Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo
The Complete Set
S's abrasion is following quite a normal course. The wound is perfectly clean and healthy. He wants it to take a speedy, supernormal course. But unfortunately doctors can't do that... Our duty ends there and yours begins.
Perhaps S has doubts about what the Doctors may be doing with him, just as you have doubts about what the Divine may be doing with him – hence some nervousness. Better or worse? Where the deuce is the progress? When am I going to be healed? After centuries?
I had a discussion with Amal about the soul-theory. He says it is true the soul comes into evolution for the sake of experience, but once it is in Ignorance, it is divine only in name. It's imprisoned in matter. From there it slowly emerges making its very slight and imperceptible influence felt on, the gross matter, then on the lower nature, while all the time a higher Force presses it forward till it becomes the Master.
An incomplete but not incorrect account of the process.
That is why the psychic takes thousands of lives to evolve and turn towards the Divine. Is the involution also a similar process, or is it one single descent all at once into the Inconscient?
No, certainly not. The involution is of the Divine in the Inconscience and it is done by the interposition of intermediate planes (Overmind etc., mind, vital – then the plunge into the Inconscient which is the origin of matter). But all that is not a process answering to the evolution but in the inverse sense – for there is no need for that, but a gradation of consciousness which is intended to make the evolution upwards possible.
What is the first experience that the soul had in its descent?
Partial separation from the Divine and the Truth – these things at the back and no longer in front and everywhere; division, diminished sense of unity with all, stress growing in separate existence, separate viewpoint, separate initiation, aim, action.
You say that if the soul goes on with its Karma, it does not get liberation. But isn't liberation a consummation of the result of Karma, at least according to Buddhism?
Not that I know of, in the ordinary theory. Karma always produces fresh karma; it is only the cut from karma that produces liberation.
Buddhism seems to say that we are bound to the chain of Karma and so past Karma is always guiding our present and future. In that case would not Buddha's very attainment of Nirvana be due to his past Karma?
The only truth of that is that by the use of compassion and acts of compassion one is helped to become a Bodhisattwa – just as sattwic deeds and feelings help to become less murky with the Ignorance. But it is knowledge that liberates according to both Buddhism and Vedanta, not Karma.
According to Buddhism, one can't explain then the play of forces behind any action, or would it say that even that has been arranged and determined by past Karma?
I suppose so.
But isn't it curious that Buddha did not concern himself with any play of forces?
Why should he? It was the play of sanskaras that interested him, the binding play of wrong ideas, and his whole aim was to get rid of that.
He seemed to have gone in for personal effort and struggle, didn't he?
Yes, because individual salvation was his aim and for him God and Shakti did not exist – only the Permanent above and a mechanical chain of karma below. To undo the chain of sanskaras that create the individual is the point; the individual is a knot that must undo itself by disowning all that constitutes itself. The individual must do it, because who else is going to do it for him? There isn't anybody. All else including the Gods are only other knots of sanskaras and no knot can undo another knot – each knot must undo itself. Comprenez?