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This process is the process by which all life is awakening. It is the process by which we human beings are evolving. Now let us see how it expresses in crucial aspects of our life. We have, first of all, to understand the existence and role of death, desire, pain and evil. If we really understand what he says in this book, we will understand the origin and nature of these problems. Somebody asked if everything comes from Sachchidananda, how can there be evil in the world? As far as we know, no one has ever before really explained evil rationally, except by saying all life is an illusion. Or else they say there is a devil who gives the bad and God gives the good. We cannot accept that explanation when we know that everything originates from the One.

Let us see what Sri Aurobindo says about death. He says death is a process of life. We understand death as the opposite of life. If we accept that life is a universal force, as the electricity flowing from a power plant to illumine the light bulb is a universal source of energy, then what happens when the light bulb burns out? We now know that the force that is illuminating the light does not disappear when the light goes out. The light bulb goes out and the force flows somewhere else. Only it can no longer express through that particular light bulb, since the form of the bulb has been damaged. The force is not lost, because it is a universal force. He says that what we call life is the force that builds up each individual form, such as each of us, so that we can have the experience of life and make a progress. When the soul decides to withdraw because it has had enough of that experience or as much as our present form of character permits, the force withdraws from the physical form and goes elsewhere. But the force is never lost. What is lost is the physical form that we thought was us. Once the force that was holding the form together withdraws, the form disintegrates and returns to its elements. The soul that came for an experience and the force that animated that form are never lost. They cannot be lost. The law of conservation of energy applies to subtle life as well as physical matter.

Sri Aurobindo goes even further and says that death is absolutely essential for the progress of life. Death is not an error or aberration or unwanted attribute of life. Without death, all progress and evolution would cease sooner or later. Supposing today that you found out that through a miracle of medicine you could live for 5000 years. Then when we say make an experiment and take a very serious effort to improve your position tomorrow, immediately the thought will come, “What’s the hurry? I am going to be around for 5000 years. I have plenty of time.” It is very real to us because from our early age we know that our life is limited and hear about other people dying. That knowledge creates a certain intensity in us and an eagerness for progress. There are many stories of people who find out that they have only a month or a year to live, and suddenly they realize all the things they haven’t done or become. They change very dramatically because they realize this precious thing we call life is short-lived and they must make the maximum out of it. Steve Jobs, the highly creative founder of Apple Computers and the highly popular iPod portable music system, described just such a life changing experience when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. How much more true that is for all of us. Having come to Mother and having this infinite privilege of a direct pipeline to Mother, can we afford to waste a single moment being what we were? Since most of us are unconscious and resistant to change, death creates that intensity of life.

Consider the story of Romeo and Juliet. In two families that have been quarreling for generations, a teenage son from one family falls in love with the daughter of the other family. Because the families are enemies, the youth cannot reveal their love to anyone and so they secretly marry. Through a process of misfortune arising from the feud between the families, both the boy and girl die by committing suicide. When the parents of the children see the two of them lying there dead, suddenly they wake up to the fact that they have killed their children by their feuding. The parents repent and give up their feud. Each of them decides to create a statue for the child of the other family to show that they have learned their lesson. It is a great story of the power of death to change life.

In Mother we do not have to lose what is precious to us in order to make a progress. We have the conscious power to make that progress, because of the knowledge we have of how life will be better. But if we look at how human society has emerged, constantly this threat of death and the event of death have led to great progress of humanity. We value life, but we value life much more because we know it is limited. Ultimately we should value life because it’s divine, and we are here to make life divine.

In Shakespeare’s play Henry V, the young English king leads a very weary army of soldiers fighting in France. A huge French army five times greater in size comes to conquer them. The English King Henry stands before his weary soldiers and says, “Now you have an opportunity to really achieve glory, to really live. Whatever happens today, every Englishman who is at home on the island while we are here, every Englishman who hears about the glory of your accomplishment will say ‘I would have done anything to be a part of it’.” Soldiers know about that glory which only comes out in the face of death. When the face of death is there, we discover there is something more valuable than our precious little life: honor, higher values, the glory of humanity, truth, liberty, love. The ultimate truth is, of course, that there is something more valuable than our life. It is the universal life. Death plays this role and constantly reminds us that this life is very precious and also that there is something more valuable. Without that, life won’t change.

There is another reason why Sri Aurobindo calls death a process of life. All forms of force try to maintain and perpetuate themselves. In doing so, they tend to become rigid and unchangeable. This is true of physical forms of matter, the organizational forms of society we call institutions, and psychological forms such as our opinions, attitudes and character traits. When a form becomes rigid, it no longer responds and adapts to the impact of external forces, so eventually it breaks under that impact or gets petrified. After some time, all forms that are created tend to become ossified and rigid.

You build an organization to express a new ideal and after some time the organization becomes bureaucratic. It no longer remembers and serves the ideal. It even comes to behave in a manner directly opposed to the idea it was founded to serve. It is hard for us to remember today that the Congress party was the party for Indian freedom. Whatever our political persuasions, none of the parties seem to remember the ideals of the Freedom Movement today. This is the nature of human and life organizations. Sri Aurobindo says that in its origin even the caste system had its value which has become lost and ossified.

A company started by a visionary entrepreneur loses its original idealism, dynamism and missionary zeal after the passing of the founder when his now-rich descendants become satisfied by the status and wealth they have inherited and no longer care for the original inspiration. The company begins to lose money and soon goes out of business. To some it looks like a great loss, but if you examine closely you will see that nothing essential is lost by the society. Companies are born in order to meet the changing needs of the society. It is the society that contributes the knowledge, skill and energy to form the company. After a time, the company may fail. The knowledge, skill and energy are not lost. The employees join other companies and carry with them what they have learned. Whatever products or services the company offered are taken up and offered by other companies. Even the plant and machinery may continue to operate under a new name. Maybe at the time it was founded, this company was so efficient or innovative that it led to the disappearance of other companies that had come before it. It learned from their experiences, hired their employees, improved on their products and processes. The same thing happens when this company closes. The form changes, the life of society remains and continues to grow.

A similar process takes place in all fields of life. What we call death is the force that comes and breaks the form. It is the same force of life that created the form in the first place and has bound it together. It is the same force that energized the party to fight for liberation or the company to grow or our bodies to live. And when our soul or the entrepreneur’s inspiration or the patriotic ideals leave the form, that force withdraws and the form breaks down. The political party disappears, the company closes, that body is no more. The soul and spirit have been liberated to take on new forms. Death is there to uplift life and enrich it. Because of the nature of life, it needs this breaking up of forms in order for progress to be continuous.

Sri Aurobindo goes on to explain that in death the only thing which ceases to exist is the form. The consciousness and the force that animated the form do not die. If the Congress Party had been dissolved on the day of Indian Independence, the consciousness and force that were the inspiration of the Indian nationalists would not have died with it. They would have gone on to enter and express in many different fields of activity. As long as India was under the domination of the British, only a political activity could liberate the country. But once India gained freedom, politics was no longer the central need. What India needs today is prosperity. The way to serve India today is to go and create new educational institutions, training institutions, commercial institutions, etc. The spirit and energy of the country that was focused on the fight for freedom now get expressed in many other activities and through many other types of institutions. What dies is the form, but the spirit behind the form does not cease with the death of the form.

Very clearly He says death is necessary for the soul’s evolution. The soul takes birth not only in a body, but it assumes a human character. That character is inherited genetically, but it is also partly a product of our upbringing. When we come into the world, the soul chooses certain circumstances that build up the character in a certain way. Character is also a form, not a physical form but a psychological form. If you doubt that, just try acting out of character and see how rigidly that form preserves itself. It is very difficult for us not to think, feel and act like ourselves. If we see that we have been born with a certain character that is not very brave, unselfish or true, the soul has sought that experience so that we could consciously discover the value of courage, self-giving or truth. Once the soul has acquired that experience, if the body remains, we have no further progress to make in that form. The form dies and the character dissolves, so that the soul can choose a new field and a new form for further experience. Thus, death is absolutely necessary for the soul’s evolution.


·        Process of life

·        No cessation of consciousness, only of form

·        Necessary for soul’s evolution

All the forms that we cling to, all the beliefs and rituals, have to be overcome. Now in the USA people are seeking out the old tribal habits of the American Indians and trying to discover some great truths and virtues in those old forms, as if all the forms of the past have to be preserved. People still insist on the right to carry guns because the right to bear arms was enshrined in the Bill of Rights 200 years ago at a time when American settlers were fighting for freedom from British rule. In England people still cling to the form of monarchy, which has nothing to do with the essence of English democratic government today, just out of sentimental attachment to the form.

There is a wonderful tale about a man who was appointed as a new manager of housekeeping at Buckingham Palace. When he accepted the job he was taken on a tour of the palace so that he could understand how everything functioned. Inside the palace there were ceremonial guards standing at all the doorways. As he was walking down a long hallway, he saw a green bench. Next to that bench a guard was standing. The new manager stopped the man who was giving him the tour and asked why a guard was standing next to the bench in the middle of the hallway far from any doorway. The tour guide said, “I do not know.” He asked the guard, “Why are you standing there?” The guard replied, “There has always been a guard here.” Later when they had finished the tour, they asked the manager who was retiring why that guard was standing next to the bench. He also did not know. Then they became curious and thought of asking the oldest staff member at the palace for an explanation. One man had been there for more than 30 years. So they called him and asked him about that guard. He thought for a few moments, his eyes lit up in recognition, and then he explained, “About 20 years ago they painted that bench green, and they were afraid somebody might sit down on it before the paint dried. Afterwards, I guess they forgot to remove the guard!” That is the way we create forms, and how with a vengeance we cling to all the forms and habits of the past. And if someone asks us why we do it, we have no idea any more than the man keeping guard over the bench did. Mother has come here to discard all the old forms. All of these forms have consciousness and life buried in them. She wants to liberate the force of life pent up within the forms so that life can evolve faster and farther than before. She wants each of us to consciously dissolve the limiting formations of our attitudes, opinions and motives, so that the energy and consciousness buried within them can be released and soar forth in greater intensities of knowledge, power, accomplishment and enjoyment.

book | by Dr. Radut