Of Silence, Voices, and the Voice of God

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Editor’s Note: In this beautiful essay circa 1912, Sri Aurobindo gently reminds us of the necessity to silence the voices of what he refers to as “the gods of the heart, the gods of the mind, the gods of desire, the gods of sense” which inevitably come as an aspirant walks on the path. These voices alter and distort the Voice of the Supreme, yet as he tells us, it is through these voices also the Supreme leads the aspirant according to his or her unique nature and temperament.

We have taken the liberty of slightly reformatting the essay for the purpose of digital presentation. No text has been altered. The original title of the essay included in Volume 12 of Sri Aurobindo’s Complete Works is – The Silence behind Life.

The Silence behind Life

There is a silence behind life as well as within it and it is only in this more secret, sustaining silence that we can hear clearly the voice of God.

In the noise of the world we hear only altered & disturbed echoes of it; for the Voice comes always—who else speaks to us on our journey?—but the gods of the heart, the gods of the mind, the gods of desire, the gods of sense take up the divine cry, intercept it and alter it for their purposes. Krishna calls to us, but the first note, even the opening power or sweetness, awakes a very brouhaha of these echoes.

It is not the fault of these poor gods.

The accent of power is so desirable, the note of sweetness is so captivating that they must seize it, they would be dull & soulless, there would be no hope of their redemption if they did not at once leap at it and make it their own. But in becoming their own, it ceases to be entirely his.

How many who have the religious faith and the religious temperament, are following the impulses of their heart, the cravings of their desire, the urgency of their senses, the dictates of their opinion when they fully imagine that their God is leading them! And they do well, for God is leading them. It is the way He has chosen for them, & since He has chosen it, it is the best & wisest & most fruitful way for them.

Still it is their God—not one they have made in their own image as the Atheist believes, but One who makes Himself in the image that they prefer, the image that best suits with their nature or their development.

“In whatever way men come to me, in that way I love & cleave to them.”

It is a saying of fathomless depth which contains the seed of the whole truth about God & religion. After all it is only in this way that the conditioned can meet the Absolute, that which has a nature or dharma of its own with that which is beyond all limit of nature or dharma. After the meeting of the soul with God,—well, that is a different matter. The secrets of His nuptial chamber cannot all be spoken.

Nevertheless, there is a higher way of meeting him than that which leads us through subjection to the Gods.

By perfect Love, by perfect Joy, by perfect Satisfaction, by perfected mind one can hear what the Voice truly says if not the Voice itself,—catch the kernel of the message with a sort of ecstatic perfection, even if afterwards the Gods dilate on it & by attempting to amplify & complete, load it with false corollaries or prevent some greater fullness of truth from arriving to us.

Therefore this way also, though it is high, cannot be the highest.

~ Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 12, pp. 88-89

~ Design: Beloo Mehra

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