Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, The Triple Transformation - Track 102

Questions & Answers – What is experience?

Question: What is the meaning of experience?

Now of this we shall talk a little more later on, but for the moment in answer to this question I would only say that the soul in us is in interaction with the body, life and mind. It is this interaction which really is the meaning of experience. At one stage, in one of my talks I have spoken of the soul to be equivalent to, analogically, an architect. The soul is like an architect. Just as an architect designs a beautiful building, even so the soul has a capacity of designing the interconnection of body, life and mind. The soul is also like a mason, not only an architect but also like a mason because after designing, the engineer or the mason comes in and he really designs, actually concretises it.  The soul has been given a kind of a mission. As an architect is given the mission to design a house, a mason is given a kind of a mission to concretise the design, similarly the soul has been given the mission that it has to design a beautiful structure of the body, life and mind and their interrelationship.

Each one has a special kind of a design to create and that is the specific task for each one. You and I are different in this sense that although both of us are designers, the way in which we shall design and the kind of design that we shall make in regard to the body, life and mind will be different in each case. You will design body, life and mind according to one perception; I will design my body, life and mind according to another perception. Each one of us is required to have a specific kind of design, you might say. And then having made the design or while making the design, it goes on also building it, building according to that design.  While doing this the body, life and mind react to the soul and very often the reactions are of resistance. The body, life and mind do not normally abide by the design that is being conceived by the soul. Each one goes its own way, as it were. He doesn't care for the design. It is the soul which is constantly striving to see that the body, life and mind react in such a manner that the real design is effected and the real concretisation of the design is effected, this being the task of the soul.

 How much resistance is there? How much is the collaboration? And the manner by which this collaboration can be brought about so that ultimately body, life and mind do exactly as the soul decides, this task is the task of the soul. Whatever is involved in this is the real experience, all else is secondary. All else may be an aid but that is not essential. In order that body, life and mind can ultimately fall in line with the design that is being designed by the soul, it is not necessary that you should be a very learned person. It is not necessary to be a very powerful person, in the sense of acquiring a lot of properties and becoming a captain or becoming a major chief or something of the kind. That may be necessary but it is not indispensable. In each case it may be different, but the value of all this even if one becomes very learned, the value of that learning is only as to how far it aids the soul in convincing the mind, life and body to fall in the design of the soul, that is the important thing. So, whether I memorise ten books or twenty books, or I do not memorise at all, provided that I can effectuate the consent of the body, life and mind to fall in line with the soul's design, that alone matters. And when I speak of experience, it is this experience by which the soul shall be able to convince the body, life and mind so as to obtain their collaboration. Then they will do according to the decisions of the soul.

 In the case of rebirth of which we were talking, what I have said was this, that what is important in the growth of the soul from body to body is not the carrying of the memory of the past birth but to carry forward the experience of the past birth and to utilise that experience in the next birth. And since the experience is not definitely connected with the memory of all the events, but really this quintessence of how far somebody has consented or not, so those experiences, those events in life, which have been central to the attainment of the consent of the body, life and mind to the design of the soul are carried by the soul into the next birth, that is all that is important and that the soul carries always. Other memories may be there, may not be there, it is not so important. So that is what I meant when I spoke of memory and experience.