A Talk by Alok Pandey from the “Tuesday Talks” series (AUDIO)
The greatest miracle is the supramental change envisaged by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother which is being worked out now as our next Future. It is not just an intervention from another higher domain of consciousness to temporarily override a difficult moment of crisis but the intervention of the very highest, the Transcendent to change the very law of life. Yet this too has a process and there are certain conditions for the change that have been repeatedly spoken of by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Here we share some aspects of this change through a humorous and yet profound exchange of correspondence between Sri Aurobindo and Nirodbaran.
Words of Sri Aurobindo
(from correspondence with Nirodbaran)
The mistake is to think that it must be either a miraculous force or else none. There is no miraculous force and I do not deal in miracles. The word Divine here is out of place, if it is taken as an always omnipotently acting Power. Yogic Force is then better; it simply means a higher Consciousness using its power, a spiritual & supraphysical force acting on the physical world directly. One has to train the instrument to be a channel of this force; it works also according to a certain law and under certain conditions. The Divine does not work arbitrarily or as a thaumaturge; He acts upon the world along the lines that have been fixed by the nature and purpose of the world we live in — by an increasing action of the thing that has to manifest, not by a sudden change or disregard of all the conditions of the work to be done. If it were not so, there would be no need of Yoga or time or human action or instruments or of a Master and disciples or of a Descent or anything else. It could simply be a matter for the and nothing more. But that would be irrational if you like and worse than irrational —’childish’. This does not mean that interventions, things apparently miraculous, do not happen — they do. But all cannot be like that.
The Force has to prepare its instrument first — it is not a miracle-monger. The Force can develop in you intuition and skill if you are sufficiently open, even if you did not have it before — but not like that. That kind of thing happens once in a way, but it is not the fixed method of the Divine to act like that.
Again, transformation does not happen by a miracle in a day. It must be gained by constant aspiration, patient perseverance and persistence.
Another point, one can’t say categorically and absolutely that the Divine is omnipotent, because there are different planes from which he works. It is when he acts from the Supramental level that his Power is omnipotent.
If the Divine were not in essence omnipotent, he could not be omnipotent anywhere — whether in the supramental or anywhere else. Because he chooses to limit or determine his action by conditions, it does not make him less omnipotent. His self-limitation is itself an act of omnipotence.
The fact that P was not changed by the mental-spiritual force put on him proves that.
It does not prove it for a moment. It simply proves that the omnipotent unconditioned supramental force was not put out there — any more than, it was when Christ was put on the cross or when after healing thousands he failed to heal in a certain district (I forget the name) because people had no faith (faith being one of the conditions imposed for his working) or when Krishna after fighting eighteen battles with Jarasandha¹ failed to prevail against him and had to run away from Mathura.
Why the immortal Hell should the Divine be tied down to succeed in all his operations? What if failure suits him better and serves better the ultimate purpose? What if the gentleman in question had to be given his chance as Duryodhan was given his chance when Krishna went to him as ambassador in a last effort to avoid the massacre of Kurukshetra? What rigid primitive notions are these about the Divine!
…By the way about the ass becoming an elephant — what I meant to say was that the only reason why it can’t be done is because there is no recognizable process for it. But if a process can be discovered whether by a scientist (let us say transformation or redistribution of the said ass’s atoms or molecules — or what not) or by an occultist or by a Yogi, then there is no reason why it should not be done. In other words certain conditions have been established for the game and so long as those conditions remain unchanged certain things are not done — so we say they are impossible, can’t be done. If the conditions are changed, then the same things are done or at least become licit — allowable, legal, according to the so-called laws of Nature,— and then we say they can be done. The Divine also acts according to the conditions of the game. He may change them, but he has to change them first, not proceed, while maintaining the conditions to act, by a series of miracles.
Excuse my writing today, since all days are Sundays for you it is all right, I suppose.
The whole Asram seems to reason in the same way and to draw the farther consequence that the perpetual Sunday is the proper day for each writing his special letter to me! What a touching proof of unanimity and solidarity in the communal mind!
You say that since “these things”¹ have been possible in you, they are possible in the earth-consciousness. Quite true; but have they been done? Has any sweeper or street beggar been changed into a Buddha or a Chaitanya by the Divine? We see in the whole history of spirituality only one Christ, one Buddha, one Krishna, one Sri Aurobindo and one Mother. Has there been any breaking of this rule? Since it has not been done, it can’t be done.
The question was not whether it had been done but whether it could be done. The street-beggar is a side-issue. The question was whether new faculties not at all manifested in the personality up to now in this life could appear, even suddenly appear, by force of Yoga. I say they can and I gave my own case as proof. I could have given others also. The question involved is also this — is a man bound to the character and qualities he has come with into this life — can he not become a new man by Yoga? That also I have proved in my sadhana, it can be done. When you say that I could do this only in my case because I am an Avatar (!) and it is impossible in any other case, you reduce my sadhana to an absurdity and Avatarhood also to an absurdity. For my Yoga is done not for myself who need nothing and do not need salvation or anything else, but precisely for the earth-consciousness, to open a way to the earth-consciousness to change. Has the Divine need to come down to prove that he can do this or that or has he any personal need of doing it? Your argument proves that I am not an Avatar but only a big human person. It may well be so as a matter of fact, but you start your argument from the other basis. Besides, even if I am only a big human person, what I achieve shows that that achievement is possible for humanity. Whether any street-beggar can do it or has done it is a side-issue. It is sufficient if others who have not the economic misfortune of being street-beggars can do it.
What a wonderful argument! Since it has not been done, it cannot be done! At that rate the whole history of the earth must have stopped long before the protoplasm. When it was a mass of gases, no life had been born, ergo, life could not be born — when only life was there, mind was not born, so mind could not be born. Since mind is there but nothing beyond, as there is no supermind manifested in anybody, so supermind can never be born.
Sobhanallah! Glory, glory, glory to the human reason!! Luckily the Divine or the Cosmic Spirit or Nature or whoever is there cares a damn for the human reason. He or she or it does what he or she or it has to do, whether it can or cannot be done.
If anybody comes and says “Why not?” I would answer, “You had better rub some Madhyam Narayan oil on your head.”
I have no objection to that. Plenty of the middle Narayan is needed in this Asram. This part of your argument is perfectly correct — but it is also perfectly irrelevant.
And how can it be otherwise ? You are looked upon by us here, and even by many outside, as a full Incarnation of the Divine. The sadhaks here at best are misty sparks of the Divine. I cannot by any empyrean flight of imagination conceive of this possibility even for a second.
The psychic being is more than a spark at this stage of its evolution It is a flame. Even if the flame is covered by mist or smoke, the mist or smoke can be dissipated. To do that and to open to the higher consciousness is what is wanted, not to become a Sri Aurobindo or equal to the Mother. But if we are the Divine, what is the harm of evolving into a portion of the Divine, living in the divine Consciousness even if in a lesser degree? No middle Narayan will then be needed for anybody’s head.
Once when Y had said she wanted to be like the Mother — you thundered saying, “How can it be? That is an ambition! ” Do you say now it’s possible?
Certainly not, it is not intended and I never said that [she] could as a practical matter.
I would not mind your fury in revenge if only you would crush me with a convincing assault. I hope to close the chapter on “Divine Omnipotence” with this last letter, but you keep me hoping with that promise of yours to write at length some day —
“Peace, peace, O fiery furious spirit! calm thyself and be at rest.” Your fury or furiousness is wasted because your point is perfectly irrelevant to the central question on which all this breath (or rather ink) is being spent. Muthu and the sadhaks who want to equal or distance or replace the Mother and myself and so need very badly Middle Narayan oil — there have been several — have appeared only as meaningless foam and froth on the excited crest of the dispute. I fear you have not grasped the internalities and modalities and causalities of my high and subtle reasoning. It is not surprising as you are down down in the troughs of the rigidly logically illogical human reason while I am floating on the heights amid the infinite plasticities of the overmind and the lightning like subtleties and swiftnesses of the intuition. There! what do you think of that? However!!
More seriously. I have not stated that any Muthu has equalled Ramakrishna and I quite admit that Muthu here in ipsa persona has no chance of performing that feat. I have not said that anyone here can be Sri Aurobindo or the Mother — I have pointed out what I meant when I objected to your explaining away my sadhana as a perfectly useless piece of Avatarian fireworks. So in my comment on the Muthu logic, I simply pointed out that it was bad logic — that someone quite ignorant and low in the social scale can manifest a great spirituality and even a great spiritual knowledge. I hope you are not bourgeois enough to deny that or to contend that the Divine or the spiritual can only manifest in somebody who has some money in his pockets or some University education in his pate? For the rest as I myself have been pointing out all the time there is a difference between essential truth and conditional truth, paramartha and vyavaharika, the latter being relative and conditional and mutable. In mathematics one works out problems in infinite and in unreal numbers which exist nowhere on earth and yet these are extremely important and can help scientific reasoning and scientific discovery and achievement. The question of a Muthu becoming a Ramakrishna, i.e. a great spiritual man may look to you like being an exercise in unreal numbers or magnitudes because it exceeds the actual observable facts in the case of this Muthu who very evidently is not going to be a great spiritual man — but we were arguing the matter of essential principle. I was pointing out that in the essentiality all things are possible — so you ought not to say the Divine cannot do this or that. But at the same time I was pointing out too that the Divine is not bound to show his omnipotence without rhyme or reason when he is working by his own will under conditions. For by arguing that the Divine cannot, that he is impotent, that he cannot do what has never yet been done etc., you deny the possibility of changing conditions, of evolution, of the realisation of the unrealised, of the action of Divine Power, of Divine Grace, and reduce all to a matter of rigid and unalterable status quo. Which is an insolent defiance to both fact and reason (!) and suprareason. See now?
About myself and the Mother,— there are people who say, “If the supramental is to come down, it can come down in everyone, why then in them first? Why should we not get it before they do? Why through them, not direct?” It sounds very rational, very logical, very arguable. The difficulty is that this reasoning ignores the conditions, foolishly assumes that one can get the supramental down into oneself without having the least knowledge of what the supra- mental is and so supposes an upside-down miracle — everybody who tries it is bound to land himself in a most horrible cropper — as all have done hitherto who tried it. It is like thinking one need not follow the Guide, but can reach up to the top of the mountain from the narrow path one is following on the edge of a precipice by simply leaping into the air. The result is inevitable.
About greater and less, one point. Is Captain John Higgins of S.S. Mauretania a greater man than Christopher Columbus because he can reach America without trouble in a few days? Is a university graduate in philosophy greater than Plato because he can reason about problems and systems which had never even occurred to Plato? No, only humanity has acquired greater scientific power which any good navigator can use or a wider intellectual knowledge which anyone with a philosophic training can use. You will say greater scientific power and wider knowledge is not a change of consciousness. Very well, but there are Rama and Ramakrishna. Rama spoke always from the thinking intelligence, the common property of developed men; Ramakrishna spoke constantly from a swift and luminous spiritual intuition. Can you tell me which is the greater? the Avatar recognised by all India? or the saint and Yogi recognised as an Avatar only by his disciples and some others who follow them?
I am a little taken aback to hear that a “certain note of persiflage” dilutes the grave discussion I am having with you.
Look here, don’t tell me that because you are a doctor, therefore you can’t understand a joke. It would have the effect of making me dreadfully serious.
I would like to know something about my “bad logic” before I write anything further to you.
Helps to finding out your bad logic. I give instances expressed or implied in your reasonings.
Bad logic No 1. Because things have not been, therefore they can never be.
- Because Sri Aurobindo is an Avatar, his sadhana can have no meaning for humanity.
- What happens in Sri Aurobindo’s sadhana cannot happen in anybody else’s sadhana (i.e. neither descent, nor realisation, nor transformation, nor intuitions, nor budding of new powers or faculties) — because Sri Aurobindo is an Avatar and the sadhaks are not.
- A street beggar cannot have any spirituality or at least not so much as, let us say, a University graduate — because, well, one doesn’t know why the hell not.
- (and last because of want of space) Because I am a doctor, I can’t see a joke when it is there.
I don’t know how to take this “bloom into a superman”, except as a great sarcastic joke — striking me with my own rod, so to say. Have you not so often silenced and ridiculed my easy and lazy reliance on you to open up everything as the opening of a flower, by repeated examples of yourself, your plodding, your labour, your tapasya ?…
It is a joke and not a joke. One must rely on the Divine and yet do some enabling sadhana — the Divine gives the fruits not by the measure of the sadhana but by the measure of the soul and its aspiration. Also worrying does no good — I shall be this, I shall be that, what shall I be? Say “I am ready to be not what I want, but what the Divine wants me to be” — all the rest should go on that base.