I invite you friends, to ponder deeply these words of Hindu mystic and philosopher Sri Aurobindo. At the end there are some questions for your consideration. This would be ideal to do in the context of a group of friends or seekers.
“Therefore to find the truth of things
and the law of his being in relation
to that truth he must go deeper
and fathom the subjective secret of himself
as well as their objective forms and surroundings.
This he may attempt to do
for a time
by the power of the critical and analytic reason
which has already carried him so far;
but not for very long.
For in his study of himself and the world
he cannot but come face to face
with the soul in himself and the soul in the world
and find it to be an entity
so profound, so complex,
so full of hidden secrets and powers
that his intellectual reason betrays itself
as an insufficient light and a fumbling seeker:
it is successfully analytical only of superficialities
and of what lies just behind the superficies.
The need of a deeper knowledge
must then turn him to the discovery
of new powers and means within himself.
He finds that he can only know himself entirely
by becoming actively self-conscious
and not merely self-critical,
by more and more living in his soul
and acting out of it
rather than floundering on surfaces,
by putting himself into conscious harmony
with that which lies behind his superficial mentality
and psychology and by enlightening
his reason and making dynamic his action
through this deeper light and power
to which he thus opens.
In this process the rationalistic ideal
begins to subject itself to the ideal of intuitional knowledge
and a deeper self- awareness;
the utilitarian standard gives way to the aspiration
towards self-consciousness and self-realisation;
the rule of living
according to the manifest laws of physical Nature
is replaced by the effort towards living
according to the veiled Law and Will and Power
active in the life of the world
and in the inner and outer life of humanity.”
The Coming of the Subjective Age, -.29. The Human Cycle, Aurobindo.
Aurobindo begins this reflection by stating the limitations of mere critical and analytical reason in the pursuit of the spiritual life. There comes a day when a human being comes “face to face with the soul in himself and the soul in the world and finds an entity so profound, so complex, so full of hidden secrets and powers that his intellectual reason betrays itself as an insufficient light and a fumbling seeker”.
The great poet Stanley Kunitz doesn’t mention “the soul” per se in his poem, The Layers. Instead, after writing about how in his long life he has lived many lives, and gone through many changes, yet there abides “a principle of being”, from which he “struggles not to stray”.
How would you describe the soul, this “principle of being”, that transcends critical and analytical reasoning?
Aurobindo writes of “the ideal of intuitional knowledge”. Describe experiences of this deeper intuitive way of knowing in your life.
Aurobindo writes, ” He finds that he can only know himself entirely by becoming actively self-conscious and not merely self-critical,
by more and more living in his soul and acting out of it rather than floundering on surfaces”.
How are you doing with this art of being self-conscious or self-reflective, without being “self-critical”—the competency of self-inquiry, wherein we receive insights about ourselves as information”.
How do you “act out of the soul” rather than flounder on the surface of things?
Teilhard de Chardin writes of the “deep withinness” of life, this depth dimension that can be intuited in the midst of our comings and goings. Is this the “veiled Law and Will and Power” , active in the life of the world and in the inner and outer life of humanity, which is distinct from the “manifest laws of physical Nature”?
What is your experience of this “veiled Law”?
Please leave your comments, and do respond to other people’s comments.