Man is a transitional being;
he is not final.
The step from man to superman
is the next approaching
achievement in the earth's
It is inevitable because it is
at once the intention of the inner
Spirit and the logic of Nature's
At the feet of Truth
Or we may find
when all the rest has failed
Hid in ourselves
the key of perfect change
The secrets are simple.
Because Truth is simple. It is the simplest thing in the world - that is why we do not see it. There is but one Thing in the world, not two, as the modern physicists and mathematicians have begun to realize, and as a child well knows as he smiles at the waves on a sun-swept beach where the same foam seems to have rolled in since the beginning of time, recalling a great rhythm that wells up out of ancient memory and weaves days and sorrows into a single story, so old it feels like an unchanging presence, so encompassing in its immensity it even embraces the glides of a sea gull. And everything is contained in one second, the sum of all ages and all souls, all within one simple little point glistening for an instant on the wild foam. But we have lost that point, and that smile, and the singing second. So we have tried to restore that Oneness by addition: 1+1+1 . . . like our computers, as if adding up all possible knowledge from everyconceivable direction would finally yield the right note, the one note that brings forth song and moves the worlds and the heart of a forgotten child. We have tried to manufacture that Simplicity for every pocketbook, but the more we multiplied our clever push buttons, to simplify life, the farther away the bird flew, and the smile - even the sparkling foam is polluted by our equations. We are not even entirely sure our body is still ours - the beautiful Machine has devoured everything.
Yet that one Thing is also the one and only Power because what shines in one point shines also in all other points. Once that is understood, all the rest is understood; there is but one Power in the world, not two. Even a child knows that: he is king, he is invulnerable. But the child grows up; he forgets. And men have grown up, and nations and civilizations, each in its own way seeking the Great Secret, the simple secret - through war and conquest, through meditation or magic, through beauty, religion or science. Though, in truth, we do not know who is most advanced: the Acropolis builder, the Theban magician, the Cape Kennedy astronaut, or the Cistercian monk, for one has rejected life in order to understand it, one has embraced it without understanding it, another has left a trace of beauty, and still another, a white trail in a changeless sky - we are merely the last on the list, that's all. And we still have not found our magic. The point, the potent little point, is still there on the open beach of the world; it shines for whoever will seize it, just as it shone before we were humans under the stars.
Others, however, have touched the Secret. Perhaps the Greeks knew it, and the Egyptians, and certainly the Indian Rishis of Vedic times. But secrets are like flowers on a beautiful tree; they have their season, their unseen growth and sudden blossoming. There is a "time" for everything, for the conjunction of stars above our heads and the passage of the cormorant over the foam-flecked rock, and perhaps even for that foam itself, cast up for an instant from the swell of the wave; everything moves according to a single rite. And so do men. A secret, that is, a knowledge and power, has its own organic time; one little cell more evolved than others cannot embody the power of its knowledge, that is, change the world, hasten the blossoming of the great tree, unless the rest of the evolutionary terrain is ready.
But the time has come.
It has come, it is bursting out all over the earth, even if the unseen flower still looks like a festering boil: students behead Gandhi's statue in Calcutta, the old gods crumble, minds fed on intellect and philosophy cry for destruction and invite the outland Barbarians to help them break their own prison, just as the ancient Romans did; others call for chemical paradises - any way is better than this one! And the earth gasps and groans through all its cracks, its countless cracks, through all the cells of its great body in transformation. The so-called evil of our time is a new birth in disguise, which we do not know how to handle. We are before a new evolutionary crisis as radical as must have been the first human aberration among the great apes.
But since the terrestrial body is one, the remedy is one, like Truth, and a single point transmuted will transmute all the others. That point, however, is not to be found in the improvement of our laws, our systems or sciences, our religions, schools of thought or many-hued isms - all those are part of the old Machinery; not a single nut needs to be tightened, added or improved anywhere: we are suffocating in the extreme. Moreover, that point has nothing to do with our intelligence - that is what has contrived the whole Machine in the first place - or even with improving Man, which would amount only to glorifying his weaknesses and past greatness. "The imperfection of Man is not the last word of Nature," said Sri Aurobindo, "but his perfection too is not the last peak of the Spirit." Indeed, this point lies in a future beyond the grasp of our intelligence, but it is growing in the depths of the being like the flowers of the flame tree when all its leaves have fallen.
But there is a handle to the future, provided we go to the heart of the thing. But where is that heart if it is not in our human standards? One day, the first reptiles out of the water sought to fly, the first primates out of the jungle cast a strange new look over the world: one and the same irresistible urge was making them contemplate another state. And perhaps all the transforming power was already contained in that simple look TOWARD something else, as if that look, that urge, that point of the unknown crying out, had the power to unlock the floodgates to the future.
And we assert that there exists a future far more marvelous than all the electronic paradises of the mind: man is not the end, any more than the archaeopteryx was, at the height of the reptiles - how could anything possibly be the culmination of the great evolutionary wave? We see it clearly in ourselves: We seem to invent ever more marvelous machines, ceaselessly expand the limits of the human, even progress towards Jupiter and Venus. But that is only a seeming, increasingly deceptive and oppressive, and we do not expand anything: we merely send to the other end of the cosmos a pitiful little being who does not even know how to take care of his own kind, or whether his caves harbor a dragon or a mewling baby. We do not progress; we inordinately inflate an enormous mental balloon, which may well explode in our face. We have not improved man; we have merely colosalized him. And it could not have been otherwise. The fault does not lie in some deficiency of our virtues or intellectual capacities, for pushed to their extreme these could only generate supersaints or supermachines - monsters. A saintly reptile in its hole would no more make an evolutionary summit than a saintly monk would. Or else, let us forget everything. The truth is, the summit of man - or the summit of anything at all - does not lie in perfecting to a higher degree the type under consideration; it lies in a "something else" that is not of the same type and that he aspires to become. Such is the evolutionary law. Man is not the end; man is a "transitional being," said Sri Aurobindo long ago. He is heading toward supermanhood as inevitably as the minutest twig of the highest branch of the mango tree is contained in its seed. Hence, our sole true occupation, our sole problem, the sole question ever to be solved from age to age, the one that is now tearing our great earthly ship apart limb from painful limb is how to make this transition.
Nietzsche said it also. But his superman was only a colossalization of man; we saw what he did as he tramped over Europe. That was not an evolutionary progress, only a return to the old barbarism of the blond or brunet brute of human egoism. We do not need a super-man, but something else, which is already murmuring in the heart of man and is as different from man as Bach's cantatas are from the first grunts of the hominid. And, truly, Bach's cantatas sound poor when our inner ear begins to open up to the harmonies of the future.
It is this opening, this new development we would like to investigate in the light of what we have learned from Sri Aurobindo and Her who continued his work, the modus operandi of the transition, so we can grasp the handle ourselves and work methodically at our own evolution - perform experimental evolution - the way others try to make test-tube embryos, though they may only hear the echo of their own monsters.
The secret of life is not in life, nor that of man in man, any more than the "secret of the lotus is in the mud from which it grows," said Sri Aurobindo; and yet the mud and a ray of sun combine to create a higher degree of harmony. It is this site of convergence, this point of transmutation, that we must find. Then, perhaps, we will rediscover what a quiet child on a beach contemplated in a fleck of wild foam, and the supreme music that spins the worlds, and the one Marvel that was awaiting its hour.
And what seemed to be humanly impossible will become child's play.
(1)Sri Aurobindo, "Savitri", 28: 256