Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, The Triple Transformation - Session V

Philosophy and Psychology

In a sense we have finished the chapter last time.

Question: Supramental Transformation?

That we will discuss later on. The whole chapter was finished last time but we might say that was the first reading of ours. We may have to revise the chapter now. So you might say that we are now beginning the chapter again.

You might say that this chapter is an answer to a very important question which is asked very often: can human nature be changed? Now there are people who believe that human nature can never be changed. Discussing this question, Swami Vivekananda once said that human nature is like a dog's tail, however much you straighten it, the moment you leave it; it goes back to its original curve. If this is true then all hope of a new humanity, of a new world order, of a new consciousness descending upon the world, all that would be set aside. If human nature cannot be changed at all, then to talk of a new world is out of question, the world will always remain as it is.

There are some psychologists who really believe that human nature is fixed. Within the boundaries of those fixtures it can travel from point to point, it may even seem that it has changed from one level to the other, but those fundamentals, those pillars between which it is fixed, they remain completely unalterable and therefore we can never hope to change man as such. You can have ameliorations, platitudes and some kind of patented medicines for immediate relief from certain difficulties, but fundamentally you cannot change it.

There is for example the psychology of Freud. Freud is a great name in the field of psychology in modern times and he made remarkable discoveries. These discoveries were known already in the Vedic times. If you read the Vedas you find all the knowledge which is given by Freud present in the Vedic verses, and even much richer and much more penetrating than what you find in Freud. But still, in the modern times it has been regarded as a new discovery. This new discovery is the discovery of the unconscious. According to Freud, man's psychology is nine tenth unconscious, only one tenth is conscious. The unconscious plays a great role in determining the conscious. All that man is thinking consciously, feeling consciously, behaving consciously is determined by his unconscious drives. From where this unconscious is born he does not answer, because Freud is not a philosopher, he is only a psychologist.

The difference between a philosopher and a psychologist is that the psychologist only observes the phenomena within a certain limited domain, whereas the philosopher asks the question, "Why do these phenomena occur at all?" The ultimate origin of things is the search of a philosopher. A psychologist is a scientist, who does not ask the ultimate origin of things. He limits himself to a domain and says "I start with the assumption that this domain exists". What is the origin of that domain? He does not raise this question. Like a physicist for example assumes that matter exists. The question, what is the ultimate origin of matter, does not exist in his field. He starts with the assumption that matter exists, whether it really exists or not, from where it has come into existence, these questions fall outside the province of physics. A biologist for example is also a scientist, he assumes that life exists. But what is the origin of life, the ultimate origin of life? Why should there be life at all? These questions are not raised by the biologist. Similarly a psychologist will say: "I am concerned with the psychological phenomena and I can go as deep as possible in that domain. I can discover the origins of things provided you do not go beyond that domain. I do not go into physics; I do not go into biology to find the origin of psychology". It is for philosophers to raise this question of the ultimate origin.

So the question from where the unconscious has arisen? Freud does not raise. He starts by saying, "There is the unconscious in human beings". This unconscious he calls "libido". It is a name given by him just to indicate that it is a kind of a cluster of urges, impulses, irresistible in character. It is a cluster of drives by which man is really pushed to do all kinds of things. And at a certain point, these drives meet the world. Libido is within our inner world and this libido in its drive sometimes meets the outer world, knocks into the world, blindly. The external world does not permit the manifestation of this libido in all its fullness, so the external world as it were, knocks it back, "not allowed, not permitted here". Much of the consciousness of man is a result of this knocking. The drives of man trying to manifest into the external world, being knocked by the external world awakens the man. And that constitutes his consciousness that consciousness itself is a belt in our being, which is very narrow. He compares it with an iceberg. Just as an iceberg floats on the ocean's waters, one tenth of it is seen on the surface and nine tenth of it is below the waters. Similarly, our conscious being is only one tenth on the surface; the rest is behind the surface and is all unconscious. This consciousness is not aware of the unconscious. This consciousness is aware only of the external world and is not aware of the source of the drives which rush into his conscious being and for some time the conscious being allows this rush to come out and then when they are knocked backwards, this conscious being begins to learn that there is something like a danger zone and some principle begins to develop in us, which he calls the "ego principle", a kind of a watchman who looks below and who looks outward and keeps a watch and does not allow the unwanted elements to come out and manifest. For example, is like an animal according to him, who wants all kinds of things to be manifested. The drive of the unconscious is very much in him and then the outer world prohibits him and says: "do not do this, do not do that". Prescriptions go on coming upon the child and the child resists as much as possible, but ultimately the external world is very strong and the child ultimately begins to understand that this world is not allowing it and he will not be able to put forth all that he wants in the external world. All that goes on unconsciously, he doesn't even think consciously. All this is an unconscious process. Even suppression of what is not wanted, is done unconsciously. So according to Freud, much of the development of the child takes place by means of suppression. And all human beings today are, according to him, basically suppressed instruments. They all want to do many things, they want to manifest so many things which are in the libido but they are all suppressed. Only a little bit is allowed which by education, by training, we keep in order. In the libido things are so chaotic, so wild. So there is first the unconscious, secondly the consciousness pushing certain things backwards that also is unconscious. But when the "ego principle" goes to sleep, then the libido has a greater sway. There is no watchman now, so it can come out in a greater field. That is why there is what he calls the "dream consciousness". The dream consciousness is a state in which the unconscious begins to manifest without the control of the ego. And whatever is suppressed is experienced.

According to Freud, if you can find out the dreams of a person, you will be able to know what is suppressed in the individual and very often the causes of sickness, both mental and physical can be cured if one becomes conscious of what is suppressed. Merely becoming conscious is enough, or after having become conscious, if what was suppressed is allowed to be manifested, then one becomes cured. That was his prescription.

Western Psychology—Freud, Jung and Alder

Question: That is—becoming aware of your suppressions?

That is right, and then to manifest what is suppressed.

In this great movement of libido, there are its expressions, the movements of suppressions and the formation of the ego and there is what he calls the formation of a super ego. According to him, apart from the ego there is also a formation of a superego which is, as it were, a representative of the external world within ourselves. The do's and don'ts of the external world are transplanted into ourselves and we ourselves become the external principle within ourselves. What we call normally the conscience is the superego according to Freud. So a human being is basically bound in this gamut of things: the libido, ego, suppressions, super-ego, the frustrations, and occasional repercussions of the suppressions and manifestations without suppressions and man's struggle against suppressions. This is all the human life and human story according to him. Accordingly to Freud, therefore, the question of the change of human nature hardly arises. He felt that the human being is destined to remain like this, is like this, and the human being will continue to be like this.

You can at the most give advice as to how not to suppress and how to allow the manifestations of the libido, and the many forms in which this libido can express itself. Sometimes the external principle may not allow a certain manifestation in one form, but it may allow it in another form.

We just now spoke of poetry and painting and so on. It is basically an expression of the libido in the form in which the external world allows it. It is a form which is very beautiful; it is what is called sublimated. It is a sublimation which takes place. You sublimate the form in which your drives are manifested, and that way you satisfy your expressions and therefore you are more healthy because there is no suppression. But those individuals who cannot sublimate and who cannot express themselves in this form and who do not have the chance of manifesting because of the external world, are, according to Freud, doomed to suppressions and therefore they are suffering from various kinds of complexes.

The idea of complex is another Freudian concept. If you want to translate exactly in our Indian terminology, it is called granthi. Granthi is a kind of a complex, a knot in our consciousness. In the childhood a certain child went near the staircase and he fell down from the staircase. He was almost killed but survived. He was too young to remember this event but the experience was horrible, so the child suppresses this experience and it goes into the subconscious. Even when he has grown up, whenever he sees a staircase, he withdraws from it, he does not want to climb down and he feels horrible even looking at the staircase and he always feels he is about to fall without knowing why he so feels. Sometimes he even tries to overcome this and in his adventures he tries to climb up and down heroically. The action which proceeds from this heroism and the fear which is underlying, the two things meeting together constitute a complex. Some child is always told that he is good for nothing and the child feels very resentful of this remark, does not want to hear it, does not like it and does not want to remember it even. So he suppresses it and outwardly he goes on doing so many things, which will bring a kind of an appreciation that he is good. But he overdoes it because he actually tries to overcome an unconscious feeling that he is good for nothing. So there is an unnatural movement in the child to overdo, to do certain things which are heroic for him, which are not natural for him and it creates a kind of a complex. Wherever he goes, he wants to show off that he can do so many things. There is no natural development because there has been so much of snubbing and there is a complex in him. The other way round is also true, if a child is told that he is wonderful, he is very good and actually he is not so good and he knows that he is not so good, yet every time he is put up on the skies. This creates an opposite kind of suppression which also is not healthy. So these examples can be multiplied in many ways.

Now what is peculiar in Freud is that according to him the libido consists only of two basic drives. If you analyse all human actions, ultimately you will find that they are reducible to two basic things, Eros and Thanatos, the desire to love and the desire to kill. These are the two things which are exclusive in all human beings. Every human being is in search of love, in search of killing. Freud's discovery is that if you analyse a human being, totally, ultimately you will find only these two basic drives which are constantly trying to manifest through him.

Question: Is this not also an animal drive?

Quite true, your statement that when you go down below the human rung and go to the animal world, you will find the same instincts over there, in human beings, however, there is a further element that they can become conscious of this to some extent.

Question: And because of that they can change their nature to some extent?

According to Freud, sublimation of some kind so as to come into contact with the outer world is possible. But change to some extent as I said does not mean that you can change the basic libido. According to Freud, the basic libido remains the same, the very form of expression, the polish of the expression, the manner of expression, the finesse of it you can change, but basically what is to be expressed is this and that is where the problem lies. So the question is: "Is man really nothing but a packet of Eros and Thanatos?" If man is only this and there is nothing else in man, then naturally all talk of change of human nature is out of the question, it is an irrelevance. You can slightly modify man, you can slightly make him happier than what he is; you can make more poets and more painters in this world, more refined human beings, but that is all. Therefore Freud said that ultimately mankind is doomed, whatever you may do, he said, whatever civilisation should build up now, ultimately there is a doom awaiting mankind. This is a pessimistic note that Freud ended with; he didn't see in humanity any possibility of a great new world to come over. Actually he saw what was happening in the western world. He said "This is exactly what is happening, the desire to kill, this tremendous desire. There is violence all over the world because of this basic libido".

This was Freud's theory, but his disciples disagreed with him. There is for example a famous disciple of his called Jung, and he disputed with the analysis of Freud and he said that in the unconscious these are not the only elements, there are much greater elements. And in our being there is not only the ego principle, but there is also an intimating centre, which is much wiser, much more intimate and intuitive. And that is why he said that the eastern psychology is much profound and he wanted that the eastern wisdom should be studied by the west to understand man. He also felt that astrology, for example, is a very important science and mankind can learn a great deal, if one were to turn to astrology. There is an attraction of human beings to learn mythological stories or to revel in mythological stories because of the unconscious which consists not only of Eros and Thanatos but certain archetypal images. According to Jung, all human beings have unconscious in-built figures which drive and shape their personalities. In many mythological stories you have a young prince in search of a young princess attacked by old women or witches, and then advised ultimately by a wise old man, by whose help the secret of the young princess and her abode is known. The young prince is able to rescue her and then they live forever in happiness. This is a kind of story that you find recurring in mythological stories, and although people may know or not the story in advance, they always like the stories and in their own imagination these things play their role. Everybody is in search of an old wise man and everybody is attacked by the old witches and everybody is a youthful human being and everybody wants to have company of another youthful person. It is a constant search of youth for the youth and all attack of the old and the rescue comes from wisdom. This kind of an in-built psychological makeup of the human being is a deeper truth of the unconscious than what Freud explained.

There is another disciple of Freud called Adler who maintains that it is not the desire to love and the desire to kill that is so important in man. What is important is that every human being is in search of the way by which he can dominate. The desire to dominate is the most fundamental drive. The way, by which he can be superior to the others, the way by which he can have his own style of life, something distinctive, something which will make him different from the others and make his mark on the world.

This is what man is seeking fundamentally. And now of course there are many theories as to what exactly man is and there is still a lot of searching. In fact one of the famous sentences of the modern psychologists is that modern man is sick and is in search of his soul. That is one of the famous statements of the modern psychologists today.

Vedic and Western Psychology

In other words the psychology that is being studied and explored all over the world is still what we may call the ABC of psychology. In fact Sri Aurobindo in one of his letters says we should never confuse Freud's psychology with yoga because many people who read yoga and read Freud, they immediately feel a great consonance between the two because both deal with some kind of unconscious. Even yoga deals with the unconscious and superconscious about which you are unconscious therefore it is all labelled as unconscious. So many people believe that yoga is the same thing as Freud—Freud's psychology is called psychoanalysis—so they believe that yoga and psychoanalysis are very similar or they come very close together. Therefore, Sri Aurobindo has given a great warning saying that one should never confuse yoga with psychoanalysis. And then he says that modern psychology is only in its infancy. It is only learning the ABC of psychology and is like a child who, when he is able to write A, declares that he has now conquered the whole world. So such is the enthusiasm of the modern psychology, it has hardly discovered a little bit and wants to claim that it has discovered everything.

Now this concept can be compared to the concept of the unconscious in the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Gita, which is so profound. In the Veda there is the concept of the three oceans, samudraha, ritsamudraha, sindhu. These are three terms which occur quite often in the Veda. Normally samudra means the unconscious; ritsamudra means the human consciousness, that which is very alive in the heart of man; and sindhu is the superconscious of which we are not aware now but which is itself a vast ocean, an ocean of light not of unconscious. If you read the Veda from this point of view you will find that the Veda is not only a discovery of these three oceans but also the method of a successful travel in these three oceans and how you can successfully travel in these three oceans; how you can understand better the ocean of unconscious, how you can become very conscious and how you can transcend the limitations of your consciousness and enter into the superconscious.

Question: Superconscious is intuition?

There are many levels. Intuition is one of the powers of superconscious. There are supposed to be seven rivers according to the Veda which flow from the sindhu, and the several names are to be found in the Veda which refer to these rivers. The one name that is given is Saraswati. This is one of the very famous goddesses in the Veda. It is one of the rivers that flows from sindhu. The others are Ila, Mahati, Sarama and Daksha. At least we can identify these five out of the seven rivers mentioned. They speak of seven rivers but it is five names which we can, if we study the Veda, distinctly discern from this vast literature. Each one is described precisely in detail in the Vedas. Mahati is the river of vastness.

Question: Vastness?

The very name Mahati is vastness, Ila is the power of revelation, Saraswati is the power of inspiration, Sarama is the power of intuition and Daksha is the power of discrimination. Each one has a special function and if you read the Vedas you will find that whenever it speaks of Ila it speaks of revelation, whenever it speaks of Saraswati it speaks of inspiration, whenever it speaks of Sarama it speaks of intuition, whenever it speaks of Daksha it speaks of discrimination. It's a very conscious knowledge. If you enter into the superconscious you will have these five very important experiences of the superconscious. The whole ocean is even vaster than these five streams you might say—these are five rivers—and there is still a huge ocean. The whole huge ocean is described as Savitri —the Supreme light which Sri Aurobindo calls the Supermind—Savitri is described by many terms, Surya for example. And this discovery of Savitri was preceded by some other discoveries which are also described in the Veda and they found that before you get admission into Savitri you have to go through four important guardians. They are called the guardians of light—Varuna, Mitra, Aryaman, and Bhaga.

Varuna gives you vastness. Just as Mahati gives you vastness and it is a feminine energy; Varuna is the masculine energy. Mitra is the Lord of harmony, the real friend; the secret of friendship is contained in Mitra. Aryaman is the Lord of austerity and tapasya; all effort, the hard right way of making an effort is in Aryaman. And Bhaga, is the right way of enjoyment, the true delight, the mastery of delight and the capacity to contain the delight. With most of us, even a small delight can make us excited and we cannot hold it and as you rise higher and higher, greater delights come. Therefore we require greater capacities to keep the enjoyment intact and you learn to rightly enjoy. So if you want the Supreme to be experienced and enjoyed, then you require a tremendous capacity because the real delight which is also described as Soma in the Veda is an elixir of delight.

Actually there is one full chapter in the Veda, i. e. Rig Veda, 9th chapter, which is entirely given to Soma and which actually gives you conditions by which Soma can be approached and the purity that is required to approach Soma. It says that only when you are heated perfectly well and you become like a baked jar — a body is like a jar — baked jar, very well baked jar, only then, when the Soma is poured into you, you can sustain it. Otherwise like an unbaked jar it would break, Soma cannot be held in you. So if you really want the highest delight then you have to purify yourself of all the dirt, all the impurity that is in our being, and to be so pure, so transparent, that when that delight manifests in us you remain intact and there is no disbalancement. The ecstasy of the delight is so great, it is like an ocean of delight — not only a stream, not only a small cup of delight, but the ocean of delight and if it descends into you normally we would be broken, unless we have been trained in a great tapasya. Aryaman has to be fulfilled completely before Bhaga can come into play.

So the entire Vedic process you might say is aware of the unconscious. Freud is aware only of a bit of the conscious and of one part of the unconscious and he is not aware as to how the unconscious itself comes out, what is the origin of unconscious. He does not raise these questions at all — whereas in the Veda there is the knowledge of origin of the unconscious. The Veda says, satyam charitam chabhiddat tapasodhyajayata, tatoratrijayata, tataha samudro arnavaha. This is one of the famous verses of what is called the Agharmashana mantra. Agha means sin, marshana means destruction, a mantra which can destroy the sin. If you know this secret as to from where darkness has come, then you can really cure it. The cure can be effected only when you know the origin of a certain disease. So darkness is the unconscious — samudro arnavaha is the darkness — darkness came out from ratri, ratri is a half darkness.

Vedic concepts of dhi, agni

Q: Twilight?

Not only twilight, even night. Because there are stars in the night, so night is not a complete darkness.

Q: But in order to be aware of this light you have to know the dark also.

Yes, that is why it says that there is complete darkness and complete darkness comes out of the night which is partly luminous and partly dark because there are stars in the night which are all luminous. So before the complete darkness, was the night. But before the night were the principle of ritamchasatyam —the truth and the right — and this truth came out of the tapas, and tapas is always a principle of chitchit consciousness, chit tapas. Chit consciousness — from the highest consciousness of the light, from the Sindhu you might say, the tapas manifests and when tapas manifests, the first manifestation is Truth and the Right, not darkness. Then comes the dark, the night, and then comes complete darkness. So the origin of complete darkness is the Light, according to the Vedic knowledge, and because the origin of darkness is the light therefore darkness can be cured. According to Freud the unconscious cannot be cured, it is there. At the most you can sublimate a little in expression but the basic things remain as they are, so according to Freud, the fate of civilisation is doomed. But if this is the knowledge, that behind darkness is the light — it has come out of the night — then light can again illuminate it and it can be cured.

So the whole of the Veda is a description as to how you can ascend from the lower levels and go upwards. Now in this ascension one has to be very careful. You should first do a good geographical analysis of the entire domain and make tremendous efforts of finding out where to go, how to go, build paths into this darkness. If you read the Veda properly you find that such was really the effort done by these people. Because it tells you that first do not attend to the darkness, it is there and do not bother about it first.

There is one instrument in every human being on which you should concentrate first and that is dhi or buddhi, you concentrate only on that. That is why we have the famous Gayatri mantra: bhur bhuvaha svah, tat savitur varenyam, bhargo devasya dhimahi, dhiyo yo naha prachodayat, which says that we should concentrate upon Savitri, upon the Supreme light. Varenyam bhargaha; varenyam means the Supreme, bhargaha means the light, Supreme light of Savitri. Tat savitur varenyam bhargaha devasya dhimahi; dhimahi means we are contemplating. We are contemplating on the Supreme light of Savitri, of the Supermind you might say. Why? So that, dhiyo yo naha prachodayat, so that dhi, our intelligence, dhi may be directed, prachodayat, may be directed by Savitri. So this is the simple formula it has given that if human beings are to be rescued from where they are, it is perfectly possible. It is possible to change human nature. Human nature is not doomed to remain what it is. I mean that is the real message of the Veda and the first instrument to be taken up is dhi, the intellect.

But that is not enough, this is only the first step. When the intellect is somewhat refined then much greater value is to be attached to Agni. There is an element in all of us, the element of Agni, the fire. That fire is what may be called aspiration, all upward aspiration. A speciality of fire is that it always moves upwards. So whatever is upward, whatever moves upward, you attend to that. Kindle in you all upward aspiration, always uplift. That is why in the Veda you find so many mantras addressed to Agni. This Agni, according to the Veda, is both within you and also outside you, so it is helpful from both the ways. To this Agni, is addressed the very first mantra of the Rig Veda:

अग्निम् ईळे पुरोहितं यज्ञस्य देवम् ऋत्विजम् |
होतारं रत्नधातमम् ||

Rig Veda 1.1.1

It says: I worship Agni, Agni ile, ile means I worship Agni, I worship Agni, the fire. Purohitam is the priest, priest is a normal translation but actually etymologically it means puraha ita, puraha means that which is in the front, ita means held, that which is held in the front, the leader. Oh Agni I worship you because you are the leader, you are put in front. Leader of yajnasya or sacrifice. Devamritvijam you are a God and you are ritvijam, ritvija means: you are the knower of the seasons of my being. Every human being has certain seasons of development.

This idea of seasons is very important in the Veda. In recent psychological books also now people have begun to recognise the importance of seasons, seasons of psychological development. There is a beautiful book written by Whitehead called "Ideals of Education" and there, his important advice is that every child has seasons of development. He speaks of romantic periods of study. There are periods in the child's life when he falls in love with studies, becomes a passionate lover of studies. Now this is the season which is very important and good parents and good teachers must take advantage of that season. Nurture the child at that time when he is in love with his books, with his studies, with explorations, various imaginations. He begins to develop a new interest in poetry, in art, imagination, literature, science, inventions of various kinds, discoveries of various kinds. He wants to read, he wants to question, he wants to go around in the world, he wants to conquer the world. These are the very important periods and good parents and good teachers must give all the encouragement to the child at this time. At that time to bind the child within the fixed syllabus, fixed time-tables, rigour of what we call outer discipline is quite irrelevant. The child is in love, at that time allow him the freedom and passion of his love and do not bind him into the ordinary discipline of ordinary school work, home work and ordinary kind of work that is being done with children. But you must know when is this season, and once a good teacher actually knows that there are seasons she can even create such seasons. That is another knowledge which is given in the Veda, i. e. how-to create seasons and that is why it is said Agni knows the seasons, ritvijam. You should know the seasons and you can create the seasons, and just as we can have mangoes all the seasons because of certain horticultural practices, similarly you can create seasons all the time in your being, so that all the time you are in fruition, all the time you are flowering. This is the secret also of our being.

Agni is hotaram, he is the one who is capable of calling. Now this also is an important psychological concept in the Veda which says that the secret of development is in calling, simply calling. When we read a mythological story of "open sesame", there is a great truth in it. You just say "open sesame" and the door opens. As Christ said: "Ask and you will be given, knock and the door will be opened". And it is quite true, the whole secret of development lies in calling, you just call. The nature is so constituted that corresponding to every call there is an answer, it is only waiting for the call. So if you know the secret of the call, then you can make use of the call. In a certain sense you might say that the whole of the Veda is nothing but formulas of the call.

Legend of the Angirasa Rishis in the Veda

And then it is also addressed as ratnadhataman. Ratnadha, dha means the holder, ratna means delight, it is that which is the holder of the delight. You see if Agni is sufficiently kindled then the jar is baked properly because of Agni. The fire purifies the jar, i. e. our entire being, thoroughly. As a result of that we become ready to receive the greatest delight. This is the second principle which is in the Veda. The first is dhi, the second is Agni.

When you begin to develop with Agni and with your intelligence, then a certain movement arises by which you are allowed entry into the superconscious and this entry is heralded by Ushas, by the dawn. A new consciousness begins to dawn upon you. A multicoloured manifestation of the coming light begins to dawn on you. It is a delightful experience of the Maruts. Maruts are the winds which are forces of thought. When your intelligence has already tried to concentrate upon Savitri, then various forces of thought also begin to mount and there is lightning and thunder and the rains which are brought by Maruts, as a result of which you feel a new atmosphere growing in you which prepares you for a higher development. This itself takes a lot of time. Although we can speak of it rapidly but it takes a lot of time to develop all this. That is why a lot of space is given to Agni and a lot of space is given to the various kinds of calls to various forces. Vayu also is invited. But then at a certain time of development a major experience bursts upon you. Just as you start moving upwards there is also the experience of the light of Savitri descending in you. It is always there but because of the layers of darkness around you, you are not experiencing the coming of the light, but now because of thunder and the lightning and rains of various kinds, the Ushas coming in, you begin to have a clarity between you and the superconscious. As a result, a new light begins to dawn and come out. This luminous movement is the movement of Indra. If you read Indra in the Veda you will find that wherever Indra comes there is this announcement of the coming of light, coming from above. Wherever Agni is written about, it is a call from below but Indra is the light coming from above. In answer to Agni, Indra comes down. Now there is a great wealth of information and knowledge about Indra. In fact a large number of mantras are attributed and addressed to Indra in the Rig Veda.

But we are not on that subject now, so I am just rapidly passing on to a very important legend of the Veda which is called the legend of the Angirasa. Through this legend the Veda wants to give us a description as to how we, ordinary human beings can change our nature, can be transformed and can attain to the Supreme light. The legend is very simple. There are seven great rishis called Angirasa rishis.

Question: Does seven has some connotation, like the seven rivers, now the seven rishis?

The word seven has a very special meaning in the Veda because according to the Veda the Supreme reality manifests sevenfold. It manifests as Sat, as Chit, as Ananda, as truth, as mind, as life, as matter; these are the seven. So there is a sevenfold principle of being according to the Veda. Being is one but it manifests in a sevenfold manner. That is why the word seven is very important in the Vedic numerology. It is even said that seven is the number of realisations because when you cover all the seven points then really you come to a realisation.

So there are seven rishis; you might say each one represents one of the sevenfold being. These rishis are in search of the cows which they have lost. That is a legend. They have cows which are lost and they are in search of these cows. They do not know where they have gone, where they have disappeared and they are very precious, so they are in search and they do tapasya in search of these cows. Tapasya consists of sacrifice, and sacrifice is a very important instrument in the search which is given in the Veda. All tapasya according to Veda should take the form of sacrifice. When you give up all that you think is yours then that is the sacrifice. Offer all that you are, all that you have in the intensity of your search. There is a rhythm of the sacrifice. Again ritvija, there is a season. There are nine periods of sacrifice and there is a tenth period of sacrifice. If you do nine periods of sacrifice then you almost reach the point where you can discover but you do not discover, you only reach the point of discovery. But when the sacrifice reaches its acme, you come to the tenth, then you transform yourself from navagwas to dashagwas. Then an important event takes place: Indra descends. You find Indra coming down and Indra, as I told you, is a part of the superconscious coming down. He is a Lord of the world of Light, not of Savitri but the world of light which is descending from the Supreme Savitri. The world of light is called in the Veda: Swaha. That is why in the Gayatri mantra we said: bhur bhuvaha swaha. That swaha is the kingdom of Indra.

Question: Without Agni it is not possible?

No. That is a very important condition of the Vedic search. Agni is very important, Agni or aspiration is the first condition, descent is therefore the answer. There is a beautiful sentence in Sri Aurobindo's book called The Mother where he says: "aspiration from below and grace from above", the junction of these two is the point of realisation. When you aspire from below and the grace comes from above and when the two meet together that is the point of realisation.

So Agni is the Vedic principle. Then comes from above the movement of Indra. Indra comes to help you to find your lost cows. The seven rishis are now being helped by Indra himself. He comes down. In this search, Sarama is a figure — a kind of a dog that goes forward. In the story a dog goes forward ahead of Indra, runs faster and finds out where the lost cows have been captured and kept. Sarama goes to that place and has a parley, has a kind of a discussion with those who had taken the cows and captured them in the dark. Then she discovers that these are Panis. They are called Panis in the Veda. They are traffickers; they are the dwellers of darkness. We were told: "do not go to darkness first". You can enter into the field of the unconscious, when you have got all this preparation because then you can safely enter into the field of darkness. So Sarama goes first and then has a discussion with Panis. Panis first of all tempt Sarama and say: "You become our ambassador. You have come as their ambassador but you become our ambassador and do not reveal our secret. We shall give you all that you want here, you remain here with us". And then Sarama says: "No, I won't remain with you; I'll go back and report to Indra". Sarama goes back to Indra and then of course Indra comes forward, then breaks all the dark hills under which the cows have been all kept hidden and when the hill is broken all darkness is shattered and the cows are recovered and the rishis become again the possessors of the cows. This is a legend, but it describes in a legendary form the entire process of the way by which our nature can be changed. The cows stand for light. All of us are original possessors of light because all of us are, according to the Veda, Amritasyaputraha, ie, we are children of immortality. Therefore we are all born in light, our original home is light. We have so many luminous forms and luminous possessions. Each luminous form is a cow according to the Veda. The word cow in Sanskrit is ‘go’, and go has a double meaning in Sanskrit itself: go means cow and go also means light. Therefore you may say that seven cows are lost or seven lights have been lost, it is the same thing. So when it is said the cows have been lost, it means light has been lost... satyamcharitam. You are living in satya, truth and the right, but suddenly something happened. Tato ratryajayata and then the night happened. Night occurred, the darkness came about and then as if it was not enough, tataha samudroarnavaha, and then came a complete darkness. So that is why all your cows were lost into the darkness. They were captured by Panis and kept hidden in a dark cave. We are in search of those lost cows. We are all human beings, whether we like it or not, we are all in search. You may not know what you are looking for but we are all in search, everybody is in search. Gradually we come to realise that we are all in search of something that will really give us an inner satisfaction. First we try outer satisfactions but the point comes when you really feel that we want inner satisfaction. And then we ask ourselves by what shall we be satisfied inwardly, and then you find that we can be satisfied only when we discover ourselves, our own light, our own cows. We have lost our cows and we want to recover our own cows. Therefore we then began to search for it.

Questions & Answers on the Process of Yoga

Question: But every human being who was born out of light, is it necessary to lose these cows?

No, this loss does not happen only when you are born. You were born not only in this birth. Your origin has taken place long, long ago at a certain time and then you might say that we lost our connection with the light, so our loss has been long, long ago and we have been moving in a cycle of births and rebirths and all the time we are actually in search, so it is not only now that we are born and so that we are losing. In the Vedas, ritamchasatyam came first, and then came ratri and then came samudra— that happened a long, long while back. But now we find ourselves in this present condition, where we are. So already we are in search and we do not know what we are looking for, what we are searching for. We are really searching for the light which is originally ours. And therefore it says that if you are in search, then that search has to be done by sacrifice. And we go on sacrificing, which is a long process and these sacrifices when done by the help of Agni, kindle the light of aspiration. We aspire and aspire and aspire all the time and offer all that we are, all that we have and by that we are lifted up and we will have first the experiences of Ushas, then of thunder and lightning and waters and rivers flowing in us or rains falling on us and so on. These are all good signs which will mean the heralding of the coming of Indra some time, and then Indra may come down. This is the real entry. When Indra comes then it means that we have uplifted ourself into the superconscient.

It is only when we go into the superconscient that we can rightly enter into the inconscient. We should not try to enter into the subconscious or unconscious prematurely. Why psychoanalysis of Freud is dangerous is because it teaches us to enter into the subconscious and unconscious, even in our unprepared condition. If we enter into the subconscious or unconscious now as we are, there will be nothing found because we do not have the capacity of light. Only when we have grown into the light, then we can safely enter into the subconscious and we can deal with it.

Question: This light is going to be permanent or does it just come in flashes and sometimes?

First flashes, ultimately it becomes established. So that is a long process, but even in flashes, it is a great thing, and first it comes in flashes. There are seasons of these flashes and these seasons can be further cultivated until they become everlasting. That is when savitri becomes manifest forever.

When you have discovered light, or you have the help of the light, then you can enter into these dark regions, and there you discover so many things. You discover that this darkness is not really darkness. Every darkness has a kind of a hidden sun behind it, because darkness is not original, origin is the light. So behind darkness there is always a light and if you uncover it, there is a luminous light.

There is a legend in the Veda that there are eight suns. Seven suns remained above and the eighth was exiled, Martanda, and that went into darkness and it became the black sun. If you go into this darkness, ultimately you recover Martanda, the eighth sun, and then you discover that that sun is really the same sun as above. That which is above is also below and you find a real harmony and when you do this again and again, then there is a great role played by Aditi in this yoga of the Veda. Even Indra is a child of Aditi. Aditi is the Supreme Mother, the Divine Mother. In India we have so many concepts of the Divine Mother —Kali and Lakshmi and so on. Basically all these notions have come from the original concept which you find in the Veda of Aditi. All the Gods are supposed to be the children of Aditi, Adityahaputraha. If you really go closer to Aditi more and more then you come into a closer contact with the Supreme reality and Aditi can bring all the cosmic powers, all the Gods. Gods are actually cosmic powers and all the cosmic powers then come to help you. And when that happens then your physical becomes powerful, sufficiently baked and in that condition of rightness you arrive at this vision where one Vedic rishi says: "Darkness is shattered, day has broken, there is a flood of light. I am immortal."

This is the description of the realisation that it is attained, in the physical, i. e. while you are in the body; not when you have gone out of the body but, while in the body you can attain to this. The Vedic realisation is the realisation of immortality while you are in the body itself. And one of the Upanishads says very clearly that while you are in the body you must realise, not after leaving the body. This is very important. If you do not do it, again you have to come back into the body until you reach this point of realisation in the body.

Human nature can be transformed

According to this whole thing, human nature can be changed and totally changed. Even the unconscious can be totally illuminated, and this is the process. The Veda itself is, as you might say, a gospel of transformation that says that the human being who is here in the field of mistruth and error, in the field of mortality, in the field of limitations can be completely rescued and he can be completely transformed.

This chapter on Triple Transformation is actually a description of the great development by which this transformation can be effected. Sri Aurobindo speaks of total transformation consisting of three transformations; therefore the chapter is entitled Triple Transformation. The first transformation is called psychic transformation, and psychic is the name for Agni. The first transformation takes places by the recovery of Agni within us, the aspiration within us. Psychic transformation is not the transformation of the psychic. Psychic does not require a transformation; it is always pure in its nature. But our body, life and mind which are impure become transformed by the power of this psychic being. That is the psychic transformation. The first part of the chapter describes what is the psychic being, how the psychic being can be awakened, what is its relationship with body, life and mind and how the psychic being can be brought out from its cave behind the body, life and mind so that the body, life and mind can be transformed, and they can be psychicised. That is the first part.

The second part is that when the phychicised body, life and mind begin to operate, then various experiences take place which are easier for the psychic being because psychic being is very near to the divine, by its very nature. Because there is also a Vedic legend that Agni was originally with the Supreme, like all the Gods are with the Supreme originally and when the Supreme darkness was created, tatoratrijayata tatah samudro arnavaha, then these Gods were told to go down and bring light there. But the darkness was so dense that the Gods said that it is not in their capacity to go down and bring light there, so they went in search of something else which could do this task. Then in a legendary form it is given that in the waters of the Divine being they found Agni, therefore Agni is also called the child of waters. Agni was found and then the Gods went to Agni and asked it to kindly go down and deal with that darkness.

Question: Is there a contradiction in this Agni and Water?

There is. There, water is not water; it is symbolizing the energies of the Divine because waters are the symbol of energies. In these energies of the Divine this Agni was found as a special element, and this Agni was then planted into the darkness. This Agni is very near to the Divine and therefore it is said in the Vedas that the Divine is the own home of Agni. So Agni was, as it were, exiled and put down into the unconscious. This Agni, when it came into the unconscious, radiated so many sparks and each one of us is a spark of that Agni. What we call ourselves, myself, is nothing but basically that spark. So when you realise that spark you feel the real 'yourself’. Till that time you are in search of yourself but you do not know what you are, yourself. We think we are this body or this life or this mind but until we come to feel and experience that Agni, that spark in us, we do not have the satisfaction of having known ourselves. This is a basic point in our self-knowledge. You are one of the sparks of that Agni which has gone down into darkness and you are also drawing out of the darkness, matter and life and mind and you have reached this particular point of your journey. If our body, life and mind become aware of that spark, then that spark can come forward much more easily and then by that light our body, life and mind can be illumined, our body, life and mind can be transformed by the light of Agni. That is the meaning of psychic transformation. When body, life and mind are really psychicised by the virtue of the power of Agni falling upon them like rains, so that they are completely drenched in the light of Agni, then we can say body, life and mind are now completely transformed.

Now, because Agni is very near to God originally therefore when you really experience Agni then the experience of God becomes very easy. So, immediately after this you begin to have numerous experiences of the self, of the Divine, of the Divine Mother, Divine Shakti. These experiences begin to multiply. As a result of this you are enabled to rise upwards. This upper movement is what is called specifically spiritual movement. Till then it was a psychic movement. Psychic movement is called the inward movement and the spiritual movement is called an upward movement. You move upwards where cosmic consciousness, consciousness of the infinity, consciousness of the transcendence, consciousness of the spaceless and timeless, these experiences begin to become common. And these experiences bring their own light, the light of Indra, the light of Ila, the light of Saraswati, the light of Daksha, of Sarama, various kinds of lights. We develop new kinds of mentalities as a result of these influxes of lights. This is why Sri Aurobindo speaks of the development of Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuitive Mind, Over Mind, until you come to Supermind. So these are the levels of consciousness in which you rise and the descent of these lights and the transformation of body, life and mind in the light of these lights is the process of spiritual transformation, as distinguished from psychic transformation. And then when you can station yourselves forever in the supermind and when having stood there you bring light from supermind and transform overmind, and intuitive mind, and illumined mind, and higher mind, and mind, and life, and body, and subconscious and unconscious and when all that is completed, it is called the Supramental transformation.

So that is the description given in this chapter of the three transformations. This was a very rapid description. The important point is that first it says that human nature can be transformed, that there is a process of this transformation, and that this process can be followed in a very flexible, not in a rigid manner, so that each individual becomes adapted to his own specific method of development, so that each individual has his own method. This yoga is not a yoga which is fixed for everybody. Its forms are infinite. For every individual it is a different process of yoga, appropriate to each individual. There are no general prescriptions for each individual. For each individual as he moves forward that path will be made out which is appropriate to him. As Swami Vivekananda said that a great condition comes when each individual has his own religion. What is true of religious consciousness is much more true of yogic consciousness. In the field of yoga which is much beyond religion every individual has such a plasticity of the process and methods that each individual has multifarious methods of arriving at the goal.

All right, so this is all that is given in this chapter.

I do not know if you have the time to read this chapter at home. Usually, I do not ask anybody to read at home, but if you can, does everyone have this chapter? No?

This is one of the most difficult chapters, but I think now with this background it will be easier to understand and next time therefore I will only read with you. I will not talk but I will only read with you this chapter, because there are many things which can be understood only by a long process of experience. Many things will be only words to us at present, but it is good to hear these words because by hearing we become familiar and then by calling, the things can open.