Loretta reads Savitri:Three.I "The Pursuit of the Unknowable"
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Three: The Book of the Divine Mother
Canto I: The Pursuit of the Unknowable
In the last canto of Book Two, which was Canto XV, the great traveller entered the Kingdoms of the Greater Knowledge. He had journeyed through all the worlds of Mind; and then he had to leave Mind, and go deep, deep within himself, to reach “the last profound” (p.289) ‒ the deepest, deepest part of the world's heart. There, at the center of creation, in the soul of the whole world, he finally saw the goal of all his travels: the Divine Mother. The great creatrix of the whole universe.
With all of the great king's yoga practice, even now, he still was not able to sustain her light and bliss and power. His consciousness was not yet sufficiently developed. And he lost his consciousness, falling down at her feet, in a complete faint.
“After a measureless moment of the soul” (p.297), the king regained his consciousness, and he found himself in the Kingdoms of the Greater Knowledge. But he was also ‘in his soul’ ‒ in the colorless purity of his own soul. It was the place where all ended and all began. It was the starting place of spiritual birth.
Since one of the goals of all human progress (and of the Yoga) is to realize the soul ‒ and now that it looks as though the king has done this to the point where he's really in his soul: in the depth, in the purity of his soul, living in this ‒ we can conjecture that perhaps in all his yoga practice the presence of the Divine Mother (both when he was conscious and when he was unconscious) helped him on the way. Because now, in the Kingdom of the Greater Knowledge, the king is able to be in what Sri Aurobindo calls the ‘Overmental consciousness’ ‒ completely beyond the mind. It was a plane where he could know the works of the spirit, in its countless limitless forms and acts, and know it as a unity.
He could experience “A glorious multiple of one radiant Self” (p.298), a true unity consciousness. And there he had reached the top of all that can be known. He was made a conscious portion of the One that is the All.
- He scanned the secrets of the Overmind,
- He bore the rapture of the Oversoul. (p.302)
But now that he's ‘got the mind’, so to speak ‒ now that he has we could say ‘conquered’ Mind, or at least made it all the way through Mind without being caught, he's going to have to leave the mind completely, we're going to see. His human mind must abdicate, or die. Nothing is left for the grasp of thought; “Nothing remain[s] the cosmic Mind conceives.” (p.308). And so now that he has got all-knowledge, he's going to pursue the Unknowable. He is called to do this very strongly, as we will see. And this canto is called, “The Pursuit of the Unknowable”.
It is clear that he still has to continue his spiritual journey, his Yoga. And now we see that the Unknowable has to be a part of his integral progress and experience. Anyway, we know that he has to make more spiritual and yogic progress, because he still can't consciously be with the Divine Mother.
So: the Unknowable. But, what is the Unknowable? Where is the Unknowable? We're going to see that the Unknowable is the unknowable Supreme Master. The unknowable unmoving, limitless consciousness that is behind all the creation, that supports all the creation, that creates all the creation, and is still only Itself alone.
Here is a place in Savitri where we can see the particular realizations which Sri Aurobindo brought into the ‒ let us say ‒ possibility of human consciousness. (It's not that it wasn't always there, but people certainly weren't aware of it.) First of all, he brought the fact that there is a consciousness beyond the Overmental consciousness. The traditional Yoga practices stopped at the realization of the Overmind and went no further. What Sri Aurobindo did is he brought the concept and the possibility of the realization of the Supermind. And so the king has got to realize the supramental consciousness.
And secondly, in Savitri, he gives us what he gives often in his other writings: the fact that there is a tremendous importance in the Divine Mother ‒ in realizing who she is, in having her consciousness. In having the full integral realization of the Divine Mother and the Supreme Master. This has already been detailed by Sri Aurobindo in Book One, Canto IV: “The Secret Knowledge”. The knowledge which gives the king the ability to go on to the final step in his own yoga.
And Book One, Canto IV: “The Secret Knowledge” is full of all this beautiful poetry, about the Two that are One, who play in many worlds. The Master and the Mother ‒ the eternal love affair that is the creation itself.
Book One, Canto IV:
“The Secret Knowledge”
PDF (28 pages)
And Sri Aurobindo explains the supramental consciousness by saying that it contains the full realization of the Master and the Mother. We have to be in the manifestation and the unmanifest. It's not enough just to act; it's not enough just to sit without acting in some other plane of consciousness. We have to be in both.
Now, King Aswapati is going to experience the Master ‒ the supreme consciousness, “The One by whom all live, who lives by none” (p.309). And to do this, we will see the particular spiritual progress that he's going to have to make. And of course, the progress that he makes to realize the Master, will further enable him to really have, fully, the consciousness of the Mother. And to sustain it within himself.
In his pursuit of the Unknowable, when the king goes to a height where every hope and search must cease, and the king can't hope anymore and he can't search anymore:
- On a dizzy verge where all disguises fail
- And human mind must abdicate in Light
- Or die like a moth in the naked blaze of Truth,
- He stood compelled to a tremendous choice.
- All he had been and all towards which he grew
- Must now be left behind or else transform
- Into a self of That which has no name. (p.306)
In other words, the Unknowable. He has to experience the consciousness of the supreme Master. The king's separate self, as we will see, must join its mighty origin ‒ and either melt, or be reborn (when it goes back to the origin) “Into a Truth beyond the mind’s appeal” (p.307). And we will see that everything else has to go. So beautifully Sri Aurobindo just takes away everything for us, in his poetry.
And then the king saw the universe remove its veil (its colored veil). And at the end of the huge riddle ‒ the enormous puzzle and mystery of created things ‒ he saw the Godhead of the whole. Now, everything ‒ everything coming from the king's power, from his puissance, which means his power and his potential ‒ even his potential, was totally undone. And at last, “A stark companionless Reality / Answered [...] to his soul’s passionate search” (p.308). The great yogi king has the realization of the supreme Master:
- Uncreating, uncreated and unborn,
- The One by whom all live, who lives by none
The poetry at the end of this canto is unbelievably powerful. It leaves us in an almost unbearable solitude. A tremendous, unbearable loneliness for us poor human beings who need so much. It leaves us in the Infinite, the eternal, the unthinkable, the Alone.
This program begins and ends with a Sanskrit mantra from the Bhagavad Gita. It was translated by [Sri Aurobindo, found in the book The Message of the Gita edited by Anilbaran Roy]; and it is used in Sunil's Savitri music, along with Mother's reading from this canto.
“Thou art the ancient Soul and the first and original Godhead and the supreme resting-place of this All; thou art the knower and that which is to be known and the highest status; O infinite in form, by thee was extended the universe.”
“Thou art Yama and Vayu and Agni and Soma and Varuna and Prajapati, father of creatures, and the great-grandsire. Salutation to thee a thousand times over and again and yet again salutation, in front and behind and from every side, for Thou art each and all that is. Infinite in might and immeasurable in strength of action Thou pervadest all and art everyone.”
So now, The Book of the Divine Mother. Canto I: “The Pursuit of the Unknowable”.
Canto One The Pursuit of the Unknowable All is too little that the world can give: Its power and knowledge are the gifts of Time And cannot fill the spirit’s sacred thirst. Although of One these forms of greatness are And by its breath of grace our lives abide, Although more near to us than nearness’ self, It is some utter truth of what we are; Hidden by its own works, it seemed far-off, Impenetrable, occult, voiceless, obscure. The Presence was lost by which all things have charm, The Glory lacked of which they are dim signs. The world lived on made empty of its Cause, Like love when the beloved’s face is gone. The labour to know seemed a vain strife of Mind; All knowledge ended in the Unknowable: The effort to rule seemed a vain pride of Will; A trivial achievement scorned by Time, All power retired into the Omnipotent. A cave of darkness guards the eternal Light. A silence settled on his striving heart; Absolved from the voices of the world’s desire, He turned to the Ineffable’s timeless call. A Being intimate and unnameable, A wide compelling ecstasy and peace Felt in himself and all and yet ungrasped, Approached and faded from his soul’s pursuit As if for ever luring him beyond. Near, it retreated; far, it called him still. Nothing could satisfy but its delight: Its absence left the greatest actions dull, Its presence made the smallest seem divine. When it was there, the heart’s abyss was filled; p.306 But when the uplifting Deity withdrew, Existence lost its aim in the Inane. The order of the immemorial planes, The godlike fullness of the instruments Were turned to props for an impermanent scene. But who that mightiness was he knew not yet. Impalpable, yet filling all that is, It made and blotted out a million worlds And took and lost a thousand shapes and names. It wore the guise of an indiscernible Vast, Or was a subtle kernel in the soul: A distant greatness left it huge and dim, A mystic closeness shut it sweetly in: It seemed sometimes a figment or a robe And seemed sometimes his own colossal shade. A giant doubt overshadowed his advance. Across a neutral all-supporting Void Whose blankness nursed his lone immortal spirit, Allured towards some recondite Supreme, Aided, coerced by enigmatic Powers, Aspiring and half-sinking and upborne, Invincibly he ascended without pause. Always a signless vague Immensity Brooded, without approach, beyond response, Condemning finite things to nothingness, Fronting him with the incommensurable. Then to the ascent there came a mighty term. A height was reached where nothing made could live, A line where every hope and search must cease Neared some intolerant bare Reality, A zero formed pregnant with boundless change. On a dizzy verge where all disguises fail And human mind must abdicate in Light Or die like a moth in the naked blaze of Truth, He stood compelled to a tremendous choice. All he had been and all towards which he grew p.307 Must now be left behind or else transform Into a self of That which has no name. Alone and fronting an intangible Force Which offered nothing to the grasp of Thought, His spirit faced the adventure of the Inane. Abandoned by the worlds of Form he strove. A fruitful world-wide Ignorance foundered here; Thought’s long far-circling journey touched its close And ineffective paused the actor Will. The symbol modes of being helped no more, The structures Nescience builds collapsing failed, And even the spirit that holds the universe Fainted in luminous insufficiency. In an abysmal lapse of all things built Transcending every perishable support And joining at last its mighty origin, The separate self must melt or be reborn Into a Truth beyond the mind’s appeal. All glory of outline, sweetness of harmony, Rejected like a grace of trivial notes, Expunged from Being’s silence nude, austere, Died into a fine and blissful Nothingness. The Demiurges lost their names and forms, The great schemed worlds that they had planned and wrought Passed, taken and abolished one by one. The universe removed its coloured veil, And at the unimaginable end Of the huge riddle of created things Appeared the far-seen Godhead of the whole, His feet firm-based on Life’s stupendous wings, Omnipotent, a lonely seer of Time, Inward, inscrutable, with diamond gaze. Attracted by the unfathomable regard The unsolved slow cycles to their fount returned To rise again from that invisible sea. All from his puissance born was now undone; p.308 Nothing remained the cosmic Mind conceives. Eternity prepared to fade and seemed A hue and imposition on the Void, Space was the fluttering of a dream that sank Before its ending into Nothing’s deeps. The spirit that dies not and the Godhead’s self Seemed myths projected from the Unknowable; From It all sprang, in It is called to cease. But what That was, no thought nor sight could tell. Only a formless Form of self was left, A tenuous ghost of something that had been, The last experience of a lapsing wave Before it sinks into a bourneless sea,— As if it kept even on the brink of Nought Its bare feeling of the ocean whence it came. A Vastness brooded free from sense of Space, An Everlastingness cut off from Time; A strange sublime inalterable Peace Silent rejected from it world and soul. A stark companionless Reality Answered at last to his soul’s passionate search: Passionless, wordless, absorbed in its fathomless hush, Keeping the mystery none would ever pierce, It brooded inscrutable and intangible Facing him with its dumb tremendous calm. It had no kinship with the universe: There was no act, no movement in its Vast: Life’s question met by its silence died on her lips, The world’s effort ceased convicted of ignorance Finding no sanction of supernal Light: There was no mind there with its need to know, There was no heart there with its need to love. All person perished in its namelessness. There was no second, it had no partner or peer; Only itself was real to itself. A pure existence safe from thought and mood, p.309 A consciousness of unshared immortal bliss, It dwelt aloof in its bare infinite, One and unique, unutterably sole. A Being formless, featureless and mute That knew itself by its own timeless self, Aware for ever in its motionless depths, Uncreating, uncreated and unborn, The One by whom all live, who lives by none, An immeasurable luminous secrecy Guarded by the veils of the Unmanifest, Above the changing cosmic interlude Abode supreme, immutably the same, A silent Cause occult, impenetrable,— Infinite, eternal, unthinkable, alone. END OF CANTO ONE