Friday, May 01, 2009

He aspired and housed the nascent demi-god

He stood erect, a God like form and force
Her animal experiment began,Crowding with conscious creatures her world-scheme;But to the outward only they were alive,Only they replied to touches and surfacesAnd to the prick of need that drove their lives.

Animals are driven by that quality of Nature - Rajas, by which there is “the first light of conscious mind but buddhi or intelligent Will is absent,” says Sri Aurobindo in The Essays on Gita. This is why there is intelligence in them but they are not conscious of it and hence they reply to ‘touches and surfaces and the prick of need” which drives their lives and hence in the luminous words of Sri Aurobindo,

Absorbed they lived in the passion of the scene,But knew not who they were or why they lived:Life had for them no aim save Nature’s joyAnd the stimulus and delight of outer things;They worked for the body’s wants, they craved no more,Content to breathe, to feel, to sense, to act,Identified with the spirit’s outward shell.

The Mother says that there is an intelligence which acts and organizes animals but they are not conscious of it. Hence they are absorbed in the events happening at the present moment but there is aimlessness to animal existence. That is why sometimes we hear people yell in frustration “Don’t be like an animal!” There is in them the delight in outer things, and they are satisfied if their bodily needs are met and they are contented to just “breathe, feel, sense, act” as they are always identified with their “outward shell”.

The veiled spectator watching from their depthsFixed not his inward eye upon himselfNor turned to find the author of the plot,He saw the drama only and the stage.

The lines above describe so evocatively the animal or man dominated by his lower nature. The “veiled spectator” refers to that capacity in us to detach from the act and watch the drama unfold as the witness, without participating or getting involved in the drama. However, in the animal, the spectator is veiled and hence it does not turn inwards to “find the author of the plot” and just sees the “drama and the stage”. The animal does not ponder on the deep secrets of the laws of Nature, nor is in them a thirst for Truth, but they are content to hunt, “sniff the winds, or sloth inert in sunshine and soft air”

A formless yearning passions in man’s heart,A cry is in his blood for happier things:Else could he roam on a free sunlit soilWith the childlike pain-forgetting mind of beastsOr live happy, unmoved, like flowers and trees(“Savitri”, Book 2, Canto 4)

However, in man there is a yearning and aspiration to rise above his lower Nature and he seeks to release himself from the chains and bonds which restrain him, if this was not in him he would be like a beast roaming around aimlessly not reflecting or feeling the “touch of the soul within” and be like the beasts in their “childlike pain-forgetting mind” or happy and immobile like the flowers and trees. He also has the capacity to rise to greatness and explore his hidden realms and become a “mind, a spirit and self “

The animal’s thoughtless joy is left behind,Care and reflection burden his daily walk:He has risen to greatness and to discontent,He is awake to the Invisible.Insatiate seeker, he has all to learn:He has exhausted now life’s surface acts,His being’s hidden realms remain to explore.He becomes a mind, he becomes a spirit and self;In his fragile tenement he grows Nature’s lord. (“Savitri” Book 2 , Canto 4)

A spiritual evolution, an evolution of consciousness in Matter is a constant developing self-formation till the form can reveal the indwelling Spirit, is then the key-note, the central significant motive of the terrestrial existence.(“The Life Divine”, Sri Aurobindo)

The very form of man is thus capable of manifesting the Spirit says The Mother as the upright position is itself symbolic of this capacity to manifest the Spirit. There is a Tamil song in which the poet says “Oh Lord this form itself is created to worship and manifest thee”. Hands held together in prayer seem to at once connect us with deeper feelings of love and togetherness. This human physical form is most appropriate to express the Spirit. If we compare man to the higher living being we will fall short as we have a lot of imperfections but in the words of The Mother,

“…if we put ourselves in the place of the animals which immediately precede him in the evolution, we see that he is endowed with possibilities and powers which the others are quite incapable of expressing. The mere fact of having the ambition, the desire, the will to know the laws of Nature and to master them sufficiently to be able to adapt them to his needs and change them to a certain extent, is something impossible, unthinkable for any animal.”

“You may tell me that I don’t usually speak very kindly about man (laughter), but that’s because he usually thinks too kindly of himself !”

“If we compare him with other products of Nature, unquestionably he is at the top of the ladder.”

In the prone obscure beginnings of the raceThe human grew in the bowed apelike man.He stood erect, a Godlike form and force,And a soul’s thoughts looked out from earthborn eyes;Man stood erect, a Godlike form and force,And a soul’s thoughts looked out from earthborn eyes;Man stood erect, he wore the thinker’s brow:He looked at the heaven and saw his comrade stars;A vision came of beauty and greater birthSlowly emerging from the heart’s chapel of lightAnd moved in a white lucent air of dreams.He saw his being’s unrealized vastnesses,He aspired and housed the nascent demi-god (“Savitri”, Book 7, Canto 2 )

Recently, we saw a remake of the old classic, “The Planet of the Apes” on television, in which an astronaut is sucked into a bizarre planet in the distant future where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species and the humans are treated brutally and oppressed. Apparently, the advertisement for this movie said “Somewhere in the universe there must be something better than man". The humans and apes in this movie have similar capability in intellect and speech but it is the ape’s physical strength, which makes them dominate the planet and treat the humans as slaves. It was a fascinating movie. One highlight was the advice given by a philosophical wise ape to the commander-in-chief. Which went something like this ….

“You have no idea what these humans are capable of, we have physical strength but his technology and ingenuity are no comparison to our physical strength. Be careful of the power of the human and what he is capable of.”

It reminds me of what Sri Aurobindo once told a sadhak…..if only we knew of what lies beyond this mental state we would leave everything this very instant and chase after it. In conclusion, let us reflect on these words of The Mother…..

Can we hope that this body which is our present means of earthly manifestation, will have the possibility of transforming itself progressively into something which will be able to express a higher life, or will it be necessary to give up this form entirely to enter into another which does not yet exist on Earth?

That is the problem. It is a very interesting problem. If you will reflect on it, it will lead you to a little more light.

We can reflect on it just now. Posted by Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore at 7:10 PM

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