A New Synthesis of Yoga as a necessity to overcome the impasse of modernity - Skype - Track 102 (15 August 2008)

It is at this point that a very serious problem has arisen and this is the point which I want to mark particularly, having reached here, we have to ask ourselves: what next? It is true that we have not yet finished our journey in a search of a perfected economic, utilitarian life and economic being perfected in a social society, even that aim has not yet been realised. And today the march of science is being utilised largely by humanity for this purpose. According to Sri Aurobindo and this is a very important reading, if mankind becomes engaged, engrossed exclusively on the perfection of economic life there is a big danger. Sri Aurobindo points out that perfection of economic life, certainly as an element of the total perfection of mankind is necessary but if that aim becomes all exclusive aim then it will be a kind of reversion to what Sri Aurobindo calls barbarism. We must remember that Sri Aurobindo has traced the history of mankind in another direction, in another context, particularly The Human Cycle, where Sri Aurobindo speaks of three stages of mankind – the infra-rational, the rational and the supra-rational, as he has pointed out that for a long time humanity developed from infra-rational into rational; and that rational age is now coming to a close. But exactly at this point where rational age is coming to a close and something higher should happen, the infra-rational is making its way upward on the surface and what dominates the present stage all life. This economic aim of life which has now become so dominant in mankind today is what Sri Aurobindo calls reversal to barbarism.

Now Sri Aurobindo points out that barbarism, if you want to define properly is a state of existence in which human being becomes attached to the physical life and utilise whatever higher developments man may have for the development of the physical life, economic life. This barbarism is a force of invasion. Now Sri Aurobindo also points out that in the history of mankind whenever there was a development at a higher level, it was sought to be arrested and attacked by some fresh invasion of barbarism that is why we see in the history of mankind various attacks come one after the other. Barbarism has always been a force of invasion coming from outside upon a civilised world.

Today the situation is somewhat different. Today civilised society is sufficiently widespread and in that vast expanse of civilisation, barbarism is rising within itself. It is no more invasion of barbarism from outside, it is as it were from the very bosom of civilisation, barbarism is rising. And if this barbaric invasion is not answered, is not arrested, not replied, not combated properly and rightly; a big danger can be expected. And this is the point which is creating what may be called an impasse. How to allow the human society to rise upward and how to develop the intellectuality, which has been developed very widely, particularly at present through the force of science and how to lead mankind to the next step beyond the rationalistic? That today there is a tremendous pressure to move forward beyond the rationality can be seen in many ways. In due course of time we shall study this aspect also but the very fact that today Reason itself has come to some kind of a circular movement, implying no further possibility of movement is an indication that we have come to end of the curve of the age of Reason. It is a very vast subject but the fact is that there is on one hand a tremendous pressure for mankind to develop spiritual consciousness, and this pressure is thwarted by the barbarism which is rising. According to Sri Aurobindo Reason can play a very dominant and important role to help mankind to cross over this impasse? But Sri Aurobindo points out that Reason is not able to keep pace with the race which is going on and that is why there is a great possibility that Reason may not be able to play the right role, it is supposed to play. According to Sri Aurobindo the role of Reason is that intermediate role, a role which the physical, economic, vital life and the spiritual life. The intellect is an intermediate power and it can help the economic life, physical life, vital life of man and can open the doors and can aid mankind to enter into the spiritual age. The big question mark is whether Reason will be able to give this aid?  And Sri Aurobindo points out that this aid is very difficult to come because the race is very rapid and reason is not able to run with that race. So let us say: this is the impasse. The pressure of the economic man compacting the upward movement of man towards spirituality, where his reason can help him and Reason is not able to help on the contrary it can produce a kind of a big barrier, what will happen? Sri Aurobindo has envisaged a great possibility of what he terms the failure of the human race. The human race which was supposed to lead the whole evolutionary process towards the higher level of existence where the basic aim of human life can be fulfilled, namely perfection of the individual and perfection of the collective life and the two harmonised together that was envisaged and that human being envisages even today as the perfection of life. This aim may not be realised at all through the agency of human race and therefore one possibility that Sri Aurobindo envisaged was that human race failed and human species may be put aside as one species as a failed species and then evolutionary process may create another species for the development of the ideal condition of existence.

If you examine this possibility, Sri Aurobindo, you might say has been able to accomplish a tremendous task. One can say that that impasse, that is to say as a result of which human race would have been regarded as a failure that possibility has been crossed over and that I consider to be the great accomplishment of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother through the synthesis of Yoga which the Mother has proposed to us. Before I go forward to read out to you the next passage from the same particular part of The Life Divine, this is the next passage where Sri Aurobindo summarises this great problem of the impasse.

Sri Aurobindo says: “….this conscious stress on the material and economic life was in fact a civilised reversion to the first state of man, his early barbaric state and its preoccupation with life and matter, a spiritual retrogression with the resources of the mind of a developed humanity and a fully evolved Science at its disposal. As an element in the total complexity of human life this stress on a perfected economic and material existence has its place in the whole: as a sole or predominant stress it is for humanity itself, for the evolution itself full of danger. The first danger is a resurgence of the old vital and material primitive barbarian in a civilised form; the means Science has put at our disposal eliminates the peril of the subversion and destruction of an effete civilisation by stronger primitive peoples, but it is the resurgence of the barbarian in ourselves, in civilised man, that is the peril, and this we see all around us. For that is bound to come if there is no high and strenuous mental and moral ideal controlling and uplifting the vital and physical man in us and no spiritual ideal liberating him from himself into his inner being. Even if this relapse is escaped, there is another danger, – for a cessation of the evolutionary urge, a crystallisation into a stable comfortable mechanised social living without ideal or outlook is another possible outcome. Reason by itself cannot long maintain the race in its progress; it can do so only if it is a mediator between the life and body and something higher and greater within him; for it is the inner spiritual necessity, the push from what is there yet unrealised within him that maintains in him, once he has attained to mind, the evolutionary stress, the spiritual nisus. That renounced, he must either relapse and begin all over again or disappear like other forms of life before him as an evolutionary failure, through incapacity to maintain or to serve the evolutionary urge. At the best he will remain arrested in some kind of mediary typal perfection, like other animal kinds, while Nature pursues her way beyond him to a greater creation.”

I think this is one of the best passages in The Life Divine, where Sri Aurobindo presents to us in graphic terms, vivid terms the great danger that mankind faces today. And I would like to add the following that although as I said Sri Aurobindo and the Mother by developing the integral yoga, a new synthesis of yoga, they have crossed this barrier and mankind is now in a happy condition in a possibility of receiving the light under which it can hope to realise the collective perfection and the perfection of the individual, both harmonised together. Even then it cannot be said that we have achieved such a stage of development that the process will be very smooth and will be very safe; dangers, perils still exist.