To Sri Aurobindo


On His 150th Birth Anniversary

Who is Sri Aurobindo? 

In the Indian dharmic tradition, we consider him to be a maharishi, a great Seer, one who has attained complete consciousness and has passed beyond death, into the realms of immortality. Note, in the dharmic tradition, immortality is not of the body but of consciousness. We are consciousness much more substantially than we are bodies or nervous systems. The body, the mind and nervous system, the life force, are all tangible externalizations, manifestations, of consciousness. The one who realizes himself or herself as consciousness becomes one with consciousness: whatever one realizes, one becomes. And since everything is consciousness, this universe itself is consciousness, the one who becomes consciousness becomes everything and everyone — cosmic or all-consciousness. This all-consciousness is called Brahman. The word Brahman signifies the infinite, the ever-expanding, the perfect, that which surpasses all but itself cannot be surpassed, that which contains all but itself cannot be contained. 

Imagine then for a moment a human being living this Brahman, identified in every plane, part and movement with this Brahman, embodying and expressing this supracosmic brahmic consciousness perfectly and infallibly in mind, life and body. For us earth-bound mortals, such a being would be divine, a God in human form. 

Sri Aurobindo was such a being, an epitome of human evolution, an exemplar of what the human consciousness can attain and become.

It is easy to deify such a person, and place him on a pedestal so high that he becomes irrelevant to our common humanity and concerns. After all, it is far more comforting to regard such beings as outliers, or aberrations of nature, than to see them as one of us. For to see one such as Sri Aurobindo as one of us would challenge our most fundamental social and religious assumptions of being human. We are fine with the divine as ideal, something far up there, but to accept it in flesh and blood is quite another matter. We are good with prophets and seers of legend — we even worship them from a safe distance — but to accept one amongst us, as one of us? A human who attains godhead? And stands as tall as our messiahs and gods, perhaps even reaching a bit beyond them? That defies both, reason and faith. How can the gods and avatars of the Great Past be surpassed? Spiritual attainments are static things, fixed for all time. The last Word has been spoken, the last Savior has come. There is no passing beyond. 

Such beliefs, however dominant across religions and theologies, are spiritually reactionary. Human consciousness is supremely dynamic and evolving all the time. Were it not so, the human species would already be at an evolutionary dead-end. No spiritual being, far less a seer or a prophet, worth his or her salt would ever erect barriers to future spiritual evolution. 

This is the barrier of the old religions that Sri Aurobindo broke through. Without any noise or fuss, without any grand epochal proclamations and declarations, quietly, humbly, sitting in a corner of a room in a remote French town in India, largely unknown to the world, unknown even to those who claimed to live in his immediate physical proximity, he broke open the heaven of the ancient gods and brought down to earth from beyond a Force that would precipitate the birth of a new species — a species that would live as naturally in the truth-consciousness as we presently live in falsehood and ignorance, a species that would live as instinctively in love, beauty and harmony as we now live in squalor, violence and cruelty. Sri Aurobindo called this future species gnostic beings — and he himself, with his spiritual collaborator, the Mother, offered humanity the first glimpses of the gnostic being in their own minds and bodies. Whosoever can look long and close enough at Sri Aurobindo and the Mother will look upon the future of humanity. 

The human is still not the last word of Life’s evolution. Life has still not attained perfection — it continues its timeless struggle for more consciousness, more truth, more force and light. And this is a struggle that cannot be quashed by any earthly force or entity: not by the aggression of the old religions, nor by the power of the capitalists and politicians, nor even by global disasters. In fact, in the deeper truth of things, all these may actually be the signs of an increasing evolutionary pressure for more truth and harmony.

For those who are not familiar with the nature and dynamics of consciousness, who do not yet know what is behind and beyond this known, tangible universe, who have not yet touched their own inner lives and beings, all this may sound poetic, or hyperbolic. But for those who have, in some measure, been able to touch, or even glimpse, the inner and higher worlds, all this would be perfectly and elegantly logical — if not this, then what? 

The earth consciousness — and there is one, as real as our personal consciousness —  grows weary of the endless childish battles for dominance and power. The age of the animal-human is decisively over and another age is upon us, the age of the truly and completely human. For if we can grow completely human, it will be enough for now. 

Enough, at least, to touch that vast truth that Sri Aurobindo is. 

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