Loretta reads Savitri:Two.III "The Glory and the Fall of Life" part 1
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds
Canto III: The Glory and the Fall of Life
Part 1 of 3, pages 116-122
In Book One, Sri Aurobindo calls King Aswapati “A lone forerunner of the Godward earth” (p.80). And the king is becoming what all can become in the future. Throughout Book One, in all the stories of the yoga of the king, we've seen him preparing himself and being prepared. And in Book Two he's ready to move on, and he's going through all the levels of manifestation of consciousness. He's doing it by traveling in his own consciousness to the planes of his own being. The king is on his way to find the power of the creation in himself: the Divine Mother. And he's doing his yoga for the world on the way, through every plane of his being, and looking for the Divine Mother for the world.
In his climb up the world-stair, the first inner world he arrived in was the Kingdom of Subtle Matter. This is the plane of consciousness which is closest to ours, and from this plane our material world – everything about our physicality and everything we are – manifests and comes into being. But this perfect world is a limited perfection. There's a lot more to creation than just this world. And the king soon got tired of staying on the surfaces of being. So now he's called on. And Sri Aurobindo says he's called by “a greater Nature’s troubled call” (p.116). And that “An uneven broad ascent now lured his feet” (p.116) now – attracted his feet and made itself special so his feet would want to go on this.
But nearest to the subtle physical plane is a world of Life. And with the king, we see life in a number of ways here. And also here, in Canto III, “The Glory and the Fall of Life”, Sri Aurobindo brings us the thing which he brings in again and again, as something which the king does on his journey. As he goes, he continues to follow and to observe the Mother in her changes. And by the Mother of course we mean life itself. As he moves from each inner plane to the next deeper plane, he is looking at Life as she manifests herself.
As we travel with the king, we will follow Life, and we will see her from her most outward aspects to her most inward aspects at the very very center – the starting point of the creation. So the king is traveling from the most gross to the most subtle, and he's doing his yoga on the way.
Sri Aurobindo here, when he speaks of the Mother, and Life, and 'her', is speaking of the Divine Mother who is the creation, and who evolves as the creation itself. We've already met her as the Power of the supreme Unmanifest, in Book One, Canto IV: “The Secret Knowledge”. She is half of the two-who-are-one who play in many worlds: the Master of existence at play with his own force, the Divine Mother. And Sri Aurobindo does not let us forget that the Master and the Mother are themselves at play, in every plane of creation which Aswapati leads us to. Because we will see that Sri Aurobindo constantly describes their actions again and again, as we go on reading through Savitri. And here again in this canto, he's going to describe it in some detail related to this plane of consciousness.
So now, at the beginning of Canto III, Sri Aurobindo tells us that by leaving the subtle physical plane, the king has crossed the limits of embodied Mind. And he's in a place where Life is completely free to go everywhere and do everything and become everything. But all she does has an uncertainty. And it looks almost as if life is out of control. The dullness of physical Matter is no longer a limitation. And she's free just to do anything and go anywhere.
Sri Aurobindo says, here in this world:
- [Life] wrestles with danger and discovery
- In the unexplored expanses of the soul.
- To be seemed only a long experiment,
- The hazard of a seeking ignorant Force
- That tries all truths and, finding none supreme,
- Moves on unsatisfied, unsure of its end. (p.117)
And as Aswapati makes his way through all that life is and does here, he is questioning, in what appears to be a world of irrational force which runs after everything and is satisfied by nothing. And therefore, the king finds nothing to satisfy his heart.
But while the king is making his way through this difficult place, he's experiencing life manifesting itself at this level which doesn't really have any resolution – and it seems that it doesn't have any beauty, or any harmony, or anything – he begins to see a plane where life has no grief. And although he is walking on unsafe soil, he can at least see the image of a happier state.
Eventually, this does take a close shape of reality, and his vision makes it all his own. Here are “the wonder-worlds of life” (p.120). But, he doesn't get to go there. Sri Aurobindo tells us that the quintessence of Life's supreme delight is glowing here. And he speaks of how the Master and the Mother are working here. He says:
- His wisdom’s call steadies her careless feet,
- He props her dance upon a rigid base,
- His timeless still immutability
- Must standardise her creation’s miracle. (p.121)
And Sri Aurobindo assures us that all the worlds which her creative fancy makes can recover their divinity of their lost Origin.
So now we're going to start Canto III, in Book Two: “The Glory and the Fall of Life”.
Canto Three The Glory and the Fall of Life An uneven broad ascent now lured his feet. Answering a greater Nature’s troubled call He crossed the limits of embodied Mind And entered wide obscure disputed fields Where all was doubt and change and nothing sure, A world of search and toil without repose. As one who meets the face of the Unknown, A questioner with none to give reply, Attracted to a problem never solved, Always uncertain of the ground he trod, Always drawn on to an inconstant goal He travelled through a land peopled by doubts In shifting confines on a quaking base. In front he saw a boundary ever unreached And thought himself at each step nearer now,— A far retreating horizon of mirage. A vagrancy was there that brooked no home, A journey of countless paths without a close. Nothing he found to satisfy his heart; A tireless wandering sought and could not cease. There life is the manifest Incalculable, A movement of unquiet seas, a long And venturous leap of spirit into Space, A vexed disturbance in the eternal Calm, An impulse and passion of the Infinite. Assuming whatever shape her fancy wills, Escaped from the restraint of settled forms She has left the safety of the tried and known. Unshepherded by the fear that walks through Time, Undaunted by Fate that dogs and Chance that springs, She accepts disaster as a common risk; Careless of suffering, heedless of sin and fall, p.117 She wrestles with danger and discovery In the unexplored expanses of the soul. To be seemed only a long experiment, The hazard of a seeking ignorant Force That tries all truths and, finding none supreme, Moves on unsatisfied, unsure of its end. As saw some inner mind, so life was shaped: From thought to thought she passed, from phase to phase, Tortured by her own powers or proud and blest, Now master of herself, now toy and slave. A huge inconsequence was her action’s law, As if all possibility must be drained, And anguish and bliss were pastimes of the heart. In a gallop of thunder-hooved vicissitudes She swept through the race-fields of Circumstance, Or, swaying, she tossed between her heights and deeps, Uplifted or broken on Time’s inconstant wheel. Amid a tedious crawl of drab desires She writhed, a worm mid worms in Nature’s mud, Then, Titan-statured, took all earth for food, Ambitioned the seas for robe, for crown the stars And shouting strode from peak to giant peak, Clamouring for worlds to conquer and to rule. Then, wantonly enamoured of Sorrow’s face, She plunged into the anguish of the depths And, wallowing, clung to her own misery. In dolorous converse with her squandered self She wrote the account of all that she had lost, Or sat with grief as with an ancient friend. A romp of violent raptures soon was spent, Or she lingered tied to an inadequate joy Missing the turns of fate, missing life’s goal. A scene was planned for all her numberless moods Where each could be the law and way of life, But none could offer a pure felicity; Only a flickering zest they left behind p.118 Or the fierce lust that brings a dead fatigue. Amid her swift untold variety Something remained dissatisfied, ever the same And in the new saw only a face of the old, For every hour repeated all the rest And every change prolonged the same unease. A spirit of her self and aim unsure, Tired soon of too much joy and happiness, She needs the spur of pleasure and of pain And the native taste of suffering and unrest: She strains for an end that never can she win. A perverse savour haunts her thirsting lips: For the grief she weeps which came from her own choice, For the pleasure yearns that racked with wounds her breast; Aspiring to heaven she turns her steps towards hell. Chance she has chosen and danger for playfellows; Fate’s dreadful swing she has taken for cradle and seat. Yet pure and bright from the Timeless was her birth, A lost world-rapture lingers in her eyes, Her moods are faces of the Infinite: Beauty and happiness are her native right, And endless Bliss is her eternal home. This now revealed its antique face of joy, A sudden disclosure to the heart of grief Tempting it to endure and long and hope. Even in changing worlds bereft of peace, In an air racked with sorrow and with fear And while his feet trod on a soil unsafe, He saw the image of a happier state. In an architecture of hieratic Space Circling and mounting towards creation’s tops, At a blue height which never was too high For warm communion between body and soul, As far as heaven, as near as thought and hope, Glimmered the kingdom of a griefless life. p.119 Above him in a new celestial vault Other than the heavens beheld by mortal eyes, As on a fretted ceiling of the gods, An archipelago of laughter and fire, Swam stars apart in a rippled sea of sky. Towered spirals, magic rings of vivid hue And gleaming spheres of strange felicity Floated through distance like a symbol world. On the trouble and the toil they could not share, On the unhappiness they could not aid, Impervious to life’s suffering, struggle, grief, Untarnished by its anger, gloom and hate, Unmoved, untouched, looked down great visioned planes Blissful for ever in their timeless right. Absorbed in their own beauty and content, Of their immortal gladness they live sure. Apart in their self-glory plunged, remote Burning they swam in a vague lucent haze, An everlasting refuge of dream-light, A nebula of the splendours of the gods Made from the musings of eternity. Almost unbelievable by human faith, Hardly they seemed the stuff of things that are. As through a magic television’s glass Outlined to some magnifying inner eye They shone like images thrown from a far scene Too high and glad for mortal lids to seize. But near and real to the longing heart And to the body’s passionate thought and sense Are the hidden kingdoms of beatitude. In some close unattained realm which yet we feel, Immune from the harsh clutch of Death and Time, Escaping the search of sorrow and desire, In bright enchanted safe peripheries For ever wallowing in bliss they lie. In dream and trance and muse before our eyes, p.120 Across a subtle vision’s inner field, Wide rapturous landscapes fleeting from the sight, The figures of the perfect kingdom pass And behind them leave a shining memory’s trail. Imagined scenes or great eternal worlds, Dream-caught or sensed, they touch our hearts with their depths; Unreal-seeming, yet more real than life, Happier than happiness, truer than things true, If dreams these were or captured images, Dream’s truth made false earth’s vain realities. In a swift eternal moment fixed there live Or ever recalled come back to longing eyes Calm heavens of imperishable Light, Illumined continents of violet peace, Oceans and rivers of the mirth of God And griefless countries under purple suns. This, once a star of bright remote idea Or imagination’s comet trail of dream, Took now a close shape of reality. The gulf between dream-truth, earth-fact was crossed, The wonder-worlds of life were dreams no more; His vision made all they unveiled its own: Their scenes, their happenings met his eyes and heart And smote them with pure loveliness and bliss. A breathless summit region drew his gaze Whose boundaries jutted into a sky of Self And dipped towards a strange ethereal base. The quintessence glowed of Life’s supreme delight. On a spiritual and mysterious peak Only a miracle’s high transfiguring line Divided life from the formless Infinite And sheltered Time against eternity. Out of that formless stuff Time mints his shapes; The Eternal’s quiet holds the cosmic act: The protean images of the World-Force p.121 Have drawn the strength to be, the will to last From a deep ocean of dynamic peace. Inverting the spirit’s apex towards life, She spends the plastic liberties of the One To cast in acts the dreams of her caprice, His wisdom’s call steadies her careless feet, He props her dance upon a rigid base, His timeless still immutability Must standardise her creation’s miracle. Out of the Void’s unseeing energies Inventing the scene of a concrete universe, By his thought she has fixed its paces, in its blind acts She sees by flashes of his all-knowing Light. At her will the inscrutable Supermind leans down To guide her force that feels but cannot know, Its breath of power controls her restless seas And life obeys the governing Idea. At her will, led by a luminous Immanence The hazardous experimenting Mind Pushes its way through obscure possibles Mid chance formations of an unknowing world. Our human ignorance moves towards the Truth That Nescience may become omniscient, Transmuted instincts shape to divine thoughts, Thoughts house infallible immortal sight And Nature climb towards God’s identity. The Master of the worlds self-made her slave Is the executor of her fantasies: She has canalised the seas of omnipotence; She has limited by her laws the Illimitable. The Immortal bound himself to do her works; He labours at the tasks her Ignorance sets, Hidden in the cape of our mortality. The worlds, the forms her goddess fancy makes Have lost their origin on unseen heights: Even severed, straying from their timeless source, p.122 Even deformed, obscure, accursed and fallen,— Since even fall has its perverted joy And nothing she leaves out that serves delight,— These too can to the peaks revert or here Cut out the sentence of the spirit’s fall, Recover their forfeited divinity. ...