Loretta reads Savitri:Two.II "The Kingdom of Subtle Matter" part 2
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds
Canto II: The Kingdom of Subtle Matter
Part 2 of 3, pages 107-111
Sri Aurobindo started to concentrate on Book Two sometime before 1930. Book One tells us of the king's yoga for himself; and Book Two tells us of the king's yoga for the world. By 1930, Sri Aurobindo had come to consider Savitri as his major written work. He worked on Book Two more than any other book up to 1945. This means for more than fifteen years, he concentrated on the yoga of the king, which starts in Book One and fills Book Two, and it's 348 pages long. This is slightly less than half of the book, because the whole book is 724 pages long.
We see that he changed his idea [at] about 1930, about the focus of the book. Because in 1931 he wrote in a letter that he started re-casting the whole thing, so that it was not only a legend, but also a symbol. And the subtitle of Savitri is “A legend and a symbol”.
The original manuscripts, which are in Sri Aurobindo's own handwriting, show that all through the first half of the '40s, Sri Aurobindo simply wrote about King Aswapati's yoga. And we know from his other letters that this means that Sri Aurobindo was writing about his own experiences. And what he does for us here in Savitri is he explains the mystery of the world, by telling the story of someone who is tracking life and mind and spirit to their source. And then he shows us the forces that move everything. And then he tells us how we can deal with these forces: how we can deal with them in ourselves, and also coming from outside us.
At the end of Canto I, Aswapati began to climb the World-Stair. And he's reached the first step of the World-Stair – which you would think is going up, and you can say 'going up', but he's definitely going in.
So now we're with King Aswapati. He's traveling through the kingdoms of subtle matter. This is what Mother calls the 'subtle physical'. There's an Agenda recording of August 5th of 1961, where Mother tells Satprem that our subtle physical extends a long way beyond our body. And then she says:
- “Yes; the subtle physical is visible – visible. You have seen heat vibrations when it's very hot, haven't you? That's the subtle physical – one form of it.
- ... Some people are sensitive in the subtle physical; you move your hand near them and they feel it immediately. Others don't even notice – it depends on the subtle physical's sensitivity.”
Mother also says at this point that there's an area which surrounds the subtle physical like an envelope. And it lies between our subtle physical and our vital envelope. It acts like a protection if it's harmonious and strong. It protects from infectious diseases and even from accidents, because it's sensitive and it can feel things coming towards it.
Mother told a story about crossing a boulevard and feeling a material shock in this covering envelope. It caused her to jump back, and a streetcar passed by right in front of her. She had been absorbed in her inner concentration, and didn't hear the streetcar coming. If she had not jumped back at that moment, it would have run over her.
She calls this 'the circumconscient'. And she says that people with a strong circumconscient envelope “are almost always in good health and succeed in what they do.”
Our physical material world is created by the subtle physical becoming denser matter. Last time, Sri Aurobindo told us it is the subtle ground of our worlds, of Matter's worlds. And the last two lines were:
- It plunges lost in our inconscient base.
- Out of its fall our denser Matter came. (p.107)
And then the next line, which is going to start today, is:
- Thus taken was God’s plunge into the Night. (p.107)
This part for today does not continue to describe the subtle physical and what happens there. Sri Aurobindo did that very completely in the part last time. And again – we'll hear again about it in the third part. But this part speaks a lot more about what it's like here, in our world of dense matter. And it speaks about how our world relates with this higher plane of consciousness when something of it can get through the density of matter and have an effect on us. We know that everything has to pass through the subtle physical plane to get to us. And here, Sri Aurobindo will also describe for us many of the other things that come through the subtle physical.
So, we hear that “the infallible Flame” (p.108) comes, and what happens to us. And then we hear that a thought comes “from the eternal Mind” (p.109), and that affects us. And “the figures of eternity arrive” (p.110). And each time, Sri Aurobindo shows us how earth's substance can receive a little, but cannot yet keep it fully. Still, it is a promise of things to come.
So now we start with Savitri.
Thus taken was God’s plunge into the Night. This fallen world became a nurse of souls Inhabited by concealed divinity. A Being woke and lived in the meaningless void, A world-wide Nescience strove towards life and thought, A Consciousness plucked out from mindless sleep. All here is driven by an insentient will. Thus fallen, inconscient, frustrate, dense, inert, Sunk into inanimate and torpid drowse Earth lay, a drudge of sleep, forced to create By a subconscient yearning memory Left from a happiness dead before she was born, An alien wonder on her senseless breast. This mire must harbour the orchid and the rose, From her blind unwilling substance must emerge A beauty that belongs to happier spheres. This is the destiny bequeathed to her, As if a slain god left a golden trust To a blind force and an imprisoned soul. An immortal godhead’s perishable parts She must reconstitute from fragments lost, Reword from a document complete elsewhere Her doubtful title to her divine Name. A residue her sole inheritance, All things she carries in her shapeless dust. Her giant energy tied to petty forms p.108 In the slow tentative motion of her power With only frail blunt instruments for use, She has accepted as her nature’s need And given to man as his stupendous work A labour to the gods impossible. A life living hardly in a field of death Its portion claims of immortality; A brute half-conscious body serves as means A mind that must recover a knowledge lost Held in stone grip by the world’s inconscience, And wearing still these countless knots of Law A spirit bound stand up as Nature’s king. A mighty kinship is this daring’s cause. All we attempt in this imperfect world, Looks forward or looks back beyond Time’s gloss To its pure idea and firm inviolate type In an absolute creation’s flawless skill. To seize the absolute in shapes that pass, To fix the eternal’s touch in time-made things, This is the law of all perfection here. A fragment here is caught of heaven’s design; Else could we never hope for greater life And ecstasy and glory could not be. Even in the littleness of our mortal state, Even in this prison-house of outer form, A brilliant passage for the infallible Flame Is driven through gross walls of nerve and brain, A Splendour presses or a Power breaks through, Earth’s great dull barrier is removed awhile, The inconscient seal is lifted from our eyes And we grow vessels of creative might. The enthusiasm of a divine surprise Pervades our life, a mystic stir is felt, A joyful anguish trembles in our limbs; A dream of beauty dances through the heart, A thought from the eternal Mind draws near, p.109 Intimations cast from the Invisible Awaking from Infinity’s sleep come down, Symbols of That which never yet was made. But soon the inert flesh responds no more, Then sinks the sacred orgy of delight, The blaze of passion and the tide of power Are taken from us and, though a glowing form Abides astonishing earth, imagined supreme, Too little of what was meant has left a trace. Earth’s eyes half-see, her forces half-create; Her rarest works are copies of heaven’s art. A radiance of a golden artifice, A masterpiece of inspired device and rule, Her forms hide what they house and only mime The unseized miracle of self-born shapes That live for ever in the Eternal’s gaze. Here in a difficult half-finished world Is a slow toiling of unconscious Powers; Here is man’s ignorant divining mind, His genius born from an inconscient soil. To copy on earth’s copies is his art. For when he strives for things surpassing earth, Too rude the workman’s tools, too crude his stuff, And hardly with his heart’s blood he achieves His transient house of the divine Idea, His figure of a Time-inn for the Unborn. Our being thrills with high far memories And would bring down their dateless meanings here, But, too divine for earthly Nature’s scheme, Beyond our reach the eternal marvels blaze. Absolute they dwell, unborn, immutable, Immaculate in the Spirit’s deathless air, Immortal in a world of motionless Time And an unchanging muse of deep self-space. Only when we have climbed above ourselves, A line of the Transcendent meets our road p.110 And joins us to the timeless and the true; It brings to us the inevitable word, The godlike act, the thoughts that never die. A ripple of light and glory wraps the brain, And travelling down the moment’s vanishing route The figures of eternity arrive. As the mind’s visitors or the heart’s guests They espouse our mortal brevity awhile, Or seldom in some rare delivering glimpse Are caught by our vision’s delicate surmise. Although beginnings only and first attempts, These glimmerings point to the secret of our birth And the hidden miracle of our destiny. What we are there and here on earth shall be Is imaged in a contact and a call. As yet earth’s imperfection is our sphere, Our nature’s glass shows not our real self; That greatness still abides held back within. Earth’s doubting future hides our heritage: The Light now distant shall grow native here, The Strength that visits us our comrade power; The Ineffable shall find a secret voice, The Imperishable burn through Matter’s screen Making this mortal body godhead’s robe. The Spirit’s greatness is our timeless source And it shall be our crown in endless Time. A vast Unknown is round us and within; All things are wrapped in the dynamic One: A subtle link of union joins all life. Thus all creation is a single chain: We are not left alone in a closed scheme Between a driving of inconscient Force And an incommunicable Absolute. Our life is a spur in a sublime soul-range, Our being looks beyond its walls of mind And it communicates with greater worlds; p.111 There are brighter earths and wider heavens than ours. There are realms where Being broods in its own depths; It feels in its immense dynamic core Its nameless, unformed, unborn potencies Cry for expression in the unshaped Vast: Ineffable beyond Ignorance and death, The images of its everlasting Truth Look out from a chamber of its self-rapt soul: As if to its own inner witness gaze The Spirit holds up its mirrored self and works, The power and passion of its timeless heart, The figures of its formless ecstasy, The grandeurs of its multitudinous might. Thence comes the mystic substance of our souls Into the prodigy of our nature’s birth, There is the unfallen height of all we are And dateless fount of all we hope to be. ...
- Agenda, 5 August 1961