Wednesday, March 25, 2009
It is a shame that I haven't read the original of two of India's greatest epics - which can easily be called THE GREATEST epics ever written in the history of human civilization - Valmiki's Ramayana, and Veda Vyasa's Mahabharat. In fact, I don't think I know anybody from my generation - from 10 years older, to 10 years younger - who has read these grand poems of ancient India. Yes, most people do know the basic stories - especially from the serializations on TV which had become a rage way back in 1988-1990 - from almost comic-strip versions in (at least some) schools - and, possibly, from their grandparents.
It is a shame that there are no complete & convincing translations of these two works available in the market, though "The Illiad", "The Odyssey", and "The Aeneid" are available even in India, in every nook & cranny (though nobody's interested in them any longer, too). Indian markets were always filled with Shakespeare, but it is only in the last 2-3 years that Kalidasa's works can be found on book-shelves in multiplex bookstores (which are rare & empty enough to look ridiculous).
Well, I was just going through an online text (which is very fortunate!), and came across this passage on the importance of a WIFE, which was very interesting, especially as a clear demonstration of the respect & even sacrosanctity that the fair sex commanded, in Hindu culture. These words are spoken by a woman herself - Shakuntala - to her husband, the King Dushyant (also written as "Dusmant"). I'll separate the lines for emphasis, rather than present them in one paragraph. I doubt if the translation conveys the MEANING - that is, the true underlying essence - of the words or terms used in the original (which must have been Sanskrit). Though the translation is by an Indian - that itself is no reason to accept that the words convey the deeper truths or abstractions - they might be just too literal, as Sri Aurobindo so convincingly proves on his commentary on the Rig Veda. Anything given in the parentheses is by me.
The wife is a man's half.
(That's why, in Indian culture, the wife is called "Ardhangini" - that is, literally, "half of the body", in the wider sense of "being", "existence", "identity". The God Shiva (or Maheshwar, Mahadev etc.) is often portrayed as being half-masculine, & half-feminine: and in such a form, is known as "Ardhanari" - the literal translation being "Half-woman". The feminine-half is his Shakti, literally "Power", without whom Shiva cannot create, without which Spirit can never manifest. It is from the primeval Hindu "Adanari" that the Hebrews derive their "Adonai". The Ardhanarishwara or Adanari has been the subject of some of the most beautiful, glowing creations in the history of Indian art & sculpture.)
The wife is the first of friends.
The wife is the root of religion, profit, and desire.
The wife is the root of salvation.
(I should've posted this on 8th of March!)
They that have wives can perform religious acts.
They that have wives can lead domestic lives.
They that have wives have the means to be cheerful.
They that have wives can achieve good fortune.
Sweet-speeched wives are friends on occasions of joy.
They are as fathers on occasions of religious acts. They are mothers in sickness and woe.
Even in the deep woods to a traveller a wife is his refreshment and solace.
He that hath a wife is trusted by all.
A wife, therefore, is one's most valuable possession.
Even when the husband leaving this world goeth into the region of Yama, it is the devoted wife that accompanies him thither. A wife going before waits for the husband. But if the husband goeth before, the chaste wife followeth close.
For these reasons, O king, doth marriage exist.
The husband enjoyth the companionship of the wife both in this and in the other worlds.
It hath been said by learned persons that one is himself born as one's son. Therefore, a man whose wife hath borne a son should look upon her as his mother.
(This is a true & interesting, if not complete, reason why many gods of old were known as the "Father, Son, & Husband" of their goddess-wives. In another place, Shakuntala tells Dushyant: The husband entering the womb of the wife cometh out himself in the form of the son. Therefore is the wife called by those cognisant of the Vedas as Jaya (she of whom one is born). This is one of the chief reasons why so much importance has been accorded to male-offspring in all cultures since time immemorial. Horus is Osiris - Jesus Christ is the Father. And Horus, the Egyptian God & son of the Creative Logos Osiris, is known as "the Bull of his Mother" - the bull being a universal religious symbol, amongst other things, of the masculine, fecundating, reproductive power in the cosmos & nature).
Beholding the face of the son one hath begotten upon his wife, like his own face in a mirror, one feeleth as happy as a virtuous man, on attaining to heaven.
(No doubt a woman is a gateway to heaven!)
Men scorched by mental grief, or suffering under bodily pain, feel as much refreshed in the companionship of their wives as a perspiring person in a cool bath.
(Now this is important, like the most relevant, practical summation:-)
No man, even in anger, should ever do anything that is disagreeable to his wife, seeing that happiness, joy, and virtue,--everything dependeth on the wife.
A wife is the sacred field in which the husband is born himself. Even Rishis cannot create creatures without women.
Do we begin to glimpse the immense reverence accorded to marriage & women in their role as wives, in ancient Hindu culture?
Monday, September 22, 2008
One fundamental truth about the whole idea of LOVE is that it is totally devoid of FORCE.
Love is the summit of the perfection of the Freedom of Consciousness.
Force, obviously, means more than just violence, i.e. actually physically hurting or depriving another individual. It would also include any form of influence exerted on another individual in violation of his volitional perception & affirmation of reality. For e.g., mind-conditioning, misleading people by spreading half-truths, or misrepresenting facts, or using cunning, apparently convincing but fundamentally false definitions of concepts. It is in this WIDEST sense that I use the term "force". Force fundamentally is a CONSCIOUS or DELIBERATE DISSOCIATION of reality/truth, from an individual's perception of it.
Love, as Jesus meant it, not only frees the individual from the effects of coercion exerted, or mind-manipulation, by others, -- but also the need to coerce or manipulate others.
Love simply cannot be forced: one cannot force oneself, or another, to love. Anything. Whether an idea, a work of art, a flower, a cathedral, a woman, one's own life, one's own self, humanity. It has to come on its own, and is perfect only when a man is fully focused on reality. That is, when a man is fully convinced within himself of the value of the object loved, & of the depth & truth of his own affirmation.
This is why, Love - & all that it entails - CANNOT be legislated, or turned into a Law: BECAUSE LAW IS COERCION, or FORCE, & is based on FEAR - and this is the whole secret of the difference between the vision of Jesus (& all those sages before & after him who upheld Love) - and of the Old Testament Prophets. That is why, Jesus's philosophy logically leads to annihilation of the State, of the Judiciary, of armies & tax-collectors, of priests & bureaucrats. In other words, to a form of "Anarchism". (There are several dubious passages in the New Testament, which makes a selective choice of words & incidents somewhat unconvincing, & a consistent interpretation of the Jesus' philosophy difficult. That's why some people focus exclusively on the Gospel (since certain verses attributed to Paul affirm loyalty to the reigning authority), and some others like Tolstoy focus on the Sermon on the Mount (not that Tolstoy rejects the rest of the NT). For one, I don't affirm a thing simply because words to that effect have been put into the mouths of Jesus & Paul, but what is consistent with logic, with my conscience, & what I understand. I take whatever is truest to the entire spirit of their vision. I am aware that the words of both Jesus & Paul have been tampered with, seriously, to suit the temporal ambitions of the Roman Catholic Church. Many difficulties of interpretation are solved by an ESOTERIC explanation which is not only convincing, but also proper. The incident of throwing the money-lenders out of the Temple, is explained symbolically. But then it becomes difficult to separate incidents which have to taken literally, from those which are to be taken symbolically. It is not news that the New Testament neither consistently nor wholly represents either Jesus or Paul, either Peter or John. One more way of looking at it is to take the most consistent view, & reject those which obviously jar or contradict the general drift of the entire text. Yet another way is to see those portions which exhort the Christians to respect the Roman authority, as intended to make them desist from revolutionary activity. A philosophy of love & forgiveness & spiritual perfection logically REJECTS ALL subversive political activity. If anything, it overally fits in with the rest of Jesus' spiritual vision. In any case, the Christians did NOT compromise their sacred values when it came to the Roman authority, & were persecuted for it.)
It is Jesus' philosophy of Love which totally rejects any form of organized, legalized altruism & collectivism. (I must emphasize that Jesus was NOT the first or last to recognize or glorify this vision. He was one of its greatest exponents, & I also mention him as a symbol of that small group of sages who saw & lived for the truth, across the span of millennia). This is one of the fundamental differences between Christianity & ALL pretentious, false systems which are purportedly based on "love" for humanity, like Socialism. (The innermost difference being the very concept & source of this Love. In Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, or other mystical streams, Love is rooted in, & affirms - God, the Eternal Self, Life Everlasting. Whenever I use the word "Love", I mean it in THIS sense: a spiritual, moral, & psychological state of being, which is based on a grasp of one's fundamental immortality & infinity, of Atma-Brahma; characterized by an ever-growing fearlessness, serenity, & tender affection for All; a constantly deepening sensitivity & receptivity to the universe around us, & a powerful & profound empathy. Logically, the individual personality built on THIS affirmation, is radically different from one built on "rationality" - i.e. rejection of the Eternal, Infinite Self. The demands of such a vision are different; the whole life of an individual changes, takes a different form.)
Indeed, CHRISTIANITY EXPLICITLY REJECTS THE IMMOLATION OF THE INDIVIDUAL FOR THE WELFARE OF THE COMMUNITY (PARTICULARLY BY AN EXTERNAL AUTHRORITY): "Then the chief priests & the Pharisees gathered a council and said, "What shall we do? For this Man works many signs."If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place & nation." And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish." (John 11:47-50)
It needn't be "proven" that Caiaphas is not the Christian ideal.
When I mentioned in my earlier post, that one has to give up the ideal for living for the welfare of others, I meant it in a very specific sense. Socrates was murdered for the "welfare" of the group i.e., the morals of the Athenians (he was accused of corrupting the youth, & of atheism!) Jesus Christ was murdered, for the "welfare" of others - i.e. the group, the collective, the Jewish nation, etc etc. Paul was beheaded by the Romans, for the "welfare" of others: Christianity was seen as a threat to the Roman Empire. The men who sought to liberate the human mind from the clutches of the Medieval Church were burnt at the stake, for the welfare of Christendom (they were seen as potential causes for the perversion of mankind, leaders of chaos & disorder, controlled & ordered by the Church). The Socialists & Communists were hellbent on murdering & looting hundreds of thousands of people, for the welfare of the Proletariate. (In consequence of achieving the same imaginary "welfare of the people" they killed millions of other people, not just the capitalists). The men who began the French Revolution for "liberty, equality & fraternity" - & for the "emancipation" of mankind from the tyranny of monarchism, a decadent nobility & aristocracy - were murdered by other Revolutionaries - in the name of liberty, equality & fraternity - which Revolutionaries in turn were murdered by yet other Revolutionaries in the name of liberty, equality, & fraternity.
In other words, the greatest individuals in the history of mankind have been "sacrificed" - the correct word is: DESTROYED - on the altar of "the welfare of humanity" - the group, the collective, the race, God, the poor, the State, the Nation etc etc.
I shall build on this point later, much more elaborately, but I think I've given a sufficient indication. I never meant INDIFFERENCE or CALLOUSNESS. I do not reject self-sacrifice or charity either. Far from being "marginal", Charity is a cardinal virtue, & it's not an accident that in the Bible, the words "Charity" & "Love" are interchangable. But all of this has to be done by the individual perfectly freely -- without coercion or guilt or regret, or the slightest unwillingness -- or for a special seat in the gallery of paradise. I have come to realize that most forms of social activism - with all their posturing of humanitarianism, "love, peace, & harmony" & "ahimsa" (this is NOT an indirect allusion to Gandhi) - are all insidious, fraudulent activities, built on mind-conditioning, & almost always with ulterior political motives, ultimately initiated, controlled & funded by big business. It is difficult to separate the sincere (though mistaken) people from the frauds, but overally, I personally REJECT ANY form of social activism which, taking its support & power in Law, does NOT focus on the welfare of HUMAN BEINGS. Human Rights obviously is a very crucial concept, & many causes in this respect are valid, & worthy of affirmation, but it is an open fact how miserably & shamelessly this concept has been used to destroy whole nations, and peoples.
Monday, September 15, 2008
It would not be wholly correct to say that it is a process of expansion of SELF-knowledge.
Greater & greater knowledge of Self, and of the Universe, are inseparably one - and both impel & feed each other.
The END is the source & cause of the BEGINNING: this is a very, very important truth.
In that sense, the End is the Beginning, and the Beginning is the End.
"Progress" as I understand is, is the movement towards comprehension & realization of the ULTIMATE relationship between Man & Existence.
In this ultimate relationship consists the Joy of life, and to the extent we have realized it, we are truly joyous.
The rationalist says: Life is an end in itself.
This is a sweet-sounding, convinient escape-route, an evasion of the question: WHY must a man live? WHAT must man live for?
He approaches an answer when he says that there are moments in a man's life when men is cognizant of the truth that: Yes! This is life, and this is worth living for!
And yet, the rationalist has not answered the question.
He never seeks to elucidate the inner law of life, in all its complexity, its multi-pronged but integrated march towards a specific goal.
He finally seals the question when he says: Life's meaning is the meaning that YOU - the individual - give it.
This may be true from a specific individual's point of view, seen within a small bracket of the limited time-space he occupies.
The truth is that Life DOES have a meaning quite apart from what meaning specific men want to give THEIR specific, individual lives.
Life has its Truth & inner law independent of a specific person's conscious perception & comprehension of it.
Man's life has meaning independent of a specific person's interpretation & effort: a universal meaning which every individual must grasp & strive to establish.
The process of history has been, perhaps, a struggle to grasp what precisely this law & meaning is, and since life & human nature are so complex, it has taken thousands of years, and may take thousands of years more to actually establish the 'Kingdom of God' on this earth.
Whatever might be the details of the ultimate truth, the fact is that no philosophy of life is relevant if it is not a philosophy to be grasped, practised, & realized in this life, here & now, on this earth.
I do not necessarily mean all the externals of civilization, or joys of the body - (because, immediately it is understood that "the joy of the earth" means money & sex) - but in a broader context, not for any dimension beyond our existence as human beings.
It is possible that the ultimate truth of life here & now does NOT involve sex & art & culture: it may be something else.
Men cling to these phenomena & conceptions so militantly, because they cannot concieve of life without them, not bothering to grasp that YES, life is a big zero without these aspects, WHEN IT HAS NOT GAINED A NEW, DIFFERENT TRUTH.
If some great blazing-eyed sage wandering on unknown mountain peaks asks men to abandon sex & money & foolish, frivolous art & culture (think of the Dadaists, the Absurdists, of painting without form or pattern, music without sound & harmony, novels without events! etc.) - he does not ask men to renounce all this & sit tight & do nothing else & seek nothing else. He offers a totally different vision of life - a whole new set of activities, values, practices, disciplines, joys, achievements. A new alternative.
We, sitting inside our cubicles, don't understand because we keep seeing HIS life from OUR perspective, without quite changing it.
The rationalists' paymasters are bone-scared of THIS, and spread the propaganda that this kind of life is impossible & useless - and actually create this universal misunderstanding by creating a life, with all its fascinating & bogus glamor & glitter - in which men enslave themselves, and laugh at renunciation & mysticism.
(This does not mean that the rationalists all speak lies & there's nothing to be learnt from them; they do make many crucial, relevant points, & their philosophy contains a large degree of truth. Also, it would be totally untrue to say that all of them affirm what they do without truth & depth of conviction. They can be very profound, & infact most of them are very sincere.)
So the question arises: What must men live for?
What is the deeper essence of all movement in life? What is the direction life fundamentally takes?
Life being a process of widening, deepening, & extending our relationship with existence - it is a process of erasing all separativeness & conflict between the Unit & the Whole.
A relationship implies two distinct entities with two distinct natures.
It implies that the relationship exists at a certain level, it has its own law & its own process.
(There can be various levels, or contexts, each with its own law & process. For e.g., between two individuals there is a physical context, an intellectual context, a social context, etc.)
It implies that both entities have an ideal condition of being, which both strive to achieve.
An ideal condition of being (in the context of the relationship between these two entities) is one in which both are at LEAST conflict with one another, i.e. are in perfect at-one-ment.
It implies that the distinctness or separativeness necessarily leads to conflict - hence, the ideal condition of being has to be achieved following a particular path - in which their individuality is maintained, and yet, perfect harmony between the two is attained.
It implies that the relationship between the two entities contains the law of the process of adjustment, of obliterating any conflict between the two entities, & achievement of perfect harmony.
In other words, all of life is a movement towards greater harmony or oneness with Existence, WHILE MAINTAINING THE PERFECT INDIVIDUALITY OF THE ENTITIES INVOLVED.
The active entity in this case is man.
It also must be understood that this Whole is NOT a social, cultural, political or even an ideological whole, but a METAPHYSICAL, SPIRITUAL Whole: the ALL of Existence - its entirety.
The interpretations that the Whole manifests itself in "society", the "collective", & the "State" are all MIS-interpretations, designed for ulterior political & economic motives.
And thus, the perfect relationship - the fundamental & ultimate TRUTH - of Man & Existence is when BOTH ARE DISTINCT FROM ONE ANOTHER, AND YET, PERFECTLY ONE, i.e., in perfect harmony with each other.
This has to be understood properly: the UNITY has its own definite, unique CONTEXT, because a thing cannot be something else in ANY FINITE context (i.e. except the context which subsumes ALL possible finite, measurable, sensorily-perceptible contexts).
The Man remains distinct from the Universe as such, physically & sensorily: and that's why, he remains a specific entity occupying limited, specific time & space.
The unity is an inner unity - and exists in the spiritual, metaphysical dimension: the dimension of Spirit, of Atma-Brahma.
This is the ONLY POSSIBLE context in which a Man is both Man the Finite Individual occupying limited, definite time & space, and the Universe transcending all time & space.
Man's body does not become Existence's "body" - which is impossible.
I am not in a position to say if the Universe has a Mind & a Life: there is no reason to think it doesn't - and little to base an affirmation that it does.
But considering, for the meanwhile, that the dimension corresponding to the MIND in man, is LAW in the universe, there MAY NOT be perfect oneness between the two: a man who has attained perfect SPIRITUAL oneness with the universe may not be OMNISCIENT - may not be aware of the structure of atoms & behavior of sub-atomic particles.
So, a mental or rational unity is not the point, and perhaps is not possible. (I'm sure of the former, not of the latter).
And so, Man's MIND does not BECOME the Mind of Existence, or the Mind of God.
The IDENTITY is in context of Brahman - Tao - Dharmakaya - Ayin-Soph - the root, essence, & BASE of ALL of existence - it is in the context of God.
This, I think, tackles the question of "A is A".
Man remains a specific unit in time & space, with his own thoughts & mental, vital, emotional & physical processes: distinct from the univese: a unique entity in his own respect.
Both pursue their own laws & processes independently of each other.
And yet, he has achieved what's called AT-ONE-MENT.
Strictly speaking, Man does NOT "BECOME" the All: he GRASPS THE TRUTH that he fundamentally - i.e., essentially, in spiritual & metaphysical terms - IS One with the Totality. He always was, and always will be.
It is when Man comes to THIS realization, that he is in perfect harmony with Existence - and with every aspect, element, & particle of it.
His relationship with existence is perfect & ultimate BECAUSE HE HAS ATTAINED TO, & GRASPED, THE FUNDAMENTAL SPIRITUAL-METAPHYSICAL CONTEXT, IN WHICH THEIR DISTINCT INDIVIDUALITIES ARE TOTALLY ERASED.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Life, from Death
Love, from Hatred
Bliss, from Sorrow
Fearlessness, from Contempt or Hatred
Contemplativeness, from Inactivity
Justice, from External Authority
Mercy, from Indifference (to vice, to the Sin)
Judgment, from Indictment
Non-violence, from Cowardice or Helplessness
Renunciation, from Disillusionment, or sense of one's ineffectualness or failure
Charity, from Expectation (of gratitude)
Punishment, from Injury & the Desire to hurt, or Vindictiveness
Conflict-resolution, from Force or Coercion
Criticism, from Sarcasm & Abuse, or Denigration
Pride, from arrogance, & depreciation of those lesser abled or endowed
Mystery, from Superstition & Fear
Humbleness, from a lack of self-respect, or courage
Boldness, from Brazenness or Impudence
Courage, from Recklessness (or Foolishness)
Confidence, from Egotism & Rudeness
Advising, from Imposition
Helping, from making another dependent on oneself (or anyone/anything else)
Pity, from disrespect for the other person
Sacrifice, from lack of Conviction & Cheerfulness
Martyrdom, from Sense of injury, & hatred, & fury
Suffering, from Complaint & Resentment
Disagreement, from Abusiveness or Denigration
Intuitiveness, from Irrationality
Self-control, from Self-denial
Simplicity, from Poverty
And you get the Ideal.
Is this IMPOSSIBLE? I don't know for sure, but I think THIS is what all serious thought leads to, in the ultimate analysis.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Chinese monumental landscape painter Fan Kuan's "Travelers amid Mountains and Streams", one of the most magnificent depictions of the grandeur of Nature. One of the greatest works of art to come out of China, and the prime example of Taoist art. Typically, the interpretation is on the bigness of Nature compared to the smallness of man, given the diminutive figures of men & animals at the bottom right corner of the painting. I think a little differently. I'd rather suppose we, with our highly limited dreams, in our actual physical smallness, are being called on to look at a vision of greatness which we are compelled to grasp, aspire to, and attain. Hindu philosophy says: Praano Viraat: Life is Immense. God, the Light & the Life of All, is Immense. Man is fundamentally & ultimately Immense. He has to KNOW that he IS Immense. For me, this painting is a depiction of man's intuitive grasp of the presence of God in Nature. Because it is a projection of IMMENSITY: of the unshakable & enduring - the mountain being a symbol not only of spiritual ascension & height, but also of permanence, magnificence, and eternality. It is in such aspects of the universe, as projected in this painting, that man grasps - at once, immediately & directly within himself - the Call to Union with the Immense. He kneels in reverence at the glory of Creation - not to acknowledge his smallness as the final word on himself - but in his longing & love for greatness, which indicates HIS greatness - and grasps that it is not an impersonal world of abstractions & indifferent laws, but an intensely PERSONAL universe where our soul truly belongs - that Existence itself is a Revelation. And that we see the meaning of our lives with luminous clarity only when we realise that Nature's message is the call to revere & to love - to adore the pinnacles of possibilities, to rise, to EXPAND - & to grasp the "greater than the great" - the Creator behind the Creation. Beauty & magnificence exist - in Nature - as depicted in this painting - and that they exist takes man to the heart of the secret of existence, of life, of Self. In his adoration of immensity, lies the secret of his own (spiritual) immensity. Herein lies the source of the impulsion to seek & get, the catalyst, the fuel, a symbol of the ultimate. This painting gives an immediate vision of the Immensity of Creation, & hence, of the Creator - of God - and through our rapturous adoration of this Immensity, an insight into our own spiritual grandeur. Symbolically, it gives a direct glimpse of all that we seek to be - all that we aspire for - & evokes a forceful longing to attain it.
(This painting was obtained from Wikimedia Commons. I have altered the original slightly, by increasing the brightness & contrast.)
Monday, September 1, 2008
I have read only a small fragment of the enormous corpus of Sri Aurobindo. It may not be more than 2-3% of the total output of this mind-bogglingly prolific genius & intellectual polymath, and yet, I've been overwhelmed by this towering personality. I can't say whether I agree with him on every point or not. Indeed, I cannot say this of ANYBODY. Strictly speaking, I represent MYSELF ONLY; neither any other individual, nor any other group. But I've been deeply influenced, and I adore, great men - heroes - like Aurobindo Ghosh, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Victor Hugo, Mahatma Gandhi, Madam Blavatsky, Rabindranath Tagore, & S. Radhakrishnan.
The greatest achievement of Aurobindo, or perhaps the most unique one, is the boundless GRANDEUR with which he invested ancient Hindu philosophy. The modern interpretations of Vedic-Vedantic wisdom tend to be somewhat apologetic, keeping in view the Titanic advances of western science & technology; and the focus on life's suffering, and the projection of Indian philosophy almost as a sort of ESCAPISM, is not uncommon. Many people still think that one should adopt the path of an Indian Rishi only when one is fed-up with life, or when one has piled up immense suffering through IRRATIONAL behavior (such as unbridled hedonism, or being whimsical & "non-objective" in one's decisions). The truth is this: Hindu philosophy focuses on Man's quest for GREATNESS, for PERFECT BLISS, Supreme Bliss: Ananda. Sri Aurobindo recognized THIS, and built his personal perspective on perennial wisdom not as a form of escapism, not as a route to avoid suffering, not even as the only way out from the (social, political etc.) problems afflicting the life of the individual or any larger group, -- but as a quest for the ultimate truth -- as a search for IMMEASURABLE grandeur -- as a search for SPIRITUAL GREATNESS. Not a negative, but an emphatically positive quest. Herein lies the fascination & power to draw, in everything written by him. There is no sense of self-defense, or apology, in his magnificent glorification of a magnificent philosophy. There's no meekness, or sense of one's insignificance or smallness or corruption. I've already noted that SELF-EXPANSION is at the root of mystical philosophy. Man constantly seeks to grow bigger than what he already is; he ceaselessly seeks to outgrow himself. ALL OF LIFE IS A MOVEMENT TOWARDS A WIDER, LARGER, DEEPER IDENTITY - A GREATER CONCEPTION OF SELF - and establishment of a broader & profounder relationship with existence. Religion in its truest sense, goes to the very Source, Root, and Finality of this quest. It takes man to the LARGEST identity possible to man: and, unlike non-mystical philosophies, affirms a certain, final, an ultimate achievement which encompasses, transcends, & surpasses ALL possible, concievable achievements, & conceptions of Self. Joy is in Self-enlargement. Man has found himself more true & has felt a deeper reflection of his own identity in the grandeur of the Konark Temple, or of Notre Dame de Rheims, rather than in a hut or hovel: because the temple soaring to the skies possesses a vibrant, radiant sense of immortality & imperishability, of ascent to greater heights, endurance in the face of vagaries & attacks of time & hence, of immutability, of grandeur - than a hovel or shack. Vedantic philosophy takes us to the very essence & pinnacle of THIS restless quest for immortality, infinity, immutability - which underlies all our aspirations & ambitions - for self-expansion - for IMMENSITY - through a radical transformation of consciousness. When can Man have greater love for the Universe, than when he grasps the TRUTH, that HE IS the Universe? Can man go further than grasping with his whole being: "I am the one Being's sole immobile bliss / No one am I, I am all that is"? And yet, this is the gift of Sri Aurobindo to mankind, that one wonderful statement which reveals the glory & ecstasy of Union with God. The recognition, elucidation, & glorification of mysticism focusing on THIS aspect of spirituality, is Aurobindo's unique achievement.
His emphasis is the achievement of spiritual power - the attainment of the largest & widest & deepest - and a dismissal of any lesser goal, or imperfect bliss, - which satisfies almost all of common humanity. The vicious attacks on Hindu philosophy, made by many modern so-called rationalists, that Hinduism (& Oriential mysticism in general) is based on abject fear & bewilderment, vanish when one confronts the enormous power of Aurobindo's vision. Is there fear, underconfidence, & shamefulness in a man who proudly sings: "I am a cup of His felicities / A thunderblast of His golden ecstasy's height / I am His rapture's wonderful abyss" or, "The spirit's infinite breath I feel in me / My life is a throb of Thy eternity"? Where is there fear in the soul which challenged the great inexorable sea: "Yes, thou great sea / I am more mighty & outbillow thee. / On thy tops I rise; / 'Tis an excuse to dally with the skies"? This is the voice that thunders out to people: Wake up! What are you doing, meddling with petty, silly pleasures - and half-baked, miserable little child's games? Look! Eternity waits for union with you, and Immortality seeks your recognition! You think you shall pass away, you live in constant fear of defeat & decay & death, you think you are that which is subject to ruthless time & natural law, but I say to you: Tat Tvam Asi - YOU ARE THAT - the Immortal, the One, the Infinite - the God whom you worship, and tremble before, and seek to placate in your ignorance, and cow & grovel before - SEE who He really is - and realize that YOU ARE HE!
Aurobindo's philosophy is not one of the futility of existence - of fatigue of the non-mystical life - but a confident, truthful seeing of life on this earth as the most wonderful gift to realize the Divine; that it is the mind which takes us beyond the Mind; it is recognition of that supreme truth which all the rationalists hide from men: through the exercise of the conceptual faculty, & reason, men CANNOT grasp the TOTALITY OF THE TOTAL - the TOTAL in & as ONE - BUT, IT CAN BE DONE. The immortality & the infinity which are incomprehensible abstractions for the rationalist, CAN DEFINITELY BE ATTAINED BY MAN. There is no "ultimate" for the rationalist - he cannot concieve it because he is trapped in a realm of fragments & parts and can't concieve of the WHOLE - he asks, bewildered: What do you mean by "Knowing the All?" - and he passes off his own incapability to form an idea of it, to simple people who can't envision it for themselves. On reading Aurobindo, one feels something akin to pity for the men who deride & reject Brahman; one feels: how small these men are! No, I do not recommend such an emotion, nor is it true to the spirit of God-realization; but I speak from THEIR point of view, the ones who live their life in contempt & judgmentality.
Aurobindo is a hero, and is a hero-worshipper. His whole thrust was the HEROISM & SPLENDOR IN MAN'S QUEST FOR GOD. The greatness & significance of his poetry lies in the SPIRIT of supreme confidence & solemn joyousness they exude - in the sheer psychological power in which they have their source - and the great promise they hold out to man: you are not a passing, ephemeral phenomenon, a mere speck in the measurelessness of time & space: but you can transcend change & decay - time & space itself. The promise of psychological fearlessness & expansiveness. Their significance as works of art lies in their power to evoke the primal desire in Man to seek the Ultimate - in projecting the psychological & emotional experience of God-realization as something we all seek & yearn for - in a forceful revealing that Brahmic-consciousness is something of unsurpassable value, as a culimination of all our efforts to seek joy, as something worthy to be fought for & striven for with all the strength of our being. I have neither read all his books, nor am I associated with his admirers - but I deeply adore his projection of Hindu philosophy as something totally devoid of guilt or self-hatred - as a pursuit of positives: of greater & larger truths & joys, by taking man to the logical conclusion of ALL of Man's goals & joys - & a living, possible ideal of incomparable strength & grandeur. And, from all that I've read, I shall conclude this post with these lines from this Master, which firmly & finally establish what I want to convey: the great vigorous spirit of the seeker of God:
My soul unhorizoned widens to measureless sight,
My body is God's happy living tool,
My spirit a vast sun of deathless light.