The only element which is so troublesome is the money involved, but in this world we are moving in such a manner that if you criticise it so much that, ultimately even that effort is gone, we should not do that. We should say. Yes, these are not like the United nations organisation, it’s not a perfect organisation. It’s not true that all nations are equal in the United Nations, the five nations are given a place in the security council and, ultimately, any member of the civil council can bombard any decision. So this veto power given to the members of the security council shows some kind of imperialism. All other nations have to nod their heads, they can debate, but they cannot take a decision.
And even then the US attacked Iraq and nobody could say no because of veto power. Nobody could even say that you're not supposed to be doing all this.
Yes, if there is a kind of a resolution that there should be no attack on Iraq then the US will veto the decision of the United nations, so you may disagree, but we shall go ahead. So this kind of possibility still exists in the present world situation. But for that reason you can't say that unless all agree right from the beginning, we won't even allow it to come into existence, then movement becomes impossible. So nature also knows how to work out its own steps, allows compromise here, allows some kind of patchwork there and then a firm movement there, resistance over there, struggle over there, fight somewhere, ultimately in a muddling manner it works out its own design.
As I was saying for any idea of perfection, you should have first of all an attempt to arrive at the essence. Secondly, there should be adequate expression of the essence. Adequate expression would mean the elements of expression are so arranged that there is an equilibrium, all the elements are put into some kind of elementary harmony. Thirdly, it should be such an equilibrium that it allows progression further and further progression to arrive at that position is perfection. It’s not maximisation.
It'll be maximization if it does not include the element that you've stated if it does not include the element of further progression and less progression.
Right. So real perfection should be in expression capable of harmonising elements concerned to such an extent that it arrives at an equilibrium. Until that time it is imperfect. But if you arrive at an equilibrium, then you say now it is perfect. Child for the first time saying ma, he has been able to put the two lips together and the voice coming out, even though the lips are closed and yet the sound comes out, that equilibrium of closing the lips and the sound in the right manner and spontaneously coming out, it’s perfect. The child has spoken perfectly and you can have gaga over it, because the child has achieved that perfection. He can pronounce the word so clearly, articulately and even after that, if he now takes up another word, papa, is two words together and the movement from ma to papa is also progressive. So if that movement is allowed, you can say the whole thing is so perfect. My child is developing perfectly well.
Similarly, when Bertrand Russell said that his relationship with his wife for one year was perfect, what he wanted her to do, she was doing automatically spontaneously, what she wanted from him was available so spontaneously, the environment was perfect. They could live together, week into week and perfectly well, it’s perfection. All the elements are in harmony, in equilibrium. The only problem of human life is that such equilibriums don't last and suddenly something else happens and the difficulties of human life arise.
I read a book a long time ago and it has stuck in my mind. They say that the human being has the capacity to recall whatever level of perfection they had reached in their previous lives, and that sets the parameter to begin a new life from that stage.
You are right. I mean it's a fact that that is the meaning of rebirth. You might have reached a certain point in your past life. Now in your new life, you continue where you've left.
It didn't say that what it meant was that if the circumstances in your present life do not give you or do not facilitate that kind of competition, it's what you have in your mind that you aspire for basically, because when you look around, you will find that people are satisfied so little and the problem is that you want to just go forward ahead, because you have at one time glimpsed that degree of perfection which is not accessible to you now, experience of perfection in any emotional, material, or anything.
It is true in the sense that there is no mathematical equation in it, but it is a fact that a certain point is reached in a given life and death occurs when you cannot move forward, if it is possible to move forward death does not come. This is one very important criterion. Although death is a law, usually death comes to an individual when he has reached a critical point and his further development is not possible in the given circumstances and in the body, because the greatest circumstance of everybody is the body. So, in those circumstances, if you cannot make a progress, then the soul decides to withdraw from the body, so that a new body is chosen to continue the upward movement that he was on. Now even their upward movement is a very ambiguous term. It may be a continuation of where one was in the past life. It may be even a new method of acquiring what you had already attained in the past life. In other circumstances, a prince may take a birth in a beggar's house because he wants an experience to look at the world from a different angle. One angle was seen, but now he wants to see another angle and he might have a different altogether different circumstance. But while doing so, he still has got the benefit of the experience that he has gained earlier. A soul which has never enjoyed the king's rule and he is born as a pauper right from the beginning will have one attitude in his life, hankering after princely pleasures. Whereas in the other man, it won't be hankering after pleasures of the prince, he will really like to learn in a different circumstance. An emperor might be born in a servant's house. He won’t hanker after the empire now in this new body, that experience is gained. Even now in birth, even a child with an emperor’s psychology is an emperor in physical terms. It may not be, and sometimes therefore many people feel quite out of tune. You start your journey from a different angle and try to learn how the world looks when you are not an emperor and you enrich your experience and so on. You may be a painter in your past life. You may now become a musician in the next life, a new instrument of experience.
That's why there are so many levels of experiences. That’s why India spoke of 84 lakhs of yonis, so imagine, and they are according to me quite right actually, because even in one birth, how slow is progression. If you examine the way in which you develop, it is so slow and also something of the past it’s also lost in the sense that you have forgotten what you were in the past. To come back to the point where you were already in a given past life also takes a time, even going to school and learning a new language and all that.
But psychologically you are not learning a language, you are experiencing life itself, an angle of experience. What is important in human life is the angle of experience. From what point of view you are experiencing, you might have never enjoyed clerkship in your past life because you have been king all the time and now you are taking a clerk’s place. Now what are your difficulties as a clerk, that experience of servitude which was not in your temperament at all, it has got to develop.
Ultimately, the aim of birth and rebirth is to arrive at a point where you can combine wisdom, heroism, harmony and skill. It’s the equilibrium of these four powers and then ever and ever you can manifest fully. If you can reach that point, it is a point of perfection in your life. Sri Aurobindo speaks of perfection from perfection, perfection to perfection, knowledge to knowledge. It is no more from ignorance of knowledge, it is from knowledge to knowledge, it is ever expanding, so that possibility is now much more easily available.
Therefore, even in the present life, if your circumstances can change more easily – and that is what is happening today – the circumstances of human life are rapidly changing, so not happening earlier. Therefore, you don't need to die to gain a new way of looking, a new view of things. Even your circumstances, you can change them very rapidly, even facilities, even divorcing for example is a facility which was not so easily available in ancient times. You are stuck for life and you all the time aspire for what is to be done in the next life or who knows in the next life what will happen. It is the mobility of social circumstances, which makes the soul evolve more and more powerfully, more and more easily, and then when Mother says that today circumstances are such that what can normally happen in 30 years, you can do in six months’ time. It is because of that reason you cannot normally migrate from one circumstance. I migrated from the Ashram to Delhi in a highest position, I mean suddenly. It happened because of supermind. It cannot normally happen at all. In my life the kind of experience I gained in the last 30 years went so rapidly from one point to the other and their change of circumstances is so radical, so different from one point to the other is because of the supramental work which is going on. As if the supermind is creating conditions so fast, many things which would have taken me ten births, I have been able to do in one birth. So it is very true.
For an ordinary housewife to come to Sri Aurobindo.
Yes, it is true. You are right, it is supermind’s work. It’s not easy to get time, circumstance, and it's not easy. Life is so full of problems normally and such rigidities of life that it's a miracle that for two years and a half, we are together day after day, it’s a miracle. Human life cannot be designed in this way at all. So to allow this kind of circumstance is one of the great achievements of supermind on the earth, and this is multiplying in the world all over. Many circumstances are being built in the world which are very conducive.
Now people do not recognize that there is supermind which is creating their circumstance, but it is, it is opening out the avenues of experience and helping all of us. The moment you aspire for a result, it is given by the Mother immediately very soon. In fact, all of us who went to the Mother, I must say that we have cut our thousand births in one birth. I mean that kind of progression you feel, that such a thing would have taken a thousand births.
If we had put up a question across to children, what would the perfection mean in lower terms?
It’s a good question actually: what is perfection? It’s not maximum. It is an equilibrium of expression out of essence.
So how to inspire them to go on the road to perfection?
That is to say, the road to perfection lies in inspiring children to ask: what is essence? Always put the idea of essence. Mother says that if you want to give mental education, you first develop a central idea around which ideas can be organised. You see if you bring that book On Education, it's a very important book, how mental education is taught. It’s the shortest but the greatest exposition to mind I think.
It's required to even differentiate between maximisation and perfection.
When can you say a human being has reached the level of a thinker? You all think but to reach the level of a thinker, what is a thinker? a thinker is one who first of all grasps the essence. You may hear the whole book or read the whole book but you are not a good thinker if you cannot say what is the essence of the whole book.
You may see the film Taal and someone who says what is the essence of the whole film? Actually the word Taal which has been given by the title, is a misnomer of the whole thing. It is to emphasise, because the modern mind today is attracted to all the rhythm and noise and so on. So it's all right, but otherwise the basic story is a very good story. It is not merely the music that catches the film, the basic idea is that it gives within a short time, the human experience of love and how through the different phases of love, the essence of love is grasped which consists of understanding and sacrifice. Unless these two things are brought out to say, I love you, unless you understand the other, and unless you are prepared to sacrifice, you have not loved, it is only a utilitarian relationship but not love. Now this is the essential idea around which the whole story is woven.
So a thinker is one who is able to say, Oh, the essence of the story is the rhythmic dance. It’s not true, although the name is Taal or the beat, but actually speaking, it's not the beat, it’s not the dances, so many full of dances, it’s not the real story. It’s not an illustration of a dancer's life. It is an essential story of the theme of human love. You might say the inner story is the reaffirmation of the Indian idea, the message of the old mother to the man, that is the real story. Actually, it may not have been told so explicitly, but the inner story is that story, the conflict between two sets of ideals and affirmation of the superiority of the earlier idea, but in the modern times how it can be affirmed and what expression it can take. That’s why this film is so great. It's not merely the dances and music, but this is its essence.
Now a good thinker is one who once he sees a book, he can tell you what is the central idea, the essential idea. It is like Will Durant wrote 11 volumes and then he wrote ultimately a book called Lessons of History. It’s a very short book. It is a man who, after studying the whole history of the world, wants to tell you what actually has learned out of the history of the world, even if it is worth it. So it is this kind of thing that is necessary for the modern world, that you bring out the quintessence, the great idea, the central idea, so a central idea is an essential point around which all the ideas can be woven together.
For example, a good thinker is one who arrives at the concept of the Brahman-Purusha-Ishwara. If you ask what is the greatest idea, the most central idea under which all ideas can be woven is to assert that there is a reality which is Brahman-Purusha-Ishwara. Once you grasp this idea, life only becomes a dance around this idea.
Life actually is nothing but rhythmic dance. The greatest joy of life is when your movement of life becomes a rhythmic dance. It’s a Shiva's dance actually. Our life is not rhythmic dance because we have lost the centre. It is only when you find the centre that you can dance around it. Otherwise, you can never dance properly, every dance to be perfect has to have a centre around which there are rhythms and all kinds of movements. All human life will be completely satisfied if it can have that rhythmic dance around. Around that is important, mere dancing is not satisfying.
We had a story of Chauladevi in Gujarat. Chauladevi was a daughter of, you might say, courtesan of a very high level, but she wanted her daughter to be brought up as a great bhakta of Shiva. It was her ideal for her daughter, so she put her into the great temple of Somnath. At that time Somnath was a great temple before Ghazni came or around the time of Ghazni's invasion, and she gave the idea that your husband, your life, everything is centred on Shiva and she taught her exclusive art of dancing and the mother taught her that your great fulfilment will be that every day you should dance naked before Shiva because he is your everything and she used to do this and she reached a great climax to dance around Shiva and I mean she got all the powers, whatever highest powers that you can have in dance are available when you surrender to Shiva. You may move about, ultimately a complete self-surrender to Shiva when you experience this, it's like an acme of your fulfilment and she used to do this. She became a young woman and even then she used to dance before Shiva in the same way. Her fame was very great, and she used to become so ecstatic about her dance that she became very ecstatic about her dance that she became very exclusive about it in the sense that she would not dance before anybody.
Now the king Bhimadev had heard of her, and he told his ministers and everybody – I want to see her dance before Shiva. That was his great desire of his life. Ultimately, he was allowed a secret entry into the temple when she was to dance and he enjoyed the whole dance of Chauladevi before Shiva. It was the most ecstatic experience for the king, such beauty dancing before Shiva with so much of power. It’s a greatest intoxicating experience of life, so he sent word to her that he wanted to marry her. So she just spurned the idea of marrying a king. He was king of Gujarat at that time, it was the greatest thing to happen in life. She spurned the idea, she said I am already married to the supreme lord. My life is only for him and nobody else.
Now this is the background of the story. Now it so happened that Muhammad Ghazni came, he invaded this temple and a battle took place and at that time Bhimadeva came specially to Somnath from Patan, Patan at that time was the capital of Gujarat. So he came from Patan to Somnath and he fought against the army and Chauladevi happened to see from the terrace of the temple the whole battle and she found Bhimadeva fighting the enemies with such valour and such tremendous capacity to slaughter the enemies that she found he was Shiva incarnate. She became extremely pleased with him, the one who can protect the temple with so much of valour and so courageously heroically, it cannot be but incarnation of Shiva. So it was in that context that she agreed to marry him, that you are incarnate Shiva therefore I will marry you. After the marriage Bhimadeva was defeated in the battle ultimately and she saw the human Bhimadeva, not the incarnate Shiva, but human, and ultimately she went to him and said, I am disillusioned. You are too human for me and you should pardon me for everything, but it is no happiness for me to live with you. I want only one thing in my life, to dance before Shiva and Bhimadeva also was a great man, and he said if that is your disillusionment, what can I do? I am what I am, and I am very happy that you want to devote your life to Shiva, what great thing can happen in life? So she ceased to be the queen and she came over back to Somnath and gave her life only to dance before Shiva.
Now this is a story, it's a very important story in this history of Gujarat, but it is a very important story in the sense that the highest satisfaction of life is when the life can dance around the centre, which is supreme, and you can dance only before the Supreme, it is only when we have found this central reality and when you want to join your life before the central reality, then the life will become rhythmic and perfect, and that is a fullest satisfaction of life. The reason why human beings are not satisfied with life is that, first of all, they have not discovered the centre, the centre which is supreme, all inclusive, and we don't know how to dance before him in service of him. We don't have the skill, no capacity, nor the rhythm, nor the music, nor all the combinations of your life by which you can dance before him. That is why life is always dissatisfactory. It is when you find the centre, then life can move rhythmically and that’s the full satisfaction of life. In the Life Divine there's a very nice sentence, that one sentence is so great:
Only in such a complete and catholic affirmation can all the multiform and apparently contradictory data of existence be harmonised and the manifold conflicting forces which govern our thought and life discover the central Truth which they are here to symbolise and variously fulfil. Then only can our Thought, having attained a true centre, ceasing to wander in circles, work like the Brahman of the Upanishad, fixed and stable even in its play and its worldwide coursing, and our life, knowing its aim, serve it with a serene and settled joy and light as well as with a rhythmically discursive energy.
Isn’t it? Absolutely perfect statement!
Once you discover Brahman-Purusha-Ishwara as the supreme Reality, this definition itself, this particular discovery is itself a key to the perfection of life, once when you can relate all the ideas ultimately issuing from this idea, you will discover the central idea in which all the ideas of the whole world – you can have millions of ideas, all these millions of ideas have one centre Brahman-Purusha-Ishwara.
So that’s why philosophy is very important because by philosophical thought, you come to determine that everything in the world can be explained only if the reality is Brahman-Purusha-Ishwara, it's a central idea, and if you don't have that central idea, mind will wander all the time: this may be true, this won't be true, that should be true. But once you have discovered this idea, then the mind will settle and once the mind is settled, the life itself will rhythmically dance with joy and with rhythmic discursive movement, all forms of life will rhythm all the time, it is only this worship of one, like Chauladevi dancing around Shiva and that gives a complete satisfaction, complete fulfilment of life, is to be able to dance around Shiva. So what is all that is to be taught to children is basically this that you should arrive at this point.