The Synthesis of Yoga (2000-2001, Super school, Auroville) - Session 8 (16 November 2000)

We have been discussing the question of sin and hell. Not a very interesting subject but it can be very important from many points of view. There were two remarks which were made here when we spoke last time on this subject. Hell and heaven are here, not elsewhere. The second remark was that there is no idea of hell except in those scriptures where people are motivated to work on the right lines under the threat of hell: “If you don’t work properly you will go to hell.”

It is true that both hell and heaven are here but not merely here. If you maintain that this world is the only world and there is nothing else in the world, then such a statement requires to be enlarged. There is a series of worlds, not only this world but also a series of worlds.

I appreciate that you have researched and found the place where Sri Aurobindo speaks of the different planes. He speaks of the terrestrial, the supra–terrestrial and the supra-cosmic. These three words are very important.

There is a cosmic which consists of two: the terrestrial and the supraterrestrial. If you take this entire cosmos it can be divided in two distinct parts: first, the terrestrial — that means earthly existence. What we see around us is the terrestrial existence. But this terrestrial existence is not the only existence. There is also supra–terrestrial — something that is above terrestrial. The entire cosmos is not merely the earth but also that which transcends the earth. The terrestrial is, we might say, the physical existence — all that is physical. That would also mean the galaxies, not only this earth as we see it but also the galaxies because they are also physical. Everything that is physical is terrestrial. Apart from this entire physical universe that we see, there are many other worlds. In a certain sense you might say that if you want to be perfect in the physical you cannot be perfect without knowing the supraterrestrial. Many people say: “Why to bother about others, let us confine ourselves to the problems that we face here on the earth.” If it was possible to resolve the problems of the earth by remaining confined to the earth it would be quite alright. But the trouble is that you cannot resolve the problems of the physical without entering into the supra-terrestrial. The reason is that from the supra-terrestrial a number of forces are constantly vibrating and migrating.

This supra-terrestrial itself has many planes. There is at least the life plane, and there is the mind plane, and then there is the supramental plane. Between mind plane and supramental plane there are many other planes. There is the plane of the higher mind, then there is illumined mind, there is intuitive mind, and then there is overmind. These planes occupy the intermediate space between mind plane and supramental plane: the higher mind, illumined mind, intuitive mind, overmind and then the supermind. Between the purely physical and the life plane there is also an intermediate plane, which is called subtle physical plane.

And then when you go above the supra terrestrial, when you go beyond all this you come to the supra cosmic. In the supra cosmic there are two aspects. One is called Acosmic and the other is Transcendental. If you enter into acosmic no cosmos exists in that consciousness. It is a state of consciousness in which neither this world nor other worlds are seen to be real. There is a small Gujarati poem, which says: “When I awake the world disappears.” It is the exactly opposite of what we do in our ordinary waking consciousness. When you awake the whole world appears. But if you awake in the acosmic consciousness the world disappears.

The transcendental includes acosmic; all the supra terrestrial planes and the terrestrial planes; but it is above all of them. Such is the nature of the transcendental. You might experience transcendental here and now because everywhere transcendental is present. But normally it is very difficult to experience transcendental unless we attain to cosmic. It is a step towards transcendental. It is only when we become conscious of the entire universe at the same time that Divine consciousness is understood or known. What we called God is this transcendental, and because many people are not aware of this whole scheme that the word god is defined differently by different people. When you ask the question: “Do you believe in the existence of God?” The question is: “What kind of God?” There are many kinds of conceptions of God. This is the concept that you get in Sri Aurobindo: the transcendental is God. If you like to call Him God. Some people have an allergy to the word god. It does not matter you can call it: Transcendental Consciousness, or Divine Consciousness. It is this God of which Sri Aurobindo speaks whenever he speaks of God. It is not God living in the seventh heaven looking at the world and amusing Himself with the world as if it were moving on like a cinema show. That is not God. This Divine consciousness is everywhere and above. He Himself is all and He is above. In Sanskrit this word transcendental is called Purushottama.

Purushottama consists of two words: purusha and uttama. It is said that Purushottama has a double status: mobile and immobile. It at once moves and does not move. This is the one supreme mystery of His consciousness. Even when He moves He remains stable. Even when He is stable He is not incapacitated from moving. In Sanskrit these two words are called: mobile kshara and immobile akshara. Now you have a complete picture of all that is. When you ask the question: “What is it that exist?” “This IS that exist.” It takes into account everything that is here: in the world as it is understood by us, in other worlds — supra–terrestrial worlds — in the immobile and that which is above the immobile. All these planes that we see are part of the mobile because in all this world there is a movement. All the terrestrial and supra terrestrial planes are all part of mobile, because there is a continuous dynamism. Behind that dynamism there is the acosmic that which is immobile, but also transcendental. Acosmic does not remain by itself any time, it does not exist alone. The acosmic exists because of the transcendental. And wherever there is transcendental all that is there is present.

We ourselves are cabined into this terrestrial; we are as it were put into a box. Originally we are not in a box. Our origin or whatever we are is exactly here in the transcendental. We you ask the question: “What am I, and where am I?” the answer is: “I am a portion of the transcendental and I am in the transcendental.” This is the true answer to that question. Even when we don’t experience this because we are imprisoned, we are only seeing this world as it is and seeing only this portion but if you can expand the consciousness then you can live simultaneously in all these planes. Sri Aurobindo and Mother walked on the earth with this total consciousness. They were simultaneously aware of this and working on all the planes. Just as our work is confined only to this little thing once you become more and more aware you are admitted into all these planes because we already belong there — only we become aware. You become aware that you are with all this.

Take for example, even now, we are cabined in this little space, and if I ask the question: “In this space where are your thoughts? What space is occupied by your thoughts?” In this space your body is certainly located, in a place where no other body can sit. But when you say to yourself: “I wrote a long essay.” Long means space isn’t it? You can say that “I wrote a long essay” means that you have a long piece of paper on which you wrote. So only your words occupy that space of a long piece of paper. But what you wrote, the meaning of what you wrote, which space does it occupy? When you say: “Now my ideas have become very wide.” What do you mean by wide ideas? Does it mean that you have now become ten feet larger in space? No! Where does this largeness exist? There is a space which is not physical space. We are aware only of terrestrial space but to understand your own ideas you know that your mind is narrow or larger or wider but it is surely not in this terrestrial space. It is mental space. There is a space of the mind. This is only physical space but there is also mind space.

Similarly, there is life space. Alexander the Great conquered a large area of space in the physical world. If you were to ask him the question: “When you say, I have conquered all this space and I am very happy, what does it really mean? The space that you conquered already existed.” But he says: “I have conquered.” What does it mean? Does it means that he lives in the whole space, physically? Not at all! He occupied this large space in his life space, not in physical space. It is in his life feeling, in his vital desire that he wanted to conquer, he wanted domination of a wide space, and he felt that he was able to dominate, that he can command something to be done which will be obeyed everywhere in that space. Where is the space in which he commanded because actually that space already existed? Thus, this space which he commanded, surely cannot be this physical space, therefore it is the vital space. All our desires live in the vital space. All our ambitions belong to the vital space. Just as all our thoughts belong to the mind space. And these spaces are much larger than the physical space. Even to imagine the physical space is such a huge thing. It is unimaginable for us, if you consider the galaxies and the wide spaces between one star and the other, if you consider how many millions of light years it takes for light to move from one star and to come from there to here. That is the reason why Mother said, if you want to be very-very wide if you want to come out of the narrow prison of your present consciousness, try an exercise: think of yourself in a small space; then think of your country which is comparatively a very large space; think next of all the continents of the world; and then think of the sun and stars which are not very distant from us; and then think of the many other stars each even bigger than the sun, and all the systems or galaxies in which they are located, billions and billions of them and finally, consider how much space is involved as compared to that which you are and the space you occupy! And when you are troubled by the little things in the world you think of such a huge space, these little things will disappear. The little grumblings and grudges! Thoughts such as: ‘This is not done to me, I am entitled to this, I am entitled to that, why don’t people look at me’ and you will find there is so much space to look at…

And this is only physical space. Life space and mind space are even vaster. And when you come to the higher mind, to the illumined mind, intuitive mind, over mind and supermind — because the word supermind is very common among us we do not consider what supermind really is. And what will be the vastness of the supermind! And then if you come to the Transcendental, to the Supreme Purusha…

The word Purusha has to be understood first. Purusha is a status of consciousness in which one feels oneself to be the originator. Any status of consciousness in which you find or you experience yourself to be the originator, that status can be called Purusha. Whenever you can see yourself as the originator you will find yourself to be superior to what is originated. It is the speciality of the Purusha consciousness. Because of the status of consciousness in which one finds oneself to be the originator one feels oneself to be superior to that which is originated. When you produce a beautiful picture, you paint it, then with regard to your painting, when you see it, since you have originated it, the status in which you are in regard to the picture is the Purusha consciousness. Purusha is always a status of consciousness. It can exist with regard to anything that is presented to you as that which is originated by you. If you conquer the whole world and you perceive the world as yours then you have a status of Purusha in regard to what you have conquered. You feel superior to the whole world and the master of all that is that is the Purusha consciousness. Therefore, every individual has a kind of Purusha consciousness with regard to his activity, which seems to be originated by him. Each individual can be said to be an individual Purusha.

Then there can be cosmic Purusha. All the terrestrial and the supra terrestrial existences, if you stand behind and you see all this originating from you, then you can be a cosmic Purusha. You are in this consciousness the cosmic Purusha. And if the whole world is transcended and you stand above everything then you have purushottama; uttama purusha, the Supreme Purusha, everything in the world is seen to be originating from you. “Be thou as perfect as thy father in heaven is perfect.” Means to be one with the Purushottama. And you don’t need to fabricate it. You are already that. It is only that we are not conscious of it. We have cabined ourselves in a small status. Only a little thing we see and we feel that we are originators only of that little thing. But if you begin to expand yourself in consciousness then you discover that you are already Purushottama. It is not that you have to fabricate it. You don’t have to become Purushottama. You are Purushottama. That is why the word which is used is: you realise. It is called realisation. You realise you are Purushottama. In the Upanishads we have a very short sentence of knowledge: “That art thou.” That is the Transcendent. This is supposed to be the formula of supreme knowledge. Three words in which the supreme knowledge is contained. In Sanskrit: “Tat twam asi.” The Upanishads are very famous for brevity — very brief, but packed. “Thou art that.” Realise that thou art that. Don’t become, thou art that. It does not say that thou should be that. Already you are that. You only realise it. At present you have forgotten it, you only realise, remember that you are That.

Now we have before us a good map of all that exists and where we are in this vast transcendental existence which really we are, which each of us is.

Our question was: where exactly is hell? That was our enquiry. In all this, where is hell? Sri Aurobindo says that hell exists in the Life plane. Even what we call paradise is also on that plane. In many scriptures you have descriptions of heaven and hell. These are descriptions of normally what we find in the Life plane. In Savitri, Sri Aurobindo has described all these planes.

One day you will read Savitri and then you will see the whole structure of the poem. It is an epic in which the story is very simple. There is a kingdom of Madra of which there was a king called Aswapati. He was concerned with the highest welfare of the world. He was aware of the problems of the world, the maladies of the world, the difficulties of the world and he was in search of a solution to these problems. Knowing at that time what yoga is — today yoga is not so very well known and people have to make a very special study but in those time yogic knowledge was much more easily available. So knowing what yoga is, he set upon the path of yoga.

In the beginning, in the very first book of Savitri, Book I, Sri Aurobindo first of all describes the beginning of the world — Book I is called The Book of Beginnings — it is a rapid survey of the whole beginning of the world. It is very difficult to understand because the texture of this poem is very intricate. It is something only the transcendental Purushottama himself can describe and Sri Aurobindo standing on the Purushottama’s consciousness describes the beginning of the world. And then rapidly, Sri Aurobindo takes us up to the time when Savitri is born, gets married to Satyavan and he then describes Savitri’s condition because she knew that this is the day where her husband Satyavan has to die. All this Sri Aurobindo describes — some of you are painters so you know how to make a sweep of colours — like that Sri Aurobindo describes the day on which Satyavan has to die. Then Sri Aurobindo takes us backward; it is a flash-back: what is this issue, why has Satyavan to die? And what is the function, the role of Savitri? Who is Savitri? We are told that Savitri is the daughter of Aswapati. And now comes a biography of Aswapati like a flash-back. And he had come to a point where he says: “Now I should do yoga. So I can understand what the problems are and I can reach the point where I can resolve them.” Because as I told you last time, that is a promise of yoga. By yogic powers, by the yogic knowledge we can gain the supreme knowledge of the Being of the Divine, we can gain the supreme knowledge of the Divine Will and the supreme Knowledge of the Divine Love. This is known actually in the yogic shastra. Knowing this he began to do the yoga. And the Canto 3 of the book is called The Yoga of the King: The Yoga of the Soul’s Release. How he becomes liberated in his soul and attains to secret knowledge and establishes himself in the greatness of his being. But then this is not enough. The entire Book II is called The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds — of the worlds, not world. Now Aswapati begins to scan the whole world, all these planes. If you read only the title of each chapter, of each canto, you will get the idea of all these planes. I will read to you only the title of each canto.

The Kingdom of Subtle Matter.

The Glory and the Fall of Life. This is the Life plane. But to this plane, which is a very large plane, Sri Aurobindo devotes several cantos because of the very huge thing to be described.

The Kingdoms of the Little Life.

The Godheads of the Little Life.

The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Greater Life.

The Descent into Night.

The World of Falsehood, The Mother of Evil and the Sons of Darkness. This is where hell is located.

Then comes The Paradise of the Life–Gods. In the same life plane there is also paradise.

The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Little Mind. Now you go above the Life plane and come into the Mind.

The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Greater Mind.

The Heavens of the Ideal. Now you go above the mind.

In the Self of Mind. The self of mind is the purusha. The manomaya purusha. The mental purusha.

The World Soul. The cosmic purusha.

The Kingdoms of the Greater Knowledge. You climb into higher mind, illumined mind, intuitive mind, overmind and supermind.

Then in the third book he moves forwards and sees the origin of the whole world, attains to the supramental and the transcendental consciousness. It begins with The Pursuit of the Unknowable. This transcendental is unknowable but this unknowable is approachable through Him who has a creative power of which this world is a result. He is the Supreme Purusha from whom all things originate. Originates through His own Power: that Power is called the Divine Mother. That Divine Mother is approached by Aswapati. Then there is The Adoration of the Divine Mother; The House and the Spirit of the New Creation; The Vision and the Boon. He approaches the Supreme Divine Mother and puts forward all these problems and says the world is in great difficulty as we can do now also. We can approach the Divine Mother in the same way and say there is a great difficulty in the world. He insists upon the Divine Mother: “Please do something.” Then the Divine Mother answers: “If such is your anxiety about the world I feel moved and therefore I give the boon to you. I shall be born as your daughter”. That is the Divine Mother’s answer. “And I shall take the mission of changing this world, of solving the problems of the world.”

And the rest of the whole poem is the birth of Savitri, her growth, achieving adulthood, her marriage, Satyavan’s death. That death is the crux of the problem of the world. There is a phenomenon of death and if you can touch that problem all other problems can be resolved.

So, subsequent books cover the knowledge with which she equips herself and utilizes it in conquering Death and thus Satyavan comes back from death. That is the key of the solution of problems. If you can touch Death and conquer Death , all the problems can be resolved.

One day you will read Savitri then you will understand and you will realise what knowledge is involved. When we read Sri Aurobindo we are not reading a scripture in which we have to believe. Sri Aurobindo is a book of knowledge he describes as we can describe this room. So, he has described all the planes of the world…