Letters of Sri Aurobindo
Volume 2. 1934 — 1935
Letter ID: 464
Sri Aurobindo — Roy, Dilip Kumar
July 19, 1934
All right. I will try to answer these two great conundrums of the Mind – Nirvana and the Disharmonies of Earth. I have almost finished the first, but it is an awful scribble and I don’t know if Nolini will be able to read it. Perhaps I shall have to copy it out.
As for the other question – where do you find in “The Life Heavens” that I say or anybody says the conditions on the earth are glorious and suited to the Divine Life? There is not a word to that effect there! The Life Heavens are the heavens of the vital gods and there is there a perfect harmony but a harmony of the sublimated satisfied senses and vital desires only. If there is to be a Harmony, it must be of all the powers raised to their highest and harmonised together. All the non-evolutionary worlds are worlds of a type limited to its own harmony like the life-heavens. The Earth, on the other hand, is an evolutionary world, not at all glorious or harmonious even as a material world (except in certain appearances), but rather most sorrowful, disharmonious, imperfect. Yet in that imperfection is the urge towards a higher and more many-sided perfection. It contains the last finite which yet yearns to the supreme infinite (it is not to be satisfied by sense-joys precisely because in the conditions of earth it is able to see their limitations); God is pent in the mire (mire is not glorious, so there is no claim to glory or beauty here), but that very fact imposes a necessity to break through that prison to a consciousness which is ever rising towards the heights. And so on. That is “a deeper power”; not a greater glory or perfection. All that may be true or not to the mind, but it is the traditional attitude of Indian spiritual experience. Ask any yogin, he will tell you that the Life Heavens are childish things; even the gods, says the Purāṇa1, must come down to earth and be embodied there if they want mukti, giving up the pride of their limited perfection – they must enter into the last finite if they want to reach the last infinite. A poem is not a philosophical treatise or a profession of religious faith – it is the expression of a vision or an experience of some kind, mundane or spiritual. Here it is the vision of the life heavens, its perfection, its limitations and the counter-claim of the Earth or rather the Spirit or Power behind the earth-consciousness. It has to be taken at that, as an expression of a certain aspect of things, an expression of a certain kind of experience, not of a mental dogma. There is a deep truth behind it, though it may not be the whole truth of the matter. In the poem, also, there is no question of a divine life here, though that is hinted at as the unexpressed possible result of the ascent – because the Earth is not put aside (“Earth’s heart was felt beating below me still”); nevertheless the poem expresses only the ascent towards the Highest, far beyond the Life Heavens, and the Earth-Spirit claims that power and does not speak of any descent of a Divine Life.
I say so much in order to get rid of that misconception so as not to have to go back to it when dealing with Earth’s disharmonies.
The Life Heavens
A life of intensities wide, immune
Floats behind the earth and her life-fret,
A magic of realms mastered by spell and rune,
Grandiose, blissful, coloured, increate.
A music there wanders mortal ear
Hears not, seizing, intimate, remote,
Wide-winged in soul-spaces, fire-clear,
Heaping note on enrapturing new note.
Forms deathless there triumph, hues divine
Thrill with nets of glory the moved air;
Each sense is an ecstasy, love the sign
Of one outblaze of godhead that two share.
The peace of the senses, the senses’ stir
On one harp are joined mysteries; pain
Transmuted is ravishment’s minister,
A high note and a fiery refrain.
All things are a harmony faultless, pure;
Grief is not nor stain-wound of desire;
The heart-beats are a cadence bright and sure
Of Joy’s quick steps, too invincible to tire.
A Will there, a Force, a magician Mind
Moves, and builds at once its delight-norms,
The marvels it seeks for surprised, outlined,
Hued, alive, a cosmos of fair forms.
Sounds, colours, joy-flamings, Life lies here
Dreaming, bound to the heavens of its goal,
In the clasp of a Power that enthrals to sheer
Bliss and beauty body and rapt soul.
My spirit sank drowned in the wonder surge:
Screened, withdrawn was the greatness it had sought;
Lost was the storm-stress and the warrior urge,
Lost the titan winging of the thought.
It lay at ease in a sweetness of heaven-sense
Delivered from grief, with no need left to aspire,
Free, self-dispersed in voluptuous innocence,
Lulled and borne into roseate cloud-fire.
But suddenly there soared a dateless cry,
Deep as Night, imperishable as Time;
It seemed Death’s dire appeal to Eternity,
Earth’s outcry to the limitless Sublime.
“O high seeker of immortality,
Is there not, ineffable, a bliss
Too vast for these finite harmonies,
Too divine for the moment’s unsure kiss?
“Arms taking to a voiceless supreme delight,
Life that meets the Eternal with close breast,
An unwalled mind dissolved in the Infinite,
Force one with unimaginable rest?
“I, Earth, have a deeper power than Heaven;
My lonely sorrow surpasses its rose-joys,
A red and bitter seed of the rapturous seven; –
My dumbness fills with echoes of a far Voice.
“By me the last finite, yearning, strives
To reach the last infinity’s unknown,
The Eternal is broken into fleeting lives
And Godhead pent in the mire and the stone.”
Dissolving the kingdoms of happy ease
Rocked and split and faded their dream-chime.
All vanished; ungrasped eternities
Sole survived and Timelessness seized Time.
Earth’s heart was felt beating below me still,
Veiled, immense, unthinkable above
My consciousness climbed like a topless hill,
Crossed seas of Light to epiphanies of Love.
1 Purāṇas: sacred works composed by Vyasa, eighteen in number, which contain the whole of Hindu mythology and ancient legendary history.