Loretta reads Savitri:Two.X "The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Little Mind" part 3
|Loretta reads Savitri
Book Two: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds
Canto X: The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Little Mind
Part 3 of 4, pages 249-253
Sri Aurobindo has been telling us about the mind's first forward steps. This is the development of mind as the Divine Mother – the great creatrix, who is working as Nature, as the development of evolution – creates mind in our life in matter. She can't go too fast. Our own earth – our physical body – can only bear a slow advance. And so mind develops slowly.
And Sri Aurobindo is describing the different kinds and stages of mental development that have evolved. Eventually he's going to tell us that they're not enough. And he's going to show us what's coming in the future – and how much of it is in fact already available.
So first he told us about the thought that needs to live in bounds: the thought that has to be bounded and fenced in by external sight; involved only in what the senses experience. This kind of mind, or this way of thinking, only wants to go around and around with the common and the known. No changes; no new things; it wants safety and its “old sure memories” (p.246).
Then Sri Aurobindo told us about the thoughts in our mind that drive out of the “burning vision of Desire” (p.247): restless thoughts, running everywhere. Leaping up to the heights; diving down to the depths. This way of thinking believes that whatever flatters its own hopes is the Truth. This is unstable, passionate, not guided by reason. Not guided by the seeing soul which knows everything. This thinking wastes life's force “to achieve the impossible” (p.248). It never gets tired of doing it, over and over – creating whatever it fancies, over and over.
But now, Sri Aurobindo is going to tell us about the highest of these kinds of thinking that are bound in the mind and the senses. This is our mental faculty of reason. It's the greatest of the three mental powers of thought. And in our physical mind, we are bound with thoughts that are pieces of things. The nature of this mind is to cut up the truth into little bits that it can manage. And when we think about this, we look at the way we've always seen the world: we try to fit things into little things that we've created for ourselves, little manageable ways of getting along, of understanding. And with learning what Sri Aurobindo has to tell us, suddenly we start to see how limited we've always been.
He says that reason is the “strongest, wisest of the troll-like Three” (p.249). With this one word, “troll-like” – “troll” – he places these functions in the progress of evolution. And because it's a concept we're familiar with, he gives us a picture of their inner nature and working. We've heard of trolls before; as children, they were in the fairy tales that we read. And occultists know that there are elemental beings in the shapes that the fairy tales describe for these trolls. The dictionary definition of a troll is “a dwarf, or a giant, or a monster who lives in mountains and caves and forests”.
A troll is not a gentle, sensitive, conscious being – responsive to higher things, receiving higher things. A troll has its job to do at its own low level, and sticks to it. And Sri Aurobindo's descriptions – physical descriptions – of the troll-like three also show this.
The first one – the one that stays in the past – is strong-limbed with “A low-brow with a square and heavy jowl” (p.245). The second one is the “hunchback rider of the red Wild-Ass” (p.247). And now Reason, the last and greatest of the three, is a “squat godhead artisan” with “A pensive face and close and peering eyes” (p.249), a “low bent and mighty figure” (p.250).
Society generally looks on reason as a highly desirable action. We've always been told to use our reason, to reason things out; reasonable people are considered to be highly civilized; we want a reasonable world. But in Savitri Sri Aurobindo shows us that what we admire so much is not all that great. He writes:
- Although like sunbeams to our glow-worm mind
- Her knowledge feigns to fall from a clear heaven,
- Its rays are a lantern’s lustres in the Night;
- She throws a glittering robe on Ignorance. (p.252)
And here he tells us how reason functions, by showing us the limitations of the function of reasoning thought. When we use reason, we're really inventing our own scheme-lines of reality. Reason imposes clarity “on the unfathomable” (p.250), to make it work for us. Reason works to reduce the mystic world to a lot of rules, to make it work for us. Reason doesn't know anything – but she hopes to know everything.
When we use reason, we are trying to use thought's control to harmonize all of life. Reason creates her world unconscious of the unspoken thought, the heart's voiceless communications. Reason imprisons life and the world, in a world that Reason conceives herself.
Sri Aurobindo says, even though she has “high works of pure intelligence”, and also that she withdraws from “the senses’ trap” (p.251) – which is what the other two were stuck in – still, she is bound in the walls of mind. “Her thought is an endless march without a goal”, “An inconclusive play” (p.252).
Reasoning throws away the inner truth, and keeps the outside facts. Like the grain of wheat, from which they make flour – which has an outer husk, and an inner kernel that we can eat – reason keeps the husk and throws the true food away.
And so we see that reason functions like an automatic machine. We all create our own world: with our thoughts, with our desires, with our feelings. We make our world. And we will do this until our thinking processes develop beyond the actions of the troll-like three.
Anyone can do this experiment:
- Take a situation which you would like to understand.
- Create your understanding with your good reasons for the situation: the reasons which you believe explain it or justify it.
- Then take another look and decide that this explanation does not properly explain your situation.
- Almost instantly, your mind will present you with another explanation – just as acceptable, just as complete, just as believable.
- And then if you decide you don't like this one, your mind will give you yet a third one, equally acceptable. And you can go on and even do a fourth and fifth...
So Sri Aurobindo says that finally, by using reason, people are led to the conclusion that:
- Of soul or spirit we have now no need:
- Matter is the admirable Reality
- The patent unescapable miracle,
- The hard truth of things, simple, eternal, sole. (p.253)
So here we are; the traveler is going to experience Reason. Sri Aurobindo hasn't mentioned much about the traveler of the worlds in this canto, but it's his journey, and we're with him. We're in “The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Little Mind” – the troll-like three.
… Of all these Powers the greatest was the last. Arriving late from a far plane of thought Into a packed irrational world of Chance Where all was grossly felt and blindly done, Yet the haphazard seemed the inevitable, Came Reason, the squat godhead artisan, To her narrow house upon a ridge in Time. Adept of clear contrivance and design, A pensive face and close and peering eyes, She took her firm and irremovable seat, The strongest, wisest of the troll-like Three. Armed with her lens and measuring-rod and probe, She looked upon an object universe And the multitudes that in it live and die And the body of Space and the fleeing soul of Time, And took the earth and stars into her hands To try what she could make of these strange things. In her strong purposeful laborious mind, Inventing her scheme-lines of reality And the geometric curves of her time-plan, p.250 She multiplied her slow half-cuts at Truth: Impatient of enigma and the unknown, Intolerant of the lawless and the unique, Imposing reflection on the march of Force, Imposing clarity on the unfathomable, She strove to reduce to rules the mystic world. Nothing she knew but all things hoped to know. In dark inconscient realms once void of thought, Missioned by a supreme Intelligence To throw its ray upon the obscure Vast, An imperfect light leading an erring mass By the power of sense and the idea and word, She ferrets out Nature’s process, substance, cause. All life to harmonise by thought’s control, She with the huge imbroglio struggles still; Ignorant of all but her own seeking mind To save the world from Ignorance she came. A sovereign worker through the centuries Observing and remoulding all that is, Confident she took up her stupendous charge. There the low bent and mighty figure sits Bowed under the arc-lamps of her factory home Amid the clatter and ringing of her tools. A rigorous stare in her creative eyes Coercing the plastic stuff of cosmic Mind, She sets the hard inventions of her brain In a pattern of eternal fixity: Indifferent to the cosmic dumb demand, Unconscious of too close realities, Of the unspoken thought, the voiceless heart, She leans to forge her credos and iron codes And metal structures to imprison life And mechanic models of all things that are. For the world seen she weaves a world conceived: She spins in stiff but unsubstantial lines Her gossamer word-webs of abstract thought, p.251 Her segment systems of the Infinite, Her theodicies and cosmogonic charts And myths by which she explains the inexplicable. At will she spaces in thin air of mind Like maps in the school-house of intellect hung, Forcing wide Truth into a narrow scheme, Her numberless warring strict philosophies; Out of Nature’s body of phenomenon She carves with Thought’s keen edge in rigid lines, Like rails for the World-Magician’s power to run, Her sciences precise and absolute. On the huge bare walls of human nescience Written round Nature’s deep dumb hieroglyphs She pens in clear demotic characters The vast encyclopaedia of her thoughts; An algebra of her mathematics’ signs, Her numbers and unerring formulas She builds to clinch her summary of things. On all sides runs as if in a cosmic mosque Tracing the scriptural verses of her laws The daedal of her patterned arabesques, Art of her wisdom, artifice of her lore. This art, this artifice are her only stock. In her high works of pure intelligence, In her withdrawal from the senses’ trap, There comes no breaking of the walls of mind, There leaps no rending flash of absolute power, There dawns no light of heavenly certitude. A million faces wears her knowledge here And every face is turbaned with a doubt. All now is questioned, all reduced to nought. Once monumental in their massive craft Her old great mythic writings disappear And into their place start strict ephemeral signs; This constant change spells progress to her eyes: Her thought is an endless march without a goal. p.252 There is no summit on which she can stand And see in a single glance the Infinite’s whole. An inconclusive play is Reason’s toil. Each strong idea can use her as its tool; Accepting every brief she pleads her case. Open to every thought, she cannot know. The eternal Advocate seated as judge Armours in logic’s invulnerable mail A thousand combatants for Truth’s veiled throne And sets on a high horse-back of argument To tilt for ever with a wordy lance In a mock tournament where none can win. Assaying thought’s values with her rigid tests Balanced she sits on wide and empty air, Aloof and pure in her impartial poise. Absolute her judgments seem but none is sure; Time cancels all her verdicts in appeal. Although like sunbeams to our glow-worm mind Her knowledge feigns to fall from a clear heaven, Its rays are a lantern’s lustres in the Night; She throws a glittering robe on Ignorance. But now is lost her ancient sovereign claim To rule mind’s high realm in her absolute right, Bind thought with logic’s forged infallible chain Or see truth nude in a bright abstract haze. A master and slave of stark phenomenon, She travels on the roads of erring sight Or looks upon a set mechanical world Constructed for her by her instruments. A bullock yoked in the cart of proven fact, She drags huge knowledge-bales through Matter’s dust To reach utility’s immense bazaar. Apprentice she has grown to her old drudge; An aided sense is her seeking’s arbiter. This now she uses as the assayer’s stone. As if she knew not facts are husks of truth, p.253 The husks she keeps, the kernel throws aside. An ancient wisdom fades into the past, The ages’ faith becomes an idle tale, God passes out of the awakened thought, An old discarded dream needed no more: Only she seeks mechanic Nature’s keys. Interpreting stone-laws inevitable She digs into Matter’s hard concealing soil, To unearth the processes of all things done. A loaded huge self-worked machine appears To her eye’s eager and admiring stare, An intricate and meaningless enginery Of ordered fateful and unfailing Chance: Ingenious and meticulous and minute, Its brute unconscious accurate device Unrolls an unerring march, maps a sure road; It plans without thinking, acts without a will, A million purposes serves with purpose none And builds a rational world without a mind. It has no mover, no maker, no idea: Its vast self-action toils without a cause; A lifeless Energy irresistibly driven, Death’s head on the body of Necessity, Engenders life and fathers consciousness, Then wonders why all was and whence it came. Our thoughts are parts of the immense machine, Our ponderings but a freak of Matter’s law, The mystic’s lore was a fancy or a blind; Of soul or spirit we have now no need: Matter is the admirable Reality, The patent unescapable miracle, The hard truth of things, simple, eternal, sole. ...