All genuine yogic experience affirms that the Divine Consciousness or the Divine state of Being is beyond the dualities such as those of good and evil, virtue and vice, pleasure and pain. The dualities are merely the projections of an ignorant consciousness centered around the ego-self. But then man in his early approaches towards the divinity he seeks must necessarily pass through this duality. In the process he colours the divinity Itself to suit his fancies and imaginations. But as the spiritual evolution precedes one outgrows these first notions and concepts. As experience dawns one upon another he draws closer to this great Realisation that the Divine is everything.
Words of the Mother
“If we are to attempt an integral Yoga, it will be as well to start with an idea of the Divine that is itself integral. There should be an aspiration in the heart wide enough for a realisation without any narrow limits. Not only should we avoid a sectarian religious outlook, but also all one-sided philosophical conceptions which try to shut up the Ineffable in a restricting mental formula.”
Sweet Mother, what does Sri Aurobindo mean by an integral idea of the Divine?
Everyone forms an idea of the Divine for himself according to his personal taste, his possibilities of understanding, his mental preferences, and even his desires. People form the idea of the Divine they want, the Divine they wish to meet, and so naturally they limit their realisation considerably. But if we can come to understand that the Divine is all that we can conceive of, and infinitely more, we begin to progress towards integrality. Integrality is an extremely difficult thing for the human consciousness, which begins to be conscious only by limiting itself. But still, with a little effort, for those who know how to play with mental activities, it is possible to widen oneself sufficiently to approach something integral.
You form an idea of the Divine which suits your own nature and your own conception, don’t you? So if you want to get out of yourself a little and attempt to do a truly integral yoga, you must try to understand that the Divine is not only what you think or feel Him to be, but also what others think and feel Him to be and in addition something that nobody can think and feel.
So, if you understand this, you have taken the first step on the path of integrality.
Instinctively, and without even being aware of it, people persist in wanting the Divine to suit their own conceptions. For, without thinking, quite spontaneously, they tell you, “Oh, this is divine, this is not divine!” What do they know about it? And then there are those who have not yet set foot on the path, who come here and see things or people, and tell you, “This Ashram has nothing to do with the Divine, it is not at all divine.” But if you ask them, “What is divine?”, they would be hard put to it to answer; they know nothing about it. And the less one knows, the more one judges; that’s an absolute fact. The more one knows, the less can one pronounce judgments on things. And there comes a time when all one can do is observe, but to judge is impossible. One can see things, see them as they are, in their relations and in their place, with an awareness of the difference between the place they now are in and the one they ought to occupy for this is the great disorder in the world but one does not judge. One simply observes.
And there is a moment when one would be unable to say, “This is divine and that is not divine”, for a time comes when one sees the whole universe in so total and comprehensive a way that, to tell the truth, it is impossible to take away anything from it without disturbing everything.
And one or two steps further yet, and one knows with certainty that what shocks us as a contradiction of the Divine is quite simply something not in its proper place. Each thing must be exactly in its place and, besides, it must be supple enough, plastic enough, to admit into a harmonious progressive organisation all the new elements which are constantly added to the manifested universe. The universe is in a perpetual movement of inner reorganisation, and at the same time it is growing larger, so to say, becoming more and more complex, more and more complete, more and more integral and this, indefinitely. And as gradually new elements manifest, the whole organisation has to be remade on a new basis, so that there is not a second when everything is not in perpetual movement. But if the movement is in accordance with the divine order, it is harmonious, so perfectly harmonious that it is hardly perceptible, it is difficult to see it.
Now, if one comes down again from this consciousness to a more external consciousness, naturally one begins to feel, very precisely, the things which help one to reach the true consciousness and those which bar the way or pull one back or even struggle against the progress. And so the outlook changes and one has to say, “This is divine, or this helps me toward the Divine; and that is against the Divine, it is the enemy of the Divine.”
January 4, 1956
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“67 – There is no sin in man, but a great deal of disease, ignorance and misapplication.
68 – The sense of sin was necessary in order that man might become disgusted with his own imperfections. It was God’s corrective for egoism. But man’s egoism meets God’s device by being very dully alive to its own sins and very keenly alive to the sins of others.
69 – Sin and virtue are a game of resistance we play with God in His efforts to draw us towards perfection. The sense of virtue helps us to cherish our sins in secret.”
Sri Aurobindo: Thoughts and Aphorisms
Do you have any comments?
No; for me the thing to be particularly looked into is the sense of virtue which …
“… helps us to cherish our sins in secret.”
That’s not something ordinary human thought can easily grasp.
Helps us to cherish in secret the sense of sin….
But did you think of a question?
It’s not directly connected. If you have something to say….
It always revolves around the same thing, but here it’s presented in a very subtle way.
To cherish in secret the sense of sin…. No, I can’t say I’ve had that experience, in the sense that I have never had a very pronounced love of virtue.
That’s another thing I have noticed: even in my childhood I was already conscious of what Sri Aurobindo calls “living divinely,” that is, outside the sense of Good and Evil.
This was counterbalanced by a terrible censor which never left me.11 It took Sri Aurobindo to clear it from my path. But I didn’t have the sense of sin, of Good and Evil, sin and virtue definitely not! My consciousness was centered around right action and wrong action – “this should have been done, that shouldn’t have” – with no question of Good or Evil, from the standpoint of work, of action alone. My consciousness has always been centered on action. It was a vision, a perception of the line to be followed – or the many lines to be followed – for the action to be accomplished. And any deviation from what to me was the luminous line, the straight line (not geometrically straight: the luminous line, the line expressing the divine Will), the slightest deviation from that, and … oh, it was the only thing that tormented me.
And the torment didn’t come from me, it came from that character hooked on to my consciousness and constantly whipping me, hounding me, ill-treating me – what people call their “conscience,” which has nothing whatsoever to do with consciousness! It’s an adverse being, and whatever it can change, it changes for the worse; whatever is susceptible to being changed into something antidivine, it changes. And it is constantly repeating the same thing: “This is wrong, that is wrong, this is wrong….”
But this was the only thing; there was never, never the idea of being either virtuous or sinful – never. It was a matter of doing the right thing or not doing the right thing. That’s all. No sense of being virtuous or sinful, none at all! I never, ever had that sense. So it’s a bit difficult for me to identify with the feeling Sri Aurobindo describes here; it doesn’t correspond to anything in me. I understand, of course! I understand very well what he means. But to identify with that sentiment….
But tell me what you wanted to say.
All in all, in these last few aphorisms Sri Aurobindo is clearly trying to show us that we must go beyond the sense of sin and virtue. It reminds me of a passage from one of your experiences which struck me very much at the time. In that experience you went to the supramental world: you saw a “ship” landing on the shore of the supramental world and people being put through certain tests – some people were rejected, others were kept. There’s a striking passage in your description, and it bears a relation to these aphorisms…. After describing the ship and the disembarkation, you say:
“The criterion or the judgment [for passing the tests] was based EXCLUSIVELY on the substance constituting the people – whether they belonged completely to the supramental world or not, whether they were made of this very special substance. The criterion adopted was neither moral nor psychological. It is likely that their bodily substance was the result of an inner law or an inner movement which, at that time, was not in question. At least it is quite clear that the values are different….”
And then you add:
“At that time, my impression (an impression which remained rather long, almost the whole day) was of an extreme relativity – no, not exactly that, but an impression that the relationship between this world and the other completely changes the criterion by which things are to be evaluated or judged….”
“This criterion had nothing mental about it, and it gave the strange inner feeling that so many things we consider good or bad are not really so. It was very clear that everything depended upon the CAPACITY of things and upon their ABILITY to express the supramental world or be in relationship with it. It was so completely different, at times even so opposite to our ordinary way of looking at things!”
You go on:
“With people, too, I saw that what helps or prevents them from becoming supramental is very different from what our ordinary moral notions imagine.”
Yes. Yes, indeed.
So what I wanted to ask you was: if it’s not a matter of moral notions, then what capacity or quality DOES help us on the way towards the Supermind? What is this totally different criterion?
All this is exactly what I have been observing and studying these past few days. I will tell you about it next time.
I was particularly struck at the time.
And it has never left me. Ever since then I have kept that same vision of things. But I have to make it intelligible.
I’ll see you on the 12th.
Or, the 12th I’ll tell you – I will try to find a way to express it.
January 9, 1962
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(Note from Mother to Satprem concerning his question of January 9, on the capacities required to gain access to the supramental world.)
Capacity for indefinite expansion of consciousness on all planes including the material.
Limitless plasticity, to be able to follow the movement of becoming.
Perfect equality abolishing all possibility of ego reaction.
Once and for all it has swept away all these notions – not merely ordinary moral notions, but everything people here in India consider necessary for the spiritual life. In that respect, it was very instructive. And first and foremost, this so-called ascetic purity…. Ascetic purity is merely the rejection of all vital movements. Instead of taking these movements and turning them towards the Divine, instead of seeing, that is, the supreme Presence in them (and so letting the Supreme deal with them freely), He is told (laughing): “No – it’s none of Your business! You have no say in it.”
As for the physical, it’s an old and well-known story – ascetics have always rejected it; but they also reject the vital. And they’re all like that here, even … X may have changed somewhat by now, but at the beginning he was no different either. Only things classically recognized as holy or admitted by religious tradition were accepted – the sanctity of marriage, for example, and things like that…. But a free life? Not a chance! It was wholly incompatible with religious life.
Well, all that has been completely swept away, once and for all.
This doesn’t mean that what’s being asked of us is easier! It’s probably far more difficult.
January 12, 1962
Dec 14, 2014