Loretta reads Savitri:Two.VI "The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Greater Life" part 5
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds
Canto VI: The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Greater Life
Part 5 of 5, pages 195-201
The traveler of the worlds is now ready to leave the kingdoms and godheads of the greater life. No matter where he's gone in this place, no matter what he's done, he could not find the wisdom that sets the spirit free. “His wide soul asked a deeper joy” (p.196) than Life has to give here, in this kingdom, even though it's a greater life. Life is still striving endlessly to create her Creator, but without success here. She cannot bring the glory of the Absolute's force here. She cannot “Make body’s joy as vivid as the soul’s” (p.196), at this point in her own progress. In this world, her own energy actually stops her from achieving her own high purpose.
The traveler king moves endlessly through the endless labyrinth that Life has made. She has created it with her endless strivings. Sri Aurobindo says, “Out of her daedal lines he sought escape (p.197)”, but he never escapes here.
Daedalus is a legendary figure who built the labyrinth in ancient Crete. A labyrinth is a place constructed of intricate passageways and blind alleys. It is a complex and torturous place, which – once one enters into – one could never find one's way out of.
In one of the ancient myths from Greece, a creature called the Minotaur lived in that particular labyrinth. He was half man and half bull. And he terrorized the people; and until he was slain – by the hero Theseus in the myth – he demanded the sacrifice of seven youths and seven maidens every year. And people were always spoken of in the mythologies as being afraid they would get lost in that labyrinth.
So we get a whole world of meaning, in that one simple phrase: that he had to escape “out of her daedal lines”. The king can't even find a 'postern' – a private side entrance – of spiritual sight in this place.
In this part of the canto, Sri Aurobindo has already finished describing the beings who have evolved to the greater life. Now he concentrates on giving us a description of the deficiencies of life at this stage of Life's creation. No matter how hard she tries, it all goes 'round in circles. Not even death can stop things here; because “Death is a passage” for us, “not the goal of our walk” (p.197). The true end is Life supreme. And our life is “A play without denouement or idea” (p.198). 'Denouement' is a French word which means 'the final outcome'. And we don't have that in our life at all.
If we go back to the beginning of the traveller's pursuit of Life, we saw that Life had answered the hidden spirit's call; and Life had plunged into the depths of Matter, to manifest her divinity in the physical – in the material. But she was in the Inconscient. And she could not do so; and she is struggling. And we've seen her struggling all the way along.
The king is now trying to find the cause of this worldwide failure. And he started by looking at creation from its very first beginning, when spirit became Matter in the “whirl and sprawl” (p.154) of infinite space. So we've been with the king as he has followed Life's evolution here, in our physical plane – in our physical matter. And of course that means that the traveller king, in the inner worlds, is in his own physical matter – and in all the wide planes of that matter. This of course is what Sri Aurobindo did.
But now we've come up to the evolution of the greater life. Finally, people are beginning to live in their immortal soul. But, it is still not enough for Life, in her own evolution, and not enough to satisfy the king. He must find the true root and source of what it is that keeps man from his higher destiny. Man has to live entirely in the soul. He has to have his psychic being come forward, and the psychic being be the true being that is living in man. Only in this way can man become a truly spiritual being. And clearly it is not Life's result here – even though it is a greater life.
Sri Aurobindo ends this canto by saying the imbroglio here could change “into a joyful miracle”. And the spirit's identity could be disclosed. And then “Life would reveal her true immortal face” (p.201). An 'imbroglio' is something entangled: a confused mass; an intricate or complicated situation. The king has to travel on; he has to find the key to this highest change for mankind and the world.
And this whole part of the canto is another part of Savitri which can leave the reader feeling really sad about life and everything. But now, we're going to start Cantos VII and VIII next time. And we're going to experience what Sri Aurobindo experienced, what he learned, and what he found when he went into the depths of the vital levels – into the worst of what manifests in human beings. He wrote all of that during the Second World War; and it's actually possible to believe that one can recognize some of the things that are famous for happening during the Second World War.
Finally he goes through the very last locked floor of being; and in order to get there, we have to be ready to feel a lot worse than we feel this time! Because we're going to learn about all of the things that he saw there.
So now, we're with the king. He's moving on; and the last part of the canto that we read spoke about how the only thing that there was, was a slight murmur – or slight memory – of all of the beauty that could have been, and that isn't there anymore. And then here Sri Aurobindo starts...
… Here is the gap, here stops or sinks life’s force; This deficit paupers the magician’s skill: This want makes all the rest seem thin and bare. A half-sight draws the horizon of her acts: Her depths remember what she came to do, But the mind has forgotten or the heart mistakes: In Nature’s endless lines is lost the God. In knowledge to sum up omniscience, In action to erect the Omnipotent, To create her Creator here was her heart’s conceit, To invade the cosmic scene with utter God. Toiling to transform the still far Absolute Into an all-fulfilling epiphany, Into an utterance of the Ineffable, She would bring the glory here of the Absolute’s force, Change poise into creation’s rhythmic swing, p.196 Marry with a sky of calm a sea of bliss. A fire to call eternity into Time, Make body’s joy as vivid as the soul’s, Earth she would lift to neighbourhood with heaven, Labours life to equate with the Supreme And reconcile the Eternal and the Abyss. Her pragmatism of the transcendent Truth Fills silence with the voices of the gods, But in the cry the single Voice is lost. For Nature’s vision climbs beyond her acts. A life of gods in heaven she sees above, A demigod emerging from an ape Is all she can in our mortal element. Here the half-god, the half-titan are her peak: This greater life wavers twixt earth and sky. A poignant paradox pursues her dreams: Her hooded energy moves an ignorant world To look for a joy her own strong clasp puts off: In her embrace it cannot turn to its source. Immense her power, endless her act’s vast drive, Astray is its significance and lost. Although she carries in her secret breast The law and journeying curve of all things born Her knowledge partial seems, her purpose small; On a soil of yearning tread her sumptuous hours. A leaden Nescience weighs the wings of Thought, Her power oppresses the being with its garbs, Her actions prison its immortal gaze. A sense of limit haunts her masteries And nowhere is assured content or peace: For all the depth and beauty of her work A wisdom lacks that sets the spirit free. An old and faded charm had now her face And palled for him her quick and curious lore; His wide soul asked a deeper joy than hers. Out of her daedal lines he sought escape; p.197 But neither gate of horn nor ivory He found nor postern of spiritual sight, There was no issue from that dreamlike space. Our being must move eternally through Time; Death helps us not, vain is the hope to cease; A secret Will compels us to endure. Our life’s repose is in the Infinite; It cannot end, its end is Life supreme. Death is a passage, not the goal of our walk: Some ancient deep impulsion labours on: Our souls are dragged as with a hidden leash, Carried from birth to birth, from world to world, Our acts prolong after the body’s fall The old perpetual journey without pause. No silent peak is found where Time can rest. This was a magic stream that reached no sea. However far he went, wherever turned, The wheel of works ran with him and outstripped; Always a farther task was left to do. A beat of action and a cry of search For ever grew in that unquiet world; A busy murmur filled the heart of Time. All was contrivance and unceasing stir. A hundred ways to live were tried in vain: A sameness that assumed a thousand forms Strove to escape from its long monotone And made new things that soon were like the old. A curious decoration lured the eye And novel values furbished ancient themes To cheat the mind with the idea of change. A different picture that was still the same Appeared upon the cosmic vague background. Only another labyrinthine house Of creatures and their doings and events, A city of the traffic of bound souls, A market of creation and her wares, p.198 Was offered to the labouring mind and heart. A circuit ending where it first began Is dubbed the forward and eternal march Of progress on perfection’s unknown road. Each final scheme leads to a sequel plan. Yet every new departure seems the last, Inspired evangel, theory’s ultimate peak, Proclaiming a panacea for all Time’s ills Or carrying thought in its ultimate zenith flight And trumpeting supreme discovery; Each brief idea, a structure perishable, Publishes the immortality of its rule, Its claim to be the perfect form of things, Truth’s last epitome, Time’s golden best. But nothing has been achieved of infinite worth: A world made ever anew, never complete, Piled always half-attempts on lost attempts And saw a fragment as the eternal Whole. In the aimless mounting total of things done Existence seemed a vain necessity’s act, A wrestle of eternal opposites In a clasped antagonism’s close-locked embrace, A play without denouement or idea, A hunger march of lives without a goal, Or, written on a bare blackboard of Space, A futile and recurring sum of souls, A hope that failed, a light that never shone, The labour of an unaccomplished Force Tied to its acts in a dim eternity. There is no end or none can yet be seen: Although defeated, life must struggle on; Always she sees a crown she cannot grasp; Her eyes are fixed beyond her fallen state. There quivers still within her breast and ours A glory that was once and is no more, Or there calls to us from some unfulfilled beyond p.199 A greatness yet unreached by the halting world. In a memory behind our mortal sense A dream persists of larger happier air Breathing around free hearts of joy and love, Forgotten by us, immortal in lost Time. A ghost of bliss pursues her haunted depths; For she remembers still, though now so far, Her realm of golden ease and glad desire And the beauty and strength and happiness that were hers In the sweetness of her glowing paradise, In her kingdom of immortal ecstasy Half-way between God’s silence and the Abyss. This knowledge in our hidden parts we keep; Awake to a vague mystery’s appeal, We meet a deep unseen Reality Far truer than the world’s face of present truth: We are chased by a self we cannot now recall And moved by a Spirit we must still become. As one who has lost the kingdom of his soul, We look back to some god-phase of our birth Other than this imperfect creature here And hope in this or a diviner world To recover yet from Heaven’s patient guard What by our mind’s forgetfulness we miss, Our being’s natural felicity, Our heart’s delight we have exchanged for grief, The body’s thrill we bartered for mere pain, The bliss for which our mortal nature yearns As yearns an obscure moth to blazing Light. Our life is a march to a victory never won. This wave of being longing for delight, This eager turmoil of unsatisfied strengths, These long far files of forward-striving hopes Lift worshipping eyes to the blue Void called heaven Looking for the golden Hand that never came, The advent for which all creation waits p.200 The beautiful visage of Eternity That shall appear upon the roads of Time. Yet still to ourselves we say rekindling faith, “Oh, surely one day he shall come to our cry, One day he shall create our life anew And utter the magic formula of peace And bring perfection to the scheme of things. One day he shall descend to life and earth, Leaving the secrecy of the eternal doors, Into a world that cries to him for help, And bring the truth that sets the spirit free, The joy that is the baptism of the soul, The strength that is the outstretched arm of Love. One day he shall lift his beauty’s dreadful veil, Impose delight on the world’s beating heart And bare his secret body of light and bliss.” But now we strain to reach an unknown goal: There is no end of seeking and of birth, There is no end of dying and return; The life that wins its aim asks greater aims, The life that fails and dies must live again; Till it has found itself it cannot cease. All must be done for which life and death were made. But who shall say that even then is rest? Or there repose and action are the same In the deep breast of God’s supreme delight. In a high state where ignorance is no more, Each movement is a wave of peace and bliss, Repose God’s motionless creative force, Action a ripple in the Infinite And birth a gesture of Eternity. A sun of transfiguration still can shine And Night can bare its core of mystic light; The self-cancelling, self-afflicting paradox Into a self-luminous mystery might change, The imbroglio into a joyful miracle. p.201 Then God could be visible here, here take a shape; Disclosed would be the spirit’s identity; Life would reveal her true immortal face. But now a termless labour is her fate: In its recurrent decimal of events Birth, death are a ceaseless iteration’s points; The old question-mark margins each finished page, Each volume of her effort’s history. A limping Yes through the aeons journeys still Accompanied by an eternal No. All seems in vain, yet endless is the game. Impassive turns the ever-circling Wheel, Life has no issue, death brings no release. A prisoner of itself the being lives And keeps its futile immortality; Extinction is denied, its sole escape. An error of the gods has made the world. Or indifferent the Eternal watches Time. END OF CANTO SIX