Loretta reads Savitri:Seven.VI "Nirvana and the Discovery of the All-Negating Absolute" part 1
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Seven: The Book of Yoga
Canto VI: Nirvana and the Discovery of the All-Negating Absolute
Part 1 of 3, pages 532-538
Savitri has found her secret soul. Her “life was glad, fulfilled like earth’s” (p.532). But at the end of Canto V, when she has found her soul, a question is asked:
- “What more, what more, if more must still be done?” (p.531)
- A first perfection’s stage is reached at last (p.531)
But Savitri has more to do, in order to be ready to conquer Death and bring Satyavan back to life.
Savitri has attained the first major step in Sri Aurobindo's Yoga: the psychic change. There's a question to Sri Aurobindo is his Letters on Yoga – III – and the question is “what are the fundamental realisations in the yoga?” And this is what he says:
- “1. The psychic change so that a complete devotion can be the main motive of the heart and the ruler of thought, life and action in constant union with the Mother and in her Presence.
- 2. The descent of the Peace, Power, Light etc. of [the Self above], the Higher Consciousness [coming] through the head and heart into the whole being, occupying the very cells of the body.
- 3. The perception of the One and Divine infinitely everywhere, the Mother everywhere and living in that infinite consciousness.”
In another letter Sri Aurobindo gives the actual two steps that – he always says there are two steps, and they are:
- “There are two main things to be secured as the foundations of sadhana — the opening of the psychic being and the realisation of the Self above.”
After that of course everybody knows there's the transformation, but that is something that is accomplished by these two major steps – that if they're accomplished first, it moves on very very smoothly.
And so Savitri in “The Book of Yoga” is going to go on now to the second step; but in this part of the canto she's going to be awakened to the need to move on. It's clear that Savitri has gone through the psychic change. The form and face of the mighty Mother of the worlds has come down into her heart; and Savitri is now “A channel of the mighty Mother’s choice” (p.529). And the immortal will has taken calm control of her life.
- “[Savitri] saw her hand in every circumstance
- And felt her touch in every limb and cell. (p.529)
Savitri's life now obeys a divine rule, and her every act is an act of God.
As part of Savitri's experience, when she found her soul, the Kundalini power asleep in the lowest chakra awoke. It rose up and opened all her chakras on its way to the highest chakra, which is the one that is above the head. In the Letters on Yoga, Sri Aurobindo writes that all the centers have to open, because otherwise the inner consciousness is not opened out and liberated to its full working in all its parts. In the same letter, he says:
- “There is however no invariable rule as to the order of the opening.”
Then he says:
- “In our Yoga very often the Power descends from above and opens the Ajnachakra [between the eyebrows] first, then the others in order. But it is perhaps the safest to open by concentration the heart-lotus first so as to have the psychic influence from the beginning.”
And Sri Aurobindo and Mother talk a lot more about having the force coming down from above, to purify the being, than they talk about trying to awaken the Kundalini to come up – because then the being is not purified to be able to handle everything that the force can do. But here in Savitri he gives us a very clear picture of exactly what happens when, in a purified being (as Savitri clearly is), all of the chakras open – and it happens when the Kundalini force rises up.
Now Savitri's ready to go on to the next stage in Sri Aurobindo's Yoga: the spiritual change, where she's open to the consciousness above the head. Sri Aurobindo calls it:
- “the [...] descent of the peace, light, knowledge, power, bliss from above, the awareness of the self and the Divine and of a higher cosmic consciousness and the change of the whole consciousness to that.”
So now, Savitri's next journey on her path starts when she has an experience of what Sri Aurobindo calls “A rolling surge of silent death” (p.534), which tells her, “I am Death and the dark terrible Mother of life” (p.535). From the heights a voice comes down and tells her:
- “Banish all thought from thee and be God’s void.” (p.537)
Then it says:
- “Cast off thy mind, step back from form and name.
- Annul thyself that only God may be.”(p.538)
This whole canto is called “Nirvana and the All-Negating Absolute”, but Savitri will not experience that in this reading. That will come after, in the second two readings of this canto. And what is really interesting is that Sri Aurobindo actually describes his own experience of Nirvana, and tells it as Savitri's experience.
So, Canto VI: “Nirvana and the Discovery of the All-Negating Absolute”.
Canto Six Nirvana and the Discovery of the All-Negating Absolute A calm slow sun looked down from tranquil heavens. A routed sullen rearguard of retreat, The last rains had fled murmuring across the woods Or failed, a sibilant whisper mid the leaves, And the great blue enchantment of the sky Recovered the deep rapture of its smile. Its mellow splendour unstressed by storm-licked heats Found room for a luxury of warm mild days, The night’s gold treasure of autumnal moons Came floating shipped through ripples of faery air. And Savitri’s life was glad, fulfilled like earth’s; She had found herself, she knew her being’s aim. Although her kingdom of marvellous change within Remained unspoken in her secret breast, All that lived round her felt its magic’s charm: The trees’ rustling voices told it to the winds, Flowers spoke in ardent hues an unknown joy, The birds’ carolling became a canticle, The beasts forgot their strife and lived at ease. Absorbed in wide communion with the Unseen The mild ascetics of the wood received A sudden greatening of their lonely muse. This bright perfection of her inner state Poured overflowing into her outward scene, Made beautiful dull common natural things And action wonderful and time divine. Even the smallest meanest work became A sweet or glad and glorious sacrament, An offering to the self of the great world Or a service to the One in each and all. A light invaded all from her being’s light; p.533 Her heart-beats’ dance communicated bliss: Happiness grew happier, shared with her, by her touch And grief some solace found when she drew near. Above the cherished head of Satyavan She saw not now Fate’s dark and lethal orb; A golden circle round a mystic sun Disclosed to her new-born predicting sight The cyclic rondure of a sovereign life. In her visions and deep-etched veridical dreams, In brief shiftings of the future’s heavy screen, He lay not by a dolorous decree A victim in the dismal antre of death Or borne to blissful regions far from her Forgetting the sweetness of earth’s warm delight, Forgetting the passionate oneness of love’s clasp, Absolved in the self-rapt immortal’s bliss. Always he was with her, a living soul That met her eyes with close enamoured eyes, A living body near to her body’s joy. But now no longer in these great wild woods In kinship with the days of bird and beast And levelled to the bareness of earth’s brown breast, But mid the thinking high-built lives of men In tapestried chambers and on crystal floors, In armoured town or gardened pleasure-walks, Even in distance closer than her thoughts, Body to body near, soul near to soul, Moving as if by a common breath and will They were tied in the single circling of their days Together by love’s unseen atmosphere, Inseparable like the earth and sky. Thus for a while she trod the Golden Path; This was the sun before abysmal Night. Once as she sat in deep felicitous muse, Still quivering from her lover’s strong embrace, And made her joy a bridge twixt earth and heaven, p.534 An abyss yawned suddenly beneath her heart. A vast and nameless fear dragged at her nerves As drags a wild beast its half-slaughtered prey; It seemed to have no den from which it sprang: It was not hers, but hid its unseen cause. Then rushing came its vast and fearful Fount. A formless Dread with shapeless endless wings Filling the universe with its dangerous breath, A denser darkness than the Night could bear, Enveloped the heavens and possessed the earth. A rolling surge of silent death, it came Curving round the far edge of the quaking globe; Effacing heaven with its enormous stride It willed to expunge the choked and anguished air And end the fable of the joy of life. It seemed her very being to forbid, Abolishing all by which her nature lived, And laboured to blot out her body and soul, A clutch of some half-seen Invisible, An ocean of terror and of sovereign might, A person and a black infinity. It seemed to cry to her without thought or word The message of its dark eternity And the awful meaning of its silences: Out of some sullen monstrous vast arisen, Out of an abysmal deep of grief and fear Imagined by some blind regardless self, A consciousness of being without its joy, Empty of thought, incapable of bliss, That felt life blank and nowhere found a soul, A voice to the dumb anguish of the heart Conveyed a stark sense of unspoken words; In her own depths she heard the unuttered thought That made unreal the world and all life meant. “Who art thou who claimst thy crown of separate birth, The illusion of thy soul’s reality p.535 And personal godhead on an ignorant globe In the animal body of imperfect man? Hope not to be happy in a world of pain And dream not, listening to the unspoken Word And dazzled by the inexpressible Ray, Transcending the mute Superconscient’s realm, To give a body to the Unknowable, Or for a sanction to thy heart’s delight To burden with bliss the silent still Supreme Profaning its bare and formless sanctity, Or call into thy chamber the Divine And sit with God tasting a human joy. I have created all, all I devour; I am Death and the dark terrible Mother of life, I am Kali black and naked in the world, I am Maya and the universe is my cheat. I lay waste human happiness with my breath And slay the will to live, the joy to be That all may pass back into nothingness And only abide the eternal and absolute. For only the blank Eternal can be true. All else is shadow and flash in Mind’s bright glass, Mind, hollow mirror in which Ignorance sees A splendid figure of its own false self And dreams it sees a glorious solid world. O soul, inventor of man’s thoughts and hopes, Thyself the invention of the moments’ stream, Illusion’s centre or subtle apex point, At last know thyself, from vain existence cease.” A shadow of the negating Absolute, The intolerant Darkness travelled surging past And ebbed in her the formidable Voice. It left behind her inner world laid waste: A barren silence weighed upon her heart, Her kingdom of delight was there no more; Only her soul remained, its emptied stage, p.536 Awaiting the unknown eternal Will. Then from the heights a greater Voice came down, The Word that touches the heart and finds the soul, The voice of Light after the voice of Night: The cry of the Abyss drew Heaven’s reply, A might of storm chased by the might of the Sun. “O soul, bare not thy kingdom to the foe; Consent to hide thy royalty of bliss Lest Time and Fate find out its avenues And beat with thunderous knock upon thy gates. Hide whilst thou canst thy treasure of separate self Behind the luminous rampart of thy depths Till of a vaster empire it grows part. But not for self alone the Self is won: Content abide not with one conquered realm; Adventure all to make the whole world thine, To break into greater kingdoms turn thy force. Fear not to be nothing that thou mayst be all; Assent to the emptiness of the Supreme That all in thee may reach its absolute. Accept to be small and human on the earth, Interrupting thy new-born divinity, That man may find his utter self in God. If for thy own sake only thou hast come, An immortal spirit into the mortal’s world, To found thy luminous kingdom in God’s dark, In the Inconscient’s realm one shining star, One door in the Ignorance opened upon light, Why hadst thou any need to come at all? Thou hast come down into a struggling world To aid a blind and suffering mortal race, To open to Light the eyes that could not see, To bring down bliss into the heart of grief, To make thy life a bridge twixt earth and heaven; If thou wouldst save the toiling universe, The vast universal suffering feel as thine: p.537 Thou must bear the sorrow that thou claimst to heal; The day-bringer must walk in darkest night. He who would save the world must share its pain. If he knows not grief, how shall he find grief’s cure? If far he walks above mortality’s head, How shall the mortal reach that too high path? If one of theirs they see scale heaven’s peaks, Men then can hope to learn that titan climb. God must be born on earth and be as man That man being human may grow even as God. He who would save the world must be one with the world, All suffering things contain in his heart’s space And bear the grief and joy of all that lives. His soul must be wider than the universe And feel eternity as its very stuff, Rejecting the moment’s personality Know itself older than the birth of Time, Creation an incident in its consciousness, Arcturus and Belphegor grains of fire Circling in a corner of its boundless self, The world’s destruction a small transient storm In the calm infinity it has become. If thou wouldst a little loosen the vast chain, Draw back from the world that the Idea has made, Thy mind’s selection from the Infinite, Thy senses’ gloss on the Infinitesimal’s dance, Then shalt thou know how the great bondage came. Banish all thought from thee and be God’s void. Then shalt thou uncover the Unknowable And the Superconscient conscious grow on thy tops; Infinity’s vision through thy gaze shall pierce; Thou shalt look into the eyes of the Unknown, Find the hid Truth in things seen null and false, Behind things known discover Mystery’s rear. Thou shalt be one with God’s bare reality And the miraculous world he has become p.538 And the diviner miracle still to be When Nature who is now unconscious God Translucent grows to the Eternal’s light, Her seeing his sight, her walk his steps of power And life is filled with a spiritual joy And Matter is the Spirit’s willing bride. Consent to be nothing and none, dissolve Time’s work, Cast off thy mind, step back from form and name. Annul thyself that only God may be.” …
- Letters on Yoga – III, p.319
- Ibid., p.321
- Ibid., p.351
- Ibid., p.380