Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo
The Complete Set
You1 seem attribute to me things which I never said, or is it my clumsy way of putting things? Probably that. But even then, you have put into my mouth exactly the opposite of what I have been trying to say. For instance – when did I say that you are not an Avatar? On the contrary I wrote to you that you are an Avatar.
You don't say, but if your theory or description of an Avatar is right, I am not one. I am proceeding on the necessary consequences of your logic.
When did I say that you or Mother had no difficulties or struggles? Did I not write that the Avatar accepts all terrestrial conditions, etc.? However, I did say that the difficulties and struggles are all shams, that is, not as real as our difficulties.
If they are shams, they have no value for others or for any true effect. If they have no value for others or for any true effect, they are perfectly irrational and unreal and meaningless. The Divine does not need to suffer or struggle for himself; if he takes on these things it is in order to bear the world-burden and help the world and men; and if the sufferings and struggles are to be of any help, they must be real. A sham or falsehood cannot help. They must be as real as the struggles and sufferings of men themselves – the Divine bears them and at the same time shows the way out of them. Otherwise his assumption of human nature has no meaning and no utility and no value. It is strange that you cannot understand or refuse to admit so simple and crucial a point. What is the use of admitting Avatarhood if you take all the meaning out of it?
I never said that there could be no Avatars nor that they are failures.
Good Lord! You said most emphatically that they were all failures and that is why the Divine had to come back again and again – to “atone for his failures”.
If your argument is that the life, actions, struggles of the Avatar (e.g. Rama's, Krishna's) are unreal because the Divine is there and knows it is all a Maya, in man also there is a self, a spirit that is immortal, untouched, divine; you can say that man's sufferings and ignorance are only put on, shams, unreal. But if man feels them as real and if the Avatar feels his work and difficulties to be serious and real?
I don't think I said that there is no divinity in man. In the quotation I gave from the Gita it is said that man is made out of the divine substance but has a thick coating on him.
If the existence of the Divinity is of no practical effect, what is the use of a theoretical admission? The manifestation of the Divinity in the Avatar is of help to man because it helps him to discover his own divinity, find the way to realise it. If the difference is so great that the humanity by its very nature prevents all possibility of following the way opened by the Avatar, it merely means that there is no divinity in man that can respond to the divinity in the Avatar.
You make a flourish of reasonings and do not see the consequence of your reasonings. It is no use saying “I believe this or that” and then reasoning in a way which leads logically to the very negation of what you believe.
Also, I find that some important points on which my whole case stands and without which my “fury” has no meaning, have been left out by you. I admitted that Avatars have many difficulties, but because they know, as Mother did, that they are Avatars, because the “real substance” shines through the alloy in all that they do, they have a fixed faith and conviction that they will never fail. Now take the case of man; he has usually no such conviction because of the blessed “coating”. So he groans and writhe sin agony, doubt and despair. How many times in the midst of struggles have I not said to myself that Yoga is beyond my capacities! Now, if I knew for certain that I was an extraordinary being, say an Avatar, I would not despair. This is why I said that the difficulties of Avatars are not real, but shams – not that they have no sting in them, but that the luminous consciousness bears them easily and goes on in spite of them.
You think then that in me (I do not bring in the Mother), there was never any doubt or despair, no attacks of that kind. I have borne every attack which human beings have borne, otherwise I would be unable to assure anybody “This too can be conquered”. At least I would have no right to say so. Your psychology is terribly rigid. I repeat, the Divine when he takes on the burden of terrestrial nature, takes it fully, sincerely and without any conjuring tricks or pretence. If he has something behind him which emerges always out of the coverings, it is the same thing in essence, even if greater in degree, that there is behind others – and it is to awaken that that he is there.
The psychic being does the same for all who are intended for the spiritual way, – men need not be extraordinary beings to follow Yoga. That is the mistake you are making, to harp on greatness as if only the great can be spiritual.
Regarding the divinity in man – what is the use of this divinity if it is coated layer after layer with Maya? How many can really become conscious of it?
Exactly! Why admit any divinity then at all, if humanity is an insuperable bar to any following in the Way pointed out by the Avatar? That was your contention that humanity and divinity are unbridgeably opposite things, that it is no use the Avatar asking others (except Arjuna) to follow in his Path – they, being human, cannot do it.
You had defeats, struggles, but had at the same time the spirit of absolute surrender, faith which we find shining through Mother's prayers as well. Did you not leave your great work for the country at one word of Krishna?
Lots of people leave things at the word of a human being like Gandhi, they do not need the word of Krishna
Does the average man have this faith etc.? If he has not, but has instead struggles, sufferings etc., picture what his condition would be!
If absolute surrender, faith etc. from the beginning were essential for Yoga, then nobody could do it. I myself could not have done it, if such a condition had been demanded of me.
Let me make it clear that in all I wrote I was not writing to prove that I am an Avatar! You are busy in your reasonings with the personal question, I am busy in mine with the general one. I am seeking to manifest something of the Divine that I am conscious of and feel – I care a damn whether that constitutes me an Avatar or something else. That is not a question which concerns me. By manifestation, of course, I mean the bringing out and spreading of that Consciousness so that others also may feel and enter into it and live in it.
1 Whatever correspondence on Avatarhood follows now, refers only to Sri Aurobindo's short reply of March 6, 1935 (see above, pp. 165-6) written on the chit.: “Nirod... chimera – then?” or before.