We might be tempted to say that these are fantasies, unbelievable miracles. But in fact it is all very simple.
There are no miracles. There is a vast Harmony which governs the world with a precision and delicacy as faultless in the meeting of atoms and the cycle of flowering and the return of migrating birds as in the meeting of men and the unfolding of events at a particular juncture. There is a vast, unique movement we thought we were separated from because we had built our little mental turrets on the frontier of our comprehension and black dotted lines on the softness of a great earthly hill, as others had built their hunting grounds, and the sea gulls, their white archipelago on the foam-flecked waters. And because we had put on these blinders or others to protect ourselves from the formidable magnitude of our lands, erected these dwarf fences to farm our little acre, the little wave of energy trapped in our sails, the little golden (or less golden) fireflies caught in the net of our intelligence, the little note captured from too great a Harmony, we have thought that the world behaved according to our laws, or at least our laws to the factual wisdom of our instruments and calculations, and that anything that exceeded this partitioning of the world or slipped through the meshes was unthinkable or nonexistent, "miraculous" - hallucinatory. We were caught in our own trap. And by some gracious kindness - which is perhaps one of the greatest mysteries to elucidate - the world began to resemble our drawings of erudite children, our illnesses to follow the doctor's prognosis, our bodies to obey the prescribed medicine, our lives to travel in the designated groove between two walls of impossibility, and even our events to bow obligingly before our statistics and our thought of events. The world actually became mentalized from one end to the other and from top to bottom. Thought is the latest magician on the list, after the Mongolian shaman, the Theban occultist or the Bantu witchdoctor. It remains to be seen whether our magic is better than the others - but magic it is, and we are not yet aware of all its power. But, in truth, there is only one Power, which uses an amulet, a Tantric yantra(22) or an incantation, equally as well as a differential equation - or even our simple and futile little thought. What do we want? That is the question.
We manipulate thought haphazardly. Generally, we do not even manipulate it; it manipulates us. We are besieged by a thousand useless thoughts that run back and forth through our inner realm, automatically, futilely, ten, perhaps a hundred times by the time we have walked down the boulevard or climbed the stairs. It is hardly thought; it is a sort of thinking current that got into the habit of following some of our convolutions and circumvolutions and assumes a more or less neutral color, more or less brilliant, depending on our taste or inclination, our heredity, our environment, and is expressed by preferred or customary words, blue or gray philosophies in one language or another - but it is one and the same current running everywhere. It is the mental machinery clicking and rumbling and working sempiternally the same range or intensity of the general current. This activity veils everything, envelops everything, and casts a pall over everything with its thick and sticky cloud. But the seeker of the new world is one step removed from this machinery; he has discovered the quiet little clearing behind; he has lit a fire of need in the center of his being; he takes his fire everywhere he goes. And everything is different for him. Unclouded in his little clearing, he begins to see the functioning of the mind; he watches the great play, uncovers step by step the secrets of the mental magic - which ought perhaps to be called mental illusion, though if it is an illusion, it is a very effective one. And all sorts of phenomena begin to attract his notice, a little disorderly, in recurring little spurts that end up making a coherent picture. The more he sees, the stronger his control.
This clarity is progressive. But he does not seek to see more clearly, if we may say, because "seeking" is again to risk setting the old process in motion, enlisting the machine to fight the machine, his right hand to control his left. And besides, we do not even know what is to be sought or found! If we set out with an "idea," we will only go in the direction of our idea, a little like the doctor locking himself (and his patient) into a diagnosis: we set up walls beforehand, a trap for something untrappable - "that" will give itself, or it won't, and that's all. The seeker (we should perhaps simply call him the one aspiring to be born) is not concerned with stopping the machinery; he is only concerned with his fire. He makes his fire burn. He is centered in that need in his depths, that poignant call for being amid the great drift, that almost painful thirst in the desert of things and beings passing by and days elapsing as though they did not exist. And his fire burns, grows hotter. And the hotter it grows, the more it consumes the machinery, dissipates the cloud, the vain thoughts, sweeps inside and out. It is the birth of the little clearing. It is the beginning of a clear little flowing that seems to vibrate behind his head, tightening his neck, sometimes even pressing hard - then he learns to let it flow freely through him, not to block the passage by resisting, to make himself supple and porous. He lets the flow fill him, the clear little vibration that seems to go on and on and flow without interruption, like a muted little song accompanying him, like a rhythm rising and pulsating endlessly, like two light bird wings beating within his innermost azure and supporting him everywhere, making a sort of tranquil sweetness of view, as though life receded, widened, sank into a clear infinity vibrating with that rhythm alone, that soft, light, transparent cadence alone. And everything starts to become extraordinarily simple.
From within that silence in him - a silence that is not empty, not an absence of noise, not a cold and toneless blank, but the smooth breadth of the open sea, an extreme of sweetness that fills him and needs neither words nor thought nor comprehension: it is instant comprehension, the embracing of everything, the absolute here and now. So what could be missing? - the seeker, the newborn to be, begins to see the mental play. First, he sees that those thousands of thoughts, gray or blue or paler, do not actually emanate from any brain. Rather, they float in midair, as it were. They are currents, vibrations, which are translated into thoughts in our heads when we capture them, as waves are translated into music or words or images into our television sets; and everything shifts and moves and whirls at different levels, flows universally over our motley little frontiers: captured in English, German, French; colored yellow, black, or blue depending on the height of our antenna; rhythmic, broken, or scattered into a powdering of microscopic thoughts depending on our level of reception; musical, grating, or discordant depending on our clarity or complication. But the seeker, the listener, does not try to pick up one channel or another, to turn the dials of his machine to capture this or that - he is tuned in to the infinite, focused on a little flame in the center, so sweet and full, free from interference and preference. He needs only one thing: that that flame in him burn and burn, that that flowing pass again and again through his clearing, without words, without mental meaning, and yet full of meaning and of all meaning, as if it were the very source of meaning. And, at times, without his thinking or wanting it, something comes and strikes him: a little vibration, a little note alighting on his still waters and leaving a whole train of waves. And if he leans a little, to see, stretches toward that little eddy (or that slight note, that point calling out, that rip in the expanse of his being), a thought appears, a feeling, an image or a sensation - as though there were really no dividing line between one mode of translation and another; there is just something vibrating, a more or less clear rhythm, a more or less pure light being lit in him, a shadow, a heaviness, an uneasiness, sometimes a glittering little rocket, dancing and light as a powdering of sunshine on the sea, an outpouring of tenderness, a fleeting smile - and sometimes a great, solemn rhythm that seems to rise from the depths of time, immense, poignant, eternal, which calls up the unique sacred chant of the world. And It flows effortlessly. There is no need to think or want; the only need is to be again, to burn in unison with a single little flame that is like the very fire of the world. And, when necessary, just for a second, a little note comes knocking at his window, and there comes exactly the right thought, the impulse for the required action, the right or left turn that will open up an unexpected trail and a whole chain of answers and new opportunities. The seeker, the fervent one, then intimately understands the invocation of this five- or six-thousand-year-old Vedic poet: "O Fire, let there be created in us the correct thought that springs from Thee."(23)
But wrong thoughts, too, are a surprising source of discoveries. As a matter of fact, more and more, he realizes that this kind of distinction is meaningless. What, in the end, is not for our own good? What does not ultimately turn out to be our greater good? The wrong paths are part of the right one and pave a broader way, a larger view of our indivisible estate. The only wrong is not to see; it is the vast grayness of the terra incognita of our limited maps. And we indeed limit our maps. We have attributed those thoughts, feelings, reactions and desires to the little Mississippi flowing through our lands, to the thriving Potomac rivers lined with stone buildings and fortresses - and indeed, they have got into the habit of running through those channels, cascading here or there, boiling a little farther below, or disappearing into our marshes. It is a very old habit, going back even before us or the ape, or else a scarcely more recent one going back to our schooldays, our parents or yesterday's newspaper. We have opened paths, and the current follows them - it follows them obstinately. But for the demechanized seeker, the meanders and points of entry begin to become more visible. He begins to distinguish various levels in his being, various channeling centers, and when the current passes through the solar plexus or through the throat, the reactions or effects are different. But, mostly, he discovers with surprise that it is one and the same current everywhere, above or below, right or left, and those which we call "thought," "desire," "will" or "emotion" are various infiltrations of the same identical thing, which is neither thought nor desire nor will nor anything of the sort, but a trickle, a drop or a cataract of the same conscious Energy entering here or there, through our little Potomac or muddy Styx, and creating a disaster or a poem, a millipede's quiver, a revolution, a gospel or a vain thought on the boulevard - we could almost say "at will." It all depends on the quality of our opening and its level. But the fundamental fact is that this is an Energy, in other words, a Power. And thus, very simply, quite simply, we have the all-powerful source of all possible changes in the world. It is as we will it! We can tune in either here or there, create harmony or cacophony; not a single circumstance in the world, not one fateful event, not one so-called ineluctable law, absolutely nothing can prevent us from turning the antenna one way or the other and changing this muddy and disastrous flood into a limpid stream, instantly. We just have to know where we open ourselves. At every moment of the world and every second, in the face of every dreadful circumstance, every prison we have locked ourselves alive in, we can, in one stroke, with a single cry for help, a single burst of prayer, a single true look, a single leap of the little flame inside, topple all our walls and be born again from top to bottom. Everything is possible. Because that Power is the supreme Possibility.
But if we believe only in our little Mississippi or our little Potomac, it is clearly hopeless. And we do indeed believe passionately, millennially in the virtue of our old ways. They also hold an immense power - that of habit. It is remarkable, for they seem as solid as concrete, as convincing as all the old reasons of the world, the old habits of flowing in one direction or another, as irrefutable as Newton's apple, and yet, for the eye beginning to lose its scales, as unsubstantial as a cloud - one blows on them and they fall away. This is the mental Illusion, the formidable illusion that is blinding us.
For the seeker, the illusion is demystified in small doses, in elusive but recurring little touches, through tiny little experiences that prompt him to open one eye and try, after all. But he must try very often before finding the lever, make endless mistakes, follow the old erroneous ways to unmask their false power. As always, this takes place in the microscopic commonplaceness of life. And he discovers the power of thought. Or rather, he discovers the energy value of a passing and apparently futile little thought that enters him naturally, "by chance."
He is clear, centered in his fire, carried by his cadence; then, out of habit, he starts the machinery up again. He fixes his look on this or that, lets a whole series of waves trigger old reflexes, open this valve, press that button, stir up a whole network in a second, which starts vibrating by degrees, awakening a reaction here, a desire there, a fear a little farther - the old circuit is reactivated. He meets again an old apprehension, an anxiety, a fear, a baseless defeatism. Actually, it really looks like a circuit of pain. And if he happens to look at that microscopic catastrophe (which is nothing, a passing breath), if he adds to it the weight of a reflection (not even a reflection, just a lingering look), the small commotion soon begins to blow up, to stick and settle in for good - it looks like a tiny little bubble of living power, no bigger than a fly, but so sticky. And the most remarkable thing is that it has its own independent force of propulsion: it goes to its goal obstinately, mechanically, automatically. Two days or two hours or two minutes later, under the surprised eyes of the seeker, who has remained clear enough to follow the whole movement in detail, the results of his apprehension or desire or futile thought appear: "by accident," he twists his ankle, bumps into an old acquaintance, receives bad news, enters the confusion he had foreseen. Everything is in league, conspires to go in the wrong direction, converges on that little black or gray bubble, as if it had attracted the circumstances and events exactly in conformance, sympathetic we could say, with the quality of vibration it emanates. It is a quasi-instantaneous chemical reaction: this drop of litmus solution will turn everything red or blue or black. This is exactly the reverse process of the "correct thought" that engenders the favorable circumstance. It looks almost like a microscopic magic.
Indeed, it is magic. The seeker repeats the same experience ten, a hundred times. And he begins to stare in fascination. He begins, through a tiny experience, to ask himself a stupendous why? ... Oh, the world's secrets are not concealed in thunder and flames! They are here, just waiting for a consenting look, a simple way of being that does not constantly put up its habitual barriers, its possibles or impossibles, its you-can'ts and you-mustn'ts, its buts and more buts, its ineluctables, and the whole train of its iron laws, the old laws of an animal-man who goes round and round in the cage built with his own hands. He looks about himself, and the experience multiplies, as if it were thrust before his very eyes, as if that simple little effort for truth sparked innumerable answers, precipitated circumstances, encounters, demonstrations, as if it were saying, "Look, look, this is how it works." A consciousness beyond words lays its finger of light upon each encounter. The true picture emerges from behind appearances. A breath of truth here elicits the same truth in each thing and each movement. And he sees. ... He does not see miracles - or rather, he sees sordid little miracles blindly contrived by blind magicians. He sees poor humans in droves weaving the pretty bubble, patiently and tirelessly inflating it, each day adding their little breath of defeat or desire or helplessness, their miasma of self-doubt, their little noxious thoughts, stretching and nurturing the iridescent bubble of their knowledge and petty triumphs, the implacable bubble of their science, the bubble of their charity or virtue. And they go on, prisoners of a bubble, entangled in the network of force they have carefully woven, accumulated, piled up day after day. Each act results from that thrust; each circumstance is the obscure gravitation of that attraction, and everything moves mechanically, ineluctably, mathematically as we have willed it in a black or yellow or decrepit little bubble. And the more we kick and strain and struggle and draw this force inside to break the pretty or not so pretty wall, the harder it becomes, as if our ultimate effort still brought to it an ultimate strength. And we say we are the victims of circumstances, victims of this or that; we say we are poor, sick, ill-fated; we say we are rich, virtuous, triumphant. We say we are thousands of things under thousands of colors and bubbles, and there is nothing of the kind, no rich, no poor, no sick, no virtuous or victim; there is something else, oh, radically different, which is awaiting its hour. There is a secret godhead smiling.
And the bubble grows. It takes in families, peoples, continents; it takes in every color, every wisdom, every truth, and envelops them. There is that breath of light, that note of beauty, the miracle of those few lines caught in architecture or geometry, that instant of truth that heals and delivers, that lovely curve glimpsed in a flash which links that star to this destiny, this asymptote to that hyperbola, this man to that song, this gesture to that effect - and more men come, men by the thousands, who come puffing and inflating the little bubble, creating pink and blue and everlasting religions, infallible salvations in the great bubble, summits of light that are the sum of their compounded little hopes, abysses of hell that are the sum of their cherished fears; who come adding this note and that idea, this grain of knowledge and that healing second, this conjunction and that curve, that moment of effectiveness beneath the dust of the myriads of galaxies, chromatic temples, devising unquestionable medicines under the great bubble, irreducible sciences, implacable geometries, charts of illness, charts of recovery, charts of destiny. And everything twists and turns as the doctor willed it under the great fateful Bubble, as the scientist willed it, as that moment of coincidence among the countless myriads of lines in the universe has decided it for the eternity of time. We have seized a minute of the world and made it into the huge amber light that blinds and suffocates us in the great mental bubble. And there is nothing of the kind - not one single law, not one single illness, not one single medical or scientific dogma, not one single temple is true, not one perpetual chart, not one single destiny under the stars - there is a tremendous mental hypnotism, and behind, far, far behind, and yet right here, so much here, immediately here, something impregnable, unseizable by any snare, unrestricted by any law, invulnerable to every illness and every hypnotism, unsaved by our salvations, unsullied by our sins, unsullied by our virtues, free from every destiny and every chart, from every golden or black bubble - a pure, infallible bird that can recreate the world in the twinkling of an eye. We change our look, and everything changes. Gone is the pretty bubble. It is here - if we want.
When the bubble bursts, we begin to enter supermanhood. We begin to enter Harmony. Oh, it does not burst through our efforts; it does not give way through any amount of virtues and meditation, which on the contrary further harden the bubble, give it such a lovely shine, such a captivating light that it indeed takes us captive, and we are all the more prisoners as the more beautiful the bubble is, held more captive by our good than by our evil - there is nothing harder in the world then a truth caught in our traps; it does not care at all about our virtues and accumulated merits, our brilliant talents or even our obscure weaknesses. Who is great? Who is small and obscure, or less obscure, beneath the drifting of the galaxies that look like the dust of a great Sun? The Truth, the ineffable Sweetness of things and of each thing, the living Heart of millions of beings who do not know, does not require us to become true to bestow its truth upon us - who could become true, who would become other than he is, what are we actually capable of? We are capable of pain and misery aplenty; we are capable of smallness and more smallness, error garbed in a speck of light, knowledge that stumbles into its own quagmires, a good that is the luminous shadow of its secret evil, freedom that imprisons itself in its own salvation - we are capable of suffering and suffering, and even our suffering is a secret delight. The Truth, the light Truth, escapes our dark or luminous snares. It runs, breathes with the wind, cascades with the spring, cascades everywhere, for it is the spring of everything. It even murmurs in the depths of our falsehood, winks an eye in our darkness and pokes fun at us. It sets its light traps for us, so light we do not see them; it beckons us in a thousand ways at every instant and everywhere, but it is so fleeting, so unexpected, so contrary to our habitual way of looking at things, so unserious that we walk right past it. We cannot make head or tail out of it; or else we stick a beautiful label on it to trap it in our magic. And it still laughs. It plays along with our magic, plays along with our suffering and geometry; it plays the millipede and the statistician; it plays everything - it plays whatever we want. Then, one day, we no longer really want; we no longer want any of all that, neither our gilded miseries, nor our captivating lights nor our good nor our evil, nor any of that whole polychromatic array in which each color changes into the other: hope into despair, effort into backlash, heaven into prison, summit into abyss, love into hate, and each wrested victory into a new defeat, as if each plus attracted its minus, each for its against, and everything forever went forward, backward, right and left, bumping into the wall of the same prison, white or black, green or brown, golden or less golden. We no longer want any of all that; we are only that cry of need in our depths, that call for air, that fire for nothing, that useless little flame that goes along with our every step, walks with our sorrows, walks and walks night and day, in good and evil, in the high and the low and everywhere. And this fire soon becomes like our drop of good in evil, our bit of treasure in misery, our glimmer of light in the chaos, all that remains of a thousand gestures and passing lights, the little nothing that is like everything, the tiny song of a great ongoing misery - we no longer have any good or evil, any high or low, any light or darkness, any tomorrow or yesterday. It is all the same, miserable in black and white, but we have that abiding little fire, that tomorrow of today, that murmur of sweetness in the depths of pain, that virtue of our sin, that warm drop of being in the high and the low, day and night, in shame and in joy, in solitude and in the crowd, in approval and disapproval - it is all the same. It burns and burns. It is tomorrow, yesterday, now and forever. It is our one song of being, our little note of fire, our paradise in a little flame, our freedom in a little flame, our knowledge in a little flame, our summit of flame in a void of being, our vastness in a tiny singing flame - we know not why. It is our companion, our friend, our wife, our bearer, our country - it is. And it feels good. Then, one day, we raise our head, and there is no more bubble. There is that Fire burning softly everywhere, recognizing all, loving all, understanding all, and it is like a heaven without trouble; it is so simple that we never thought of it, so tranquil that each drop is like an ocean, so smiling and clear that it goes through everything, enters and slips in everywhere - it plays here, plays there, as transparent as air, a nothing that changes everything; and perhaps it is everything.
We are in the Harmony of the new world.
Some poets and sages have touched this Harmony, some rare musicians have heard it and attempted to translate a few notes of that singing vastness. It flows on high, on the summits of consciousness, an endless rhythm without high or low, through blue eternities, flowing and flowing like a joy that would sing itself, rolling its immense flood over eternal hills, carrying those heavenly bodies and all those earths and seas, carrying everything in its blazing and tranquil surge - an unutterable sound that would contain all sounds and all notes in one, a fusion of music, a golden outburst one single time of a cry of love or a cry of joy issuing from the abyss of time; a pure triumph that has seen all those worlds and ages in a glance, and the sorrow of a child on the bank of that blue river and the softness of the paddy fields and the death of that old man, the tiny tranquillity of a leaf quivering in the south wind, and others, countless others that are always the same, that go up and down the great river, cross here or there, pass without ever passing, grow up and disappear in the distance, into a great golden sea whence they came, carried by a little rhythm of the great rhythm, a little spark of the great undying golden fire, a persisting little note that pervades all lives, all deaths, all sorrows and joys; an ineffable blue expansion of space that fills the lungs with a sort of eternal air, a sort of resurrection; a bursting out of music everywhere as if space were nothing but music, nothing but singing azure - a powerful, triumphant flowing that carries us on forever, as if wrapped in its wings of glory. And all is fulfilled. The universe is a miracle.
But the earth, the little earth, reels below, reels in its pain. It does not know or see the joy upholding it, and which it is - for how could anything be without that joy which holds everything, that persistent memory of joy which pulls at the heart of things and beings?
I, Earth, have a deeper power than Heaven;
My lonely sorrow surpasses its rose-joys,
A red and bitter seed of the raptures seven; -
My dumbness fills with echoes of a far Voice.
By me the last finite, yearning, strives
To reach the last infinity's unknown,
The Eternal is broken into fleeting lives
And Godhead pent in the mire and the stone.
And the Rhythm, the great Rhythm, was scattered, broken up, pulverized to enter the heart of its world and make itself the size of the millipede or a little leaf quivering in the wind, to make itself understood by a brain, loved by a passerby. We have drawn from it syncopated music, multicolored pictures, joys, sorrows, since we could no longer contain its whole, unbroken flow. We have made it into equations, poems, architecture; we have trapped it in our machines, locked it in an amulet or a thought, since we could no longer bear the pressure of its great direct flow. And we have made dungeons, hells, which were the absence of that rhythm, the lack of a lungful of eternal air, the suffocation of a little man who believes only in his suffering, only in the push buttons of his machine and the walls of his intelligence. We have graphed, multiplied, broken down, atomized to infinity; and we could no longer make out or understand anything, since we had lost the one little breath of the great breath, the one little sign of the great Direction, the little note that loves and understands all. And since we had closed everything around us, locked ourselves in a shell, armor-plated ourselves in our thinking logic, equipped ourselves with irrefutable helmets and antennas, we have declared that that Harmony, that Rhythm, did not exist, that it was far, far above, the paradise of our virtues, the crackling of our little antennas, the dream of a collective unconscious, the product of the evolved earthworm, the meeting of two enamored molecules - like the savage of old who used to cut up the unknown lands, we have cut up space and time, thrown back into another geography the Ganges and El Dorados we have not yet crossed, the pretty fords of that little river. But that Ganges and that El Dorado are here, as well as many other marvels, many other currents of the great Current. All is here, under our feet, if we will only open the little shell and stop putting off until heaven or doomsday what sings in each minute of time and each pebble of space.
This is the Harmony of the new world, the joy of the greater Self. It is here, instantly, if we want. All it takes is removing our blinders. All it takes is a true look, a simple look at the great world. All it takes is a little fire inside to consume all the shells and sufferings and bubbles - for the only suffering is to be confined there.
(22)A geometrical design used by Tantric occultists to materialize certain forces.
(23)Rig Veda, III.7.II.
(24)Sri Aurobindo, "The Life Heavens," 5:575.
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