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Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, The Triple Transformation - Track 106

Soul Knowledge – Infinity, Eternity, Universality

The first indication of the soul is the experience of the inner flame. That is why the Veda speaks of agni, this inner flame. Most of us do not experience it at all, therefore we do not distinguish between mental, vital and anything called the soul or the psychic, but there are moments when we do experience an inner flame burning. There are two kinds of flames in us and they should be distinguished from each other because the one flame belongs to the vital and the other flame belongs to the soul. At the vital level many of us have experienced the flame. Overpowering desire is also a flame. Overpowering desire to get the object of love is also a flame. One burns as it were in love, vital love, and so we might say it is a red flame. When it does not get it, it gets angry, frustrated. The mark of this flame is that it is constantly seeking to possess from outside, the object is outside and it wants to devour that object and possess it. This flame, many people experience, if not all. Many people who live purely on a physical plane, who are domestic in character want to preserve their ordinary routine of life. They do not experience this deep flame of the heart. But this is quite common actually; at a certain stage of life people do experience this kind of a flame. Some people have not a flame for love but the flame for power, they are consumed by the desire for power or desire for wealth but these are all vital flames. And many people call this, psychic flame by mistake. This is not the correct thing. The flame of the vital is like a volcano whereas the psychic flame is very quiet in its nature, it burns steadily. It is a flame that is burdened with wisdom. As I said he is like an architect, who knows what is to be done, what is to be designed. And the object of the psychic flame is primarily to nourish truth, beauty and goodness. Truth, beauty and goodness are its primary movements. Whenever there is a true situation where truth, beauty and goodness manifest, there is an inner joy, and all of us experience it one way or the other. You see a remarkably beautiful picture and the response that you give is of pure admiration without the desire to possess for yourselves. You just admire. In the vital admiration there is a desire to possess, but in the soul admiration, you admire for the sake of admiration, you just enjoy it.

Question: Totally unselfish?

Yes, unselfish. You really feel "how wonderful". When you see a sunset and admire it, you do not say "I must have a sunset in my body", you just admire it: "It is so beautiful". Not that everybody admires a sunset because everybody is not so sensitive; the soul is not so much in the forefront. Somebody has done a heroic action for example and you feel extremely happy and admire that heroism that also is a soul reaction. What you call hero–worship, if it is a true hero–worship, it is psychic in character, it is not vital in character. If you have read some of the stories of Sharad Chandra Chattopadhyay for example, you will find in many of the female characters particularly, a great deal of soul experience; the self–giving, just for the sake of self–giving. Somebody serves somebody else not because one expects that it will be returned in one way or the other but just out of admiration one goes on serving, whatever the result, does not care at all. It is a pure psychic movement, there is no calculation. The impulse to protect somebody who needs protection which requires a lot of courage and one puts oneself in the midst of fire for protecting somebody else, that also is a sign that there is a soul which is active. It is quite different from the vital, physical and mental; all these elements are quite poor as compared to this capacity of the soul.

These are the preliminary experiences of the soul, which are only on the surface. Then there are the deeper experiences of the soul. Search of knowledge for the sake of knowledge is a deeper soul movement. It is true that even the mind has this tendency to seek knowledge for its own sake, but behind the mind's movement of knowledge for its own sake is always the soul element. Normally the mind seeks utilitarian knowledge, practical knowledge, pragmatic knowledge and only at very high levels it begins to seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge. And this is very logical, due to the fact that the soul is behind this mind and the time comes when the mind gets fatigued in its search and still there is a movement of that pursuit of knowledge and then you can really distinguish between the mental knowledge and the psychic knowledge, the search of the psychic for the knowledge.

When can you distinguish really between the two kinds of knowledge? For example when you come to that border line of the knowledge of silence, the mind cannot pursue that knowledge; even if it wants to pursue, the mind cannot experience Silence, Infinity and Eternity. So pursuit of the knowledge of Eternity, Infinity, of All, of Universality, pursuit of the experience of these, is a pure movement of the soul.