Not for long can the soul of man be chained. It seeks for Freedom, Truth Immortality. It is not meant to forever crawl in the mud of ignorance but to breath infinity, to soar towards eternity. In the early stages or the first few human births it grows behind the crust of ignorance as a seed covered by the hard outer layer until one day the tree held back within it breaks free into the freedom of open limitless space. The light of the soul assisted by the Divine Grace invades the darkness and overpowers the citadel of ignorance. The power of the soul aided by the Divine Grace breaks free into the oversoul, helps the cosmic powers in their fierce labour, become itself a demigod, even assume the central role as devasenapati, the leader of the army of the gods battling against the forces of darkness and ignorance. For what else is the soul but an eternal portion of the Divine Mother, the immortal divine element in our mortal poverty? The discovery of the soul within man as distinct and different from the life force animating all creatures is a most wonderful discovery of the Indian Yogis. It is not a teaching to be believed in but a discovery that can be replicated. The soul is here on its journey of evolution under difficult conditions because thus alone can all its divine possibilities emerge, through all the various challenges and experiences of life. The law of karma therefore is essentially a law of spiritual evolution and not a punitive mechanism devised by some ingenious hedonist and sadist, eventually liberates the soul delivering it from the stranglehold of ignorance.
This freedom from Ignorance leads to a freedom from the law of karma, Moksha, which is the goal of evolution. But again Moksha is mistranslated in our mind as freedom from the cycles of birth and death. The soul that has arrived at freedom is free either to take birth in a human body to help the march of mankind as a messenger of the gods or else not to take birth anymore but dwell in one of the higher worlds in the company of the gods watching over the human play and participating from the beyond. Or it may merge in the One Infinite from where it started and lose itself completely, laya, and be done with birth and death and creation itself. Or, participate in the new possibility whose doors have been opened now by the tapasya of Sri Aurobindo and the Grace of the Divine Mother, the possibility of terrestrial transformation, of a further ascension from Man to Superman. This ascension will be the permanent solution to the ignorance that surrounds the earth subjecting its creatures to so much suffering and pain. For the Superman and the Supramental Being will recreate this earth in alignment with the Eternal Law, Sanatana Dharma. Man cannot do it as long as he is in ignorance, as long as his soul is a slave of ego and desires. His soul must find its way to freedom before it can impose the Law of Truth, the Eternal Law upon all its natural members and instrumental personality. It is the different parts of our nature that have to be converted in God’s image rather than someone else. And this conversion too is not something forced but a gradual efflorescence, a gentle persuasion, a progressive mastery of nature by the soul.
‘The pessimists have made moksha synonymous with annihilation or dissolution, but its true meaning is freedom. He who is free from bondage, is free, is mukta. But the last bondage is the passion for liberation itself which must be renounced before the soul can be perfectly free, and the last knowledge is the realisation that there is none bound, none desirous of freedom, but the soul is for ever and perfectly free, that bondage is an illusion and the liberation from bondage is an illusion. Not only are we bound but in play, the mimic knots are of such a nature that we ourselves can at our pleasure undo them.
Nevertheless the bonds are many and intricate. The most difficult of all their knots is egoism, the delusion that we have an individual existence sufficient in itself, separate from the universal and only being, ekamevadwitiyam, who is one not only beyond Time, Space and Causality. Not only are we all Brahman in our nature and being, waves of one sea, but we are each of us Brahman in His entirety, for that which differentiates and limits us, nama and rupa, exists only in play and for the sake of the world-drama.
Whence then comes this delusion of egoism, if there is no separate existence and only Brahman is? We answer that there is separate existence but only in manifestation not in reality. It is as if one actor could play different parts not in succession but at one and the same moment; each part is He Himself, one and indivisible, but each part is different from the other. Brahman extends Himself in Time, Space & Causality which do not condition Him but exist in Him and can at any time be changed or abolished, and in Time, Space & Causality He attaches Himself to many namarupas which are merely existences in His universal being. They are real in manifestation, unreal outside manifestation.’
Thus the Sanatana Dharma whose original purpose, if purpose we can say, is to fulfil the great impulse of creation which can be best described as One Divine becoming the Many Divine, and to put it in a more modern way, Unity in diversity. It is not about the One and the Many but the One as the Many. For what else is the true basis of diversity but the Divine Law, Sanatana Dharma, fulfiling itself in and through all things. The Divine is in everything and expresses Himself through everything. The coming of man has indeed disturbed this balance by the interventions of his mind and ego that want to build a world according to its own notions of good which is primarily an ignorant conception. To the unregenerate man, good is understood as something that serves its selfish interest, makes his life easy and comfortable, fills it with scentless flowers of pleasure. Therefore is he hammered again and again by the cosmic agencies. But his true role is to aid the Divine Manifestation in all things by letting each express the true nature. Man’s victorious artificiality needs to be changed into an intuitive and spiritual mastery of himself and the world around us. This is the future bequeathed to earth and man. This is what the mother earth expects and the Divine intends in us. This cannot be so long as we follow the dictates of the ignorance and thereby subject ourselves to the painful school of suffering. It is only by aligning ourselves to the Eternal Law through a progressive spiritual evolution that this greater truth hidden behind the appearances can be released. It will mean a complete freedom from the law of karma including the body that is subject to habit and the chain of cause and effect. The Mother helps us.
‘In the plane of matter and on the level of the ordinary consciousness you are bound hand and foot. A slave to the mechanism of Nature, you are tied to the chain of Karma, and there, in that chain, whatever happens is rigorously the consequence of what has been done before. There is an illusion of independent movement, but in fact you repeat what all others do, you echo Nature’s world-movements, you revolve helplessly on the crushing wheel of her cosmic machine.
But it need not be so. You can shift your place if you will; instead of being below, crushed in the machinery or moved like a puppet, you can rise and look from above and by changing your consciousness you can even get hold of some handle to move apparently inevitable circumstances and change fixed conditions. Once you draw yourself up out of the whirlpool and stand high above, you see you are free. Free from all compulsions, not only you are no longer a passive instrument, but you become an active agent. You are not only not bound by the consequences of your action, but you can even change the consequences. Once you see the play of forces, once you raise yourself to a plane of consciousness where lie the origins of forces and identify yourself with these dynamic sources, you belong no longer to what is moved but to that which moves.
This precisely is the aim of Yoga,—to get out of the cycle of Karma into a divine movement. By Yoga you leave the mechanical round of Nature in which you are an ignorant slave, a helpless and miserable tool, and rise into another plane where you become a conscious participant and a dynamic agent in the working out of a Higher Destiny. This movement of the consciousness follows a double line. First of all there is an ascension; you raise yourself out of the level of material consciousness into superior ranges. But this ascension of the lower into the higher calls a descent of the higher into the lower. When you rise above the earth, you bring down too upon earth something of the above,—some light, some power that transforms or tends to transform its old nature. And then these things that were distinct, disconnected and disparate from each other—the higher in you and the lower, the inner and the outer strata of your being and consciousness—meet and are slowly joined together and gradually they fuse into one truth, one harmony…..
‘The bodily transformation will be the supreme spiritual rebirth—an utter casting away of all the ordinary past. For spiritual rebirth means the constant throwing away of our previous associations and circumstances and proceeding to live as if at each virgin moment we were starting life anew. It is to be free of what is called Karma, the stream of our past actions: in other words, a liberation from the bondage of Nature’s common activity of cause and effect. When this cutting away of the past is triumphantly accomplished in the consciousness, all those mistakes, blunders, errors and follies which, still vivid in our recollection, cling to us like leeches sucking our life-blood, drop away, leaving us most joyfully free. This freedom is not a mere matter of thought; it is the most solid, practical, material fact. We really are free, nothing binds us, nothing affects us, there is no obsession of responsibility. If we want to counteract, annul or outgrow our past, we cannot do it by mere repentance or similar things, we must forget that the untransformed past has ever been and enter into an enlightened state of consciousness which breaks loose from all moorings. To be reborn means to enter, first of all, into our psychic consciousness where we are one with the Divine and eternally free from the reactions of Karma. Without becoming aware of the psychic, it is not possible to do so; but once we are securely conscious of the true soul in us which is always surrendered to the Divine, all bondage ceases. Then incessantly life begins afresh, then the past no longer cleaves to us. To give you an idea of the final height of spiritual rebirth, I may say that there can be a constant experience of the whole universe actually disappearing at every instant and being at every instant newly created!’
Karma therefore is far from fatalism as it is sometimes made out to be. On the contrary it frees us from everything except the one important thing as far as our actions are concerned. It is the significance of choices and consequences that follow upon our choices. Through the consequences we are impelled to grow more and more conscious, more and more aligned to the truth of our being and the truth of this world existence that baffles us with so many apparent contradictions and conflicts and confusing events and circumstances. Put very simply and plainly, the law of karma implies that my actions can change my destiny for good or for worse. Or to put it in another way, Fate is not something arbitrary that has been imposed upon us by the whims and fancies of some arbitrary God nor is it the dictate of a Manichean Creator who doles out rewards to the believers and punishments to the non-believers. Such a God, if at all He existed would not be worthy of worship, adoration and love but only of fear and flattery. It is understandable that primitive humanity believed in such a Deity who determines our fate arbitrarily sitting in the skies passing judgments moved by wrath and anger or pleased by supplication. But man has moved farther impelled by the God within him and the best conception we can have of God today is that He dwells in all things and man’s heart is His permanent abode, the chapel and the temple where our soul offers prayers every moment as the priest within us. My fate is not determined either by the family or the religion in which I am born, it does not depend upon the gods I pray nor on the ritual acts that I perform. Even belief and non-belief does not matter. What matters is the deed and the intent behind it, the secret motive that impelled me to act. Equally the reward is not something outward in terms of wealth and success but inner. A good deed done with good intent leads to a growth of consciousness along the lines we have acted. It also leads to a strengthening or weakening of corresponding tendencies.
The whole stress of the law of karma is therefore inner and not outer or to put it more correctly, it is the inner that determines the outer and it is the inner that gives value to the outer. The monk meditating alone in an isolated place (provided his meditation is genuine) may live by alms and yet his deed is of a very high order since his presence draws to earth and sets into motion forces of a very high order. On the other hand a philanthropist engaged in giving away his wealth in abundance to assuage the conscience of a robber or to get name and fame or to assume position of power is engaged in a very mixed kind of action whose results are also mixed bringing joy and sorrow within as well as in the field of his action. Such are the great and profound truths taught by the Rishis in far back times in the land surrounded by the Himalayas and the seas when the world was yet asleep to the Light of the Sun. The first dawns of humanity touched this sacred land we know today as India. Hence the mantle or the sacred charge and burden of awakening mankind to these profound truths has always fallen upon the children of this country. India has always been the guru of the world, its conscience-keeper or the soul guardian protecting the deep spiritual possibilities of man in its folds of mystic lore. Even in the dark ages when it was dominated by foreign powers, the light had contracted but was never extinguished; it could never be extinguished since that would mean the world falling into chaos and darkness. And the sign of the approaching New Age would be that India rises once again, not just as an economic and military power but primarily as a spiritual power shedding light over all mankind. All the rest will be a natural outcome. This too we see happening in India today against immense forces opposed to this growing Light. However we have the assurance from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, – and the signs are becoming more and more clear, that the World has turned a new leaf in its spiritual history, the New Light has come bringing with it a New Age, the Age when man will discover the God within his heart and live by the Law of Truth, the book concealed within his soul.