Yet this is but a beginning, a small point of light that must grow with time. The mental life here is only an instrument for survival rather than for higher and deeper knowledge.
Made for action
Although for action, not for wisdom made,
Thought was its apex—or its gutter’s rim:
It saw an image of the external world
And saw its surface self, but knew no more.
The movement of the mind here is simply for immediate pragmatic utility, nothing more. Thought was used to reinforce survival and not for knowledge and wisdom. Thus it remained tied to the surfaces of life.
A gleam in stone ignorance
Out of a slow confused embroiled self-search
Mind grew to a clarity cut out, precise,
A gleam enclosed in a stone ignorance.
The light that this early mind had brought was trapped in the bodily life and its stone-grip ignorance. This to it was search for the self which meant the bodily self alone. Its knowledge was restricted to this narrow field.
Tied to the soil
In this bound thinking’s narrow leadership
Tied to the soil, inspired by common things,
Attached to a confined familiar world,
Amid the multitude of her motived plots,
Her changing actors and her million masks,
Life was a play monotonously the same.
Tied to a fixed routine and familiar things serving our small needs and dwarf desires, bound to the body and moved by common things this early mentalised life is ever the same, predictable in its pattern, rigidly conservative in its thought.
Smallness and narrowness
There were no vast perspectives of the spirit,
No swift invasions of unknown delight,
No golden distances of wide release.
What was badly missing was wideness of aims, vastness of sight and thoughts that could free us from the narrow boundaries of ignorance and give us a taste of delight that true freedom and vastness brings.
This petty state resembled our human days
But fixed to eternity of changeless type,
A moment’s movement doomed to last through Time.
Unfortunately much of humanity is still tied to this early animal stage of evolution. It changes slowly and with great struggle emerges out of its pettiness and smallness.
Existence bridge-like spanned the inconscient gulfs,
A half-illumined building in a mist,
Which from a void of Form arose to sight
And jutted out into a void of Soul.
Sri Aurobindo compares this stage of evolution as a dim-lit building surrounded by mist, jutting out of a cliff over some abysmal deep. There seems no ground of soul to its view but simply a dark and threatening abyss, a formless unconscious void.
A little light in a great darkness
A little light in a great darkness born,
Life knew not where it went nor whence it came.
Beings at this stage of evolution know not and care not about their own Origin nor about the very aim of their life. It is a small dim light surrounded and swallowed by giant ignorance all around.
The nescient haze
Around all floated still the nescient haze.
A dense veil of ignorance hung over this life or surrounded it like clouds and mist.
The first stir of mind is used by life for its own purposes. Later the mind will free itself and life also grow to look beyond our animal birth and present state of ignorance tied to the outward and the immediate.
END OF CANTO FOUR