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object:1.2.1.03 - Psychic and Esoteric Poetry
book class:Letters On Poetry And Art
author class:Sri Aurobindo
subject class:Integral Yoga
media class:chapter

30 Apr 1935

These poems are quite new in mannersimple and precise and penetrating.1 What you describe is the psychic fire, agni pvaka, which burns in the deeper heart and from there is lighted in the mind, the vital and the physical body. In the mind Agni creates a light of intuitive perception and discrimination which sees at once what is the true vision or idea and the wrong vision or idea, the true feeling and the wrong feeling, the true movement and the wrong movement. In the vital he is kindled as a fire of right emotion and a kind of intuitive feeling, a sort of tact which makes for the right impulse, the right action, the right sense of things and reaction to things. In the body he initiates a similar but still more automatic correct response to the things of physical life, sensation, bodily experience. Usually it is the psychic light in the mind that is first lit of the three, but not alwaysfor sometimes it is the psycho-vital flame that takes precedence.

In ordinary life also there is no doubt an action of the psychicwithout it man would be only a thinking and planning animal. But its action there is very much veiled, needing always the mental or vital to express it, usually mixed and not dominant, not unerring therefore; it does often the right thing in the wrong way, is moved by the right feeling but errs as to the application, person, place, circumstance. The psychic, except in a few extraordinary natures, does not get its full chance in the outer consciousness; it needs some kind of Yoga or sadhana to come by its own and it is as it emerges more and more in front that it gets clear of the mixture. That is to say, its presence becomes directly felt, not only behind and supporting, but filling the frontal consciousness and no longer dependent on or dominated by its instrumentsmind, vital and body, but dominating them and moulding them into luminosity and teaching them their own true action.

It is not easy to say whether the poems are esoteric; for these words esoteric and exoteric are rather ill-defined in their significance. One understands the distinction between exoteric and esoteric religionthat is to say, on one side, creed, dogma, mental faith, religious worship and ceremony, religious and moral practice and discipline, on the other an inner seeking piercing beyond the creed and dogma and ceremony or finding their hidden meaning, living deeply within in spiritual and mystic experience. But how shall we define an esoteric poetry? Perhaps what deals in an occult way with the occult may be called esoterice.g., the Bird of Fire, Trance, etc. The Two Moons2 is, it is obvious, desperately esoteric. But I dont know whether an intimate spiritual experience simply and limpidly told without veil or recondite image can be called esotericfor the word usually brings the sense of something kept back from the ordinary eye, hidden, occult. Is Nirvana for instance an esoteric poem? There is no veil or symbol thereit tries to state the experience as precisely and overtly as possible. The experience of the psychic fire and psychic discrimination is an intimate spiritual experience, but it is direct and simple like all psychic things. The poem which expresses it may easily be something deeply inward, esoteric in that sense, but simple, unveiled and clear, not esoteric in the more usual sense. I rather think, however, the term esoteric poem is a misnomer and some other phraseology would be more accurate.

30 April 1935

  Certain poems in Bengali by Dilip Kumar Roy: Agni Disha, Agni Bedan, etc.Ed.

  Now called Moon of Two Hemispheres.Ed.

***
24 Jul 1936

I dont think your poetry is more esoteric than in the earlier poemsfor esoteric means something that only the initiated in the mysteries can understand; to be concerned with spiritual aspiration does not make a poem esoteric, such poems can be perfectly well understood by those who are not mystics or Yogis. Yours are certainly not more esoteric or Yogic than Nishikantas with his frequent incursions into the occult and if Tagore could be knocked over by the Rajahansa poem, that shows that Yogic poetry can be appreciated by him and by others. I take it that it is a transition to a new style of writing that meets with so much opposition and these are only excuses for the refusal of the mind to appreciate what is new. On the other hand those who have not the prejudice have not the difficulty. With time the obstacle will disappear.

24 July 1936
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  object:1.2.1.03 - Psychic and Esoteric Poetry
  author class:Sri Aurobindo

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