There are many principles that describe the subtle, profound workings of life, though we are aware of very few. Perhaps the law of karma or “what you sow is what you reap” is the closest we come to perceiving a law of life in effect. Even there it is vague for the overwhelming majority of people.
However, over the years, several colleagues and I have tried to organize a set of life principles based on the teachings of Indian seer and sage Sri Aurobindo. Beginning with the highest level of Reality, he revealed a series of universal laws that explain the process by which the universe emerged from a Divine source, and how life in the cosmos, including the life of man, intersects with and is affected by those laws. Most of these cosmic principles are captured in his great work The Life Divine. It has been up to individuals like ourselves to take those First principles and interpret them in terms that are identifiable in the life of the collective (i.e. society, business, etc.) and the individual. It takes a subtle eye and the right contextual knowledge to perceive these profound principles at work.
Perhaps the widest universal principle is the notion that life itself has a character -- just as you and I have one. There are then in turn dozens if not hundreds of sub principles -- both material and subtle -- that describe the many dimensions of life’s character.
The argument could be made that we already have principles in place that describe the unfoldings of life in the universe. True enough, but those are mostly at the material level -- i.e. they are laws of life based on empirically quantifiable physical properties; which in essence leaves out all other planes of existence -- including the vital/emotional, social, psychological, mental, occult, metaphysical, spiritual, etc. It is like trying to understand the motives of an individual by watching his gait as he walks. It is merely a superficial view of things. While science has provided an understanding of the material process and principles, the non-material ones –- which is 90% or more of the processes in life -- remain unknown to the general public; even to the experts in their respective fields of sociology, psychology, history, social development, etc. It is a revelation of knowledge that awaits us in the 21st century. From that perspective, existing 20th century knowledge of what truly determines in life and brings about outcomes that unfold before us will seem stilted and shallow.
If life unfolds in these subtle ways that defy our normal perceptions, what is an example of a principle? The one I would like to suggest here relates to the functioning of “Nature.” Nature is in essence the way life unfolds in the universe. The principle then is this: that “Nature works on many fronts simultaneously.” This means that when a life event unfolds, many parties are affected in different ways, enabling progress for each through a singularity. Furthermore, Nature is somehow “aware” that it can enable progress on multiple fronts through a common event -- such as a major great development, catharsis, or upheaval. The reason Nature can elicit progress on multiple fronts simultaneously is that it is “conscious” at some level of its being. It is conscious of its workings because behind its own internal “knowledge” there is the determination, influence, sanction, and support of an underlying Divine Intention. Nature is in that sense is an instrument of the Divine Will, which unfolds and progress on multiple fronts simultaneously through these shared singularities.
An example will illustrate. A teacher arrives at a 2-day class to teach several students features of a software application. In the course of the classes, he recognizes that all is going awry. He sees many causes that have led to the current situation. He even notes his own irritability and weakened nerves in the unfolding of this difficult singularity. Eventually the situation comes to a head, and the instructor cancels the class because he believes it has gotten completely out of hand. Many people are upset, including the trainer, the students, the people in the company who arranged the class at the company, the agent of the trainer, and so forth. Each, in fact, managed to foul up in ways that contributed to the disaster. Each misstep is in turn related to a limitation in character or capacity of that person or related system.
Now each major individual involved in the episode is forced or even shocked into confronting his own responsibility in bringing about the unfortunate event. Each is compelled to examine his or her own self to discover where they had failed in the process. It is usually indicative not only of a small problem in the procedures of that event, but of a significant limitation of character of that individual. The defect ranges from a limited skill, or missing knowledge, all the way to a profound psychological weakness and limitation, such as a negative attitude, a false belief, an inscrutable motive, etc. From there each person decides to make the necessary inner and outer change to the degree he is compelled to do so. Those who take to change, invariably bring about their own progress. Those who let it slide will normally have to go through a similar-type episode again in their lives. In other words, each person will progress to the degree he is open to do so. The collective effect is the awesome power that Nature brings to enable multi-faceted change around a shared singularity.
For example, the teacher realizes that he has been too stressed during recent classes, and takes actions thereafter to rectify the source of that problem. The person in charge of the group of students in attendance realizes that she was too disorganized to establish the right agenda beforehand. The members of the training department at the facility realize that their procedures for such a one-time training event, as was the case here, is faulty. And the agent of the instructor realizes that the procedures to handle such situations need improvement.
In each case, an individual learns something about himself or the procedures of his job through the singularity that Nature has issued forth as an event. That generates a pressure to make a certain level of change. That change is essence what we know as “progress.” Thus, due to the difficult situation, each is forced by life -- i.e. Nature -- to make the necessary corresponding change. It is interesting to note that there was in essence only one event that caused many to change -- each in their own unique way. Thus, Nature, through a single event works on many fronts simultaneously to bring about creative, integral, many-faceted change for the parts as well as for a wider whole.
This principles of life can be seen everywhere. It is especially noticeable when such things as scandals or wars or other forms of upheaval take place. It brings out the need for simultaneous change to rectify problems raised by that singularity. Life progressing on many fronts simultaneously through a single, shared event or circumstance is Nature’s stupendous, miraculous-like Efficiency. The vast Tsunami that rippled through the Asian pacific is an example, and the fallout in produced and the pressure it brought to bear across a thousand domains -- from economics to politics to social life across a myriad of nations -- is one example. So was World War II. As a result of the vast pressures of the war, not only was Europe organized into a union thereafter (EU), but a tottering British Empire also collapsed. Even the great depression in America finally came to an end as a result of the jobs generated and the production needed to meet the demands of war. In a similar fashion, we can examine recent circumstances after 9/11 to see similar multifaceted change brought about by a single event. It does not only occur at the national or international level, but at the local or group level as we saw in the training episode above. It also happens at the individual level when something very trying, extremely difficult, or even tragic forces that person to change at several levels of his being simultaneously. E.g., an illness can cause a person to strengthen his body, reevaluate his lifestyle, alter his beliefs, and even look at his life overall in an entirely different light. Life itself can thus be thought of as a vast unfolding at all of these levels --- collective and individual -- bringing about change through this starling Efficiency of Nature.
As I suggested earlier, Nature is ultimately an instrument of some Divine intent. If that is so, then one question naturally arises. Does the Divine wish to bring about progress -- even simultaneous efficient progress -- only through difficulty? The answer is that we can also progress though positive means.
The positive means is the way of the Good, i.e. through a self-existent positive unfolding that knows no negative side. Can something unfold that is void of negative elements? Let us take a step back and examine the issue. The sage and seer perceive that Life actually divides into both Nature and Soul -- i.e. they are two methods of the unfolding of life, of progress. In the lower consciousness, life unfolds through the slow and difficult methods of Nature. In the higher consciousness, it evolves through Soul, which is in essence the higher consciousness infused with the higher values and expressions of the Spirit. Developments from the poise of this higher consciousness and Good tend not to release negative consequences. This is another, even higher principle of life -- i.e. of existence in the universe that emerged from a Divine source.
The key then is to take to the methods of higher consciousness in our lives that brings about the Good that is devoid of the negative. Interestingly enough, life can progress simultaneously on multiple positive fronts as well. For example, if I call to the Spirit before engaging in an activity or become self-giving in a critical situation or reverse a negative attitude in a moment of crisis, I generate energies that not only attract better conditions for myself, but can also produce positive results for others as well. In this way life progresses on many fronts -- individual or collective -- through the movements of the Positive. It is an indicator that we have freed ourselves from Nature’s difficult course; that we have taken up the way of the Good, of Soul, of an evolving consciousness. It is the way of progress of tomorrow; an indicator that we are on the threshold of a New Way of Living.