In the Katha Upanishad the Immortality that is described is that experience of the ultimate Reality. To live all the time in the experience of the Supreme Reality is to attain to Immortality. The physical may die, but when you experience your oneness with that Reality — which is indestructible and vast, which is Supreme — that experience is the experience of Immortality. But can that Immortality be experienced even while in the body? — That was the question. In India and elsewhere there is a big controversy on this. According to one belief you can experience this Immortality while in the body, according to others it is only when you leave the body that you can experience it, otherwise you can’t.
Immortality as understood in the Veda is much vaster. You can experience in the body the Immortality of the Supreme, you can experience His Reality in its supramental character. The powers of the gods, who are the sons of Aditi, the Supreme Mother, come down and inhabit your body, and your body remains. Prithivi vitasthe, in Parashara’s words. Prithivi means “the physical”, vitasthe “stood unshaken” — that is Vedic Immortality.
Yet this does not mean cutting out the principle of death in this evolutionary world. One can live on, even physically. Sri Aurobindo speaks of triple Immortality, apart from all these experiences of which I spoke: immortality of the Soul, immortality of the experience of the Supreme, immortality of the Supreme with the Supermind in the body. Apart from these three connotations of the word immortality, Sri Aurobindo speaks of triple Immortality: immortality of the mind, immortality of the vital, and immortality of the body. The triple Immortality is a special kind of immortality, in which there is a constant progression, without the necessity at any stage of any kind of dissolution. You can have the mind developing in such a way that it goes on developing but at no stage is required to dissolve itself in any way. It is progression all the time, similarly with the vital and the physical. And Sri Aurobindo has laid down what is the condition when this kind of immortality is achieved. When the mind is able to be guided constantly by the inner soul, by the psychic being, not only inwardly but even on the surface — in other words, when all the movements of the mind become psychicised — then the mind does not need to be dissolved for further progression. Otherwise the law of progression is that when you make some progress, at a certain critical point, in order to make a further progress, something of the old has to be dissolved. And then again you make some progress; something of the old has to be dissolved. Has to be dissolved, compulsorily — if you don’t dissolve it you can’t make more progress. This is the normal process, but when the mind is fully psychicised, and since the psychic being is immortal, this capacity of the immortality of the soul is reflected and partaken of by the mind. But this would be even further enhanced if the mind were supramentalised — not only psychicised, but supramentalised. And similarly the vital is psychicised and supramentalised and the body is psychicised and supramentalised.
This question of supramentalisation is very important. You can eliminate the principle of death— this is the new discovery that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have made. Even while remaining in the body, without the necessity of dissolution, whether the body can respond to the Will of the Supermind constantly, uninterruptedly — this is the question that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have raised. And unless this is done, harmony on the earth is not possible, because ultimately, harmony on the earth has to be a physical harmony, on the physical plane.
There is a difference between the body remaining stable even when the Supermind descends into it, and a new concept that you find in the Mother and Sri Aurobindo: permeation of the physical by the Supermind. The Supermind coming in the body and living in the body, but not yet permeating the body, is one stage. But the Supermind entering a body that remains stable and then going further, permeating into the physical — this question of permeation was never raised in the whole history of mankind. Is it possible for the Supermind to permeate the physical? And what is the condition of it? What forces are needed? How can you do it?
This is a very big discovery: Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have said that this can be done. Supermind can permeate the physical, so as to eliminate the necessity of death. The necessity of death — one can die, but the necessity of death, the obligation to die, would be eliminated. One can continue to live for thousands of years, but yet be obliged to die, that obligation would not be eliminated. Here one may die, but there’s no obligation to die. There is what is called death at will, of which India knows very much — it is called ichchha-mrityu, “you die at will”. But the death at will is only a temporary kind of adjustment; it is not a conquest of the obligation to die, but merely the capacity to determine the time when one can die. One can postpone it for some time, like Bhishma — it is said that he had the capacity to die at will, and he could postpone his death by some months. This is not a conquest of the obligation to die. One knows that one has to die, but one can postpone it. That is not what Mother and Sri Aurobindo speak of. The conquest of death is the conquest of the obligation to die, and that conquest, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother said, can be achieved. I referred once to Mother’s declaration on the 14th of March 1970, where she said, “It is done.” In categorical terms she said, “It is done.” And she said that now the Supermind can be permanently established in the physical. This is the difference between the Vedic discovery of the Supermind and Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s discovery. As Mother points out, in the Veda there is no indication that they had permanently established the Supermind. Mother and Sri Aurobindo wanted a permanent fixation of the Supermind on the earth, and why this permanent fixation? -- Because unless this is done there can’t be durable peace. You must have heard in the modern world this term durable peace, the peace that endures, the peace that is never destroyed, it will remain. It’s not as if you postpone world war now and then live in the fear of its coming. There is an obligation of war, as it were. We are obliged to fight. We can postpone the fight, but we are obliged to fight. We are at present at that stage. We are still obliged to fight. If the earth is to be free from the very obligation to fight.
I said that Sri Aurobindo confirms the Vedic experience that human life is a battle. He confirms the Vedic aspiration that we must arrive at harmony and peace. But what Sri Aurobindo has done is, which was not done elsewhere at all in the history of the world, this is new, is that the world need not be obliged to be a field of battle. At present it is a battlefield, but this whole principle of conflict can be eliminated from the world experience. And Mother said that it is done. For working it out it may take centuries, it may take a thousand years — it doesn’t matter — but it is done. This gives a completely new perspective.
I told you about the letter I wrote to the Mother where I described my syllabus of the spiritual history of India. I would like to take this opportunity to read out to you the answer of the Mother. It’s a short answer, but I would like to tell you what Mother told me because it is very relevant to the present question.
You were trying to show the continuity of history with Sri Aurobindo as the outcome, the culmination. It is false entirely. Sri Aurobindo does not belong to history. He is outside and beyond history. Until the birth of Sri Aurobindo, religions and spiritualities were always centered on past figures, and they were showing as a goal the negation of life upon the earth. So you had a choice between two alternatives: either a life in this world with its round of petty pleasures and pains, joys and sufferings, threatened by Hell if you were not behaving properly; or an escape into another world — Heaven, Nirvana, moksha, liberation. Between these two there is nothing much to choose: They are equally bad. Sri Aurobindo has told us that this was the fundamental mistake which accounts for the weakness and degradation of India. Buddhism, Jainism, Illusionism were sufficient to sap all energy out of the country. True, India is the only place in the world which is still aware that something else than Matter exists, the other countries have forgotten it, Europe, America and elsewhere. That is why she still has a message to preserve and deliver to the world. But at present she is splashing and floundering in the muddle. Sri Aurobindo has shown that the Truth does not lie in running away from the earthly life, but in remaining in it to transform it, divinize it, so that the Divine can manifest here in this physical world.
Then she addresses me and says:
You should tell all this at the first sitting. You should be square and frank. Then — when this is told strongly, squarely, and there is no doubt about it — and then only, you can go on and amuse them with the history of religions and religious and spiritual leaders. Then, and then only you will be able to show the seed of weakness and falsehood that they have harbored and proclaimed. Then, and then only you will be able to discern from time to time, from place to place, an intuition that something else is possible. In the Vedas, for instance, the injunction to descend deep into the cave of the Panis. In the Tantras also, a little Light burning. I may add that you could adopt as a motto for your first project this quotation of Sri Aurobindo: ‘We do not belong to the past dawns, but to the noons of the future’.
This is the third discovery of the Veda, about the Supermind, and I told you how Sri Aurobindo goes beyond — it’s not beyond, but something new that was not even conceived in the Veda.
In a sense, by telling you all this I have told you also what Sri Aurobindo has done with regard to the two other discoveries: the discovery of the Supreme Reality, and the discovery of the completeness of knowledge, the integrality of knowledge that we find in the Veda, and the Yoga of the Veda.
So with regard to each one of these five discoveries, there is in Sri Aurobindo, as Mother says, “the presence of the noons of the future”.