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Sri Aurobindo

Letters of Sri Aurobindo


Fragment ID: 8670

(this fragment is largest or earliest found passage)

Sri Aurobindo — Unknown addressee


Tibetan Yoga [1]

The other day I read the book Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines by W. Y. Evans-Wentz.... The following is an interesting statement of his – not a text, but probably his own understanding of the Mahayana: “So long as there is one being, even the lowliest, immersed in suffering and sorrow, or in Ignorance, there remains one note of disharmony which cannot but affect all beings, since all beings are the One; and until all are Liberated there cannot possibly be true Bliss for any.”1 The ideal is excellent, but I find it hard to swallow the whole of this altruism. It looks like an exaggeration to me because (1) it would not be possible to eliminate suffering from, say, animals or men who have just begun their human evolution and (2) true bliss cannot depend on the suffering or liberation of others....

Your objections are sound. It is the usual overstatement by which the human mind tries to give an added and superlative force and value to its ideas and tenets, but only succeeds in making them vulnerable.

What the compassionate Bodhisattwa ought to do is to become a superscientist and find some way of releasing atoms in such style that the whole earth would be blown to smithereens – this would release all beings on it from their sufferings. But unfortunately the force of karma would, I suppose, create a new earth and bring them all back there to suffer. So no release that way either. Still it would give a respite during which he might go to Nirvana and come back again when needed to repeat his compassionate action.

“Until all are Liberated” implies that not a worm will remain unliberated and then only will there be bliss. A grave difficulty presents itself here – or rather a new idea never conceived of by all the Upanishads – liberation for animals before they reach a human incarnation. Would that liberation be the same as for humans or have a different set of codes? Will they get liberation gratis by a free distribution from the Bodhisattwa?

Next, “since all beings are the One”. Is there any “the One” in Buddhism? Do they admit any such thing? The author seems to have got his information from authoritative sources and texts, but he does not make it clear whether this “One” is to be understood in the sense of a Cosmic Divine or a Supracosmic.

Of course the animal difficulty is insuperable, because animals must enter the human stage first before liberation – unless of course either animals become humanised and begin talking and thinking in philosophical terms (perhaps it will not be necessary for them to write poetry and paint pictures or make music), or else animals disappear altogether being no longer necessary to the evolution.

About the One there are different versions. I just read somewhere that the Buddhist One is a Superbuddha from whom all Buddhas come – but it seemed to me a rehash of Buddhism in Vedantic terms born of a modern mind. The Permanent of Buddhism has always been supposed to be Supracosmic and Ineffable – that is why Buddha never tried to explain what it was; for, logically, how can one talk about the Ineffable? It has really nothing to do with the Cosmos which is a thing of sanskaras and Karma.


1 W. Y. Evans-Wentz, ed., Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines, or Seven Books of Wisdom of the Great Path, according to the Late Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup’s English Rendering (London: Oxford University Press, 1935), p. 11.


Current publication:

[Largest or earliest found passage: ] Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Himself and the Ashram // CWSA.- Volume 35. (≈ 26 vol. of SABCL).- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2011.- 658 p.

Other publications:

Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Yoga // SABCL.- Volume 22. (≈ 28 vol. of CWSA).- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1971.- 502 p.

Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Yoga. II // CWSA.- Volume 29. (≈ 22-24 vol. of SABCL).- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2013.- 522 p.