the individuals within it. The gnostic collectivity will harmonize with the life of the ignorance around it, and will be the unfolding of a constant, creative miracle, not a monotone.