"Sri Aurobindo at Evening Talk" published Nov-Dec 1971
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“Sri Aurobindo at Evening Talk” by V. Chidanandam
Mother India issue of November-December 1971
(Continued from the issue of October 1971)
Recollections of talks by Sri Aurobindo at which their author, V. Chidanandam, was present.
Gurus and disciples
Ramakrishna gave the Brahmic consciousness to a certain person. But a person does not come to anything if he is not fit. In fact he becomes worse. When the Guru gives, the Guru loses. But that is a way of speaking. If the disciple is receptive there is a sort of natural inflow of the force, a free descent in him. But if he is not so receptive, the Guru has to fight, as it were, to put out the force from himself. In that way he loses. On the other hand, when the disciple is open, the Guru, even if he has given much, loses nothing.
Disciples often create a lot of difficulties on the path which the Guru has to solve. The Guru thus gains experience. Moreover, in the matter of giving, though he has to put out some force, he will be strengthening the higher power, as in exercise one feels tired at the moment but is the better for it. If there is aspiration in the disciples, the force of aspiration tends to create a circle of massed power. This chakra in common meditation is of help to the people who meditate.
There is a tremendous ingathering of force in the Yogin. If he spends it in the exhibition of powers, it is a waste of spiritual force.
Ramakrishna could create people for his work. Vivekananda was not so effective a Guru, for his intellectuality came in the way. The Guru gives not from the intellect but from something inside. The intellect makes a mess of things. Vivekananda did not go so much beyond giving some new ideas to Nivedita and Indianising her. She got some glimpses, but she did not build up or advance. Ramakrishna was slowly building up Abhedananda when one day Vivekananda gave the latter the vision of Vedantic samatā. Ramakrishna at once came down saying that all his work had been smashed... The more disciples you have, before you have full siddhi, the more you lose. Of course, if the siddhi is there, it does not matter.
Birth control, sexual energy
The right methods of birth control do not reduce vitality, they stop production of unhealthy children and restrain the sex impulse. Gandhi's logic holds that birth control diminishes vital force. That is only when people use it to help them indulge in license.
Regeneration does not come when there is merely restraint of the outer act. Only when there is complete mental control of the vital impulse and abstention from the act, and when the energy is taken up, there is regeneration. If there is desire in the mind, there is loss of force, just as there is in the sexual act. Many people, who all the while think they have control, play on sex with their imagination. The Yogin must have complete control of all the movements of Kama, sex-desire.
Ancient intuitive knowledge
Though the laws of sound were not scientifically studied by the musicians of old, their instruments show perfect agreement with these laws. They had practical intuition of the thing. Even so in medicine. For example, in feeling the pulse it is the same artery with the same blood, but the three fingers placed on it know the disease by a subtle rhythm. It is intuition. The foundations of medicine were laid in India, and medical science passed from India to the West through Greece. In philosophy and psychology the Indians had no equal, though they may yet have to learn more. We had political science, such as no other nations had; only the standards were different – that is, the forms of government.
Mary and Jesus
The Ascension of Mary in the Roman Catholic doctrine signifies the change of the physical consciousness, the physical nature, into the divine. The idea of Jesus being an incarnation was borrowed from the tradition of the East about the birth of God in man, as the son of man, – like the Veda's birth of the Eternal Sun in the human consciousness.
Percepts and concepts, food
- Q: In Indian psychology, where do percepts belong, and where concepts?
Percepts and concepts belong to Manas (sense-mind) and Buddhi (intellect) respectively.
Theoretically we can do without food. The only difficulty is that the tissues of the body have to be replenished. That can be done by changing the vital elements into the physical. The Yogin does not exercise any will or effort. The Yogic force is there in him. If you can bring down the Ananda, then with the inflow of Amrita into the body the body no longer needs food.
Bengal has led the rest of India recently. But each province in India has had its day. The Maharattas, the Sikhs, all have been leaders. The cult of Shakti worship has developed great vital force in Bengal. The spirituality concerned is emotional rather than Vedantic, it tends to be outward and impure and covers up the pure psychic movement as in certain phases of Vaishnavism. The emotional intensity is often a weakness, for it is not backed by patience and solidity. The Bengalis have developed a great vital rapidity. It is the same vital rapidity that served Ramakrishna in getting one thing after another quickly in his sadhana. But rapidity is not organisation and he did not stop to organise anything. What others took to achieve in many years, he got in 3 days. Another characteristic of the race's mental intuition (not the intuitive mind proper) is a direct opening to the above. In Ramakrishna there is extraordinary intuitive activity. As an instance of the remarkable vital rapidity of the Bengali, compare the movements in politics of Das, with those of a man, say, like Ranade. There is a dynamic push in the Bengali.
Time and space
Our ideas of time and space are mental ideas, abstractions. How do you know that things exist in space? How do you know that things exist? By the mind. We look at things through the mind. We cannot prove that things exist in space. The mind says that things are extended in space and that consciousness is not extended. The fact is that consciousness is extended. Are you aware of your consciousness? Even consciousness is an abstraction to the mind. When you are angry you feel it physically in your nerves, and since anger is consciousness, consciousness is thus extended. Nothing is apart from consciousness. When my consciousness gets widened it moves, though not in physical space, and there must be something in which it moves. Even physical space is an extension of consciousness.
Time is not a creation of the mere mind, it is a reality in itself, it is a movement of force, or rather (the word ‘movement’ does not convey the meaning) it is a force in eternal action. In a certain experience you see that it is static. In Supermind, past, present and future are one movement, you have only to look back and look forward. Time also is an extension of consciousness, but of a different kind of extension from space. Time is supra-physical, it is an inner element. The inner being moves in time, backward and forward, as the physical being does in physical space.
In the vital world time and space are different from ours. The organisation of consciousness is different, and with a different organisation things appear to you in a different manner. Time, the Upanishad says, is the Creator. From that standpoint we can speak of time as the force of eternal action. But that is consciousness. In fact everything is consciousness. If you don't accept that matter is conscient, either you have to accept Shankara's reasoning and dismiss the world as Maya, an illusion created by the mind or fall back on the opposite theory, the materialistic, that mind is the creation of matter. But for us matter and space are an extension of consciousness. Shankara argued not from his experience, but rationally, from the purely philosophic side.
- Q: Do gods hurt us?
Not intentionally. But if you go against them – that is, against the Eternal Laws – you get hurt, just as when you go against a wall.
Ineffectiveness of mental ideas
Mental ideas cannot be realised on earth because mind has not the power to effectuate them, it cannot change the physical consciousness and external being, it can only make some alterations here and there. Even if the Supermind comes down into the mind and vital it will not do, it must be brought down into the physical consciousness and external being, otherwise the mind and vital do not know themselves and do not know and realise the complete Truth.
Elemental gods, Earth Mother
- Q: Are there gods on the physical plane?
Yes, there is the Divinity in the Sun, in the solar system, the principle of Divinity in the physical. There are gods behind the spirits of Fire and Water; these spirits are the delegates of the gods or their gaṇa. The gods do not go about doing all works, they have their gaṇa. These are not so individualised as the gods, they are elemental; likewise, the genii of the forest, of the houses, are minor deities. There is the Earth Mother, an individualised being – and limited. This is not Annam Brahman – Brahman who is Matter. That is something impersonal. A god is personal. If man at his present stage comes into touch with the world of the gods (the lower gods, mental, vital, are not supra-mental) he goes to sleep; his soul passes into a certain state in which it involves itself, and is not ‘wakeful and does not enjoy’ (andham tamas). The soul, if it has to evolve, may come down; otherwise it may remain there till the next cycle. Man does not find the company of the gods pleasant, just as an uncultivated man does not find the company of the cultivated pleasant.
There are hundreds of kids of Samadhi. In Samadhi the mind loses itself, it does not enter the Supermind nor does it bring it down.
(1) When the mind thus loses itself without entering into the Supermind, it is Sushupti Samadhi (deep sleep trance). In Sushupti Samadhi you feel something massed and powerful, the Ishwara with eyes shut, the energy not thrown out in action, all withheld in Tapasya.
(2) If you pass higher in that direction, you each the Absolute who is featureless. Nirvikalpa Samadhi is where there is no differentiation, ‘no truth or falsehood, not even consciousness’ in a definable sense – there is a sort of ‘luminous inconscience’. Not that the Absolute has really no consciousness – only it is not anything that can be called so. That state may either be ‘pure existence’ or, if you are a Buddhist, ‘non-existence’. It is not Sat-Chit-Ananda.
Our Yoga has nothing to do with such Samadhi. We do not lose our mind and enter into Samadhi like that; we must be wakeful and enjoy what is realised. The path of the Sannyasi has always seemed to me lazy, doing nothing, taking no active part in work.
I attained the Akshara Brahman, the Formless Eternal in three days while meditating with Lele at Baroda. One stage of the Akshara is full of peace; external things do not exist for us there. They are a kind of cinema show for the eyes and we do not care for what is going on – whether we are hurt or whether anybody is hurt. Obviously the mind does not register the impressions, it is something other that is active.
Another stage is full of Ananda, Bliss; not that there is no peace, peace is behind, but you are the Ananda. To say that you have no cares, that you are satisfied, is a way of speaking; for there is no separate you – there is only the Ananda and you are that, you feel that you are the Ananda yourself.
For two or three months I continued in the Akshara state. Then a command came to me from above like that (waving his hand), and I came out of that state. It is not owing to any human consideration of selfishness or selflessness that I got out of the state. I could have remained in Akshara, full of joy and nothing to do, but my work was not there. If I was selfless in coming out of that state, one might as well say that I am selfish even in this path, for I seek a greater perfection. Human considerations are nothing in these states. It is all the working of the Divine Will. If you look from the Supermind, man and his evolution are as nothing. The only thing that matters is the evolution of God Himself.
Ramakrishna made a distinction between Jivakoti and Ishwarakoti. Men have to evolve up to a certain point, after which they pass into the Ishwarakoti – that is, they become one with the Ishwara, and then they are not bound to birth or non-birth; up to that stage they remain the Jivakoti.
Environment influencing the vital and physical
Environment influences the vital part of man as we see in the case of mountaineers. On the subtle physical also there is an influence; for example, domiciles in a new place change in appearance: the cut of their face comes to resemble that of the inhabitants; those who lived and died there through a long time create a sort of archetype, to which newcomers gradually conform.
The mind's abstract idea of a triangle (in geometry) practically exists nowhere, but it includes all possible triangles that we can see, each particular class of forms. The fundamental turn of mind is the geometrical turn (not the general mathematical turn): it makes, constructs, arranges according to a pattern. The vital movement is free from that, it is fluid. The faculty of mind which takes interest, not in mathematics, science, but in poetry, literature is more subtle.
The different planes have different colours
The different planes have different colours. The colour of the physical is red; of the vital purple and green; of the mental yellow. Golden, white and blue are spiritual colours. Golden is the colour of truth and knowledge; white, of purity and essential power; blue is akin to Ananda, it is not the colour of Ananda itself. The mental symbol of the Supermind is the square. The mental symbol of the whole of existence is two triangles in opposite positions, the apex of one touching the apex of the other – the three planes down below meet the three higher planes and the point of the meeting is Supermind.
Typal beings on the vital plane
On the vital plane there is no evolution; what you see there is types – particular fixed formations, of temperament, character, etc. There is the erotic type, there is the destructive type, there is the type seeking power, any number of types are there. These beings may help or harm us. For example, anger may help us sometimes.
Origins of language
Language originally began as simple sounds, each sound having its own guṇa or sense-quality which gave it meaning. Ideas and complex sounds came later. Sounds were not composite at first; in many languages the sounds giving the meaning of ‘I’, ‘you’ and ‘he’ are the same. In Tamil also you can find the resemblances. The Mediterranean and Semitic languages have really the same roots as the Aryan.