Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo
The Complete Set
I am going to riddle you with a volley of questions and I am prepared to receive the return-shots.
I was no tat all “floundering about” between “desire-soul” and the “true psyche”.
Well, if you were not, why did you represent the experience of the lower nature as such a rich and glorious thing? It is the desire-soul or the life-being which finds it (sometimes) like that.
If failures are due to the revolt of the lower nature, why should that revolt occur in A's case and not in B's? Past Karma? And by what1 is this Karma decided?
Because A is not B and B is not A. Why do you expect all to be alike and fare alike and run abreast all the way and all arrive together?
It is Prakriti and Karma, so long as the Ignorance is there. The hen lays an egg and the egg produces a hen and that hen another egg and so on ad infinitum – till you turn to the Light and get it.
And this Karma has its past and this past its own past and so on till we come to a state where there is no Karma but only the central being. This central being, it seems, chooses its particular sheath – mental, vital etc. – and upon that choice depend the evolutionary consequences. Is that correct?
What is this central being you are speaking of – the Jivatma or the psychic being? or an amalgam of both?
I don't quite understand. The psychic being is supposed not to choose, but rather to form in accordance with its past and future evolution a new mental, vital and physical sheath each time it is born. But the placid or tacit observation does not seem to apply to the psychic being, but to the Jivatman. Moreover you seem to say this is done at the beginning of the evolution and determines the whole evolution. But that has no meaning since it is through the evolution that the psychic does it. It has not got one fixed mental, vital, physical which remains the same in all lives.
My point then is that because the chicken-hearted central being – I suppose there is a hierarchy of these beings, some lion-hearted, some worm and some chicken – selected or had to select according to its own standard, that I have my own failures.
These words don't apply to the members of the hierarchy.
Since the soul descended into Ignorance through a process of devolution, it has to go back through evolution.
What is this devolution? Let me hear more about it, – for it is new to me. I know of an involution and an evolution, but not of a devolution.
Though the soul may repent for its misadventure, it can't take a leap into the Kingdom of Light or walk straight to its Father like the Prodigal Son...
A leap, no! But if it has got thoroughly disgusted, it can try its chance at Nirvana.
Again the soul gathers the essential elements of its experiences in life and takes up with the sheaths as much of its Karma as is useful for further experience in a new life.
This time it is all right – but what the deuce has that got to do with the original sin?
Now if I say that the soul has failed this time because it took “so much of its Karma” and requires farther evolution through farther experience before it can turn completely, how am I wrong?
Excuse me, – if it goes on with its Karma, then it does not get liberation. If it wants only farther experience, it can just stay there in the ordinary nature. The aim of Yoga is to transcend Karma. Karma means subjection to lower Nature; through Yoga the soul goes towards freedom.
It seems to me that the soul is searching, analysing, experimenting, through contraries and contradictories and thus proceeding by steps and stages. It will move towards the Light and retrace its steps again and by a series of ups and downs finally arrive at its Home. And so the revolts are only steps and stages on the way.
You are describing the action of the ordinary existence, not the Yoga. Yoga is a seeking (not a mental searching), it is not an experimenting in contraries and contradictories. It is the mind that does that and the mind that analyses. The soul does not search, analyse, experiment – it seeks, feels, experiences.
This is how I look at it. Is that all rot? No grain of truth in it?
Logical rot! The only grain of truth is that the Yoga is very usually a series of ups and downs till you get to a certain height. But there is a quite different reason for that – not the vagaries of the soul. On the contrary when the psychic being gets in front and becomes master, there comes in a fundamentally smooth action and although there are difficulties and undulations of movement, these are no longer of an abrupt or dramatic character.
You say that when the soul no more wants the Ignorance, it will turn to the Light; till then it can't.
Perhaps the better phrase would be “consents to” the Ignorance. The soul is the witness, upholder, inmost experiencer, but it is master only in theory, in fact it is not-master, anīśa, so long as it consents to the Ignorance. For that is a general consent which implies that the Prakriti gambols about with the Purusha and does pretty well what she likes with him. When he wants to get back his mastery, make the theoretical practical, he needs a lot of tapasya to do it.
This is very significant because, if so, I should say that the soul is the Master of the House and if it says categorically – “No more of Ignorance, vitals and mentals have no go” – it can refuse to go farther. Because the soul wants more fun in the mud of Ignorance, people follow their “round of pleasure and pain”.
That is contrary to experience. The psychic has always been veiled, consenting to the play of mind, physical and vital, experiencing everything through them in the ignorant mental, vital and physical way. How then can it be that they are bound to change at once when it just takes the trouble to whisper or say “Let there be Light”? They have tremendous go and can refuse and do refuse point-blank. The mind resists with an obstinate persistency in argument and a constant confusion of ideas, the vital with a fury of bad will aided by the mind's obliging reasonings on its side; the physical resists with an obstinate inertia and crass fidelity to old habit, and when they have done, the general Nature comes in and says “What, you are going to get free from me so easily? Not, if I know it,” and it besieges and throws back the old nature on you again and again as long as it can. Yet you say that it is the soul that wants all this “fun” and goes off laughing and prancing to get some more. You are funny. If the poor soul heard you, I think it would say “Sir, methinks you are a jester” and look about for a hammer and break your head with it.
Even their disbelief, lack of faith in Divine Ananda etc., is due to that!
Due to the soul's sense of fun? It seems to me more probably that it is due to the obstinacy of mental and vital sanskaras. Perhaps that is why the Buddhists insisted on breaking all sanskaras as the seeker of liberation's first duty.
But if you ask me, as you do, “Why then is there so much struggle and sorrow?” well, I am floundered, unless one can say that though the soul has given the last kick, still a longing, lingering look is bound to be there.
You call that a mere look! I suppose that if you saw an Irish row or a Nazi mob in action, you would say “These people are making slight perceptible gestures and I think I hear faint sounds in the air.”
My dear Sir, be less narrowly logical (with a very deficient logic even as logic) – take a wider sweep; swim out of your bathing pool into the open sea and waltz round the horizons! For anything that happens there are a hundred factors at work and not only the one just under your nose; but to perceive that you have to become cosmic and intuitive or overmental and what not. So, alas!
1 Sri Aurobindo drew an arrow from “what” to his reply.