|| by:

Rising above the Subhuman

mothers symbol

The course of evolution proceeding from the vegetable to the animal, from the animal to the man, starts in the latter from the subhuman; he has to take up into him the animal and even the mineral and vegetable: they constitute his physical nature, they dominate his vitality, they have their hold upon his mentality. His proneness to many kinds of inertia, his readiness to vegetate, his attachment to the soil and clinging to his roots, to safe anchorages of all kinds, and on the other hand his nomadic and predatory impulses, his blind servility to custom and the rule of the pack, his mob-movements and openness to subconscious suggestions from the group-soul, his subjection to the yoke of rage and fear, his need of punishment and reliance on punishment, his inability to think and act for himself, his incapacity for true freedom, his distrust of novelty, his slowness to seize intelligently and assimilate, his downward propensity and earthward gaze, his vital and physical subjection to his heredity, all these and more are his heritage from the subhuman origins of his life and body and physical mind. It is because of this heritage that he finds self-exceeding the most difficult of lessons and the most painful of endeavours. Yet it is by exceeding of the lower self that Nature accomplishes the great strides of her evolutionary process. To learn by what he has been, but also to know and increase to what he can be, is the task that is set for the mental being.

– Sri Aurobindo

*

Much Needed to Come Out of the Animal

…the only thing which is very important for the moment is the change of consciousness. And don’t think that this is so easy. If you observe yourself attentively, you will perceive that you think, feel, experience and construct like a human animal, that is, like an infrarational being who is three-fourths subconscious, through almost the whole of your day. It is possible that at certain moments you escape from this; but you still need an effort to escape from it. It may happen spontaneously, as by grace, at certain moments; but most of the time you have to make an effort to be able to catch something which is not purely this. At any time whatever of your day, if you take just a small step backwards and observe yourself, you will catch yourself, you will see that. When is it that… suddenly, you see, if I said all of a sudden, here, now, “Look at yourself!” like that, without warning you beforehand, what was it, there in the field of your consciousness? If you catch that, you will see; certainly at least ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it is the animal that’s there; an animal which is a little improved, you know, not altogether a dog, not altogether a monkey, but still not very far from that.

There are many things which men have transformed into marvellous virtues, which I have found in animals as spontaneous movements-and they at least have the advantage of not being proud and not having any vanity. They did things spontaneously which, surely, were very remarkable-very remarkable in devotion, abnegation, foresight, educative sense. They did them spontaneously and without writing books on them and boasting about them as something marvellous. Therefore much is needed to come out of the animal, much more than one would think.

– The Mother

*

Living Uselessly

That is the attitude of men in general: they come into life, they don’t know why; they know that they will live a certain number of years, they don’t know why; they think that they will have to pass away because everybody passes away, and they again don’t know why; and then, most of the time they are bored because they have nothing in themselves, they are empty beings and there is nothing more boring than emptiness; and so they try to fill this by distraction, they become absolutely useless, and when they reach the end they have wasted their whole existence, all their possibilities-and everything is lost. This you will see: take a thousand men, out of them at least nine hundred and ninety are in this condition. It happens that they are born in certain circumstances or certain others, and they try, you see, to pass their time as well as they can, to be bored as little as possible, to suffer as little as possible, to have as good a time as possible; and everything is dull, lifeless, useless, stupid, and absolutely without any result. There, then. This is the majority of human beings, and they don’t even think… they don’t even ask themselves, “But indeed, why am I here? Why is there an earth? Why are there men? Why do I live?” No, all these things are absolutely uninteresting. The only interesting thing is to try to eat well, to have good fun, be nicely distracted, well married, have children, earn money and have all the advantages one can get from the point of view of desires, and above all, above all not think, not reflect, not ask any questions, and avoid all trouble. Yes, and then get out of it like that, without too many catastrophes. This is the general condition; this is what men call being reasonable. And in this way the world can turn round indefinitely for eternity, it will never progress. And this is why all these are like ants; they come, crawl, die, go away, come back, crawl again, die again, and so on. And it can last for eternities like this. Fortunately there are some who do the work of all the others, but it’s only these who will make everything change one day.

So the first problem is to know on which side one wants to be: on the side of those who are doing something or the side of those who do nothing; on the side of those who, perhaps, will be able to understand what life is and do what is necessary for this life to culminate in something, or else of those who hardly care to understand anything at all and try to pass their time in having as few botherations as possible. Above all, no botherations!

There we are. This is the first choice. After this there are many others.

– The Mother