classes ::: Isha_Upanishad, Sri_Aurobindo, chapter,
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object: - Action and the Divine Will
book class:Isha Upanishad
author class:Sri Aurobindo
--- Action and the Divine Will
Verses 17 - 18*

Through Surya then, through the growth of the illumination in
the mind which enables it eventually to pass beyond itself, we
have the first principle of progress from mortality to immortality.
It is by the Sun as a door or gate1 that the individual, the limited
consciousness attains to the full consciousness and life in the
one, supreme and all-embracing Soul.
Both consciousness and life are included in the formula
of Immortality; Knowledge is incomplete without action. Chit
fulfils itself by Tapas, Consciousness by energy. And as Surya
represents the divine Light, so Agni to the ancient Rishis represented divine Force, Power or Will-in-Consciousness. The prayer
to Agni completes the prayer to Surya.

As in knowledge, so in action, unity is the true foundation.
The individual, accepting division as his law, isolating himself
* 17. The Breath of things is an immortal life, but of this body ashes are the end. OM!
O Will, remember, that which was done remember! O Will, remember, that which was
done remember.
18. O god Agni, knowing all things that are manifested, lead us by the good path to
the felicity; remove from us the devious attraction of sin. To thee completest speech of
submission we address.
1 Suryadvarena. - Mundaka Upanishad I. 2. 11.

in his own egoistic limits, is necessarily mortal, obscure and
ignorant in his workings. He follows in his aims and in his
methods a knowledge that is personal, governed by desire, habits
of thought, obscure subconscious impulses or, at best, a broken
partial and shifting light. He lives by rays and not in the full blaze
of the Sun. His knowledge is narrow in its objectivity, narrow in
its subjectivity, in neither one with the integral knowledge and
the total working and total will in the universe. His action, therefore, is crooked, many-branching, hesitating and fluctuating in
its impulsion and direction; it beats about among falsehoods
to find the Truth, tosses or scrapes fragments together to piece
out the whole, stumbles among errors and sins to find the right.
Being neither one-visioned nor whole-visioned, having neither
the totality of the universal Will nor the concentrated oneness
of the transcendent, the individual will cannot walk straight on
the right or good path towards the Truth and the Immortality.
Governed by desire, exposed to the shock of the forces around
it with which its egoism and ignorance forbid it to put itself
in harmony, it is subject to the twin children of the Ignorance,
suffering and falsehood. Not having the divine Truth and Right,
it cannot have the divine Felicity.

But as there is in and behind all the falsehoods of our material
mind and reason a Light that prepares by this twilight the full
dawn of the Truth in man, so there is in and behind all our errors,
sins and stumblings a secret Will, tending towards Love and Harmony, which knows where it is going and prepares and combines
our crooked branchings towards the straight path which will be
the final result of their toil and seeking. The emergence of this
Will and that Light is the condition of immortality.
This Will is Agni. Agni is in the Rig Veda, from which
the closing verse of the Upanishad is taken, the flame of the
Divine Will or Force of Consciousness working in the worlds.
He is described as the immortal in mortals, the leader of the
journey, the divine Horse that bears us on the road, the "son

of crookedness" who himself knows and is the straightness and
the Truth. Concealed and hard to seize in the workings of this
world because they are all falsified by desire and egoism, he uses
them to transcend them and emerges as the universal in Man or
universal Power, Agni Vaishwanara, who contains in himself all
the gods and all the worlds, upholds all the universal workings
and finally fulfils the godhead, the Immortality. He is the worker
of the divine Work. It is these symbols which govern the sense
of the two final verses of the Upanishad.

Life is the condition from which the Will and the Light emerge. It
is said in the Veda that Vayu or Matarishwan, the Life-principle,
is he who brings down Agni from Surya in the high and far-off
supreme world. Life calls down the divine Will from the Truthconsciousness into the realm of mind and body to prepare here,
in Life, its own manifestation. Agni, enjoying and devouring the
things of Life, generates the Maruts, nervous forces of Life that
become forces of thought; they, upheld by Agni, prepare the
action of Indra, the luminous Mind, who is for our life-powers
their Rishi or finder of the Truth and Right. Indra slays Vritra,
the Coverer, dispels the darkness, causes Surya to rise upon our
being and go abroad over its whole field with the rays of the
Truth. Surya is the Creator or manifester, Savitri, who manifests
in this mortal world the world or state of immortality, dispels
the evil dream of egoism, sin and suffering and transforms Life
into the Immortality, the good, the beatitude. The Vedic gods
are a parable of human life emerging, mounting, lifting itself
towards the Godhead.
Life, body, action, will, these are our first materials. Matter
supplies us with the body; but it is only a temporary knot of the
movement, a dwelling-place of the Purusha in which he presides
over the activities generated out of the Life-principle. Once it
is thrown aside by the Life-principle it is dissolved; ashes are
its end. Therefore the body is not ourselves, but only an outer
tool and instrument. For Matter is the principle of obscurity and

division, of birth and death, of formation and dissolution. It is
the assertion of death. Immortal man must not identify himself
with the body.
The Life-principle in us survives. It is the immortal Breath2
or, as the phrase really means, the subtle force of existence which
is superior to the principle of birth and death. At first sight it may
appear that birth and death are attributes of the Life, but it is not
really so: birth and death are processes of Matter, of the body.
The Life-principle is not formed and dissolved in the formulation
and dissolution of the body; if that were so, there could be no
continuity of the individual existence and all would go back at
death into the formless. Life forms body, it is not formed by
it. It is the thread upon which the continuity of our successive
bodily lives is arranged, precisely because it is itself immortal.
It associates itself with the perishable body and carries forward
the mental being, the Purusha in the mind, upon his journey.

This journey consists in a series of activities continued from
life to life in this world with intervals of life in other states.
The Life-principle maintains them; it supplies their material
in the formative energy which takes shape in them. But their
presiding god is not the Life-principle; it is the Will. Will is
Kratu, the effective power behind the act. It is of the nature
of consciousness; it is energy of consciousness, and although
present in all forms, conscious, subconscious or superconscious,
vital, physical or mental, yet comes into its kingdom only when
it emerges in Mind. It uses the mental faculty of memory to link
together and direct consciously the activities towards the goal
of the individual.
In man the use of consciousness by the mental will is imperfect, because memory is limited. Our action is both dispersed
and circumscribed because mentally we live from hour to hour
in the current of Time, holding only to that which attracts or
2 Anilam amrtam.

seems immediately useful to our egoistic mind. We live in what
we are doing, we do not control what has been done, but are
rather controlled by our past works which we have forgotten.
This is because we dwell in the action and its fruits instead of
living in the soul and viewing the stream of action from behind
it. The Lord, the true Will, stands back from the actions and
therefore is their lord and not bound by them.
The Upanishad solemnly invokes the Will to remember the
thing that has been done, so as to contain and be conscious
of the becoming, so as to become a power of knowledge and
self-possession and not only a power of impulsion and selfformulation. It will thus more and more approximate itself to
the true Will and preside over the co-ordination of the successive
lives with a conscious control. Instead of being carried from life
to life in a crooked path, as by winds, it will be able to proceed
more and more straight in an ordered series, linking life to life
with an increasing force of knowledge and direction until it
becomes the fully conscious Will moving with illumination on
the straight path towards the immortal felicity. The mental will,
kratu, becomes what it at present only represents, the divine
Will, Agni.

The essentiality of the divine Will is that in it Consciousness and
Energy, Knowledge and Force are one. It knows all manifestations, all things that take birth in the worlds. It is Jatavedas, that which has right knowledge of all births. It knows them in the law of their being, in their relation to other births, in their aim and method, in their process and goal, in their unity with all and their difference from all. It is this divine Will that conducts the universe; it is one with all the things that it combines and its being, its knowledge, its action are inseparable from each other. What it is, it knows; what it knows, that it does and becomes.

But as soon as egoistic consciousness emerges and interferes, there is a disturbance, a division, a false action. Will becomes an impulsion ignorant of its secret motive and aim, knowledge becomes a dubious and partial ray not in possession of the will, the act and the result, but only striving to possess and inform them. This is because we are not in possession of our self,3 our true being, but only of the ego. What we are, we know not; what we know, we cannot effect. For knowledge is real and action in harmony with true knowledge only when they proceed naturally out of the conscious, illumined and self-possessing soul, in which being, knowledge and action are one movement.

This is the change that happens when, the mental will approximating more and more to the divine, Agni burns out in us. It is
that increasing knowledge and force which carries us finally into
the straight or good path out of the crookedness. It is the divine
Will, one with the divine knowledge, which leads us towards
felicity, towards the state of Immortality. All that belongs to the
deviations of the ego, all that obscures and drives or draws us
into this or that false path with its false lures and stumblings are
put away from us by it. These things fall away from the divinised
Will and cease to find lodging in our consciousness.
Therefore the sign of right action is the increasing and finally the complete submission of the individual to the divine
Will which the illumination of Surya reveals in him. Although
manifested in his consciousness, this Will is not individual. It is
the will of the Purusha who is in all things and transcends them.
It is the will of the Lord.
Knowledge of the Lord as the One in the fully self-conscious
being, submission to the Lord as the universal and transcendent
in the fully self-conscious action, are the two keys of the divine
gates, the gates of Immortality.
And the nature of the two united is an illuminated Devotion
which accepts, aspires to and fulfils God in the human existence.
3 Atmavan.


Thus the fourth movement indicates psychologically the double
process of that attainment of Immortality which is the subject
of the third movement, the state of bliss and truth within and
the worlds of Light after death culminating in the identity of
the self-luminous One. At the same time it particularises under
the cover of Vedic symbols the process of that self-knowledge
and identification with the Self and all its becomings which is
the subject of the second movement and of that liberated action
in the assertion of which the first culminates. It is thus a fitting
close and consummation to the Upanishad.

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  object: - Action and the Divine Will
  author class:Sri Aurobindo

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