21 January 2008

The burden of the Light

A few persons even today, fifty seven years after he left his body, are aware of what Sri Aurobindo did in his life in Pondicherry. For people of India it is not unusual. For thousands of years the sanyasins in India lived in seclusion for purpose of their sadhana. But Sri Aurobindo was not a sanyasin as he accepted life and world as real and his yoga is not for shunning this world as Maya and accepting Nirvana as the only goal. He attained Nirvana in 1908 before he left for Pondicherry in 1910. So what required him to live within the boundaries of his room for long forty years?


His was a life of battling against ignorance of life we live in. But it is impossible to get an idea by oneself unless one believes in the possibility of a change of human nature and for that matter in oneself following the path sincerely as shown by Sri Aurobindo. His disciples wrote to him about their sadhana and sought his guidance and opinion. Sri Aurobindo, in reply, wrote hundreds of letters to them regularly. These letters are now sources of light for all who follow his path of Yoga of transformation.

The following letter is one among them and which shows partly the extent of his battle and about himself.

"I can not say that I follow very well the logic of your doubt. How does the suffering of a noble and selfless friend invalidate the hope of yoga? There are many dismal spectacles in the world, but that is after all the very reason why yoga has to be done. If the world were all happy and beautiful and ideal, who would want to change it or find it necessary to bring down a higher consciousness into this earthly Mind and Matter? Your other argument is that the work of the yoga itself is difficult, not easy, not a happy canter to the goal. Of course it is, because the world and human nature are what they are. I never said it was easy or that there are not obstinate difficulties in the way of the endeavour. Again, I do not understand your point about raising up a new race by my going on writing "trivial" letters ten hours a day. Of course not-nor by writing important letters either; even if I were to spend my time writing fine poems it would not build up a new race. Each activity is important in its own place-an electron or a molecule or a grain may be small things in themselves, but in their place they are indispensible to the building up of a world; it can not be made up only of mountains and sunsets and streaming of aurora borealis-though these have their place there. All depends on the force behind these things and the purpose in their action-and that is known to the Cosmic Spirit which is at work; and it works, I may add, not by the mind or according to human standards but by a greater consciousness which, starting from an electron, can build up a world and, using a tangle of ganglia, can make them the base here for the works of the Mind and Sprit in Matter, produce a Ramakrishna, or a Napoleon, or a Shakespeare. Is the life of a great poet either made up only of magnificent and important things? How many trivial things had to be dealt with and done before there could be produced a "King Lear" or a "Hamlet"? Again according to your own reasoning, would not people be justified in mocking at your pother-so they would call it; I do not-about metre and scansion and how many ways a syllable can be read? Why, they might say, is he wasting his time in trivial prosaic things like this when he might have been spending it in producing a beautiful lyric or fine music? But the worker knows and respects the material with which he must work and he knows why he is busy with "trifles" and small details and what is their place in the fullness of his labour.

As for faith, you write as if I never had a doubt or any difficulty. I have had worse than any human mind can think of. It is not because I have ignored difficulties, but because I have seen them more clearly, experienced them on a larger scale than anyone living now or before me that, having faced and measured them, I am sure of the results of my work. But even if I still saw the chance that it might come to nothing (which is impossible), I would go on unperturbed, because I would still have done to the best of my power the work that I had to do and what is so done always counts in the economy of the universe. But why should I feel that all this may come to nothing when I see each step and where it is leading and every week, every day-once it was every year and month and hereafter it will be every day and hour-brings me so much nearer to my goal? In the way that one treads with the greater Light above, even every difficulty gives its help and has its value and Night itself carries in it the burden of the Light that has to be."

©Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust-1970

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