Loretta reads Savitri:Two.IV "The Kingdoms of the Little Life" part 3

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Transcript of:
Savitri: Book Two, Canto IV, part 3 of 4
by Loretta, 2016 (20:36)
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Savitri Book 2 Canto IV icon.jpg  Loretta reads Savitri
Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds
Canto IV: The Kingdoms of the Little Life
Part 3 of 4, pages 141-146
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Aswapati, the great yogi king, is following Life's descent. Life has gone into the Inconscience of Matter. And now he's following her eventual rise, through the stages of human evolution. So far in the king's travels, all that can be seen on the surface has been degradation and foulness, and ignorant movements, and apparent failures, one after the other. But the king's spiritual vision can also see the divine origin of this apparently aimless and hopeless process.

He saw the weak birth of the tremendous force, and the mighty spirit which is concealed in Nature. Now, in this part of the canto, he sees a “fierier breath of waking Life” (p.141), and the rise of “strange creations of a thinking sense” (p.142). “A seeking Power found out its road to form” (p.142). The Force of creation, working by the light of ignorance, began her animal experiment; Sri Aurobindo calls it “an order of intelligent littleness” (p.142).

There came creatures that were conscious, but only alive to what is outward, not to anything inward. Now Sri Aurobindo describes the little life for us: “beings were there who wore a human form” (p.143), but did not know who they were or why they lived. They only identified themselves with the spirit's outward shell, the body. They worked only for outward wants. They wanted to enjoy and to survive. We see a creation where:

Only the life could think and not the mind,
Only the sense could feel and not the soul. (p.146)

The beings who wore a human form turned in grooves of animal desires. And here, instinct was formed. Sri Aurobindo says, “Only was lit some heat of the flame of Life” (p.146).

By the things he says in this part of the canto, we can see that Sri Aurobindo is speaking about a stage in human evolution where the individual soul is completely behind the veil. The larger soul, the Self, which is the divine spark in the center of each of us, and which builds around it our individual soul – what Mother and Sri Aurobindo call the psychic being – it is there doing its work. But the psychic being is not formed. So since it's behind the veil, its influence of higher things is not yet active in the being. Man has not achieved the place where the mind has any development at all; this evolution has not yet come. That will begin to come later.

Sri Aurobindo has written a sonnet showing how, even with mind, man has far to go. It tells the same story that he is telling us here, but it tells it in another way. He called it “Man the Thinking Animal”:

“A trifling unit in a boundless plan
Amidst the enormous insignificance
Of the unpeopled cosmos’ fire-whirl dance,
Earth, as by accident, engendered man,
A creature of his own grey ignorance,
A mind half shadow and half gleam, a breath
That wrestles, captive in a world of death,
To live some lame brief years. Yet his advance,
Attempt of a divinity within,
A consciousness in the inconscient Night,
To realise its own supernal Light,
Confronts the ruthless forces of the Unseen.
Aspiring to godhead from insensible clay
He travels slow-footed towards the eternal day.”[1]

We've read now what Sri Aurobindo wrote about life entering Matter and the first effects that it's having. We have this poem, “Man the Thinking Animal”, where he writes that now the divinity within Is aspiring, and working to realise its own supernal light. So we have the past and we have the present as he describes it. Then we have an entry from the Record of Yoga, Sri Aurobindo's own diary. He's speaking of supramental life energy here, and he's saying that supramental life energy has to come into his own body, in every part of it. So here we see the future stage of life in the progress of evolution. There are a number of small entries in a section titled “December 1926 – 6 January 1927”. And he doesn't give specific dates for each one, but he marks out the paragraphs. So here are the first three entries that are separately marked:

“When the fullness of the supramental life-energy is in the body, then all difficulties will be reduced to nothingness.
It is the life-energy in all the body, not only in the seven centres that is demanded. Once in all the seven centres it cannot fail to pour through all the body.
It must take possession of all the cells, the flesh, muscles, bones, blood, nerves, skin, hair; then the body will be ready for transformation.
The life-energy to be firmly founded today in the last centres. The rest to follow in the next three days.


“These things are author[it]ative suggestions; it depends on the energy and the vessel of mind, life and body subject to the divine sanction from above whether they are fulfilled in the time fixed or have to wait for a later period.


“If founded, all the remnants of the old illnesses and pains and bad habits of the body will disappear altogether and no new ones will be possible.”[2]

So we can see, with all these writings, that Sri Aurobindo's consciousness was at one and the same time in the past, the present and the future. And that includes the past, the present and the future of human evolution. He refers to it again and again in his diary, and he uses a Sanskrit word: he calls it 'trikaldrishti'. Very basically it means 'three seeings' – seeing the past, seeing the present and seeing the future at the same time. And throughout the Record of Yoga, he records the progress of his attainment of this 'three seeings', the trikaldrishti.

So now we're going to go into the past with him. And I suspect that he writes this also to tell us that these things still exist. Last week he was saying that things were existing in him, that he was talking about in the second section of this canto.

So we're in part 3 of “The Kingdoms of the Little Life”. And this is what he writes...

      Then came a fierier breath of waking Life,
And there arose from the dim gulf of things
The strange creations of a thinking sense, p.142
Existences half-real and half-dream.
A life was there that hoped not to survive:
Beings were born who perished without trace,
Events that were a formless drama’s limbs
And actions driven by a blind creature will.
A seeking Power found out its road to form,
Patterns were built of love and joy and pain
And symbol figures for the moods of Life.
An insect hedonism fluttered and crawled
And basked in a sunlit Nature’s surface thrills,
And dragon raptures, python agonies
Crawled in the marsh and mire and licked the sun.
Huge armoured strengths shook a frail quaking ground,
Great puissant creatures with a dwarfish brain,
And pigmy tribes imposed their small life-drift.
In a dwarf model of humanity
Nature now launched the extreme experience
And master-point of her design’s caprice,
Luminous result of her half-conscious climb
On rungs twixt her sublimities and grotesques
To massive from infinitesimal shapes,
To a subtle balancing of body and soul,
To an order of intelligent littleness.
Around him in the moment-beats of Time
The kingdom of the animal self arose,
Where deed is all and mind is still half-born
And the heart obeys a dumb unseen control.
The Force that works by the light of Ignorance,
Her animal experiment began,
Crowding with conscious creatures her world-scheme;
But to the outward only were they alive,
Only they replied to touches and surfaces
And to the prick of need that drove their lives.
A body that knew not its own soul within,
There lived and longed, had wrath and joy and grief;
A mind was there that met the objective world p.143
As if a stranger or enemy at its door:
Its thoughts were kneaded by the shocks of sense;
It captured not the spirit in the form,
It entered not the heart of what it saw;
It looked not for the power behind the act,
It studied not the hidden motive in things
Nor strove to find the meaning of it all.
Beings were there who wore a human form;
Absorbed they lived in the passion of the scene,
But knew not who they were or why they lived:
Content to breathe, to feel, to sense, to act,
Life had for them no aim save Nature’s joy
And the stimulus and delight of outer things;
Identified with the spirit’s outward shell,
They worked for the body’s wants, they craved no more.
The veiled spectator watching from their depths
Fixed not his inward eye upon himself
Nor turned to find the author of the plot,
He saw the drama only and the stage.
There was no brooding stress of deeper sense,
The burden of reflection was not borne:
Mind looked on Nature with unknowing eyes,
Adored her boons and feared her monstrous strokes.
It pondered not on the magic of her laws,
It thirsted not for the secret wells of Truth,
But made a register of crowding facts
And strung sensations on a vivid thread:
It hunted and it fled and sniffed the winds,
Or slothed inert in sunshine and soft air:
It sought the engrossing contacts of the world,
But only to feed the surface sense with bliss.
These felt life’s quiver in the outward touch,
They could not feel behind the touch the soul.
To guard their form of self from Nature’s harm,
To enjoy and to survive was all their care.
The narrow horizon of their days was filled p.144
With things and creatures that could help and hurt:
The world’s values hung upon their little self.
Isolated, cramped in the vast unknown,
To save their small lives from surrounding Death
They made a tiny circle of defence
Against the siege of the huge universe:
They preyed upon the world and were its prey,
But never dreamed to conquer and be free.
Obeying the World-Power’s hints and firm taboos
A scanty part they drew from her rich store;
There was no conscious code and no life-plan:
The patterns of thinking of a little group
Fixed a traditional behaviour’s law.
Ignorant of soul save as a wraith within,
Tied to a mechanism of unchanging lives
And to a dull usual sense and feeling’s beat,
They turned in grooves of animal desire.
In walls of stone fenced round they worked and warred,
Did by a banded selfishness a small good
Or wrought a dreadful wrong and cruel pain
On sentient lives and thought they did no ill.
Ardent from the sack of happy peaceful homes
And gorged with slaughter, plunder, rape and fire,
They made of human selves their helpless prey,
A drove of captives led to lifelong woe,
Or torture a spectacle made and holiday,
Mocking or thrilled by their torn victims’ pangs;
Admiring themselves as titans and as gods
Proudly they sang their high and glorious deeds
And praised their victory and their splendid force.
An animal in the instinctive herd
Pushed by life impulses, forced by common needs,
Each in his own kind saw his ego’s glass;
All served the aim and action of the pack.
Those like himself, by blood or custom kin,
To him were parts of his life, his adjunct selves, p.145
His personal nebula’s constituent stars,
Satellite companions of his solar I.
A master of his life’s environment,
A leader of a huddled human mass
Herding for safety on a dangerous earth,
He gathered them round him as if minor Powers
To make a common front against the world,
Or, weak and sole on an indifferent earth,
As a fortress for his undefended heart,
Or else to heal his body’s loneliness.
In others than his kind he sensed a foe,
An alien unlike force to shun and fear,
A stranger and adversary to hate and slay.
Or he lived as lives the solitary brute;
At war with all he bore his single fate.
Absorbed in the present act, the fleeting days,
None thought to look beyond the hour’s gains,
Or dreamed to make this earth a fairer world,
Or felt some touch divine surprise his heart.
The gladness that the fugitive moment gave,
The desire grasped, the bliss, the experience won,
Movement and speed and strength were joy enough
And bodily longings shared and quarrel and play,
And tears and laughter and the need called love.
In war and clasp these life-wants joined the All-Life,
Wrestlings of a divided unity
Inflicting mutual grief and happiness
In ignorance of the Self for ever one.
Arming its creatures with delight and hope
A half-awakened Nescience struggled there
To know by sight and touch the outside of things.
Instinct was formed; in memory’s crowded sleep
The past lived on as in a bottomless sea:
Inverting into half-thought the quickened sense
She felt around for truth with fumbling hands,
Clutched to her the little she could reach and seize p.146
And put aside in her subconscient cave.
So must the dim being grow in light and force
And rise to his higher destiny at last,
Look up to God and round at the universe,
And learn by failure and progress by fall
And battle with environment and doom,
By suffering discover his deep soul
And by possession grow to his own vasts.
Half-way she stopped and found her path no more.
Still nothing was achieved but to begin,
Yet finished seemed the circle of her force.
Only she had beaten out sparks of ignorance;
Only the life could think and not the mind,
Only the sense could feel and not the soul.
Only was lit some heat of the flame of Life,
Some joy to be, some rapturous leaps of sense.
All was an impetus of half-conscious Force,
A spirit sprawling drowned in dense life-foam,
A vague self grasping at the shape of things.
Behind all moved seeking for vessels to hold
A first raw vintage of the grapes of God,
On earth’s mud a spilth of the supernal Bliss,
Intoxicating the stupefied soul and mind
A heady wine of rapture dark and crude,
Dim, uncast yet into spiritual form,
Obscure inhabitant of the world’s blind core,
An unborn godhead’s will, a mute Desire.