Human Greatness

Till the other day I did not know how great men rise, flourish and then fall. So I tried to study H and R. But even in these cases I had to despair, for I failed to trace any greatness in them except perhaps in their ego!

I do not know to whom you refer as great men here; but H is certainly a great poet. So what is the difficulty in recognising his greatness?

Men with great capacities or a powerful mind or a powerful vital have very often more glaring defects of character than ordinary men — or at least the defects of the latter do not show so much, being like themselves, smaller in scale.

What particularly is there in these men that you call great?

By greatness is meant an exceptional capacity of one kind or another which makes a man eminent among his fellows.

A truly great man does not know himself to be great.

That is a very doubtful statement. Most great men know perfectly well that they are great.

The outer greatness is but an illusion. The true quality of greatness lies inside and to know it we must go within.

Why is the outer greatness an illusion?

While speaking about greatness I was thinking of the psychic and spiritual greatness and not of the outer kind like any great capacity nor of any powerful mind or vital. I thought the Divine does not care as much for this outer greatness as for the inner — especially in the real seekers of the Truth. That is why I called the outer greatness a mere illusion.

Why should the Divine not care for the outer greatness? He cares for everything in the universe. All greatness is the Vibhuti of the Divine, says the Gita.

I am puzzled how a man with a big ego, like R, can be an instrument of the Divine, for, where the ego exceeds, the Divine recedes. Both can’t work together. And yet R cures diseases wonderfully. How is it that he is used as an instrument by the Divine?

The Divine is there in all men, so the Divine and the ego do live together. But the Divine is veiled by the ego and manifests in proportion as the ego first submits itself, then recedes and disappears. There can be no complete presence by the Divine without disappearance of the ego.

Any man can be an instrument of the Divine, e.g. Kemal Pasha. The thing is to be a perfectly conscious instrument.

Do you really mean to say that people like Kemal Pasha can be called the instruments of the Divine?

Yes, certainly, they are unconscious instruments — not for the great divine work, but for the cosmic work in the human race.

Is it true that one can be so extraordinary as to do several things simultaneously without any direct or indirect Yogic discipline, several quite different things? I was told that Napoleon used to do this.

Yes, Julius Caesar also — he could dictate 5 letters on different subjects at a time to 5 secretaries without losing the thread of any of them for a moment.

It is said about Napoleon that whenever he wanted to think or talk he used to open a particular drawer of his mind. And when he desired to be quiet he just closed it. How did he manage it?

Napoleon had a clear and powerful mind and a strong will — that is how.

One part of R seems to have turned beautifully towards the Mother and that is why she is able to use him as an instrument in curing cases of illness. The remaining parts seem to be still egoistic. Perhaps if his vital being were less egoistic, he would achieve greater things in his medical practice and in his inner sadhana.

He can cure the people all right, in spite of ego — the force too does work through his vital and not his mind only, because his vital is strong, ardent and enthusiastic. Most people’s vitals are half-dead things, busy only with their little selfish desires. R’s is at most vain and ambitious but not selfish — it is rather large and generous; therefore a good instrument.

Inner sadhana is another matter, there the ego Stands as a great obstacle.

Anyway, what has outer greatness got to do with the Yogis? if the sadhakas also aim at outer greatness what difference will there be between a Yogic life and a worldly life?

Obviously outer greatness is not the aim of Yoga. But that is no reason why one should not recognise the part played by greatness in the order of the universe or the place of great men of action, great poets and artists etc.

Nowadays men’s minds have taken such a peculiar turn that they take delight in pointing out the defects and whims of great men.

People have begun to try to prove that great men were not great, which is a very great mistake. If greatness is not appreciated by men, the world will become small, dull, narrow and tamasic.

I cannot understand how these men with a big and generous vital manage to stock in themselves all kinds of vital vices.

Why not? Vices are simply an overflow of energy in unregulated channels.

Why do great persons have so often more glaring defects of character than ordinary people?

I have told you that already. They have more energy and the energy comes out in what men call vices as well as what men call virtues.

You said that one with an exceptional capacity is called a great man. R has that in curing his cases. He also seems to have many vices. Do they also come from an overflow of energy?

Yes, certainly. Many great men even have often very great vices and many of them. Great men are not usually model characters.

What is this “overflow of energy” in the great men you spoke of the other day? We usually associate energy with the vital.

Mental, vital, physical, all kinds of energies.

Because great men have an overflow of energy, does the Divine never care if they use it in virtues or in vices?

Why should he care? Is he a policeman? So long as one is in the ordinary nature, one has qualities and defects, virtues and vices. When one goes beyond there are no virtues and vices; — for these things do not belong to the Divine Nature.

If an overflow of energy in great men is merely of the mental, vital or physical kind what is new in it? There are plenty of people in the world who are not great and yet have a lot of energy in themselves. But they don’t throw it out always in vices. The great men ought to be able to contain it and hold it back rather than be extravagant with it in wrong uses.

Who said there was anything new in it? If there are so many people in the world who have as much energy as great men, why are they not great? If they have such a stupendous lot of energy which they are keeping in reserve why do they not throw it out in something recognisable as great?

If great men are to lead their lives according to their fancies, considering themselves as the centres of the universe, self-applauding all the time and looking upon ordinary people as mere toys for themselves, what is there in them that we can call great? How are they helping the world and the Divine?

It is the power in them that is great and that power comes from the Divine — by their actions and greatness they help the world and aid the cosmic purpose. It does not matter whether they have ego or not — they are not doing Yoga.

You asked me why the Divine should care for vices or virtues. I cannot understand it, for, if He does not care for vices or virtues, how can He care for darkness or light, falsehood or truth?

Vice and virtue have nothing to do with darkness or light, truth and falsehood. The spiritual man rises above vice and virtue, he does not rise above truth and light, unless you mean by truth and light, human truth and mental light. They have to be transcended, just as virtue and vice have to be transcended.

If He does not care for vices, how will the world be divinised? Are not these things supposed to be unhelpful to His work?

Are you in a position to make a judgment as to what will or will not help God’s work? You seem to have very elementary ideas in these matters. What is your idea of divinisation, — to be a virtuous man, a good husband, son, father, a good citizen etc.? In that case, I myself must be undivine, — for I have never been these things. Men like N or W would then be the great Transformed Divine Men.

If God is indifferent to both vices and virtues, what is the need of divinising the world at all? It would naturally mean that everything here is O. K. — in harmony with His divinity.

Of course not. It is only Z who is in perfect harmony with the Divine (he and two others like him); for he is a man without a single vice, all virtues from the crown of his head to the tip of his toe. He is the type of the truly great man as you conceive him. But do you really believe that men like Napoleon, Caesar, Shakespeare were not great men and did nothing for the world or for the cosmic purpose? that God was deterred from using them for his purpose because they had defects of character and vices? What a singular idea!

So far as we know all the Avatars came down here in order to deliver the world from falsehood, darkness, vices etc., at least to a certain extent. Each of them preached against these things.

I am not concerned with what the Avatars did or are supposed to have done (though in that case Krishna seems to have done some very queer and undivine things). My business is with rising above the human consciousness and not with fulfilling limited human ideals; and I look at things from that standpoint.

In defence of R you gave the examples of Napoleon, Caesar and Shakespeare. But they had no vices like his. Their ambition was not so small, petty and trivial but was rather great, heroic and dazzling — worth having by the great men of the world!

Great or dazzling, or small in the field, ambition is ambition and it is necessary for most for an energetic action. What is the use of calling a thing a vice when it is small and glorifying it when it is big?

Napoleon and Caesar were great not merely in one small thing as in the case of R, but in many things. I suppose many great people were like them, otherwise they would not have been of much use to the world or to the Divine.

It is not only the very very very big people who are of importance to the Divine. All energy, strong capacity, power of effectuation are of importance.

As for N, C and S not one of them was a virtuous man, but they were great men, — and it was your contention that only virtuous men are great men and those who have vices are not great, which is an absurd contention. All of them went after women, — two were ambitious, unscrupulous. Napoleon was most arrogant and violent. Shakespeare stole deer. Napoleon lied freely, Caesar was without scruples.

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