New Dimensions in Spirituality – Part 2

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Continued from Part 1

A more resonant axio-biological defence of spirituality as man’s inevitable, ultimate concern will be heard in his monumental work The Life Divine.

Man is seen as a transitional being. A bridge to be passed over, he is bound to evolve. The involved must evolve and that which was the first to involve, the spirit, will be the last to evolve. The spiritual evolution of man and society is part of the Nature of Things, a way of return to the source. The only question is whether we shall co-operate with the cosmos or not.

The emergence of the spiritual man, first sung by the Vedic poets, has once more become urgent.

As part of its larger design, this includes Rebirth and the Order of the Worlds. The knowledge of the physical is never complete without knowledge of the supraphysical. What is to the point, however, is the nature of the transition — the ‘great passage’ of the Veda — from the mental to the spiritual, the nature of the inner evolution and its results.

Errors have to be guarded against. All who know know that the spirit is other than the mind, life and body. As he explains:

Spirituality is in its essence an awakening to the inner reality of our being, to a spirit, self, soul which is other than our mind, life and body, an inner aspiration to know, to feel, to be that, to enter into contact with the greater Reality beyond and pervading the universe which inhabits also our own being, to be in communion with It and union with It, and a turning, a conversion, a transformation of our whole being as a result of the aspiration, the contact, the union, a growth or waking into a new becoming or new being, a new self, a new nature.

(CWSA, Vol. 22, pp. 889-890)

In a somnambulist universe the spiritual man is awake and perhaps isolated.

A slow and difficult growth, what has been the result of the spiritual evolu­tion in man so far? Some illegitimate expectations have to be avoided. It must be clearly understood that it is not the task of spirituality to solve our all-too-human problems according to ‘normal’ human motives and action.

Spirituality cannot be called upon to use non-spiritual methods.

A transvaluation of values, a transfer of the central will in man, its real task is to create a new psychological foundation for a new being and life. Escape is not the only way out. One has first to affirm, then to transform. To redeem the time and the world is spirituality’s unfinished work which Sri Aurobindo at least will not let us forget.

Premature attempts at mundane perfection carry their own danger and are not recommended. Has not the harvest of utopia been disillu­sionment, the God that failed? For man there can be no enduring change without a change from within. The revolution has to come from within and above.

As Krishna knew, it has to be cetasa, by the power of consciousness. A greater consciousness means a greater life.

In the Aurobindonian Adventure of Consciousness even spirituality is not the last word, not the end. Beyond the glories of the Spirit blaze the sun-tracks of the Supermind, the recovery of the Vedic truth of Rit-Chit.

As he says, quietly but firmly, the spiritual being has emerged, but not the supramental or the gnostic being. It is this self-aware and all-aware “self-achieving Truth-Consciousness” that will help a complete manifestation, the dream of ages, the Kingdom of Hea­ven upon Earth. This is what man is here for.

“All…that is our attempt to be in the Ignorance,” writes Sri Aurobindo, “he [the gnostic being] will fulfil in the Knowledge” (CWSA, Vol. 22, p. 1017). The change, when it takes place, will obviously alter the relation between the spirit and the body it inhabits. We shall be gods greater by the fall. We shall become what we are.

Sri Aurobindo’s linking of archetypal wisdom, its basic metapsychology to the modern crisis marks him as a mature visionary. The disproportionate deve­lopment of a post-industrial society calls for a matching insight. To the anguish of modern man there is no remedy but the mystical.

A total spiritual direction given to the whole life and the whole nature can alone lift humanity beyond itself.

(CWSA, Vol. 22, p. 1096)

The thrust of creative evolution comes out boldly in almost all his major works. The Synthesis of Yoga gives the practical details, of how we can move from determinism to self-determination. Here inwardness is a must.

In our present life of Nature, in our externalised surface existence, it is the world that seems to create us; but in the turn to the spiritual life it is we who must create ourselves and our world.

(CWSA, Vol. 22, p. 1056)

This is the creative clue not for India alone but for a world in travail. It is only in this sense that it is sometimes said, “India preserves the Knowledge that preserves the world”.

Whether our political bosses, no matter what flags they fly, will help us to achieve this inwardness may be doubted. Politicians, who do not know the nature of Reality, can only create problems, not solve them. In the end society has to return to the idea of the Rule of the Wise.

The spiritual ideal remains, a challenge to every educated conscience res­ponsible to the race and to reality. The spiritual destiny exists in us as a necessity and a potentiality.

There is no end to the human journey: there is “from an evolution in the Ignorance. . . an always progressive evolution in the Knowledge” (CWSA, Vol. 22, p. 1001). What we seek is already in us. Such is the gist of Sri Aurobindo’s realistic, up-to-date Adwaita: a perpetual sacrament of spiritual existence.

Sri Aurobindo looked upon “the return of the spirit upon life” (CWSA, Vol. 20, p. 26) as the essence of the aborted Indian Renaissance.

It is revealing that from his watch-tower he had warned the leaders against Partition, miscalled Independence. Only when the visionary is respected and understood all shall be well.

Spirituality is the theory and practice of a complete, fulfilled living, not an escape from life. Truth of our being as well as becoming, it is the Alpha and Omega of Existence.


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