The Rishi of the great Isha Upanishad aspires to know the Law of Truth. But what really is this Law that stands behind and overrides all human action. What is this natural corrective to things that brings consequences that are not often to the likings of the ego as if something other than our efforts, our wishes and hopes decided the fruits of our action. We explore this aspect of Divine Vision and Divine Action in our life and creation.
Words of Sri Aurobindo
The face of Truth is covered with a brilliant golden lid; that do thou remove, O Fosterer, for the law of the Truth, for sight.
O Fosterer, O sole Seer, O Ordainer, O illumining Sun, O power of the Father of creatures, marshal thy rays, draw together thy light; the Lustre which is thy most blessed form of all, that in Thee I behold. The Purusha there and there, He am I.
The Breath of things is an immortal Life, but of this body ashes are the end. OM! OWill, remember, that which was done remember! O Will, remember, that which was done remember.
O god Agni, knowing all things that are manifested, lead us by the good path to the felicity; remove from us the devious attraction of sin. To thee completest speech of submission we would dispose.
In the inner sense of the Veda Surya, the Sun-God, represents the divine Illumination of the Kavi which exceeds mind and forms the pure self-luminous Truth of things. His principal power is self-revelatory knowledge, termed in the Veda “Sight”. His realm is described as the Truth, the Law, the Vast. He is the Fosterer or Increaser, for he enlarges and opens man’s dark and limited being into a luminous and infinite consciousness. He is the sole Seer, Seer of Oneness and Knower of the Self, and leads him to the highest Sight. He is Yama, Controller or Ordainer, for he governs man’s action and manifested being by the direct Law of the Truth, satyadharma, and therefore by the right principle of our nature, y¯ath¯atathyatah. . A luminous power proceeding from the Father of all existence, he reveals in himself the divine Purusha of whom all beings are the manifestations. His rays are the thoughts that proceed luminously from the Truth, the Vast, but become deflected and distorted, broken up and disordered in the reflecting and dividing principle, Mind. They form there the golden lid which covers the face of the Truth. The Seer prays to Surya to cast them into right order and relation and then draw them together into the unity of revealed truth. The result of this inner process is the perception of the oneness of all beings in the divine Soul of the Universe.
Vayu, called elsewhere Matarishwan, the Life-Energy in the universe. In the light of Surya he reveals himself as an immortal principle of existence of which birth and death and life in the body are only particular and external processes.
The Vedic term kratu means sometimes the action itself, sometimes the effective power behind action represented in mental consciousness by the will. Agni is this power. He is divine force which manifests first in matter as heat and light and material energy and then, taking different forms in the other principles of man’s consciousness, leads him by a progressive manifestation upwards to the Truth and the Bliss.
Sin, in the conception of the Veda, from which this verse is taken bodily, is that which excites and hurries the faculties into deviation from the good path. There is a straight road or road of naturally increasing light and truth, r.juh. panth¯ah. , r.tasya panth¯ah. , leading over infinite levels and towards infinite vistas, vıt ani prsh ani, by which the law of our nature should normally take us towards our fulfilment. Sin compels it instead to travel with stumblings amid uneven and limited tracts and along crooked windings (durit ¯ ani, vr.jin ani).
The word vidhema is used of the ordering of the sacrifice, the disposal of the offerings to the God and, generally, of the sacrifice or worship itself. The Vedic namas, internal and external obeisance, is the symbol of submission to the divine Being in ourselves and in the world. Here the offering is that of completest submission and the self-surrender of all the faculties of the lower egoistic human nature to the divine Will-force, Agni, so that, free from internal opposition, it may lead the soul of man through the truth towards a felicity full of the spiritual riches, r ¯aye. That state of beatitude is intended, self-content in the principle of pure Love and Joy, which the Vedic initiates regarded as the source of the divine existence in the universe and the foundation of the divine life in the human being. It is the deformation of this principle by egoism which appears as desire and the lust of possession in the lower worlds.
The Isha Upanishad
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Words of the Mother
The divine will is not at all like that, it is not a will: it is a VISION, a global vision, that sees and … No, it does not guide (to guide suggests something outside, but nothing is outside), a creative vision, as it were; yet even then, the word ‘create’ does not here have the meaning we generally attribute to it….
…..The only important thing is to mix as little personal ego as possible with the divine vision. That’s all.
….You see, the sensation of my body is … as if I were as big as the world and holding everything in my arms, truly the way a Mother holds her children – except it’s a hundred times better than that! But that’s it, that’s how I live.
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I had an experience some time ago (about something unimportant, but anyway). I took some notes, I don’t remember where they are (they were in English, in the form of an answer to a letter).
I saw, almost simultaneously, love as people “practice” it, if we may say so, and feel it, and divine Love in its origin. Both were as if shown to me side by side, and not only were they side by side, but I saw also the difference (it was almost simultaneous) between the two actions: how human action is generated and how divine action is produced or manifests……
Unlike human love which is for some and not for the others, my love is for the Supreme Lord alone, but as the Supreme Lord is all, my love is for all equally.
The Lord’s love is equal, constant, all-embracing, immutable, eternal.
Unlike in human beings, the action is not governed by feelings or principles, but by the “dharma” of each being or thing, known through identity.
I will tell you the second experience first, because it’s a phenomenon of daily experience, a daily observation. And it’s one of the chief reasons why it’s impossible for ordinary human beings to understand a being who acts from what we could call “divine impulse.” Because all human activity is based on reactions, which are themselves the result of feelings and sensations, and, for people who are considered “superior” and who act according to reason, is based on principles of action – everyone has his range of principles on which he bases his action (this is so well known that there’s not much point in talking about it). But the other fact is interesting: for instance, when a human being loves someone (what he calls “love”) or doesn’t love someone, his reactions to the SAME phenomenon – the SAME phenomenon – are, not always opposite, but extremely different, to such an extent that ordinary human judgment is based on those reactions. It would be better to take a very precise example: that of disciples and Master. The disciples almost never understand the Master, but they have opinions of him and of his ways of acting; they see and they say, “The Master did such and such a thing, he acts with this person in such and such a way and with that other person in such and such other way, therefore he loves this person and doesn’t love that one.” I am putting it very bluntly, but that’s the way it is.
All this is based on experiences of every minute, here.
All human action is based on that – for them, that’s the way it is; they won’t act with this person in the same way as with that one, even in similar circumstances, because, as they say, they “love” this one, but not that one. Therefore, in one case, the Master loves, and in another case, he doesn’t – (laughing) simple!
So I said that human action is based on reactions. Divine action, on the other hand, SPONTANEOUSLY stems from the vision through identity of the necessity of the “dharma” of each thing and each being. It is a constant perception, spontaneous, effortless, through identity, of the dharma of each being (I use the word “dharma” because it’s neither “law” nor “truth,” but both together). In order for this being to go by the shortest way to his goal, here is the curve of the most favorable circumstances; consequently the action will always be modeled on that curve. The result is that in seemingly similar circumstances, the action of the divine Wisdom will sometimes be completely different, at times even opposite. But then, how do you explain this to the ordinary consciousness?… In one case, the Master “loves” this person, while in the other he doesn’t “love” him – it’s easy!
It was so clear! And such a constant, constantly repeated experience that it’s really very interesting. It’s very clear that it’s impossible for the disciples to understand; even if they are told, “What is done is done because of each being’s dharma,” for them it’s just words; it doesn’t correspond to a living experience, they can’t feel it.
So once and for all, I’ve given up all hope of anyone at all understanding why and how I act. Because it’s true, now I can say (it has come about progressively), I can say in an absolute way, after looking at it for several months, that my actions are not the result of a reaction – neither an intellectual reaction nor a mental reaction, nor a vital reaction, nor, of course, an emotional reaction, nor even a physical reaction. Now, even the body instantly refers all that comes to it to the Supreme, automatically.
This experience came regarding a simply personal question, …. it was on the occasion of a host of silly little events that occur constantly and make people repeat, “Mother said, Mother felt, Mother did, Mother …” and so on – and all the squabbles. And I was put forcibly into that whole muddle. For a time, I used to worry, I wondered, “Can’t I make them understand?” Well, I have seen that it’s impossible, so I don’t bother about it anymore. I simply said to those who have goodwill, “Don’t listen to what people tell you; when they come and tell you, ‘Mother said, Mother wanted …,’ don’t believe a word of it, that’s all; let them say what they like, it doesn’t matter.”
But the other experience, which came first and is now continuous (it hasn’t left me, which is quite rare: usually, experiences come, assert themselves, impose themselves, then they fade away to be replaced by others; but in this case, it didn’t go, it’s continuous), this other experience is of a more general order….
Human love, what people call “love,” even at its best, even taking it in its purest essence, is something that goes to one person, but not to another: you love SOME people (sometimes even you love only certain qualities in some people); you love SOME people, and that means it’s partial and limited. And even for those who are incapable of hatred there is a number of people and things that they are indifferent to: there is no love (in most cases). That love is limited, partial and defined. It’s unstable, moreover: man (I mean the human being) is unable to feel love in a continuous way, always with the same intensity – at certain times, for a moment, it becomes very intense and powerful, and at other times it grows dim; sometimes, it falls completely asleep. And that’s under the best conditions – I am not speaking of all the degradations, I am speaking of the feeling people call “love,” which is the feeling closest to true love; that’s how it is: partial, limited, unstable and fluctuating.
Then, immediately, without transition, it was as if I was plunged in a bath of the Supreme’s Love … with the sensation of something limitless; in other words, when you have the perception of space, that something is everywhere (it’s beyond the perception of space, but if you have the perception of space, it’s everywhere). And it’s a kind of homogenous vibratory mass, IMMOBILE, yet with an unparalleled intensity of vibration, which can be described as a warm, golden light (but it’s not that, it’s much more marvelous than that!). And then, it’s everywhere at once, everywhere always the same, without alternations of high and low, unchanging, in an unvarying intensity of sensation. And that “something” which is characteristic of divine nature (and is hard to express with words) is at the same time absolute immobility and absolute intensity of vibration. And That … loves. There is no “Lord,” there are no “things”; there is no subject, no object. And That loves. But how can you say what That is?… It’s impossible. And That loves everywhere and everything, all the time, all at the same time.
July 22, 1964
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88 – This world was built by Death that he might live. Wilt thou abolish death? Then life too will perish. Thou canst not abolish death, but thou mayst transform it into a greater living.
89 – This world was built by Cruelty that she might love. Wilt thou abolish cruelty? Then love too will perish. Thou canst not abolish cruelty, but thou mayst transfigure it into its opposite, into a fierce Love and Delightfulness.
90 – This world was built by Ignorance and Error that they might know. Wilt thou abolish ignorance and error? Then knowledge too will perish. Thou canst not abolish ignorance and error, but thou mayst transmute them into the utter and effulgent exceeding of reason.
91 – If life alone were and not death, there could be no immortality; if love were alone and not cruelty, joy would be only a tepid and ephemeral rapture; if reason were alone and not ignorance, our highest attainment would not exceed a limited rationality and worldly wisdom.
92 – Death transformed becomes Life that is Immortality; Cruelty transfigured becomes Love that is intolerable ecstasy; Ignorance transmuted becomes Light that leaps beyond wisdom and knowledge.
It’s the same idea, that opposition and opposites stimulate progress. Because to say that without Cruelty, Love would be tepid … The principle of Love, as it is beyond the Manifest and the Nonmanifest, has nothing to do with either tepidness or cruelty. But Sri Aurobindo’s idea, it seems, is that opposites are the most effective and rapid way to knead Matter so that it may intensify its manifestation.
As an experience, it’s absolutely certain: when you come in touch with eternal Love, supreme Love, the first, immediate … (what should I say?) perception or sensation (it’s not an understanding, it is much more concrete) is that even the most enlightened, kneaded, prepared material consciousness is INCAPABLE of manifesting That! The first impression is that sort of incapacity. Then comes the experience of something manifesting a type of … not exactly “cruelty,” because it’s not cruelty as we conceive it; but in the totality of circumstances, there is a vibration which is felt as a certain intensity of refusal of love as it is manifested here – that’s exactly the thing: something in the material world refuses the manifestation of love as it exists at present (I don’t refer to the ordinary world but to the consciousness at its present highest). It’s an experience, I am speaking of something that has taken place. Then the part of the consciousness that has been touched by that opposition calls out directly to Love’s origin WITH AN INTENSITY IT COULD NOT HAVE HAD WITHOUT THE EXPERIENCE OF THE REFUSAL. Limits are broken, a flood descends which could NOT manifest before, and something is expressed which was not expressed before.
…..Seeing that, there is obviously a similar experience in connection with what is called life and death. It’s a sort of “overhanging” (it comes to me in English, that’s why I have difficulty) of that constant presence of Death or possibility of death. As he says in Savitri, we have a constant companion all the way from the cradle to the grave, we are constantly shadowed by the threat or presence of Death. Well, this gives the cells an intensity in their call for a Power of Eternity which would not be there without that constant threat. Then we understand – we begin to understand very concretely – that all those things are only goads to make the Manifestation progress and grow more intense, more perfect. If the goads are crude, it is because the Manifestation is very crude. As it grows more and more perfect and apt to manifest something ETERNALLY PROGRESSIVE, those very crude methods will give way to more refined ones, and the world will progress without the need for such brutal oppositions. It is only because the world is in infancy and the human consciousness in its very early infancy.
It’s a very concrete experience.
So, when the earth no longer needs to die in order to progress, there will be no more death. When the earth no longer needs to suffer in order to progress, there will be no more suffering. And when the earth no longer needs to hate in order to love, there will be no more hatred.
It is the quickest and most effective method of pulling the creation out of its inertia and leading it on to its blossoming.
There is a particular aspect of the creation (a very modern aspect, maybe): a need to get out of disorder and confusion – of disharmony and confusion. A confusion, a disorder which assumes all forms, turns into struggles, pointless efforts and wasted energy. It depends on which level you stand on, but materially, in action, it means unnecessary complications, wasted energy and materials, waste of time, incomprehension, misunderstanding, confusion, disorder – what in ancient days they called deformation, crookedness in the Vedas (I don’t know the French word for it, it’s something crooked which, instead of shooting straight to the goal, weaves its way in sharp and unnecessary zigzags). It’s one of the things farthest from the harmony of a purely divine action – which is something so simple…. It looks like child’s play … and direct – direct, without those absurd and completely useless twists and turns. Well, it is clearly the same phenomenon: that disorder is a way to stimulate the need for pure and divine simplicity.
The body feels strongly, very strongly that everything could be so simple, so simple!
And for the being – that sort of individual aggregate – to be transformed, it needs in effect to grow simpler and simpler. All those complexities of Nature which man is now beginning to understand and study, which for the smallest thing are so complex (the smallest of our physical workings is the result of such a complex system that it’s almost unthinkable … certainly it would be impossible for the human mind to think up and contrive all those things), are now being discovered by science. And it’s quite plain to see that for the functioning to become divine, that is, to escape Disorder and Confusion, it must grow simpler and simpler.
In other words, Nature, or rather Nature in its effort towards expression, was compelled to have recourse to an unbelievable, almost endless complexity in order to reproduce the original Simplicity.
It brings us back to the same thing: it is that excess of complexity which makes possible a simplicity that isn’t empty – a rich simplicity. An all-embracing simplicity, whereas without those complexities, simplicity is empty….
But the question boils down to a SUFFICIENT aspiration, sufficiently intense and effective to attract That which can transform all this: complication into Simplicity, cruelty into Love … and so forth.
It’s no use complaining and saying it’s a pity things are that way. They are the way they are. Why?… When things are no longer that way, we’ll probably know why. Or to put it differently: if we knew why, they would no longer be that way.
So speculations such as, “It would have been better if it had not existed,” and so on, are all impractical – irrelevant, absolutely useless.
We should hasten to do what we have to do to put an end to it, that’s all, that’s the only practical thing.
May 15, 1963
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Every time I have been conscious of the Power, the experience has been similar. The Will from above is expressed by a vibration, which certainly gets clothed in vital power but acts in a subtle physical. There is a perception of a certain quality of vibration, which is difficult to describe but gives a sense of something coagulated (not broken up), something that feels denser than air, extremely homogeneous, with a golden luminosity, an AWESOME power of propulsion, and which expresses a certain will – it doesn’t have the nature of human will but more the nature of vision than that of thought: it’s like a vision imposing itself in order to be realized, in a domain very close to material Matter, but invisible except to the inner vision. And That, that Vibration, exerts a pressure on people, on things, on circumstances, in order to fashion them according to its vision. And it’s irresistible. Even people who think the opposite, who want the opposite, do what is willed without wanting it; even things that are opposed in their very nature are turned around.
For national events, relations between nations, terrestrial circumstances, that’s how it acts, constantly, constantly, like an AWESOME Power. So then, if you are yourself in a state of union with the divine Will, without the thought and all the conceptions and ideas interfering, you follow, see, and know.
The resistance of inertia in consciousnesses and in Matter are the reason why that Action, instead of being direct and perfectly harmonious, becomes confused, full of contradictions, shocks and conflicts. Instead of everything working out “normally,” I might say, smoothly (as it should), all that resisting, opposing inertia causes things to start clashing together in a tangled movement, with disorder and destruction, which are made necessary only by the resistance but were NOT indispensable: they might not have been – they should not have been, to tell the truth. Because that Will, that Power, is a Power of perfect harmony in which each thing is in its place, and It organizes everything wonderfully: It comes as an absolutely luminous and perfect organization, which you can see when you have the vision. But when It descends and presses down on Matter, everything starts seething and resisting.
So to want to ascribe to the divine Action and the divine Power the disorder and confusion and destruction is yet more human nonsense. It’s inertia (not to speak of ill will), it’s inertia that CAUSES the catastrophe. It isn’t that the catastrophe is willed, or even that it’s foreseen: it is CAUSED by the resistance.
Then, added to this is the vision of the action of the Grace that comes and mitigates the results wherever possible, that is to say, wherever it’s accepted. And that’s what explains that the aspiration, the faith, the complete trust of the human, terrestrial element, have a power of harmonization, because they allow the Grace to come and mend the consequences of blind resistance.
It’s a clear, very clear vision, clear even in the details.
If one wanted to, one could prophesy by telling what one sees. But there is a sort of supercompassion preventing that prophecy, because the Word of Truth has a power of manifestation, and to express the result of resistance would make that state more concrete and would lessen the action of the Grace. That’s why even when one sees, one cannot speak, one MUST NOT speak.
But Sri Aurobindo certainly meant that this Power or this Force is what does everything – everything. When you see It or are one with It, at the same time you know, and you know that That is the only thing that really acts and creates; the rest is the result of the field or the world or the matter or the substance in which It acts – it’s the result of resistance, but it’s not the Action. And to unite with That means that you unite with the Action; to unite with what’s below means that you unite with the resistance.
So then, because they fidget, stir, bustle, want to do this and that, think, make plans … they imagine they’re doing something (!) – they just resist.
Later, a little later, I’ll be able to give examples for very small things, showing how the Force acts, and what interferes and mixes in, or what is driven by that Force but distorts its movement, and the result, that is to say, the physical appearance as we see it. Even an example for a very small thing without any world importance gives a clear notion of the way in which everything occurs and is distorted here.
For everything, everything, all the time, all the time, that’s how it is. And when you do the yoga of the cells, you realize it’s the same thing: there is the action of the Force acting, and then … (Mother laughs) what the body does with that Action!
There immediately comes the why and the how. But that belongs to the realm of mental curiosity, because the important fact is to put a stop to the resistance. That’s the important thing, putting a stop to the resistance so the universe may become what it must be: the expression of a harmonious, luminous, marvelous power, incomparably beautiful. Afterwards, once the resistance has ceased, if out of curiosity we want to know why it occurred … it will no longer matter. But right now, it’s not by looking for the why that we will be able to bring about the remedy: it’s by taking the true position. That’s the only thing that matters.
Putting a stop to the resistance through complete surrender, complete self-giving, in all the cells if one can do it.
They are beginning to have that intense joy of being only through the Lord, for the Lord, in the Lord….
When that is established everywhere, it will be fine.