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Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo

The Complete Set

I accept your proposal of postponement and send this last letter, which incidentally brings to an end the topic of latency and omnipotence. We shall all be anxiously waiting to hear what you have gained in two weeks for “this confounded earth race” for which you always seem to have such great love. (Please don't forget this confounded little earth creature.) Now, I would like to mention one thing more. Sometimes I think that the Avatar's work, – Buddha's sadhana, Christ's preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven, etc. – were not so unselfish. I don't mean that they did anything for personal gain; nevertheless, it was a kind of selfishness – let us say of the noblest kind.

No objection – if to do things for the Divine in the world rather than for individual gain is a high selfishness, that is all right. Only selfishness usually means doing something for one's own sole profit.

Considerably subdued after the beating I received, I am beginning to understand what you say about omnipotence, the conditions of the game that have to be observed, latency, etc. This letter is not to dispute any of the things you have stated, but just to express that I am boiling inside with impotent rage to see how you have “unfairly” cornered me with the very arguments I was maintaining all the while. Alas! my pen derives its power only from terrestrial planes!

You were the reporter of the discussion, so naturally you had to be the whipping boy for all sides. You can't complain of that. There must be somebody to tilt at – otherwise how the deuce is the argument to be done?

I have, however, jotted down a few points for you to see.

Point No 1. I never said that only moral capacities can be latent, and not mental.

No, but it was implied in the argument to which you gave voice. It may not have been your argument, but what does that matter?

Point No 2. I did not say that poetry or music, or any art not evident, cannot be manifested. I distinctly used the word latent, and not evident.

Evident is the opposite of latent; so “not evident” or “evidently not there” as you put it is equal to “latent” – my use of the word is therefore perfectly apposite.

Our point was that faculties not yet evident may be made evident because they may be unmanifest, latent, in some inner region of the being; just as in Shunyam everything exists, so also in man – whatever comes out of him.

How can they be evident when they are latent? “Latent” means “hidden”, therefore not evident. When you say that a capacity is evidently not there, you mean only that to all evidence it is not there = there is no, evidence of its being there to the observer, ergo, the observer concludes that it is not there. All that you can really say is that it appears to be non-existent – you cannot say with certitude more than that.

The whole discussion collapses if we deny that the unevident can be made evident.

You said “people who have evidently no music in them” – that can only mean people in whom music is not evident – for none can say whether it is or is not there latent.

It does so also if you admit that the unevident can be made evident.

By latency we mean what is not evident, that is, not on the surface, but somewhere behind or below. If it is in the surface mind, it is no longer latent, because one can say with some certitude that such faculties exist, though not quite developed yet – that is, neither latent nor fully evident.

Evidently not there on the surface, but how can you say that it is evidently not there below?

You say, if I understand you right, that since the inner being is open to the universal, anything can manifest through it even if it is not there latent; you further add that it is impossible to say what will or will not manifest once the universal acts upon it. But is this impossible for Yogis also? For example, can't you say whether a man has a capacity for Yoga or for something else? Do you simply gamble when you accept someone?

I have never said anything about how I choose people. I was answering the argument that what has not been or is not in manifestation, cannot be. That was very clearly the point in the discussion – that the Divine cannot manifest what is not yet there – even He is impotent to do that. He can only manifest what is either already manifest or else latent in the field (person) he is working in. I say no – he can bring in new things. He can bring it in from the universal or he can bring it down from the transcendent. For in the Divine cosmic and transcendent all things are. Whether He will do so or not in a particular case is quite another matter. My argument was directed towards dissipating this “can't, can't” with which people try to stop all possibility of progress.

You have raised another new point about the universal.

These are not new points, they are as old as the hills.

You can cut me, Sir, or beat me, but don't forsake me. In imitation of the librarian of my College who came out with a similar appeal when the professor of English caught him smoking one day.

Never! But beat – a lot.

I repeat – a little pathetically – that my brain is sclerotic and psychic smoky; no intellect and no Yogic capacity, as you yourself must have realised by making “word-punctures”.

Well, to see that they are non-evident shows you at once that they are latent and will be evident and even if they are not latent they are waiting for you in the universal! So in every blessed way you are very quite all right. Be consoled therefore.

Rather a long letter, because a closing one. When will these two weeks be over! Give me a little extra force for doing something, just to keep me out of mischief – an idle brain is the devil's workshop. Who knows what I'll be up to!

Man, don't talk lightly like that of the devil. He is too active to be trifled with in that way. My devils? they are only expletive.

By the way. Mother, no chance for me to see you tomorrow, – the anniversary of my arrival?

Mother has 2 birthdays (not her own, of course) and an interview tomorrow morning. I am afraid your train can pass only when the line is clear.

N is straining himself too much. It would be advisable to let S look after him, but as you see she is unwilling to give up work altogether.

The work can be so arranged that she will be there when he most needs her. They can arrange that between them.


1935 02 15 Exact Writting Letter Nirodbaran