“What Is to Be Done?” – Nolini Kanta Gupta

An essay by Nolini-da, written in 1982 and published in 2012.


 

Creation follows its cycles of evolution and it is said that at the end of each cycle there takes place a Pralaya—an annihilation of the existent grade of consciousness or of the species of beings incarnating that consciousness, and all the past is washed out, wiped away from the surface of creation and the next new phase starts.

We all know the story of one such cycle, rather we have witnessed it; I mean the present cycle, still present though past and dead in a way. We know that matter evolved out of ether, life emerged from dead matter, and mind evolved out of life. We know that—although we do not know exactly how life sprang forth from lifeless matter or how mind managed to get into mindless life, that is, into animal life. There are so many hows and many more possible and impossible answers.

We may say, rather Sri Aurobindo and the Mother said to us, that there were two processes: on one side, a seed of the next state of consciousness was involved in the existing one from the very beginning; it was dormant, as it were; and on the other side, from above or around or from somewhere, a flash or force of the same emerging consciousness descended into the atmosphere, and under its pressure the dormant seed woke up and rose above to meet its other self above—and both together produced a new line of growth.

So thus from matter came life, from life came mind—and man was born. Yes, man is the highest peak of evolution on earth up to now. In him the mind or mental consciousness seems to have reached its highest possible height. But still, man is not fully a mental being, he is rather a mental animal.

The mind is not yet the master in his Adhara; the true master who rules and handles the mental faculty is the life principle, the animal in him, his vital being, which again in its turn is a slave of the obscure brute matter in him. So man, in spite of all his mental splendour, is a dangerous creature—dangerous, for the vital in him is leading him towards the destruction of his own self as well as of all that is around him. Man is a queer experiment of Nature.

So up to now, the growth or progress in evolution has been from greater obscurity to lesser obscurity, from greater ignorance to lesser ignorance, from greater pain to lesser pain, although something else from behind—something whose very essence is joy and consciousness and sense of existence—supported and sustained the movement all the while. There were flashes of glorious illumination, outbursts, however momentary, of the splendour of joy and harmony, great overflowings of magnificent force and creativity; but on the whole, it was far from a perfect perfection as a creation or form of existence. Even man will never dream that he is the last pinnacle on the way of development. So then, what next?

The next step logically should be something beyond mind—a creation based on something better and greater. Sri Aurobindo announced to us that it will be a new cycle, a new cycle of evolution based on truth—a growth in truth, a progress from truth to greater truth, from light to greater light, from joy to greater joy.

To start with, the new Truth-Consciousness—Sri Aurobindo named it the Supermind—had to be brought down into this terrestrial atmosphere so that it might awaken the inmost truth lying hidden in the depth of creation. And to accomplish this work Sri Aurobindo and the Mother came down on earth in human form, as a bridge between the two hemispheres. They represented in their human moulds not only humanity – all the elements of human consciousness – but also all that was represented in a human form, the entire terrestrial nature. They held their bodies as vessels to receive, on behalf of earth and man, what was to come down; they called it down, established it in this atmosphere and withdrew—for the mission for which they took up material form was done.

Yes, the mission was fulfilled. Now the new consciousness will spread and make its own place. It is the Truth-Consciousness; by the very fact of its presence it is bound to disturb the rhythm of ignorance and falsehood, to break and demolish the formations contrary to Truth, to destroy all that defies and contradicts it. It is the inevitable result.

Mother and Sri Aurobindo in their infinite compassion, of which only the Divine is capable, did something more: they knew the ultimate inevitable effect of Truth on untruth, so they stretched out their arms of love to lift the children of ignorance from this fate of destruction and tried to secure for them a position of safety under the very wings of Truth, if only they consented to accept the shelter. And to help them, to serve them in this divine service to man, some—not very many—souls came along with them.

Mother and Sri Aurobindo offered their physical forms and presence as a ladder for them to climb—no, to be carried up. They arranged so that human beings could grow into superhuman spiritual beings, shaking off their ignorant human consciousness, as the caterpillar grows into a butterfly shaking off its cocoon—but alas, man failed. Perhaps the new destiny was too new for him, the light too dazzling for his eyes so long accustomed to darkness; perhaps there were deeper necessities of fate and secret reasons. But man failed, man refused the help and rebelled against it; like the Asuras of ancient folklore, man wanted to use the new consciousness to serve his human ends; his human self refused to obey the Divine truth. So man rejected the offer.

The time was over. Sri Aurobindo and Mother left their bodies; but they did not leave the earth. Their presence is still here, supporting and sustaining all of us, but supporting us so that we may still cling to Truth, may still serve the Truth. Their love and presence still surround us and support us. And all they do, they do for our true well-being, for saving our souls. Those who live for the soul, Mother’s arms carry them forward as always.

But still there is a difference.

We spoke of the Pralaya; if you look around, you will be sure that it has started. The new consciousness is at work and, as predicted, the first phase of its effect has turned out to be a thorough destruction of all that stands in the way of its advent. The whole world seems to be in trouble—all the established norms of life are crumbling down, governments are rising and falling, falsehood and corruption are eating up the very base of our existence, man is possessed and led by demoniac motives and desires, driving the whole earth towards total annihilation.

What happens to man’s soul? What is this soul? It is a spark of the Divine Sun; it comes down not for its own gain but to illumine and deliver the darkness below into the original light. Souls descend, they take up this ignorance and unconsciousness here as a habitation or a robe, they cleanse and illuminate it as far as possible, and then they retire for a while to take up the work again later. When Pralaya occurs, they go back to their original home in the Mother’s Consciousness. It is a wonderful mystery of the adventure of love.

Today also, souls retire; they are not lost. Even if the present earth is demolished, souls will be safely lodged in the Mother’s Consciousness, and perhaps with them will be lodged those parts of the earthly consciousness which have been transfigured and made conscious, rendered pure and fit. So the work is not totally over; one may still save something.

Once the Pralaya or destruction is over—it has to be done, it is a necessity—all the debris will have to be cleared, so to say. The two works go together. Once the stage is cleared, the new creation, the new cycle will commence. In the course of this preparation, naturally much will be lost in the human sense to man and earth, and the Ashram, being the epitome of earth, also cannot escape. Rather, the action may be most intense and acute here. So we have to accept the inevitable and wait for the beyond.

But should we wait idly, in dejected gloom? No, those who aspire for something better can still cooperate with the movement, offer themselves for helping and serving the new advent. Man can still do it. For each individual man is a point of concentration of the entire earth-consciousness; if he makes a progress in his own consciousness, lifts himself a little more, grows into a higher degree of consciousness, it is a gain. But he will have to do it with much greater difficulty than before; it will need far greater Tapasya now. For as long as Mother was in her body, she made things easy for us. But it is no more so.

For those who really want a spiritual consciousness, a spiritual mode of life, those who truly want to prepare themselves for greater ends, well, they have to take a serious look at things. For them it is a sadhana, a true endeavour, a conscious preparation. For them it will be better to forget all the big words—the big words like Supermind, Overmind, Higher Mind, etc. We no longer have the right to discuss them, to chat over them. They are dreams, beautiful dreams, but out of our reach. They belong to Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo has himself said:

     I have gathered my dreams in a silver air
          Between the gold and the blue
     And wrapped them softly and left them there,
        My jewelled dreams of you.
[A God’s Labour]

Sri Aurobindo has woven those dreams with Mother, and they have kept them carefully and safely in themselves. It is in the Overmind they are kept; it is their work, their affair, we have nothing to do with that. Those dreams Mother has gathered in her own bosom; they will materialise in their own time according to their own rhythm.

Yes, we need not bother about them. Better let us look at ourselves, admit honestly that we are in our nature and consciousness, in our mode of life, animals, nay beasts; we are at the lowest rung of the ladder of consciousness. And we must start our work from there, from the bottom. It is the utmost physical consciousness; in the absence of Mother’s physical body we have plunged straight into the bog, into the mire of crude physical existence. So we have to start the work of purification from that level, from the consciousness identified with the body; we must try to do the cleansing of the body and the vital. Mind? Oh, mind too, the higher levels of mind, the mental proper, that is too high for us. We may think of it much later.

As for the way of purification, we should start from the very beginning. The very first lessons, as advised by Rajayoga, are to begin straight from the body, to train and educate, to modify and remould the physical part of us; we have to learn as a child does: “Do not fight”, “Do not utter bad words”, “Do not steal”, “Do not lie”, etc. In the ancient methods of spiritual discipline those methods formed the elementary and basic part—in Rajayoga they are called Yama and Niyama (ahimsā, asteya, etc.). The Buddhists also started their spiritual training with the same lessons; they named them the Panchashilas: good conduct (vinaya), etc. Withdrawal (pratyā-hāra), meditation, concentration—all these came much later, when one had risen much higher. Samadhi, that was still above. That is why in ancient ages it was insisted upon that if you want to take up spiritual life, even if you simply want to study the scriptures, you must first acquire the right to do so—you must do citta-śuddhi and accomplish the purification of your consciousness.

When Mother was in her body, she used to say: “This elementary Tapasya you need not go through; with the support of my body, you can simply take a leap and rise above.” Mother offered us her body as a springboard so that we might leap up. But we did not take the benefit of it; we simply went on jumping on it. Mother received only blows, and we reached nowhere, at least not anywhere higher.

            But the hate of hell and human spite
             Are my meed since the world began.
[A God’s Labour]

This time also she was not spared. We hardly went up— our falls far outnumbered our rises. We have lost that golden chance. So we who want, who truly want inner progress and inner growth, must begin from the beginning.

Of course, there are many who want to live and stay on the mental level; they are not ready or fit for more. For them the highest possible development is in intellectual speculation or philosophical occupation—that is their ideal and aim, the highest reach for them; for them it may be a help to be occupied with mental discussions. In this way, with the help of the intellect, they may create a sort of terrestrial mental atmosphere, a spiritual reflection in the mind: that too is good. In the outer world, especially in Europe and America where the modern life and consciousness are centred in the intellect, where intellectual light is the only light, the unrivalled master of life, well, let them discuss and speculate; they will acquire at least some mental knowledge, a bit of purification and clarity of intellect.

But for those who aspire not only to educate and polish their mind but also to heighten and transform their consciousness, for them today is needed a Tapasya, a concentration, an intense concentration of all their force and will on that one aspiration, on that one arduous effort. For them the only thing to do is self-purification—purification of the body, purification of the vital, the reorientation and reorganisation of the entire lower base of consciousness, its physical and especially its lower vital parts. Those who want spirituality in practical life must go down to the bottom and accomplish this purification.

And the future? The future of what? The future of the individual soul is in Mother’s arms. And the future of the creation is a new divine dawn; it is ready, absolutely ready for manifesting in the material; it is waiting, its advent is inevitable, no force can bar it. It is waiting in the subtle physical for the clearance of the earth stage. The age-long dream of the eternal dawn of which the ancients sang will be realised:

Oh, the Supreme Light of lights is come.
Rig Veda 1.113.1

But will there be any man to sing the invocation at that moment? Let us hope so. Nothing is impossible.

                                                                                                      12 January 1982

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