The Finding of the Soul – Savitri's Yoga, Part 1 (Radio program)
- 1 Introduction to the soul
- 2 The soul will evolve into the supramental being
- 3 The yoga of Savitri as a roadmap
- 4 The soul and rebirth
- 5 Savitri's task
- 6 The voice of the Jivatman
- 7 The Yoga in our lives
- 8 The subconscient
- 9 The lower vital
- 10 The mental being
- 11 Messengers from the soul
- 12 Q&A
- 13 See also
Introduction to the soul
I want to welcome all of you. We're going to take a very, very special journey. We're going to go with Savitri through her own inner being, to get to the point where we find our soul.
If there's anybody here who's not familiar with what Savitri is, let me tell you. It's Sri Aurobindo's epic poem; it's over 700 pages long, and he wrote it for over 35 years. It has all of his experiences in it, and all of Mother's experiences. And when he had a new realization, he would amend Savitri to put that realization in. And he used Savitri to tell all of his teachings with mystic poetry. So mystic poetry is kind of a direct shortcut to realization; and if we can open ourselves to it, we just – we don't have to think much, just if we open ourselves, we always receive something.
They teach that the first major step in their Yoga is to find our individual soul. And they often use the word ‘psychic being’ for the soul – it's from the French l’être psychique. And they do that because people sometimes confuse ‘soul’ with the great Soul (you could say ‘Soul’ with a capital ‘S’) – the Atman, the all-consciousness of the All. So often Mother will talk about the ‘psychic consciousness’ – and she means the soul itself. Our soul.
And they teach that all the parts of our being – our physical body, our mental being (which is all our thoughts), and our feelings (which is our vital being) – all these parts are open to many influences; but they're supposed to be instruments of the spirit. And the spirit which comes through us is going to be our immortal soul, when we can finally find it.
When the different parts of our being work for themselves, they produce ignorant and imperfect things. And we don't live up to our full potential. Our psychic being is the inmost part of us, and the highest part of us. And it produces the right things for us, and the right things for everybody around us. But in most of us it stays behind a veil: it's the veil of our own ignorance. And it can only act in us when it finally gets a chance. So we help it out. We try to find it; we try to bring it forward.
Everything in our lives and in our yoga practice is easier when we've found our soul; because it guides us. And if our soul isn't very developed, it doesn't have much influence on our lives. We really don't become our true person – we don't fulfill ourselves, and we don't serve well. We don't do our best for the people around us; we don't do our best even for the things that we handle. So it's good to have our soul forward.
And our soul does this because it is always in contact with its own essence, which is the Supreme consciousness, which is the All – the consciousness of the All. And it can become our consciousness when we can be conscious in our soul: the very small thing that's been put there for us to do that. Especially for ourselves.
The soul will evolve into the supramental being
That's enough to convince any spiritual seeker that, really, we've got to find our soul (!). But there's something else, and that something else is very wonderful. There's an entry in Mother's Agenda on July 1st of 1970, where Mother saw somebody's psychic being for the very first time. Up to that time, she never tried to find out what our soul looked like. And now the soul came to Mother; it came to show itself to Mother. One of Mother's secretaries, an American lady who Mother had named Rijuta – and ‘Rijuta’ means ‘straight’. I knew Rijuta; she was a very straight lady (!). She really concentrated on finding her soul, on doing the Yoga. And Rijuta was kneeling in front of Mother. And Mother saw Rijuta's psychic being. And it seemed to say to Mother: “you wanted to know what the new supramental being will be – well, here it is! Here it is, this is it.”
And then Mother understood for the very first time that our own psychic being – the inmost, immortal portion of our being – was going to evolve on through the evolution; and that would be our being, when we became the supramental beings that we are going to become. This is our destiny. This is why we're in a human body. This is why we have our soul. And this is why we look for our soul.
Mother said that all the parts of us which cannot manifest in the Truth that is manifesting now – which means all of the forces that Mother and Sri Aurobindo are bringing, and that these days are pouring into the creation more and more – [will eventually disappear]. Everything in us that is capable of being filled with this – which means our psychic being is filled with it, and we bring the psychic being into us so that we are filled with our psychic being – all of this will remain, and continue to evolve. And everything else will simply fall away.
In Yoga, they speak of this as purifying our being. And now you can get a clear picture of what we're saying: we say purify the being.
But in fact, it is the supramental consciousness that will do that in us, if we aspire for it. We try; we do everything we can; they teach us everything they can teach us. The more we aspire, the more we purify that consciousness, the more we purify, the more our soul comes forward – and those parts of us become immortal, and we go on.
Mother said this is the automatic end of the process that we are calling ‘death’. Our soul is the immortal part of us. Now we know that it's going to continue to evolve until it materializes into a physical body. You can't say ‘materializes in’ a physical body – because it's already in a physical body. You all have your soul in your physical body. But it finally becomes an actual physical, living being – our soul itself. And since it cannot die, when it is a physical body it will continue to evolve. And that's what Mother said. The new supramental being will simply continue to evolve. And will know how to change with the changing of the time.
Our evolution through bodies in many lives has been continuous because of our soul. If we look back at ourselves when we were a small child, we are someone. We know who we are. That ‘someone’ we can remember when we're teenagers; we can remember when we get a little older that particular ‘someone’. Even when we get very, very old, that is still that ‘someone’. And that's our soul.
So we know that the new supramental being is not a totally new thing. We don't have to sit around thinking, “what's going to happen? what is this?” – it's us. All we have to do is stick with the highest, stay with the goodness, aspire to all the highest things; and all those highest things that we want so much are our soul, and will go on, and will become more and more.
Mother said that Rijuta's psychic being was the same color as the new supramental substance that she saw manifesting in the most physical plane here. She found it interesting that it was the most basically physical of the supramental plane that was coming into our most physical, physical plane. And this is the color of Auroville (because it had a color). And this was the color of Rijuta's soul. It's a beautiful color! It's impossible to describe it; Mother called it orange, but this is misleading – then she said it was a combination of gold and pink. You can see it in the hibiscus that Mother calls the “Flower of Auroville”. And you can also see it in the inner skin in the Matrimandir. Because Mother told them to use it for that; and they've done a pretty good job. You can see that color.
So, knowing this gives us even more reason to want to find our soul. And this is why we are told to surrender to the new supramental forces. Because they carry within themselves the power to transform us. We have been asked to make ourselves into something we have no idea what it is! It's totally new; in fact, nobody knows what it is. Mother said, “I invite you to the great adventure”. And even she didn't know what it was (!). And when people would go on asking Mother and Sri Aurobindo: “ok, what's it going to be? Tell us what's going to happen – what's it going to be?” They said, “Wait and find out.” And so we're finding out, slowly but surely.
In 1956, the supramental force manifested for the first time. And after that, Mother told the ashramites during one of her classes that the time had come for the people who had succeeded in spiritualizing themselves – they would be now starting to be transformed by the new force. She said the first condition for us is to find our true self and to live in it. And that's our soul. So again, Mother is telling everyone, “Find your soul. Things will go quicker.”
The yoga of Savitri as a roadmap
Perhaps the most complete roadmap that Sri Aurobindo gave us, to find our soul, is in Savitri. And this is a roadmap with specific instructions. I mean, how nice to have a map that doesn't just say “you turn right here, and then you turn left here”: it says, “ok, this is what is going to happen when you turn right, and this is the best way to turn right”. And this is what we have when we follow the yoga of Savitri.
Most people I know here – because I've been here for quite awhile, so most of my friends – are really trying to bring their soul forward. It's just something that we know that we should have. And it gets frustrating (!). I mean, you don't know, “what is this soul?” You know you're supposed to do it, but “what is the soul? What do you do?”
Our soul is eternal. And I'm going to give you a small kind of description of what the soul is and what it does (even though I might repeat a little bit). Because I think it will help us, when we go with Savitri on her inner journey.
The soul and rebirth
So, once upon a time, long, long ago, a small portion of the Self – the all-conscious All, what they call in India the Atman – decided to forget its all-consciousness, and to work to become all-conscious again, through many lifetimes in a human body. The Atman creates us for its delight in creation and experience. And that delight of that creation and experience is what we can have. Our soul is eternal; but it inhabits mortal bodies, which die and decompose. Our physical body as it is today is programmed to die and to be reborn. The only part of us which lives through all that is our soul.
We're made of many parts; we have many openings to different planes of consciousness. There are many levels of these planes. And our soul sits in the back, gathering our experiences, as we go on our way – having this experience in life, having that experience in life. It has chosen our life situations. And we learn; and it learns through our many experiences.
When our body can no longer support the life-forces that are coming into it, we do what is called ‘die’. The body dissolves into its earth elements; our thoughts return to the mental planes; our feelings and energies return to the vital planes. And our soul goes to its resting-place: its resting-place is in the World-Soul, at the center of creation. And there in a kind of mystic sleep, it rests and it assimilates all the life-experiences it had in that life. And it prepares for its next life. And then it chooses the situation for its next life. It's been enriched by its experiences; we have been enriched; and the whole creation has been enriched by what we have done. Because we're all very, very important – every one of us.
This process goes on through thousands and thousands of years, through many, many births. And finally, we have the experience of finding our soul. Mother and Sri Aurobindo say this is a transformation. They call it the ‘psychic transformation’. And it is the best condition for us to all to be in, just to live our lives, and to practice the Yoga.
Sri Aurobindo has told us that Savitri is Mother; and we know that Mother came here to conquer death, for the beautiful soul of man on earth. Savitri has to conquer Death. She has to conquer Death – and in order to do this, she has to prepare herself to find her soul.
Satyavan, Savitri's husband, is the soul of man. And Satyavan is going to die; and Savitri is going to have to follow Death, and argue with Death, to get her soul back – to get his soul back. We could say ‘her soul’, because they're actually one soul. They're two beings that are in two bodies, that are actually soul-mates. They've been together life after life, and they come on earth to go through this destiny for mankind.
So the story of Savitri's yoga to find her soul is a spiritual pathway through our being, from the very lowest all the way up to the very highest. And it's going to show us what there is on every plane of our being; and it's going to show us how to deal with it. And at the end of our journey, we're going to have this most extraordinary experience of finding our soul (and it's really extraordinary).
“Savitri” is an ancient, well-known legend in many cultures; it is the well-known legend of a woman who follows death to get back the soul of her husband. After finding Satyavan – after searching through the whole world to find her soul-mate – Savitri goes back to tell her father that she has found the mate of her soul. And when she arrives, she finds waiting for her the great messenger of the gods, Narad. And Narad is there for a purpose. Because when Savitri tells her family that she has found her mate, the man she is going to marry, Narad says that he's going to die in one year. One year from that day that Savitri finds out that this is his fate.
And this is also Savitri's fate – because then she will have to live alone for the rest of her life. So we can understand that Savitri's mother is very upset (!). She doesn't want her daughter to have this terrible experience. And she says, “Oh Savitri, go back! Forget about this terrible fellow. Death sleeps in his hand. Go back, go back – find yourself another mate.” And Savitri won't do that; she says:
- Once my heart chose and chooses not again.
- Let Fate do with me what she will or can;
- I am stronger than death and greater than my fate;
- My love shall outlast the world, doom falls from me
- Helpless against my immortality. (p.432)
- My will is part of the eternal Will, (p.435)
- For I know now why my spirit came on earth
- And who I am and who he is I love. (p.436)
- Fate’s law may change, but not my spirit’s will. (p.432)
And Savitri goes back. She goes back to marry Satyavan, and live with him in the wild forest. And at first everything is wonderful. But as the year passes, and the seasons change, the light of the beauty and the joy and the ecstasy of summer turn to the crash of thunder, and the falling rain, and of darkness. And the shadow of Satyavan's doom rises in front of Savitri – and she remembers the date of his death.
Savitri has not yet realized her own soul. And she falls prey to the grief and the pain – grief and pain such as she has never felt before. And all this is a preparation for her coming task. One sleepless rainy night, as she sat staring at the approach of ever-nearing Fate, a voice spoke to Savitri from the summit of her being, and told her to rise and to conquer Death. This commanding voice comes from a part of our being which is called the ‘Jivatman’. It is our own portion of the Atman: the true Self which is the All. The Jivatman is undying and unborn; it does not evolve like our soul does. Its place is above our head, and it remains there above our head. The Jivatman puts forth a small portion of itself to be our individual soul – our psychic being which resides in our heart. And which takes birth from life to life, and which evolves in the evolution, and which evolves us in the evolution.
The voice of the Jivatman
We are all guided by our Jivatman in our times of crisis. in our lives. And now, at the beginning of Savitri's destined journey, the commanding voice of her true self tells her what she came to do. It reminds her that she came to do a special work – because Savitri's not thinking about this: she's soaked in grief. She thinks about it all the time, she grieves, and she cannot tell Satyavan. And she cannot tell his parents. She lives alone with this grief in her heart. And now she's told, “Ah! You cannot live like this! You've got to go forward. You must do your job. You did not seek only for yourself. You must seek for all men. And you must accept man's darkness to bring him to light. You must accept man's sorrow to bring him to bliss.”
And this is why she's going through all this. She has to put on our mortal self. She has to wear the burden of the flesh. She has to feel all of these things inside of herself. And surely, she has been put to the task of feeling perhaps the worst anyone can ever feel. To find that soul, that one soul that brings the greatest love out of us, and to know that she has only one year. And now that year is ending.
And Savitri is depressed. And her heart is given up. But her soul – the higher power within us – calls her back, and holds her troubled rebel heart back to the side, and her soul comes forward and says to her Jivatman:
- “I am thy portion here charged with thy work,
- Command, for I am here to do thy will.” (p.476)
And the Jivatman, the portion of the Eternal, says to her, “Recover thy hid self, and seek for thy soul.” And Savitri must seek for her soul in matter's body. Why in matter's body? Why does she have to go through the body? (Which, we're going to see, is not the easiest journey that anybody can possibly take!) Why must she do this? Because the body must realize. Mother and Sri Aurobindo's yoga is a step forward for all yogas. Mother said that she could realize in all the parts of her being, but when it came down to the physical body, that was really tough.
And we have Mother's Agenda with this record of so many years, telling us again and again of how her soul gets closer. How her realization gets more. How she becomes more conscious in the body. And so this is the start: to find her soul, Savitri will pass from the lowest to the highest, and we're going to follow this roadmap with instructions.
When she finds her soul, the voice tells her, her whole being will see God everywhere. And her whole being will harbor his force. She will speak the word of God, and she will do his work. And if one reads forward in Savitri, Savitri eventually faces Death – and there are many, many cantos in Savitri where they travel – and Savitri speaks the word of God, and Death fights with her. He speaks the word of darkness, she speaks the word of God. He speaks the word of darkness... And slowly by slowly, you see the scene change. And Sri Aurobindo describes the scenery, and it gets lighter and lighter, as they go on arguing and traveling, arguing and traveling. And finally, finally, the Divine Mother comes forward and speaks the word of God whom she is. Whom she is the part of, the power of. And she conquers Death.
The Yoga in our lives
But in any case – come back to us (!). This is a straightforward, almost you could even say a technical description, of where she has to go, and where we have to go in our own being, and what we have to do. We have to quiet our mind; we have to purify our vital. And we're going to see how we do this, and what happens at each step – and how hard it is. (You can ask anybody, who's trying to do this!) We all have great compassion – finally you end up with huge compassion, for absolutely everybody, when you see how hard it is, how much everybody is actually struggling all the time. Whether they're trying to find their soul or not. Whether they know it, or they don't know it.
In The Life Divine, the very last chapters of The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo talks about the new supramental being. And the kind of person who Savitri will become when she finds her soul, and it changes her, is how he describes the new being. And that's what we will become. Basically, the new being will be open only to the highest integral truth of the creation. And it will act only in that highest truth.
So the voice withdrew into its hidden skies; and Savitri sat beside her doomed husband, in the dark night with the rain falling around – she's sitting in a rude hut in the savage jungle. And she looked within herself. And she witnessed the thoughts of mind; she witnessed the moods of life; and she began to travel the path to find her soul. First, she had a mystic dream. And it was a dream of the whole creation – she saw the creation, she saw the evolution. She saw the evolution of man. And she saw that her own evolution hadn't come far enough. She saw that her own inferior nature born into Ignorance still took too large a place in her being. It veiled her true self, and it must be pushed aside to find her soul.
This is a first step – it's a first step for everyone. We have to want to do it. And Savitri, knowing in her higher being that she will do it – knowing all these things – now, in every part of her being, she wants to do it. She's ready. She sees that her inferior nature still is veiling her soul. This is our own starting place: first, you've got to want it. Then that aspiration brings us to aspire for it, to work for it. Mother and Sri Aurobindo have given a kind of simple formula for all of their yoga, which works everywhere: it's ‘aspiration, rejection, and surrender’. We aspire to want something; we see within ourselves what doesn't work; we reject it; and we know that they're there to help us – we surrender it to the higher force, and things move.
So because Savitri has not yet realized her soul, on her way – through her body – she sees everything without the presence of her soul. She sees what it's like when all our planes and all our parts are free to work for themselves in the Ignorance. She has to experience it; and she has to deal with it successfully. We will see it within ourselves – it goes on for a very long time. And usually we don't have any idea of what we're doing until we start to look at ourselves. And then, if we want to change – if we have enough aspiration to change – we've got to deal with it all. Just like Savitri, we have to quiet our mind, we have to purify our vital. And our body has to become more and more conscious.
So Savitri enters her physical body: she enters in her subconscient, at the very bottom of things. And she forces her way through the body, to the soul. She starts trying to find her inner self concealed in sense – our senses. And she's in a cavity – this is her subconscient – that she can experience filled with a blind mass of power. It is a dense place, filled with packed subtle matter, and an opposition of misleading lights. Everything is confusing; it's a disorganized place. Uncontrolled, confused.
Then she passes the border-line into the place where Life dips into this part of our being – or Life struggles to get out of matter into the lowest part of Mind. Because first there is Life; then comes Mind. And it's still subtle; she is still not high enough for things to have a form. It's a place of vague beginnings. And it's full of elemental entities. This subconscient that we have can send things up into our waking consciousness. It can move us in many ways that we don't realize we're being moved by. But somehow we can detect it: when things somehow don't seem right, or we're moved in ways that aren't what we really want to be, often it comes from our subconscient. People wrote many letters to Mother and Sri Aurobindo talking about it; these things are in the Letters on Yoga.
|Letters on Yoga - I
“The Subconscient and the Inconscient”
PDF (11 pages)
|Letters on Yoga - IV|
“The Subconscient and the Integral Yoga”
PDF (22 pages)
Savitri observes how it works, and she's not touched by it. She travels on. And here, Sri Aurobindo tells us that the problem with our own subconscient is that everything is there, but nothing is in its place. So Savitri is moving on; she crosses through spaces of a secret self, and she moves through passages of inner time and inner space, until at last she breaks into a form of things. She is now (and we are with her) in the most subtle beginnings of our physical body. There is a start of finiteness, a world of sense. But all is confused – nothing is self-found. She's free of the subconscious brood of aimless thought, and she's in the press of bodily mind. No soul, only the cries of life. It is her own ungoverned place of Life's crude energies, and crude powers. And Sri Aurobindo describes it as a “horde of sounds”, “a clash of contrary calls”, “a mob of visions”. Feelings forced their way through her packed and burdened heart. Each feeling only cares for its separate ego's drive. Her thoughts – her inconsistent thoughts – tried to rule her, without any reason.
Most of us are affected by this all the time. It happens to us all the time. We just go on acting according to our inner disorder. And when we've come a little way, we can look back. And we can see what we were like. And we can be glad (!) that we've found something that can get us out of it. And Sri Aurobindo explains that this is the instinct of our senses when the soul is not there. He says that our higher vital being can awaken in this very lower part – but here, it's not even governed by our mind, let alone our soul. And until that happens, we don't really have the joy of life. We think we're happy – we have the joy of life – but there is a joy of life that is there when our soul is awakened that is so much more wonderful. And he's talking about this.
He says we do not have the light and rapture of spirit-sense. We live in a chaos of disordered impulses. At this level, in the body, our mind receives only from our senses, and uses all this erroneous and confused information to make our thoughts with. So, what do we have? If we are like this, without the presence of our soul, we're not receiving real information. How can our thinking be real? How can our thinking be true? Can we trust it? Better to call (!). Better to ask for help. Better to ask for guidance. So that at least, things get better, and our consciousness increases.
So we have to do – all the time – as Savitri does; and she's not having an easy time of it, here. Subjected to this influence, a mad disorder threatened her. And sometimes a mad disorder threatens us, and we find ourselves (gesture) this and that, this and that – there we are. Savitri pushes it away. She walks for hour after hour, walking without release. Holding this madness at bay, only with her will. And then, Sri Aurobindo says:
- Out of the dreadful press she dragged her will
- And fixed her thought upon the saviour Name (p.491)
She concentrates on the Divine. Obviously, it's hard work! And of course, we are not free of it when we've done it only once. But this is what we have to do. It's a constant work. And here, we've got a really clear description of it, and a clear description of what has to happen. When we are aware we are in a state like this, we know: we use our will. We use our will to keep our balance. And we concentrate on the Divine. We remember the Divine, and we hold on to the Divine.
So, when the aimless thought and will of inconscient Matter, and the press of bodily mind, are passed, Savitri moves for awhile to the Self's nameless peace. Then she travels on to the lowest places of our life-energies. And this is something that we can identify with quite well.
The lower vital
Here are the vital energies that are not yet spiritual. They're not even governed by mind, let alone by the soul. We're affected by these energies; these energies use us all the time. People don't stop to realize why they do things – and often, it's because of this. Here, Sri Aurobindo is very dramatic. He describes these energies as huge, powerful ocean waves. And he shows us just how dangerous they can be. He says, here in the vital plane, life made its power into a strong and dangerous ocean:
- A spate, a torrent of the speed of Life
- Broke like a wind-lashed driven mob of waves
- It drowned its banks, a mountain of climbing waves. (p.491)
- Enormous was its vast and passionate voice.
- Demanding God’s submission to chainless Force. (p.492)
Its torrent carried the world's hopes, the world's fears; all life's and all nature's dissatisfied hungry cry, and a longing that all eternity cannot fill.
When we have that longing, sometimes it's our longing for our soul. And we can tell after awhile when it's that longing. And when it's the longing for everything we haven't got, and we think we're supposed to have in life; and it's all the dissatisfied longing that all eternity can never fill. Because that's never filled. The vital goes on and on.
And Sri Aurobindo gives us a powerful description of what our own impure, untamed, vital being allows and enjoys in us, when our soul still sleeps behind the veil. He speaks of the lure and magic of disordered bliss; he speaks of the heady draught of Nature's forbidden joy. “And the fire and mystery of forbidden delight”, “And the honey-sweet poison-wine of lust and death” (p.492). And the fear and joy, the ecstasy and despair. And much, much more.
Mother says our vital being is the place of pure Power. Pure power of will. Its will to have power always wants to go its own way. So by its very nature, our vital being resists change. Therefore (and when I learned this, I found this fascinating), our vital being is the slowest part of us to change. Because that's the part of us that has the most resistance to changing. And it's a big work: we must purify our vital.
But when the vital realizes the value of acting according to higher things – when it makes that progress, when it submits to having its energies being the higher energies, and guided by the soul – then it's the other side of the coin. It's a huge help along the way.
It takes a great vigilance to purify our vital. Here in Savitri, Sri Aurobindo uses powerful and dramatic words to describe these vital impulses – but they are all too true. The world is a mixture of the high and low. We are a mixture of the high and low. And the vital resists by its very nature. We've grown up with this; we've grown up in this; and we do have to get beyond it.
Sri Aurobindo also shows us about how we can deceive ourselves about what we're really doing with our own vital will, with our energies, with our emotions, with our own desires. He says that an inner voice can “speak the unreal’s Word” (p.494). Truth can lie with delight in the passionate arms of error. He tells us what to do about this. He says:
- Yet some uncaught, unslain, can warily pass
- Carrying Truth’s image in the sheltered heart,
- Pluck Knowledge out of error’s screening grip,
- Break paths through the blind walls of little self, (p.494)
It means: never forgetting what we know to be true. And really trying to know that things are false.
We have to work all the time to be like Savitri here. She sees the dangers in Life's false imitations of higher things. She sees how we can become so caught by this falsehood, come to the point where our soul has to retire from its efforts to bring us to a higher state. But Sri Aurobindo writes that through it all, Savitri moved not. She plunged not into the vain waves – the powerful waves that break their banks, the rushing torrents. And it all streamed past her, tossing a wave of darkness into God's sky. And it ebbed receding into a distant roar. All became still; all became dry; all became pure. In the world’s heart laughed the joy of life – not the perverted life-impulses. Out of the vastness of the silent self, life’s clamour fled; Savitri's spirit was mute and free in the silent Self once more.
We've been given a really good description of the energies which have their own existence in the vital planes. From there, they're ready and waiting to enter into us, to express themselves through us, when we have an opening to them. We know our vital being resists; we know it resists by its very nature. But now we have a method to deal with it. By constant observation, we can recognize what Sri Aurobindo describes for us here. We realize we do not want this. We aspire for something better. We will to reject the things that we do not want. We concentrate on the truth. In this way, we protect ourselves. We call for help, to higher powers. We call for help with prayer; and we surrender.
And here, this is a perfect example of the three-part system of aspiration, rejection and surrender. We aspire to get beyond; we reject all the things we want to get beyond; and we surrender to the highest we can possibly know. It's the direct path – the direct path for purification. Then we can receive the new forces – the ones that are coming to transform us.
We can call for help to many higher powers – and there are many. But it's best to call Mother and Sri Aurobindo, because they came to do this. They came to help us in the Yoga. They brought the new consciousness; they have the new consciousness; they are the new consciousness; and their work is to give it to us.
So when Savitri first started to seek for her soul, her Jivatmam told her to quiet her vital energies, and let her heart beat in God. And she's done that. Now we can see she's successfully passed through the subconscient energies and thoughts, and through the place of vital energies, successfully. She's completed the first part of her task. Her vital being is pure.
So far, we haven't heard anything about the soul, have we? So far, she has not found even a recognizable presence of her soul. She hasn't even seen any influence in these parts of her being. All she's seen is these natural things – how wild they can be, how untamed they can be. But now, she's going to go on. And she passes through the self's wide hush into a brilliant ordered space which is the plane of our sense-bound mind.
The mental being
She seeks her soul by traveling through the body from the lowest and the most dense, to the highest. And she goes into our first level of mentality. This first level of mentality depends on the body. It depends upon receiving from the senses. And here she is.
Sri Aurobindo tells us that the soul was not there, the spirit was not there – it was a plane of our mind alone. He says that the wild energies which had free romp and race in the vital, that are running through the vital – these energies are bound and tamed when they express themselves through the mind. Now, they have to be subject to the functions of the mind. They have to go through the mind, the way the mind does things.
The riot of sense is bound in a mental field. Our mind does not rule us with feelings. Our mind does not rule us with sensations. Our mind rules us with fixed mental laws. The cold, analytic function of reason keeps order, and peace.
Our mind – our human mind – works just like our vital, in the sense that it receives information coming from the outside. It puts what it receives in order, according to how we think, at whatever level of development we have come to. We can receive it through our higher mental planes, when we have a higher mental development. But if we've not developed enough to open to higher mental planes, our mind will receive information only from our senses. And here Savitri seeks inside her body. So she's connected with her lower level of mind, that's going to learn only through our imperfect physical senses.
Now our mind works by cutting everything up into small pieces – because it cannot work with everything at the same time. It works with the small piece it's got; and it always believes that the small piece it's working on is everything that is. And then when it goes on to another small piece, it thinks that piece is everything that there is.
So this shows us just how limited our usual thinking is. And it's hard to get out of it; there are thousands of years of teaching which give us methods to purify our mind. Mother said we can try all the methods until we find the one that works for us. But of course, we have the wonderful method of aspiration, rejection and surrender – and most likely that's the best. But we're going to see what Savitri does, in this plane of mind.
Now reason is the highest function of this plane of mind. Mother says we have to use reason until we're governed by our soul. Because if we don't, our minds remain in chaos. If we're not at least reasonable, then nothing is in order. The reason makes rules, all the time. And we have to watch out for this. We have to make sure that we're not the victim (!) of our own reasoning mind. Reason wants a ‘reasonable’ reason for everything. A reasonable explanation for everything.
Do this: make this experiment. Suppose that you want to understand something that you've done. Or something that you felt. Or something that happens to you. Your reasoning mind will immediately supply you with a very believable and very acceptable good explanation – a reasonable one. If your ego wants a favorable explanation, and your ego mixes itself in with the whole process, you will get a favorable and very flattering explanation. So, do this, and then decide that you don't like this explanation – something's not right. In a split second, your mind will be right there: you'll have another perfectly believable, perfectly reasonable, perfectly acceptable explanation. Ok, and then say, “eh, I don't think I like this one.” Another one will come: perfectly reasonable, perfectly believable. You can go on doing this – finally, you'll start laughing. Because it's all believable, it's all acceptable. And what on earth are you doing?!
So you understand that reason is a helper, but reason is also a kind of bar – a kind of hindrance. We have to have our soul in there – let's say our soul ‘reasonably’ ruling our reason. Let our soul be our reason in us.
Now as Savitri observed what happened to life's energies when they're in the mind, she saw that the spirit's almighty freedom was not there, in this very small world of rule and line. She saw that ideas were cut into systems. She saw that ideas were chained to fixed pillars of thought. They really have no creativity – they don't like the spirit. They were all fixed, fixed, forced into managed systems. Everything was forced into an order, an unchanging hierarchy, at this lower level of our mental function. Everything was disciplined, everything was careful, diplomatic; the beautiful reflex of the spontaneous self, the beautiful dreams of the soul, were lost in strict, unchanging laws.
All of this leads to organized religion, and religious rituals. Often rituals that are done automatically, without receiving something higher that even they could receive, if they were done with the soul in them. And Sri Aurobindo writes that when we are ruled by this level of mind, worship turns to an exclusive god, or kneels down to a mind that it shut to the cry and fire of love. A rational religion dries the heart. A rational religion makes ethical rules to control life, to control people. Mind claims to be the spirit and the soul.
Savitri saw all this, but she was not attracted to it. She was not controlled by it. She continued on through herself; she continued on, until she came to a firm and settled space in this mind, where everything was still. Everything kept its fixed place. The fixed wisdom of tradition was considered to be the highest truth in this way of thinking. Here she met a sage, a wise man, who told her that she had attained the highest goal. He told her she had found the home of cosmic certainty. She had found the place of thought's supreme finality – the victory of a single truth. He explained that everything was fixed, it was all done – everything was arranged there that the mind could possibly know. And everything was according to ‘God's law’. She has reached the end, “there is no beyond”.
And Sri Aurobindo explains what we should do when we somehow get fixed in our rule-making mind and our rule-making reason, by simply giving us the example of what Savitri does. She sees that the part of mind that she is in is ruled by limiting intellect, and that the heart's questioning voice is not there. She can feel that the presence of the soul, the opening to the highest, is simply lacking. So when we experience it for ourselves, automatically when this becomes clear in our consciousness and we feel hemmed in and fixed, automatically we aspire and we open to higher things. Again it becomes aspiration, and rejection, and surrender, just by becoming conscious of what we are and where we are. And if we call on Mother and Sri Aurobindo, it's the best possible help we can have.
And again, its a question of vigilance. Again it's a question of just wanting the truth, and staying in the highest truth that we can possibly find for ourselves – even at that moment, it opens ourselves to higher and higher truth.
So Savitri knows that fixed and ordered spiritual certitude, and fixed and ordered final spiritual experience, is just not enough. She sees that it's the ordered knowledge of apparent things: it only looks that way. She wants the truth-consciousness which has to come when her soul is present in this part of her being. So Savitri says to the too-satisfied, too-confident sage, the victory of a single truth is not enough for her. She says, “Here I can stay not, for I seek my soul.” (p.499)
When she started her journey to find her soul, the commanding voice told her to quiet her mind. Now her mind is quiet. She has experienced the mind, she's not been affected, and again Savitri is ready to move on. She's going to move on into the more subtle, the higher levels of her being. Again she has achieved the plane of silence into which all can come.
Messengers from the soul
So Savitri travels on across her silent self, until she comes to a road where she saw beautiful beings coming up from subliminal unknown greatnesses inside her own being. They're traveling back to the outside world, back to where she has just come from. Savitri yearns to the spiritual light that they bear. And she wants to go with them, because she wants to save the world. And this is one very particular teaching that Mother and Sri Aurobindo give us. We cannot save others until we have saved ourselves. We simply do not have the capacity to do this, without a higher development of some kind.
When I try to remember this – and I always tell myself: when you go on an airplane, and they give you instructions before the flight goes, the stewardess tells you, “if you're traveling with a child or someone who needs help, and the oxygen mask drops, put your own oxygen mask on first. And then put the oxygen mask on the child sitting next to you. And it's a good way to understand what this means; you better make sure that you're capable of handling everything right away. Before you start to try to help anybody else.
So Savitri holds back the high passion in her heart. She knows that she has to first discover her soul. Her eyes are turned toward her eternal source. They're not turned toward the outside world right now. But she knew from within that these beautiful beings have come from the place of her soul. So she asks them, please will they reveal, will they show her the path to find her immortal soul. And one of them answers her; he says yes indeed, they do come from her hidden soul. He tells her that they are her will – they are all men's will. They are the will towards the Light. They are the messengers who light the deathless flame of good in the evil things in life. They are the messengers who touch us with the glory and the divinity of the spirit. They help us to wake to beauty. They help us to wake to the wonder of God, and the wonder in all things.
These are our higher thoughts and impulses. When we think and feel this way, it is the presence of our soul. The presence of our soul, the presence of our mind full of soul, the presence of our vital full of soul. So this messenger from our secret soul points Savitri to a silence dim, on a remote extremity of sleep, and he says to Savitri:
- Follow the world’s winding highway to its source.
- There in the silence few have ever reached,
- Thou shalt see the Fire burning on the bare stone
- And the deep cavern of thy secret soul. (p.501)
Mother taught us that we can feel our soul right after we first wake up in the morning, and just before we go to sleep at night. When we start to wake up, we notice that somehow we really feel good. Everything is good; we see the day ahead of us with great energy; the day is going to be good; everything that happens during the day is all right. This is the presence of our soul. We can recognize its beautiful touch. Our consciousness has not returned to its full daily consciousness, which is not with the soul present completely. So as we awaken more and more into our usual daily consciousness, the presence of our soul begins to fade into the background. And then we're not aware of it this way anymore. And somehow we start thinking about the problems. Somehow we're not thinking, “well, we can do it all, it's fine” – the problems begin to worry us. And we can see that when our soul is forward, we don't really think this way. We can face everything, we can tackle everything, we can go through it. We just have that faith – we know we can go through it.
And Sri Aurobindo teaches this in a very subtle way, that it's there, “on the remote extremity of sleep” (just before sleep) – because he says that we're going to find the path right there. And his words are just going to carry us into the living presence of our soul. This is what he says:
- Then Savitri following the great winding road
- Came where it dwindled into a narrow path
- Trod only by rare wounded pilgrim feet.
- A few bright forms emerged from unknown depths
- And looked at her with calm immortal eyes.
- There was no sound to break the brooding hush;
- One felt the silent nearness of the soul. (p.501)
So we're going to take a short pause in our journey with Savitri. And we'll continue with her again, tomorrow at 7:30, here. But now's the time for any questions that anybody might have. If you have any questions about the talk – I know it's a lot of information, it's Sri Aurobindo bringing us a very powerful experience here. But if you've come with a question, if you've had an experience or anything of Mother and Sri Aurobindo's teachings, or even about Auroville and Mother and Sri Aurobindo, I'd love to have you say it. Does anybody have a question?
I don't think anybody is in a place where they're in the real world to answer a question! I think maybe we'll just... I'll tell you what: let's sit in meditation just for a couple of minutes. And then whenever you feel like it, you can just come out of your meditation, and go.