classes ::: chapter, Sri_Aurobindo_or_the_Adventure_of_Consciousness, Satprem, Integral_Yoga,
children :::
branches :::

Instances, Classes, See Also, Object in Names
Definitions, . Quotes . - . Chapters .


object:1.16 - Man, A Transitional Being
class:chapter
book class:Sri Aurobindo or the Adventure of Consciousness
author class:Satprem
subject class:Integral Yoga


Sri Aurobindo lived in great poverty during his first years in Pondicherry. He was on the police blacklist, far away from those who could have helped him, his mail censored, his every move surveyed by British spies, who were attempting to get him extradited through all sorts of devious maneuvers, including planting compromising papers in his house and then denouncing him to the French police. 294 Once they even tried to kidnap him. Sri Aurobindo would finally be left in peace the day the French police superintendent came to search his room and discovered in his desk drawers the works of Homer. After inquiring whether these writings were "really Greek," the superintendent became so filled with awe and respect for this gentleman-yogi, who read scholarly books and spoke French, that he simply left, never to return. The newcomer could now receive whomsoever he wished and move about as he pleased. Several comrades-in-arms had followed him, waiting for their "leader" to resume the political struggle, but since "the Voice" remained silent,
Sri Aurobindo did not move. Besides, he saw that the political process was now under way; the spirit of independence had been awakened in his compatriots, and things would follow their inevitable course until India's total liberation, as he had foreseen. Now he had other things to do.

The Written Works The highlight of those first years of exile was his reading of the Veda in the original Sanskrit. Until then, Sri Aurobindo had read only English or Indian translations and, along with the Sanskrit scholars, he had seen in the Veda only rather obscure, ritualistic texts . . . of small value or importance for the history of thought or for a living spiritual 294

Pondicherry was then a French possession.


experience.295 But in the original, he discovered a constant vein of the richest gold of thought and spiritual experience. 296 . . . I found that the mantras of the Veda illuminated with a clear and exact light psychological experiences of my own for which I had found no sufficient explanation either in European psychology or in the teachings of Yoga or of Vedanta.297 It can well be imagined how Sri Aurobindo might have become a little perplexed by his own experiences, and how it took him several years to understand exactly what was happening to him. We have described the supramental experience of Chandernagore as if the steps had neatly followed one another, each with its own explanatory note, but, in reality, the explanations came long afterwards. At the time, there were no signposts at all to guide him. Yet here was the most ancient of the four Vedas,298 the Rig Veda, unexpectedly suggesting that he was not completely alone or astray on this planet. That the Western and even the Indian scholars had not understood the extraordinary vision of these texts is perhaps not so surprising when we realize that Sanskrit roots lend themselves to a double or even a triple meaning, which in turn can be invested with a double symbolism, esoteric and exoteric.
These hymns can be read on two or three different levels of meaning,
and even after one finds the right meaning, it is still difficult to fully comprehend the "Fire in the water," "the mountain pregnant with the supreme birth," or the quest for the "lost Sun" followed by the discovery of the "Sun in the darkness," unless one has experienced the spiritual Fire in Matter, the explosion of the rock of the Inconscient or the illumination in the cells of the body. The rishis themselves spoke of "secret words, seer-wisdoms that utter their inner meaning to the seer." (IV.3.16) Because of his experiences, Sri Aurobindo knew 295

On the Veda, 42
On the Veda, 47
297
On the Veda, 46
298
According to Indian tradition, each cycle has four periods: Satya-yuga, the age of truth (or golden age), followed by the age with "three-fourths of the truth," Tretayuga, then "half of the truth," Dwapara-yuga, and finally the age when all the truth has disappeared, Kali-yuga, and when the Password has been lost. The Kali-yuga is followed by a new Satya-yuga, but between the two there is a complete disintegration, pralaya, and the universe is "swallowed back up." For Sri Aurobindo,
however, the discovery of the Supermind opens up other possibilities.
296


immediately what was meant, and he set out to translate a large fragment of the Rig Veda, in particular the marvelous Hymns to the Mystic Fire. It is astounding to think that the rishis of five or six thousand years ago were alluding not only to their own experiences but also to those of their "ancestors," "the fathers of men," as they called them how many millennia before? which had been repeated generation after generation without a single distortion or without omitting a single syllable, because the effectiveness of a mantra depended precisely upon the accuracy of its pronunciation. We are here before the most ancient tradition in the world, intact. That Sri Aurobindo rediscovered the Secret of the beginning of our human cycle (perhaps there were others before?) in an age the Indians call "black," Kali-yuga, is not without significance. For if it is true that the Rockbottom is contiguous with a new layer, then we must be approaching "something."299
It would be wrong, however, to identify Sri Aurobindo with the Vedic revelation. As striking as it may seem to us, it was for him only one sign along the way a confirmation after the fact, as it were. To resurrect the Veda in the twentieth century, as if it embodied the total Truth once and for all, would be a futile endeavor since the Truth never repeats itself twice. Sri Aurobindo himself wrote in a humorous vein: Truly this shocked reverence for the past is a wonderful and fearful thing! After all, the Divine is infinite and the unrolling of the Truth may be an infinite process . . . not a thing in a nutshell cracked and its contents exhausted once and for all by the first seer or sage,
while the others must religiously crack the same nutshell all over again.300 Sri Aurobindo was not going to work only toward an individual realization, like the rishis, but toward a collective one, and in conditions that were no longer those of the prehistoric shepherds.
First, he was to devote a great deal of time to writing, which for the moment, is probably the most visible sign of his collective action. In 1910, a French writer, Paul Richard, came to Pondicherry, met Sri Aurobindo, and was so impressed by the breadth of his views that he made a second trip to see him in 1914, this time urging him to put his 299
300

Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, Atharva Veda.
Letters on Yoga, 22:93


thoughts into written form. A bilingual review was founded, with Richard in charge of the French section. Thus the Arya, or Review of the Great Synthesis, would be born. But the war broke out, Richard was called back to France, and Sri Aurobindo found himself alone with sixty-four pages of philosophy to produce every month.
Nevertheless, he was no philosopher. And philosophy! Let me tell you in confidence that I never, never, never was a philosopher although I have written philosophy which is another story altogether. I knew precious little about philosophy before I did the Yoga and came to Pondicherry I was a poet and a politician, not a philosopher. How I
managed to do it and why? First, because Paul Richard proposed to me to cooperate in a philosophic review and as my theory was that a Yogi ought to be able to turn his hand to anything, I could not very well refuse; and then he had to go to the war and left me in the lurch with sixty-four pages a month of philosophy all to write by my lonely self. Secondly, because I had only to write down in the terms of the intellect all that I had observed and come to know in practising Yoga daily and the philosophy was there automatically. But that is not being a philosopher!301 And so it was that Sri Aurobindo became a writer. He was forty-two. Typically, he himself had decided nothing:
"outer" circumstances had launched him upon his path.
In six uninterrupted years, until 1920, Sri Aurobindo would publish nearly all of his written work, close to five thousand pages.
But he wrote in an unusual manner not one book after another, but four and even six books concurrently, on the most varied subjects,
such as The Life Divine, his fundamental "philosophical" work and spiritual vision of evolution; The Synthesis of Yoga, in which he describes the various stages and experiences of the integral yoga, and surveys all the past and present yogic disciplines; the Essays on the Gita, which expounds his philosophy of action; The Secret of the Veda, with a study of the origins of language; and The Ideal of Human Unity and The Human Cycle, which approach evolution from its sociological and psychological standpoints and examine the future possibilities of human societies. He had found
301

On Himself, 26:374


The single sign interpreting every sign.302
Day after day, quietly, Sri Aurobindo filled his pages. Anyone else would have been exhausted, but he did not "think" about what he was writing. I have made no endeavour in writing, he explains to a disciple, I have simply left the higher Power to work and when it did not work, I made no effort at all. It was in the old intellectual days that I had sometimes tried to force things and not after I started development of poetry and prose by Yoga. Let me remind you also that when I was writing the Arya and also whenever I write these letters or replies, I never think. . . . It is out of a silent mind that I
write whatever comes ready-shaped from above.303 Often, those among his disciples who were writers or poets would ask him to explain the yogic process of literary creation. He would explain it at great length, knowing that creative activities are a powerful means of pushing back the superconscious boundary and precipitating into Matter the luminous possibilities of the future. His letters are quite instructive: The best relief for the brain, he writes in one of them, is when the thinking takes place outside the body and above the head (or in space or at other levels but still outside the body). At any rate it was so in my case; for as soon as that happened there was an immense relief; I have felt body strain since then but never any kind of brain fatigue.304 Let us stress that "thinking outside the body" is not at all a supramental phenomenon, but a very simple experience accessible with the onset of mental silence. The true method,
according to Sri Aurobindo, is to reach a state devoid of any personal effort, to step aside as completely as one can and simply let the current pass through. There are two ways of arriving at the Grand Trunk Road. One is to climb and struggle and effortise (like the pilgrim who traverses India prostrating and measuring the way with his body: that is the way of effort). One day you suddenly find yourself on the G.T.R.
when you least expect it. The other is to quiet the mind to such a point that a greater Mind can speak through it (I am not here talking of the 302
303
304

Savitri, 28:97
Sri Aurobindo Came to Me, 247
On Himself, 26:361


Supramental).305 But then, asked a disciple, if it is not our own mind that thinks, if thoughts come from outside, how is it that there is such a difference between one person's thoughts and another's? First of all,
replied Sri Aurobindo, these thought-waves, thought-seeds or thoughtforms or whatever they are, are of different values and come from different planes of consciousness. And the same thought substance can take higher or lower vibrations according to the plane of consciousness through which the thoughts come in (e.g. thinking mind, vital mind, physical mind, subconscient mind) or the power of consciousness which catches them and pushes them into one man or another. Moreoever there is a stuff of mind in each man and the incoming thought uses that for shaping itself or translating itself (transcribing we usually call it), but the stuff is finer or coarser,
stronger or weaker, etc., etc., in one mind than in another. Also there is a mind-energy actual or potential in each which differs and this mind-energy in its recipience of the thought can be luminous or obscure, sattwic (serene), rajasic (impassioned) or tamasic (inert)
with consequences which vary in each case.306 And Sri Aurobindo added: The intellect is an absurdly overactive part of the nature; it always thinks that nothing can be well done unless it puts its finger into the pie and therefore it instinctively interferes with the inspiration, blocks half or more than half of it and labours to substitute its own inferior and toilsome productions for the true speech and rhythm that ought to have come. The poet labours in anguish to get the one true word, the authentic rhythm, the real divine substance of what he has to say, while all the time it is waiting complete and ready behind.307 But effort helps, the disciple protested again, and by dint of beating one's brains, the inspiration comes.
Exactly! When any real effect is produced, it is not because of the beating and the hammering, but because an inspiration slips down between the raising of the hammer and the falling and gets in under cover of the beastly noise.308 After writing so many books for his disciples, Sri Aurobindo finally avowed that the sole purpose of books 305
306
307
308

Correspondence, Vol. II, 150
Correspondence, Vol. II, 155
Letters, 3rd Series, 5
Correspondence, Vol. II, 150


and philosophies was not really to enlighten the mind, but to silence it so that it can experience things directly and receive direct inspirations.
He summed up the role of the mind in the evolutionary process as follows: Mind is a clumsy interlude between Nature's vast and precise subconscient action and the vaster infallible superconscient action of the Godhead. There is nothing mind can do that cannot be better done in the mind's immobility and thought-free stillness.309
At the end of six years, in 1920, Sri Aurobindo felt he had said enough, for the time being, and the Arya drew to a close. The rest of his written work would be comprised almost entirely of letters to his disciples thousands upon thousands of them, containing all kinds of practical indications about yogic experiences, difficulties, and progress. But most importantly, over a period of thirty years, he would write and rewrite his extraordinary 28,813-line epic poem, Savitri, like a fifth Veda his message, in which he describes the experiences of the higher and lower worlds, his own battles in the Subconscient and Inconscient, the whole occult history of evolution on the earth and in the universe, and his vision of the future:
Interpreting the universe by soul signs He read from within the text of the without.310

The Mother Sri Aurobindo had not come only to write; he had other things to do.
He stopped the Arya in 1920, the year the Mother came to join him in Pondicherry. When I came to Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo once told his early disciples, a programme was dictated to me from within for my sadhana [discipline]. I followed it and progressed for myself but could not do much by way of helping others. Then came the Mother and with her help I found the necessary method.311
It is difficult to speak of the Mother, probably because a 309
310
311

The Hour of God, 17:11
Savitri, 28:76
Anilbaran's Journal (unpublished)


personality such as hers cannot be easily captured in words; she is a Force in movement. Everything that happened yesterday, all that may have been said, done, or experienced even on the previous evening is already old for her, and uninteresting. She is always farther ahead,
always beyond. She was born to break the limits, like Savitri. It would then scarcely be appropriate to imprison her in a curriculum vitae.
Let us say simply that she was born in Paris on February 21, 1878,
and that she, too, had the supramental vision. It is not surprising, then,
that with such consciousness she knew of Sri Aurobindo's existence long before meeting him physically and coming to join him in Pondicherry. Between the ages of eleven and thirteen, she explains, a series of psychic and spiritual experiences revealed to me not only the existence of God, but man's possibility of finding Him and revealing Him integrally in consciousness and action, and of manifesting Him on earth in a divine life. This revelation, along with the practical discipline for achieving it, were given to me during my body's sleep by several teachers, some of whom I met afterwards on the physical plane. Later on, as the inner and outer development progressed, my spiritual and psychic relationship with one of these beings became increasingly clear and rich. . . . The moment I saw Sri Aurobindo, I
knew it was he who had come to do the work on earth and that it was with him I was to work. The "transformation" was under way. It was the Mother who took charge of the Ashram when Sri Aurobindo retired into complete solitude in 1926, and it is she who would continue the Work after his departure in 1950. The Mother's consciousness and mine are the same.312 It is quite significant that the living synthesis of East and West, which Sri Aurobindo already symbolized, would become perfected by this meeting between East and West, as if the world could only be fulfilled by the coming together of the two poles of existence, Consciousness and Force, Spirit and Earth, He and She forever.

An Outline of Evolution 312

On Himself, 26:455


One day or another, we may all join in the work of transformation that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have undertaken, because this is our evolutionary future. If we wish to understand what this process really is, its difficulties as well as the chances of failure or success, we must first understand the meaning of our own evolution, so that we can take an active part in it, instead of letting the centuries and millennia do the job after interminable meanderings. Sri Aurobindo is not dealing in theories: his vision of evolution rests essentially upon an experience.
If he has attempted to express it in terms that may appear theoretical to us (since we do not yet have the experience), this is not in order to add one more idea to the millions of idea-forces in the world, but to help us seize the key to our own dynamism and accelerate the evolutionary process. For humanity's present condition is scarcely worth lingering on.
The key is Agni, the Consciousness-Force, and the whole evolution can be described as Agni's journey in four movements involution,
devolution, involution, evolution from the eternal Center and within Him. The fourfold movement is in fact He. All is He. Himself the play, Himself the player, Himself the playground. 313 He outside time,
outside space, the pure Being, the pure Consciousness, the great white Silence where all is in a state of involution, self-contained, still formless. Then He who becomes: Force separates from Consciousness, She from Him, and Agni's journey begins:
. . . scattered on sealed depths, her luminous smile Kindled to fire the silence of the worlds.314
She casts herself forth from Him in an outburst of joy, to play at finding Him again in Time He and She, two in one. What then was the commencement of the whole matter? Existence that multiplied itself for sheer delight of being and plunged into numberless trillions of forms so that it might find itself innumerably. 315 But this beginning is perpetual; it is not situated at any point in Time. When we say 313
314
315

The Life Divine, 18:103
Savitri, 28:4
Thoughts and Glimpses, 16:384


"first" the Eternal, "then" the Becoming, we are back in the illusion of our spatio-temporal language, just as when we say "high" or "low."
Our language is false, as is our vision of the world. In reality, Being and Becoming, He and She, are two concurrent faces of the same eternal FACT. The universe is a perpetual phenomenon, as perpetual as the Silence beyond time: In the beginning, it is said, was the Eternal, the Infinite, the One. In the middle, it is said, is the finite, the transient, the Many. In the end, it is said, shall be the One, the Infinite, the Eternal. For when was the beginning? At no moment in Time, for the beginning is at every moment; the beginning always was, always is and always shall be. The divine beginning is before Time, in Time and beyond Time for ever. The Eternal, Infinite and One is an endless beginning. And where is the middle? There is no middle; for there is only the junction of the perpetual end and the eternal beginning; it is the sign of a creation which is new at every moment. The creation was for ever, is for ever, shall be for ever. The Eternal, Infinite and One is the magical middle-term of his own existence; it is he that is the beginningless and endless creation. And when is the end? There is no end. At no conceivable moment can there be a cessation. For all end of things is the beginning of new things which are still the same One in an ever developing and ever recurring figure. Nothing can be destroyed, for all is He who is forever. The Eternal, Infinite and One is the unimaginable end that is never closing upon new interminable vistas of his glory.316 And Sri Aurobindo added: The experience of human life on an earth is not now for the first time enacted. It has been conducted a million times before and the long drama will again a million times be repeated. In all that we do now, our dreams, our discoveries, our swift or difficult attainments, we profit subconsciously by the experience of innumerable precursors and our labour will be fecund in planets unknown to us and in worlds yet uncreated. The plan, the peripetia,
the denouement differ continually, yet are always governed by the conventions of an eternal Art. God, Man, Nature are the three perpetual symbols. The idea of eternal recurrence affects with a shudder of alarm the mind entrenched in the minute, the hour, the years, the centuries, all the finite's unreal defences. But the strong 316

The Hour of God, 17:148


soul conscious of its own immortal stuff and the inexhaustible ocean of its ever-flowing energies is seized by it with the thrill of an inconceivable rapture. It hears behind the thought the childlike laughter and ecstasy of the Infinite.317
This ceaseless movement from Being to Becoming is what Sri Aurobindo called devolution. The transition is gradual; the supreme Consciousness does not all at once become Matter. Matter is the final precipitate, the end product of an increasing fragmentation or "materialization" of consciousness, which is worked out slowly, one level at a time. At the "top" of this devolutive course though it is not a top but a supreme Point that is everywhere at once stands the supramental Consciousness-Force, which encompasses in a single Glance all the infinite possibilities of the Becoming, as the solar Fire contains all its rays within its center: "They unyoked the horses of the Sun," says the Rig Veda, "the ten thousand stood together, there was that One, tad ekam." (V.62.1) Then comes the Overmind: the "great clevage" of consciousness begins; the rays of the Sun branch off; the single Consciousness-Force is henceforth scattered into trillions of forces, each seeking its own absolute realization. Once begun, the Play will not stop until all the possibilities have been exhausted,
including those that seem to be the very contradiction of the eternal Player. Force is cast in an ever more passionate movement, as if it wanted to burst forth to its utmost frontiers, to meet itself always farther in order to replace the One by an impossible sum. Then consciousness scatters. It breaks up into smaller and smaller fragments, becoming increasingly heavy and obscure, forming layers or worlds inhabited by their own beings and forces, each with its particular life; all the traditions have described them; we too, can see them in our sleep, or with our eyes open once our vision has become unsealed. From the gods to the symbolic gnomes, consciousness shrinks, crumbles, and falls to dust overmind, intuitive mind,
illumined mind, higher mind, then vital, and subtle physical. It becomes more and more ensnared and mired in its force, scattered into microscopic instincts or survival-oriented tropisms, until its final dispersion in Matter, in which everything becomes fragmented. "In the 317

The Hour of God, 17:149


beginning," says the Veda, "darkness was hidden by darkness, all this was one ocean of inconscience. Universal being was concealed by fragmentation." (X.129.1-5) The devolution is complete; it is the plunge of Light into its own shadow,318 i.e., Matter.
Now we are before two poles. At the top, a supreme Negative (or Positive, depending upon one's personal bias), where Force seems annihilated in a luminous Nothingness, a gulf of peace without a ripple, where everything is self-contained, and there is no need for even the slightest movement in order to be it is. At the other pole, a supreme Positive (or Negative, if we prefer), where Consciousness seems to be engulfed in an obscure Nothingness, an abyss of blind Force forever engrossed in its own dark whirl an inexorable and ceaseless becoming. This is the first duality from which all others follow: the One and the Innumerable, the Infinite and the Finite,
Consciousness and Force, Spirit and Matter, the Formless and a frenzy of forms He and She. Our whole existence is caught between these two poles, some of us wishing to see only the Transcendent, which is then called the supreme Positive, and dismissing Matter as a kind of temporary falsehood while the rest of us swear by Matter alone,
likewise calling it the supreme Positive, and rejecting the Spirit as a definitive and negative falsehood, since according to human logic,
plus cannot be also minus, or vice versa. But all this is still an illusion.
Consciousness does not contradict Force, nor Matter the Spirit, nor the Infinite the Finite, no more than high contradicts low: In the world as we see it, for our mental consciousness however high we carry it, we find that to every positive there is a negative. But the negative is not a zero indeed whatever appears to us a zero is packed with force,
teeming with power of existence. . . . Neither does the existence of the negative make its corresponding positive nonexistent or an unreality;
it only makes the positive and the negative exist not only side by side,
but in relation to each other and by each other; they complete and would to the all-view, which a limited mind cannot reach, explain one another. Each by itself is not really known; we only begin to know it in its deeper truth when we can read into it the suggestions of its
318

The Life Divine, 18:162


apparent opposite.319
In the heights, She is as if asleep within Him; in the depths, He is as if asleep within Her. Force dissolved in Consciousness and Consciousness dissolved in Force, the Infinite contained in the Finite as the tree and all its branches are contained in the seed. This is what Sri Aurobindo calls "involution": The nescience of Matter is a veiled,
an involved or somnambulist consciousness which contains all the latent powers of the Spirit. In every particle, atom, molecule, cell of Matter there lives hidden and works unknown all the omniscience of the Eternal and all the omnipotence of the Infinite. 320 The involution above is followed by a new involution below, whereby everything is contained latently within the Night, the way everything was contained latently within the Light above. Agni is there "like a warm gold dust";
"Agni has entered earth and heaven as if they were one," says the Rig Veda (III.7.4). In a sense, the whole of creation may be said to be a movement between two involutions, Spirit in which all is involved and out of which all evolves downward (or devolves) to the other pole of Matter, Matter in which also all is involved and out of which all evolves upwards to the other pole of Spirit.321
Without this involution no evolution would be possible, for how could something come out of nothing? For an evolution to take place,
something must indeed be growing or evolving from within! Nothing can evolve out of Matter which is not therein already contained.322 It is Agni that impels and goads in the depths of this awakening stupor,
behind the evolutionary explosion of forms. It is Force in quest of Consciousness, She seeking Him, seeking forms more suitable for manifesting Him. It is She emerging from her unconscious Night and groping in her millions of works and millions of species to rediscover the beauty of the one lost Form, and to rediscover innumerably the Joy that was one a million-bodied beatitude323 instead of a blank ecstasy.
If we possess that "ear of ears" the Veda spoke of, perhaps we will hear everywhere the Night crying out to the Light, the walled-in 319
320
321
322
323

The Life Divine, 18:378
The Hour of God, 17:15
The Life Divine, 18:129
The Life Divine, 18:87
The Synthesis of Yoga, 20:151


Consciousness crying out to Joy, the deep spiritual cry in all that is.324
This is what impels us deep within; there is a Fire within, a flame in Matter, a flame of Life, a flame in our Mind and in our soul. This is the Fire we must seize: it is the leader of the journey and the key, the secret evolutionary impetus, the soul and flame of the world. If this world were made only of lifeless and inert stone, it would never have become anything but lifeless and inert stone; if the soul were not already in Matter, it could never have emerged in man: But what after all, behind appearances, is this seeming mystery? We can see that it is the Consciousness which had lost itself returning again to itelf,
emerging out of its giant self-forgetfulness, slowly, painfully, as a Life that is would-be sentient, half-sentient, dimly sentient, wholly sentient and finally struggles to be more than sentient, to be again divinely self-conscious, free, infinite, immortal.325
Until the day She comes to the human being, Her conscious instrument in whom, by whom and through whom She will be able to recover Him, Our humanity is the conscious meeting-place of the finite and the infinite and to grow more and more towards the Infinite even in this physical birth is our privilege.326 A special phenomenon occurs when Agni reaches the human stage of its journey. During the preceding stages of evolution, the evolutionary flame seems to have subsided of its own accord once the new emergence was assured. The explosion of vegetal life seems to have subsided once the animal became firmly established in Life. The teeming of animal life seems similarly to have subsided once humankind became definitively settled in evolution. It does not seem that Nature has created any new animal or plant species since the human species has occupied the crest of evolution. The various species have become stationary; they have attained a degree of perfection, each in its own order, and they remain there. With man, however, the evolutionary urge has not abated, even though he is firmly established in evolution. He is not fulfilled, not satisfied as other species are; he does not know the peace and joy that come with equilibrium. Man is an abnormal who has not found his own normality he may imagine he has, he may appear to be normal 324
325
326

Savitri, 28:90
The Life Divine, 18:243
The Problem of Rebirth, 16:241


in his own kind, but that normality is only a sort of provisional order;
therefore, though man is infinitely greater than the plant or animal;
he is not perfect in his own nature like the plant and the animal.327
This imperfection should not at all be deplored, Sri Aurobindo says; it is, on the contrary, a privilege and a promise.328 If we were perfect and harmonious within our own kind, without sin or flaw, we would already be a stationary species, like the amphibians or the mollusks. But in us, who reproduce the great cosmic Play, the force has not completely found its consciousness, or our nature its own spirit. Was Plato ever satisfied or Michelangelo ever at peace? "One night I took Beauty upon my knees, and I found her bitter!" exclaimed Rimbaud. This is a sign that the peak of mental intelligence or aesthetic refinement is not the end of the journey, not total plenitude,
not the great Equilibrium of She and He together again. The spirit within, the little flame at the center that slowly awakens and grows,
has first touched minute fragments, molecules, genes, protoplasms; it has settled psychologically around a separate and fragmentary ego; it does not see very well, groping in the darkness; it, too, is doubly "involved," and it perceives things only through a narrow mental shutter between an abysmal subconscient and a vast superconscient. It is this childish fragmentation for it really belongs to our human childhood that is the cause of all our errors and sufferings; all our woes proceed from this narrowness of vision, which is a false vision of ourselves and of the world. For in truth, the world and each cell of our body is Sat-chit-ananda, Existence-Consciousness-Bliss; we are light and joy. Our sense by its incapacity has invented darkness. In truth there is nothing but Light, only it is a power of light either above or below our poor human vision's limited range. 329 All is joy: "For who could live or breathe if there were not this delight of existence as the ether in which we dwell?" says the Upanishad. 330 It is our faulty vision that hides from us the happiness absolute in the heart of
327
328
329
330

The Human Cycle, 290
The Human Cycle, 290
The Hour of God, 17:48
Taittiriya Upanishad II.7.


things;331 it is our pallid sense,332 still immature, that does not yet know how to contain all that great vastness. As Sri Aurobindo points out, man is not the last term of evolution, but a transitional being.333
We speak of the evolution of Life in Matter, the evolution of Mind in Matter; but evolution is a word which merely states the phenomenon without explaining it. For there seems to be no reason why Life should evolve out of material elements or Mind out of living form, unless we accept . . . that Life is already involved in Matter and Mind in Life because in essence Matter is a form of veiled Life, Life a form of veiled Consciousness. And then there seems to be little objection to a farther step in the series and the admission that mental consciousness may itself be only a form and a veil of higher states which are beyond Mind. In that case, the unconquerable impulse of man towards God,
Light, Bliss, Freedom, Immortality presents itself in its right place in the chain as simply the imperative impulse by which Nature is seeking to evolve beyond Mind, and appears to be as natural, true and just as the impulse towards Life which she has planted in forms of Matter or the impulse towards Mind which she has planted in certain forms of life. . . . The animal is a living laboratory in which Nature has, it is said, worked out man. Man himself may well be a thinking and living laboratory in whom and with whose conscious cooperation she wills to work out the superman, the god. Or shall we not say, rather, to manifest God?334 If evolution succeeds in making this difficult transition, the great Equilibrium will be attained; we will enter "the vast home" (Rig Veda V.68.5); Force will have recovered all its Consciousness instead of wandering aimlessly, and Consciousness will have recovered all its Force instead of understanding and loving powerlessly.
The rishis, too, knew that the journey was not over. They said that Agni "conceals his two extremities," that Agni is "without head and without feet." (Rig Veda IV.1.7,11) We are a tiny flame lost between the superconscious Agni of heaven and the subconscious Agni of the earth, and we suffer, tossing and turning upon our bed of misery, some 331
332
333
334

The Synthesis of Yoga, 20:216
Savitri, 28:235
The Hour of God, 17:7
The Life Divine, 18:3-4


of us seeking their heaven, others their earth, yet without ever joining the two. Another race is to be born among us, a whole Being, if only we consent to it: "Weave an inviolate work, become the human being,
create the divine race. . . . Seers of Truth are you, sharpen the shining spears with which you cut the way to that which is Immortal; knowers of the secret planes, form them, the steps by which the gods attained to immortality." (X.53) Then we will regain our solar totality, our two concealed extremities, our two Mothers in one: "O Flame, O Agni,
thou goest to the ocean of Heaven, towards the gods; thou makest to meet together the godheads of the planes, the waters that are in the realm of light above the sun and the waters that abide below."
(III.22.3) Then we will know the joy of both worlds and of all the worlds, Ananda, of the earth and heaven as if they were one: "O
Flame, thou foundest the mortal in a supreme immortality . . . for the seer who has thirst for the dual birth, thou createst divine bliss and human joy." (I.31.7) For joy is the ultimate goal of our evolution.
People speak of "love," but is there a word more falsified by our sentimentalities, our political factions, or our churches? Whereas no one can falsify that joy, for it is a child laughing in the sun; it loves,
seeking to sweep up everything in its dance. Joy, yes, if we have the courage to want it. The laurel and not the cross should be the aim of the conquering human soul335 but men are still in love with grief. . . .
Therefore Christ still hangs on the cross in Jerusalem. 336 The joy of being, of being fully, in all that is, has been, and will be here, there,
and everywhere as if honey could taste itself and all its drops together and all its drops could taste each other and each the whole honeycomb.337 Then evolution will emerge from the Night to enter the Solar cycle. We will live under the Auspices of the One. The crucified god in us will descend from his cross and man will at last be Himself normal. For to be normal is to be divine. There are only two spontaneous harmonic movements, that of the life, inconscient or largely subconscient, the harmony that we find in the animal creation and in the lower Nature, and that of the spirit. The human condition is a stage of transition, effort and imperfection between the one and the 335
336
337

Thoughts and Glimpses, 32
Thoughts and Aphorisms, 17:82
Thoughts and Glimpses, 16:384


other, between the natural and the ideal or spiritual life.338 339

338

The Synthesis of Yoga, 21:798
According to the Mother, the serpent of the earthly paradise is a symbol of the evolutionary force that drove man out of a state of animal bliss to regain the state of divine happiness by eating the fruit of Knowledge and developing his mental capacity until it reached a point of transformation. In Greece, too, winged serpents pull the chariot of Demeter. The serpent is not only a symbol of cosmic evolution but also a symbol of the individual evolutionary force: when the ascending force (kundalini) awakens at the base of our spine and emerges from our physical consciousness, where it was asleep, coiled up like a serpent in its hole (kundalini means "the coiled one"), when it rises from center to center, the evolved human being emerges from ordinary unconsciousness to enter a cosmic consciousness;
then, through the opening above the head, he enters the divine solar consciousness.
For Sri Aurobindo and the rishis, and probably for other sources of wisdom that have now vanished, the discovery of this solar consciousness above is only a first evolutionary stage which has to be followed by the discovery of the same solar consciousness below, in Matter. This is the serpent biting its own tail, or what Sri Aurobindo calls the "transformation."
339




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