Change, constant flow, love of extremes seems to be the very nature of life. Behind this restless urge there is indeed a seeking, a seeking which cannot be satisfied until the very Highest, the Absolute, the Perfect, the Ultimate is reached and realized. This is the real cause of its misery and unhappiness.
Uplifted or broken
In a gallop of thunder-hooved vicissitudes
She swept through the race-fields of Circumstance,
Or, swaying, she tossed between her heights and deeps,
Uplifted or broken on Time’s inconstant wheel.
Life dares the impossible and strives for what may appear as unreachable. It uses every circumstance, every situation, every high and low, every up and down to push towards its unknown goal. Whether broken and cast aside or uplifted momentarily by the circle of Time, she continues on her journey resting nowhere.
Small desires and huge ambitions
Amid a tedious crawl of drab desires
She writhed, a worm mid worms in Nature’s mud,
Then, Titan-statured, took all earth for food,
Ambitioned the seas for robe, for crown the stars
And shouting strode from peak to giant peak,
Clamouring for worlds to conquer and to rule.
There is a whole range of experiences through which life moves. Driven by small and brief desires it experiences the life of a worm in its smallness. On the other hand, it grows into a Titan’s ambition to swallow the earth and heavens thereby expanding and moving in giant circles.
Anguish and sorrow
Then, wantonly enamoured of Sorrow’s face,
She plunged into the anguish of the depths
And, wallowing, clung to her own misery.
Tired of joy and enamoured of sorrow, life turns towards savouring the bitter wine of anguish and misery. Though a heady drought and poisonous stuff, it yet may cling to it.
Loss and grief
In dolorous converse with her squandered self
She wrote the account of all that she had lost,
Or sat with grief as with an ancient friend.
Even loss and grief become its partners and friend in the great game of life. This too enjoys and uses for her self-discovery.
Violent raptures and inadequate joy
A romp of violent raptures soon was spent,
Or she lingered tied to an inadequate joy
Missing the turns of fate, missing life’s goal.
Or turning away from sadness and sorrow, it may take to the other extreme of violent pleasures and momentary thrills, thereby missing the door of a greater destiny, the turn towards a greater Fate.
Her numberless moods
A scene was planned for all her numberless moods
Where each could be the law and way of life,
But none could offer a pure felicity;
Only a flickering zest they left behind
Or the fierce lust that brings a dead fatigue.
Thus life searches for its lost Glory, trying to find it one way or the other. It seeks to discover its face of Joy that it wore in the beginning. She creates one scene after another, goes through countless experiences and moods and states, making each of them a way to life. Yet nowhere does she discover the Joy that she seeks; only snatches and glimpses of true felicity or intense, momentary thrills that soon fade away leaving a ground of fatigue and dullness.
Dissatisfaction and unease
Amid her swift untold variety
Something remained dissatisfied, ever the same
And in the new saw only a face of the old,
For every hour repeated all the rest
And every change prolonged the same unease.
Though ever changing, it remains the same since the one Joy she misses in all her wanderings. At last it grows weary of the search since all seems to end up the same way, aimless or missing the goal.
Limitation of life in its present state
A spirit of her self and aim unsure,
Tired soon of too much joy and happiness,
She needs the spur of pleasure and of pain
And the native taste of suffering and unrest:
She strains for an end that never can she win.
This is the state of life in our present ignorance. Prone to error and suffering, unable to hold the cup of joy for long, life moves prodded by pleasure and pain. Suffering and unrest become its food as she strains towards an unknown, unseen, never achieved goal.
A perverse savour
A perverse savour haunts her thirsting lips:
For the grief she weeps which came from her own choice,
For the pleasure yearns that racked with wounds her breast;
Aspiring to heaven she turns her steps towards hell.
It feels the goal only vaguely and knows not the steps. Ignorant of itself and the path, it takes the wrong turn and suffers later through its own choice. Or else pushed by temporary thrills of the flesh, she misses the call of the soul. Though a candidate and aspirant to Heaven, she swiftly turns its steps towards hell.
Chance and fate
Chance she has chosen and danger for playfellows;
Fate’s dreadful swing she has taken for cradle and seat.
Not knowing the goal, not conscious of what she holds within, life sports with danger seated on the uncertain cradle of Fate in fields of danger that lures and charms that cannot endure.
Thus, Sri Aurobindo describes life as it presently is, in a state of ignorance, conditioned by habits and seeking for pleasure and, perversely, even for pain.