Life Divine… or not

Unfortunately, it is not something we can get to by just dreaming about it.

I bought a book again. Despite my earlier criticism of the Kindle, I did buy the Kindle edition. At least it was 55% off, but truly they ought to be 75% off. After all, you can get half the price of a used book back from a used-book store, if it is treated reasonably well. And before that, you can lend it to your friends, if they treat it reasonably well. (And they should, if they want to be your friends!)

Anyway, it was a heavy tome, so if we add the cost of shipping it to Norway, I came pretty close to saving my 75%.  Keep moving in this direction, Amazon!

The book this time was The Life Divine, by none less than Sri Aurobindo himself. He is like the Teilhard de Chardin of Hinduism, except with a name I can spell. OK, Teilhard probably did not have a history as freedom fighter before turning to metaphysics, but they are both famous for integrating evolution in religion. Or perhaps the other way around.

(On a lighter note, I seem to have named my first spacefaring race in Spore “Bindo” in honor of him, last year (?) when I played that. Spore is a game of guided evolution, based on the assumption that nature has an innate drive toward sentience and that a cosmos filled with intelligent and creative life is unavoidable. I am sure Sri Aurobindo would have agreed, though he would surely not had time to play it himself. Neither have I, these days, although my reasons are less admirable.)

The book is said to be 1100 pages, although it is obviously many more on my mobile phone. The prose is heavy, even to me. (I am not sure if it is heavier than mine, or just heavy in a different way.) Then again he was not a native English speaker, but came from India. Perhaps we foreigners tend to go wild in the language’s immense vocabulary? Luckily I have been assured that the book contains many repetitions, though I have not come to them yet. Repetitions as in saying the same things over in a slightly different way. Apart from that, I suppose we don’t have that much in common, Sri Aurobindo and I.

The thought has struck me that this is a book that would have been nice to have in my bookshelf.  If nothing else, there is a good chance that my heirs would find it in my bookshelf after my passing (may it yet be far off) and thinking to themselves: “A thick book about The Life Divine? Surely Uncle Magnus must have passed on to a better place, then, having had such interests in his later years!” And they would feel comforted.

Unfortunately, their comfort would be somewhat exaggerated. Even reading The Life Divine is none too easy, but living one is still much further off. And it is still too early to say for sure whether this book will help me toward that goal. But even should it do so, that alone will not be enough.

I am obviously not talking about good vs evil here.  And certainly not spirit vs matter. I am happy to see already in the second chapter of the book, Aurobindo establishes that matter and spirit are different in degree rather than being opposites. This is also the Biblical doctrine: All creation comes from the same One, who also in the end will be All in All.  For this reason, we pray: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven” rather than “Please let us escape this goddamn material world and flee to your spiritual Heaven”.

I was about to apply the usual disclaimers, but I don’t think even I should add disclaimers to the Lord’s Prayer…

It is when it comes to the details that it becomes hard to pray “Thy will be done”. But then again that has never been easy. It was, by all accounts, not easy for Jesus either. But then Jesus presumably did not have a Jesus, while we have.

In any case, the idea for which Aurobindo is famous is not so much theological as just logical.  Seeing how matter gave rise to life, and life to mind, we must assume that mind will give rise to supermind, a higher consciousness. Since there have already been some people with a higher consciousness, they can be seen as harbingers or forerunners for the rest of us.

(I wrote vaguely about this in my “Next Big Thing” series of essays, probably my most important writing in this blog. Or it would have been important if others had not said it better before me, but at the time I had no knowledge of that. And this is its value. It is the notes of an explorer, not of a parrot.)

(Ironically, the more I learn about esoteric matters, the harder it becomes to come up with an original thought that I have not already seen elsewhere. But then again, re-inventing the wheel is overrated, especially if you can get a rounder wheel from someone else for free!)


My own life is certainly not divine these days. I wake up morning after morning filled with lust, so that it is difficult to not look twice at the women I see on the bus or in the city, and I had to suspend my fiction project as I kept imagining embarrassing things about the main character.

I am not convinced that this is coincidence.  It seems to me that in the world of the mind, much like in physics, any action leads to an opposite reaction. So by taking an interest in the higher mind, perhaps I indirectly vitalize the lower mind. The totality of the psyche has a great inertia, I believe.

Then again, your psyche may vary.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *