Varieties of Yogic Experience and Integral Realisation - Appendix


Appendix I

Here is another document, even more definite in character, which, the writer being a Swiss, I translate from the French original.¹

"I was in perfect health: we were on our sixth day of tramping, and in good training. We had come the day before from Sixt to Trient by Buet. I felt neither fatigue, hunger, nor thirst, and my state of mind was equally healthy. I had had at Forlaz good news from home; I was subject to no anxiety, either near or remote, for we had a good guide, and there was not a shadow of uncertainty about the road we should follow. I can best describe the condition in which I was by calling it a state of equilibrium. When all at once I experienced a feeling of being raised above myself, I felt the presence of God - I tell of the thing just as I was conscious of it as if his goodness and his power were penetrating me altogether. The throb of emotion was so violent that I could barely tell the boys to pass on and not wait for me. I then sat down on a stone, unable to stand any longer, and my eyes overflowed with tears. I thanked God that in the course of my life he had taught me to know him, that he sustained my life and took pity both on the insignificant creature and on the sinner that I was. I begged him ardently that my life might be consecrated to the doing of his will. I felt his reply, which was that I should do his will from day to day, in humility and poverty, leaving him, the Almighty God, to be judged of whether I should sometime be called to bear witness more conspicuously. Then, slowly, the ecstasy left my heart; that is, I felt that God had withdrawn the communion



which he had granted, and I was able to walk on, but very slowly, so strongly was I still possessed by the interior emotion. Besides, I had wept uninterruptedly for several minutes, my eyes were swollen, and I did not wish my companions to see me. The state of ecstasy may have lasted four or five minutes, although it seemed at the time to last much longer. My comrades waited for me ten minutes at the cross of Barine, but I took about twenty-five or thirty minutes to join them, for as well as I can remember, they said that I had kept them back for about half an hour. The impression had been so profound that in climbing slowly the slope I asked myself if it were possible that Moses on Sinai could have had a more intimate communication with God. I think it well to add that in this ecstasy of mine God had neither form, color, odor, nor taste; moreover, that the feeling of his presence was accompanied with no determinate localization. It was rather as if my personality had been transformed by the presence of a spiritual spirit. But the more I seek words to express this intimate intercourse, the more I feel the impossibility of describing the thing by any of our usual images. At bottom the expression most apt to render what I felt is this: God was present, though invisible; he fell under no one of my senses, yet my consciousness perceived him."

(William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Barnes & Noble Classics, NY, 2004, pp. 69-70)


¹ I borrow it, with Professor Flournoy's permission, from his rich collection of psychological documents.



Appendix II

Let me give you a good illustration of this feature in the conversion process. That genuine saint, David Brainerd, describes his own crisis in the following words: —

"One morning, while I was walking in a solitary place as usual, I at once saw that all my contrivances and projects to effect or procure deliverance and salvation for myself were utterly in vain; I was brought quite to a stand, as finding myself totally lost. I saw that it was forever impossible for me to do anything towards helping or delivering myself, that I had made all the pleas I ever could have made to all eternity; and that all my pleas were vain, for I saw that self-interest had led me to pray, and that I had never once prayed from any respect to the glory of God. I saw that there was no necessary connection between my prayers and the bestowment of divine mercy; that they laid not the least obligation upon God to bestow his grace upon me; and that there was no more virtue or goodness in them than there would be in my paddling with my hand in the water. I saw that I had been heaping up my devotions before God, fasting, praying, etc., pretending, and indeed really thinking sometimes that I was aiming at the glory of God; whereas I never once truly intended it, but only my own happiness. I saw that as I had never done anything for God, I had no claim on anything from him but perdition, on account of my hypocrisy and mockery. When I saw evidently that I had regard to nothing but self-interest, then my duties appeared a vile mockery and a continual course of lies, for the whole was nothing but self-worship, and an horrid abuse of God.



"I continued, as remember, in this state of mind, from Friday morning till the Sabbath evening following (July 12, 1739), when I was walking again in the same solitary place. Here, in a mournful melancholy state / was attempting to pray; but found no heart to engage in that or any other duty; my former concern, exercise, and religious affections were now gone. I thought that the Spirit of God had quite left me; but still was not distressed; yet disconsolate, as if there was nothing in heaven or earth could make me happy. Having been thus endeavoring to pray — though, as I thought, very stupid and senseless — for near half an hour; then, as I was walking in a thick grove, unspeakable glory seemed to open to the apprehension of my soul. I do not mean any external brightness, nor any imagination of a body of light, but it was a new inward apprehension or view that I had of God, such as I never had before, nor anything which had the least resemblance to it. I had no particular apprehension of any one person in the Trinity, either the Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost; but it appeared to be Divine glory. My soul rejoiced with joy unspeakable, to see such a God, such a glorious Divine Being; and I was inwardly pleased and satisfied that he should be God over all for ever and ever. My soul was so captivated and delighted with the excellency of God that I was even swallowed up in him; at least to that degree that I had no thought about my own salvation, and scarce reflected that there was such a creature as myself. I continued in this state of inward joy, peace, and astonishing, till near dark without any sensible abatement; and then began to think and examine what I had seen; and felt sweetly composed in my mind all the evening following. I felt myself in a new world, and everything about me appeared with a different aspect from what it was wont to do. At this time, the way of salvation opened to me with such infinite wisdom, suitableness, and



excellency, that I wondered I should ever think of any other way of salvation; was amazed that I had not dropped my own contrivances, and complied with this lovely, blessed, and excellent way before. If I could have been saved by my own duties or any other way that I had formerly contrived, my whole soul would now have refused it. I wondered that all the world did not see and comply with this way of salvation, entirely by the righteousness of Christ.¹

(William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Barnes & Noble Classics, NY, 2004, pp. 190-191)


¹EDWARD'S and DWIGHT'S Life of Brainerd, New Haven, 1822, pp.45- 47, abridged.



Appendix III

The collective name for the ripe fruits of religion in a character is Saintliness. The saintly character is the character for which spiritual emotions are the habitual centre of the personal energy; and there is a certain composite photograph of universal saintliness, the same in all religions, of which the features can easily be traced.

They are these: —

1. A feeling of being in a wider life than that of this world's selfish little interests; and a conviction, not merely intellectual, but as it were sensible, of the existence of an Ideal Power. In Christian saintliness this power is always personified Utopias, or inner visions of holiness or right may also be felt as the true lords and enlargers of our life, in ways which I described in the lecture on the Reality of the Unseen.¹

2. A sense of the friendly continuity of the ideal power with our own life, and a willing self-surrender to its control.

3. An immense elation and freedom, as the outlines of the confining selfhood melt down.

4. A shifting of the emotional centre towards loving and harmonious affections towards 'yes, yes,' and away from 'no,' where the claims of the non-ego are concerned.

These fundamental inner conditions have characteristic practical consequences, as follows: —

a. Asceticism. — The self-surrender may become so passionate as to turn into self-immolation. It may then so



overrule the ordinary inhibitions of the flesh that the saint finds positive pleasure in sacrifice and asceticism, measuring and expressing as they do the degree of his loyalty to the higher power.

b. Strength of Soul. — The sense of enlargement of life may be so uplifting that personal motives and inhibitions, commonly omnipotent, become too insignificant for notice, and new reaches of patience and fortitude open out. Fears and anxieties go, and blissful equanimity takes their place. Come heaven, come hell, it makes no difference now!

c. Purity. — The shifting of the emotional centre brings with it, first, increase of purity. The sensitiveness to spiritual discords is enhanced, and the cleansing of existence from brutal and sensual elements becomes imperative. Occasions of contact with such elements are avoided: the saintly life must deepen its spiritual consistency and keep unspotted from the world. In some temperaments this need of purity of spirit takes an ascetic turn, and weaknesses of the flesh are treated with relentless severity.

d. Charity. — The shifting of the emotional centre brings, secondly, increase of charity, tenderness for fellow- creatures. The ordinary motives to antipathy, which usually set such close bounds to tenderness among human beings, are inhibited. The saint loves his enemies, and treats loathsome beggars as his brothers.

(William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Barnes & Noble Classics, NY, 2004, pp. 239-242)


¹The 'enthusiasm of humanity' may lead to a life which coalesces in many respects with that of Christian saintliness. Take the following



rules proposed to members of the Union pour 1'Action morale, in the Bulletin de I 'Union, April 1-15,1894. See, also. Revue Bleue, August 13, 1892.

"We would make known in our own persons the usefulness of rule of discipline, of resignation and renunciation; we would teach the necessary perpetuity of suffering, and explain the creative part which it plays. We would wage war upon false optimism; on the base hope of happiness coming to us ready made; on the notion of a salvation by knowledge alone, or by material civilization alone, vain symbol as this is of civilization, precarious external arrangement, ill-fitted to replace the intimate union and consent of souls. We would wage war also on bad morals, whether in public or in private life; on luxury, fastidiousness, and over-refinement; on all that tends to increase the painful, immoral, and anti-social multiplication of our wants; on all that excites envy and dislike in the soul of the common people, and confirms the notion that the chief end of life is freedom to enjoy. We would preach by our example the respect of superiors and equals, the respect of all men; affectionate simplicity in our relations with inferiors and insignificant persons; indulgence where our own claims only are concerned, but firmness in our demands where they relate to duties towards others or towards the public.

"For the common people are what we help them to become; their vices are our vices, gazed upon, envied, and imitated; and if they come back with all their weight upon us, it is but just.

"We forbid ourselves all seeking after popularity, all ambition to appear important. We pledge ourselves to abstain from falsehood, in all its degrees. We promise not to create or encourage illusions as to what is possible, by what we say or write. We promise to one another active sincerity which strives to see truth clearly, and which never fears to declare what it sees.

"We promise deliberate resistance to the tidal waves of fashion, to the 'booms' and panics of the public mind, to all the forms of weakness and of fear.

"We forbid ourselves the use of sarcasm. Of serious things we will speak seriously and unsmilingly, without banter and without the appearance of banter; — and even so of all things, for there are serious



ways of being light of heart.

we will put ourselves forward always for what we are, simply and without false humility, as well as without pedantry, affectation, or pride."



Appendix IV

Saint John of the Cross, a Spanish mystic who flourished — or rather who existed, for there was little that suggested flourishing about him — in the sixteenth century, will supply a passage suitable for our purpose.

"First of all, carefully excite in yourself an habitual affectionate will in all things to imitate Jesus Christ. If anything agreeable offers itself to your senses, yet does not at the same time tend purely to the honour and glory of God, renounce it and separate yourself from it for the love of Christ, who all his life long had no other wish than to do the will of his Father whom he called his meat and nourishment. For example, you take satisfaction in hearing of things in which the glory of God bears no part. Deny yourself this satisfaction, mortify your wish to listen. You take pleasure in seeing objects which do raise your mind to God: refuse yourself this pleasure, and turn away your eyes. The same with conversations and all other things. Act similarly, so far as you are able, with all the operations of the senses, striving to make yourself free from their yokes.

"The radical remedy lies in the mortification of the four great natural passions, joy, hope, fear, and grief. You must seek to deprive these of every satisfaction and leave them as it were in darkness and the void. Let your soul therefore turn always:

"Not to what is most easy, but o what is hardest;

"Not to what tastes best, but to what is most distasteful;

"Not to what most pleases, but to what disgusts;

"Not to matter of consolation, but to matter for desolation




"Not to rest, but to labor,

"Not to desire the more, but the less;

"Not to aspire to what is highest and most precious, but to what is lowest and most contemptible;

"Not to will anything, but to will nothing;

"Not to seek the best in everything, but to seek the worst,

so that you may enter for the love of Christ into a complete destitution, a perfect poverty of spirit, and an absolute renunciation of everything in this world.

"Embrace these practices with all the energy of your soul and you will find in a short time great delights and unspeakable consolations.

"Despise yourself, and wish that others should despise you. "Speak to your own disadvantage, and desire others to do the same;

"Conceive a low opinion of yourself, and find it good when others hold the same;

'To enjoy the taste of all things, have no taste for anything.

"To know all things, to learning to know nothing.

'To possess all things, resolve to possess nothing.

'To be all things, be willing to be nothing.

'To get to where you have no taste for anything, go through whatever experiences you have no taste for.

"To learn to know nothing, go whither you are ignorant.

'To reach what you possess not, go whithersoever you own nothing.

"To be what you are not, experience what you are not."

These later verses play with that vertigo of self- Contradiction which is so dear to mysticism. Those that come "ext are completely mystical, for in them Saint John passes from God to the more metaphysical notion of All.

"When you stop at one thing, you cease to open yourself to the All.



"For to come to the All you must give up the All "And if you should attain to owning the All, you must r> it, desiring Nothing.

"In this spoliation, the soul finds its tranquillity and rest Profoundly established in the centre of its own nothingness, it can be assailed by naught that comes from below; and since it no longer desires anything, what comes from above cannot depress it; for its desires alone are the causes of its woes."¹

And now, as a more concrete example.... of the irrational extreme to which a psychopathic individual may go in the line of bodily austerity, I will quote the sincere Suso account -of his own self-tortures. Suso, you will remember, was one of the fourteenth century German mystics; his autobiography, written in the third person, is a classic religious document.

"He was in his youth of a temperament full of fire and life, and when this began to make itself felt, it was very grievous to him; and he sought by many devices how he might bring his body into subjection. He wore for a long time a hair shirt and an iron chain, until the blood ran from him, so that he was obliged to leave them off. He secretly caused an undergarment to be made for him; and in the undergarment he had strips of leather fixed into which a hundred and fifty brass nails, pointed and filed sharp, were driven, and the points of the nails were always turned towards the flesh. He had this garment, made very tight, and so arranged as to go round him and fasten in front, in order that it might fit the closer to his body, and the pointed nails might be driven into his flesh; and it was high enough to reach upwards to his navel. In this he used to sleep at night. Now in summer, when it was hot, and he was very tired and ill from his journeyings, or when he held the office of lecturer, he would sometime, as he lay thus in



bonds, and. oppressed with toil, and tormented also by noxious insects, cry aloud and give way to fretfulness, and twist round and round in agony, as a worm does when run through with a pointed needle. It often seemed to him as if he were lying upon an ant hill, from the torture caused by the insects; for if he wished to sleep, or when he had fallen asleep, they vied with one another.² Sometimes he cried to Almighty God in the fullness of his heart: Alas! Gentle God, what a dying is this! When a man is killed by murderers or strong beasts of prey it is soon over; but I lie dying here under the cruel insects, and yet cannot die. The nights in winter were never so long, nor was the summer so hot, as to make him leave off this exercise. On the contrary, he devised something farther — two leathern loops into which he put his hands, and fastened one on each side his throat, an made the fastenings so secure that even if his cell had been on fire about him, he could not have helped himself. This he continued until his hands and arms had become almost tremulous with strain, and then devised something else: two leather gloves; and he caused a brazier to fit them all over with sharp-pointed brass tacks, and he used to put them on at night, in order that if he should try while asleep to throw off the hair undergarment, or relieve himself from the gnawings of the vile insects, the tacks might then stick into his body. And so it came to pass. If ever he sought to help himself with his hands in his sleep, he drove the sharp tacks into his breast, and tore himself, so that his flesh festered. When after many weeks the wounds had healed, he tore himself again and made fresh wounds.

'He continued this tormenting exercise for about sixteen years. At the end of this time, when his blood was now billed, and the fire of his temperament destroyed, there Speared to him in a vision on Whitsunday, a messenger from heaven, who told him that God required this of him



no longer. Whereupon he discontinued it, and threw all these things away into a running stream."

Suso then tells how, to emulate the sorrows of his crucified Lord, he made himself a cross with thirty protruding iron needles and nails. This he bore on his bare back between his shoulders day and night. "The first time that he stretched out this cross upon his back his tender frame was struck with terror at it, and blunted the sharp nails slightly against a stone. But soon, repenting of this womanly cowardice, he pointed them all again with a file, and placed once more the cross upon him. It made his back, where the bones are, bloody and seared. Whenever he sat down or stood up, it was as if a hedgehog-skin were on him. If any one touched him unawares, or pushed against his clothes, it tore him."

Suso next tells of his penitences by means of striking this cross and forcing the nails deeper into the flesh, and likewise of his self-scourgings, — dreadful story, — and then goes on as follows: "At this same period the Servitor procured an old castaway door, and he used to lie upon it at night without any bedclothes to make him comfortable, except that be took off his shoes and wrapped a thick cloak round him. He thus secured for himself a most miserable bed; for hard pea-stalks lay in humps under his head, the cross with sharp nails stuck into his back, his arms were locked fast in bonds, the horsehair undergarment was round his loins, and the cloak too was heavy and the door hard. Thus he lay in wretchedness, afraid to stir, just like a log, and he would send up many a sigh to God.

"In winter he suffered very much from the frost. If he stretched out his feet they lay bare on the floor and froze, if he gathered them up the blood became all on fire in his legs, and this was great pain. His feet were full of sores, his legs dropsical, his knees bloody and seared, his loins



covered with scars from the horsehair, his body wasted, his mouth parched with intense thirst, and his hands tremulous from weakness. Amid these torments he spent his nights and days; and he endured them all out of the greatness of love which he bore in his heart to the Divine and Eternal Wisdom, our Lord Jesus Christ, whose agonizing sufferings he sought to imitate. After a time he gave up this penitential exercise of the door, and instead of it he took up his abode in a very small cell, and used the bench, which was so narrow and short that he could not stretch himself upon it, as his bed. In this hole, or upon the door, he lay at night in his usual bonds, for about eight years. It was also his custom, during the space of twenty-five years, provided he was staying in the convent, never to go after compline in winter into any warm room, or to the convent stove to warm himself, no matter how cold it might be, unless he was obliged to do so for other reasons. Throughout all these years he never took a bath, either a water or a sweating bath; and this he did in order to mortify his comfort-seeking body. He practiced during a long time such rigid poverty that he would neither receive nor touch a penny, either with leave or without it. For a considerable time he strove to attain such a high degree of purity that he would neither scratch nor touch any part of his body, save only his hands and feet."³

(William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Barnes & Noble Classics, NY, 2004, pp. 268-273)

George Fox expresses well this isolation; and I can do no better at this point than read to you a page from his Journal, referring to the period of his youth when religion began to ferment within him seriously.

"I fasted much," Fox says, "walked abroad in solitary places many days, and often took my Bible, and sat in hollow trees and lonesome places until night came on; and



frequently in the night walked mournfully about by myself for I was a man of sorrows in the time of the first workings of the Lord in me.

"During all this time I was never joined in profession of religion with any, but gave up myself to the Lord, having forsaken all evil company, taking leave of father and mother, and all other relations, and travelled up and down as a stranger on the earth, which way the Lord inclined my heart; taking a chamber to myself in the town where I came, and tarrying sometimes more, sometimes less in a place: for I durst not stay long in a place, being afraid both of professor and profane, lest, being a tender young man, I should be hurt by conversing much with either. For which reason I kept much as a stranger, seeking heavenly wisdom and getting knowledge from the Lord; and was brought off from outward things, to rely on the Lord alone. As I had forsaken the priests, so I left the separate preachers also, and those called the most experienced people; for I saw there was none among them all that could speak to my condition. And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could tell what to do; then, oh then, I heard a voice which said, 'There is one, even Jesus Christ, that can speak to thy condition.' When I heard it, my heart did leap for joy. Then the Lord let me see why there was none upon the earth that could speak to my condition. I had not fellowship with any people, priests, nor professors, nor any sort of separated people. I was afraid of all carnal talk and talkers, for I could see nothing but corruptions. When I was in the deep, under all shut up, I could not believe that I should ever overcome; my troubles, my sorrows, and my temptations were so great that I often thought I should have despaired, I was so tempted. But when Christ opened to me how he was tempted by the same devil, and had overcome him, and had bruised his head; and that through him and his power, life,



grace, and spirit, I should overcome also, I had confidence in him. If I had had a king's diet, palace, and attendance, all would have been as nothing; for nothing gave me comfort but the Lord by his power. I saw professors, priests, and people were whole and at ease in that condition which was my misery, and they loved that which I would have been rid of. But the Lord did stay my desires upon himself, and my care was cast upon him alone."4

(William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Barnes & Noble Classics, NY, 2004, pp. 294-5)


¹ SAINT JEAN DE LA CROIX, Vie et Œuvres, Paris, 1893, ii. 94,99 abridged.

² 'Insects,' i.e. lice, were an unfailing token of mediaeval sainthood. We read of Francis of Assisi's sheepskin that "often a companion of the saint would take it to the fire to clean and dispediculate it, doing so, as he said, because the seraphic father himself was no enemy of pedocohi, but on the contrary kept them on him (Ie portava adosso), and held it for an honor and a glory to wear these celestial pearls in his habit." Quoted by P. SABATIER: Speculum Perfectionis, etc., Paris, 1898, p. 231, note.

³ 'The Life of the Blessed HENRY Suso, by Himself, translated by T. F. KNOX, London, 1865, pp. 56—80, abridged.

4 GEORGE Fox : Journal. Philadelphia, 1800, pp.59-61, abridged.



Appendix V

For some writers a 'mystic' is any person who believes in thought-transference, or spirit-return. Employed in this way the word has little value: there are too many less ambiguous synonyms. So, to keep it useful by restricting it, I will do what I did in the case of the word 'religion,' and simply propose to you four marks which, when an experience has them, may justify us in calling it mystical for the purpose of the present lectures. In this way we shall save verbal disputation, and the recriminations that generally go therewith.

1. Ineffability. — The handiest of the marks by which I classify a state of mind as mystical is negative. The subject of it immediately says that it defies expression, that no adequate report of its contents can be given in words. It follows from this that its quality must be directly experienced; it cannot be imparted or transferred to others. In this peculiarity mystical states are more like states of feeling than like states of intellect. No one can make clear to another who has never had a certain feeling, in what the quality or worth of it consists. One must have musical ears to know the value of a symphony; one must have been in love one's self to understand a lover's state of mind. Lacking the heart or ear, we cannot interpret the musician or the lover justly, and are even likely to consider him weak-minded or absurd. The mystic finds that most of us accord to his experiences an equally incompetent treatment.



2. Noetic quality. — Although so similar to states of feeling, mystical states seem to those who experience them to be also states of knowledge. They are. states of insight into depths of truth unplumbed by the discursive intellect. They are illuminations, revelations, full of significance and importance, all inarticulate though they remain; and as a rule they carry with them a curious sense of authority for after-time.

These to characters will entitle any state to be called mystical, in the sense in which I use the word. Two other qualities are less sharply marked, but are usually found. These are:—

3. Transiency. — Mystical states cannot be sustained for long. Except in rare instances, half an hour, or at most an hour or two, seems to be the limit beyond which they fade into the light of common day. Often, when faded, their quality can but imperfectly be reproduced in memory; but when they recur it is recognized; and from one recurrence to another it is susceptible of continuous development in what is felt as inner richness and importance.

4. Passivity. — Although the oncoming of mystical states may be facilitated by preliminary voluntary operations, as by fixing the attention, or going through certain bodily performances, or in other ways which manuals of mysticism prescribe; yet when the characteristic sort of consciousness once has set in, the mystic feels as if his own will were in abeyance, and indeed sometimes as if he were grasped and held by a. superior power. This latter Peculiarity connects mystical states with certain definite Phenomena of secondary or alternative personality, such



as prophetic speech, automatic writing, or the mediumistic trance. When these latter conditions are well pronounced, however, there may be no recollection whatever of the phenomenon, and it may have no significance for the subject's usual inner life, to which as it were, it makes a mere interruption. Mystical states strictly so called, are never merely interruptive. Some memory of their content always remains, and a profound sense of their importance. They modify the inner life of the subject between the times of their recurrence. Sharp divisions in this region are, however, difficult to make and we find all sorts of gradations and mixtures.

These four characteristics are sufficient to mark out a group of states of consciousness peculiar enough to deserve a special name and to call for careful study. Let it then be called the mystical group.

(William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Barnes & Noble Classics, NY, 2004, pp. 328-330)



Appendix VI

Here is a similar record from the memoirs of that interesting German idealist, Malwida von Meysenbug: —

"I was alone upon the seashore as all these thoughts flowed over me; liberating and reconciling; and now gain, as once before in distant days in the Alps of Dauphine, I was impelled to kneel down, this time before the illimitable ocean, symbol of the Infinite. I felt that I prayed as I had never prayed before, and knew now what prayer really is: to return from the solitude of individuation into the consciousness of unity with all that is, to kneel down as one that passes away, and to rise up as one imperishable. Earth, heaven, and sea resounded as in one vast world- encircling harmony. It was as if the chorus of all the great who had ever lived were about me. I felt myself one with them, and it appeared as if I heard their greeting: 'Thou, too belongest to the company of those who overcome."¹

The well-known passage from Walt Whitman is a classical expression of this sporadic type of mystical experience.

"I believe in you, my Soul ...

Loaf with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat;

Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.

I mind how once we lay, such a transparent summer morning.

Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass all the argument of the earth,

And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,

And I know that the sprit of God in the brother of my own,



And that all the men ever born are also my brothers and the women my sisters and lovers,

And that a kelson of the creation is love."²

I could easily give more instances, but one will suffice I take it from the Autobiography of J. Trevor.³

"One brilliant Sunday morning, my wife and boys went to the Unitarian Chapel in Macclesfield. I felt it impossible to accompany them — as though to leave the sunshine on the hills, and go down there to the chapel, would be for the time an act of spiritual suicide. And I felt such need for new inspiration and expansion in my life. So, very reluctantly and sadly, I left my wife and boys to go down into the town, while I went further up to the hills with my stick and my dog. In the loveliness of the morning, and the beauty of the hills and valleys, I soon lost my sense of sadness and regret. For nearly an hour I walked along the road to the 'Cat and Fiddle,' and then returned. On the way back, suddenly without warning, I felt that I was in Heaven — an inward state of peace and joy and assurance indescribably intense, accompanied with a sense of being bathed in a warm glow of light, as, though external condition had brought about the internal effect — a feeling of having passed beyond the body, though the scene around me stood out more clearly and as if nearer to me than before, by reason of the illumination in the midst of which I seemed to be placed. This deep emotion lasted, though with decreasing strength, until I reached home, and for some time after, only gradually passing away."

The writer adds that having had further experiences of a similar sort, he now knows them well.

"The spiritual life," he writes, "justifies itself to those who live it; but what can we say to those who do not understand? This, at least, we can say, that it is a life whose



experiences are proved real to their possessor, because they remain with him when brought closest into contact with the objective realities of life. Dreams cannot stand this test. We wake from them to find that they are but dreams. Wanderings of an overwrought brain do not stand this test. These highest experiences that I have had of God's presence have been rare and brief — flashes of consciousness which have compelled me to exclaim with surprise — God is here! — or conditions of exaltation and insight, less intense, and only gradually passing away. I have severely questioned the worth of these moments. To no soul have I named them, lest I should be building my life and work on mere phantasies of the brain. But I find that, after every questioning and test, they stand out to-day as the most real experiences of my life, and experiences which have explained and justified and unified all past experiences and all past growth. Indeed, their reality and their far-reaching significance are ever becoming more clear and evident. When they came, I was living the fullest, strongest, sanest, deepest life. I was not seeking them. What I was seeking, with resolute determination, was to live more intensely my own life, as against what I knew would be the adverse judgment of the world. It was in the most real seasons that the Real Presence came, and I was aware that I was immersed in the infinite ocean of God.4

Even the least mystical of you must by this time be convinced of the existence of mystical moments as states of 'consciousness of an entirely specific quality, and of the deep impression which they make on those who have them. A Canadian psychiatrist, Dr. R. M. Bucke, gives to the more distinctly characterized of these phenomena the name of cosmic consciousness. "Cosmic consciousness in its more striking instances is not," Dr. Bucke says, "simply an expansion or extension of the self-conscious mind with



which we are all familiar, but the superaddition of a function as distinct from any possessed by the average man as self- consciousness is distinct from any function, possessed by one of the higher animals."

"The prime characteristic of cosmic consciousness is a consciousness of the cosmos, that is, of the life and order of the universe. Along with the consciousness of the . cosmos there occurs an intellectual enlightenment which alone would place the individual on a new plane of existence— would make him almost a member of a new species. To this is added a state of moral exaltation, an indescribable feeling of elevation, elation, and joyousness, and a quickening of the moral sense, which is fully as striking, and more important than is the enhanced intellectual power. With these come what may be called a sense of immortality, a consciousness of eternal life, not a conviction that he shall have this, but the consciousness that he has it already."5

It was Dr. Bucke's own experience of a typical onset of cosmic consciousness in his own person which led him to investigate it in others. He has printed his conclusions in a highly interesting volume, from which I take the following account of what occurred to him:—

"I had spent the evening in a great city, with two friends reading and discussing poetry and philosophy. We parted at midnight. I had a long drive in a hansom to my lodging. My mind, deeply under the influence of the ideas, images, and emotions called up by the reading and talk, was calm and peaceful. I was in a state of quiet, almost passive enjoyment, not actually thinking, but letting ideas, images and emotions flow of themselves, as it were, through my mind. All at once, without warning of any kind, I found myself wrapped in a flame-colored cloud. For an instant I



thought of fire, an immense conflagration somewhere close by in that great city; the next, I knew that the fire was within myself. Directly afterwards there came upon me a sense of exultation of immense joyousness or immediately followed by an intellectual illumination impossible to describe. Among other things, I did not merely come to believe, but I saw that the universe is not composed of dead matter, but is, on the contrary, a living Presence; I became conscious in myself of eternal life. It was not a conviction that I would have eternal life, but a consciousness that I possessed eternal life then; I saw that all men are immortal; that the cosmic order is such that without any peradventure all things work together for the good of each and all; that the foundation principle of the world, of all the worlds, is what we call love, and that the happiness of each and all is in the long run absolutely certain. The vision lasted a few seconds and was gone; but the memory of it and the sense of the reality of what it taught has remained during the quarter of a century which has since elapsed. I knew that what the vision showed was true, I had attained to a point of view from which I saw that it must be true. That view, that conviction, I may say that consciousness, has never, even during periods of the deepest depression, been lost."6

We have now seen enough of this cosmic or mystic consciousness, as it comes sporadically. We must next pass o its methodical cultivation as an element of the religious life. Hindus, Buddhists, Mohammedans, and Christians all lave cultivated it methodically.

In India training in mystical insight has been known from time immemorial under the name of yoga. Yoga means the experimental union of the individual with the divine. It is based on persevering exercise; and the diet, posture, "breathing, intellectual concentration, and moral discipline



vary slightly in the different systems which teach it. The yogi, or disciple, who has by these means overcome the obscurations of his lower nature sufficiently, enters into the condition termed samādhi, "and comes face to face with facts which no instinct or reason can ever know." He learns —

"That the mind itself has a higher state of existence, beyond reason, a superconscious state, and that when the mind gets to that higher state, then this knowledge beyond reasoning comes. ...All the different steps in yoga are intended to bring us scientifically to the superconscious state or samādhi ...Just as unconscious work is beneath consciousness, so there is another work which is above consciousness, and which, also, is not accompanied with the feeling of egoism. ...There is no feeling of I, and yet the mind works, desireless, free from restlessness, objectless, bodiless. Then the Truth shines in its full effulgence, and we know ourselves — for Samādhii lies potential in us all — for what we truly are, free, immortal, omnipotent, loosed from the finite, and its contrasts of good and evil altogether, and identical with the Atman or Universal Soul."7

The Vedantists say that one may stumble into superconsciousness sporadically, without the previous discipline, but it is then impure. Their test of its purity, like our test of religion's value, is empirical: its fruits must be good for life. When a man comes out of Samādhi, they assure us that he remains "enlightened, a sage, a prophet, a saint, his whole character changed, his life changed, illumined."8

The Buddhists use the word samādhi' as well as the Hindus; but 'dhyāna' is their special word for higher states of contemplation. There seem to be four stages recognized



in dhyāna. The first stage comes through concentration of the mind upon one point. It excludes desire, but not discernment or judgment: it is still intellectual. In the second stage the intellectual functions drop off, and the satisfied sense of unity remains. In the third stage the satisfaction departs, and indifference begins, along with memory and self-consciousness. In the fourth stage the indifference, memory, and self-consciousness are perfected. [Just what 'memory' and 'self-consciousness' mean in this connection is doubtful. They cannot be the faculties familiar to us in the lower life.] Higher stages still of contemplation are mentioned—a region where there exists nothing, and where the meditator says: "There exists absolutely nothing," and stops. Then he reaches another region where he says: "There are neither ideas nor absence of ideas," and stops again. Then another region where, "having reached the end of both idea and. perception, he stops finally." This would seem to be, not yet Nirvāna, but as close an approach to it as this life affords.9

In the Mohammedan world the Sufi sect and various dervish bodies are the possessors of the mystical tradition. The Sufis have existed in Persia from the earliest times, and as their pantheism is so at variance with the hot and rigid monotheism of the Arab mind, it has been suggested that Sufism must have been inoculated into Islam by Hindu influences. We Christians know little of Sufism, for its secrets are disclosed only to those initiated. To give its existence a certain liveliness in your minds, I shall quote a Moslem document, and pass away from the subject.

Al-Ghazzali, a Persian philosopher and theologian, who flourished in the eleventh century, and ranks as one of the greatest doctors of the Moslem church, has left us few autobiographies to be found outside of Christian literature. Strange that a species of book so abundant among ourselves should be so little represented elsewhere— the absence of strictly personal confessions is the chief difficulty to the purely literary student who would like to become acquainted with the inwardness of religions other than the Christian.

M. Schmölders has translated a part of Al-Ghazzali's autobiography into French:10

"The Science of the Sufis," says the Moslem author, "aims at detaching the heart from all that is not God, and at giving to it for sole occupation the meditation of the divine being. Theory being more easy for me than practice, I read [certain books] until I understood all that can be learned by study and hearsay. Then I recognized that what pertains most exclusively to their method is just what no study can grasp, but only transport, ecstasy, and the transformation of the soul. How great, for example, is the difference between knowing the definitions of health, of satiety, with their causes and conditions, and being really healthy or filled. How different to know in what drunkenness consists, — as being a state occasioned by a vapor that rises from the stomach, — and being drunk effectively. Without doubt, the drunken man knows neither the definition of drunkenness nor what makes it interesting for science. Being drunk, he knows nothing; whilst the physician, although not drunk, knows well in what drunkenness consists, and what are its predisposing conditions. Similarly there in difference between knowing the nature of abstinence, and being abstinent or having one's soul detached from the world. — Thus I had learned what words could teach of Sufism, but what was left could be learned neither by study nor through the ears, but solely by giving one's self up to ecstasy and leading a pious life.



"Reflecting on my situation, I found myself tied down by a multitude of bonds — temptations on every side. Considering my teaching, I found it was impure before God. I saw myself struggling with all my might to achieve glory and to spread my name. [Here follows an account of his six months' hesitation to break away from the conditions of his life at Bagdad, at the end of which he fell ill with a paralysis of the tongue.] Then, feeling my own weakness, and having entirely given up my own will, I repaired to God like a man in distress who has no more resources. He answered, as he answers the wretch who invokes him. My heart no longer felt any difficulty in renouncing glory, wealth, and my children. So I quitted Bagdad, and reserving from my fortune only what was indispensable for my subsistence, I distributed the rest. I went to Syria, where I remained about two years, with no other occupation than living in retreat and solitude, conquering my desires, combating my passions, training myself to purify my soul, to make my character perfect, to prepare my heart for meditating on God — all according to the methods of the Sufis, as I had read of them.

"This retreat only increased my desire to live in solitude, and to complete the purification of my heart and fit it for meditation. But the vicissitudes of the times, the affairs of the family, the need of subsistence, changed in some respects my primitive resolve, and interfered with my plans for a purely solitary life. I had never yet found myself completely in ecstasy, save in a few single hours; nevertheless, I kept the hope of attaining this state. Every time that the accidents led me astray, I sought to return; and in this situation I spent ten years. During this solitary state things were revealed to me which it is impossible either to describe or to point out. I recognized for certain that the Sufis are assuredly walking in the path of God. Both in their acts and in their inaction, whether internal or



external, they are illumined by the light which proceed from the prophetic source. The first condition for a Sufi is to purge his heart entirely of all that is not God. The next key of the contemplative life consists in the humble prayers which escape from the fervent soul, and in the meditations on God in which the heart is swallowed up entirely. But in reality this is only the beginning of the Sufi life, the end of Sufism being total absorption in God. The intuitions and all, that precede are, so to speak, only the threshold for those who enter. From the beginning, revelations take place in so flagrant a shape that the Sufis see before them, whilst wide awake, the angels and the souls of the prophets. They hear their voices and obtain their favors. Then the transport rises from the perception of forms and figures to a degree which escapes all expression, and which no man may seek to give an account of without his words involving sin.

"Whoever has had no experience of the transport knows of the true nature of prophetism nothing but the name. He may meanwhile be sure of its existence, both by experience and by what he hears the Sufis say. As there are men endowed only with the sensitive faculty who reject what is offered them in the way of objects of the pure understanding, so there are intellectual men who reject and avoid the things perceived by the prophetic faculty. A blind man can understand nothing of colors save what he has learned by narration and hearsay. Yet God has brought prophetism near to men in giving them all a state analogous to it in its principal characters. This state is sleep. If you" were to tell a man who was himself without experience of such a phenomenon that there are people who at times swoon away so as to resemble dead men, and who [in dreams] yet perceive things that are hidden, he would deny it [and give his reasons]. Nevertheless, his arguments would be refuted by actual experience. Wherefore, just as the understanding is a stage of human life in which an eye



opens to discern various intellectual objects uncomprehended by sensations; just so in the prophetic the sight is illumined by a light which uncovers hidden things and objects which the intellect fails to reach. The chief properties of prophetism are perceptible only during the transport, by those who embrace the Sufi life. The prophet is endowed with qualities to which you possess nothing analogous, and which consequently you cannot possibly understand. How should you know their true nature, since one knows only what one can comprehend? But the transport which one attains by the method of the Sufis is like an immediate perception, as if one touched the objects with one's hand."¹¹

This incommunicableness of the transport is the key note of all mysticism. Mystical truth exists for the individual who has the transport, but for no one else. In this, as I have said, it resembles the knowledge given to us in sensations more than that given by conceptual thought. Thought, with its remoteness and abstractness, has often enough in the history of philosophy been contrasted unfavorably with sensation. It is a commonplace of metaphysics that God's knowledge cannot be discursive but must be intuitive, that is, must be constructed more after the pattern of what in ourselves is called immediate feeling, than after that of proposition and judgment. But our immediate feelings have no content but what the five senses supply; and we have seen and shall see again that mystics may emphatically deny that the senses play any part in the very highest type of knowledge which their transports yield.

In the Christian church there have always been mystics. Although many of them have been viewed with suspicion, some have gained favor in the eyes of the authorities. The experiences of these have been treated as precedents, and a



codified system of mystical theology has been based upon them, in which everything legitimate finds its place.¹² The basis of the system is 'orison' or meditation, the methodical elevation of the soul towards God. Through the practice of orison the higher levels of mystical experience may be attained. It is odd that Protestantism, especially evangelical Protestantism, should seemingly have abandoned everything methodical in this line. Apart from what prayer may lead to Protestant mystical experience appears to have been almost exclusively sporadic. It has been left to our mind-curers to reintroduce methodical meditation into our religious life.

The first thing to be aimed at in orison is the mind's detachment from outer sensations, for these interfere with its concentration upon ideal things. Such manuals as Saint Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises recommend the disciple to expel sensation by a graduated series of efforts to imagine holy scenes. The acme of this kind of discipline would be a semi-hallucinatory mono-ideism — an imaginary figure of Christ, for example, coming fully to occupy the mind. Sensorial images of this sort, whether literal or symbolic, play an enormous part in mysticism.¹³ But in certain cases imagery may fall away entirely, and in the very highest raptures it tends to do so. The state of consciousness becomes then insusceptible of any verbal description. Mystical teachers are unanimous as to this. Saint John of the Cross, for instance, one of the best of them, thus describes the condition called the 'union of love,' which, he says, is reached by 'dark contemplation.' In this the Deity compenetrates the soul, but in such a hidden way that the soul —

"finds no terms, no means, no comparison whereby to render the sublimity of the wisdom and the delicacy of the



spiritual feeling with which she is filled. .. .We receive this mystical knowledge of God clothed in none of the kinds of images, in none of the sensible representations, which our mind makes use of in other circumstances. Accordingly, in this knowledge, since the senses and the imagination are not employed, we get neither form nor impression, nor can we give any account or furnish any likeness, although the mysterious and sweet-tasting wisdom comes home so clearly to the inmost parts of our soul. Fancy a man seeing a certain kind of things for the first time in his life. He can understand it, use and enjoy it, but he cannot apply a name to it, nor communicate any idea of it, even though all the while it be a mere thing of sense. How much greater will be his powerlessness when it goes beyond the senses! This is the peculiarity of the divine language. The more infused, intimate, spiritual, and supersensible it is, the more does it exceed the senses, both inner and outer, and impose silence upon them. .. .The soul then feels as if placed in a vast and profound solitude, to which no created thing has access, in an immense and boundless desert, desert the more delicious the more solitary it is. There, in this abyss of wisdom, the soul grows by what it drinks in from the well- springs of the comprehension of love,... and recognizes, however sublime and learned may be the terms we employ, how utterly vile, insignificant, and improper they are, when we seek to discourse of divine things by their means."14

I cannot pretend to detail to you the sundry stages of the Christian mystical life.15 Our time would not suffices, for one thing; and moreover, I confess that the subdivisions and names which we find in the Catholic books seem to me to represent nothing objectively distinct. So many men, so many minds: I imagine that these experiences can be as infinitely varied as are the idiosyncrasies of individuals.

The cognitive aspects of them, their value in the way of



revelation is what we are directly concerned with, and it is easy to show by citation how strong an impression they leave of being revelations of new depth of truth. Saint Teresa is the expert of experts in describing such conditions, so I will turn immediately to what she says of one of the highest of them the 'orison of union.'

"In the orison of union," says Saint Teresa, "the soul is fully awake as regards God, but wholly asleep as regards things of this world and in respect of herself. During the short time the union lasts, she is as it were deprived of every feeling, and even if she would, she could not think of any single thing. Thus she needs to employ no artifice in order to arrest the use of her understanding: it remains so stricken with inactivity that she neither knows what she loves, nor in what manner she loves, nor what she wills. In short, she is utterly dead to the things of the world and lives solely in God. ...I do not even know whether in this state she has enough life left to breathe. It seems to me she has not; or at least that if she does breathe, she is unaware of it. Her intellect would fain understand something of what is going on within her, but it has so little force now that it can act in no way whatsoever. So a person who falls into a deep faint appears as if dead....

"Thus does God, when he raises a soul to union with himself, suspend the natural action of all her faculties She neither sees, hears, nor understands, so long as she is united with God. But this time is always short, and it seems even shorter than it is. God establishes himself in the interior of this soul in such a way, that when she returns to herself, it is wholly impossible for her to doubt that she has been in God, and God in her. This truth remains so strongly impressed on her that, even though many years should pass without the condition returning, she can neither forget the favor she received, nor doubt of its reality. If you



nevertheless, ask how it is possible that the soul can see and understand that she has been in God, since during the union she has neither sight nor understanding, I reply that she does not see it then, but that she sees it clearly later, after she has returned to herself, not by any vision, but by a certitude which abides with her and which God alone can give her. I knew a person who was ignorant of the truth that God's mode of being in everything must be either by presence, by power, or by essence, but who, after having received the grace of which I am speaking, believed this truth in the most unshakable manner. So much so that, having consulted a half-learned man who was as ignorant on this point as she had been before she was enlightened, when he replied that God is in us only by 'grace,' she disbelieved his reply, so sure she was of the true answer; and when she came to ask wiser doctors, they confirmed her in her belief, which much consoled her....

"But how, you will repeat, can one have such certainty in respect to what one does not see? This question, I am powerless to answer. These are secrets of God's omnipotence which it does not appertain to me to penetrate. All that I know is that I tell the truth; and I shall never believe that any soul who does not possess this certainty has ever been really united to God."16

The kinds of truth communicable in mystical ways, whether these be sensible or supersensible, are various. Some of them relate to this world, — visions of the future, the reading of hearts, the sudden understanding of texts, the knowledge of distant events, for example; but the most important revelations are theological or metaphysical.

"Saint Ignatius confessed one day to Father Laynez that a single hour of meditation at Manresa had taught him more truths about heavenly things that all the teachings of all the



doctors put together could have taught him.... One day in orison, on the steps of the choir of the Dominican ,church he saw in a distinct manner the plan of divine wisdom in' the creation of the world. On another occasion, during a procession, his spirit was ravished in God, and it was given him to contemplate, in a form and images fitted to the weak understanding of a dweller on the earth, the deep mystery of the holy Trinity. This last vision flooded his heart with such sweetness, that the mere memory of it in after times made him shed abundant tears."17

(William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Barnes & Noble Classics, NY, 2004, pp. 341-55)

This overcoming of all the usual barriers between the individual and the Absolute is the great mystic achievement. In the mystic states we both become one with the Absolute and we become aware of our oneness. This is the everlasting and triumphant mystical tradition, hardly altered by differences of clime or creed. In Hinduism, in Neoplatonism, in Sufism, in Christian mysticism, in Whitmanism, we find the same recurring note, so that there is about mystical utterances an eternal unanimity which ought to make a critic stop and think, and which brings it about that the mystical classics have, as has been said, neither birthday nor native land. Perpetually telling of the unity of man with God, their speech antedates languages, and they do not grow old.18

That art Thou!' say the Upanishads, and the Vedantists add: 'Not a part, not a mode of That, but identically That, that absolute Spirit of the World.' "As pure water poured into pure water remains the same, thus, O Gautama, is the Self of a thinker who knows. Water in water, fire in fir6' ether in ether, no one can distinguish them; likewise a man whose mind has entered into the Self."19 '"Every man,' says



the Sufi Gulshan-Raz, 'whose heart is no longer shaken by any doubt, knows with certainty that there is no being save only One. ...In his divine majesty the me, the we, the thou, are not found, for in the One there can be no distinction. Every being who is annulled and entirely separated from himself, hears resound outside of him this voice and this echo: I am God: he has an eternal way of existing, and is no longer subject to death.'"20 In the vision of God, says Plotinus, "what sees is not our reason, but something prior and superior to our reason.... He who thus sees does not properly see, does not distinguish or imagine two things. He changes, he ceases to be himself, preserves nothing of himself. Absorbed in God, he makes but one with him, like a centre of a circle coinciding with another centre."²¹ "Here," writes Suso, "the spirit dies, and yet is all alive in the marvels of the Godhead... and is lost in the stillness of the glorious dazzling obscurity and of the naked simple unity. It is in this modeless where that the highest bliss is to be found."²² "Ich bin so gross als Gott," sings Angelus Silesius again, "Er ist als ich so klein; Er kann nicht fiber mich, ich unter ihm nicht sein."²³

In mystical literature such self-contradictory phrases as 'dazzling obscurity,' 'whispering silence,' 'teeming desert,' are continually met with. They prove that not conceptual speech, but music rather, is the element through which we are best spoken to by mystical truth. Many mystical scriptures are indeed little more than musical compositions.

"He who would hear the voice of Nada, 'the Soundless Sound,' and comprehend it, he has to learn the nature of Dhāranā.... When to himself his form appears unreal, as do on waking all the forms he sees in dreams; when he has ceased to hear the many, he may discern the ONE — the



inner sound which kills the outer.... For then the soul will hear, and will remember. And then to the inner ear will speak THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE.... And now thy Self is lost in SELF, thyself unto THYSELF, merged in that SELF from which thou first didst radiate.... Behold! thou hast become the Light, thou hast become the Sound, thou art thy Master and thy God. Thou art THYSELF the object of they search: the VOICE unbroken, that resounds throughout eternities, exempt from change, from sin exempt, the seven sounds in one, the VOICE OF THE SILENCE. Om tat Sat24

These words, if they do not awaken laughter as you receive them, probably stir chords within you which music and language touch in common. Music gives you ontological messages which non-musical criticism is unable to contradict, though it may laugh at our foolishness in minding them. There is a verge of the mind which these things haunt; and whispers therefrom mingle with the operations of our understanding, even as the waters of the infinite ocean send their waves to break among the pebbles that lie upon our shores.

"Here begins the sea that ends not till the world's end.

Where we stand,

Could we know the next high sea-mark set beyond

these waves that gleam,

We should know what never man hath known, nor

eye of man hath scanned....

Ah, but here man's heart leaps, yearning towards the

gloom with venturous glee,

From the shore that bath no shore beyond it, set in all

the sea."25

(William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Barnes & Noble Classics, NY, 2004, pp. 362-5)




¹. Memoiren einer Idealistin, 5te Auflage, 1900, iii. 166. For years she had been unable to pray, owing to materialistic belief.

². Whitman in another place expresses in a quieter way what was probably with him a chronic mystical perception: "There is," he writes, "apart from mere intellect, in the make-up of every superior human identity, a wondrous something that realizes without argument, frequently without what is called education (though I think it the goal and apex of all education deserving the name), an intuition of the absolute balance, in time and space, of the whole of this multifariousness, this revel of fools, and incredible make-believe and general unsettledness, we call the world; a soul-sight of that divine clue and unseen thread which holds the whole congeries of things, all history and time, and all events, however trivial, however momentous, like a leashed dog in the hand of the hunter. [Of] such soul-sight and root-centre for the mind mere optimism explains only the surface." Whitman charges it against Carlyle that he lacked this perception. Specimen Days and Collect, Philadelphia, 1882, p. 174.

³. My Quest for God, London, 1897, pp. 268, 269, abridged.

4 Op. cit., pp. 256, 257, abridged.

5 Cosmic Consciousness: a study in the evolution of the human Mind, Philadelphia, 1901 p.2.

6 Loc. cit., pp. 7,8. My quotation follows the privately printed pamphlet which preceded Dr. Bucke's larger work, and differs verbally a little from the text of the latter.

7 My quotations are from VIVEKANANDA, Raja Yoga, London, 1896. The completest source of information on Yoga is the work translated by VIHARI LALA MITRA: Yoga Vasishta Maha Ramayana, 4 vols., Calcutta,


8 A European witness, after carefully comparing the results of Yoga with those of the hypnotic or dreamy states artificially producible by us, says: "It makes of its true disciples good, healthy, and happy men. ...Through the mastery which the yogi attains over his thoughts and his body, he grows into a 'character.' By the subjection of his impulses and propensities to his will, and the fixing of the latter upon the ideal of goodness, he becomes a 'personality' hard to influence by others, and thus almost the opposite of what we usually imagine a 'medium'



so-called, or 'psychic subject' to be." KARL KELLNER: Yoga: Eine Skizze, Mūnchen, 1896, p.21.

9 I follow the account in C. P. KOBPPEN: Die Religion des Buddha Berlin, 1857, i.585 ff.

10 For a full account of him, see D. B. MACDONALD: The Life of Al-Ghazzali, in the Journal of the American Oriental Society, 1899, vol. xx. p.71.

¹¹A. SCHMOLDERS: Essai sur les ecoles philosophiques chez les Arabes Paris, 1842, pp. 54-68, abridged.

¹² GORRES'S Christliche Mystik gives a full account of the facts. So does RIBET'S Mystique Divine, 2 vols., Paris, 1890. A still more methodical modem work is the Mystica Theologia of VALLGORNERA, 2 vols., Turin, . 1890.

¹³ M. RECEJAC, in a recent volume, makes them essential. Mysticism he defines as "the tendency to draw near to the Absolute morally,, and by the aid of Symbols." See his Fondements de la Connaissance mystique, Paris, 1897, p. 66. But there are unquestionably mystical conditions in which sensible symbols play no part.

14 Saint John of the Cross: The Dark Night of the Soul, book ii. Ch. Xvii., in Vie et Œuvres, 3me edition, Paris, 1893, iii. 428-432. Chapter xi. of book ii. of Saint John's Ascent of Carmel is devoted to showing the harmfulness for the mystical life of the use of sensible imagery.

15 In particular I omit mention of visual and auditory hallucinations, verbal and graphic automatisms, and such marvels as 'levitation,' stigmatization, and the healing of disease. These phenomena, which mystics have often presented (or are believed to have presented), have no essential mystical significance, for they occur with no consciousness of illumination whatever, when they occur, as they often do, in persons of non-mystical mind. Consciousness of illumination is for us the essential mark of 'mystical' states.

16 The Interior Castle, Fifth Abode, ch.i, in Œuvres, translated by Bouix, iii. 421-424.

17 BARTOLI-MICHEL: Vie de Saint Ignace de Loyola, i. 34-36.

18 Compare M. MAETERLINCK: L'Omement des Noces spirituelles de Ruysbroeck, Bruxelles, 1891, Introduction, p. xix.



19 upanishads, M. MOLLER'S translation, ii. 17, 334.

20 SCHMOLDERS: Op. cit, p. 210.

21 , Enneais, BOUILLIER'S translation, Paris, 1861, iii. 561. Compare pp.473.477, and vol. i. p. 27.

22 Autobiography, pp. 309, 310.

23 Op. cit. Strophe 10.

24 H.P. BLAVATSKY: The Voice of the Silence.

" SWINBURNE: On the Verge, in 'A Midsummer Vacation.'



Appendix VII

At about the age of fifty, Tolstoy relates that he began to have moments of perplexity, of what he calls arrest, as if he knew not 'how to live,' or what to do. It is obvious that these were moments in which the excitement and interest which our functions naturally bring had ceased. Life had been enchanting, it was now flat sober, more than sober, dead. Things were meaningless whose meaning had always been self-evident. The questions 'Why?' and 'What next?' began to beset him more and more frequently. At first it seemed as if such questions must be answerable, and as if he could easily find the answers if he would take the time; but as they ever became more urgent, he perceived that it was like those first discomforts of a sick man, to which he pays but little attention till they run into one continuous suffering, and then he realizes that what he took for a passing disorder means the most momentous thing in the world for him, means his death.

These questions 'Why?' 'Wherefore?' 'What for? found no response.

"I felt," says Tolstoy, "that something had broken within me on which my life always rested, that I had nothing left to hold on to, and that morally my life had stopped. An invincible force impelled me to get rid of my existence, in one way or another. It cannot be said exactly that I wished to kill myself, for the force which drew me away from life was fuller, more powerful, more general than any mere desire. It was a force like my old aspiration to live, only it impelled me in the opposite direction. It was an aspiration



of my whole being to get out of life.

"Behold me then, a man happy and in good health, hiding the rope in order not to hang myself to the rafters of the room where every night I went to sleep alone; behold me no longer going shooting, lest I should yield to the too easy temptation of putting an end to myself with my gun.

"I did not know what I wanted. I was afraid of life; I was driven to leave it; and in spite of that I still hoped something from it.

"All this took place at a time when so far as all my outer circumstances went, I ought to have been completely happy. I had a good wife who loved me and whom I loved; good children and a large property which was increasing with no pains taken on my part. I was more respected by my kinsfolk and acquaintance than I had ever been; I was loaded with praise by strangers; and without exaggeration I could believe my name already famous. Moreover I was neither insane nor ill. On the contrary, I possessed a physical and mental strength which I have rarely met in persons of my age. I could mow as well as the peasants, I could work with my brain eight hours uninterruptedly and feel no bad effects.

"And yet I could give no reasonable meaning to any actions of my life. And I was surprised that I had not understood this from the very beginning. My state of mind was as if some wicked and stupid jest was being played upon me by some one. One can live only so long as one is intoxicated, drunk with life; but when one grows sober one cannot fail to see that it is all a stupid cheat. What is truest about it is that there is nothing even funny or silly in it; it is cruel and stupid, purely and simply.

"The oriental fable of the traveler surprised in the desert by a wild beast is very old.



"Seeking to save himself from the fierce animal the traveler jumps into a well with no water in it; but at the bottom of this well he sees a dragon waiting with open mouth to devour him. And the unhappy man, not daring to go out lest he should be the prey of the beast, not daring to jump to the bottom lest he should be devoured by the dragon, clings to the branches of a wild bush which grows out of one of the cracks of the well. His hands weaken, and he feels that he must soon give way to certain fate; but still he clings, and sees two mice, one white, the other black, evenly moving round the bush to which he hangs, and gnawing off its roots.

"The traveler sees this and knows that he must inevitably perish; but while thus hanging he looks about him and finds on the leaves of the bush some drops of honey. These he reaches with his tongue and licks them off with rapture.

"Thus I hang upon the boughs of life, knowing that the inevitable dragon of death is waiting ready to tear me, and I cannot comprehend why I am thus made a martyr. I try to suck the honey which formerly consoled me; but the honey pleases me no longer, and day and night the white mouse and the black mouse gnaw the branch to which I cling. I can see but one thing: the inevitable dragon and the mice —I cannot turn my gaze away from them.

"This is no fable, but the literal incontestable truth which every one may understand. What will be the outcome of what I do to-day? Of what I shall do to-morrow? What will be the outcome of all my life? Why should I live? Why should I do anything? Is there in life any purpose which the inevitable death which awaits me does not undo and destroy?

"These questions are the simplest in the world. From the stupid child to the wisest old man, they are in the soul of every human being. Without an answer to them, it is



impossible, as I experienced, for life to go on.

'"But perhaps,' I often said to myself, 'there may be something I have failed to notice or to comprehend. It is not possible that this condition of despair should be natural to mankind.' And I sought for an explanation in all the branches of knowledge acquired by men. I questioned painfully and protractedly and with no idle curiosity. I sought, not with indolence, but laboriously and obstinately for days and nights together. I sought like a man who is lost and seeks to save himself, — and I found nothing. I became convinced, moreover, that all those who before me had sought for an answer in the sciences have also found nothing. And not only this, but that they have recognized that the very thing which was leading me to despair — the meaningless absurdity of life — is the only incontestable knowledge accessible to man."

To prove this point, Tolstoy quotes the Buddha, Solomon, and Schopenhauer. And he finds only four ways in which men of his own class and society are accustomed to meet the situation. Either mere animal blindness, sucking the honey without seeing the dragon or the mice, — "and from such a way," he says, "I can learn nothing, after what I now know;" or reflective epicureanism, snatching what it can while the day lasts, — which is only a more deliberate sort of stupefaction than the first; or manly suicide; or seeing °the mice and dragon and yet weakly and plaintively clinging to the bush of life.

Suicide was naturally the consistent course dictated by the logical intellect.

"Yet," says Tolstoy, "whilst my intellect was working, something else in me was working too, and kept me from the deed — a consciousness of life, as I may call it, which



was like a force that obliged my mind to fix itself in another direction and draw me out of my situation of despair. During the whole course of this year, when I almost unceasingly kept asking myself how to end the business whether by the rope or by the bullet, during all that time alongside of all those movements of my ideas and observations, my heart kept languishing with another pining emotion. I can call this by no other name than that of a thirst for God. This craving for God had nothing to do with the movement of my ideas, — in fact, it was the direct contrary of that movement, — but it came from my heart. It was like feeling of dread that made me seem like an orphan and isolated in the midst of all things that were so foreign. And this feeling of dread was mitigated by the hope of finding the assistance of some one."¹

(William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Barnes & Noble Classics, NY, 2004, pp. 139-142)


¹ My extracts are from the French translation by 'ZONIA'. In abridging I have taken the liberty of transposing one passage.



Appendix VIII

The Divine Worker¹

I face earth's happenings with an equal soul;

In all are heard Thy steps: Thy unseen feet

Tread Destiny's pathways in my front. Life's whole

Tremendous theorem is Thou complete.

No danger can perturb my spirit's calm:

My acts are Thine; I do Thy works and pass;

Failure is cradled on Thy deathless arm,

Victory is Thy passage mirrored in Fortune's glass.

In this rude combat with the fate of man

Thy smile within my heart makes all my strength;

Thy Force in me labours at its grandiose plan,

Indifferent to the Time-snake's crawling length.

No power can slay my soul; it lives in Thee.

Thy presence is my immortality.


¹(Sri Aurobindo, Collected Poems, Vol. 5, Centenary edition, Pondicherry, 1972, p. 143.)



Appendix IX

Before this labour for the annihilation of desire and the conquest of the soul's equality can come to its absolute perfection and fruition, that turn of the spiritual movement must have been completed which leads to the abolition of the sense of ego. But for the worker the renunciation of the egoism of action is the most important element in this change. For even when by giving up the fruits and the desire of the fruits to the Master of the Sacrifice we have parted with the egoism of rajasic desire, we may still have kept the egoism of the worker. Still we are subject to the sense that we are ourselves the doer of the act, ourselves its source and ourselves the giver of the sanction. It is still the "I" that chooses and determines, it is still the "I" that undertakes the responsibility and feels the demerit or the .merit. An entire removal of this separative ego-sense is an essential aim of our Yoga. If any ego is to remain in us for a while it is only a form of it which knows itself to be a form and is ready to disappear as soon as a true centre of consciousness is manifested or built in us. That true centre is a luminous formulation of the one Consciousness and a pure channel and instrument of the one Existence. A support for the individual manifestation and action of the universal Force, it gradually reveals behind it the true Person in us, the central eternal being, an everlasting being of the Supreme, a power and portion of the transcendent Shakti.¹

Here too, in this movement by which the soul divests itself gradually of the obscure robe of the ego, there is a



progress by marked stages. For not only the fruit of works belongs to the Lord alone, but our works also must be his; he is the true Lord of our action no less than of our results. This we must not see with the thinking mind only, it must become entirely true to our entire consciousness and will. The Sadhaka has not only to think and know but to see and feel concretely and intensely even in the moment of the working and in its initiation and whole process that his works are not his at all, but are coming through him from the Supreme Existence. He must be always aware of a Force, a Presence, a Will that acts through his individual nature. But there is in taking this turn the danger that he may confuse his own disguised or sublimated ego or an inferior power with the Lord and substitute its demands for the supreme dictates. He may fall into a common ambush of this lower nature and distort his supposed surrender to a higher Power into an excuse for a magnified and uncontrolled indulgence of his own self-will and even of his desires and passions. A great sincerity is asked for and has to be imposed not only on the conscious mind but still more on the subliminal part of us which is full of hidden movements. For there is there, especially in our subliminal vital nature, an incorrigible charlatan and actor. The Sadhaka must first have advanced far in the elimination of desire and in the firm equality of his soul towards all workings and all happenings before he can utterly lay down the burden of his works on the Divine. At every moment he must proceed with a vigilant eye upon the deceits of the ego and the ambushes of the misleading Powers of Darkness who ever represent themselves as the one source of Light and Truth and take on them a simulacrum of divine forms in order to capture the soul of the seeker.

Immediately he must take the further step of relegating



himself to the position of the Witness. Aloof from the Prakriti, impersonal and dispassionate, he must watch the executive Nature-Force at work within him and understand its action; he must learn by this separation to recognise the play of her universal forces, distinguish her interweaving of light and night, the divine and the undivine, and detect her formidable Powers and Beings that use the ignorant human creature. Nature works in us, says the Gita, through the triple quality of Prakriti, the quality of light and good, the quality of passion and desire and the quality of obscurity and inertia. The seeker must learn to distinguish, as an impartial and discerning witness of all that proceeds within this kingdom of his nature, the separate and the combined action of these qualities; he must pursue the workings of the cosmic forces in him through all the labyrinth of their subtle unseen processes and disguises and know every intricacy of the maze. As he proceeds in this knowledge, he will be able to become the giver of the sanction and no longer remain an ignorant tool of Nature. At first he must induce the Nature- Force in its action on his instrument to subdue the working of its two lower qualities and bring them into subjection to the quality of light and good and, afterwards, he must persuade that again to offer itself so that all three may be transformed by a higher Power into their divine equivalents, supreme repose and calm, divine illumination and bliss, the eternal divine dynamis, Tapas. The first part of this discipline and change can be firmly done in principle by the will of the mental being in us; but its full execution and the subsequent transformation can be done only when the deeper psychic soul increases its hold on the nature and replaces the mental being as its ruler. When this happens, he will be ready to make, not only with an aspiration and intention and an initial and progressive self-abandonment but with the most intense



actuality of dynamic self-giving, the complete renunciation of his works to the Supreme Will. By degrees his mind of an imperfect human intelligence will be replaced by a spiritual and illumined mind and that can in the end enter into the supramental Truth-Light; he will then no longer act from his nature of the Ignorance with its three modes of confused and imperfect activity, but from a diviner nature of spiritual calm, light, power and bliss. He will act not from an amalgam of an ignorant mind and will with the drive of a still more ignorant heart of emotion and the desire of the life-being and the urge and instinct of the flesh, but first from a spiritualised self and nature and, last, from a supramental Truth-Consciousness and its divine force of supernature.

Thus are made possible the final steps when the veil of Nature is withdrawn and the seeker is face to face with the Master of all existence and his activities are merged in the action of a supreme Energy which is pure, true, perfect and blissful for ever. Thus can he utterly renounce to the supramental Shakti his works as well as the fruits of his works a; id act only as the conscious instrument of the eternal Worker. No longer giving the sanction, he will rather receive in his instruments and follow in her hands a divine mandate. No longer doing works, he will accept their execution through him by her unsleeping Force. No longer willing the fulfilment of his own mental constructions and the satisfaction of his own emotional desires, he will obey and participate in an omnipotent Will that is also an omniscient Knowledge and a mysterious, magical and unfathomable Love and a vast bottomless sea of the eternal Bliss of Existence.

(Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Vol. 20, Centenary edition, Pondicherry, 1972, pp. 216-9.)


¹amśa sanātanaḥ, parā prakṛtir jivabhūtā



Appendix X

The supreme Form is then made visible. It is that of the infinite Godhead whose faces are everywhere and in whom are all the wonders of existence, who multiplies unendingly all the many marvellous revelations of his being, a world-wide Divinity seeing with innumerable eyes, speaking from innumerable mouths, armed for battle with numberless divine uplifted weapons, glorious with divine ornaments of beauty, robed in heavenly raiment of deity, lovely with garlands of divine flowers, fragrant with divine perfumes. Such is the light of this body of God as if a thousand suns had risen at once in heaven. The whole world multitudinously divided and yet unified is visible in the body of the God of Gods. Arjuna sees him. God magnificent and beautiful and terrible, the Lord of souls who has manifested in the glory and greatness of his spirit this wild and monstrous and orderly and wonderful and sweet and terrible world, and overcome with marvel and joy and fear he bows down and adores with words of awe and with clasped hands the tremendous vision. "I see" he cries "all the gods in thy body, , O God, and different companies of beings, Brahma the creating lord seated in the Lotus, and the Rishis and the race of the divine Serpents. I see numberless arms and bellies and eyes and faces, I see thy infinite forms on every side, but I see not thy end nor thy middle nor thy beginning, O Lord of the universe, O Form universal. I see thee crowned and with thy mace and thy discus, hard to discern because thou art a luminous mass of energy on all sides of me, an



encompassing blaze, a sun-bright fire-bright Immeasurable. Thou art the supreme Immutable whom we have to know, thou art the high foundation and abode of the universe, thou art the imperishable guardian of the eternal laws, thou art the sempiternal soul of existence."

But in the greatness of this vision there is too the terrific image of the Destroyer. This Immeasurable without end or middle or beginning is he in whom all things begin and exist and end. This Godhead who embraces the worlds with his numberless arms and destroys with his million hands, whose eyes are suns and moons, has a face of blazing fire and is ever burning up the whole universe with the flame of his energy. The form of him is fierce and marvellous and alone it fills all the regions and occupies the whole space between earth and heaven. The companies of the gods enter it, afraid, adoring; the Rishis and the Siddhas crying "May there be peace and weal" praise it with many praises; the eyes of Gods and Titans and Giants are fixed on it in amazement. It has enormous burning eyes; it has mouths that gape to devour, terrible with many tusks of destruction; it has faces like the fires of Death and Time. The kings and the captains and the heroes on both sides of the world-battle are hastening into its tusked and terrible jaws and some are seen with crushed and bleeding heads caught between its teeth of power; the nations are rushing to destruction with helpless speed into its mouths of flame like many rivers hurrying in their course towards the ocean or like moths that cast themselves on a kindled fire. With those burning mouths the Form of Dread is licking all the regions around; the whole world is full of his burning energies and baked in the fierceness of his lustres. The world and its nations are shaken and in anguish with the terror of destruction and Arjuna shares in the trouble and panic around him; troubled and in pain is the soul within him and he finds no peace or gladness. He cries to the dreadful Godhead, "Declare to me who thou art that wearest this form of fierceness. Salutation to thee, O thou great Godhead, turn thy heart to grace. I would know who thou art who wast from the beginning, for I know not the will of thy workings."

This last cry of Arjuna indicates the double intention in the vision. This is the figure of the supreme and universal Being, the Ancient of Days who is for ever, sanātanaṁ puruṣaṁ purāṇam, this is he who for ever creates, for Brahma the Creator is one of the Godheads seen in his body, he who keeps the world always in existence, for he is the guardian of the eternal laws, but who is always too destroying in order that he may new-create, who is Time, who is Death, who is Rudra the Dancer of the calm and awful dance, who is Kali with her garland of skulls trampling naked in battle and flecked with the blood of the slaughtered Titans, who is the cyclone and the fire and the earthquake and-pain and famine and revolution and ruin and the swallowing ocean.

(Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, vol. 13, Centenary edition,

Pondicherry, 1972, pp. 365-6)



Appendix XI


I have thrown from me the whirling dance of mind

And stand now in the spirit's silence free;

Timeless and deathless beyond creature-kind,

The centre of my own eternity.

I have escaped and the small self is dead;

I am immortal, alone, ineffable;

I have gone out from the universe I made,

And have grown nameless and immeasurable.

My mind is hushed in a wide and endless light,

My heart a solitude of delight and peace,

My sense unsnared by touch and sound and sight,

My body a point in white infinities.

I am the one Being's sole immobile Bliss:

No one I am, I who am all that is.


¹ (Sri Aurobindo, Collected Poems, vol. 5, Centenary edition, Pondicherry, 1972, p. 133



Appendix XII


I walked on the high-wayed Seat of Solomon

Where Shankaracharya's tiny temple stands

Facing Infinity from Time's edge, alone

On the bare ridge ending earth's vain romance.

Around me was a formless solitude:

All had become one strange Unnamable,

An unborn sole Reality world-nude,

Topless and fathomless, for ever still.

A Silence that was Being's only word,

The unknown beginning and the voiceless end

Abolishing all things moment-seen or heard,

On an incommunicable summit reigned,

A lonely Calm and void unchanging Peace.

On the dumb crest of Nature's mysteries.




All is abolished but the mute Alone.

The mind from thought released, the heart from grief

Grow inexistent now beyond belief;

There is no I, no Nature, known-unknown.

The city, a shadow picture without tone,

Floats, quivers unreal; forms without relief

Flow, a cinema's vacant shapes; like a reef

Foundering in shoreless gulfs the world is done.

Only the illimitable Permanent

Is here. A Peace stupendous, featureless, still,

Replaces all, — what once was I, in It

A silent unnamed emptiness content

Either to fade in the Unknowable

Or thrill with the luminous seas of the Infinite.


¹ (Sri Aurobindo, Collected Poems, vol. 5, Centenary edition, Pondicherry, 1972, p. 153.

² Sri Aurobindo, Collected Poems, vol. 5, Centenary edition, Pondicherry, 1972, p. 161



Appendix XIII

Love Mad¹*

The poetic image used in the following verses is characteristically Indian. The mother of a love-stricken girl (symbolising the human soul yearning to merge into the Godhead) is complaining to her friend of the sad plight of her child whom love for Krishna has rendered "mad”— the effect of the "madness” being that in all things she is able to see nothing but forms of Krishna —,the ultimate Spirit of the universe.

The Realisation of God in all things by the Vision of Divine Love.

1. Seated, she caresses Earth and cries, "This earth is Vishnu's";

Salutes the sky and bids us "behold the Heaven He ruleth";

Or standing with tear-filled eyes cries aloud, "O sea hued Lord!"

All helpless am I, my friends; my child He has rendered mad.

2. Or joining her hands she fancies "The Sea where my Lord reposes !"

Or hailing the ruddy Sun she cries: "Yes, this is His form",

Languid, she bursts into tears and mutters Narayan's name.



I am dazed at the things she is doing, my gazelle, thy child shaped god-like.

3. Knowing, she embraces red Fire, is scorched and, cries "O Deathless!"

And she hugs the Wind; '"Tis my own Govinda", she tells us.

She smells of the honied Tuisi, my gazelle-like child. Ah me!

How many the pranks she plays for my sinful eyes to behold.

4. The rising moon she showeth, '"Tis the shining gem-hued Krishna!"

Or, eyeing the standing hill, she cries: "O come, high Vishnu!"

It rains; and she dances and cries out "He hath come, the God of my love!"

O the mad conceits He hath given to my tender, dear one!

5. The soft-limbed calf she embraces, for "Such did Krishna tend",

And follows the gliding serpent, explaining "That is His couch".

I know not where this will end, this folly's play in my sweet one

Afflicted, ay, for my sins, by Him, the Divine Magician.

6. Where tumblers dance with their pots, she runs and cries "Govinda";

At the charming notes of a flute she faints, for "Krishna, He playeth."

When cowherd dames bring butter, she is sure it was tasted by Him, —

So mad for the Lord who sucked out the Demoness' life through her bosom!



7. In rising madness she raves, "All worlds are by Krishna made"

And she runs after folk ash-smeared; forsooth, they serve high Vishnu!

Or she looks at the fragrant Tulsi and claims Narayan's garland.

She is ever for Vishnu, my darling, or in, or out of her wits.

8. And in all your wealthy princes she but sees the Lord of Lakshmi.

At the sight of beautiful colours, she cries, "O my Lord world-scanning!"

And all the shrines in the land, to her, are shrines of Vishnu.

In awe and in love, unceasing, she adores the feet of that Wizard.

9. All Gods and saints are Krishna — Devourer of infinite Space!

And the huge, dark clouds are Krishna; all fain would she fly to reach them.

Or the kine, they graze on the meadow and thither she runs to find Him.

The Lord of Illisions, He makes my dear one pant and rave.

10. Languid she stares around her or gazes afar into space; She sweats and with eyes full of tears she sighs and faints away;

Rising, she speaks but His name and cries, "Do come, O Lord."

Ah, what shall I do with my poor child o'erwhelmed by this maddest love?

* Nammalwar



Translations - Tamil - Andal

I dreamed a dream²

I dreamed a dream,O friend.

The wedding was fixed for the morrow. And He, the Lion, Madhava, the young Bull whom they call the master of radiances, He came into the hall of wedding decorated with luxuriant palms.

I dreamed a dream, O friend.

And the throng of the Gods was there with Indra, the Mind Divine, at their head. And in the shrine they declared me bride and clad me in a new robe of affirmation. And Inner Force is the name of the goddess who adorned me with the garland of the wedding.

I dreamed a dream, O friend.

There were beatings of the drum and blowings of the conch; and under the canopy hung heavily with strings of pearls He came, my lover and my lord, the vanquisher of the demon Madhu and grasped me by the hand.

I dreamed a dream, O friend.

Those whose voices are blest, they sang the Vedic songs. The holy grass was laid. The sun was established. And He who was puissant like a war-elephant in its rage, He seized my hand and we paced round the Flame.



Ye Others³

Ye others cannot conceive of the love that I bear to Krishna. And your warnings to me are vain like the pleadings of the deaf and mute. The Boy who left his mother's home and was reared by a different mother, — Oh, take me forth to his city of Mathura where He won the field without fighting the battle and leave me there.

Of no further avail is modesty. For all the neighbours have known of this fully. Would ye really heal me of this ailing and restore me to my pristine state? Then know ye this illness will go if I see Him, the maker of illusions, the youthful one who measured the world. Should you really wish to save me, then take me forth to his home in the hamlet of the cowherds and leave me there.

The rumour is already spread over the land that I fled with Him and went the lonely way, leaving all of you behind—my parents, relations and friends. The tongue of scandal ye can hardly silence now. And He, the deceiver, is haunting me with his forms. Oh, take me forth at midnight to the door of the Cowherd named Bliss who owns this son, the maker of havoc, this mocker, this pitiless player; and leave me there.

Oh, grieve not ye, my mothers. Others know little of this strange malady of mine. He whose hue is that of the blue sea, a certain youth called Krishna — the gentle caress of his hand can heal me, for his Yoga is sure and proved.

On the bank of the waters he ascended the Kadamba tree and he leaped to his dance on the hood of the snake, the dance that killed the snake. Oh take me forth to the bank of



that lake and leave me there.

There is a parrot here in this cage of mine that ever calls out his name, saying 'Govinda, Govinda'. In anger I chide it and refuse to feed it. 'O Thou' it then cries, in its highest pitch, 'O Thou who hast measured the worlds.' I tell you, my people, if ye really would avoid the top of scandal in all this wide country, if still ye would guard your weal and your good fame, then take me forth to his city of Dwaraka of high mansion and decorated turrets; and leave me there.



Translations Bengali - Horu - Thakur4


The soul longs for reunion with God, without whom the sweetnesses of love and life are vain.

All day and night in lonely anguish wasting

The heart's wish to the lips unceasing comes, —

"O that I had a bird's wings to go hasting

Where that dark wanderer roams!

I should behold the flute on loved lips resting."

Where shall 1 find him, joy in his sweet kisses?

How shall I hope my love's feet to embrace?

O void is home and vain affection's bliss is

Without the one loved face,

Crishna who has nor home nor kindred misses.



Translations Bengali Bidyapati5


How shall I tell of Caanou's beauty bright?

Men will believe it a vision of the night.

As lightning was his saffron garment blown

Over the beautiful cloud-limbs half shown.

His coal-black curls assumed with regal grace

A peacock's plume above that moonlike face.

And such a fragrance fierce the mad wind wafts

Love wakes and trembles for his flowery shafts.

Yea, what shall words do, friend? Love's whole estate

Exhausted was that wonder to create.



Selected Poems of Jnanadas 6

The soul, as yet divided from the Eternal, yet having caught a glimpse of his intoxicating beauty grows passionate in remembrance and swoons with the sensuous expectation of union.

O beauty meant all hearts to move!

O body made for girls to kiss!

In every limb an idol of love,

A spring of passion and of bliss.

The eyes that once his beauty see,

Poor eyes! can never turn away,

The heart follows him ceaselessly

Like a wild beast behind its prey.

Not to be touched those limbs, alas!

They are another's nest of joy.

But ah their natural loveliness!

Ah God, the dark, the wonderful boy!

His graceful sportive motion sweet

Is as an ornament to earth,

And from his lovely pacing feet

Beauties impossible take birth.

Catching one look not long nor sure,

One look of casual glory shed,

How many noble maidens pure

Lay down on love as on a bed.

The heart within the heart deep hid

He ravishes; almost in play

One looks, — ere falling of the lid,

Her heart has gone with him away!



Oh if his eyes wake such sweet pain

That even sleep will not forget,

What dreadful sweetness waits me when

Body and passionate body meet.



Translations - Bengali - Jnanadas 7


The human soul, in a moment of rapt excitement when the robe of sense has fallen from it, is surprised and seized by the vision of the Eternal.

I will lay bare my heart's whole flame,

To thee, heart's sister, yea the whole.

The dark-hued limbs I saw in dream,

To these I have given my body and soul.

It was a night of wildest showers;

Ever incessant and amain

The heavens thundered through the hours,

Outside was pattering of the rain.

Exulting in the lightning's gleams,

Joyous, I lay down on my bed;

The dress had fallen from my limbs,

I slept with rumours overhead.

The peacocks in the treetops high

Between their gorgeous dances shrilled,

The cuckoo cried exultantly,

The frogs were clamorous in the field;

And ever with insistent chime

The bird of rumour shrieking fled

Amidst the rain, at such a time

A vision stood beside my bed.

He moved like fire into my soul,

The love of him became a part



Of being, and oh his whispers stole

Murmuring in and filled my heart.

His loving ways, his tender wiles,

The hearts that feel, ah me! so burn

That maidens pure with happy smiles

From shame and peace and honour turn.

The lustre of his looks effaced

The moon, of many lovely moods

He is the master; on his breast

There was a wreath of jasmine buds.

Holding my feet, down on the bed

He sat; my breasts were fluttering birds;

His hands upon my limbs, he laid,

He bought me for his slave with words.

O me! his eyebrows curved like bows!

O me! his panther body bright!

Love from his sidelong glances goes

And takes girls prisoners at sight.

He speaks with little magic smiles

That force a girl's heart from her breast.

How many sweet ways he beguiles,

I know; they cannot be expressed.

Burning he tore me from my bed

And to his passionate bosom clutched;

I could not speak a word; he said

Nothing, his lips and my lips touched.

My body almost swooned away

And from my heart went fear and shame

And maiden pride; panting I lay;

He was around me like a flame.8



Selected Poems of Chandidas 9

Love, but my words are vain as air!

In my sweet joyous youth, a heart untried,

Thou took'st me in Love's sudden snare,

Thou wouldst not let me in my home abide.

And now I have nought else to try,

But I will make my soul one strong desire

And into Ocean leaping die:

So shall my heart be cooled of all its fire.

Die and be born to life again

As Nanda's son, the joy of Braja's girls,

And I will make thee Radha then,

A laughing child's face set with lovely curls.

Then I will love thee and then leave;

Under the Codome's boughs when thou goest by

Bound to the water morn or eve,

Lean on that tree fluting melodiously.

Thou shalt hear me and fall at sight

Under my charm; my voice shall wholly move

Thy simple girl's heart to delight;

Then shalt thou know the bitterness of love.


¹ (Sri Aurobindo, Translations, vol. 8, Centenary edition, Pondicherry, 1972, pp. 400-1

². Sri Aurobindo, Translations, vol. 8, Centenary edition, Pondicherry, 1972, p. 405.

³ Sri Aurobindo, Translations, vol. 8, Centenary edition, Pondicherry, 1972, p. 406.

4 Sri Aurobindo, Translations, vol. 8, Centenary edition, Pondicherry, 1972, p. 286.



5 Sri Aurobindo, Translations, vol. 8, Centenary edition, Pondicherry, 1972, p. 229.

6 Sri Aurobindo, Translations, vol. S, Centenary edition, Pondicherry, 1972, pp. 289-290.

7 Sri Aurobindo, Translations, vol. 8, Centenary edition, Pondicherry, 1972, pp. 297-8.

8 And felt him round me like a flame.

9 Sri Aurobindo, Translations, vol. 8, Centenary edition, Pondicherry, 1972, p.301.



Appendix XIV

It is only when we follow the yogic process of quieting the mind itself that a profounder result of our self- observation becomes possible. For first we discover that mind is a subtle substance, a general determinate — or generic indeterminate — which mental energy when it operates throws into forms or particular determinations of itself, thoughts, concepts, percepts, mental sentiments, activities of will and reactions of feeling, but which, when the energy is quiescent, can live either in an inert torpor or in an immobile silence and peace of self-existence. Next we see that the determinations of our mind do not all proceed from itself; for waves and currents of mental energy enter into it from outside: these take form in it or appear already formed from some universal Mind or from other minds and are accepted by us as our own thinking. We can perceive also an occult or subliminal mind in ourselves from which thoughts and perceptions and will-impulses and mental feelings arise; we can perceive too higher planes of consciousness from which a superior mind energy works through us or upon us. Finally we discover that that which observes all this is a mental being supporting the mind substance and mind energy; without this presence, their upholder and source of sanctions, they could not exist or operate. This mental being or Purusha first appears as a silent witness and, if that were all, we would have to accept the determinations of mind as a phenomenal activity imposed upon the being by Nature, by Prakriti. or else as a creation presented to it by Prakriti, a world of thought which Nature



constructs and offers to the observing Purusha. But afterwards we find that the Purusha, the mental being, can depart from its posture of a silent or accepting Witness; it can become the source of reactions, accept, reject, even rule and regulate, become the giver of the command, the knower. A knowledge also arises that this mind-substance manifests the mental being, is its own expressive substance and the mental energy is its own consciousness-force, so that it is reasonable to conclude that all mind determinations arise from the being of the Purusha. But this conclusion is complicated by the fact that from another viewpoint our personal mind seems to be little more than a formation of universal Mind, an engine for the reception, modification, propagation of cosmic thought-waves, idea-currents, will- suggestions, waves of feeling, sense-suggestions, form- suggestions. It has no doubt its own already realised expression, predispositions, propensities, personal temperament and nature; what comes from the universal can only find a place there if it is accepted and assimilated into the self-expression of the individual mental being, the personal Prakriti of the Purusha. But still, in view of these complexities, the question remains entire whether all this evolution and action is a phenomenal creation by some universal Energy presented to the mental being or an activity imposed by Mind-Energy on the Purusha's indeterminate, perhaps indeterminable existence, or whether the whole is something predetermined by some dynamic truth of Self within and only manifested on the mind surface. To know that we would have to touch or to enter into a cosmic state of being and consciousness to which the totality of things and their integral principle would be better manifest than to our limited mind experience.



Overmind consciousness is such a state or principle beyond individual mind, beyond even universal mind in the Ignorance; it carries in itself a first direct and masterful cognition of cosmic truth: here then we might hope to understand something of the original working of things set some insight into the fundamental movements of cosmic Nature. One thing indeed becomes clear; it is self-evident here that both the individual and the cosmos come from a transcendent Reality which takes form in them: the mind and life of the individual being, its self in nature must therefore be a partial self-expression of the cosmic Being and, both through that and directly, a self-expression of the transcendent Reality, — a conditional and half-veiled expression it may be, but still that is its significance. But also we see that what the expression shall be is also determined by the individual himself: only what he can in his nature receive, assimilate, formulate, his portion of the cosmic being or of the Reality, can find shape in his mind and life and physical parts; something that derives from Reality, something that is in the cosmos he expresses, but in the terms of his own self-expression, in the terms of his own nature. But the original question set out for us by the phenomenon of the universe is not solved by the overmind knowledge, — the question, in this case, whether the building of thought, experience, world of perceptions of the mental Person, the mind Purusha, is truly a self-expression, a self-determination proceeding from some truth of his own spiritual being, a manifestation of that truth's dynamic possibilities, or whether it is not rather a creation or construction presented to him by Nature, by Prakriti, and only in the sense of being individualised in his personal formation of that Nature can it be said to be his own or



dependent on him; or, again, it might be a play of a cosmic Imagination, a fantasia of the Infinite imposed on the blank indeterminable of his own eternal pure existence. These are the three views of creation that seem to have an equal chance of being right, and mind is incapable of definitely deciding between them; for each view is armed with its own mental logic and its appeal to intuition and experience. Overmind seems to add to the perplexity, for the overmental view of things allows each possibility to formulate itself in its own independent right and realise its own existence in cognition, in dynamic self-presentation, in substantiating experience.

In Overmind, in all the higher ranges of the mind, we find recurring the dichotomy of a pure silent self without feature or qualities or relations, self-existent, self-poised, self-sufficient, and the mighty dynamis of a determinative knowledge-power, of a creative consciousness and force which precipitates itself into the forms of the universe. This opposition which is yet a collocation, as if these two were correlatives or complementaries, although apparent contradictions of each other, sublimates itself into the co- existence of an impersonal Brahman without qualities, a fundamental divine Reality free from all relations or determinates, and a Brahman with infinite qualities, a fundamental divine Reality who is the source and container and master of all relations and determinations — Nirguna, Saguna. If we pursue the Nirguna into a farthest possible self-experience, we arrive at a supreme Absolute void of all relations and determinations, the ineffable first and last word of existence. If we enter through the Saguna into some ultimate possible of experience, we arrive at a divine Absolute, a personal supreme and omnipresent Godhead, transcendent as well as universal, an infinite Master of all



relations and determinations who can uphold in his being a million universes and pervade each with a single ray of his self-light and a single degree of his ineffable existence. The overmind consciousness maintains equally these two truths of the Eternal which face the mind as mutually exclusive alternatives; it admits both as supreme aspects of one Reality: somewhere, then, behind them there must be a still greater Transcendence which originates them or upholds them both in its supreme Eternity. But what can that be of which such opposites are equal truths, unless it be an original indeterminable Mystery of which any knowledge, any 'understanding by the mind is impossible? We can know it indeed to some degree, in some kind of experience or realisation, by its aspects, powers, constant series of fundamental negatives and positives through which we have to pursue it, independently in either or integrally in both together; but in the last resort it seems to escape even from the highest mentality and remain unknowable.

But if the supreme Absolute is indeed a pure Indeterminable, then no creation, no manifestation, no universe is possible. And yet the universe exists. What then is it that creates this contradiction, is able to effect the impossible, bring this insoluble riddle of self-division into existence? A Power of some kind it must be, and since the Absolute is the sole reality, the one origin of all things, this Power must proceed from it, must have some relation with it, a connection, a dependence. For if it is quite other than the supreme Reality, a cosmic Imagination imposing its determinations on the eternal blank of the Indeterminable, then the sole existence of an absolute Parabrahman is no longer admissible; there is then a dualism at the source of things, — not substantially different from the Sankhya



dualism of Soul and Nature. If it is a Power, the sole Power indeed, of the Absolute, we have this logical impossibility that the existence of the Supreme Being and the Power of his existence are entirely opposite to each other, two supreme contradictories; for Brahman is free from all possibility of relations and determinations, but Maya is a creative Imagination imposing these very things upon it, an originator of relations and determinations of which Brahman must necessarily be the supporter and witness, — to the logical reason an inadmissible formula. If it is accepted, it can only be as a suprarational mystery, something neither real nor unreal, inexplicable in its nature, anirvacanīya. But the difficulties are so great that it can be accepted only if it imposes itself irresistibly as the inevitable ultimate, the end and summit of metaphysical inquiry and spiritual experience. For even if all things are illusory creations, they must have at least a subjective existence and they can exist nowhere except in the consciousness of the Sole Existence; they are then subjective determinations of the Indeterminable. If, on the contrary, the determinations of this Power are real creations, out of what are they determined, what is their substance? It is not possible that they are made out of a Nothing, a Non-Existence other than the Absolute; for that will erect a new dualism, a great positive Zero over against the greater indeterminable x we have supposed to be the one Reality. It is evident therefore that the Reality cannot be a rigid Indeterminable. Whatever is created must be of it and in it, and what is of the substance of the utterly Real must itself be real: a vast baseless negation of reality purporting to be real cannot be the sole outcome of the eternal Truth, the Infinite Existence. It is perfectly understandable that the Absolute is and must be indeterminable in the sense that it



cannot be limited by any determination or any sum of possible determinations, but not in the sense that it is incapable of self-determination. The Supreme Existence cannot be incapable of creating true self-determinations of its being, incapable of upholding a real self-creation or manifestation in its self-existent infinite.

Overmind, then, gives us no final and positive solution; it is in a supramental cognition beyond it that we are left to seek for an answer. A supramental Truth-Consciousness is at once the self-awareness of the Infinite and Eternal and a power of self-determination inherent in that self-awareness; the first is its foundation and status, the second is its power of being, the dynamis of its self-existence. All that a timeless eternity of self-awareness sees in itself as truth of being, the conscious power of its being manifests in Time-eternity. To Supermind therefore the Supreme is not a rigid Indeterminable, an all-negating Absolute; an infinite of being complete to itself in its own immutable purity of existence, its sole power a pure consciousness able only to dwell on the being's changeless eternity, on the immobile delight of its sheer self-existence, is not the whole Reality. The Infinite of Being must also be an Infinite of Power; containing in itself an eternal repose and quiescence, it must also be capable of an eternal action and creation: but this too must be an action in itself, a creation out of its own self eternal and infinite, since there could be nothing else out of which it could create; any basis of creation seeming to be other than itself must be still really in itself and of itself and could not be something foreign to its existence. An infinite Power cannot be solely a Force resting in a pure inactive sameness, an immutable quiescence; it must have in it endless powers of its being and energy: an infinite Consciousness must hold within it



endless truths of its own self-awareness. These in action would appear to our cognition as aspects of its being, to our spiritual sense as powers and movements of its dynamis, to our aesthesis as instruments and formulations of its delight of existence. Creation would then be a self-manifestation: it would be an ordered deploying of the infinite possibilities of the Infinite. But every possibility implies a truth of being behind it, a reality in the Existent; for without that supporting truth there could not be any possibles. In manifestation a fundamental reality of the Existent would appear to our cognition as a fundamental spiritual aspect of the Divine Absolute; out of it would emerge all its possible manifestations, its innate dynamisms: these again must create or rather bring out of a non-manifest latency their own significant forms, expressive powers, native processes; their own being would develop their own becoming, svarūpa, svabhāva. This then would be the complete process of creation: but in our mind we do not see the complete process, we see only possibilities that determine themselves into actualities and, though we infer or conjecture, we are not sure of a necessity, a predetermining truth, an imperative behind them which capacitates the possibilities, decides the actualities. Our mind is an observer of actuals, an inventor or discoverer of possibilities, but not a seer of the occult imperatives that necessitate the movements and forms of a creation: for in the front of universal existence there are only forces determining results by some balance of the meeting of their powers; the original Determinant or determinants, if it or they exist, are veiled from us by our ignorance. But to the supramental Truth-Consciousness these imperatives would be apparent, would be the very stuff of its seeing and experience: in the supramental creative process the



imperatives, the nexus of possibilities, the resultant actualities would be a single whole, an indivisible movement; the possibilities and actualities would carry in themselves the inevitability of their originating imperative, — all their results, all their creation would be the body of the Truth which they manifest in predetermined significant forms and powers of the All-Existence.

Our fundamental cognition of the Absolute, our substantial spiritual experience of it is the intuition or the direct experience of an infinite and eternal Existence, an infinite and eternal Consciousness, an infinite and eternal Delight of Existence. In overmental and mental cognition it is possible to make discrete and even to separate this original unity into three self-existent aspects: for we can experience a pure causeless eternal Bliss so intense that we are that alone; existence, consciousness seem to be swallowed up in it, no longer ostensibly in presence; a similar experience of pure and absolute consciousness and a similar exclusive identity with it is possible, and there can be too a like identifying experience of pure and absolute existence. But to a supermind cognition these three are always an inseparable Trinity, even though one can stand in front of the others and manifest its own spiritual determinates; for each has its primal aspects or its inherent self-formations, but all of these together are original to the triune Absolute. Love, Joy and Beauty are the fundamental determinates of the Divine Delight of Existence, and we can see at once that these are of the very stuff and nature of that Delight: they are not alien impositions on the being of the Absolute or creations supported by it but outside it; they are truths of its being, native to its consciousness, powers of its force of existence. So too is it with the fundamental determinates of



the absolute consciousness, — knowledge and will; they are truths and powers of the original Consciousness-Force and are inherent in its very nature. This authenticity becomes still more evident when we regard the fundamental spiritual determinates of the absolute Existence; they are its triune powers, necessary first postulates for all its self-creation or manifestation, — Self, the Divine, the Conscious Being; Atman, Ishwara, Purusha.¹


¹ (Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, vol. 18, Centenary edition, Pondicherry, 1972, pp. 308-315



Appendix XV

"Right in the midst between either host set thou my car, O unfallen. Let me scan these who stand arrayed and greedy for battle; let me know who must wage war with me in this great holiday of fight. Fain would I see who are these that are here for combat to do in battle the will of Dhritarashtra's witless son."

Thus, O Bharata, to Hrishikesha Gudakesha said, who set in the midst between either army the noble car, in front of Bhishma and Drona and all those kings of earth.

"Lo, O Partha," he said, "all these Kurus met in one field!" There Partha saw fathers and grandsires stand, and teachers and uncles and brothers and sons and grandsons and dear comrades, and fathers of wives and heart's friends, all in either battle opposed. And when the son of Coonty beheld all these dear friends and kindred facing each other in war, his heart was besieged with utter pity and failed him, and he said,

"O Krishna, I behold these kinsmen and friends arrayed in hostile arms and my limbs sink beneath me and my face grows dry, and there are shudderings in my body, and my hair stands on end, Gandeva falls from my hand and my very skin is on fire. Yea, I cannot stand and my brain whirls, and evil omens, O Keshava, meet mine eyes. I can see no blessing for me, having slain my kin in fight. I desire not victory, O Krishna, no nor kingship nor delights. What shall we do with kingship, O Govinda, what with enjoyments,



what with life? They for whose sake we desire kingship and enjoyments and delight, lo they all stand in battle against us casting behind them their riches and lives, our teachers and our fathers and our sons, our grandsires and uncles and the fathers of our wives, and our grandsons and our wives' brothers and the kin of our beloved. These, though they slay me, O Madhushudan, I would not slay, no not for the empire of heaven and space and hell, much less for this poor earth of ours. Slaying the sons of Dhritarashtra what joy would be left to us, O Janardana? Sin, sin alone would find lodging in us, if we slew these, though our adversaries and foes. Therefore we do not right to slay the children of Dhritarashtra and their friends, for how can we be happy, O Madhava, if we slay our kin? Even though these see not, for their hearts are swept away by greed, error done in the ruin of our house and grievous sin in treachery to natural friends, how shall we not understand and turn back from this sin, we who have eyes, O Janardana, for error done in the ruin of our house? When the family dwindle, the eternal ideals of the race are lost, and when ideals are lost, unrighteousness besets the whole race; in the prevalence of unrighteousness, O Krishna, the women of the race go astray, and when women grow corrupt, bastard confusion is born again; but confusion brings the slayers of the race and the race itself to very hell; for the long line of fathers perish and the food ceaseth and the water is given no more. By these sins who bring their race to perdition, fathers they of bastard confusion, the eternal ideals of the nation and the hearth are overthrown, and for men who have lost the ancient righteousness of the race, in hell an eternal habitation is set apart, it is told. Alas, a dreadful sin have we set ourselves to do, that we have made ready, from greed of lordship and pleasure, to slay our own kin. Yea, even if the



sons of Dhritarashtra slay me with their armed hands, me unarmed and unresisting, it were better and more fortunate for me than this."

Thus spake Urjoona, and in the very battle's heart sat down upon his chariot seat, and let fall his bow when the arrow was on the string, for his soul was perplexed with grief.


To him thus besieged with pity and his eyes full bewildered with crowding tears, to him weak with sorrow, Madhusudan spake this word.


"Whence hath this stain of darkness come upon thee in the very crisis and the stress, O Urjoona, this weakness unheavenly, inglorious, beloved of un-Aryan minds? Fall not into coward impotence, O Partha; not on thee does that sit well; fling from thee the miserable weakness of thy hearts O scourge of thy foes."


"How shall I combat Bhishma in the fight and Drona, O Madhusudan, how shall I smite with arrows those venerable heads? Better were it, not piercing these great and worshipped hearts to eat even a beggar's bread on this our earth. I slay our earthly wealth and bliss when I slay these; bloodstained will be the joys I shall taste. Therefore we know not which of these is better, that we should be victors or that we should be vanquished: for they whom slaying we should have no heart to live, lo, they Dhritarashtrians face us in the



foeman's van. Pain and unwillingness have swept me from my natural self, my heart is bewildered as to right and wrong: thee then I question. Tell me what would surely be my good, for I am thy disciple; teach me, for in thee I have sought my refuge. I see not what shall banish from me the grief that parcheth up the senses, though I win on earth rich kingship without rival and empire over the very gods in heaven."

Thus Gudakesha to Hrishikesha; the scourger of his foe said unto Govinda, "I will not fight", and ceased from words. On him thus overcome with weakness in the midmost of either battle.¹


¹(Sri Aurobindo, Translations, vol. 8, (Original in Sanskrit by Vyasa) Centenary edition, Pondicherry, 1972, pp. 78-80



Kireet Joshi (b. 1931) studied philosophy and law at the Bombay University. He was selected for the I.A.S. in 1955 but in 1956, he resigned in order to devote himself at Pondicherry to the study and practice of the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. He taught Philosophy and Psychology at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education at Pondicherry and participated in numerous educational experiments under the direct guidance of The Mother.

In 1976, the Government of India invited him to be Education Advisor in the Ministry of Education. In 1983, he was appointed Special Secretary to the Government of India, and he held the post until 1988. He was Member- Secretary of Indian Council of Philosophical Research from 1981 to 1990. He was also Member-Secretary of Rashtriya Veda Vidya
Pratishthan from 1987 to 1993. He was the Vice-Chairman of the UNESCO Institute of Education, Hamburg, from 1987 to 1989. From 1999 to 2004, he was the Chairman of Auroville Foundation. From 2000 to 2006, he was Chairman of Indian Council of Philosophical Research. From 2006 to 2008, he was Editorial Fellow of the Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture (PHISPC).

Currently, he is Education Advisor to the Chief Minister of Gujarat.



Other Titles in the Series

The New Synthesis of Yoga - An Introduction

Significance of Indian Yoga - An Overview

A Pilgrim's Quest for the Highest and the Best

Synthesis of Yoga in the Veda

Synthesis of Yoga in the Upanishads

The Gita and Its Synthesis of Yoga

Integral Yoga of Transformation:

Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental

Supermind in the Integral Yoga

Integral Yoga and Evolutionary Mutation

Integral Yoga, Evolution and the Next Species



Also by Kireet Joshi

Education for Character Development .

Education for Tomorrow

Education at Crossroads

A National Agenda for Education

Sri Aurobindo and Integral Yoga

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother

Landmarks of Hinduism

The Veda and Indian Culture

Glimpses of Vedic Literature

The Portals of Vedic Knowledge

Bhagavadgita and Contemporary Crisis

Philosophy and Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and Other Essays

A Philosophy of the Role of the Contemporary Teacher

A Philosophy of Evolution for the Contemporary Man

A Philosophy of Education for the Contemporary Youth



Edited by Kireet Joshi

The Aim of Life

The Good Teacher and the Good Pupil

Mystery and Excellence of Human Body

Gods and the World


Uniting Men - Jean Monnet

Joan of Arc

Nala and Damayanti

Alexander the Great

Siege of Troy

Aurobindo and Ilion

Catherine the Great

Parvati 's Tapasya

Sri Krishna in Vrindavan



Sri Rama

Compiled by Kireet Joshi

On Materialism

Towards Universal Fraternity

Let us Dwell on Human Unity




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