April 25, 2007

People usually pass over or glance at without much concern

The Divine Mother and the Triple Status of the Supermind by Debashish Banerji
Guru Pershad Memorial Lecture, Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry, 2004.
by Debashish on Wed 26 Oct 2005 03:39 PM PDT Permanent Link
Thank you for inviting me to give this address for the Annual Guru Pershad Memorial Lecture. When Professor Nadkarni asked me to make this address I thought of this subject because at our Center in Los Angeles we were studying both The Mother and the chapters on the Supermind in the first part of The Life Divine at the time and this theme drew my attention.

To talk about the triple status of the Supermind sounds like something very esoteric and very distant – chapters of The Life Divine that people usually pass over or glance at without much concern, and usually the idea that is propagated is that things like Supermind are too far from us, we should not even think about them. They do not warrant thought. We should make ourselves silent and proceed as best as we can, and may be we will catch a glimpse by the Grace, of what the Supermind is or can do or is here to do.

Well, Sri Aurobindo wrote this substantial tome - which he once called humorously “a fat elephant”, and a lot in this book has to do with the Supermind. Now he wrote it evidently because he wanted us to read it, and wanted us to read it because he wanted us to form an idea, however adequate or inadequate it may be, so that we might develop some sort of an aspiration towards what his central work has been. And aspiration, as we know, is one of the two central powers of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga. As you are no doubt aware, Sri Aurobindo begins The Mother by enumerating the two sole powers of his yoga; and these are – Aspiration and Grace.

But Aspiration in itself can be either vague, nebulous, diffuse, or it can be something which is fine-tuned. We all start with a vague aspiration. Everybody in this world has some kind of an aspiration. Aspiration, one may say even, is the essence of humanity. But the aspiration of most people remains vague for their entire life. They do not form any clarity about where they want to go. Of course with the action of Grace, Aspiration clarifies, but the works of Sri Aurobindo are meant to give us a finer tuning to our aspiration. And as the aspiration grows in precision, so too the Grace can act with greater precision on us and bring us closer to a realisation which opens more and more of that Truth to us. So with this preamble, I would like to move on to the relevance of today’s talk and of what Sri Aurobindo had to write about it in The Life Divine and The Mother...
Now the Vedanta is very clear about the unity of all things and unity is what we move to intentionally in our human existence. Mind itself gropes for unity and carries within it an intention of unity. It is impossible for mind to rest until it can assert something of a fundamental unity in existence. This is what makes even Science look for a Unified Field Theory. So what is that fundamental unity which Vedanta classifies as Adwaita – the one without a second? We know that the Adwaita that is most popularly understood in India today is the Adwaita of Sankara, which asserts that Sachchidananda is Brahman, is true and the world, ‘Jagat’ here, is the fragmented reality, is false. Therefore the reality of the world is denied as something illusory, something which does not have any kind of substantiality except in the false experience which somehow we have been given to experience through the mysterious agency of Maya- an illusion-making magician - within the unitary reality of Sachchidananda. If we can escape from this prison of Maya we will experience Reality as it truly is – one, undifferentiated, without name and form, without any particularity, specificity or fragmentation. So this is the One without a second that we are asked to approach.

Now the Veda had a different approach; it gave us a process by which to understand the difference between the One and the infinite particles or fragments of the One. And this process is that of the Purusha-Medha Yajna: the sacrifice of the Purusha. By sacrifice the Purusha has became this world. This is the idea of the Veda. And this sacrifice is seen as that of the One Being, Purusha, the One Being there is, who for some mysterious reason has fragmented himself, has broken himself up, broken himself into pieces, and these fragments, infinite fragments of That One (Tad Ekam) are separate realities – that are here in this Ignorance. Thus, the Ignorance is the sacrificed body of the Supreme Person. We ourselves are the limbs of that sacrificed body of the Supreme which is why we experience separativeness. This is the dichotomy between Vidya and Avidya as far as the Veda is concerned.

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