Sometimes a great wandering Thought sees the ages still unaccomplished, seizes the Force in its eternal flow and precipitates upon earth the powerful vision, which is like a power of realizing what it sees.
The world is a vision becoming real. Indeed its past and its present are not the result of an obscure impulse coming from the womb of time, of a slow accumulation of sediments which little by little mold us—and stifle us and imprison us. It is the powerful golden attraction of the future which draws us in spite of ourselves, as the sun draws the lotus from the mud, and forces us to a glory greater than any our mud or efforts or present triumphs could have foreseen or created.
Sri Aurobindo is this vision and this power of precipitating the future into the present. What he saw in an instant the ages and millions of men will unwittingly accomplish. Unknowingly they will seek the new imperceptible quiver that has entered the earth’s atmosphere. From age to age great beings come amongst us to hew a great opening of Truth in the sepulchre of the past. And in actuality, these beings are the great destroyers of the past. They come with the sword of Knowledge to shatter our fragile empires.
This year, we are celebrating Sri Aurobindo’s 150th Birth anniversary. He is known to barely a handful of men and yet his name will resound when the great men of today or yesterday are buried under their own debris. His work is discussed by philosophers, praised by poets, people acclaim his sociological vision and his yoga – but Sri Aurobindo is a living ACTION, a Word becoming real, and every day in the thousand circumstances that seem to want to rend the earth and topple its structures we can witness the first reflux of the Force he has set in motion. At the beginning of this century, when India was still struggling against British domination, Sri Aurobindo asserted: “It is not a revolt against the British Government [that is needed]…. It is, in fact, a revolt against the whole universal Nature.”
For the problem is fundamental. It is not a question of bringing a new philosophy to the world or new ideas or illuminations, as they are called. The question is not of making the Prison of our lives more habitable, or of endowing man with ever more fantastic powers. Armed with his microscopes and telescopes, the human gnome remains a gnome, pain-ridden and helpless. We send rockets to the moon, but we know nothing of our own hearts. It is a question, says Sri Aurobindo, “of creating a new physical nature which is to be the habitation of the Supramental being in a new evolution.” For, in actuality, he says, “the imperfection of Man is not the last word of Nature, but his perfection too is not the last peak of the Spirit.” Beyond the mental man we are, there exists the possibility of another being who will be the spearhead of evolution as man was once the spearhead of evolution among the great apes. “If,” says Sri Aurobindo, “the animal is a living laboratory in which Nature has, it is said, worked out man, man himself may well be a thinking and living laboratory in whom and with whose conscious cooperation she wills to work out the superman, the god.” Sri Aurobindo has come to tell us how to create this other being, this supramental being, and not only to tell us but actually to
create this other being and open the path of the future, to hasten upon earth the rhythm of evolution, the new vibration that will replace the mental vibration – exactly as a thought one day disturbed the slow routine of the beasts – and will give us the power to shatter the walls of our human prison. Indeed, the prison is already starting to collapse. “The end of a stage of evolution,” announced by Sri Aurobindo, “is usually marked by a powerful recrudescence of all that has to go out of the evolution.” Everywhere about us we see this paroxysmal shattering of all the old forms: our borders, our churches, our laws, our morals are collapsing on all sides. They are not collapsing because we are bad, immoral, irreligious, or because we are not sufficiently rational, scientific or human, but because we have come to the end of the human! To the end of the old mechanism – for we are on our way to SOMETHING ELSE. The world is not going through a moral crisis but through an “evolutionary crisis.” We are not going towards a better world – nor, for that matter, towards a worse one – we are in the midst of a MUTATION to a radically different world, as different as the human world was from the ape world of the Tertiary Era. We are entering a new era, a supramental Quinary. We leave our countries, wander aimlessly, we go looking for drugs, for adventure, we go on strike here, enact reforms there, foment revolutions and counterrevolutions. But
all this is only an appearance; in fact, unwittingly, we are looking for the new being.
We are in the midst of human evolution. And Sri Aurobindo gives us the key. It may be that the sense of our own revolution escapes us because we try to prolong that which already exists, to refine it, improve it, sublimate it. But the ape may have made the same mistake amid its revolution that produced man; perhaps it sought to become a super-ape, better equipped to climb trees, hunt and run, a more agile and clever ape. With Nietzsche we too sought a “superman” who was nothing more than a colossalization of man, and with the spiritualists a super-saint more richly endowed with virtue and wisdom. But human virtue and wisdom are useless! Even when carried to their highest heights they are nothing more than the old poverties gilded over, the obverse of our tenacious misery. “Supermanhood,” says Sri Aurobindo, “is not man climbed to his own natural zenith, not a superior degree of human greatness, knowledge, power, intelligence, will,… genius,… saintliness, love, purity or perfection.” It is SOMETHING ELSE, another vibration of being, another consciousness. But if this new consciousness is not to be found on the peaks of the human, where then, are we to find it? Perhaps, quite simply in that which we have most neglected since we entered the mental cycle, in the body. The body is our base, our evolutionary foundation, the old stock to which we always return, and which painfully compels our attention by making us suffer, age and die. “In that imperfection,” Sri Aurobindo assures us, “is the urge towards a higher and more many-sided perfection. It contains the last finite which yet yearns to the Supreme Infinite…. God is pent in the mire … but the very fact imposes a necessity to break through that prison.” That is the old,
uncured Illness, the unchanged root, the dark matrix of our misery, hardly different now from what it was in the time of Lemuria. It is this physical substance which we must transform, otherwise it will topple, one after another, all the human or superhuman devices we try to graft on it. This body, this physical cellular substance contains “almighty powers,” a dumb consciousness that harbors all the lights and all the infinitudes, just as much as the mental and spiritual immensities do. For, in truth, all is Divine and unless the Lord of all the universe resides in a single little cell he resides nowhere. It is this original, dark cellular Prison which we must break open; for as long as we have not broken it, we will continue to turn vainly in the golden or iron circles of our mental prison.
“These laws of Nature,” says Sri Aurobindo, “that you call absolute … merely mean
an equilibrium established to work in order to produce certain results. But, if you
change the consciousness, then the groove also is bound to change.” Such is the new adventure to which Sri Aurobindo invites us, an adventure into man’s unknown.
Whether we like it or not, the whole earth is moving into a new groove, but why
shouldn’t we like it? Why shouldn’t we collaborate in this great, unprecedented
adventure? Why shouldn’t we collaborate in our own evolution, instead of repeating endlessly the same old story, instead of chasing hallucinatory paradises which will never quench our thirst or otherworldly paradises which leave the earth to rot along with our bodies? “Why be born if it is to get out at the end?” exclaims the Mother, who continues Sri Aurobindo’s work. “What is the use of having struggled so much, suffered so much, of having created something which, in its outer appearance at least, is so tragic and dramatic, if it is only to learn how to get out of it – it would have been better not to start at all…. Evolution is not a tortuous course that brings us back, somewhat battered, to the starting point. Quite the contrary, it is meant,” says Mother, “to teach the whole of creation the joy of being, the beauty of being, the grandeur of being, the majesty of a sublime life, and the perpetual development, perpetually progressive, of this joy, this beauty, this grandeur. Then everything has a meaning.” This body, this obscure beast of burden we inhabit, is the experimental field of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga – which is a yoga of the whole earth, for one can easily understand that if a single being among our millions of sufferings succeeds in negotiating the evolutionary leap, the mutation of the next age, the face of the earth will be radically altered. Then all the so-called powers of which we boast today will seem like childish games before the radiance of this almighty embodied spirit. Sri Aurobindo tells us that it is possible – not only possible but that it will be done. It is being done. And perhaps everything depends not so much on a sublime effort of humanity to transcend its limitations – for that means still using our own human strength to free ourselves from human strength – as on a call, a conscious cry of the earth to this new being which the earth already carries within itself. All is already there, within our hearts, the supreme Source which is the supreme Power – only we must call it into our forest of cement, we must understand the meaning of man, the meaning of ourselves. The amplified cry of the earth, of its millions of men and women who cannot bear it anymore, who no longer accept their prison, must open a crack to let the new vibration in. Then all the apparently ineluctable laws that bind us in their hereditary and scientific groove will crumble before the Joy of the “sun-eyed children.” “Expect nothing from death,” says Mother, “life is your salvation. It is in life that you must transform yourself. It is on
earth that you progress and on earth that you realize. It is in the body that you win the Victory.”
“Nor let worldly prudence whisper too closely in thy ear,” says Sri Aurobindo, “for it
is the hour of the unexpected.”
Pondicherry, 9 December 1971 Satprem