On The Greater Plan by Sri Aurobindo
The life of a spiritual seeker is not extraordinary. The mere difference between his life and one of a materialistic person lies in the fact that a spiritual seeker is clearly able to see the destructive power of desire and hence considers it his prerogative to be unmoved by the attractions to which a material existence verily misleads him. This is why such a human being is considered to be on the path.
I am held no more by life’s alluring cry,
Her joy and grief, her charm, her laughter’s lute.
Hushed are the magic moments of the flute,
And form and colour and brief ecstasy.
The second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita states in the 56th shloka/verse:
“One whose mind remains undisturbed amidst misery, who does not crave for pleasure, and who is free from attachment, fear, and anger, is called a sage of steady wisdom.”
Undoubtedly, the Self is eternal and one. But, it is to be remembered that the path of spirituality sought by seekers is ridden with both roses and thorns. It is certainly not a cakewalk to unravel the mysteries of existence thereby reaching the immaculate kingdom of the Self. A deluded Arjuna drops his Gandiva on the Kurukshetra pleading to Sri Krishna to rid him of the torturous veil of ignorance. He seeks guidance from the Lord as he realises that he is torn between the two extremes of the good and the bad, the right and the wrong, the white and the black. Sri Krishna then tells him about Sthitaprajna, a man of steady wisdom who is situated in the mean position of the two extremes — one who is unperturbed by pleasures and pain, joy and misery, gain or loss. Being enamoured by the musical quality of Sri Krishna’s flute, Sri Aurobindo, in this poem, describes his temperament. Through this oeuvre, he expresses the ecstasy and the bliss that he encountered while meditating upon the form of Sri Krishna.
For a spiritual seeker, it is also mandatory to develop an attitude of complete silence. Silence does not mean that the person simply needs to sit in a quiet place to contemplate the form of the Divine. This silence also entails total surrender. Unless one is bereft of all the noise that clutters one from within, it is impossible to realise the existence of That which only is. You are not this body through which you breathe, eat and drink, neither are you this mind that thinks and makes you feel. Then who are you? The answer to this question can only be had in utter silence.
The sublime experience of the Divine is mysterious and incomprehensible to us. We have the seeds that can manifest into the Divine. However, the barriers of Time and Space created by Ignorance or the veil of Maya, desist us from realising our True Self which is nothing but pure eternal consciousness. To know something we need to learn. But to know nothing we simply have to unlearn. Mastering the virtue of silence is a life-long process, and Sri Aurobindo, in these moments of spiritual ecstasy, is enveloped by silence and hence comes face-to-face with the eternal, immortal and absolute aspects of the Divine. Only when ‘mortal lips’ are mute, can the Immortal Being be heard speaking.
I would hear, in my spirit’s wideness solitary
The Voice that speaks when mortal lips are mute:
I seek the wonder of things absolute
Born from the silence of Eternity.
In the Sestet of “The Greater Plan,” Sri Aurobindo carves out a straightforward path for all of us, deluded beings, craving to purge the external world and embrace the Divine. He invites us to deliberately eschew the ‘splendours of the surface.’All that glitters, is not gold. But all that glitters, shall glitter and lure us towards it. There shall always be a dispute between the soul and the mind. The opposites exist as long as the body and the mind exist — better put, as long as Maya exists. It’s true that we will never be satiated by the glory and glamour of the world. But, contentment is every man’s innermost craving, and contentment can be had only by the knowledge of the Self, of which no one is bereft.
The supernal plan is higher than all of the externalities and superficialities of life put together. From the point of view of an enlightened being, the world does not exist — all the desires and their fulfilment being superfluous. However, for the seekers, life is simply ‘a slow prelude of a vaster theme.’ Our redemption is predestined. So, this dreamy world of Maya ought to be lived keeping in mind that it is merely a ‘preface to the epic of the Supreme.’ There is light at the end of the tunnel.
There is a need within the soul of man
The splendours of the surface never sate;
For life and mind and their glory and debate
Are the slow prelude of a vaster theme,
A sketch confused of a supernal plan,
A preface to the epic of the Supreme.