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Divinisation of Life

sa education

In the spiritual history of humankind, there have always been two beliefs: there are those who have the faith that life can be divinized and that is the true purpose of life – though there have been many interpretations of the word, ‘divinisation’. On the other hand, there have been others who have dismissed this as an impossibility and an illusion.

The question is important:

What is the meaning of the ‘divinisation of life’? Is it possible? How can it be done? Does it imply that everything which is human, and which is so dear to us, will have to be given up and will necessarily disappear? Or is it that the human elements will remain but will be raised up and transformed in a higher light and power?

We have chosen this topic for this month because 4th April 2010 marks the 100 years of Sri Aurobindo’s arrival in Pondicherry, and the centenary will be celebrated from April 2009.

The coming of Sri Aurobindo to Pondicherry was a very major and important step in his work of the divinization of life. We give here excerpts from two beautiful letters of Sri Aurobindo answering, with his inimitable style and humour, the questions of a sadhak and a seeker.

Divinisation of Life

I send you the promised letter today; you will see that it is less a reply to the exact terms of your letter than a “defence of the gospel of divinisation of life”, against the strictures and the incomprehensions of the mentality (or more often the vitality) that either misunderstands or shrinks from it – or perhaps misunderstands because it shrinks, and shrinks too because it misunderstands both my method and my object. It is not a complete defence, but only raises or answers a main point here and there. The rest will come hereafter.

But all language is open to misunderstanding; so I had better in sending on the letter make or try to make certain things clear.

The Human and the Divine

Although I have laid stress on things divine in answer to an excessive (because contrary) insistence on things human, it must not be understood that I reject everything human, – human love or worship or any helpful form of human approach as part of the Yoga. I have never done so, otherwise the Ashram could not be in existence. The sadhaks who enter the Yoga are human beings and if they were not allowed a human approach at the beginning and long after, they would not be able to start the Yoga or would not be able to continue it.

The discussion arises only because the word “human” is used in practice, not only as identical with the human vital (and the outward mind), but with certain forms of the human vital ego-nature. But the human vital has many other things in it and is full of excellent material.

All that is asked by the Yoga is that this material should be utilized in the right way and with the right spiritual attitude and also, that the human approach to the Divine should not be constantly turned into a human revolt and reproach against it. And that too we ask only for the sake of the success of the approach itself and of the human being who is making it.

Divinisation is the Perfection of the Human

Divinisation itself does not mean the destruction of the human elements; it means taking them up, showing them the way to their own perfection, raising them by purification and perfection to their full power and Ananda. And that means the raising of the whole of earthly life to its full power and Ananda.

Divinisation is a Greater Art of Life

If there were not a resistance in vital human nature, a pressure of forces adverse to the change, forces which delight in imperfection and even in perversion, this change would effect itself without difficulty by a natural and painless flowering – as, for example, your own powers of poetry and music have flowered out here with rapidity and ease under the light and rain of a spiritual and psychic influence – because everything in you desired that change and your vital was willing to recognize imperfections, to throw away any wrong attitude – e.g., the desire for mere fame, and to be dedicated and perfect.

Divinisation of life means, in fact, a greater art of life; for the present art of life produced by ego and ignorance is something comparatively mean, crude and imperfect (like the lower forms of art, music and literature which are yet more attractive to the ordinary human mind and vital), and it is by a spiritual and psychic opening and refinement that it has to reach its true perfection. This can only be done by its being steeped in the divine Light and Flame in which its material will be stripped of all heavy dross and turned into the true metal.

The Importance of Rejection in Yoga

Unfortunately, there is the resistance, a very obscure and obstinate resistance. That necessitates a negative element in the Yoga, an element of rejection of things that stand in the way and of pressure upon those forms that are crude and useless to disappear, on those that are useful but imperfect or have been perverted to retain or to recover their true movement. To the vital this pressure is very painful, first, because it is obscure and does not understand and, secondly, because there are parts of it that want to be left to their crude motions and not to change.

That is why the intervention of a psychic attitude is so helpful. For the psychic has the happy confidence, the ready understanding and response, the spontaneous surrender; it knows that the touch of the Guru is meant to help and not to hurt, or, like Radha in the poem, that whatever the Beloved does is meant to lead to the Divine Rapture.

Yoga and the Fullness of Life

At the same time, it is not from the negative part of the movement that you have to judge the Yoga, but from its positive side; for the negative part is temporary and transitional and will disappear, the positive alone counts for the ideal and for the future. If you take conditions which belong to the negative side and to a transitional movement … as the law of the future and the indication of the character of the Yoga, you will commit a serious misjudgement, a grave mistake.

This Yoga is not a rejection of life or of closeness and intimacy between the Divine and the sadhaks. Its ideal aims at the greatest closeness and unity on the physical as well as other planes, at the most divine largeness and fullness and joy of life…..

Why should one Fear the Divine

But is the Divine then something so terrible, horrible or repellent that the idea of its entry into the physical, its divinising of the human should create this shrinking, refusal, revolt or fear? I can understand that the unregenerate vital attached to its own petty sufferings and pleasures, to the brief ignorant drama of life, should shrink from what will change it.

But why should a God-lover, a God-seeker, a sadhak fear the divinisation of the consciousness? Why should he object to become one in nature with what he seeks, why should he recoil from sadrsya-mukti (liberation by likeness to the Divine)?

The Causes of Fear

Behind this fear there are usually two causes: first, there is the feeling of the vital that it will have to cease to be obscure, crude, muddy, egoistic, unrefined (spiritually), full of stimulating desires and small pleasures and interesting sufferings (for it shrinks even from the Ananda which will replace them).

Next there is some vague ignorant idea of the mind, due, I suppose, to the ascetic tradition, that the divine nature is something cold, bare, empty, austere, aloof, without the glorious riches of the egoistic human vital life.

As if there were not a divine vital and as if that divine vital is not itself and, when it gets the means to manifest, will not make the life on earth also infinitely more full of beauty, love, radiance, warmth, fire, intensity and divine passion and capacity for bliss than the present impotent, suffering, pettily and transiently excited and soon tired vitality of the still so imperfect human creation!

Is the Supramental Aloof and Unapproachable

But you will say that it is not the Divine from which you recoil, rather you accept and ask for it (provided that it is not too divine), but what you object to is the supramental – grand, aloof, incomprehensible, unapproachable, a sort of austere Nirakara (formless) Brahman. The supramental so described is a bogey created by this part of your vital mind in order to frighten itself and justify its attitude.

Behind this strange description there seems to be an idea that the supramental is a new version of the Vedantic featureless and incommunicable Parabrahman (supreme Brahman), vast, grand, cold, empty, remote, devastating, overwhelming; it is not quite that, of course, since it can come down, but for all practical purposes it is just as bad!

Divinisation and the Supramental

The supramental is not grand, aloof, cold and austere; it is not something opposed to or inconsistent with a full vital and physical manifestation; on the contrary, it carries in it the only possibility of the full fullness of the vital force and the physical life on earth. It is because it is so, because it was so revealed to me and for no other reason that I have followed after it and persevered till I came into contact with it and was able to draw down some power of it and its influence.

Terrestrial Transformation

I am concerned with the earth and not with worlds beyond for their own sake; it is a terrestrial realisation that I seek and not flight to distant summits. All other Yogas regard this life as an illusion or a passing phase; the supramental Yoga alone regards it as a thing created by the Divine for a progressive manifestation and takes the fulfillment of the life and the body for its object.

The supramental is simply the Truth-Consciousness and what it brings in its descent is the full truth of life, the full truth of consciousness in Matter. One has indeed to rise to high summits to reach it, but the more one rises, the more one can bring down below.

No doubt, life and body have not to remain the ignorant, imperfect, impotent things they are now; but why should a change to fuller life-power, fuller body-power be considered something aloof, cold and undesirable?

The utmost Ananda the body and life are now capable of is a brief excitement of the vital mind or the nerves or the cells which is limited, imperfect and soon passes: with the supramental change all the cells, nerves, vital forces, embodied mental forces can become filled with a thousandfold Ananda, capable of an intensity of bliss which passes description and which need not fade away. How aloof, repellent and undesirable!

The supramental love means an intense unity of soul with soul, mind with mind, life with life, and an entire flooding of the body consciousness with the physical experience of oneness, the presence of the Beloved in every part, in every cell of the body……

Sri Aurobindo