The aspirant towards the heights must encounter this dark and dangerous passage one day. Though intimidating in appearance, it is in fact a purifying journey that helps us shed much unconscious weight that we carry and thereby hinder our ascension.
The great Name
Here must the traveller of the upward Way—
For daring Hell’s kingdoms winds the heavenly route—
Pause or pass slowly through that perilous space,
A prayer upon his lips and the great Name.
While passing through this inner Hell that besieges the caravan of light, one must be in a state of humility and prayer. It is a perilous space and what helps most is the Divine Name.
Falsity’s endless net
If probed not all discernment’s keen spear-point,
He might stumble into falsity’s endless net.
The analytical mind and even the discerning intellect is not enough to safeguard as one lands into the net of falsehood laid across the fields of life by these forces.
Vigilance is needed
Over his shoulder often he must look back
Like one who feels on his neck an enemy’s breath;
Else stealing up behind a treasonous blow
Might prostrate cast and pin to unholy soil,
Pierced through his back by Evil’s poignant stake.
The traveller must be in a state of constant vigil to detect and repel the attack of these forces. If left unchecked that may attack during a moment of unconsciousness and giving a treacherous blow cast the aspirant down and fill his life with evil and sin.
Fall on the Eternal’s road
So might one fall on the Eternal’s road
Forfeiting the spirit’s lonely chance in Time
And no news of him reach the waiting gods,
Marked “missing” in the register of souls,
His name the index of a failing hope,
The position of a dead remembered star.
Thus one may fall on the road towards the eternal glories. So might one forfeit the tremendous chance that comes once in hundreds of years. The soul is lost in the net of falsehood for a while and engulfed with darkness loses the divine possibility opening before him. Of course this happens very rarely and only when one has turned hostile to the Divine and refuses to open oneself to the ever redeeming action and working of Grace.
Only were safe who kept God in their hearts:
Courage their armour, faith their sword, they must walk,
The hand ready to smite, the eye to scout,
Casting a javelin regard in front,
Heroes and soldiers of the army of Light.
The one safety for man is the Divine Presence in his heart. Conscious of this wonderful Presence one must walk through life with courage and faith, ready to detect from afar and cast out these misleading forces at once. Those who can do so are the hero-warriors in the list of God, the true soldiers of the army of Light since they have slain the ego and abolished all falsehood within them.
The grisly danger past
Hardly even so, the grisly danger past,
Released into a calmer purer air,
They dared at length to breathe and smile once more.
Aswapati crosses this extremely dangerous passage full of the forces of deception and falsehood.
Once more they moved
Once more they moved beneath a real sun.
The caravan of Light seems to enter a calmer space with some light and purer air to breath.
Though Hell still ruled
Though Hell claimed rule, the spirit still had power.
But the reign of Hell continued even though it could be subdued by the conscious soul.
This No-man’s-land he passed without debate;
Him the heights missioned, him the Abyss desired:
None stood across his way, no voice forbade.
Aswapati now crossed this No-man’s land even as he was drawn towards the heights of his nature as well the abysses opening below. For the difficulties and the dangers come in proportion to the heights towards which we seek to climb.
The downward path
For swift and easy is the downward path,
And now towards the Night was turned his face.
The fall comes easily while the ascension calls for tremendous effort. Aswapati too now turns towards the Night to explore what lay behind its dark and dangerous face.
Thus we see here Sri Aurobindo cautioning us of what the aspirant may encounter on the Eternal’s Road. At the same time he reminds us of the ever-present Help and the Grace that we must always summon and pray for. It is only when one is protected by the Divine that one can pass through this perilous passage without much suffering and any permanent damage.