Sri Aurobindo, the Reconciler of Light and Life – 2

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Continued from Part 1

According to Sri Aurobindo, life is a play of the Force which is “fundamentally the Chit-Tapas or Chit-Shakti of the Vedanta, consciousness-force, inherent conscious force of conscious-being, which manifests itself as nervous energy full of submental sensation in the plant, as desire-sense and desire-will in the primary animal forms, as self-conscious sense and force in the developing animal, as mental will and knowledge topping all the rest in man.” (CWSA, Vol. 21, p. 196)

He writes further:

Life is a scale of the universal Energy in which the transition from inconscience to consciousness is managed; it is an intermediary power of it latent or submerged in Matter, delivered by its own force into submental being, delivered finally by the emergence of Mind into the full possibility of its dynamis.

~ CWSA, Vol. 21, p. 196

We see, then, that as the Sat of Sachchidananda has become Annam or Matter by involution in Inconscience, so the Chit-Tapas or Consciousness-Force has become Life. Life is, therefore, Con­sciousness-Force, veiled or half-veiled, and labouring in the course of evolution to unveil its plenary splendour and power in the material world. Even when it is unconscious or subconscious in its primary manifestations in matter, its essential consciousness remains unchanged in the depths. And the original, fundamental Will ever works itself out behind the confusion and uncertainty of the surface movements.

This gradual unveiling and eventual self-revelation of the supreme Consciousness-Force and a consequent divinisation and illumination of the whole life of man is inevitable. For, what is involved must evolve and find a full and perfect self-expression in Matter.

Brahman is in this world to represent Itself in the values of Life. Life exists in Brahman in order to discover Brahman in itself.

~ CWSA, Vol. 21, p. 41

Therefore, says Sri Aurobindo, “to fulfil God in life is man’s manhood.” (CWSA, Vol. 21, p. 41)

But how can human life, a turbid thing of obscure seekings and struggles, become the Life Divine, the life of infinite light and power and creative delight? Sri Aurobindo shows in an elaborate exposition how life ascends from status to status till it reaches the summit of its evolution and becomes one with and a dynamic move­ment of Light.

The first status of life is in the infinite divisions of Matter, in the drift of the combining and colliding atoms, where, as a blind, inconscient energy, it builds the teeming marvel of the material world.

Its consciousness eclipsed, its light veiled, its will manifesting itself as a dumb, impetuous urge, it works as a dark force, deluding the scientists into swearing by its inconscience. Failing to pierce through its disguise, they credit it with the creation of con­sciousness as an epiphenomenon and regard it as the unintelligent source of the works of our intelligence.

Its second status is in the incipient emergence of consciousness characterised by hunger, mutual devouring and death.

That which was a dumb urge tends to become, in the second status, first, a sub­conscious and then a conscious hunger, a desire to devour and possess. Life now ceases to be inconscient and begins to betray more and more definite signs of a set drive, a premeditated purpose and an ordered, mounting progression.

This status is marked on the surface by desire and struggle, clash and confusion, and an invincible push towards survival and self-affirmation of the developing ego, which, as it becomes more and more conscious, chafes against the limitations it has to labour under.

But whatever the outer aspect of this status of struggle and conflict, one can always perceive a harmony and unity slowly, perhaps very slowly, tentatively, emerging and taking shape in the distant background, as if the object of Nature was to abrogate the basic divisions of the first status, and, without abolishing the phenomenal distinctions and diversities, lead the evolving conscious­ness, through whatever disorders and discords, to unity and harmony, which are the essential truth of all existence.

As the first status was preponderantly tamasic, inert in its subjection to the leaden rule of Matter, so this second status is predominantly rajasic, restless with many hungers, impatient of all restraints and violent in the self-assertion of the growing ego. But the surface symptoms belie and betoken at the same time the harmony which is building within.

In the third status, with a pronounced development of the mind, the fever and heave of the second status seem to subside and melt into an increasing equipoise.

Instead of aggression and grabbing, association, accommodation and mutual interchange begin to domi­nate the interrelations of life. The growing urge and impetus in this status is towards self-giving and self-fulfilment by fusion with others. What was survival of the fittest by struggle and mutual devouring in the second status, becomes survival by self-adaptation to others, association with others and even self-sacrifice.

Love emerges as the most powerfully cohesive and unitive potential, as the greatest regu­lating and governing force in the changing dispensation of life.

But it is love, cramped within the confines of the mind, soiled by the ego, and not reigning in its immaculate purity and unwalled sovereignty.

The mind gives, and grows by giving, but, unless a higher principle begins to be operative, even in its most unstinted giving there is always a self-regarding delight, a subtle and secret gratification of the ego. The balance, achieved in the nature, is a new and considerable advance, a definite departure from the rocking instabilities of the second status. There is even a distant or intermittent perception of one’s own fulfilment in others and one’s individual existence expanding into universality.

But in all its movements of progress there is invariably a dogging sense of insufficiency, of knocking against a wall that refuses to give way; life seems to be dashing against a barrage of rigid limitations. Evidently, therefore, this third status of life cannot be the last, it cannot be the summit of life’s ascent.

Life has not certainly emerged from inconscience and developed consciousness, evolved order out of chaos and love out of hunger and desire and made such remarkable progress towards unity and universality, (as is evidenced in the elite of humanity), only to stop short at a half-result and rest content with the wider confines and the flickers and flashes of the human mind. It is big with a divine destiny.

The fourth status is reached when life passes out of the precarious poise of the mental consciousness into the self-existent unity and harmony of the Supermind.

. . . the perfect solution of the problem of Life is not likely to be realised by association, interchange and accommodations of love alone or through the law of the mind and the heart alone. It must come by a fourth status of life in which the eternal unity of the many is realised through the spirit and the conscious foundation of all the operations of life is laid no longer in the divisions of body, nor in the passions and hungers of the vitality, nor in the groupings and the imperfect harmonies of the mind, nor in a combination of all these, but in the unity and freedom of the Spirit.

~ Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 21, p. 219

The fourth status is, therefore, the destination of the evolu­tionary life. It is the status of the self-manifesting Spirit, the native abode of the Consciousness-Force of which our life is a delegated image here in the material world. Because the supreme Consciousness-Force is here involved in its own delegate, its perfect evolution is an inevitable outcome.

Cured of the initial division and yet rich in diversity and distinction, liberated from all desires and omnipotent in the works of the Supreme Will, and securely poised above the seekings and shrinkings of the mind, Life, on the summit of its evolution, will become indistinguishable from Light. Deploying infinite variations out of an unassailable harmony, infinite multi­plicity out of an all-constituting unity, infinite energies out of an all-achieving creative Force, it will reveal the splendours of That which it holds hidden below its turbid surface.

We have spoken of the ascent of life, but this ascent, we must remember, is preceded by two collateral movements of capital impor­tance: transformation and integration.

It is always the central, the most evolved part of human consciousness that first rises out of the ruts of life’s ragged normalcy and ascends to the higher planes, and yet higher, till it reaches the Supermind, the supreme Truth-Cons­ciousness. And then as an answering Grace the Supermind descends to the earth-plane to effect a complete release and ascension of the whole being into its own supernal glories.

The work of integration and ascension or sublimation presupposes a transformation of the nature, radical and integral, without which the ascent of life to the fourth status and its possession of the crown of its evolution will not be possible.

The mere ascent of the central consciousness is not enough to raise life or transfigure it. Life is rooted too deeply in the frozen slime of the subconscient or the Inconscient to achieve such a lightning ascent. The supramental force has to labour hard and long for this great evolutionary consummation. A radical transmutation of life is the sole pre-condition to its permanent establishment in the fourth status, the supramental life, the Life Divine.

The reason why we hail Sri Aurobindo as the reconciler of Light and Life is twofold:

1) This reconciliation can be effected only in the Supermind, and on no other plane of Consciousness. Supermind as the Vedic seers knew, is the eternal home of the creative Unity and Harmony, in which alone can take place the final fusion of all phenomenal opposites.

Below the Supermind, there is everywhere, even in the luminous Overmind, a lack of the supreme harmony, an overstress or an under stress. Sri Aurobindo’s ascent to the Supermind arms him with the power to accomplish this reconciliation.

2) It is the authentic Force of the Supermind which alone can transform material life as an indispensable preliminary to life’s ascent to the fourth status. And Sri Aurobindo has brought down that Supramental Force.

After about half a century of unrelaxed spiritual labour — his poem, ‘A God’s Labour,’ suggests something of the nature of this labour — he has achieved what no human being has ever achieved for terrestrial life.

He has placed before humanity the most sublime ideal of the divine or supramental life — the rich, revealing, creative life of unity and harmony and unimaginable perfection and fulfilment.

And this ideal is no mental dream, but a crystallisation of his revolu­tionary spiritual realisations and, according to him, a representation of the Will of the Divine. It embodies the Time-Spirit, and nothing, not even the most adverse circumstances, can baulk it of its destined fulfilment.

All other ideals, even the highest and widest spiritual ideals have already lost their lustres in the sun-blaze of this one — the radical and integral transformation of life and the manifestation of the Divine in Matter. And Sri Aurobindo has not only forged the ideal out of his own experiences, he has also brought down the Light and Force which will inevitably realise it for mankind.

The Supramental Force is working behind the gloom and turmoil of the present, more effectively in the aspiring consciousness and being of one who is open to it, less in one who is shut, but unmis­takably in all.

And when the earth nature is purified and prepared, Light and Life, the separated lovers, will reunite in the transfigured terrestrial existence of man for the unimpaired self-expression of the Divine.



Read Part 1 HERE

~ Design: Beloo Mehra

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