This talk is woven around Sri Aurobindo’s poem Rebirth, written between 1900 and 1906.
Not soon is God’s delight in us completed,
Nor with one life we end;
Termlessly in us are our spirits seated,
A termless joy intend.
Our souls and heaven are of an equal stature
And have a dateless birth;
The unending seed, the infinite mould of Nature,
They were not made on earth,
Nor to the earth do they bequeath their ashes,
But in themselves they last.
An endless future brims beneath thy lashes,
Child of an endless past.
Old memories come to us, old dreams invade us,
Lost people we have known,
Fictions and pictures; but their frames evade us,—
They stand out bare, alone.
Yet all we dream and hope are memories treasured,
Are forecasts we misspell,
But of what life or scene he who has measured
The boundless heavens can tell.
Time is a strong convention; future and present
Were living in the past;
They are one image that our wills complaisant
Into three schemes have cast.
Our past that we forget, is with us deathless,
Our births and later end
Already accomplished. To a summit breathless
Sometimes our souls ascend,
Whence the mind comes back helped; for there emerges
The ocean vast of Time
Spread out before us with its infinite surges,
Its symphonies sublime;
And even from this veil of mind the spirit
Looks out sometimes and sees
The bygone aeons that our lives inherit,
The unborn centuries:
It sees wave-trampled realms expel the Ocean,—
From the vague depths uphurled
Where now Himˆaloy stands, the flood’s huge motion
Sees measuring half the world;
Or else the web behind us is unravelled
And on its threads we gaze,—
Past motions of the stars, scenes long since travelled
In Time’s far-backward days.
(CWSA 2: 213)