June 28, 2007

The secret radiation in matter and through matter etches permanent grooves

“Hidden in the depths, at the core of matter, there is the Divine Presence…”1
“The universe is an objectivisation of the Supreme…”2
Is matter conscious? - Anuradha
The year is 1899. The eminent scientist Sir Jagdish Chandra Bose is busy in his laboratory, when he notices something quite curious: his metallic coherer for receiving radio waves becomes less sensitive if continuously used, but returns to normal if given some rest. It is as if like animals and human beings, metal too tires out and recovers when rested!
Bose decides to investigate this further. He records the curves of molecular reaction from inorganic substance and from living animal tissue and compares them. What he discovers is quite staggering: the curves produced by slightly warmed magnetic oxide of iron show a striking resemblance to those of muscles. In both, exertion produces fatigue which is removed by a gentle massage or through a warm water bath. Further tests by Bose reveal responses in metal similar to muscular tissues, for instance, potassium loses its power of recovery almost totally, if treated with various foreign substance – quite like the muscular tissue’s reaction if exposed to poisons.
In fact, the resemblance is so close, that when Bose shows some of his recordings to Sir Michael Foster, secretary of the Royal Society, the latter responds jocularly:
“Come now, Bose, what is the novelty of this curve? We have known it for at least half a century!”
Bose quietly asks him: “But what do you think it is?”
Foster replies testily: “Why, a curve of muscle response, of course!”
To which Bose responds: “Pardon me, but it is the response of metallic tin!”
Four years of meticulous experimentation leads Bose to announce at the end of a presentation at the Royal Institution:
“I have shown you this evening autographic records of the history of stress and strain in the living and non-living. How similar are the writings! So similar indeed that you cannot tell one apart from the other. Among such phenomena, how can we draw a line of demarcation and say, here the physical ends, and there the physiological begins? Such absolute barriers do not exist.
It was when I came upon the mute witness of these self-made records, and perceived in them one phase of a pervading unity that bears within it all things – the mote that quivers in ripples of light, the teeming life upon our earth, and the radiant suns that shine above us – it was then that I understood for the first time a little of that message proclaimed by my ancestors on the banks of the Ganges thirty centuries ago: “They who see but one, in all the changing manifoldness of this universe, unto them belongs Eternal Truth – unto none else, unto none else!””3
Is matter conscious? From the above account of a renowned scientist, it would appear so. The same has been asserted by the rishis and yogis over centuries. The means of investigation have been different but the discovery same.

Are we conscious of matter?
More than a century has passed since the discoveries of Bose. Why is it that we are still taught about the unconsciousness of matter rather than its consciousness? Could we but perceive matter as conscious, what impact would it have on our dealings with it – as manufacturers, structural engineers, sculptors, builders, welders, potters… and just as human beings surrounded by a plethora of material objects and using them to enhance comfort and efficacy of life?
No doubt we have progressed beyond treating plants as life forms devoid of intelligence or consciousness, but the same step forward needs to be taken in the field of matter.
According to the Mother, there is a ‘life of the Spirit’ that exists in even the inanimate objects. It is as if asleep and therefore matter appears inert and unconscious to us. But if we observe the inner structure of matter, for instance certain crystals, we see immense precision, exactitude and harmony in them. The Mother says,
“if you are in the least open, you are bound to feel that behind there’s a consciousness at work, that this cannot be the result of unconscious chance.”4
This life or consciousness of the Spirit works from within Matter to gradually enable it to manifest this consciousness more overtly. It is here that you and I can collaborate consciously with this process of creation and by being sensitive to the consciousness in matter, and responding to it, help manifest it more and more perfectly, harmoniously.5 As the Mother says:
“at the centre of each atom of this Matter – there is, hidden, the Supreme Divine Reality working from within, gradually, through the millennia, to change this inert Matter into something that is expressive enough to be able to reveal the Spirit within.”6
A true artist is able to do it when she evokes the spirit of the form from within the materials she uses – in the way the Egyptians could do in their magnificent architecture or the Indians in their most beautiful sculptures, as indicated in the following story:
“The whole village had gathered in the garden of the sculptor. They had got used to him, to the chiselling, the hammering, the chipping and the scraping. But today it was different. Where there had been but a huge hard boulder, now stood a living goddess, beautiful and glowing, bathed in the soft light of the morning sun. They were speechless, unable to take their eyes away from the marvel.
The spell was broken by a soft, wonder-struck voice:
“But how did you know that she was hiding inside?”
The sculptor smiled with a faraway look:
“Because I saw her inside.”7

The secret radiation in matter
On 28th March, we enshrined the sacred relics of Sri Aurobindo in the heart of a white marble shrine, at the Gnostic Centre. What could be the significance of such an action? For years I had experienced the living power of the relics at various shrines, and the overwhelming Force that enveloped me at the Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, in the Ashram at Pondicherry. But was it not strange that when you wanted to spread the spiritual radiance and force accumulated in the physical substance of these great yogis, you encased it in solid impregnable matter rather than a substance that was malleable or porous?
The answer for me lay in the tremendous importance Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have given to the material basis of creation – the earth, the physical, the body as the adhara that has to be absolutely stable, plastic and receptive to the divine influence in order to contain the spiritual energy as well as to transmit it and expend it in just measure. Also, though matter can be quite dense, it has the ability to retain the impression once made upon it, for a long time.
When the relics are enshrined in matter, they acquire a permanent base from where they can silently and constantly radiate outwards, permeating and suffusing everything with the power, the spiritual force contained in them. While the ripples in a more fluid substance are transitory, the radiation in matter and through matter etches permanent grooves, impacting all that it comes in contact with. The Mother has explained this phenomenon in a different context thus:
“There is much more aspiration than one would think in things we call inanimate. Much more. There is also in stones a kind of spontaneous sense of what is higher, more noble, more pure, and though they cannot express it in any way, they feel it, and this affects them differently.
Even in things, even in objects, even in stones, there is a strange receptivity which comes from this Presence. There are stones – if you know how to do it – that can accumulate forces. They can accumulate forces, keep them and transmit them. … And these forces irradiate slowly, very gradually. But if one knows how to do it one can accumulate such a quantity as would last, so to speak, indefinitely.”8
Matter is what we are encased in, matter is what we most easily perceive around us, matter is what we constantly interact with… what implications can the above have for us if we were to engage with it consciously? - Anuradha

1 The Mother, cited on p.10, Whispers of Nature, ed. Vijay, Sri Aurobindo Society – Pondicherry, 1st ed. 1981, 3rd impression 1993
2 Ibid.
3 Adapted from the account given by Peter Tompkins & Christopher Bird (The Secret Life of Plants), cited on pp.17-18, Whispers of Nature
4 The Mother, cited on p.16, Whispers of Nature
5 Ibid., p.8
6 Ibid.
7 p.3, Whispers of Nature
8 The Mother, cited on p.19, Whispers of Nature

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