The Ascent towards Supermind, Part II, Chapter XXVI - Session iv

You know we have come to a very difficult portion of the chapter that we are studying namely, The Ascent towards Supermind. We have covered two important points in this chapter—the first point was that you have to reach a high level of individuation in this process of ascent to the Supermind. We have discussed at length what is individuality, what is Free-Will; which is a very important part of individuality. We have discussed the second point namely that the law of evolution operates in this process of the ascent to the Supermind.

In respect of this law of evolution we had spoken of the two important elements in this law—the law of ascent and the law of integration. You make an ascent to the higher plane and then you reach a higher point then there is a descent. So as to absorb all that is below and to raise up all that is below into the higher. Then you reach a point of maturing the new level by process of intensification and purification, by making that level more complex and more subtle. Complexity and subtlety, when these are increased then again you have an ascent to a higher level and in this process of ascent to the Supermind this law operates and because of the operation of this law you do not jump straight from our present level to the Supermind. But there are gradations through which we pass and this is the third point.

Now we are coming to what these gradations are and we have to consider these gradations. We are already named these gradations. Sri Aurobindo has called them Higher Mind, the Illumined Mind, the Intuitive Mind, the Overmind and then the Supermind. These are the gradation through which we pass and these gradations are very difficult for us to understand. Even if you read the accounts given of these planes by Sri Aurobindo, several times, they are difficult because they fall outside our normal experience. Even by analogy it becomes difficult and yet let us make an effort to understand to the best that we can. It will be a modest effort but it may become fruitful.

The word Higher Mind is a plane above our mind and even to understand our own mind is first of all a difficult task because even our own mind has many levels in it. Usually we call this mind ordinary mind; our mind is an ordinary mind as compared to all these levels of consciousness. This ordinary mind has three levels—the physical mind, the vital mind and the pure mind. Our ordinary mind, as I said, has the lowest level called the physical mind. Physical mind is the mind which is subject to physical concerns; it is subject to our bodily condition. If your body is very healthy, you feel everything fresh and wonderful and the physical mind is in a very happy condition. And if a body is ill, things look gloomy and dark so the bodily conditions determine our mind. Secondly, usually the body has a habit of repeating mechanically.

As a result of that, when our mind is subject to the physical, it has the habit of manufacturing repetitive ideas, mechanical ideas, the same idea going round and round and round and round. Thirdly, the physical mind has a habit of believing only physical things. Unless things are physically brought to it, the physical mind is not convinced. It demands a physical proof, physical perception of things which are talked about. To this mind, vital mind, pure mind, Higher Mind, and Illumined Mind, all this is fiction. It takes only the physical reality to be the real reality, everything else is imaginary. This is the third element of the physical mind. The fourth element of the physical mind is it is prone to laziness, prone to inertia and rest. The physical mind is subject to the physical condition in which we are. It is subject to repetitiveness, it is subject to belief in physical reality, it is prone to lethargy, laziness, inertia, rest—these are the characteristics of the physical mind. This is the mind of which we have plenty of experiences therefore, we can understand physical mind quite easily.

Then there is a vital mind. Vital mind is the mind which is subject to the vital and vital consists of impulses, desires, emotions, attraction, repulsions, ambitions and various kinds of drives of imagination. When the mind is subject to these, it is called the vital mind. The normal experience of vital mind is what is called wishful thinking. The tendency of the mind to justify what we desire, very often we tend to justify our actions and we put forward arguments to support our action which may have been motivated by our desires, but we bring arguments which are mental. Mind is put at the service of the vital so that mind can manufacture arguments in favor of the vital; this is one of the examples of the vital mind. I like to see a certain film and then my mind finds out many arguments as to why that film should be seen. It may be the desire to see a film but the mind manufactures arguments to support that desire, it is an example of the activity of the vital mind. I may be driven by an ambition and then my mind manufactures arguments to support that ambition, this is also called rationalization, not rationality, but rationalization to find reasonable arguments, rational arguments for supporting what is not rational, what is in itself irrational, but you find out rational arguments to support it, this is called rationalization.

Then is the plane of the pure mind. Our normal ordinary mind is usually clogged down to physical mind and vital mind. It is by a great effort that pure mind gets developed and one of the objects of education must be to develop at least the pure mind. This does not happen normally but this should be one of the basic elements of education. So, the children are led to form an idea as to what is pure mind and to be able to exercise the pure mind. Even if many elements of pure mind are presented to the children, we do not make the child conscious of what exactly is the nature of pure mind. The specialty of pure mind is,—it sees something that is not physical. It sees, in other words the pure mind is actually a mind of sight but not physical sight. We are not normally aware even if we see mentally, we are not aware that it’s a kind of a sight. I usually give the following example just to give an experience of how the pure mind sees. I told you earlier this example but I can repeat in this present circumstance.

There was a lecture being given by a priest to a group of people and he said that when he became priest, the first person who came to confess to him said that he was a murderer. That is the confession that he made. Then he went on lecturing in the meantime one man entered the room. He saluted the whole audience, asked for pardon for intruding and coming late. He said that, ‘I have taken liberty of coming late because I am very intimate with this priest because for him I was the first repentant. I don’t know if you can see something, if you really see. If it was not told physically but you can see that he was a murderer. Two propositions can be made one after the other, at no stage you are told that he is a murderer, but now few statements are made. First statement says, which is told by the priest that when he became the priest the first person who came to him confessed that he was a murderer. This man comes and says that for him, he was the first person to confess. Here there is no physical mind involved, no vital mind involved, two propositions are made quite impartially. You are impartial, there is no involvement of your wish in it, you don’t want to wish that this man should be a murderer. You are absolutely impartial, your mind is absolutely pure, it has no bias, no prejudice, no favorable attitude, nothing. Simply two prepositions are made before you and the two propositions lead you to awake, which concludes that this man is a murderer. You perceive now, you have seen not physically, but you have seen, your sight is awakened and you see that he is a murder. So the fact is that our mind is actually a faculty of seeing and normally this we do not know. We only think that mind is something by which we think, we feel. Ordinarily we do not know what mind is. But the first condition of the pure mind is, it is a sight, but not a physical sight and yet it is a sight. Every sight is light or requires light. Normally when we see this is only the light physically and we do not think that mind is also light. But it is only when we experience that mind can see and when you know that seeing requires light that we can awaken to a light which is not physical but a light which is invisible and yet it is light nonetheless, without the light you cannot perceive. It is what is called mental light or light of reason.

Usually, we are aware of ideas which are floating in our mind, but we do not know that there are ideas which are luminous, which are really light, not all ideas are luminous, there may be physical ideas, vital ideas. They also have some kind of luminosity but are very opaque. So in the realm of ideas there are various degrees—opaque light, diffused light, fluorescent light, transparent light. There are various kinds of lights in the mind of which you are not normally aware, but if it reflects clearly you will find these qualities of the light. There are certain ideas, which when you begin to reflect upon them become clearer and clearer and you will find that when ideas are confused, there is a web of darkness. As you begin to clarify this web of darkness, you find that this web of darkness was on account of errors. The greater the illusion and greater is the error. The greater is the confusion in the thought and when you arrive at real clarity, you find that error has been eliminated and what is grasped is true. There is a great connection between clarity and truth.

In fact there was a great philosopher called Descartes in Europe, a French philosopher and he saw so much of connection between clarity and truth that he gave the definition of truth in terms of clarity, he said: “The idea which is distinct and clear is necessarily true”. If you want to know whether it’s true or not, you just examine whether the idea is distinct and clear. it is true that he who lives in truth you will find the special quality in him that his ideas are normally very clear, free from confusions, distinct, free from errors, conclusions and biases. It's pure austerity, transparency, precision, distinctness. Even when the complexity of ideas are present they are like the rays of light put together in which each ray is a straight ray of light and distinct from the other.

When you begin to enter into this pure mind, you are bordering Higher Mind. Let us try to see some of the distinct and clear ideas of the pure mind so that if you experience some of them and we become aware of them, we shall be able to appreciate better, the higher planes of the consciousness. One example that Socrates used to give is to lead the individual to define. He used to say that if you define a word properly, you will get a distinct and clear idea of the thing in question. One of the exercises of pure mind is the exercise of defining. There is a famous story about Socrates, a friend of his called Archibiadis once went to Delphi from Athens, he use to live in Athens, but he went to Delphi another town in ancient Greece. Delphi was famous for one very important thing namely the Oracle. There used to be a temple and the priest of the temple used to be always a very cultivated mystic, cultivated spiritual leader, and the priest used to be reputed for always answering questions correctly. If anybody had any doubt in ancient Greece then one used to visit Delphi and used to go to the oracle, put a question and obtain an answer and settle the doubt. This friend of Socrates went to Delphi and he asked a question: ‘Who is the wisest man?' and Delphi Oracle answered,—Socrates. The answer given by the Oracle was that Socrates is the wisest man. He was very pleased because he was the friend of Socrates and to find from Oracle this testimony that Socrates was the wisest man, he became very happy. When he returned to Athens he called upon Socrates and said: ‘look, you are the wisest man.’ Socrates was shocked; he said that ‘it’s not true’. He said but the Oracle has declared that you are the wisest. So, Socrates without being puffed up or anything of the kind, on the contrary he said, ‘For once Oracle has made a mistake, I know myself that I am so ignorant, how can I be wisest that is impossible.’ So he said: ‘I want to prove that Oracle can sometimes be mistaken, I shall now prove it by showing that there are wiser men than myself. He took upon him a task of interrogating all the wise people in Athens. He went from one person to the other, he went to the poets, to the writers, to the statesmen, all those teachers, sophists, various kinds of people who were claiming that they are really wise people and whom Socrates believed they were really wise. One after the other he went to every one of them and ultimately found not that he was wiser than anybody else, he came to the conclusion that all of them are as ignorant as himself. But they believed that they were wise, but I am ignorant and I know that I am ignorant, therefore, I am wiser than them, so he could not disprove the Oracle. This is his famous statement, ‘I am wisest because I know that I am ignorant.’

One of the methods he used in his interrogation was the method of definitions Let us take one example, he went to one of the very renowned philosophers of his time, who used to be respected and he used to believe that he was even wiser than people believed him to be that was his own personal opinion. Socrates went to him with a great respect and said: ‘Sir I want to know what is Virtue? That philosopher said: ‘what a simple question,—benevolence is virtue don’t you understand, generosity is virtue, gratitude is virtue, courage is virtue. Socrates said: ‘you must pardon me because I am very poor in formulating my questions. Maybe that I have not made my question so clear to you, my question is not what are virtues, my question is what is virtue?’ The man was incapable of understanding the distinction between the true virtue and virtues. What are virtues and what is virtue? He could not understand the distinction. He again repeated, he said: ‘All right, if you want one virtue, generosity is a virtue. Again he had to say: ‘I am not asking you to give an example of a virtue, my question is what is it by virtue of which virtues are virtues that is my question.’ This was beyond the depth of this man, he couldn’t answer this question. This is the way in which he used to ask definitions and these definitions are purely activities of pure mind.

How will you define a virtue, you make yourself this exercise and you will understand a real exercise of the pure mind. You will understand what is pure mind. Let us take another example; you see two objects, bring two flowers here. You will see that each flower is different from other flowers in some respect, but they are all similar flowers. Socrates used to say that how do you know that they are similar and he used to answer by saying that because we are seeing something which you have not seen physically. You know what identity is by virtue of that knowledge you know they are similar. Identity, you don’t see anywhere, what you are seeing are only similarities, you cannot see identity. You don’t say that this flower is exactly identical with that, but unless you know identity, you will not say what is similar.

By what means do you see the identity? Not physically, physical mind doesn’t see identity, vital mind doesn’t see identity and identity is seen by the pure mind. The pure mind seizes what it is to be a flower basically, what it is to be a flower of this species. The identity of the species is seen not by physical terms, physicality always sees similarities. Here is a group of horses, each horse is different from the other horse, but they all belong to one species called the horse. Which is not physically seen, the identity of horseness is not seen physically, it is mentally seen. Mind has a kind of a sense, it’s a light.

In modern times we say what is the bottom line? Suppose, somebody asks you the question after listening to my lecture: ‘what is the bottom line?’ Bottom line is not seen physically, what you see, what you hear physically is bla, bla, bla that is going on. So many words, so many sentences, so much plethora of things told. What is the bottom line and yet you are able to see the bottom line. You see it, by what means do you see this bottom line? In sophisticated language it’s called the essence. Bottom line is really the essence, what is the essence of the matter. Essence again is never seen physically. You look at the whole world you have never seen essence. Physically essence is not seen and yet what is most important is essence. All manifestations are manifestations of essence. If essence does not exist the manifestation doesn’t exist.

Similar idea is the idea of all, the word all, is a very curious word in a sense that we may say all the persons sitting in this room has a specific meaning namely 1+1+1+1+1 Including every one, all put together is all, very simple. All children happen to be naughty at a given stage of the development. Here I used the word—all. Surely I have not seen every child in the world. In any case I have not even seen the children going to be born tomorrow; they are not present before me physically. What is the image that I have when I use the word—all. Surely it is different from the kind of image of all that I have, when I describe all the people seated in this room, there you can say this is the meaning of all. But what is the meaning of the word—all, when I say all children happen to be naughty in their development at a particular stage. All crows are black. Whether I see it here or there or whether I have not seen—All crows are black, what does it mean? There is something like wherever the white colour may be it is always distributable in a spectrum of seven colours. Wherever white colour may be, I have not seen all the whites, I have not seen everywhere, what is the meaning of every where, what is the meaning of all? What is the meaning of any universal? Universal is a term which we use in all our ordinary expressions. This object is black, black is universal. That object is golden, golden is universal. This object is particular, but the gold, golden that is there is not confined only to this object. It is present in many objects even which I have not seen.

Although I may start a proposition from a physical observation, I am led by some curious method which is in us, which you call the mind, a particular sight which grasps the universal, my physical mind does not grasp, my vital mind does not grasp. It’s the pure mind which has this capacity to grasp the universal, all, essence, identity. These are some of the examples which are grasped by the pure mind, which are seen by the pure mind. Not only that but if you do not have these ideas, you can’t even think and this is very important. If you do not see these universal identities, even ordinary thinking is not possible; all our thinking requires these perceptions. There is a distinction between physical perception and thinking. Physical perception is seen by my physical eyes when there is a light, both in my eyes and on the object.

All thinking implies the use of identity, essence, universality, all thinking. If you don’t use this identity and universality, you will make an exercise trying to eliminate these two elements and you will not be able to think. All thought processes involve these basic perceptions. The simple example that is given is ‘All men are mortal.’ Socrates is a man therefore, Socrates is mortal. This is a normal logical example that is given in the books of logic. Unless mortality, which is a universal quality is understood, unless humanity, all men is understood, you cannot come to a conclusion which is true of one of this particular object. All our thinking processes involve the perception of universality, essence and identity and this perception is a direct perception of the pure mind.

These perceptions are really called ideas. Usually we use the word ideas for any thing, but really speaking ideas should be used only for these. You might say that they are parent ideas, just as when I open my eyes and I see objects. Similarly the moment I really begin to think, you don’t need to manufacture these ideas, they are directly perceptible. If you examine the question of identity, you will not be able to show identity anywhere in the physical world. There is nothing in the world which is identical with the other, there will be some difference and yet you understand what is identity exactly, point by point it must be identical. This idea of identity, which is directly perceived by your mind, is, you might say, the real object of the pure mind. Just as these physical objects are the objects of the physical sight. Similarly these ideas, there are not many of them, but these ideas are the direct perception of the pure mind.

There is something in the mind which is a sight and the objects of this sight are the ideas of essence, identity, universality. At least these three by the help of which all our thinking processes are managed so that if they are absent you can’t think. When you dwell upon this kind of thought process, the pure mind develops more and more.

You will examine any kind of higher studies or any kind of studies; all studies are basically nothing but definitions. When you study any subject basically what you are trying to study is definitions. Even a subject like geography if you want to study, which is purely geographical, physical understanding without definitions you won’t be able to understand geography. There are some minimal definitions around which the whole study of geography lies. Even physics which is purely a matter of pure physical objects, physics also is the study of certain basic words,—what is atom, molecule, properties of density, what is density, what is magnetism, what is electricity? You are constantly trying to find the concepts, definitions. The more definitions you have in your mind, the more clear and precise your mind is.

One of the best ways to educate the children is to make the child very clear and conscious of definitions of the words which are used. This is the quicker way of educating the child’s mind. The more developed mind is one which has great clarity of a number of definitions and something more, plus their interconnections. It’s a new idea that I am introducing. To see an object physically is one level of the physical mind, to be able to define an object by the help of essence and universality.

To define an object by the help of the concepts of essence, identity and universality is an activity of pure mind. This is the preliminary movement of the pure mind but you begin to perceive connections between ideas, between definitions, normally it takes a long time for us to see the connections.

There is a famous novel written by one great novelist and in the front page of his novel, there is only one line, ‘there are connections’. The message of the whole novel is,—there are connections. All the time we go on connecting things but to become aware that we are connecting things, to become aware that there are connections in this world, is a new awareness, a freshness in the consciousness. When you see the connections of one and the other, you will feel a sparkling in your consciousness. When you see for the first time a connection between this and that—all detectives are in search of connections. Detectives have to be extremely clear in their minds, without any bias. Pure mind has to function on the data available and find connections between them and ultimately arrive at connections which are inevitable. This is the third idea that I am putting forward. It is only when connections are established inevitably that you can be sure of the truth.

Very often when we say what is the truth there are no direct simple answers. A truth corresponds to a fact, normally. Secondly, truth corresponds to connections and then truth refers to inevitable connections. A developed pure mind is a mind in which there are great perceptions of inevitable connections. A good detective when he comes to your house on any inquiry he sees inevitable connections between certain things, which you do not know about your own house. Because he has developed his pure mind, what is true of a good detective, is true of a good lawyer, good doctor, any proficiency depends upon this. A child has hiccups and the doctor can tell you the connections, inevitable connections as to why there are hiccups for this child, which you and I may not be able to understand. An expert is one, who has seen inevitable connections and out of several inevitable connections there is one on which the good doctor goes straight and says this is entirely because of this and there is no other cause. That is the difference between doctors and doctors. Many doctors can say that this may be because of this or that but the real expert simply says this is entirely because of this inevitable connection. How do you see inevitable connections? This is also a sight. In the physical world you don’t see inevitable connections anywhere, things are all pell-mell. What is the connection between this house and this chess board, what is the inevitable connection, there is hardly any. Apparently that seems to be a pure accident, a chance, it so happens—why Anjali has organized this chess on this table, just fancy, looks nice. But a wiser man may be able to detect even what Anjali doesn’t know—why this chess is here. There is some kind of inevitable connection, may be, must be.

Perceptions of essence, identity, universality, perceptions of connections based upon these three basic concepts, and perception of inevitable connections, these three layers of a pure mind, which is a large domain is what we are capable of at our ordinary level,—is all ordinary mind.

At the highest level this realm of pure mind is what we have described until now. When this mind becomes very complex, take for example one single book of Plato called ‘Republic’. It’s a big volume; one of the most famous books in the world. The subject matter of this book is, ‘what is justice’. It is written in the form of a dialogue and the main person with whom the dialogue is made is Socrates. As I said Socrates was fond of defining and the main subject is, what is the definition of justice? That was the question and various ideas of justice are brought forth. The whole book discusses various notions of justice and after discussing so many definitions of justice like, ‘justice is what the mighty think’ is one definition. Many definitions are brought forth; I am not going into that now. It’s a huge book in which the whole universe is analyzed because of the result of the various kinds of definitions; Socrates is obliged to examine the whole world. After examining the whole world he comes to one conclusion,—‘Justice is a state where everything is in its own right place, in the right relationship with all the rest.’ This is his ultimate definition of justice,—‘it’s a state where everything is exactly where its right relationship brings it to be’ and this is one of the greatest definitions of justice.

You are just, only when you do exactly the right thing that you need to do to that person. I may speak for one hour to this group and only for one minute to another group. There is no injustice in it—another group may not be so keen as this group happens to be, therefore my relationship with this group is exactly appropriate, which may not be identical with my relationship with another group, which may not have the same kind of keenness. If you have three children and you deal differently with each child according to the needs of each child, it is justice. But if children say, well that you did this to her and not to me exactly that is not justice. To each one exactly according to the need that is justice, each thing in the right place, in the right connection and inevitable connections that is justice. Such a huge book and if you read the whole argument from beginning to the end, may take months and then if somebody says that now you expound the argument, tell me the bottom line, you have to have a complete panoramic view of the whole argument to be able to tell basically, what it is. To hold that panoramic view is the beginning of Higher Mind, I only say beginning, because the still higher levels of Higher Mind are those where not only one panoramic view, but several panoramic views can be held together effortlessly. You don’t have to make an effort when your mind can hold several panoramic views together and also can interconnect them very effortlessly then that state is called Higher Mind. Once we grasp this, the rest will be easier to understand. Once we understood the nature of Higher Mind, which is much simpler because it is easy for us to understand the pure mind. Once we have understood the pure mind, we can understand Higher Mind better because it is only more complex, much larger, then you enter into Illumined Mind.

You will see that actually in Higher Mind or in the pure mind, I spoke of the sight of the mind, sight which is not physical. But this sight is usually clothed in the form called idea, every sight is identity. You have seen identity somehow but you use the word identity as an idea to express that sight. Universality is a sight seen inwardly but to express it, we use the word universality, an idea. Normally our pure mind or even Higher Mind usually uses the ideas to express its sights, but supposing you reach a point, where idea becomes lesser and lesser and sight becomes more and more clear then you reach a certain point, which is similar to the following—I go to Egypt and I see the same object as this one, I see it but I don’t know Egyptian language, Arabic I do not know. How shall I express it? In what idea, or what word, what idea word, I shall clothe my perception. I understand this object, my sight grasps it but I have no idea how to express it. Similarly you reach a higher level where the sight becomes very powerful that there is no idea adequate to it. Here there was a question of not knowing a language but there at that higher level the sight is so powerful that even the word or idea is not able to express it. This is something which you know, for example in the case of experience of enthusiasm a time comes, when enthusiasm knows no bounds for certain things, for certain objects. You become so enthusiastic that you do not have any words or ideas to express it. But there is that experience in which you can’t deny, it’s a powerful experience and you are full of it. You are consumed by it, like sometimes somebody can be consumed by the zeal for God; the passion for God becomes so great that you can say that zeal for God has consumed me. Something like Sri Chaitanya for example, you see God, the enthusiasm for God is so great, but there are no ideas, or words, to express them. If that state of consciousness becomes more and more complex in which all your sights become so powerful that there are hardly any words to express them, you find it very difficult to express them then you have entered into Illumined Mind. These are the areas which are more difficult for us because normally we are not having this kind of experience.

Higher Mind was easier to explain, I gave so many examples but of Illumined Mind it is much more difficult, accepting by saying that even in the pure mind there is a distinction between sight and idea, an idea which expresses a sight, a sight not physical but a mental sight. You intensify that sight. Suppose for example you have entered into this room and you look at all the individuals here. You see physically all the objects. You are a good detective, you have found out the connections of all these people by one sight because you are a detective. But more than that now you begin to see something else, the light that each one of us represents, the aspiration that each one of us represents. Suppose you have that perception, you enter into the room, you just look here and you understand everyone here, just by looking. You perceive the light of everyone, which is not physical, which is not mental but which is light.

We normally think that light means this kind of light by example of mental light; I told you there is another light, which is other than physical. In the Illumined Mind there is another kind of light, which is still different from the light that we have in the mind, in the pure mind or in Higher Mind. It is light, you cannot call it by another name,—it is light. People may say, it is impossible but the light that you perceive with regard to the object of our enthusiasm, is not purely mental, is not an idea, it’s something much more.

There is admiration, there is love, there is a kind of aspiration to become identical with the object for whom you are enthusiastic. What do you see, so as to become like that. You and I see the same object and you are enthusiastic, I am not. What is the difference between you and me? You are perceiving something, which I am not perceiving. What is it that you are perceiving, what is the light that you are perceiving that state is the state of Illumined Mind. When you see the whole world with that consciousness in which there is a special kind of enthusiasm. The man who is filled with Illumined Mind is normally an enthusiastic man. He has enthusiasm for everything in the world, his enthusiasm has no bounds. He perceives something in the world. This perception, this sight is usually connected with sound. Actually every sight is connected with sound. Even my physical perception of a flower has a kind of a sound along with it, which I do not know.

Normally, I do not perceive but there is always a kind of interconnection between sound, vision, colour, idea. There is a kind of interconnection that is why you have the birth of arts. All arts are connected with sights, sounds, colours and ideas. Poetry is an art of ideas, or the highest literature, highest philosophy is an art of ideas. Sights and colours combined together are all kinds of fine arts, painting, sculpture, architecture and music. All different kinds of arts are somehow connected with these ideas, sounds, colours, vibrations of various kinds and the difference between one artist and the other is this. What is the quality of the sound that one hears, not a physical sound, but there are sounds? Why is one poem better than the other because the sound of one poem is better than the sound of another poem? The rhythm of one poem is better than the rhythm of another poem. The combinations of sounds in words, which are put together in some poems, are so powerful that the moment you hear them, your inner sound begins to vibrate immediately. Ideas may be the same, same ideas is expressed in the two poems and yet one poem has expressed the idea in such a combination of sounds that the moment you hear and when these sounds, or these sights, or these colours are put together in a certain measure, in what you call inevitable connections then get greatest pieces of architecture, or music, or dance, or all arts. An artist is one who perceives these connections of sounds or vibrations of various kinds. You can also be an artist of life, not necessarily a musician or anything but some of the great leaders of mankind are artists of life. They know how to connect relationships, human relationships, to connect humans with the divine, it’s also a connection and to relate divine properly, rightly, inevitably. When you can do this you must have perceptions of that kind. You must perceive man, you must perceive the divine there must be that light, that vibration.

Great mystics are those who can relate themselves with God and relate themselves with others in the light of God, they are great artists of life. Christ might not have written a book, or a poem, or composed any music, or drawn any picture, but the relationship that he had with God, the inevitability of that relationship that existed in his life and with his fellow beings; it’s a tremendous art of life. Buddha, he wrote no book at all, he composed no music in his life, drew no picture in his life, one of the greatest artists of life. As Sri Aurobindo says, ‘He is the greatest personality who ever walked on the earth’.

As you rise higher, I am only talking at present of Illumined Mind but ultimately as you rise higher and higher these vibrations become more and more powerful, more and more luminous. Sri Aurobindo while explaining he has given examples of some of the poems—Shelly, Keats, Kalidasa, Vyasa. If you see their mode of expression, the way in which certain things are expressed, they bring to you the messages as it were from the unknown and they become lit up in your mind, the moment you hear those words the mind becomes illumined, you understand it. “A man may smile and smile and yet be wicked'', one sentence in Hamlet, a very short sentence, a man may smile and smile and yet be wicked, the brevity, the force, the content of it, the experience involved in it,—so packed. It’s a great perception, you can’t easily write a sentence like this.

Next time we shall read some of the poems of this kind, some examples Sri Aurobindo himself has given. How ultimately you get what is called mantric poetry. A mantra arises from the experience of the Illumined Mind, Intuitive Mind, Overmind, Supermind, vibrations coming down from there as the Rig Veda says about the Rishi,—Rishi says: ‘I go into the profundities yoma, supreme ether of existence and there I hear the words, sounds and these sounds as they come down, they are clothed in words in my heart and they are uttered, Rishi himself explains, This is the birth of that mantric poetry. Every verse of Rig Veda is born from these levels of consciousness. Therefore, Sri Aurobindo says, that the supreme poets in the history of the world are the Vedic poets; they brought down the sounds which vibrate in these realms, the inaudible sounds, inaudible to us. When you enter there you hear the sounds like Beethoven for example, why do we hear Beethoven, what is the magic in it, the combination of sounds, the inevitable connections of the sounds, the cosmicity of the sounds and the arrangement of these sounds, the flow of the sounds. At times when you come to a climax as if you live in the whole universe at the same time, such a climax is reached, unless the poet has heard, the musician has heard those sounds, how can he reproduce here. These are some of the glimpses we get of these higher planes of consciousness and many of these people are not even yogis. If you just enter into certain planes of consciousness, you begin to vibrate. Shakespeare was not a yogi in that sense, in a sense in which we use the word yogi, although we should use that word yogi for him also. Anyone who makes a tremendous effort to break the limitations of our ordinary mind and begins to perceive the imperceptible, hear the inaudible—shruti and drishti, these are the two marks of the Rishi in the Veda. One who has drishti and one who has shruti, one who sees the invisible and hears the inaudible and brings those sounds, those sights here,—these are the experiences belonging to these higher planes.

Question: What’s the difference between detachment, indifference and social service?

Answer: The real concern of yoga is to attain a state of equality, that’s the fundamental objective. Once I asked the Mother a question: ‘What is the criterion by which you can judge that you have progressed in yoga, how do you measure your progress in yoga? Mother said: ‘The extent to which you remain equal in all kinds of circumstances gives you the measurement of your progress.’ So you might say that equality is itself a definition of yoga. Yoga is nothing but a state of equality, samatvam. This is what the Gita itself says that the very definition of yoga is ‘samatvam yoga ucyate.’ Yoga itself is nothing but a sense of equality, a state of equality and really speaking the highest equality can come only in the Supermind. When you reach the supramental level, you really become absolutely equal, till that time we all are in gradations of equality. In these gradations detachment is one of the methods, not the method, but one of the methods because it is clear that so long as you are attached, you have preference for it. You have bias in favour of it, you like to possess it, you like to enjoy it therefore, even the arguments mentally will go in favour of the attached object. There will be rationalization in regard to the object of attachment; even the mind will not be pure mind, that is why it is said that detachment is one of the methods. It is called anasakti, aasakti is attachment, anasakti is detachment therefore, some people use the word anasakti as the entire teaching of the Gita. Anasatki yoga as it is called. The whole of the Gita is nothing but anasakti yoga. In this movement of detachment, there are many levels. One very low level is the hardness of indifference. I am using the two words deliberately. Hardness of indifference, in order to detach yourself from the object of attachment, sometimes, you become hard towards that object instead of being soft all the time because that is the mark of attachment. While detaching yourself, not knowing how to detach yourself properly, you become hard towards that object. Which is a wrong thing but this happens in the process sometimes, not that it happens always. You become hard towards that object and then whatever happens to that object and whatever happens to me in regard to that object thereafter, I begin to develop what is called indifference. Because of that hardness of outlook, or attitude towards the object I become indifferent. That is to say, whatever happens to me or whatever happens to that object of attachment, I say to myself, it matters nothing. I remain what I am,—equal, does not please me, does not displease me. In some human natures hardness and indifference are associated with each other. Even some hard temperaments you will see they are quite indifferent and they might be even proud that they are having samatvam, some kind of equality, but this is a perverted indifference. Detachment does not mean hardness but very often one becomes hard and through hardness one develops indifference.

Indifference is a state where it makes no difference to you, irrespective of what happens to yourself or to the object of your attachment, that’s the meaning of indifference. When you find that it makes no difference irrespective of what happens to you and to the object of attachment and this indifference sometimes is brought about by developing hardness. Sometimes, it develops by ‘titiksha’, by endurance. You do not become hard to the object of your attachment but you detach yourself to some extent by which you try to remain equal whatever happens to your object of attachment and yourself. My child passes the metric examination and I feel very, very happy. My neighbor’s child also passes the metric examination, I am quite indifferent to it. It doesn't make any difference to my consciousness because I am attached to my child. If I cultivate this kind of detachment and I say to myself although this is my child, I love him very much and normally my state of consciousness must be very exulted when my child passes the examination, I try to quiet down my exultation. I don’t allow the ripples of my exultation to bubble up. This is also a state of endurance; you endure your exultation and not express exultation. Something that is pleasant and you do not allow the pleasantness to enter into your experience by a psychological adjustment to the situation; it can come only by endurance. You endure the pleasant experience and by enduring, you neutralize the pleasantness. You bear the pleasantness instead of becoming excited, throwing big parties and so on. You just bear the happiness, contain it in yourself, don’t burst out,—is endurance.

Similarly if it gives you pain when the child fails in examination that pain may give you some kind of discomfort to say the least or great sorrow, or great suffering, great depression, disappointment, frustration and you don’t allow it to overpower you that is also endurance. You endure the suffering without allowing your emotions to rise or even if they arise, to make them weaker and weaker so that they don’t overpower you. This method of endurance is called stoic method, in the method of stoicism you endure. If I am given the honour in the country the whole nation is going to watch me on television and the exultation that I may normally have, but by a stoic method I just don’t feel that exultation, or even if it comes I hold it out, as it were by an effort. You should not be overpowered, I hold it out.

But endurance is not something permanent. You can endure something by a great effort but the effort does not continue all the time. So stoic detachment or stoic indifference that arises, detachment is the method.

Whenever you hold out a certain emotion even though that emotion is present but I do not allow you to be overpower that is a stoic level by endurance. There also you have indifference, whether I am honored or not. Although, I feel happy but I minimize that happiness by an effort, so the result is some kind of indifference but it’s a better kind of indifference than hardness.

When I use hardness, sometimes it’s even pride. Even if I am honored, nothing happens to me that also could be indifference. But there is an inner satisfaction of pride and basically it is not real indifference at all, it is actually exaltation of my ego. I am not affected by it, so that indifference may be because of pride or may be because of cruelty. Some cruel men are very indifferent, whether some people are under going great strain, or torture, or great happiness, makes no difference. There is such cruelty in the consciousness and some people in the path of hardness, they either develop cruelty, or develop hardness, or pride. These are perversions but some people are prone to this. In the name of indifference, in the name of detachment they fall into this kind of a pit. So, one has to guard against it. Some people, who are very hard, have a very gentle heart sometimes. They become hard afterwards. Instead of becoming much more divine they become harder because they undergo the practice of anasakti. They need to be told that this is not necessary, you can be very gentle and yet be equal-minded, yet be indifferent. One of the good methods is stoicism,—endure. But endurance is not something that is permanent. You can endure something by great effort but the effort does not continue all the time. Stoic detachment or stoic indifference that arises, detachment is the method. Indifference is the result of the method of detachment. Detachment is a process by which you withdraw yourself from the object of attachment, so that movement of withdrawal is detachment and the result that is obtained is indifference. Indifference is a state, where whatever happens does not make any difference to you in your psychological being. Since this state of indifference, this state of endurance cannot last all the time, some people can endure for a long time, but even they have got limitations.

Effort as long as it’s an effort is always temporary. It’s not the natural state of being; it’s not like jal kamal vat, like a lotus in water. Whatever water flows on it, it remains dry, the water does not make it wet. Lotus does not have to make any effort. Its very nature is such that whatever wetness spreads over it, it remains without it. So stoic detachment does not bring you this result, it can be a stage in your development but it cannot be your real goal.

A higher level is an intellectual perception of justice in the world, we discussed justice recently. If you develop a perception in the world that everything in the world is in the right place, whether you recognize it or not but if you develop an intellectual perception, you will find that at that given moment everything is in the right place then detachment becomes much greater, much more quiet. You don’t need to have this endurance. Intellectually you perceive that everything happens, it has to happen, it has happened, so what? Today I am victorious, tomorrow I would not be, I need not be, there is no pride, there is no cruelty, there is no idea that I am something fundamental, I am in the center of things.

This brings up a very important point: basically attachment arises out of putting ourselves in the center of things, which is called egoism.

Question: You have been referring to an object of attachment, all the while it could be an opposite feeling also, something which you hate or dislike. Similar emotions can also be entertained.

Answer: Quite true, it can be applied similarly, it’s applicable to both the states. This treatment is only one example but it can be applied to anything, where emotions are unequal. So when you see that you are not important in this world at all. If you see philosophically, largely you find that you are only in a corner. Actually every individual is in a corner in this world, anybody thinking that he is the center is a wrong perception, he does not really happen to be in the center. Even if you are honored by television, so that you are the central hero, it’s an illusion. Actually thousands of people may voice your praise but if you look at the whole universe, where a chorus of sounds are going on in the world, the universal rhythm, what is this voice of thousands of people praising you on the television,− nothing. You are in a corner actually, in the whole universal sound this sound is simply a little burst, a cracker. If you look at the wide universe, you always find that everything in the world is in a corner. It is in a center only from a certain point of view, that's all. I am sitting here by virtue of what I am talking, I am in the center. But to my mind, you are the center because if you are not here my talk has no meaning. So, I am in a corner as far as I am concerned. You are the center and from the universal point of view, neither you, nor me is in the center, we are all in the corners. If you have this wide perception of things and realize that you are always in the corner then detachment, indifference will be automatic. You want to make an effort, you don’t want to endure, you just see really even if a thousand praises are showered on you, it will make no difference. It is only one little sound in the huge sound of the world which is going on. It will make no difference to you at all really when you see this large vision. This is called the higher state of equality, higher state of detachment, higher state of indifference. Lower was the stoic detachment, this is called the philosophic detachment.

Still higher one arises from your inner sense of resignation. You perceive that there is some reality, which is the center of the universe. You are not the center, we are all in a corner. But that there is some center, there is the Supreme Divine in the center of the universe and you have learnt the art of offering everything to the Supreme. Whatever experience you have, you just offer it to the Divine and say idam namama, this is not mine, this belongs to the Lord. You offer it to the Lord truly and heartily. Then you will have not only a dry indifference but some happy condition of indifference, you resign, you are offering to the Lord. Your child may become victorious and may win a gold medal. And realizes that his gold medal is because of the effort you as a mother put into the child. He comes to the mother and says: ‘Mother, I won this medal but it’s yours really’ that resignation on the part of the child will not make him proud and he will not be dancing about. He will have a real sense of equality but it is not dry equality, there is joy in it, the joy of giving, of offering. Although there is indifference, whether you win or not, even when you win, you are offering it, it’s not yours. You don’t attach yourself to yourself, you offer it to somebody to whom it really belongs and that gives you joy. It’s an indifference which is coupled with a joy, which is a still higher condition.

It’s a detachment, indifference, but arising out of resignation. The quality of the indifference that arises will be quite different. Then there is a still higher level in which you find that everything here is an expression of Supreme Ananda. All this world is a breadth of ananda and here there is no need of effort at all. Everything is manglam, idam manglam, etat manglam, this is manglam that is manglam. You live in the sea of delight, where you lose nothing, you gain nothing, everything that happens and everything gives you delight, equal delight. You don’t have to make a stoic effort of keeping some emotions outside your being. You are constantly in a state of delight whatever happens. You can’t even call it indifference. The state of indifference also is transcended.

The word detachment looks so petty. You are so attached to the Divine. So much in love with him, so where is detachment? It’s a huge love for the divine, huge ananda and everything what happens is ananda in that state. Even the idea of detachment, idea of indifference is washed out and yet you have a pure equality. A true state of equality is a state of prasada. Not of dryness, not devoid of smile, not devoid of kindness, it’s full of grace, full of kindness, full of gentleness. Gentler than a flower, in that vibrates the delight and over all the creatures of the world, for everything, the same emotion spreads out.

Greater than that is the action of equality. It’s only a state of equality then greater than that is the action of equality. Although delight is everywhere, you distribute the delight in the right manner, you don’t give to the child a dose of delight which a child cannot bear. You distribute the delight to every individual around you in the right measure without any partiality for anybody because basically you are bathing in constant delight. Therefore, whether you give this much or that much, in the right measure makes no difference to you. When your action is an action for distribution of delight in the world passing through you then whatever you do there will be equality. This is the action of equality that Shri Krishna wanted of Arjuna—whether you kill Bhishma, who is your own great grandfather and you win the battle and enjoy the kingdom, must make no difference at all. You have given to Bhishma, what is to be given to him, you give to yourself what is to be given to you by an action which seemed to be sanguinary, bloody, horrible—ghoram karma. As Arjuna says, it was ghoram karma, but if you have seen this delight of the Divine, which he perceived in the 11th chapter ‘Vishwaroop Darshan’, having seen that delight of the Divine and that power of the divine, action of the Divine. Bhishma himself was so wise that he himself explained to Arjuna, what is the secret of his death. He himself told Arjuna, how to kill him, he himself was seated in that state of equality.

When you are seated in that state of equality, the action that proceeds is always just and right. This is the word which is used by the Veda, ritam; right action is the action which proceeds from complete equality from the universal vision of things in which everything is the manifestation of perfect—sarvam priyam. This is the word of Veda, priyam. What is ananda in the Upanishads is priyam in the Veda. Everything is delightful and therefore, you put everything in the right place. The distribution of action by which the forces of action are distributed rightly so that everything is in the right place that was definition of justice,—everything is in the right place in the right measure that is the action of equality and when you are seated in that condition, you don’t have to make effort, all effort is gone.

Detachment is also a wrong word, detached to what, detached from where. When everything is divine, how can you be detached from the Divine? It is the utmost attachment to the divine, so even the consciousness of detachment goes away. Indifference of what, there is joy everywhere; there is no indifference at all in the state of consciousness. So both indifference and detachment are transcended and you are in a new condition of a true equality that ‘swamatwam’ is yoga in the Gita’s view. When it said the samatvam yoga ucyate, it is that action of equality that is the ideal that we find in the Gita.