Loretta reads Savitri:One.IV "The Secret Knowledge" part 3
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book One: The Book of Beginnings
Canto IV: The Secret Knowledge
Part 3 of 5, pages 55-60
So throughout this canto, Sri Aurobindo is revealing the secret knowledge that transforms King Aswapati. In Canto III he told us about the great powers that worked in the king to transform him. This has made him ready to receive the secret knowledge. Now in Canto IV, in the first part, Sri Aurobindo spoke about how great eternal things can come to us, and we do become conscious of the Truth mind could not know, and we hear and feel things that mortal men cannot hear and feel. Sometimes “a holier influence comes”, and a “diviner Presence moves [our] soul” (p.48).
He tells us that we always carry a magic key within us. And that within us we have a witness that sees, and knows the goal that we are moving towards.
In the second part, which we read last week, Sri Aurobindo described the journey of the Earth-Goddess. She is aspiring to go from inconscience to consciousness. And this in some level is the earth in us, that it has its aspirations.
He details her aspirations for perfection and her aspiration for deathless Love. He shows us that we need to take our own spirit's stand within – then we can see beyond our immediate surface existences. And he speaks of the fact that “the dead past is our background and support”. And that our mind “keeps the soul prisoner” (p.53). We are slaves to our own acts.
He also says there are Immortals, in their place, who see all, unmoving, and who guide the world to Bliss.
Now, in the third part, he gives us more knowledge about man's limitations. He speaks a lot about the consciousness that cannot find its own truth and what holds it back. Then he speaks about the “absolute potencies” (p.57), the full powers of the spirit which do God's work. And he describes for us how the Immortal sees.
Again in this part of Canto IV, we do not have descriptions of Yoga practice. So we don't have things that we know Sri Aurobindo said when he wrote his diary, the Record of Yoga. But we do know that everything in Savitri is Sri Aurobindo's own realizations: his realizations of great eternal truths, and the results of his attainments, and the things he's attained.
So, fortunately we have Richard Hartz, because he knows the Record of Yoga so well. And he's found something in the Record of Yoga that corresponds to some lines in Savitri. He has given us a most interesting diary entry about some of Sri Aurobindo's own work – his work to obtain things like omnipotence and omniscience.
Omnipotence, which can be pronounced “omni-potence” – showing that it means 'all-power' – and omniscience, which could be pronounced “omni-science” – which means 'all-wisdom'. There are three lines in this part of Canto IV where Sri Aurobindo says that the aloofness of these absolute potencies of the spirit – the absoluteness of them – drives man to surpass himself. Sri Aurobindo then tells us how our passion, and our dwarf-search mind, and our helpless hearts, really do reach their goal. And here's how he says it, after he says those things (it's on page 58), he says:
- Our passion heaves to wed the Eternal’s calm,
- Our dwarf-search mind to meet the Omniscient’s light,
- Our helpless hearts to enshrine the Omnipotent’s force. (p.58)
So, in his diary he's written a really clear example of working for omniscience and omnipotence, and at the end of the entry he just calls it 'power' and 'wisdom'. Sri Aurobindo and Mother always said that all life is Yoga. And in this diary entry we have a really fabulous example of that statement. Because Sri Aurobindo is working with tiny ants, to prove his great attainments of all-knowledge and all-power.
He uses two Sanskrit words in this diary entry: one is “aishwarya”, which means 'the effectiveness of the will acting on people and things'. And the other word is “trikaldrishti”, which means 'direct knowledge of the past, intuitive knowledge of the present, and prophetic knowledge of the future' – which is a very detailed way of saying that, at the same time, you have knowledge of the past, present and future. And Sri Aurobindo perfects these attainments by working them out with the ants crawling on the wall of his room.
Here is his diary entry on January 23rd, 1913:
- Jan 23d
- Today the effectiveness of the will acting on people and things & direct knowledge of the past, intuitive knowledge of the present, and prophetic knowledge of the future suddenly developed an unprecedented force; while watching the movement of ants on the wall opposite, it was suddenly perceived that every slightest movement of the particular ant observed in each case followed the anticipatory observation; wherever my idea turned, there the ant, with but slight variations, immediately corrected, turned to follow it; when the forceful will was applied, there was sometimes a slight, but unavailing struggle. This observation covered some half hundred successive movements of various ants and was marred by only one actual & final failure. If this force can be rendered permanent & generalised so as to apply to all objects & subjects, then human omniscience & omnipotence in the field permitted by the Infinite are attained. It is a matter of time only; the perfectibility of knowledge & power have today been finally & irrevocably proved.”
Richard also pointed out Sri Aurobindo's sonnet called “A Dream of Surreal Science”. In this sonnet, the last two lines are:
- “A scientist played with atoms and blew out
- The universe before God had time to shout.”
And he pointed out that here, Sri Aurobindo is playing with tiny ants, to get the ability to save the universe.
And there are many examples of this perfected ability, this action of all-wisdom and all-power (in the field permitted by the Infinite). Sri Aurobindo demonstrated these as time went by – that is he didn't demonstrate them for us to know about, he just did them. This diary entry was in 1913. Here's one concrete example: in the 1940s, during the second world war, both Sri Aurobindo and Mother were actively participating on the side of the Allied forces against Hitler. Their physical bodies were in India, in the Ashram, but they were seen by people who they helped during the war. Their wills were influencing and guiding people for the purpose of defeating the forces against the Allied forces. Because Sri Aurobindo did say, that if Hitler won, it would set human progress back hundreds and hundreds of years. So it was very important for them. In fact Sri Aurobindo called World War II “the Mother's war”.
So they were guiding people, from the leaders of the government at the top, all the way down to foot soldiers fighting in the trenches. Some of these things are documented in books written in the Ashram. You can see them in Nirodbaran's book Twelve Years with Sri Aurobindo. And also in books written by people who they helped.
There's a book by John Kelly, an American soldier who Sri Aurobindo instructed during the bombings, and told him the maneauvers to make with his men in the thick of the battle.
We also have the record of Winston Churchill's writings, where he says if the other side wins, it will set human progress back many many years, and he speaks of being aided and guided by some high force that will stay with them as long as they're on the right side.
Mother came to stay in the Ashram in 1920, and years later she told people that she watched Sri Aurobindo healing people. She said that her subtle vision could see a hand, which was invisible to the other people; this invisible hand would come and wipe away the illness or the pain in the people standing in front of Sri Aurobindo. So Sri Aurobindo's diary entry about the establishment of the perfectibility of all-wisdom and all-power was correct, because he was using this.
So now we'll go to Savitri, part 3 of Canto IV.
… A Consciousness that knows not its own truth, A vagrant hunter of misleading dawns, Between the being’s dark and luminous ends Moves here in a half-light that seems the whole: An interregnum in Reality Cuts off the integral Thought, the total Power; It circles or stands in a vague interspace, Doubtful of its beginning and its close, Or runs upon a road that has no end; Far from the original Dusk, the final Flame In some huge void Inconscience it lives, Like a thought persisting in a wide emptiness. As if an unintelligible phrase p.56 Suggested a million renderings to the Mind, It lends a purport to a random world. A conjecture leaning upon doubtful proofs, A message misunderstood, a thought confused Missing its aim is all that it can speak Or a fragment of the universal word. It leaves two giant letters void of sense While without sanction turns the middle sign Carrying an enigmatic universe, As if a present without future or past Repeating the same revolution’s whirl Turned on its axis in its own Inane. Thus is the meaning of creation veiled; For without context reads the cosmic page: Its signs stare at us like an unknown script, As if appeared screened by a foreign tongue Or code of splendour signs without a key A portion of a parable sublime. It wears to the perishable creature’s eyes The grandeur of a useless miracle; Wasting itself that it may last awhile, A river that can never find its sea, It runs through life and death on an edge of Time; A fire in the Night is its mighty action’s blaze. This is our deepest need to join once more What now is parted, opposite and twain, Remote in sovereign spheres that never meet Or fronting like far poles of Night and Day. We must fill the immense lacuna we have made, Re-wed the closed finite’s lonely consonant With the open vowels of Infinity, A hyphen must connect Matter and Mind, The narrow isthmus of the ascending soul: We must renew the secret bond in things, Our hearts recall the lost divine Idea, Reconstitute the perfect word, unite p.57 The Alpha and the Omega in one sound; Then shall the Spirit and Nature be at one. Two are the ends of the mysterious plan. In the wide signless ether of the Self, In the unchanging Silence white and nude, Aloof, resplendent like gold dazzling suns Veiled by the ray no mortal eye can bear, The Spirit’s bare and absolute potencies Burn in the solitude of the thoughts of God. A rapture and a radiance and a hush, Delivered from the approach of wounded hearts, Denied to the Idea that looks at grief, Remote from the Force that cries out in its pain, In his inalienable bliss they live. Immaculate in self-knowledge and self-power, Calm they repose on the eternal Will. Only his law they count and him obey; They have no goal to reach, no aim to serve. Implacable in their timeless purity, All barter or bribe of worship they refuse; Unmoved by cry of revolt and ignorant prayer They reckon not our virtue and our sin; They bend not to the voices that implore, They hold no traffic with error and its reign; They are guardians of the silence of the Truth, They are keepers of the immutable decree. A deep surrender is their source of might, A still identity their way to know, Motionless is their action like a sleep. Deathless, watching the works of Death and Chance, Immobile, seeing the millenniums pass, Untouched while the long map of Fate unrolls, They look on our struggle with impartial eyes, And yet without them cosmos could not be. Impervious to desire and doom and hope, p.58 Their station of inviolable might Moveless upholds the world’s enormous task, Its ignorance is by their knowledge lit, Its yearning lasts by their indifference. As the height draws the low ever to climb, As the breadths draw the small to adventure vast, Their aloofness drives man to surpass himself. Our passion heaves to wed the Eternal’s calm, Our dwarf-search mind to meet the Omniscient’s light, Our helpless hearts to enshrine the Omnipotent’s force. Acquiescing in the wisdom that made hell And the harsh utility of death and tears, Acquiescing in the gradual steps of Time, Careless they seem of the grief that stings the world’s heart, Careless of the pain that rends its body and life; Above joy and sorrow is that grandeur’s walk: They have no portion in the good that dies, Mute, pure, they share not in the evil done; Else might their strength be marred and could not save. Alive to the truth that dwells in God’s extremes, Awake to a motion of all-seeing Force, The slow outcome of the long ambiguous years And the unexpected good from woeful deeds, The immortal sees not as we vainly see. He looks on hidden aspects and screened powers, He knows the law and natural line of things. Undriven by a brief life’s will to act, Unharassed by the spur of pity and fear, He makes no haste to untie the cosmic knot Or the world’s torn jarring heart to reconcile. In Time he waits for the Eternal’s hour. Yet a spiritual secret aid is there; While a tardy Evolution’s coils wind on And Nature hews her way through adamant A divine intervention thrones above. Alive in a dead rotating universe p.59 We whirl not here upon a casual globe Abandoned to a task beyond our force; Even through the tangled anarchy called Fate And through the bitterness of death and fall An outstretched Hand is felt upon our lives. It is near us in unnumbered bodies and births; In its unslackening grasp it keeps for us safe The one inevitable supreme result No will can take away and no doom change, The crown of conscious Immortality, The godhead promised to our struggling souls When first man’s heart dared death and suffered life. One who has shaped this world is ever its lord: Our errors are his steps upon the way; He works through the fierce vicissitudes of our lives, He works through the hard breath of battle and toil, He works through our sins and sorrows and our tears, His knowledge overrules our nescience; Whatever the appearance we must bear, Whatever our strong ills and present fate, When nothing we can see but drift and bale, A mighty Guidance leads us still through all. After we have served this great divided world God’s bliss and oneness are our inborn right. A date is fixed in the calendar of the Unknown, An anniversary of the Birth sublime: Our soul shall justify its chequered walk, All will come near that now is naught or far. These calm and distant Mights shall act at last. Immovably ready for their destined task, The ever-wise compassionate Brilliances Await the sound of the Incarnate’s voice To leap and bridge the chasms of Ignorance And heal the hollow yearning gulfs of Life And fill the abyss that is the universe. Here meanwhile at the Spirit’s opposite pole p.60 In the mystery of the deeps that God has built For his abode below the Thinker’s sight, In this compromise of a stark absolute Truth With the Light that dwells near the dark end of things, In this tragi-comedy of divine disguise, This long far seeking for joy ever near, In the grandiose dream of which the world is made, In this gold dome on a black dragon base, The conscious Force that acts in Nature’s breast, A dark-robed labourer in the cosmic scheme Carrying clay images of unborn gods, Executrix of the inevitable Idea Hampered, enveloped by the hoops of Fate, Patient trustee of slow eternal Time, Absolves from hour to hour her secret charge. All she foresees in masked imperative depths; The dumb intention of the unconscious gulfs Answers to a will that sees upon the heights, And the evolving Word’s first syllable Ponderous, brute-sensed, contains its luminous close, Privy to a summit victory’s vast descent And the portent of the soul’s immense uprise. …