Loretta reads Savitri:Two.XIII "In the Self of Mind"
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds
Canto XIII: In the Self of Mind
King Aswapati has travelled through the kingdoms of the Ideal. He's gone through the heavenly realms of the deathless Rose and the deathless Flame; but he did not find the real knowledge, power or bliss – the final goal of complete yogic realization. So he did not stay there long. These kingdoms are the place of truths, but they're not the whole truth of the all-encompassing consciousness, the consciousness which is Satchitananda (supreme Existence, Consciousness and Bliss). Instead, they are the home of the absoluteness of the truth of a single ideal only. So the king has passed on. He's climbing higher up the world stair.
Finally, he stands on “a wide arc of summit Space” (p.283). And 'summit' means the highest place which one can reach – like the very top of a mountain – the final goal. And here, at this summit of the mental worlds, the yogi king stands “Alone with an enormous Self of Mind // Which [holds] all life in a corner of its vasts.” (p.305).
He's reached the cosmic plane, which is the source of Mind. The source of our whole creation is the supreme Master, the unmanifested All – the All which puts forth his own energy out of himself to become the Divine Mother, the creating force which creates and is the totality of the whole creation. So this Self is also called a Purusha; the supreme Self the Paramatman. This is the eternal witness consciousness behind all, supporting all. It may be unmanifested, but it is the real, ultimate source of everything.
And for Sri Aurobindo's Yoga, one has to attain this consciousness. It's necessary because it is the indispensable basis – the basis which gives an unshakable foundation of inner immobility. And even though we are manifested beings, we can have this full consciousness.
And then, the next thing that has to happen is the manifestation of the living, creating Divine Mother has to be perfectly harmonized in us with the immobile supreme consciousness. So we need to have the two – both the supreme Master and the Divine Mother – as full realizations and fully acting in us, in order for us to succeed in doing Sri Aurobindo's Yoga.
So here on the “arc of summit Space” (p.283), the great yogi king attains to the realization of the supreme Master – the Purusha. But it's not yet the final unmanifested All. (This he will come to later.) Here he has reached what we could call a reflection of it, or a true presence of it and its action, but only at the top of our mental plane, our mental worlds.
It is his Essays on the Gita where Sri Aurobindo gives a really good explanation. He says:
- “As the one silent self of all he is the non-doer, and Nature alone is the doer. He leaves all these works to be done by her according to the law of our being, svabhāvas tu pravartate, and yet he is still the lord, prabhu vibhu, because he views and upholds our action and enables Nature to work by his silent sanction.”
So here, at this level of the top of mind – the self of Mind – in Savitri Sri Aurobindo describes for us what it does. Or perhaps we should say, what it does not do. And it sounds just exactly like the supreme, ultimate Purusha self. He says:
- Omnipotent, immobile and aloof,
- In the world which sprang from it, it took no part
- An equal Cause of things, a lonely Seer
- And Master of its multitude of forms,
- It acted not but bore all thoughts and deeds,
- The witness Lord of Nature’s myriad acts
- Consenting to the movements of her Force. (p.283)
When the king attains to this level, the mind of the king reflects this vast quietism. And Sri Aurobindo writes:
- In the still self he lived and it in him;
- Its mute immemorable listening depths,
- Its vastness and its stillness were his own;
- One being with it he grew wide, powerful, free.
- Apart, unbound, he looked on all things done. (p.284)
Up to our times, and the coming of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, the discovery of the supreme unmanifested self alone was the final spiritual goal of the seeker. The silence of the Atman – the Paramatam, the Supreme self – was the final door of exit out of the world and all its unsolvable problems. Here, in the Purusha consciousness – the still, vast self of Mind – the king is wide and powerful and free; but we're going to see that Sri Aurobindo will say to us, 'oh, no – it's too soon to believe we have reached all that can be reached by spiritual progress. It is not by attaining this silent, unmoving mental area of self'.
He writes about the yogi king's level of attainment here by saying:
- Nothing was asked nor wanted any more.
- There he could stay, the Self, the Silence won:
- His soul had peace, it knew the cosmic Whole. (p.284)
But it's not enough, because something else happens:
- [...] suddenly a luminous finger fell
- On all things seen or touched or heard or felt
- And showed his mind that nothing could be known;
- That must be reached from which all knowledge comes. (p.284)
And from now on, through all the rest of this canto, Sri Aurobindo is going to poetically describe – and poetically destroy – the ultimate value of all the mental functions he has written about so far. He says:
- The sceptic Ray disrupted all that seems
- And smote at the very roots of thought and sense. (p.284)
So everything in the thinking of the little mind is based on information from senses; and now it's gone. Thought and sense are finished. Then all the things that the mind uses to experience reality look like frauds, tricks. Proven fact, fixed inference, clear deduction, theory, significance – all gone. He says:
- A doubt corroded even the means to think,
- Distrust was thrown upon Mind’s instruments (p.284)
- The builder Reason lost her confidence (p.286)
And Sri Aurobindo goes on, using his genius with words to create images where all that we have as our mind becomes valueless and completely useless as realization of the Truth.
And finally he says about the very Self of Mind – the Self of Mind itself – he says:
- A shadow seemed the wide and witness Self,
- Its liberation and immobile calm
- A void recoil of being from Time-made things,
- Not the self-vision of Eternity. (p.286)
And we know in another way that the Self of Mind is not enough, because he says:
- Our sweet and mighty Mother was not there (p.286)
So this mental Purusha, supreme self consciousness in the mind, cannot be the final goal. Because the Prakriti Divine Mother force and creation are not there, and not harmonized with the Supreme.
And then Sri Aurobindo tells us:
- A greater Spirit than the Self of Mind
- Must answer to the questioning of his soul. (p.287)
The realization of our great yogi king is shattered by a ray of light from above; and all his mental constructions are demolished. His spirit's walk “wandered in the spiral of its acts // Or ran around the cycles of its thought”; and it “knew no more than when it first began” (p.288). The infinite Self is behind a veil. The immortal spirit is left in a world “Where all must die to live and live to die” (p.288).
In this canto, no answer comes to the questioning seeker yogi; he's going to have to move on to find what he seeks. And at the end of this canto, Sri Aurobindo writes, “To be was a prison” (p.288). And then he says: to escape from the prison means extinction.
Sri Aurobindo wrote a beautiful lyrical poem which speaks to the subject of the liberation only to the silent self. It shows why it's not enough. And in his poem, we get a hint about what will solve our great yogi king's problem. The poem is called, “Silence is all”:
Silence is all
- Silence is all, say the sages.
- Silence watches the work of the ages;
- In the book of Silence the cosmic Scribe has written his cosmic pages:
- Silence is all, say the sages.
- What then of the word, O speaker?
- What then of the thought, O thinker?
- Thought is the wine of the soul and the word is the beaker;
- Life is the banquet-table as the soul of the sage is the drinker.
- What of the wine, O mortal?
- I am drunk with the wine as I sit at Wisdom’s portal,
- Waiting for the Light beyond thought and the Word immortal.
- Long I sit in vain at Wisdom’s portal.
- How shalt thou know the Word when it comes, O seeker?
- How shalt thou know the Light when it breaks, O witness?
- I shall hear the voice of the God within me and grow wiser and meeker;
- I shall be the tree that takes in the light as its food, I shall drink its nectar of sweetness.
So now King Aswapati is in the Self of Mind...
Canto Thirteen In the Self of Mind At last there came a bare indifferent sky Where Silence listened to the cosmic Voice, But answered nothing to a million calls; The soul’s endless question met with no response. An abrupt conclusion ended eager hopes, A deep cessation in a mighty calm, A finis-line on the last page of thought And a margin and a blank of wordless peace. There paused the climbing hierarchy of worlds. He stood on a wide arc of summit Space Alone with an enormous Self of Mind Which held all life in a corner of its vasts. Omnipotent, immobile and aloof, In the world which sprang from it, it took no part: It gave no heed to the paeans of victory, It was indifferent to its own defeats, It heard the cry of grief and made no sign; Impartial fell its gaze on evil and good, It saw destruction come and did not move. An equal Cause of things, a lonely Seer And Master of its multitude of forms, It acted not but bore all thoughts and deeds, The witness Lord of Nature’s myriad acts Consenting to the movements of her Force. His mind reflected this vast quietism. This witness hush is the Thinker’s secret base: Hidden in silent depths the word is formed, From hidden silences the act is born Into the voiceful mind, the labouring world; In secrecy wraps the seed the Eternal sows Silence, the mystic birthplace of the soul. In God’s supreme withdrawn and timeless hush p.284 A seeing Self and potent Energy met; The Silence knew itself and thought took form: Self-made from the dual power creation rose. In the still self he lived and it in him; Its mute immemorable listening depths, Its vastness and its stillness were his own; One being with it he grew wide, powerful, free. Apart, unbound, he looked on all things done. As one who builds his own imagined scenes And loses not himself in what he sees, Spectator of a drama self-conceived, He looked on the world and watched its motive thoughts With the burden of luminous prophecy in their eyes, Its forces with their feet of wind and fire Arisen from the dumbness in his soul. All now he seemed to understand and know; Desire came not nor any gust of will, The great perturbed inquirer lost his task; Nothing was asked nor wanted any more. There he could stay, the Self, the Silence won: His soul had peace, it knew the cosmic Whole. Then suddenly a luminous finger fell On all things seen or touched or heard or felt And showed his mind that nothing could be known; That must be reached from which all knowledge comes. The sceptic Ray disrupted all that seems And smote at the very roots of thought and sense. In a universe of Nescience they have grown, Aspiring towards a superconscient Sun, Playing in shine and rain from heavenlier skies They never can win however high their reach Or overpass however keen their probe. A doubt corroded even the means to think, Distrust was thrown upon Mind’s instruments; All that it takes for reality’s shining coin, Proved fact, fixed inference, deduction clear, p.285 Firm theory, assured significance, Appeared as frauds upon Time’s credit bank Or assets valueless in Truth’s treasury. An Ignorance on an uneasy throne Travestied with a fortuitous sovereignty A figure of knowledge garbed in dubious words And tinsel thought-forms brightly inadequate. A labourer in the dark dazzled by half-light, What it knew was an image in a broken glass, What it saw was real but its sight untrue. All the ideas in its vast repertory Were like the mutterings of a transient cloud That spent itself in sound and left no trace. A frail house hanging in uncertain air, The thin ingenious web round which it moves, Put out awhile on the tree of the universe, And gathered up into itself again, Was only a trap to catch life’s insect food, Winged thoughts that flutter fragile in brief light But dead, once captured in fixed forms of mind, Aims puny but looming large in man’s small scale, Flickers of imagination’s brilliant gauze And cobweb-wrapped beliefs alive no more. The magic hut of built-up certitudes Made out of glittering dust and bright moonshine In which it shrines its image of the Real, Collapsed into the Nescience whence it rose. Only a gleam was there of symbol facts That shroud the mystery lurking in their glow, And falsehoods based on hidden realities By which they live until they fall from Time. Our mind is a house haunted by the slain past, Ideas soon mummified, ghosts of old truths, God’s spontaneities tied with formal strings And packed into drawers of reason’s trim bureau, A grave of great lost opportunities, p.286 Or an office for misuse of soul and life And all the waste man makes of heaven’s gifts And all his squanderings of Nature’s store, A stage for the comedy of Ignorance. The world seemed a long aeonic failure’s scene: All sterile grew, no base was left secure. Assailed by the edge of the convicting beam The builder Reason lost her confidence In the successful sleight and turn of thought That makes the soul the prisoner of a phrase. Its highest wisdom was a brilliant guess, Its mighty structured science of the worlds A passing light on being’s surfaces. There was nothing there but a schema drawn by sense, A substitute for eternal mysteries, A scrawl figure of reality, a plan And elevation by the architect Word Imposed upon the semblances of Time. Existence’ self was shadowed by a doubt; Almost it seemed a lotus-leaf afloat On a nude pool of cosmic Nothingness. This great spectator and creator Mind Was only some half-seeing’s delegate, A veil that hung between the soul and Light, An idol, not the living body of God. Even the still spirit that looks upon its works Was some pale front of the Unknowable; A shadow seemed the wide and witness Self, Its liberation and immobile calm A void recoil of being from Time-made things, Not the self-vision of Eternity. Deep peace was there, but not the nameless Force: Our sweet and mighty Mother was not there Who gathers to her bosom her children’s lives, Her clasp that takes the world into her arms In the fathomless rapture of the Infinite, p.287 The Bliss that is creation’s splendid grain Or the white passion of God-ecstasy That laughs in the blaze of the boundless heart of Love. A greater Spirit than the Self of Mind Must answer to the questioning of his soul. For here was no firm clue and no sure road; High-climbing pathways ceased in the unknown; An artist Sight constructed the Beyond In contrary patterns and conflicting hues; A part-experience fragmented the Whole. He looked above, but all was blank and still: A sapphire firmament of abstract Thought Escaped into a formless Vacancy. He looked below, but all was dark and mute. A noise was heard, between, of thought and prayer, A strife, a labour without end or pause; A vain and ignorant seeking raised its voice. A rumour and a movement and a call, A foaming mass, a cry innumerable Rolled ever upon the ocean surge of Life Along the coasts of mortal Ignorance. On its unstable and enormous breast Beings and forces, forms, ideas like waves Jostled for figure and supremacy, And rose and sank and rose again in Time; And at the bottom of the sleepless stir, A Nothingness parent of the struggling worlds, A huge creator Death, a mystic Void, For ever sustaining the irrational cry, For ever excluding the supernal Word, Motionless, refusing question and response, Reposed beneath the voices and the march The dim Inconscient’s dumb incertitude. Two firmaments of darkness and of light Opposed their limits to the spirit’s walk; It moved veiled in from Self’s infinity p.288 In a world of beings and momentary events Where all must die to live and live to die. Immortal by renewed mortality, It wandered in the spiral of its acts Or ran around the cycles of its thought, Yet was no more than its original self And knew no more than when it first began. To be was a prison, extinction the escape. END OF CANTO THIRTEEN