12. The Sociology of Superman
In itself, this change of power would not be enough to change the world if it were confined to only a few individuals. Actually, from the very beginning, from the very first steps, the seeker has realized that this yoga of the superman was not an individual yoga, though the individual is the starting point and instrument of the work, but a collective yoga, a form of concentrated evolution in which the individual is but an outpost, the spreader of the possibility, the embodier and transmitter of the new vibration. It is a yoga of the earth. What difference would a glorious superman make, sitting all alone on his vain throne of harmony? Although we suppose that the first primates which unknowingly did the yoga of the mind must not have been legion; and yet the mental possibility did spread from one to another. It was there, "in the air," pressing upon the old simian structures. Similarly, the superman possibility is there, in the air. Its time has come. It is liberally hammering at human consciousnesses and countries - men are unknowingly and unwittingly doing the yoga of the superman. This is not a theory we are advancing but an evolutionary fact, whether we like it or not. Only, the main difference between the premental era and ours is that human consciousness, however closed, stubborn, obscure and petty, have become capable of perceiving the direction of their own evolution and hence of accelerating and lending themselves to the process. That was the sole real purpose of the mental era: to lead us irresistibly to the point where we had to pass into something else, all together, by the very development of our consciousness and the very force that each of us and each country had accumulated in a little individual bubble. And the new level of integration will prove to us that the superman is not a denial of man but his fulfillment, not a denial of the mind but its rightful placement among the many tools, known and unknown, that man must use until the day he enters into possession of the direct power of Truth.
This understanding of the great Goal - or rather of the next goal, for the development is infinite - is one of the keys to collective realization. It takes only a little crack in the human consciousness, a tiny call for air, a very small prayer, one day, without reason, for the new Possibility to rush in and change our whole way of seeing and doing things. It does not expect great efforts or arduous discipline, as we have said; it awaits a moment of abandon, a tiny little cry inside, a little flame that awakens. And once men - a few men - have tasted that wine, they will never be able to go back to the old routine of suffering.
What, then, is the role of those who are beginning to understand and perhaps to experience? How does their work fit into the unconscious yoga of humanity? How can the movement spread and accelerate? What sort of collective realization can they bring into the world as a sample of what will be?
The first wave of this new consciousness is quite visible. It is perfectly chaotic. It has caught human beings unawares. Its ebb and flow can be seen everywhere: men have been seized with errantry, or aberrancy. They have set out in search of something they did not understand, but which pushed and prodded them inside; they have taken to the road to anywhere, knocked on every door, the good as well as the bad, broken through walls and windmills, or, suddenly seized with laughter, they have left bag and baggage and said goodbye to the old establishment. It is natural that the first reaction is aberrant, since by definition it leaves the old circuit, as the primate suddenly left the instinctive wisdom of the herd. Each transition to a higher equilibrium is at first a dis-equilibrium and total disruption of the old equilibrium. Therefore, these apprentice supermen, who do not even know each other, will more likely be found among the unorthodox elements of society, the so-called misfits, the bastards, the recalcitrants of the general prison, the rebels against they don't know what except they have had enough of it. They are the new crusaders without a crusade, the partisans without a party, the "antis" who are so much against that they no longer want any against or for; they want something else altogether, without plus or minus, offensive or defensive, without black, good, yes or no, something completely different and completely free from all the twists and turns of the Machine, which still would like to catch them in the nets of its negations as in the nets of its affirmations. Or else, at the opposite end of the spectrum, these apprentice supermen will perhaps be found among those who have traveled the long road of the mind, its labyrinths, its endless grind, its answers that answer nothing, that raise another question and still another, its solutions that solve nothing, and its whole painful round - its sudden futility at the end of the road, after a thousand questions and a thousand triumphs ever ruined, that little cry, at the end, of a man gaping at nothing and suddenly becoming like a helpless child again, as if all those days and years and labor had never been, as if nothing had happened, not a single real second in thirty years! These too, then, set out on the road. There, too, there is a crack for the Possible.
But the very conditions of the uprooting of the old order may for a long time falsify the quest for the new order. And at first, this new order does not exist; it has to be made. A whole world has to be invented. And the aspiring superman - or let us simply say the aspirant to "something else" - must confront a primary reality: the law of freedom is a very demanding one, infinitely more demanding than all the laws imposed by the Machine. It is not a coasting into just anything, but a methodical uprooting from thousands of little slaveries; it does not mean abandoning everything, but, on the contrary, taking charge of everything, since we no longer want to depend on anybody or anything. It is a supreme apprenticeship of responsibility - that of being oneself, which in the end is being all. It is not an escape, but a conquest; not a vacation from the Machine, but a great Adventure into man's unknown. And anything that may hamper this supreme freedom, at whatever level or under whatever appearance, must be fought as fiercely as the police or lawmakers of the old world. We are not leaving the slavery of the old order to fall into the worse slavery of ourselves - the slavery of drugs, of a party, of one religion or another, one sect or another, a golden bubble or a white one. We want the one freedom of smiling at everything and being light everywhere, identical in destitution and pomp, in prison and palace, in emptiness and fullness - and everything is full because we burn with the one little flame that possesses everything forever.
What will they do, these wanderers, these transhumans of a new country that does not yet exist? In the first place, they will perhaps not move at all. They will perhaps have understood that the change has to be wrought inside and that, if nothing changes inside, nothing will ever change outside for centuries and centuries. They will perhaps stay right where they are, in this little street, this gray country, in a humble disguise, an old routine, but it will no longer be a routine because they will do everything with another look, in another way, with another attitude - an inner way that changes all ways. And if they persevere, they will notice that this one little drop of true light they carry within themselves has the power to change everything about them surreptitiously. In their unpretentious little circle, they will have worked for the new world and precipitated a little more truth upon earth. But no circle is little when it has that center, since it is the center of everything. Or else, one day, perhaps they will feel impelled to join with their peers of the new world and with them build some living testimony of their common aspiration, as others built pyramids or cathedrals - perhaps a city of the new world. And this is the beginning of a great enterprise, and a great danger.
We have been so thoroughly mechanized, exteriorized, projected outside ourselves by our habit of depending on one mechanical device or another that our very first reflex is always to look for the external means, that is, an artifice, for all external means are artificial, part of the old falsehood. We will therefore be tempted to spread the idea, the Enterprise, through all the existing publicity channels, in short, to attract as many supporters of the new hope as possible - which will quickly become a new religion. Here it may be appropriate to quote Sri Aurobindo and to drive home positively and forcefully his categorical statement: "I don't believe in advertisement except for books etc., and in propaganda except for politics and patent medicines. But for serious work it is a poison. It means either a stunt or a boom - and stunts and booms exhaust the thing they carry on their chest and leave it lifeless and broken high and dry on the shores of nowhere - or it means a movement. A movement in the case of a work like mine means the founding of a school or a sect or some other damned nonsense. It means that hundreds or thousands of useless people join in and corrupt the work or reduce it to a pompous farce from which the Truth that was coming down recedes into secrecy or silence. It is what has happened to the 'religions' and is the reason of their failure."(30) True, ultimately all men, the entire earth belong to supermanhood, but the ABC's of the new consciousness, its governing principle, is diversity in Unity - and to try to confine the superman in advance to a ready-made setting, a privileged environment, an allegedly unique and more enlightened location is to fall back into the old farce and once again inflate the old human ego. To be sure, the law of Harmony will work in thousands of ways and in thousands of disguises, ultimately gathering the myriad notes of its great indivisible flow into a vaster space without boundaries. The Enterprise will be born everywhere at once - it is already born, whispering here and there, blindly banging against walls - and will gradually unveil its true face only when men are no longer able to trap it in a system, logic or shrine - when everything here below is a shrine, in every heart and every country. And men shall not even know how they were prepared for such a Marvel.
Those who know a little, who feel, who have begun to perceive the great Wave of Truth, will therefore not fall into the trap of "superman recruiting." The earth is unequally prepared; men are spiritually unequal despite all our democratic protests to the contrary - though they are essentially equal and vast in the great Self, and only one body with millions of faces - they have not all become the greatness that they are. They are on the way, and some dawdle while others seem to travel more swiftly, but the detours of the former are also part of the great geography of our indivisible domain, their delay or the brake they seem to apply to our motion is part of the fullness of perfection that we seek and which compels us to a greater meticulousness of truth. They too are going there, by their own way - and what is outside the way, in the end, since everything is the Way? He who knows a little, who feels, knows first and foremost, from having experienced it in his own flesh, that men are never truly brought together by artifices - and when they persist in their artifice, everything finally collapses and the "meeting" is brief; the beautiful school, the lovely sect, the little iridescent bubble of a moment's enthusiasm or faith is short-lived - they are brought together through a finer and more discreet law, a tiny little searchlight across time and space, and touches a similar ray here and there, a twin frequency, a light source with the same intensity - and he goes. He goes haphazardly, takes a train, a plane, travels to this country and that one, believes he is searching for this or that, that he is in quest of adventure, the exotic, drugs or philosophy - he believes. He believes a lot of things. He thinks he has to have this power or that solution, this panacea or that revolution, this slogan or that one. He thinks he set out because of that thirst or revolt, that unhappy love affair or need for action, this hope or that old insoluble discord in his heart. But then, there is none of that! One day he stops, without knowing why, without planning to be there, without having looked for that place or that face, that insignificant village under the stars of one hemisphere or the other - and there it is. He has arrived. He has opened his one door, found his kindred fire, that look forever known; and he is exactly at the right place, at the right time, to do the right work. The world is a fabulous clockwork, if only we knew the secret of those little fires glowing in another space, dancing on a great inner sea where our skiffs sail as if guided by an invisible beacon.
There are ten or twenty, perhaps fifty, here or there, in one latitude or another, who yearn to till a truer plot of land, a small patch of man to grow a truer being within themselves, perhaps create together a laboratory of the superman, lay the first stone of the City of Truth on earth. They do not know, they do not know anything, except that they need something else and that there exists a Law of Harmony, a marvelous "something" of the Future seeking to be incarnated. They want to find the conditions of that incarnation, to lend themselves to the trial, to offer their substance for that living experiment. They know nothing except that everything must be different: in hearts, in gestures, in matter and the handling of matter. They are not seeking to create a new civilization, but another man; not a supercity among the millions of buildings of the world, but a listening post for the forces of the future, a supreme yantra of Truth, a conduit, a channel to try to capture and inscribe in matter a first note of the great Harmony, a first tangible sign of the new world. They do not pose as the champions of anything; they do not defend any liberty or attack any ism. They simply try together. They are the champions of their own pure little note, which is unlike the next person's and yet is everyone's note. They are no longer from a country, a family, a religion or a party; they belong to their own party, which is no one else's and yet is the party of the world, because what becomes true at one point becomes true for the whole world and brings the whole world together. They are from a family to be invented, from a country yet to be born. They do not try to correct others or anybody, to pour self-glorifying charities over the world, to cure the poor and the lepers; they try to cure the great poverty of smallness in themselves, the gray elf of the inner misery, to reclaim one single parcel of truth from themselves, one single ray of harmony. For if that Disease is cured in our own heart or a few hearts, the world will be that much lighter, and, through our clarity, the Law of Truth will better penetrate matter and radiate all around spontaneously. What liberation, what relief can a man who suffers in his own heart bring to the world? They do not work for themselves, though they are the primary ground of the experience, but as an offering, pure and simple, to that which they do not really know, but which shimmers at the edge of the world like the dawn of a new age. They are the prospectors of the new cycle. They have given themselves to the future, body and soul, the way one jumps into the fire, without a look back. They are the servants of the infinite in the finite, of the totality in the infinitesimal, of eternity in each second and each gesture. They create their heaven with each step and carve the new world out of the banality of the day. And they are not afraid of failure, for they have left behind the failures and success of the prison - they live in the sole infallibility of a right little note.
But these builders of the new world will have to be careful not to erect a new prison, be it an ideal and enlightened one. In fact, they will understand, and quickly that this City of Truth will not and cannot see the light of day until they themselves live totally in the Truth, and that that building site is first and foremost the site of their own transmutation. One does not deceive Truth.
One may deceive men, make speeches and declarations of principle, but Truth doesn't care a damn. It catches you in the act and throws your deception right back into your face at every step. It is a merciless searchlight, even if it is invisible. And it is very simple; it catches you every time, at every twist and turn; and since it is a Truth of matter, it foils your plans, checks your gesture, confronts you with a sudden lack of materials, workers or funds, stirs up revolt, sets people at odds with each other, sows impossibilities and chaos - until, suddenly, the seeker realizes that he was on the wrong track, putting up the old false structure with new bricks and exuding his small egoism, small ambition or small ideal, his narrow idea of truth and good. So he opens his eyes, opens his hands, attunes himself again to the great Law, lets the rhythm flow, and becomes clear, clear and transparent, plastic to the Truth, to the something seeking to be - anything as long as it be that, the exact gesture, the right thought, the true work, the pure truth expressing itself as it wishes, when it wishes, in the way it wishes. For a second he lets go of everything. For a second he calls out to that new world - so new he understands nothing of it, but which he wants to serve, embody, grow in this rebellious soil. What does it matter what he thinks, feels or deems, oh, what difference does it really make? - just let it be the true thing, the one necessary and inevitable thing. And everything tips into the light - in a second. Everything instantly becomes possible: the materials arrive, and the workers and the funds, the wall crumbles, and the little egoistic structure he was building changes into a dynamic possibility he had not even suspected. He repeats this experience a hundred times, a thousand times, at every level, personal and collective, from the repair of his bedroom window to the sudden million that comes as a "godsend" to build that Olympic stadium.
There are no material problems, ever; there are only inner problems. And if Truth is not there, even the millions will rot on the spot. It is a fabulous experience every minute, a test of Truth and, even more marvelously, a test of the power of Truth. Step by step he learns to discover the effectiveness of Truth, the supreme effectiveness of a clear little second - he enters a world of continuous little marvels. He learns to trust Truth, as if all those blows, blunders, conflicts and confusion were leading him knowingly, patiently, but relentlessly to take the right attitude, to discover the true lever, the true look, the cry of truth that topples walls and makes every possibility blossom amid the impossible chaos. It is an accelerated transmutation, multiplied by the resistance of each one as much as by the goodwill of each one - as if, truly, both resistance and goodwill, good and evil, had to be changed into something else, another will, a will-vision of Truth that decides the gesture and action at each instant. This is the only law of the City of the Future, its only government: a clear vision that accords with the total Harmony, and spontaneously translates the perceived Truth into action. The fakers are automatically eliminated by the very pressure of the Force of Truth, driven out, like fish, by a sheer excess of oxygen. And if one day these ten or fifty could build a single little pyramid of truth, whose every stone has been laid with the right note, the right vibration, simple love, a clear look and a call to the future, the whole city would actually be built, because they would have built the being of the future in themselves. And perhaps the whole earth would find itself changed by it, because there is only one body, because the difficulty of the one is the difficulty of the world, the resistance and darkness of the other are the resistance and darkness of the whole world, and because that insignificant little enterprise of a tiny city under the stars may be the very Enterprise of the world, the symbol of its transmutation, the alchemy of its pain, the possibility of a new earth by the single transfiguration of one piece of earth and one piece of mankind.
It is therefore probable that for a long time this City under construction will be a place where negative possibilities will be exacerbated as much as the positive ones, under the relentless pressure of the beacon of Truth. And falsehood is skilled at holding on to insignificant details, resistance at sticking to everyday trifles, which become the very sign of refusal. Falsehood knows how to make great sacrifices. It can follow a discipline, extol an ideal, collect merit badges and Brownie points, but it betrays itself in the insignificant - that is its last refuge. It is really in matter that the game is played out. This City of the Future is a battlefield, a difficult adventure. What is decided over there with machine guns, guerrilla warfare and glorious deeds is decided here with sordid details and an invisible warfare against falsehood. But a single victory won over petty human egoism is more pregnant with consequences for the earth than the rearranging of all the frontiers of Asia, for this frontier and this egoism are the original barbed wire that divides the world.
For that matter, the apprentice superman could begin his battle very early, not just in himself but in his children, and not just from their birth but right from their conception.
We are born in a lead casing. It surrounds us completely. It is airtight and invisible, but it is there all the same, covering our least gestures and reactions. We are born "ready-made," as it were, but the making is not of our own, neither in the best nor in the worst. There are millions of sensations, which are not yet thoughts, but like seeds of desire or repulsion, odors of fear, odors of anguish, like a subtle fungus lining our caves: layers upon layers of prohibitions and taboos, and a few rare permissions thrown in like an escape of the same dark onrush in our tunnels. And, in the middle of all that, a bewildered and lost little look - who will soon be taught "life," good and evil, geometry and the Tables of the Law. A little look getting more and more veiled, and definitely lost after he has been made to understand everything. For the obvious and natural assumption is that a child understands nothing and has to be taught how to live. But it could be that a child understands very well, even if that does not agree with our constructs, and that we merely teach him to bury his knowledge and replace it with a ready-made science, which buries him for good. Then we spend thirty years of our life undoing what they have done, unless we are a particularly successful subject, that is, definitively immured, satisfied, polite and holding degrees. Hence, a great part of the work involves not "doing" but undoing that spell. We will be told that this struggle is fruitful, enriching, that it develops our muscles and personality - that is wrong. It hardens us, develops fighting muscles in us and may well drive us into an "against" as noxious as the "for." Moreover, it does not develop a personality, but a mask, for the true person is there, totally there, artless and wide open, in the eyes of a newborn child - we only add the misery of struggle. We believe utterly, intensely and blindly in the power of suffering; it has been the subconscious mark of our entire Western civilization for the last two thousand years. Perhaps it was necessary, given the denseness of our substance. But the law of suffering is a law of Falsehood - what is true smiles, that's all. Suffering is a sign of falsehood, the product of falsehood; they go hand and hand. To believe that suffering is enriching is to believe that cancer is a boon from the gods, although cancer, too, can help us break the shell of falsehood. Like all virtues, this negative virtue leaves a permanent shadow on us; and even the unobscured sun is still blemished by it. The blows, truly and necessarily, leave their mark; they produce liberated beings with scorched hearts who remember having suffered. That memory is yet another veil over the artless look. The law of the gods is a sunlit one. And perhaps the whole work of Sri Aurobindo and Mother is to have brought the world the possibility of a sunlit path on which suffering, pain and disaster are no longer necessary in order to progress.
The apprentice superman does not believe in suffering. He believes in enrichment through joy; he believes in Harmony. He does not believe in education; he believes in the power of truth in the heart of all things and all beings - he only helps that truth to grow with as little interference as possible. He trusts in the powers of that truth. He knows that man always moves toward his goal, inexorably, despite everything he is told or taught - he only tries to suppress that "despite." He simply waters that little sapling of truth - and then again, with some caution, for some saplings prefer a sandy and rocky soil. But, at least, in that City - or rather, laboratory of the future - the child will be born in less stifling conditions. He will not be brainwashed, met at every street corner by screaming posters, corrupted by television or poisoned by vulgar movies, not burdened by all the vibrations of anxiety, fear or desire that his mother may have conscientiously accumulated in her womb through "entertaining" reading, debilitating films or a torn home life - for everything is recorded, the slightest vibration, the least shock; everything enters the embryo freely, remains and accumulates there. The Greeks knew this well, and the Egyptians and the Indians, who used to surround the mother with special conditions of beauty and harmony so that the breath of the gods could pervade each day and each breath of the child, so that everything could be an inspiration of truth. And when the mother and father decided to have a child, they did it as a prayer, a sacrifice for incarnating the gods of the future. It takes only a spark of aspiration, a flame of entreaty, a luminous breath in the mother's heart for the same light to answer and come down, the identical flame, the kindred intensity of life - if we are gray and dull, we will summon only the grayness and nothingness of millions of lifeless men.
The child of that City will be born with a flame, consciously, voluntarily, without having to undo millennia of animality or abysses of prejudice. He will not be told incessantly that he has to earn a living, for nobody will earn a living in the City of the Future, nobody will have money. Living will be devoted to serving the Truth, each according to his capacity or talent, and the only earnings will be joy. He will not be deluged with musts and must-nots; he will only be shown the immediate sadness of not listening to the right little note. He will not be tormented with the idea of finding a job, being a success, outranking others, passing or failing grades, for nobody succeeds or fails in the City of the Future, nobody has "a job," nobody takes precedence over anybody; one does the one job of pursuing a clear little note that lights up everything, does everything for one, takes care of everything for one, unites everything in its tranquil harmony, and whose only success is to be in accord with itself and with the whole. He will not learn to depend on a teacher, a book or a machine, but to rely on that little flame inside, that sprightly little flowing that guides his steps, prompts a discovery, leads by chance to an experience and brings out knowledge effortlessly. And he will learn to cultivate the powers of his body the way others today cultivate the powers of push buttons. His faculties will not be confined in ready-made forms of vision and comprehension; in him will be fostered a vision that has nothing to do with the eyes, a comprehension that is not from books, dreams of other worlds that prepare tomorrow's, direct communications and instant intuitions and subtle senses. And if machines are still used in the City of the Future, he will be told that they are temporary crutches until we find in our own heart the source of the pure Power which will one day transmute matter as we now transmute a blank sheet of paper into a green prairie with the stroke of a pencil. He will be taught the Look, the true and potent look, the look that creates, that changes everything - he will be taught to use his own powers and to believe in his power of truth, and that the purer and clearer he is, in harmony with the Law, the more matter responds to Truth. And, instead of entering a prison, the child will grow up in an atmosphere of natural oneness, free of "you," "me," "yours" or "mine," where he will not have been taught constantly to put up screens and mental barriers, but to be consciously what he unconsciously has been since the beginning of time: to extend himself into all that is and lives, to feel in all that feels, to comprehend through an identical more profound breathing, through a silence that carries everything, to recognize the same little flame everywhere, to love the same clear little flowing everywhere, and to be the self everywhere, behind a thousand different faces and in a thousand musics that are a single music.
Then there will be no more boundaries inside or outside, no more "I want," "I take," no more lack or absence, no more confined and lonely self, no more against or for, good or evil. There will be one single supreme Harmony in thousands of bodies, plucking its chord in this one and that one, this circumstance and that accident, this gesture and that one, unifying everything in one single movement whose every second is perfect and every act true, every word exact, every thought right, every line rhythmical, every heart in unison - and Truth will mold matter according to its right vision. And this little city without boundaries will radiate by its simple power of truth, attracting what must be attracted, discarding what must be discarded, simply by its own force of concentration, touching this point of the universe or that one, this soul or that one, answering thousands of invisible calls, continuously emitting its high, clear note which will brighten the world and lighten hearts, unbeknownst to all.
For such is Truth, so simple no one sees it, so light it travels around the world in a second, unties knots, crosses boundaries and pours out its marvelous possibility in the midst of all the impossibilities, at the slightest call.
(30)Sri Aurobindo, On Himself, 26:375-76.
|Previous chapter||CONTENTS||Next chapter|