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Transcript of:
Savitri: Book Two, Canto IV, part 2 of 4
by Loretta, 2016 (20:00)
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[[{{{icon}}}|border|link={{{link}}}]]  Loretta reads Savitri
Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds
Canto IV: The Kingdoms of the Little Life
Part 2 of 4, pages 137-141
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In the first part of this canto, Sri Aurobindo described the first beginnings of Life's return to her true glory and fullness after she plunges into Matter. Now she has to awaken out of matter's inconscience. She came to answer the spirit's call for the release of consciousness in matter. And it is life's yearning that brings consciousness.

Because of the descent of life into matter, the yearning for consciousness awakens in the material stuff of which we are made. The great yogi king is following life's slow rise and ascension out of the Inconscient to Consciousness. He has to know the cause of all that holds us back and baffles God, in the delivery of the soul which is imprisoned in matter.

In the first part of Canto IV, Sri Aurobindo doesn't talk at all about the presence of the Creator, or talk about the heavenly process which has put on the disguise of all the low, fallen, degraded things that life becomes when she first crawls out of the mud. Reading all this about life's degradation and misery and fall is kind of depressing – it leaves you with a feeling of hopelessness. But immediately, this next part of the canto starts with the words:

But judged not so his spirit’s wakened eye. (p.137)

The king, “a single thinker in an aimless world” (p.137), saw the purpose in the works of Time. And he saw that a work was done, in all that apparent aimlessness.

So now Sri Aurobindo begins to bring back the mystic presence of the Creator. Of course, this is that same relationship that we read about in “The Secret Knowledge”: the Master of existence lurks in us, and “the Two who are one are the might and right in things” (p.63). Well, here, he says the mystic Presence of the Creator “summons the spirit’s sleeping memories” (p.138). And they come to our surface, disguised as our feelings and desires.

Now he tells us that impure and degraded though life's motions are here, always, always, “a heaven-truth broods in life’s deeps” (p.139).

Still, in this part of the canto, he says that so far, all the was seen on the surface was “foulness and force // The secret crawl of consciousness to light” (p.138) through slime.

But he also tells us, finally, that it is the disguise of the heavenly process which works to release the glory of God in Nature's mud. The king's spiritual sight could scan the secrets that were there. And he tracked the life that was now animating the mute and solid cells, to its miraculous fount. But:

Inflicting still its habit on the cells [that means our cells]
The phantom of a dark and evil start
Ghostlike pursues all that we dream and do.

It was needed, that the breath of life might be. It is the fount of the life of beast and reptile and thinking man. And he tells us, that the Inconscient has the need “to release the glory of God in Nature’s mud” (p.138).

Last time, we saw that the king had to follow Life's emergence in inconscient Matter, to learn what imprisons the god in man. And that perhaps, this was something that Sri Aurobindo was writing about his own yoga.

And we also saw that he knew the planes in the body – the very subtle planes – where “the nerve-beat of feeling wakes in sense” (p.132). And he tells us this is what divided Matter's sleep from conscious Mind. What an answer to an extraordinary question: Where do we awaken from Matter? What does that mean? And it's where the nerve-beat of feeling wakes in sense.

In this part of Canto IV, he says a mystic Presence links the mechanic throbs of the body to life and love, “by the swift vibration of a nerve” (p.138). So, we have another very subtle physical thing that we now know.

We have an entry from Sri Aurobindo's diary, the Record of Yoga. He writes about a layer of strata in his own physical mind, which is inhabited by blind mechanical movements of the Mind in Nature. He says those movements – which he's clearly aware of – correspond [in] Nature to subconscient physical stirrings in us, which our conscious mind doesn't know about.

In the part of Canto IV that we're reading today, he's written that this Nature is living still tied to her origin. And he's also said, that this first cry of the awakening world still clings around us, and clamps the god in us. Similar to the “phantom of a dark and evil start” (p.140), and that some of it is still going on.

But we have here a clear example of what Sri Aurobindo has seen, and is clearly working with, in himself – which illustrates these things that he wrote about in Canto IV. So in Sri Aurobindo's Record of Yoga, it's on September 5th, 1913. And this happens to be a few months before he and Mother met for the first time (on the physical plane). But he says, on September 5th:

“In the evening and night the remnants of the day’s struggle and retrogression prevented progress. […] This is the first determined relapse into old conditions after many months of essential freedom from any true disturbance of the equanimity (both the passive negative equanimity and the active positive equanimity. This morning opens with the same conditions. It appears that for the first time in these few months a lower strain of the physical mind in the external essential individual nature yet surcharged with the falsehood & ignorance has been upheaved and the beings of that plane let loose on the vessel that contains mind, life and body.
“...the physical stratum upheaved is one inhabited by blind mechanical movements of the involved & unexpressed mind in matter which correspond in Nature to the subconscious physical stirrings in us of which our conscious mind takes no least cognizance in its normal & organised workings.” [1]

So, we can see clearly [these] blind mechanical movements, these first beginnings of life moving – and he says they correspond in nature to the subconscious physical stirrings in us. And this is what is going on all the time. And we can see that he is writing about what he himself knows.

There's a letter of his in which he says that all that he wrote about in Savitri were his experiences and Mother's experiences.

So, second part of Canto IV: “The Kingdoms of the Little Life”.

At the very last part of what we read, at the end he says:

It was a vain unnecessary world
Whose will to be brought poor and sad results
And meaningless suffering and a grey unease.
Nothing seemed worth the labour to become. (p.137)

And then he starts here saying...

      But judged not so his spirit’s wakened eye.
As shines a solitary witness star
That burns apart, Light’s lonely sentinel,
In the drift and teeming of a mindless Night,
A single thinker in an aimless world
Awaiting some tremendous dawn of God,
He saw the purpose in the works of Time.
Even in that aimlessness a work was done
Pregnant with magic will and change divine. p.138
The first writhings of the cosmic serpent Force
Uncoiled from the mystic ring of Matter’s trance;
It raised its head in the warm air of life.
It could not cast off yet Night’s stiffening sleep
Or wear as yet mind’s wonder-flecks and streaks,
Put on its jewelled hood the crown of soul
Or stand erect in the blaze of spirit’s sun.
As yet were only seen foulness and force,
The secret crawl of consciousness to light
Through a fertile slime of lust and battening sense,
Beneath the body’s crust of thickened self
A tardy fervent working in the dark,
The turbid yeast of Nature’s passionate change,
Ferment of the soul’s creation out of mire.
A heavenly process donned this grey disguise,
A fallen ignorance in its covert night
Laboured to achieve its dumb unseemly work,
A camouflage of the Inconscient’s need
To release the glory of God in Nature’s mud.
His sight, spiritual in embodying orbs,
Could pierce through the grey phosphorescent haze
And scan the secrets of the shifting flux
That animates these mute and solid cells
And leads the thought and longing of the flesh
And the keen lust and hunger of its will.
This too he tracked along its hidden stream
And traced its acts to a miraculous fount.
A mystic Presence none can probe nor rule,
Creator of this game of ray and shade
In this sweet and bitter paradoxical life,
Asks from the body the soul’s intimacies
And by the swift vibration of a nerve
Links its mechanic throbs to light and love.
It summons the spirit’s sleeping memories
Up from subconscient depths beneath Time’s foam;
Oblivious of their flame of happy truth, p.139
Arriving with heavy eyes that hardly see,
They come disguised as feelings and desires,
Like weeds upon the surface float awhile
And rise and sink on a somnambulist tide.
Impure, degraded though her motions are,
Always a heaven-truth broods in life’s deeps;
In her obscurest members burns that fire.
A touch of God’s rapture in creation’s acts,
A lost remembrance of felicity
Lurks still in the dumb roots of death and birth,
The world’s senseless beauty mirrors God’s delight.
That rapture’s smile is secret everywhere;
It flows in the wind’s breath, in the tree’s sap,
Its hued magnificence blooms in leaves and flowers.
When life broke through its half-drowse in the plant
That feels and suffers but cannot move or cry,
In beast and in winged bird and thinking man
It made of the heart’s rhythm its music’s beat;
It forced the unconscious tissues to awake
And ask for happiness and earn the pang
And thrill with pleasure and laughter of brief delight,
And quiver with pain and crave for ecstasy.
Imperative, voiceless, ill-understood,
Too far from light, too close to being’s core,
Born strangely in Time from the eternal Bliss,
It presses on heart’s core and vibrant nerve;
Its sharp self-seeking tears our consciousness;
Our pain and pleasure have that sting for cause:
Instinct with it, but blind to its true joy
The soul’s desire leaps out towards passing things.
All Nature’s longing drive none can resist,
Comes surging through the blood and quickened sense;
An ecstasy of the infinite is her cause.
It turns in us to finite loves and lusts,
The will to conquer and have, to seize and keep,
To enlarge life’s room and scope and pleasure’s range, p.140
To battle and overcome and make one’s own,
The hope to mix one’s joy with others’ joy,
A yearning to possess and be possessed,
To enjoy and be enjoyed, to feel, to live.
Here was its early brief attempt to be,
Its rapid end of momentary delight
Whose stamp of failure haunts all ignorant life.
Inflicting still its habit on the cells
The phantom of a dark and evil start
Ghostlike pursues all that we dream and do.
Although on earth are firm established lives,
A working of habit or a sense of law,
A steady repetition in the flux,
Yet are its roots of will ever the same;
These passions are the stuff of which we are made.
This was the first cry of the awaking world.
It clings around us still and clamps the god.
Even when reason is born and soul takes form,
In beast and reptile and in thinking man
It lasts and is the fount of all their life.
This too was needed that breath and living might be.
The spirit in a finite ignorant world
Must rescue so its prisoned consciousness
Forced out in little jets at quivering points
From the Inconscient’s sealed infinitude.
Then slowly it gathers mass, looks up at Light.
This Nature lives tied to her origin,
A clutch of nether force is on her still;
Out of unconscious depths her instincts leap;
A neighbour is her life to insentient Nought.
Under this law an ignorant world was made.
      In the enigma of the darkened Vasts,
In the passion and self-loss of the Infinite
When all was plunged in the negating Void,
Non-Being’s night could never have been saved
If Being had not plunged into the dark p.141
Carrying with it its triple mystic cross.
Invoking in world-time the timeless truth,
Bliss changed to sorrow, knowledge made ignorant,
God’s force turned into a child’s helplessness
Can bring down heaven by their sacrifice.
A contradiction founds the base of life:
The eternal, the divine Reality
Has faced itself with its own contraries;
Being became the Void and Conscious-Force
Nescience and walk of a blind Energy
And Ecstasy took the figure of world-pain.
In a mysterious dispensation’s law
A Wisdom that prepares its far-off ends
Planned so to start her slow aeonic game.
A blindfold search and wrestle and fumbling clasp
Of a half-seen Nature and a hidden Soul,
A game of hide-and-seek in twilit rooms,
A play of love and hate and fear and hope
Continues in the nursery of mind
Its hard and heavy romp of self-born twins.
At last the struggling Energy can emerge
And meet the voiceless Being in wider fields;
Then can they see and speak and, breast to breast,
In a larger consciousness, a clearer light,
The Two embrace and strive and each know each
Regarding closer now the playmate’s face.
Even in these formless coilings he could feel
Matter’s response to an infant stir of soul.
In Nature he saw the mighty Spirit concealed,
Watched the weak birth of a tremendous Force,
Pursued the riddle of Godhead’s tentative pace,
Heard the faint rhythms of a great unborn Muse.