Loretta reads Savitri:One.IV "The Secret Knowledge" part 2
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book One: The Book of Beginnings
Canto IV: The Secret Knowledge
Part 2 of 5, pages 50-55
Now King Aswapati learns the secrets about the consciousness of the Earth-Goddess. He learns about her divine yearnings, her imperfections, her problems, her efforts towards perfection, and the obscurity that drags her down in her journey to the Light. Sri Aurobindo continues to show us what keeps us back, in our journey to the Light. But then he also reveals something about the consciousness of immortal beings who are dwelling beyond time and space, who see everything and who ultimately guide the world to Bliss.
Richard has sent us a very interesting passage from Sri Aurobindo's Record of Yoga. It relates to some lines in Savitri which are on page 52. This is not a section where Sri Aurobindo is actually talking about experiences that that king has, but he does talk about realizations which are part of the secret knowledge, and so we have at least these three lines that work quite well.
What he sent us is one of Sri Aurobindo's experiences with something called a 'sortilege'. Sri Aurobindo defines sortilege as “something written and found seemingly by chance” – something which gives him some precise indication in his sadhana. And he says “seemingly” because as we will see, it's clearly not chance at all.
This is usually done by opening a book at random, and reading what's on the page. Mother taught about using sortilege; she told the children that they could get answers and spiritual advice using this technique. She taught them that a book carries the consciousness of its creator, and she advised the children that a book like Savitri was ideal for them to consult. She said they should sit quietly, ask their question, and then open the book – seemingly randomly – by inserting a knife blade between the pages, and what they needed to know would be there. (Using the knife blade of course makes a clean opening, and so the page isn't damaged at all, but it's not necessary to use a knife blade.)
Many people use this technique. I've heard stories from many people: they open the book at random – seemingly at random – and they get what they need. I've heard miraculous stories about sortilege. Sometimes people get exactly the same page two, three, four times in a row, if they persist in going on with the same subject, or they read the wrong thing on the page. Of course this is absolutely against the law of averages, which says that getting something this many times in a row in a random way just isn't possible at all.
I've used the method, and it works every single time. It's worth trying.
Believe it or not, I once saw it in a Hollywood musical, made in 1956. A light-hearted story, called Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, where the first bride is unhappy with what her new husband has done, and she goes running to her room, and locks the door, and takes the family Bible and does a sortilege, to get a quotation. The quotation is: “Cast ye not pearls before swine, lest they turn on thee and rend thee.” And this is of course right in with the story.
This tells us that this kind of seeking for council is not new – and probably a lot older than we could know.
As Sri Aurobindo is going to write in his diary, we'll see that he uses two totally different types of books. The first one is the Katha Upanishad in Sanskrit. As a true scholar, he gives us the page number and where everything is, but of course I can't read it because it's in Sanskrit. The second book, of all things, is a law book. It's an area that couldn't be less related (you would think) to the Katha Upanishad. The book is called The Story of Trusts. It's about legal trusts. It's written by a lady named Margaret Hearst; it was published in 1913. And I couldn't get a copy of that to read to you either. Richard looked it up on the web for us, and found that it is still available today – you can actually get it.
We have no records to show why Sri Aurobindo had a copy of this book. But we do know he was very widely read. When he was principal of the College in Baroda, he was ordering three and four, sometimes six boxes of books a week, and he was reading them all very quickly. And people who knew him said that he remembered what was in all the books.
Sri Aurobindo did two sortileges that he writes about here. He numbers them, one for each book. The passage from Savitri, on page 52, is:
- All that transpires on earth and all beyond
- Are parts of an illimitable plan
- The One keeps in his heart and knows alone. (p.52)
And this is what he says about the One. March 26th, 1914 – this is what he writes:
- Mar 26 Thursday.
- Sortilege. (1) [Sanskrit text]. Kathak Upanishad. p 54.
- Referring to the difficulty noted yesterday of the ill-harmonised perceptions of the various states of being, mental being, vital being, etc, & also [referring] to the difficulties of the many various movements in the words and messages from above, etc; the rule is given that all must be seen as the supreme Self who is the world's invisible spiritual foundation & and the hidden spiritual cause of all existences; the supreme being, the Transcendent beyond all world and Nature which yet possesses all, is in all, is governing all and shaping all, Krishna, in the two states of status & dynamis, rest & motion.
- (2) Are all mere representatives & agents of the Standard. Story of Trusts (Collins) p. 106
And then we're going to see something else, that people are also doing today, which is that people receive guidance to go to a particular book. To look in a particular book for an answer. Or even if they don't have a question, to go and get guidance from a particular book. They are suddenly told or they suddenly know. And here's what Sri Aurobindo says about what he did – he says:
- “This is a very remarkable instance of the sortilege; for there is no connection between the Kathakopanishad & the Story of Trusts, yet a sortilege immediately taken from the latter after the interpretation of one from the former completes it & supplies precisely the thought needed for rounding off its unfinished suggestion. All the words are the exact words needed “All” “mere” “representatives” “agents” “Standard”. It is so, that all things in the world are now to be regarded in relation to the standard Being, the Existence, Consciousness, Bliss, and active Consciousness in a close personal relationship. Note that before taking the second sortilege, the book was pointed out & the indication given that the second sortilege would supply something still needed. All this shows an intelligent, omniscient & all-combining Mind at work which uses everything in the world as its instrument & is superior to the system of relations & connections already fixed in this world. It can use the most incoherent things harmoniously for one purpose. Nor is this an isolated instance & therefore classable as a mere coincidence, instances & proofs are now crowding on the mind.”
So now we go on with “The Secret Knowledge”.
… Along a path of aeons serpentine In the coiled blackness of her nescient course The Earth-Goddess toils across the sands of Time. A Being is in her whom she hopes to know, A Word speaks to her heart she cannot hear, A Fate compels whose form she cannot see. In her unconscious orbit through the Void Out of her mindless depths she strives to rise, A perilous life her gain, a struggling joy; A Thought that can conceive but hardly knows Arises slowly in her and creates The idea, the speech that labels more than it lights; A trembling gladness that is less than bliss Invades from all this beauty that must die. Alarmed by the sorrow dragging at her feet And conscious of the high things not yet won, p.51 Ever she nurses in her sleepless breast An inward urge that takes from her rest and peace. Ignorant and weary and invincible, She seeks through the soul’s war and quivering pain The pure perfection her marred nature needs, A breath of Godhead on her stone and mire. A faith she craves that can survive defeat, The sweetness of a love that knows not death, The radiance of a truth for ever sure. A light grows in her, she assumes a voice, Her state she learns to read and the act she has done, But the one needed truth eludes her grasp, Herself and all of which she is the sign. An inarticulate whisper drives her steps Of which she feels the force but not the sense; A few rare intimations come as guides, Immense divining flashes cleave her brain, And sometimes in her hours of dream and muse The truth that she has missed looks out on her As if far off and yet within her soul. A change comes near that flees from her surmise And, ever postponed, compels attempt and hope, Yet seems too great for mortal hope to dare. A vision meets her of supernal Powers That draw her as if mighty kinsmen lost Approaching with estranged great luminous gaze. Then is she moved to all that she is not And stretches arms to what was never hers. Outstretching arms to the unconscious Void, Passionate she prays to invisible forms of Gods Soliciting from dumb Fate and toiling Time What most she needs, what most exceeds her scope, A Mind unvisited by illusion’s gleams, A Will expressive of soul’s deity, A Strength not forced to stumble by its speed, A Joy that drags not sorrow as its shade. p.52 For these she yearns and feels them destined hers: Heaven’s privilege she claims as her own right. Just is her claim the all-witnessing Gods approve, Clear in a greater light than reason owns: Our intuitions are its title-deeds; Our souls accept what our blind thoughts refuse. Earth’s winged chimaeras are Truth’s steeds in Heaven, The impossible God’s sign of things to be. But few can look beyond the present state Or overleap this matted hedge of sense. All that transpires on earth and all beyond Are parts of an illimitable plan The One keeps in his heart and knows alone. Our outward happenings have their seed within, And even this random Fate that imitates Chance, This mass of unintelligible results, Are the dumb graph of truths that work unseen: The laws of the Unknown create the known. The events that shape the appearance of our lives Are a cipher of subliminal quiverings Which rarely we surprise or vaguely feel, Are an outcome of suppressed realities That hardly rise into material day: They are born from the spirit’s sun of hidden powers Digging a tunnel through emergency. But who shall pierce into the cryptic gulf And learn what deep necessity of the soul Determined casual deed and consequence? Absorbed in a routine of daily acts, Our eyes are fixed on an external scene; We hear the crash of the wheels of Circumstance And wonder at the hidden cause of things. Yet a foreseeing Knowledge might be ours, If we could take our spirit’s stand within, If we could hear the muffled daemon voice. Too seldom is the shadow of what must come p.53 Cast in an instant on the secret sense Which feels the shock of the invisible, And seldom in the few who answer give The mighty process of the cosmic Will Communicates its image to our sight, Identifying the world’s mind with ours. Our range is fixed within the crowded arc Of what we observe and touch and thought can guess And rarely dawns the light of the Unknown Waking in us the prophet and the seer. The outward and the immediate are our field, The dead past is our background and support; Mind keeps the soul prisoner, we are slaves to our acts; We cannot free our gaze to reach wisdom’s sun. Inheritor of the brief animal mind, Man, still a child in Nature’s mighty hands, In the succession of the moments lives; To a changing present is his narrow right; His memory stares back at a phantom past, The future flees before him as he moves; He sees imagined garments, not a face. Armed with a limited precarious strength, He saves his fruits of work from adverse chance. A struggling ignorance is his wisdom’s mate: He waits to see the consequence of his acts, He waits to weigh the certitude of his thoughts, He knows not what he shall achieve or when; He knows not whether at last he shall survive, Or end like the mastodon and the sloth And perish from the earth where he was king. He is ignorant of the meaning of his life, He is ignorant of his high and splendid fate. Only the Immortals on their deathless heights Dwelling beyond the walls of Time and Space, Masters of living, free from the bonds of Thought, Who are overseers of Fate and Chance and Will p.54 And experts of the theorem of world-need, Can see the Idea, the Might that change Time’s course, Come maned with light from undiscovered worlds, Hear, while the world toils on with its deep blind heart, The galloping hooves of the unforeseen event, Bearing the superhuman Rider, near And, impassive to earth’s din and startled cry, Return to the silence of the hills of God; As lightning leaps, as thunder sweeps, they pass And leave their mark on the trampled breast of Life. Above the world the world-creators stand, In the phenomenon see its mystic source. These heed not the deceiving outward play, They turn not to the moment’s busy tramp, But listen with the still patience of the Unborn For the slow footsteps of far Destiny Approaching through huge distances of Time, Unmarked by the eye that sees effect and cause, Unheard mid the clamour of the human plane. Attentive to an unseen Truth they seize A sound as of invisible augur wings, Voices of an unplumbed significance, Mutterings that brood in the core of Matter’s sleep. In the heart’s profound audition they can catch The murmurs lost by Life’s uncaring ear, A prophet-speech in Thought’s omniscient trance. Above the illusion of the hopes that pass, Behind the appearance and the overt act, Behind this clock-work Chance and vague surmise, Amid the wrestle of force, the trampling feet, Across the cries of anguish and of joy, Across the triumph, fighting and despair, They watch the Bliss for which earth’s heart has cried On the long road which cannot see its end Winding undetected through the sceptic days And to meet it guide the unheedful moving world. p.55 Thus will the masked Transcendent mount his throne. When darkness deepens strangling the earth’s breast And man’s corporeal mind is the only lamp, As a thief’s in the night shall be the covert tread Of one who steps unseen into his house. A Voice ill-heard shall speak, the soul obey, A Power into mind’s inner chamber steal, A charm and sweetness open life’s closed doors And beauty conquer the resisting world, The Truth-Light capture Nature by surprise, A stealth of God compel the heart to bliss And earth grow unexpectedly divine. In Matter shall be lit the spirit’s glow, In body and body kindled the sacred birth; Night shall awake to the anthem of the stars, The days become a happy pilgrim march, Our will a force of the Eternal’s power, And thought the rays of a spiritual sun. A few shall see what none yet understands; God shall grow up while the wise men talk and sleep; For man shall not know the coming till its hour And belief shall be not till the work is done. ...