Sri Aurobindo and The Veda (Auroville) - Session 4

Actually last time I had finished what I wanted to say. But I still felt I should still say a few things. So I will make some precisions about a few ideas. First is the precision about Karma—a term used so often in our country. Karma actually means action, means work and work means a Will, which is put upon energy to produce a result. There are two elements, there is a Will and there is Energy and the result comes out of this application of Will upon Energy. The Will is often called Sankalpa. Will itself emerges out of a great silence. The bedrock on which any Will works is a bedrock of silence, so you might say silence controls the Will. Will is never so very imperious that it can contradict the silence. If the silence wants that no Will should manifest Will, will not manifest.

Silence is always a state of perfection. Whenever there is a complete silence it is a state of perfection. It does not need anything. Whenever there is imperfection there is no silence, even psychologically you will observe when there is imperfection there is restlessness and some kind of trembling. When there is no need for anything then there is automatic silence. So silence is normally a condition of perfection and all Will basically emerges out of silence. Not because silence needs anything. If there is a Will manifested you might say that the silence permits it, it is one way of delighting itself. It has a delight in willing and not willing, in both. So the origin of Karma, Will, Sankalpa is always silence. Silence is also called the state of freedom because there is nothing that impels silence to will or not to will, so it is a state of freedom. We can say that Will arises out of a state of freedom. This freedom is not abridged when there is a Will or when there is no Will. Either way it is complete, so without the Will it is complete and with the Will also it is complete. That is why we have the famous words of the Upanishad Purnamadaha purnamidam. This is also perfect and that is also perfect. The origin of Will, Karma is in freedom and perfection. The origin of Karma is therefore in the Supreme Divine Himself. So the Supreme Himself is the real doer, He has the real Karma; His karma is always in a state of freedom. That is why in the Gita Sri Krishna says there is nothing that I have to attain yet I am constantly engaged in action. That is the real origin of Karma basically.

Since each one of us is a portion of that Divine, whenever He Wills that belongs to us also because we are a portion of Him and we willingly participate in that willing. So, Karma belongs to each of us in a subsidiary manner, not in the original manner. Origin is His. Each one of us is a portion of the Divine, but each one of us is a specificity so each is distinguishable from the other. We are all inseparable from the other but distinguishable from the other; the function of each one is different from the function of the other. Each of us therefore has a specific becoming. The Will of the Supreme which is working works in each one of us in a specific manner. It works in me in one way; it works in you in another way and in someone else in another. It is the same Will but working differently and specifically in each of the individuals. At the root of the things they constitute a harmony and they do not collide. The work manifesting through each of us is such that they will combine together to create a real harmony to form an orchestra of music.

The different strings will give out music; each one specifically varied for each on but on the whole will create a beautiful harmony. So in the working of each of us there is a complete harmony. Each one of us is capable of the same thing that the Divine is capable of—silence, perfection and Will is overpowering the silence. So originally each one of us is free; each one of us is freely manifesting a Will which is specific to oneself.

The manifestation of the Will is what is called Becoming. In Sanskrit it is called Bhava. Bhoo bhavati is to become. And each one of us is Swa; every one of us is oneself in Sanskrit swa. Therefore what becomes of the Will manifesting through each of us is each one's swabhava. And the specific will which is manifesting through each of us is one's swakarma. And the manner in which it becomes and the law of the manner of becoming becomes swadharma. In the original condition, each one knows exactly what he has to do, the manner of doing and the law of the manner of becoming. Since each one of us is manifesting One Will there is an underlying unity and underlying harmony.

At the highest level or original condition of karma is freedom in which each one is able to express according to the specificity of Divine’s Will in him or her and whatever becomes out of this movement is harmonious. So the original karma of everyone is not binding anybody. It is free. That is why Ishopnishad says na karma lipyatenare, the karma does not bind the individual. This is the true truth of karma although we say karma bandhan but originally truly in its pure condition Karma does not bind. It is a free self expression of the Divine manifesting specifically through each individual in a harmonious manner so that the Totality is a wonderful Unity.

This is the original condition. Karma is an expression of freedom. And because of that reason when karma goes on further on and on in a long train at more and more subordinate levels even when you have moved from the original station of becoming and have moved further with the becoming, more and more, karma is like an express train. And each one of us is moving on the train and each one moves on and on and one becomes so much engrossed in the movement that one may forget the original story. So even if you forget the original story, what remains in our hands is the movement of the train and ourselves in the train, this continues. We can think we are all of us of that kind. We have started the journey in a state of freedom and in perfect harmony with each other but after its initial train we have been moving in a train of karma and at a given time we become absorbed in karma so much that we happen to forget the original starting point. All of us have forgotten the original starting point. So we are aware only of the movement in the train now and our present condition in the train. Now in that condition you feel as if the movement is imposed on you. You cannot come out or jump out of the train. You are already in the train because that is the movement you are already engaged in. That is why we feel as if Karma binds you, you cannot come out. And we feel as if we are dragged into the movement of the train and cannot escape it. It is at this point that if we know the original story we can deal with it much more effectively.

There are three things that are happening to us at this time. One is the train in which we are already settled, which is the present circumstances in which we are located. And these circumstances are moving forward in which we are finding ourselves seated and incapable of throwing ourselves out of it, so that is the first thing we experience, the train, the circumstances in which we are located. The second is the direction of the train, the thread of that circumstance. And third is our own experience of this train and the direction of the train and this experience can be of varied kinds. One experience of it would be an experience of helplessness. We feel as if circumstances are so overwhelming that you cannot escape from them, the direction in which the circumstances are leading are such that they are beyond your control. You are just being pushed. In that helpless condition you go on reacting to what is happening. And every reaction you count to be your action. The second condition in which you can experience this very thing is that you may enjoy what is happening. You do not feel helpless about it but are enjoying it. Many people enjoy the circumstances they are in. Somebody suddenly becomes a prime minister and feels that something great has happened in their life and one enjoys that. One is born in a situation that is very favourable and one enjoys it.

There is another kind of experience of circumstances. Another one is one feels unhappy about it. One even feels even suffocated in the circumstances given to an individual. Another is one which one feels responsible for everything that is happening to him. These are some of the varied ways in which we react to the circumstances we are in. We are not aware of the deeper truth that basically what is happening is a result of the original Will that was put into your circumstances by you that is the Divine in you because you have forgotten. As a result of this, if you can become aware and really put a Will then you can change the whole movement. This is what is called in philosophy the relationship between Purusha and Prakriti. You are as one that has willed is Purusha and the energy working out the Will is Prakriti. What is happening is a resultant of what is put forward. Will is karma. So whatever is the karma it results in the consequences of what is appropriate to the karma. If you want to change the consequences then we have to go back and will differently and if you put pressure of a new Will, it will automatically work out in due course. It may take time because the past energies are still working, your past Will is still at work but if you want to change it, you can change it but it will take some time.

The circumstance which was found to be a prison at one stage now begins to feel as if it is a self made prison not something imposed on you but something you have created around you and you can change according to your Will. In dealing with the Will therefore, you can start with any of the three ends. You can start with what is happening to you now, you can start with your circumstance as a whole or you can start with your inner Will. There are three ends which are available to us.

One is the event that is occurring now in our life, whatever event is occurring now in our life that is the one end that we are entangled in. The second is the circumstance in which that event is taking place and the third is your inner Will which is involved in the circumstance and the event that is occurring. These are three ends of the whole situation. You can deal with all three at the same time or you can deal with one of them, two of them according to whatever you are capable of at the given moment.

Why do you want to deal with it? We want to deal with it because we are not entirely at home in the situation which is given to us. No individual finds his situation absolutely congenial to oneself and therefore one is required to deal with it. Dealing with this properly, in the right manner, with knowledge is what is called Karma Yoga. To deal with the event which is happening, with the circumstance and with our own Will, dealing rightly with these three things is the real heart of Karma Yoga.

What is called right dealing or what is the right way of doing KarmaYoga? First, to realize that we are not in the original condition from where we had started; which was the condition of freedom, therefore, to realize that our present position is that of bondage, we are bound. Therefore, it is not easy for us now merely to say let this be changed and it will be changed. In the original condition whatever you Will, will automatically happen because it is a condition of freedom. But because now we are not in the condition of freedom, we have to realize that we are in the condition of bondage, so it will not happen immediately. If you say, now let it change, it will immediately change. This is the first wisdom.

The second wisdom is that whatever is the event now in question before you, whatever is happening to you in your life and whatever the circumstance in which this is happening, try to relate it to the original Will. What is its connection with the original Will? utilize the event and circumstance not by escaping from it but by tracing it to its origin.

This tracing to the origin is a very difficult task. Therefore, there is an easier method—to know that originally it was issued from the Divine. Whatever may have been the whole history of how it has come to the present case but the fact is that it has originally come from the Divine. Therefore, the easier method is to offer this event and circumstance back to the Divine, with this attitude that it has originally come from you, it has got twisted because of my bondage, my forgetfulness and put it right so that this twist may completely go out of it. And whatever action is now being done and whatever Will I have in regard to my circumstance and events that are occurring, I will discover that Will has two deficiencies. These two deficiencies are in the form of desire and ego.

My connection with my circumstance and events that are happening this connection is intertwined by these two deficiencies. Why do we call them deficiencies—the ego and desire, because desire by its very nature is an attempt to possess something that I do not possess already? All desire is a desire to possess what I do not possess. It is a sign of deficiency. If you are not deficient, desire will not exist.

Ego also is a deficiency because all egoism is an attempt to experience its independence when it is not really independent. Egoism is only an attempt and not a mastery of independence. If one is a master of an independent entity then there is no strain of egoism at all. All egoism is a state of strain and strain is a deficiency. The very fact that I am straining is that I am deficient otherwise I would not be straining. When there is a real capacity there is no strain. All egoism is a straining to become independent when I am not independent and I cannot become independent however much I like. No egoism can really be independent in this world. That is the reason why in Karma Yoga there is first a movement to offer the circumstance and event to the original Divine and secondly to withdraw from the two deficiencies desire and ego. Therefore the entire process of Karma Yoga is a constant offering to the Divine and a constant destruction of desire and ego. When this is repeated again and again, then we are able to come back to the original position and then we get freedom even while action continues but it will be action proceeding from silence, proceeding from perfection, proceeding according to swabhava, swadharma—it will be your true swakarma. And then once again you can say na karma lipyatenare; action does not bind you. That which was the original condition can be attained after this cycle of development.

To utilise action itself for liberating ourselves from action is called Karma Yoga. To arrive at the Oneness of the Supreme Reality so that you see everywhere Oneness, and to have equal mindedness, samatvam even while action is proceeding from you this is the height of Karma Yoga. Until you reach this point, the law of Karma, as we understand it, namely that you cannot escape it becomes imperative, you can be free only till that level but karma is imperative. But gradually you can make this karma operative for higher and higher realization and this making use of it is called the process of growth.

Now let us concentrate a little on this particular point. We have seen the state of bondage and the state of freedom. But now what we are concentrating on is the middle point where we have to understand how the Karma works itself out. In one word it may be said that all work, all Karma is an instrument of experience. This concept of experience is very important. What do we call experience? All experience is dynamic. All experience is a kind of friction which leads you to greater and greater identity.

All experience has in its heart the nourishment for growth. Let us take a very small example. A child reads an elementary book and learns all that the book contains. There is a good deal of information that he collects. But all that is not experience. There is something deeper than mere information that is involved in experience. The child’s labour in collecting information, the child’s labour in understanding what is to be understood, and the child’s pain or enjoyment in understanding what is to be understood. Child’s attitude towards the possession of information, the child may become proud of the information that he collects. The child may become humble when he finds that he knows nothing at all and how much more there is to be learnt. So the attitude that he takes towards whatever is to be learnt and as a result of all this, the impulse that has grown to move to the next step forward—this is what is called experience. The child may forget all that he has learnt now and he goes to higher levels but what he has learnt as an experience—his experience of joy, his experience of suffering, his labour, his attitude, the inspiration to grow, his pride, his humility all that really grows and that is not lost. The given information that he may have collected may be forgotten but this is not lost. Even if he may not remember these experiences, his personality is built upon this that he has gained, the labour that he has put in, the joy that he has experienced, the growth that he has felt.

Whenever we are living in our life, apart from the detailed things that are happening to us, a deeper thing is the experience that is happening to us. And our circumstances are actually the events which are happening to us; they are all there to contribute to our experience. Take for example a very big scientist dies today and that means that all that he had learnt, he might have read hundreds of books, he might have collected a lot of information in his brain, all that suddenly collapses. And if you believe in rebirth, he takes a new birth supposing, then all this information does not go with him, it is all lost. But what he had gained in the form of experience that remains. And even today the way in which he will react to his surroundings, even from his childhood will bear the imprint of that experience because what is important is not the information that is stored but the experience that is gained. And that is why in the law of evolution; memory of past lives is deliberately taken away, because if it goes on hanging it will be a burden for the further growth. What is retained is the experience gained and that is never taken away. You may say this is samskaras but this is more than samskaras. Samskaras are also the impressions which are created at birth and various kinds of attitudes are also samskaras. But also what is received from your past births, samskara, is a part of that experience. What is important in any given situation for an individual is the experience that he or she is gaining.

The basic experience that one has to gain in life is the interrelationship of body, life and mind. How they can be controlled, how they can be perfected, so that ultimately the Original Will can manifest without obstructions. This is the fundamental thing to be learnt. All else is only an instrument of it or helpful aid towards it. One may do hundreds of things but if this does not happen then one does not really grow on the right lines. One goes on repeating on and on, one does not grow inwardly. To grow inwardly is to understand the relationship between body, life and mind and how they can be harmonized, how they can be perfected so that ultimately the Original Will can manifest without obstructions. And if you take karma, any action that you are doing with this attitude, to learn out of the karma this, not many other things which one can learn fundamentally, then in a shorter time you can attain to the goal. That again is a part of Karma Yoga.

All yoga is shortening the time. As Vivekananda said, Yoga is the acceleration of experience so that what can be gained normally within a hundred years can be done in six months’ time, in a shorter time. If you know the real purpose as to why what is happening to me what am I to learn from it and if you really concentrate upon it then one can grow very rapidly. It is like a gardener who understands how to allow the plants to grow, what is needed for the plants and you supply to the plants and they will grow much better.

If this is the whole play about then there are two things which have to be taken note of are the following. One is, ultimately what is to be gained is the unobstructed manifestation of the Original Will and secondly, the relationship between body, life and mind and the process of harmonizing and perfecting them. These are the two important things.

The Original Will is something that continues on and on whether we are aware of it or not, it is immortal. Unobstructed movement also means immortal movement—something that does not get obstructed, does not get cleaved, does not get clipped, undying you might say. So there is the Original Will which is immortal, and the manifestation of that Will in an undying manner is the goal to be achieved.

To realize the immortality of the Original Will and to learn how that Will can manifest immortality without any obstruction, without any death, this is all that you have to learn throughout the whole gamut of life. That is why the Vedic Rishis declared that immortality is a goal. Mrityorma amritam gamaya—from death lead me to immortality. We are subject to death because we do not know how to experience and what is to be experienced and as a result of experience what is to be done; the harmonization of body, life and mind, and perfection of them. This is the reason why the law of karma has so much to do with the goal of immortality.

The secret of karma is that its root is in immortality and it is growing towards making you realize immortality and to manifest immortality, that is why I had spoken of essential immortality of the Divine and Divine Will; the immortality of the soul, of the psychic being and of the triple immortality, the immortality of the body, life and mind. The emphasis is on karma, the emphasis on experience, emphasis on the growth and attainment of immortality and the role that karma plays in this entire gamut of experience.