Loretta reads Savitri:Two.I "The World-Stair"
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds
Canto I: The World-Stair
So we are now starting on the second Book in Savitri. It's the book of the king's travels. He is going to travel to the center of creation. It's because he's looking for the Divine Mother. He wants things to be better. He wants things to change. And he's driven, and he's drawn, and he eventually finds her. But before that he's going to travel through every single part of his own being. And of course Aswapati the king is just like us, and he has the same parts of his being that we have in our being. And so we get a really good education about what we are, what makes us up – the things that are in us, and also the things that maybe we can get rid of, to have a better life and to receive a higher force.
At this point, the king has reached his own spiritual self-fulfillment. We've seen the king's knowledge, the secret knowledge that he's received; we've seen his yoga; and now he's ready. He wants to work for a better world. So his inner journey goes on for the benefit of mankind. When he travels, he bears “the burden of the world's desire” (p.102).
At the end of Book One, we saw that he entered into “God's thousandfold house” (p.87), and discovered a giant order there. Everything was really organised. He saw the “kingdoms of the graded Law” (p.88). They plunged down from the Everlasting into Time, and then they climbed back into the Everlasting from Time – back into “the undying Self” (p.89), carrying everything that is the Creation, and carrying the soul.
Finally at the end he was able to enter a last high world where all worlds meet. This is the place where the heights of mortal effort end. Which means in this case, mortal effort for perfection, for sadhana, for growth – he couldn't do any more. But at that high level, a “grand solution” (p.90) brought reconciliation to mind, and heart, and soul.
At the very end of [Book] One the king is ready. And he “broke into another Space and Time” (p.91). So now we're in that other Space and Time.
And in Canto I of Book Two, Sri Aurobindo shows us that the king does not rest after this great achievement. He simply keeps on going. He's on the way; it's what he wants more than anything else; this is his aspiration. And as he travels on, Sri Aurobindo describes for us something of the consciousness that he has: he tells us – and he doesn't say 'Aswapati does that', but he says 'this is what happens'; he says:
- All could be seen that shuns the mortal eye,
- All could be known the mind has never grasped;
- All could be done no mortal will can dare. (p.95)
- All came at once into his single view;
- Nothing escaped his vast intuitive sight (p.96)
“All things occult and rare, remote and strange” were “his self-discovery’s flaming witnesses” and “became new portions of himself” (p.97).
So again, we're going to find that he sees an organisation (although Sri Aurobindo does not say there is an order that he discovers here, he says it before), and while he's there, Aswapati sees “a lone immense high-curved world-pile” (p.98). It ran from Matter's viewless base, to a top just as viewless. He couldn't see the depths, and he couldn't see the heights. But on this [high-curved] world-pile, worlds climbed up to the Supreme. And Sri Aurobindo tells us:
- This was the single stair to being's goal. (p.98)
It is there at that level, and it is also re-fashioned in the air of our secret self, as a subtle pattern of the universe. “This higher scheme of being is our cause” (p.99). And it's also our path, as we're going to see.
Towards the end of this canto, Sri Aurobindo gives us a brief poetic description of cosmic evolution. All through Savitri, from time to time, he describes evolution: sometimes it's the evolution of the cosmos, sometimes it's the evolution of man, or the evolution of consciousness itself; he does it in different ways each time, so that each time we can get something new. And sometimes he puts in two or three of them, instead of just one of them, and he has very long descriptions. This one's not very long, and Sri Aurobindo starts it with these words:
- A Mystery’s process is the universe. (p.100)
And then he ends it by saying:
- To live this Mystery out our souls came here. (p.101)
Now that we have learned about the secret knowledge in Book One, Sri Aurobindo speaks of it again. He speaks about the two-who-are-one: the Master of existence, and his Force who is the manifestation. He says it in this way: he says, “the Eternal's stillness” saw “his universal Power at work” (p.95). And then Sri Aurobindo speaks of the sacrifice of the great World-Mother, and says:
- The calm and luminous Intimacy within
- Approves her work and guides the unseeing Power. (p.100)
And now we will find that all through Savitri, that the Master and the Mother are spoken of again and again – in their work, in what they do, in their influence – again and again.
Towards the end of this canto, Sri Aurobindo says that the great king is the “Traveller in Time”. And he hears the call of the “Seer within” (p.101), who knows the way and who inspires our leap into life. And of course that inner voice, who inspires our leap into life, and who knows exactly where we are supposed to go, is our soul.
So following this call, he moves onward, he moves upward, “bearing the burden of the world’s desire”. “[T]he invisible Magnet drew his soul” (p.102). And even though he cannot see the heights ahead, alone “on Nature’s giant stair”,
- He mounted towards an indiscernible end
- On the bare summit of created things. (p.102)
And so we're going to start the great adventure of the king's travels inside his own being, and inside the reality of Being itself.
So we start with this canto: “The World-Stair”.
Canto One The World-Stair Alone he moved watched by the infinity Around him and the Unknowable above. All could be seen that shuns the mortal eye, All could be known the mind has never grasped; All could be done no mortal will can dare. A limitless movement filled a limitless peace. In a profound existence beyond earth’s Parent or kin to our ideas and dreams Where Space is a vast experiment of the soul, In an immaterial substance linked to ours In a deep oneness of all things that are, The universe of the Unknown arose. A self-creation without end or pause Revealed the grandeurs of the Infinite: It flung into the hazards of its play A million moods, a myriad energies, The world-shapes that are fancies of its Truth And the formulas of the freedom of its Force. It poured into the Ever-stable’s flux A bacchic rapture and revel of Ideas, A passion and motion of everlastingness. There rose unborn into the Unchanging’s surge Thoughts that abide in their deathless consequence, Words that immortal last though fallen mute, Acts that brought out from Silence its dumb sense, Lines that convey the inexpressible. The Eternal’s stillness saw in unmoved joy His universal Power at work display In plots of pain and dramas of delight The wonder and beauty of her will to be. All, even pain, was the soul’s pleasure here; Here all experience was a single plan, p.96 The thousandfold expression of the One. All came at once into his single view; Nothing escaped his vast intuitive sight, Nothing drew near he could not feel as kin: He was one spirit with that immensity. Images in a supernal consciousness Embodying the Unborn who never dies, The structured visions of the cosmic Self Alive with the touch of being’s eternity Looked at him like form-bound spiritual thoughts Figuring the movements of the Ineffable. Aspects of being donned world-outline; forms That open moving doors on things divine, Became familiar to his hourly sight; The symbols of the Spirit’s reality, The living bodies of the Bodiless Grew near to him, his daily associates. The exhaustless seeings of the unsleeping Mind, Letterings of its contact with the invisible, Surrounded him with countless pointing signs; The voices of a thousand realms of Life Missioned to him her mighty messages. The heaven-hints that invade our earthly lives, The dire imaginations dreamed by Hell, Which if enacted and experienced here Our dulled capacity soon would cease to feel Or our mortal frailty could not long endure, Were set in their sublime proportions there. There lived out in their self-born atmosphere, They resumed their topless pitch and native power; Their fortifying stress upon the soul Bit deep into the ground of consciousness The passion and purity of their extremes, The absoluteness of their single cry And the sovereign sweetness or violent poetry Of their beautiful or terrible delight. p.97 All thought can know or widest sight perceive And all that thought and sight can never know, All things occult and rare, remote and strange Were near to heart’s contact, felt by spirit-sense. Asking for entry at his nature’s gates They crowded the widened spaces of his mind, His self-discovery’s flaming witnesses, Offering their marvel and their multitude. These now became new portions of himself, The figures of his spirit’s greater life, The moving scenery of his large time-walk Or the embroidered tissue of his sense: These took the place of intimate human things And moved as close companions of his thoughts, Or were his soul’s natural environment. Tireless the heart’s adventure of delight, Endless the kingdoms of the Spirit’s bliss, Unnumbered tones struck from one harmony’s strings; Each to its wide-winged universal poise, Its fathomless feeling of the All in one, Brought notes of some perfection yet unseen, Its single retreat into Truth’s secrecies, Its happy sidelight on the Infinite. All was found there the Unique has dreamed and made Tinging with ceaseless rapture and surprise And an opulent beauty of passionate difference The recurring beat that moments God in Time. Only was missing the sole timeless Word That carries eternity in its lonely sound, The Idea self-luminous key to all ideas, The integer of the Spirit’s perfect sum That equates the unequal All to the equal One, The single sign interpreting every sign, The absolute index to the Absolute. There walled apart by its own innerness p.98 In a mystical barrage of dynamic light He saw a lone immense high-curved world-pile Erect like a mountain-chariot of the Gods Motionless under an inscrutable sky. As if from Matter’s plinth and viewless base To a top as viewless, a carved sea of worlds Climbing with foam-maned waves to the Supreme Ascended towards breadths immeasurable; It hoped to soar into the Ineffable’s reign: A hundred levels raised it to the Unknown. So it towered up to heights intangible And disappeared in the hushed conscious Vast As climbs a storeyed temple-tower to heaven Built by the aspiring soul of man to live Near to his dream of the Invisible. Infinity calls to it as it dreams and climbs; Its spire touches the apex of the world; Mounting into great voiceless stillnesses It marries the earth to screened eternities. Amid the many systems of the One Made by an interpreting creative joy Alone it points us to our journey back Out of our long self-loss in Nature’s deeps; Planted on earth it holds in it all realms: It is a brief compendium of the Vast. This was the single stair to being’s goal. A summary of the stages of the spirit, Its copy of the cosmic hierarchies Refashioned in our secret air of self A subtle pattern of the universe. It is within, below, without, above. Acting upon this visible Nature’s scheme It wakens our earth-matter’s heavy doze To think and feel and to react to joy; It models in us our diviner parts, Lifts mortal mind into a greater air, p.99 Makes yearn this life of flesh to intangible aims, Links the body’s death with immortality’s call: Out of the swoon of the Inconscience It labours towards a superconscient Light. If earth were all and this were not in her, Thought could not be nor life-delight’s response: Only material forms could then be her guests Driven by an inanimate world-force. Earth by this golden superfluity Bore thinking man and more than man shall bear; This higher scheme of being is our cause And holds the key to our ascending fate; It calls out of our dense mortality The conscious spirit nursed in Matter’s house. The living symbol of these conscious planes, Its influences and godheads of the unseen, Its unthought logic of Reality’s acts Arisen from the unspoken truth in things, Have fixed our inner life’s slow-scaled degrees. Its steps are paces of the soul’s return From the deep adventure of material birth, A ladder of delivering ascent And rungs that Nature climbs to deity. Once in the vigil of a deathless gaze These grades had marked her giant downward plunge, The wide and prone leap of a godhead’s fall. Our life is a holocaust of the Supreme. The great World-Mother by her sacrifice Has made her soul the body of our state; Accepting sorrow and unconsciousness Divinity’s lapse from its own splendours wove The many-patterned ground of all we are. An idol of self is our mortality. Our earth is a fragment and a residue; Her power is packed with the stuff of greater worlds And steeped in their colour-lustres dimmed by her drowse; p.100 An atavism of higher births is hers, Her sleep is stirred by their buried memories Recalling the lost spheres from which they fell. Unsatisfied forces in her bosom move; They are partners of her greater growing fate And her return to immortality; They consent to share her doom of birth and death; They kindle partial gleams of the All and drive Her blind laborious spirit to compose A meagre image of the mighty Whole. The calm and luminous Intimacy within Approves her work and guides the unseeing Power. His vast design accepts a puny start. An attempt, a drawing half-done is the world’s life; Its lines doubt their concealed significance, Its curves join not their high intended close. Yet some first image of greatness trembles there, And when the ambiguous crowded parts have met The many-toned unity to which they moved, The Artist’s joy shall laugh at reason’s rules; The divine intention suddenly shall be seen, The end vindicate intuition’s sure technique. A graph shall be of many meeting worlds, A cube and union-crystal of the gods; A Mind shall think behind Nature’s mindless mask, A conscious Vast fill the old dumb brute Space. This faint and fluid sketch of soul called man Shall stand out on the background of long Time A glowing epitome of eternity, A little point reveal the infinitudes. A Mystery’s process is the universe. At first was laid a strange anomalous base, A void, a cipher of some secret Whole, Where zero held infinity in its sum And All and Nothing were a single term, An eternal negative, a matrix Nought: p.101 Into its forms the Child is ever born Who lives for ever in the vasts of God. A slow reversal’s movement then took place: A gas belched out from some invisible Fire, Of its dense rings were formed these million stars; Upon earth’s new-born soil God’s tread was heard. Across the thick smoke of earth’s ignorance A Mind began to see and look at forms And groped for knowledge in the nescient Night: Caught in a blind stone-grip Force worked its plan And made in sleep this huge mechanical world, That Matter might grow conscious of its soul And like a busy midwife the life-power Deliver the zero carrier of the All. Because eternal eyes turned on earth’s gulfs The lucent clarity of a pure regard And saw a shadow of the Unknowable Mirrored in the Inconscient’s boundless sleep, Creation’s search for self began its stir. A spirit dreamed in the crude cosmic whirl, Mind flowed unknowing in the sap of life And Matter’s breasts suckled the divine Idea. A miracle of the Absolute was born; Infinity put on a finite soul, All ocean lived within a wandering drop, A time-made body housed the Illimitable. To live this Mystery out our souls came here. A Seer within who knows the ordered plan Concealed behind our momentary steps, Inspires our ascent to viewless heights As once the abysmal leap to earth and life. His call had reached the Traveller in Time. Apart in an unfathomed loneliness, He travelled in his mute and single strength Bearing the burden of the world’s desire. p.102 A formless Stillness called, a nameless Light. Above him was the white immobile Ray, Around him the eternal Silences. No term was fixed to the high-pitched attempt; World after world disclosed its guarded powers, Heaven after heaven its deep beatitudes, But still the invisible Magnet drew his soul. A figure sole on Nature’s giant stair, He mounted towards an indiscernible end On the bare summit of created things. END OF CANTO ONE