May 9, 2002
J Written by a Nobel Prize winner, this is his own mental realisation of the Buddhist doctrine of Nirvana to which they give the analogy of the ever-living river and flame.
J The mental comprehension can be severely mental and therefore a concept. It can ripen into a comprehension of consciousness, which is a non-existing phenomenon but can be intelligible to mental people. It is not comprehension. It is really to be conscious, rather mentally conscious. It can be of the surface consciousness or the depth of the surface. What No. 1 does is concept formation, pure speculative thinking detaching itself from the sentiment of No. 2 and the organisation of thought of No. 3. Below the depth of consciousness lies the substance of the mental plane in the brain. When it touches its own depth, the centre of action moves from that of the brain to the substance of the body whose original substance is inconscience. Its surface is the subconscient and depth is inconscient.
J Siddhartha or Hermann Hesse realised the doctrine of Nirvana of Buddha in the surface consciousness of his mind and put it in the form of a spiritual autobiography. Such a realisation has its limits, as it is mental, though the limits of mind are exhausted. It cannot move further to the vital, never to the physical. That is why Buddha’s followers started worshipping his idol, an idea he was against. It is said Buddhism took root in the population only when this worship began. This book has a picture of Buddha’s statue on its cover.
J The central idea of this narrative is instructive to me in that Man, Western man, cannot accept the Truth even from the Buddha. He must discover it for himself. That is the mental stage of the West in its progress.
J Here is a simple fact or a simply folly. It is the ego of the mind refusing to learn form others, scarcely seeing a wider truth behind that when the ego thus realises itself, it will be an egoistic realisation, not a spiritual one.
J Sri Aurobindo says all yogic realisations until now have been realisations of the surface mind and egoistic realisations.
J A pickpocket realising his profession is not very laudable, but continuing it in spite of that realisation, is the pickpocket’s realisation. His giving up the profession is human realisation.
J Mind begins with comprehension and when it moves to the negative side it becomes mean, perverse, evil and depraved. When the mid seeks negative fulfillment, it is mean, etc. Siddhartha is one who cannot accept any teaching from anyone, even from the Perfect One. The Perfect One warns him against cleverness.
J Is there an alternative to this perversity?
J If the Indian says it is against all his basic faith to accept technology developed elsewhere and what he has not developed he will not accept, it is a laudable attitude. But that way, humanity will remain where it is. No education is possible.
J As we are all humble before the wisdom of the ages in accepting education, Siddhartha could have accepted the teachings of the Perfect One and discovered it originally for himself, when it would have resulted in the same mental realisation in a short time, instead of a lifetime. Govinda followed the words, Siddhartha the Spirit, through an arduous route. Had he put forward the attitude of humility – the comprehension of the Infinite – not only would he have learnt it quickly, but he could have overcome mind to go beyond.
J Siddhartha starts as a rebel through silent disobedience. His father yields. It shows the atmosphere is not inimical to change but is not ripe enough to initiate change, i.e. the physical is not rigid.
J At this point, there was a choice open to Siddhartha who declined it, whereas his father had reluctantly exercised in the non-negative direction.
J The choice was between submission and defiance. His defiance arose from a mental conviction for which his other parts were not ready.
J The rule of evolution is not to exclude what you have exceeded which eliminates totality.
J Suppose Siddhartha submitted to his father and the father put him through the ritual, his father would have outgrown the ritual in the measure his own readiness permitted.
§ The father gave him permission to leave the house.
§ Siddhartha was haunted by the father in him when his son deserted him. Had he submitted himself to his father, at least, he would have fully outgrown his father then, instead of later, after 20 or 30 years.
§ What was not available to Siddhartha 2000 years ago is now available to Hermann Hesse when he wrote the book.
§ The theory holds good for both.
§ Had Siddhartha submitted to his father, not with an ignorant physical submission but with the knowledge that doctrines were of no value and his own conviction was not ripe to be acted upon, whatever he had realised in 40 years would have been abridged into four years and his own realisation would have been greater.
J Hesse’s comprehension is slightly more comprehensive than the Buddha’s in that he does not exclude Sansara – life – from spiritual realisation. Hesse speaks the language of Sri Aurobindo.
J I say slightly more, because the same theme in the shallow surface of mental consciousness is different from the depth of physical substance of the inconscient.
J As his own father had to yield to Siddhartha, he had to give way to his son.
J Among the Samanas, he learnt austerities which according to Mother are meant for the child soul.
J From there he landed in life with Kamala, to exhaust the life of desires. Desires can be lived and exhausted or given up as austerities. The desires of the vital and physical can be overcome by mental understanding. Siddhartha chose the second one.
J Kamala represented his desires, but she also represented his detachment. That helped him to give up twenty years later. But the physical is more truly real. She conceives and the final discipline for Siddhartha came from the physical through his son.
J When Siddhartha was finally detached form his son, it was worked out in his mind’s consciousness. Neither he nor his son was transformed. There was no question of transformation in those days. When Hesse wrote, we know Sri Aurobindo was living and his knowledge was in the atmosphere. Hesse opened to Nirvana and bettered it to include life – sansara – mentally. Had Hesse not insisted on his own individuality to learn as the Westerners do, there would have been a chance of him responding to the idea of transformation. We, the devotees, will be unfortunate to insist on our individuality as Hesse did. It is reasonable or wise to avail of the best knowledge around without wanting to discover it oneself. As said earlier, the originality should lie in learning it ORIGINALLY so that what is learnt is the essence and not the form of words. Siddhartha can be pardoned, not Hesse or the devotees.
J Vasudeva listening to the river is seeing the Becoming as Force and absorbing its wisdom in the subtle plane.
J Sri Aurobindo speaks of the Being of the Becoming which is in the fourth dimension where life reveals itself as a Marvel.
J Human existence on earth can be traced according to the planes, dimensions, time, sense, etc. Each perception admits of a scale to be constructed. No scale is linear, as at the point of changing planes, there is a reversal of consciousness, subtlety emerges, occult things are unseen. Should one be enamoured of such a work, he would start with an Act and
§ Make it a success at a hundred-fold level and study the process, neglecting the results.
§ When the process is clear, he can evaluate the universally accepted ideas of Life, Science, Education, Politics, etc. in its light. At least he can review his own convictions in these affairs.
§ This, done well, must make the occult perceptible.
§ At this stage, The Life Divine will read like a novel or poetry.
§ Marvel will reveal as more than conception, perhaps as perception.
§ He may at this point try to explain mentally, not intellectually, subtle, causal planes or explain the process to others successfully.
§ His own inner experience will be reflected in the life of the world.
Beyond this, there is no territory left for the mind.