B1 C2 Movement 6 Passage-by-Passage Summary
Nature is not merely a blind mechanical Energy, building forms and then destroying them. A Wisdom, a vast, luminous Intelligence, a conscious Force stands concealed, working behind all the movements of Nature. This truth is being brought home to us in the lines that follow.
Nature’s massed machinery
All now seems Nature’s massed machinery;
An endless servitude to material rule
And long determination’s rigid chain,
Her firm and changeless habits aping Law,
Her empire of unconscious deft device
Annul the claim of man’s free human will.
Our present science is actually a science of appearances. It studies the laws and processes of Nature that operate mechanically and unconsciously through a fixed chain of cause and effect. According to our present day Science there is little scope of altering these laws since by definition it is a line of process that nature follows. However there are other lines of nature we have not yet explored, other and higher determinisms that can alter the balance. But to our present vision of things nature’s processes seem like a fixed and unalterable law. As we shall see later, this is an erroneous or at best only a partial view based on study of surface appearances.
A machine and an insentient energy
He too is a machine amid machines;
A piston brain pumps out the shapes of thought,
A beating heart cuts out emotion’s modes;
An insentient energy fabricates a soul.
According to this view, man is yet another machine of Nature and all that we think and feel and will and do is nothing but the result of certain mechanical activities in the organs. Even the soul is nothing but the product of a mechanical energy, movements of which create in the brain the sense of a subjective self and the soul.
Matter’s binding posts
Or the figure of the world reveals the signs
Of a tied Chance repeating her old steps
In circles around Matter’s binding-posts.
Everything in the world can be seen merely as a fixed pattern created by a repetitive movement of energy, a habit so to say, – a habit drilled in grooves of matter by chance movements.
A vast ignorant mind’s colossal work
A random series of inept events
To which reason lends illusive sense, is here,
Or the empiric Life’s instinctive search,
Or a vast ignorant mind’s colossal work.
When we look at the surface phenomena and the string of events that throng our human life, we may hastily conclude that there is neither any sense or purpose, nor any direction and goal in it. It is only our mind that gives a meaning to things that have none. Our life is simply driven by blind instincts and needs in search for something that is never there.
Such is the figure of the world as it appears to a superficial view.
But Wisdom comes and vision grows
But wisdom comes, and vision grows within:
Then Nature’s instrument crowns himself her king;
He feels his witnessing self and conscious power;
His soul steps back and sees the Light supreme.
But slowly Wisdom grows within. As ignorance recedes, we become conscious of the true soul and its power over Nature. Looking beyond the forms and movements of nature, disentangling ourselves from the fixed grooves of habits and patterns, we turn upwards and discover the Glory that hides behind the mask of flesh.
A Godhead stands behind the brute machine. (p 21 begins)
This is the great truth we are here to realise, the truth that we are not merely a body, nor even merely a product of life energy and thoughts, but above all a Soul involved in matter and mind, a soul consenting to the activities of life. This is the Godhead within, whom we discover when we step back from appearances and seek the Truth hidden in the heart of Nature, within the depths of creation.
In these few lines Sri Aurobindo has succinctly summarized the different viewpoints that are held by man so long as he has not grown wiser and humbler by the Divine Presence within him. It is then that he becomes powerful enough to alter the balance of Nature and master his Fate.