Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, The Triple Transformation

Track Running Culture, Harmony and Soul

Culture, Harmony and Soul

 India also had developed a similar kind of culture, a very highly developed intellectual culture. Particularly from the time of Mahabharata downwards for more than a thousand years, we developed a very highly developed intellectual culture. Some other time we shall discuss this point but I am only making a note now that this is the kind of culture that we also developed in India. And just as Greek culture fell, this intellectual culture of India also had a declining period although we had a longer history of intellectual life than Greek culture and other cultures of the world but still we went into decline. But whereas Greek culture died down completely, this culture did not die out. We still have some kind of intellectual idealism which still belongs to the ancient times and there is some kind of continuity with the present. Even in the period of decline, something of the glory of their intellectual period remained.

But as long as we remain confined to a physical, vital and mental culture, we have still not entered into the truly spiritual or psychic culture, and it is that to which now we turn. We find that even when the mind is very developed, even when all the three parts of the being of the mind ” the logical, the ethical and the artistic ” are very developed, even then the full harmony does not come about. Some harmony is achieved but not the true and full harmony, because what is ultimately the meaning of harmony? A true harmony is achieved when every element is placed in its right place. When you enter into this room and you find that everything is in the right place, you feel there is a harmony. Nothing juts out, nothing is excessive, everything is balanced and where a thing has to be that thing is to be found; you find that there is a real harmony. Therefore there must be a governing principle which decides which thing has to be at what place. A governing principle working luminously, effecting the direction and the placement of every element is the condition of harmony. So there must be a governing principle, there must be a hierarchy of things, each one of which obeys the governing principle and therefore, everything is in its own proper place. A governing principle, a hierarchy, and obedience of each element to the governing principle, these are the elements which are required for harmony. Since mind is not the governing principle, since vital is not the governing principle, body is not the governing principle, so long as you become aware only of these three elements, we can never arrive at the true harmony. We have to find out the real governing principle. That governing principle is called the soul.

The very meaning of soul is "the governing principle"; that which governs is the soul. The governing principle itself becomes the stuff of everything. "That" which governs and "that" which becomes the stuff of things is the soul. When I breathe with the breath of "that", then that is my soul by whose breath I breathe. "That" under whose command I am guided is my soul. So mind, life and body are truly governed by an entity which is the soul in us of which normally we are not aware. We are not aware of the real stuff of the body, life and mind; we are aware of the body, life and mind in their activities, even by perception, by experience, but we are not aware of whose stuff ” they are made. What is the origin, what is the source of all this? What is the stuff of which the mind is the weaving? Mind is a fabric by itself but the stuff of which it is the fabric is the soul, and of that we are not aware; we are aware only of the threads of the fabric of the mind, but we are not aware of that stuff of which these are the fabrics. In other words you have not gone deep enough to find out from where these strings are spreading out in our body, life and mind. Normally what happens is that this particular stuff, the soul, is first experienced only in the form of an influence. It is like the breeze coming from somewhere and we experience that blow of the breeze and we find it is something different from the breeze of the mind, or life, or body: it has a different character in it. We first only distinguish it very indistinctly and we feel it is somewhat different but we like it very much. And when that influence begins to become stronger, and the breeze begins to become a wind and blows very heavily, then we are obliged to take cognizance of it, and we become aware of it much more concretely.

Then we begin to recognise that there is an entity within us, which is spontaneous in character, spontaneous towards truth, beauty and goodness. It is as spontaneous as the body is spontaneous, as spontaneous as the vital is spontaneous, but the body and vital are not spontaneous towards truth, beauty and goodness, whereas this stuff moves towards truth, beauty and goodness. In the vital being or in the physical being all our instincts are spontaneous, and most of us live a physical and vital life by instincts and impulses which are spontaneous; you do not need to train them. Hunger for example, physical hunger, appetite is spontaneous and one wants to eat food, one likes to eat food, enjoys food; it is instinctive, spontaneous. Similarly there is a spontaneity in the soul but its real food is goodness, its food is beauty, its food is truth. It is a natural spontaneous turning towards truth, beauty and goodness; it is the first mark of the distinct nature of the soul. All human beings, since they have got the presence of the soul in them, they sometimes feel the presence of it. At times they do feel this spontaneous turning towards truth, beauty and goodness. You witness a heroic action of somebody and you admire it; it is a psychic response, it is a soul response. You find somebody uttering the truth and you feel greatly uplifted; it is a soul response. You do not even reason why he is good or bad or anything; simply because of the truth force there is a spontaneous reaction to it. You may see a beautiful sunrise and you feel admiration for it, you feel the whole world quickened everything marvelous and the whole scene turning into a kind of experience of beauty: it is a soul response. And such experiences we all have from time to time, without recognising that the source of it is in the soul.

But when these responses of the soul begin to infiltrate more and more into mind, life and body, they constitute some kind of an influence. That is how we are as it were turned to the soul, but not being aware of it even mentally.

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