Loretta reads Savitri:Seven.VI "Nirvana and the Discovery of the All-Negating Absolute" part 2
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Seven: The Book of Yoga
Canto VI: Nirvana and the Discovery of the All-Negating Absolute
Part 2 of 3, pages 538-544
Towards the end of the first part of this canto, the mighty and uplifting Voice told Savitri:
- “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,
- Banish all thought from thee and be God’s void.” (p.537)
- “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.” (p.538)
Savitri is going to follow this advice, and she is going to have complete silence of her mind. This is what Sri Aurobindo himself did. In the book Letters on Himself and the Ashram, Sri Aurobindo wrote to someone about his realization of January 1908. He wrote about his own experience of achieving mental silence, and the experience of achieving the complete absence of thought and thought-processes, which led him to experience Nirvana. This is what he wrote:
- “I am glad you are getting converted to silence, and even Nirvana is not without its uses — in my case it was the first positive spiritual experience and it made possible all the rest of the sadhana; but as to the positive way to get these things, I don’t know if your mind is quite ready to proceed with it. There are in fact several ways. My own way was by rejection of thought. “Sit down,” I was told, “look and you will see that your thoughts come into you from outside. Before they enter, fling them back.” I sat down and looked and saw to my astonishment that it was so; I saw and felt concretely the thought approaching as if to enter through or above the head and was able to push it back concretely before it came inside.
- In three days — really in one — my mind became full of an eternal silence — it is still there.”
When Savitri observes her mind and her impulses, by stepping back, detached and calm, Sri Aurobindo uses this to describe for us the many sources from which impulses and thoughts come. And he explains what impulses and thoughts are. As Savitri observes these things, each process ultimately quiets itself, and each process ceases to be an automatic part of her personal functioning. Savitri attains a perfectly silent mind.
Sri Aurobindo uses an unfamiliar word in this canto, which we should know. He says a 'thaumaturgist' sat in Savitri's heart. A thaumaturgist is a miracle-worker. Without knowing this, we miss a lot of Sri Aurobindo's meaning in one part of this canto.
So, second part of Canto VI.
... Thus spoke the mighty and uplifting Voice, And Savitri heard; she bowed her head and mused Plunging her deep regard into herself In her soul’s privacy in the silent Night. Aloof and standing back detached and calm, A witness of the drama of herself, A student of her own interior scene, She watched the passion and the toil of life And heard in the crowded thoroughfares of mind The unceasing tread and passage of her thoughts. All she allowed to rise that chose to stir; Calling, compelling nought, forbidding nought, She left all to the process formed in Time And the free initiative of Nature’s will. Thus following the complex human play She heard the prompter’s voice behind the scenes, Perceived the original libretto’s set And the organ theme of the composer Force. All she beheld that surges from man’s depths, The animal instincts prowling mid life’s trees, The impulses that whisper to the heart And passion’s thunder-chase sweeping the nerves; She saw the Powers that stare from the Abyss And the wordless Light that liberates the soul. But most her gaze pursued the birth of thought. Affranchised from the look of surface mind p.539 She paused not to survey the official case, The issue of forms from the office of the brain, Its factory of thought-sounds and soundless words And voices stored within unheard by men, Its mint and treasury of shining coin. These were but counters in mind’s symbol game, A gramophone’s discs, a reproduction’s film, A list of signs, a cipher and a code. In our unseen subtle body thought is born Or there it enters from the cosmic field. Oft from her soul stepped out a naked thought Luminous with mysteried lips and wonderful eyes; Or from her heart emerged some burning face And looked for life and love and passionate truth, Aspired to heaven or embraced the world Or led the fancy like a fleeting moon Across the dull sky of man’s common days, Amidst the doubtful certitudes of earth’s lore, To the celestial beauty of faith gave form, As if at flower-prints in a dingy room Laughed in a golden vase one living rose. A thaumaturgist sat in her heart’s deep, Compelled the forward stride, the upward look, Till wonder leaped into the illumined breast And life grew marvellous with transfiguring hope. A seeing will pondered between the brows; Thoughts, glistening Angels, stood behind the brain In flashing armour, folding hands of prayer, And poured heaven’s rays into the earthly form. Imaginations flamed up from her breast, Unearthly beauty, touches of surpassing joy And plans of miracle, dreams of delight: Around her navel lotus clustering close Her large sensations of the teeming worlds Streamed their dumb movements of the unformed Idea; Invading the small sensitive flower of the throat p.540 They brought their mute unuttered resonances To kindle the figures of a heavenly speech. Below, desires formed their wordless wish, And longings of physical sweetness and ecstasy Translated into the accents of a cry Their grasp on objects and their clasp on souls. Her body’s thoughts climbed from her conscious limbs And carried their yearnings to its mystic crown Where Nature’s murmurs meet the Ineffable. But for the mortal prisoned in outward mind All must present their passports at its door; Disguised they must don the official cap and mask Or pass as manufactures of the brain, Unknown their secret truth and hidden source. Only to the inner mind they speak direct, Put on a body and assume a voice, Their passage seen, their message heard and known, Their birthplace and their natal mark revealed, And stand confessed to an immortal’s sight, Our nature’s messengers to the witness soul. Impenetrable, withheld from mortal sense, The inner chambers of the spirit’s house Disclosed to her their happenings and their guests; Eyes looked through crevices in the invisible wall And through the secrecy of unseen doors There came into mind’s little frontal room Thoughts that enlarged our limited human range, Lifted the ideal’s half-quenched or sinking torch Or peered through the finite at the infinite. A sight opened upon the invisible And sensed the shapes that mortal eyes see not, The sounds that mortal listening cannot hear, The blissful sweetness of the intangible’s touch; The objects that to us are empty air, Are there the stuff of daily experience And the common pabulum of sense and thought. p.541 The beings of the subtle realms appeared And scenes concealed behind our earthly scene; She saw the life of remote continents And distance deafened not to voices far; She felt the movements crossing unknown minds; The past’s events occurred before her eyes. The great world’s thoughts were part of her own thought, The feelings dumb for ever and unshared, The ideas that never found an utterance. The dim subconscient’s incoherent hints Laid bare a meaning twisted, deep and strange, The bizarre secret of their fumbling speech, Their links with underlying reality. The unseen grew visible and audible: Thoughts leaped down from a superconscient field Like eagles swooping from a viewless peak, Thoughts gleamed up from the screened subliminal depths Like golden fishes from a hidden sea. This world is a vast unbroken totality, A deep solidarity joins its contrary powers; God’s summits look back on the mute Abyss. So man evolving to divinest heights Colloques still with the animal and the Djinn; The human godhead with star-gazer eyes Lives still in one house with the primal beast. The high meets the low, all is a single plan. So she beheld the many births of thought, If births can be of what eternal is; For the Eternal’s powers are like himself, Timeless in the Timeless, in Time ever born. This too she saw that all in outer mind Is made, not born, a product perishable, Forged in the body’s factory by earth-force. This mind is a dynamic small machine Producing ceaselessly, till it wears out, With raw material drawn from the outside world, p.542 The patterns sketched out by an artist God. Often our thoughts are finished cosmic wares Admitted by a silent office gate And passed through the subconscient’s galleries, Then issued in Time’s mart as private make. For now they bear the living person’s stamp; A trick, a special hue claims them his own. All else is Nature’s craft and this too hers. Our tasks are given, we are but instruments; Nothing is all our own that we create: The Power that acts in us is not our force. The genius too receives from some high fount Concealed in a supernal secrecy The work that gives him an immortal name. The word, the form, the charm, the glory and grace Are missioned sparks from a stupendous Fire; A sample from the laboratory of God Of which he holds the patent upon earth, Comes to him wrapped in golden coverings; He listens for Inspiration’s postman knock And takes delivery of the priceless gift A little spoilt by the receiver mind Or mixed with the manufacture of his brain; When least defaced, then is it most divine. Although his ego claims the world for its use, Man is a dynamo for the cosmic work; Nature does most in him, God the high rest: Only his soul’s acceptance is his own. This independent, once a power supreme, Self-born before the universe was made, Accepting cosmos, binds himself Nature’s serf Till he becomes her freedman — or God’s slave. This is the appearance in our mortal front; Our greater truth of being lies behind: Our consciousness is cosmic and immense, But only when we break through Matter’s wall p.543 In that spiritual vastness can we stand Where we can live the masters of our world And mind is only a means and body a tool. For above the birth of body and of thought Our spirit’s truth lives in the naked self And from that height, unbound, surveys the world. Out of the mind she rose to escape its law That it might sleep in some deep shadow of self Or fall silent in the silence of the Unseen. High she attained and stood from Nature free And saw creation’s life from far above, Thence upon all she laid her sovereign will To dedicate it to God’s timeless calm: Then all grew tranquil in her being’s space, Only sometimes small thoughts arose and fell Like quiet waves upon a silent sea Or ripples passing over a lonely pool When a stray stone disturbs its dreaming rest. Yet the mind’s factory had ceased to work, There was no sound of the dynamo’s throb, There came no call from the still fields of life. Then even those stirrings rose in her no more; Her mind now seemed like a vast empty room Or like a peaceful landscape without sound. This men call quietude and prize as peace. But to her deeper sight all yet was there, Effervescing like a chaos under a lid; Feelings and thoughts cried out for word and act But found no response in the silenced brain: All was suppressed but nothing yet expunged; At every moment might explosion come. Then this too paused; the body seemed a stone. All now was a wide mighty vacancy, But still excluded from eternity’s hush; For still was far the repose of the Absolute And the ocean silence of Infinity. p.544 Even now some thoughts could cross her solitude; These surged not from the depths or from within Cast up from formlessness to seek a form, Spoke not the body’s need nor voiced life’s call. These seemed not born nor made in human Time: Children of cosmic Nature from a far world, Idea’s shapes in complete armour of words Posted like travellers in an alien space. Out of some far expanse they seemed to come As if carried on vast wings like large white sails, And with easy access reached the inner ear As though they used a natural privileged right To the high royal entries of the soul. As yet their path lay deep-concealed in light. Then looking to know whence the intruders came She saw a spiritual immensity Pervading and encompassing the world-space As ether our transparent tangible air, And through it sailing tranquilly a thought. As smoothly glides a ship nearing its port, Ignorant of embargo and blockade, Confident of entrance and the visa’s seal, It came to the silent city of the brain Towards its accustomed and expectant quay, But met a barring will, a blow of Force And sank vanishing in the immensity. After a long vacant pause another appeared And others one by one suddenly emerged, Mind’s unexpected visitors from the Unseen Like far-off sails upon a lonely sea. But soon that commerce failed, none reached mind’s coast. Then all grew still, nothing moved any more: Immobile, self-rapt, timeless, solitary A silent spirit pervaded silent Space. ...