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This is the knot from which we start. Out of this knot of matter, life emerges. This inert matter starts to move. This inconscient matter starts to sense. Out of this we do see a force emerging. Sri Aurobindo says that Life is the final operation of Chit. That same conscious force is the force of Mother, because Mother’s force is the supramental power. That is the same life force that we experience in greatly diminished intensity within the limited boundaries of our egos. We think that we each possess a certain quantum of energy, a separate and independent source of power, which we call our life. But that is no more true for us than for each of the light bulbs in this room. A certain amount of electricity is needed to light each bulb. We understand that all of the bulbs in this room are really lit up by the same force, because we know how electricity works. But if you did not know how electricity worked, you might think that each of these bulbs is a separate flame. When we go into the other rooms and see an elevator and other lights, the lights and the elevator are also being energized by the same force. My computer is being run by the same force. When we ask where the force is coming from, we find out it is from the Neyveli Power Station. The whole state is being driven by the energy that emanates for this power plant. Now imagine that there is a Mother of all power plants from which all the power plants derive their energy. If this light goes out, we think of looking at the connection or the fuse box; if the lights go out all over Pondicherry, we trace it to some sub-station of Neyveli. As you trace it back from the light bulb to the fuse box to the sub station, the power increases tremendously. Mother is the mother of all the power stations. Her force is the force of life that animates everything in the universe. That includes every living thing as well as every physical force of nature. The life of Mother is at the Mother power plant. When we call Her, we are calling the force of life that animates everything. That is why it is so powerful.

Life presents us with a few problems. The first is the problem of division. Life is a universal, cosmic force. But the life we know is the life of the tiny individual light bulb which seems to be separate from everything else. It is separated from the universe. It is not only divided from everything else, but it sees other lives as a threat to it. There is limited food and I have to be sure I get my share. There are limited seats in the college and I have to be sure I get my seat. There are limited customers in the market who want my product, so I have to compete with other companies for their business.

The second major problem of life is ignorance. We live on the surface of the ego and we are ignorant; ignorant not only of the Divine, but also of our own parts of being, our subconscious, superconscient, and subliminal being. Consciousness and force are really one and indivisible. Therefore, this ignorance means that we are also impotent, because you can only have real power over that part of existence of which you are conscious.

Causes of Life’s Problem

Separation of individual from universal — division

Separation of surface from subliminal — ignorance

Separation of consciousness from force — incapacity

Another problem is that the life force has become separate from consciousness. The life we know does not know where its power comes from. The mental consciousness and the force have become separate. In supermind, knowledge and will, consciousness and force are two inseparable aspects of a single reality. Whatever we know, we have the power to accomplish. Whatever we will to accomplish, we have the knowledge required to realize. But at the human level, knowledge and will are separated and act independently and often at odds with each other. We are at war with ourselves. Our mind wants one thing, our vital another and our body something else. As good devotees who have read all of Mother’s works, we know with our minds what we should do, but we do not always find it easy to compel our vital to lend its energy to do what the mind knows. Our mind and our will can be at variance.

All of the problems of life that we encounter come to us because of these three characteristics. Ignorance leads to error. Division from others leads us to opposition and conflict. Separation of knowledge and force leads to impotence and incapacity. These problems come because life is emerging out of matter. Life is not coming out of mind. Life is awakening in matter, which has divided itself from everything else. The ascent of Life is a movement from division to rediscover our oneness with the whole universe, from ignorance to right knowledge, will and action, from impotence to infinite capacity for self-fulfillment.

Biologists are seeking to discover the source and mechanism of life in the structure and functioning of the cell, a material form. When a scientist studies life, he tries to figure out what is the force in the cell which gives it life and how it loses this life when the cell dies. He cuts open the cell to find the source of this life and, of course, the cell dies. He thinks that the force is in the object, just as a primitive man might think that the man he sees on a TV screen is actually inside the box. In the chapter entitled “Conscious Force”, Sri Aurobindo explains that “the force is anterior to the instrument.” Life is not a property of matter but a force that expresses in and through material forms. The force of life is no more produced by the cell than the man on the screen is produced by the TV. The force that is expressing through us is a universal force; it is the force of Chit. That force expresses through the instrument but is not generated by it. As the instrumentation of the TV picks up invisible radio waves in the atmosphere and converts them into sound and images, so also cells and living bodies act as instruments to channel and give form to the force of Life. To understand what death is, we have to understand this point. The force is not limited to the box. This truth is known to the Indian tradition. People worship an idol, but they know that there is a force behind the idol. Yet, very often we mistake the instrument for the force.

Mother has said that if a leading person in any field of life or knowledge comes to Her and is open to acquire the next level of knowledge, they can rise to the top of their field internationally. That is the power of the knowledge offered in The Life Divine. It can be applied to every field of life to extend the boundaries of theoretical knowledge and to enhance the effectiveness of our practical capabilities.

Later in the book, Sri Aurobindo explains how the consciousness of Chit dormant and concealed in material forms awakens and emerges as living and conscious beings. Each form in the universe is a formation of energy, a form of force maintaining a fixed pattern of orbit. The hidden consciousness contained within the form emerges by contact between the force of that form with the force of other forms. All evolution is the result of contact of force with force, which awakens a secret consciousness buried inside the form.

This is exactly how we progress in life. We are constantly brought into contact with other lives which are different from our own. Some of the contacts are pleasant, some are unpleasant. Unusual circumstances challenge us and force us to adapt or adopt new behaviors. Each new experience, positive or negative, touches some latent capacity within us and helps to bring it to the surface. In our own lives we are constantly coming in contact with forces from outside that disturb us. Every force that comes to us comes to awaken the consciousness in us so that that consciousness can come to the surface. When we understand this truth, we acquire a profound insight into the meaning of the events in our lives and into the evolutionary process of life in the universe.

We begin to discover opportunities where earlier we encountered only difficulties. The most unwanted influence and the most stressful challenge represent evolutionary opportunities as great in significance as our rare moments of peak enjoyment. We have a secure job and somebody says we should quit our job to earn a hundred times more running an industry, but when we hear this proposal it sounds frightening. The mind may feel it sounds nice, but the force in the vital feels that “I am too small a person for this.” If we refuse, we lose the opportunity. Or if we are very ‘lucky’, we are fired from our present job, thrown back on our own resources, and find that the apparent catastrophe was actually a great boon leading us to higher achievement. That is why Sri Aurobindo says in the first chapter, when we are able to receive positively the challenging contacts of life, the pressure of life comes and releases a greater consciousness in us. This is the way in which life is evolving consciousness on earth. Review your own life and you will discover the progress you have made by responding to the impact of external forces coming from life.

Thirty years ago I spent some time at Mother Estates, the Society’s agricultural project near Cuddalore. We had a cook who used to sleep in a thatched shed with a mud floor. One morning when I wanted a cup of tea, I called the cook, but he did not come. I went into his shed and found him lying on the ground fast asleep. I shouted at him but he did not move. So I called one of the managers of the project and asked him to wake up the cook. To my surprise, the manager went in and gave the cook a hard kick. It was a kick I would have found very painful, but the cook barely moved, groaned a little and slowly opened his eyes. So deep and unconscious was his sleep that he could be stirred only by a forceful blow. This is what Sri Aurobindo calls the inconscient waking up, the process of the evolution. With respect to the force that Mother is constantly offering us, we are all like the cook. She is ‘shouting’ at us, calling us, maybe She is even kicking us, but we go on sleeping the sleep of ignorance and remain what we are. We are lost in the oblivion of our mentally-conscious sleep. The more lost we are in it, the more intense must be the pressure that comes from outside life in order to wake us up and release the greater potential within us.

There is a nice quote from the Buddha: “Life sleeps in the mineral, moves in the vegetable, walks in the animal and thinks in the human.” This is what Sri Aurobindo says in the book. What we call life is there in the stone. Even though the stone does not move or breathe, the consciousness is there nevertheless, involved. Jagadish Chandra Bose, the famous Indian scientist, found out at the beginning of the 20th Century that plants respond to physical stimulation as well as to human thoughts and emotions. Plants have life. Bose said he was even able to detect consciousness in the stone. All matter is alive with consciousness. It is brought out by the impact of external forces which challenge us to be better, as the threat of the lion helps the deer learn to run faster in order to survive. In our society, we are constantly challenged by external forces to gain more mastery. As parents we try to train our children to acquire greater control over their bodies and mastery over their thoughts and emotions.

All our progress is the result of external pressure, until the magical moment when we say, “Why should I need the pressure of life for my progress? Why don’t I do it on my own? Why should I wait for someone to abuse me before I think of improving my conduct? Why don’t I look at my thoughts and try to have purer thoughts, look at my motives and try to become a better person?” This is still the force of nature acting on our own life to awaken its consciousness, but it is now the authority of our minds which applies the pressure from inside. At this point we really become human. When we are willing to consciously accept an idea, an ideal, a higher value and live by it, and consciously impose that on our vital, then we really become human beings. Mother says, at that point, we can accomplish anything. If we turn to the Mother of power plants and rely on Her force, we can create anything we want, because we are asking our vital, our life, to submit to what it knows to be true. When we decide to do whatever Mother says is right for us to do, we are allowing the consciousness to drive the force, rather than the opposite.


book | by Dr. Radut