It seems that people fall into two camps. Either they believe in a personal form of divinity, God, or savior, or they don’t. For those that do not believe in a personal form of the Divine, there is a belief in some impersonal machinery of unknown origin or purpose. These two however need not be mutually exclusive; rather, the division is due to the way we process concepts with our mentality, which seems to prefer ‘either/or’ choices and black and white distinctions.

Yet if we observe our world, and our own inner being carefully, we see that some things cannot be explained or justified by one or the other of these distinctions, just as science is finding that Einstein’s relativity and quantum mechanics do not seem to fully agree, but that each seems to work in its own field of action. In the case of science, they are moving toward an approach that accepts both within the larger framework without the need to prove one or the other as the sole explanation. Similarly, when it comes to spiritual development, we find that both the impersonal and the personal have a role and the solution lies, not in excluding one in favor of the other, but in finding a way to integrate the two in a new synthesis of understanding. This is what Sri Aurobindo has put forward.

This does not imply that all belief in an impersonal, random universe is a correct understanding of the impersonal aspect; nor that all belief in a personal divinity who intervenes, judges and condemns or rewards is a correct understanding of the personal aspect. As with all things, there has been much accretion of opinion, unfounded belief, dogma, and superstition that impacts the current level of understanding. If we go beyond these temporal and local distinctions however, and trace back to core principles, we can find a basis that is universal and which underpins all of the various belief systems with a foundation in the reality of the creation.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “There is always the personal and the impersonal side of the Divine and the Truth and it is a mistake to think the impersonal alone to be true or important, for that leads to a void incompleteness in part of the being, while only one side is given satisfaction. Impersonality belongs to the intellectual mind and the static self, personality to the soul and heart and dynamic being. Those who disregard the personal Divine ignore something which is profound and essential. …. In following the heart in its purer impulses one follows something that is at least as precious as the mind’s loyalty to its own conceptions of what the Truth may be.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter V Growth of Consciousness, Means and Methods, pg. 101

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 17 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.