Loretta reads Savitri:Seven.II "The Parable of the Search for the Soul" part 2
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Seven: The Book of Yoga
Canto II: The Parable of the Search for the Soul
Part 2 of 3, pages 478-482
The vicegerent mind
Savitri has begun to search for her soul. For a few months after she and Satyavan were married, she lived in a paradise, apart with love. Living in ecstasy, she lived for love alone. In the splendour and the joy of summertime, their two lives were locked within an earthly heaven of love and happiness, and unforgettable bliss. But the lights of summer led to monsoon storms. And in the fatal crash of thunder, and in the endlessly falling rain under dark and cloud-filled skies, Savitri remembered Narad's predicted date of Satyavan's coming death. She fell prey to grief and fear, and she tortured herself with sorrow. Her soul remained quiet, still hidden behind the veil of her suffering outer nature.
One stormy sleepless night, as she sat staring hopelessly into a dark and empty future, and great and deathless voice came down from the heights above her brows. It was the voice of Savitri's Jivatman, her individual portion of the Atman, the Self of all – situated above her head. It told her that she must go beyond the state of grief and suffering. This was not what she had taken birth for. “Arise,” the voice said, “Arise, O soul, and vanquish Time and Death.” But Savitri's heart was too heavy with grief, and it replied that its strength was given to Death, and it had no hope.
When the voice reminded Savitri that she had a great task to do, her soul within her spoke, and said to the voice:
- “I am thy portion here charged with thy work,
- Command, for I am here to do thy will.” (p.476)
The voice told Savitri to find her soul. It told her to quiet her mind, so she could know God's truth. It told her to conquer her heart's throbs, and let her heart beat in God. Then her nature would be the engine of God's works. Her voice would speak His word; and she would have the great force coming from her own high source – the immortal force that was the great and deathless Voice. And then she would conquer Death.
So Savitri started to seek for her soul. Sitting beside her sleeping husband in the stormy night, she looked within. Savitri witnessed the thoughts of mind, and the moods of life; and a dream disclosed to her the cosmic past. Her dream showed her the crypt-seed, the mystic origins and the shadowy beginnings of world-fate. She saw the creation take its first mysterious steps, and she saw the human creature born in time. A conscious being was made, who hoped to survive in a brief body on a green, wonderful and perilous earth. “It felt a godhead in its fragile house” (p.478)
In the beginning of this part of the canto today, Sri Aurobindo tells us about the soul when it stays behind the veil, and what the mind and the vital are like without the presence or guidance of our most conscious part. He starts with these words:
- A conscious soul in the Inconscient’s world,
- Hidden behind our thoughts and hopes and dreams,
- An indifferent Master signing Nature’s acts
- Leaves the vicegerent mind a seeming king.
- In his floating house upon the sea of Time
- The regent sits at work and never rests (p.478)
A ‘vicegerent’ is the administrative deputy of a king or magistrate. A ‘regent’ is one who governs in the absence of the sovereign. Here, Sri Aurobindo calls the mind the ‘regent’ mind. So he is telling us that our mind only the soul's worker, the soul's instrument. Then he goes on to describe what our lower mind is like when our soul's consciousness is not in it. What it is left to do, when it organized around the central power, the psychic being, which is directly connected to our supreme source.
This is the common lower mind that we all have. He says this mind is “a puppet of the dance of Time; / He is driven by the hours, the moment’s call” of the need of life. In its frantic and frenetic activity, “This mind no silence knows nor dreamless sleep” (p.478). And his words will convey to us a very active, almost frantic, hysterical, crowded activity – ceaselessly running here and there. And then he tells us what this mind does when we sleep. It stays active. He says at night, it keeps active with dreams, and only a moment spends in silent Self.
But the real satisfaction of sleep in our time spent in our divine source, is what we need. As our night progresses, and our consciousness goes deeper and deeper into levels of our being, its aim is to be in our supreme source for renewal. We don't stay there long – but it's absolutely necessary, or we don't get what we really need from our sleep.
So we do have that contact in our life, but not consciously.
Finally, Sri Aurobindo gives us a conclusion after he tells us how our mind moves about in the creation, adventuring into infinite mind-space. He briefly describes our journeys of thought and imagination, and then he concludes, he says:
- This is the little surface of man’s life.
- He is this and he is all the universe (p.479)
If you want to learn more about the mind, you will find a lot of teaching. This description of our mind is only one of many in Savitri. In this same Book, in another canto, we will travel through our mind with Savitri on her way to find her soul; and we'll learn a lot more about it there. In Book Two, “The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds”, we have several cantos telling us about our mind. There is “The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Little Mind”, “The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Greater Mind”; we also have “In the Self of Mind” and “The Kingdoms of the Greater Knowledge”. Each one shows us a further stage of evolution of consciousness that man has attained, and that man can continue to attain, leading up to the supramental consciousness.
|Book Two, Canto X:|
“The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Little Mind”
|Book Two, Canto XI:|
“The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Greater Mind”
|Book Two, Canto XIII:|
“In the Self of Mind”
|Book Two, Canto XV:|
“The Kingdoms of the Greater Knowledge”
And then Sri Aurobindo describes the supramental consciousness in Book Three, “The Book of the Divine Mother”, in Canto III: “The House of the Spirit and the New Creation”.
All this is also the story of the evolution of human mental capacity, after man evolved into a mental being many thousands of years ago. He tells us about other realities of our mind in other parts of this Book; he tells us again about the mind in Savitri's yoga after she has realized her soul, and is on her way to cosmic consciousness. And there, in very great detail, he describes the sources of all our thoughts. It's an extraordinary list that explains everything we think. And we find, actually, that we don't have any thoughts – at least the way we think of thoughts. This is in Canto VI of this Book: “Nirvana and the Discovery of the All-Negating Absolute”.
The Master of Mind
Sri Aurobindo has written a beautiful sonnet to the Master of Mind: the supreme force which created our mind and which is our mind. The title he gives it is “Perfect Thy Motion”:
Perfect thy motion
- Perfect thy motion ever within me,
- Master of mind.
- Grey of the brain, flash of the lightning,
- Brilliant and blind,
- These thou linkest, the world to mould,
- Writing the thought in a scroll of gold
- Violet lined.
- Tablet of brain thou hast made for thy writing,
- Master divine.
- Calmly thou writest or full of thy grandeur
- Flushed as with wine.
- Then with a laugh thou erasest the scroll,
- Bringing another, like waves that roll
- And sink supine.
After Sri Aurobindo describes the workings of the common mind, he tells us very briefly about our inner spiritual life. Unknown to ourselves, we really live like a hidden king, in a whole world mysteriously locked within us. And he ends this description by saying, “Man in the world’s life works out the dreams of God.” (p.379)
“God's opposites” – lower vital beings and forces
Then, after showing the mind, Savitri's cosmic dream shows her the worst of man's vital being. Sri Aurobindo begins by saying, “But all is there, even God’s opposites” (p.480). Then he goes on to describe what happens to us, and what we do, when we fall prey to the influences of the lower energies of the creation. These energies are carried by lower vital beings and lower vital forces. He says:
- Man harbours dangerous forces in his house. (p.480)
And sometimes they rise and take over, and we are helpless against them. This is the source of man's destructive hate, and anger, and war. It takes us over, and it moves us when, as he says,
- The dreadful powers held down within his depths
- Become his masters or his ministers (p.480)
To make his point in a powerful way – so we can see what can move us, and how important it is to get beyond it – Sri Aurobindo uses sentences like this:
- Inferno surges into the human air
- And touches all with a perverting breath.
- Tremendous forms and faces mount dim steps
- And stare at times into his living-rooms (p.480)
- All they have touched or seen they make their own,
- Appalled the householder helpless sits above,
- Taken from him his house is his no more. (p.481)
- All is the prey of the destroying force (p.482)
Savitri's Jivatman has told her that she has to purify her vital being, to conquer her heart's throbs and let her heart beat in God. Here, as part of her guidance, a cosmic dream discloses the worst secrets and the worst actions of the human vital, and the energies which can use it. It is very dramatic, and certainly distressing. But we have to know about and to reject these things. And we have to cooperate with the transforming forces, if we want to succeed in the Yoga quickly.
Like the subject of the mind, teachings about the vital appear all through Savitri. In particular, sort of all collected together, Sri Aurobindo goes into the subject in great detail in “The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds”, where King Aswapati travels through his own vital and the universal vital planes. In the canto called “The Godheads of the Little Life”, Sri Aurobindo describes smaller vital beings that keep our lives a failure. They corrupt all that we do, leaving us a life of sorrow and useless darkness. In Canto VII, “The Descent into Night”, and Canto VIII, “The World of Falsehood, the Mother of Evil and the Sons of Darkness”, he describes in detail worlds ruled by dark forces and adverse beings which influence people. They influence people to do crooked and evil things. And we can clearly see the horrors of war on our planet, and where they come from, in Sri Aurobindo's descriptions of the lower, dark, inner planes of the creation.
|Book Two, Canto V:|
“The Godheads of the Little Life”
|Book Two, Canto VII:|
“The Descent into Night”
|Book Two, Canto VIII:|
“The World of Falsehood, the Mother of Evil and the Sons of Darkness”
In order for us to purify our being, so our inner self can emerge – our higher self can emerge – we have to deal with our mind and vital. And this is exactly what Savitri has been told to do in her yoga, in “The Book of Yoga”. And so her dream shows her what has to change. But we are all guided and protected in our process of evolution. So after taking us into the darkness and dangers of the lower vital, this part of the canto ends with the words:
- But there is a guardian power, there are Hands that save,
- Calm eyes divine regard the human scene. (p.482)
Savitri, “The Book of Yoga”. “The Parable of the Search for the Soul”...
Book Seven, Canto II, part 2
... A conscious soul in the Inconscient’s world, Hidden behind our thoughts and hopes and dreams, An indifferent Master signing Nature’s acts Leaves the vicegerent mind a seeming king. In his floating house upon the sea of Time The regent sits at work and never rests: He is a puppet of the dance of Time; He is driven by the hours, the moment’s call Compels him with the thronging of life’s need And the babel of the voices of the world. This mind no silence knows nor dreamless sleep, In the incessant circling of its steps Thoughts tread for ever through the listening brain; It toils like a machine and cannot stop. Into the body’s many-storeyed rooms Endless crowd down the dream-god’s messages. All is a hundred-toned murmur and babble and stir, There is a tireless running to and fro, A haste of movement and a ceaseless cry. The hurried servant senses answer apace To every knock upon the outer doors, Bring in time’s visitors, report each call, Admit the thousand queries and the calls p.479 And the messages of communicating minds And the heavy business of unnumbered lives And all the thousandfold commerce of the world. Even in the tracts of sleep is scant repose; He mocks life’s steps in strange subconscient dreams, He strays in a subtle realm of symbol scenes, His night with thin-air visions and dim forms He packs or peoples with slight drifting shapes And only a moment spends in silent Self. Adventuring into infinite mind-space He unfolds his wings of thought in inner air, Or travelling in imagination’s car Crosses the globe, journeys beneath the stars, To subtle worlds takes his ethereal course, Visits the Gods on Life’s miraculous peaks, Communicates with Heaven, tampers with Hell. This is the little surface of man’s life. He is this and he is all the universe; He scales the Unseen, his depths dare the Abyss; A whole mysterious world is locked within. Unknown to himself he lives a hidden king Behind rich tapestries in great secret rooms; An epicure of the spirit’s unseen joys, He lives on the sweet honey of solitude: A nameless god in an unapproachable fane, In the secret adytum of his inmost soul He guards the being’s covered mysteries Beneath the threshold, behind shadowy gates Or shut in vast cellars of inconscient sleep. The immaculate Divine All-Wonderful Casts into the argent purity of his soul His splendour and his greatness and the light Of self-creation in Time’s infinity As into a sublimely mirroring glass. Man in the world’s life works out the dreams of God. But all is there, even God’s opposites; p.480 He is a little front of Nature’s works, A thinking outline of a cryptic Force. All she reveals in him that is in her, Her glories walk in him and her darknesses. Man’s house of life holds not the gods alone: There are occult Shadows, there are tenebrous Powers, Inhabitants of life’s ominous nether rooms, A shadowy world’s stupendous denizens. A careless guardian of his nature’s powers, Man harbours dangerous forces in his house. The Titan and the Fury and the Djinn Lie bound in the subconscient’s cavern pit And the Beast grovels in his antre den: Dire mutterings rise and murmur in their drowse. Insurgent sometimes raises its huge head A monstrous mystery lurking in life’s deeps, The mystery of dark and fallen worlds, The dread visages of the adversary Kings. The dreadful powers held down within his depths Become his masters or his ministers; Enormous they invade his bodily house, Can act in his acts, infest his thought and life. Inferno surges into the human air And touches all with a perverting breath. Grey forces like a thin miasma creep, Stealing through chinks in his closed mansion’s doors, Discolouring the walls of upper mind In which he lives his fair and specious life, And leave behind a stench of sin and death: Not only rise in him perverse drifts of thought And formidable formless influences, But there come presences and awful shapes: Tremendous forms and faces mount dim steps And stare at times into his living-rooms, Or called up for a moment’s passionate work Lay a dire custom’s claim upon his heart: p.481 Aroused from sleep, they can be bound no more. Afflicting the daylight and alarming night, Invading at will his outer tenement, The stark gloom’s grisly dire inhabitants Mounting into God’s light all light perturb. All they have touched or seen they make their own, In Nature’s basement lodge, mind’s passages fill, Disrupt thought’s links and musing sequences, Break through the soul’s stillness with a noise and cry Or they call the inhabitants of the abyss, Invite the instincts to forbidden joys, A laughter wake of dread demoniac mirth And with nether riot and revel shake life’s floor. Impotent to quell his terrible prisoners, Appalled the householder helpless sits above, Taken from him his house is his no more. He is bound and forced, a victim of the play, Or, allured, joys in the mad and mighty din. His nature’s dangerous forces have arisen And hold at will a rebel’s holiday. Aroused from the darkness where they crouched in the depths, Prisoned from the sight, they can be held no more; His nature’s impulses are now his lords. Once quelled or wearing specious names and vests Infernal elements, demon powers are there. Man’s lower nature hides these awful guests. Their vast contagion grips sometimes man’s world. An awful insurgence overpowers man’s soul. In house and house the huge uprising grows: Hell’s companies are loosed to do their work, Into the earth-ways they break out from all doors, Invade with blood-lust and the will to slay And fill with horror and carnage God’s fair world. Death and his hunters stalk a victim earth; The terrible Angel smites at every door: An awful laughter mocks at the world’s pain p.482 And massacre and torture grin at Heaven: All is the prey of the destroying force; Creation rocks and tremble top and base. This evil Nature housed in human hearts, A foreign inhabitant, a dangerous guest: The soul that harbours it it can dislodge, Expel the householder, possess the house. An opposite potency contradicting God, A momentary Evil’s almightiness Has straddled the straight path of Nature’s acts. It imitates the Godhead it denies, Puts on his figure and assumes his face. A Manichean creator and destroyer, This can abolish man, annul his world. But there is a guardian power, there are Hands that save, Calm eyes divine regard the human scene. …
- Collected Poems, p.285