Sweet Mother, Sri Aurobindo speaks of “this executive world-Nature”. Is there an executive Nature on the other planes also?
On the other planes, what do you mean?
In the mind and higher up.
The earth-Nature contains not only matter—the physical and its different planes—but also the vital and the mind; all this is part of the earth-Nature.
And after that there is no Nature, that is to say, there is no longer this distinction. That belongs essentially to the material world as it is described here.fn In the passage of The Synthesis of Yoga (SABCL, Vol. 20, p. 91) the Mother had just read, Sri Aurobindo expounds the traditional distinction between Purusha and Prakriti, the Master of Nature and Nature, and describes the different stages of immersion of the Master of Nature in Nature, or of the soul in the activities of the world; then he shows the traditional path of the liberation of the spirit, which rises above Nature and becomes once again the Master of Nature.
But, as Sri Aurobindo says, this is not “all the true truth”. He has simply given a summary of what is explained in the Gita. That is what the Gita says; it is not exactly like that.
Only, as he says, this may be useful, that is, instead of causing a confusion between the different parts of the being, this helps you to distinguish between what is higher and what is lower, what is turned towards the Divine and what is turned towards matter. It is a psychologically useful conception, but, in fact, that’s all there is to it. Things are not like that.
Sri Aurobindo writes: “Nature,—not as she is in her divine Truth, the conscious Power of the Eternal, but as 60she appears to us in the Ignorance,—is executive Force, mechanical in her steps, not consciously intelligent to our experiences of her, although all her works are instinct with an absolute intelligence.”
The Synthesis of Yoga, SABCL, Vol. 20, p. 91
Nature is not consciously intelligent?…
There is an intelligence which acts in her and through her, in her action, but she is not conscious of this intelligence. You can understand this with animals. Take ants, for example. They do exactly what they have to do; all their work and organisation is something which really looks perfect. But they are not conscious of the intelligence which organises them. They are moved mechanically by an intelligence of which they are not aware. And even if you take the most developed animals, like the cat and dog for instance, they know exactly what they have to do: a cat bringing up its little ones brings them up just as well as a woman hers—sometimes better than a woman but it is impelled by an intelligence which moves it automatically. It is not conscious of the intelligence which makes it do things. It is not aware of it, it can’t change anything at all in the movement by its own will. Something makes it act mechanically but over that it has no control.
If a human being intervenes and trains a cat, he can make it change its behaviour; but it is the consciousness of the human being which acts upon it, not its own consciousness. It is not conscious of the intelligence which makes it act.
And this kind of self-awareness, this possibility of watching oneself acting, of understanding why one does things, how one does them and, therefore, of having a control and changing the action—that belongs to the mind and in his own right to man. This is the essential difference between a man and an animal—that a man is conscious of himself, that he can become aware of the force which makes him act, and not only become aware of it but control it.61
But all those who feel themselves driven by a force and say, “I was forced to do it”, without the participation of their will, show that they are still deeply rooted in animality, that is to say, in the inconscient. One begins to become a conscious human being only when one knows why one does things and when one is capable of changing one’s action by a determined will, when one has a control. Before having any control, one is still more or less an animal with a small embryo of consciousness which is just beginning, a little flame flickering and trying to burn, and likely to be blown out by the slightest passing breeze.
“Nature as Prakriti is an inertly active Force,—for she works out a movement imposed upon her; but within her is One that knows.…
“The individual soul or the conscious being in a form may identify itself with this experiencing Purusha or with this active Prakriti. If it identifies itself with Prakriti, it is not master, enjoyer and knower.…”
The Synthesis of Yoga, p. 91
If Nature is led by the Power which is self-aware and if she does exactly what is imposed upon her, how is it that there are all these distortions? How can Nature distort things?
Yes, I was expecting that.
I tell you this is the theory of the Gita, it’s not the whole Truth.
I heard this when I was in France; there are people who explain the Gita, saying there is no flame without smoke—which is not true. And starting from that they say, “Life is like that and you can’t change it, it’s like that. All you can do is to pass over to the side of the Purusha, become the governing force instead of being the force that is governed.” That’s all. But, as Sri Aurobindo says at the end, it is the theory of the Gita, it’s 62not the whole truth; it is only a partial way of seeing things—useful, practical, convenient, but not wholly true.
If that is so, how is it that some of the disciples of Sri Aurobindo preach the message of the Gita for the salvation of the world?
That’s their business. If that makes them happy, it’s all the same to me.
But it has no connection with Sri Aurobindo’s yoga?
One can’t say no connection; but it’s narrow-mindedness, that’s all. They have caught hold of a small bit and make it the whole. But that happens to everybody. Who is capable of grasping the whole, I would like to know? Everyone grasps his bit and makes it his whole.
But Sri Aurobindo has explained…
Oh! but you are a propagandist! Why do you want to convince them? If they are content with that, leave them in their contentment.… If they come and tell you, “This is Sri Aurobindo’s theory”, you have the right to tell them, “No, you are mistaken, that is the traditional theory, this is not the theory of Sri Aurobindo.” That’s all. But you can’t tell them, “You must change yours.” If it pleases them, let them keep it.
It’s very convenient. I saw this in France, in Paris, before coming to India, and I saw how very practical it was. First, it allows you to grasp a very profound and extremely useful truth, as I said; and then it shields you from all necessity of changing your outer nature.
It’s so convenient, isn’t it? You say, “I am like that, what can I do about it? I separate myself from Nature, I let her do whatever she likes, I am not this Nature, I am the Purusha. Ah! 63let her go her own way; after all, I can’t change her.” This is extremely convenient. And that is why people adopt it; for they imagine they are in the Purusha, but at the least scratch they fall right back into Prakriti, and then they fly into a temper or are in despair or fall ill. And that’s that.
I heard someone who had, however, realised precisely this kind of identification with the Purusha and radiated a very remarkable atmosphere; but he called dangerous revolutionaries all those who wanted to change something in the earth-Nature, all who wanted things on earth to change—wanted, for example, that suffering might be abolished or ultimately the necessity of death might be done away with, that there might be an evolution, a luminous progress requiring no destruction: “Ah! those who think like that are dangerous revolutionaries. If need be, they should be put in prison!”
But if one wants to be wise even without becoming a great yogi, one must be able to look at all these things with a smile, and not be affected by them. You have your own experience; try to make it as true and complete as possible, but leave each one to his own experience. Unless they come seeking you as a guru and tell you, “Now, lead me to the Light and the Truth”; then, there your responsibility begins—but not before. [Looking at a disciple] He is longing to speak!
Sri Aurobindo has said, “The Gita… pauses at the borders of the highest spiritual mind and does not cross them into the splendours of the supramental Light.”
The Synthesis of Yoga, p. 87
By following the Gita, why doesn’t one catch the central truth and come to the path of the supramental Yoga?
I don’t know what you mean. But there are also many people who believe they are following the yoga of Sri Aurobindo and who don’t reach the supramental truth.64
It does not depend so much on the path one follows; it depends on the capacity one has.
But I am asking: the central truth of the Gita is surrender to the Lord—why doesn’t one grasp that?… “Its highest mystery of absolute surrender to the Divine Guide, Lord and Inhabitant of our nature, is the central secret.”
The Synthesis of Yoga, p. 87
But of course, this is what is written in the Gita, that you must give yourself entirely. You know, in the Gita, Krishna is the Guide and inner Master, and you must give yourself entirely to Him, make a total surrender—so? I tell you, people profess one teaching or another, but they are not always able to follow it; they come to a certain point and stop.
I don’t understand your difficulty. You mean that those who are convinced of the truth of the teaching of the Gita do not realise this teaching?
The teaching of surrender.
Yes, anyway the teaching contained in the Gita—and this surprises you? But there are countless people throughout the world who are convinced of the truth of a teaching, but that doesn’t make them capable of realising it. For instance, all Buddhists, the millions of Buddhists in the world who profess that Buddhism is the truth—does this enable them to become like a Buddha? Certainly not. So, what is so surprising about that?
I told you why there are people who accept this even after having read and studied Sri Aurobindo: why they accept it, hold fast to it, cling to this teaching of the Gita; it is because it’s comfortable, one doesn’t need to make any effort to change one’s nature: one’s nature is unchangeable, so you don’t at all need to think of changing it; you simply let it go its own way, 65you look at it from the top of your ivory tower and let it do whatever it likes, saying, “This is not I, I am not that.”
This is very convenient, it may be done very rapidly—at least one could claim that it’s done. As I said, in practice one is rarely consistent with one’s theory; if you have a bad throat or a headache or have grazed your foot, you begin to cry out or complain, to groan, and so you are not detached, you are altogether attached and tightly bound. This is a very human fact.
Or else, when someone says something unpleasant to you, you get quite upset. It is like that—because you are closely attached to your nature, although you have declared you are not. That’s all.