Into the matter
The intention of this essay
1 The fact of death
What do we really know?
Life and death, death and life
“As long as death is there, all ends badly” (The Mother)
All are equal before death
Our human density
The legitimacy of satisfaction
Energy and dependency
Where is the illusion?
Where does the work of evolution begins?
2 What if…
Which human reality?
On the way
The sense of time
The milieu of consciousness
The back log of evolution
Effort and rest
3 Another Nature
Like a memory
The world and us
The quest and the treasure
The grain and the chaff
Who is this guide?
The yeast in the dark
The axis of the Trinity
The path of work
Who is there?
How to link?
Body and soul
The Matter of the Supreme
The practice of abandon
The aspiration to serve
The sense of Unity
4 Another Choice
Where is the spring?
Change of authority
The fields of evolution
The integrality of the change
The chains of choice
The unbearable question
Which ends, which means?
Horrors or benefits?
The choice of guide
Step by step
Proportions and measures
“To die to death”
The invisible grounding
The way of details
Discovering the body
Children of the universe
5 A terrestrial action
Each to one’s task
The force of the call
…To be continued…
How to communicate consciously?
This question, it seems to me, becomes every day more urgent and more pertinent.
To you who perhaps will read this essay, I must say that each sentence that contributes to it has been the fruit of a concentration, a meditation, a call.
Do consider these words as an offering.
(January 25, 2016, Auroville for the French original text – April 15, 2016 for the English text)
For Mother and Sri Aurobindo
At Their feet
Aum Namo Bhagavate
Namastasyei Namastasyei Namastasyei
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have affirmed and demonstrated by their own footsteps that the human being and its condition are a being and condition which are transitory – those of a transition – and that the time has come to pass into another State.
They have called this other State into their own beings and into their own bodies.
They have begun the triple work: transformation of the mental, vital and subconscient substance of our humanity; permeation of this physical consciousness which we all share; and manifestation of another mode of physical existence, founded on the oneness of the essential Presence within each being.
They have invited this new Consciousness-Force to take its place as a guide upon earth.
In the Two of Them, as living examples, the human condition which is governed by the mind and the ego has been replaced by a consciousness which is free of all separation, direct, one and sovereign and infinitely free.
Into the matter
It is as if man were a long passage, a bridge across the ages, from the animal to the “supramental” being, as Sri Aurobindo has named it – rather than “superman”, an appellation which lends itself to misunderstanding, as this is not a matter of a sublimated man endowed with overdeveloped powers, but one of a truth-consciousness incarnate.
This transition is dangerous – for the earth, for the whole of humanity.
For those powers which have reigned over human life in these many eras can now well feel that their very sway is being questioned and that for them too the time has come to offer themselves to another future and to rejoin in it their one common source – and most of them refuse this “end” and would rather conserve their fiefdoms and even would prefer for everything to disappear rather than renounce their puissance.
It does seem that we are today on the verge of a disaster, if not universal, at least terrestrial.
It is said and sometimes demonstrated that other disasters have preceded us on this adorable earth, as consequences of a moral breakdown and failure in civilizations which had developed in a manner too unequal and insalubrious.
Whatever may have been, it is most unlikely that the proportions we experience at present have ever been reached earlier in the entire course of human evolution upon earth.
Through the sheer force of numbers, we are confronted with multiple versions of what is the vilest in our nature and the most contrary to truth, while the unprecedented progresses in consciousness which we can also experience appear as fragile beacons on a devastating tide. And these technological advances about which we so brag, which can bring within the reach of almost everyone a whole range of satisfactions that only alienate us further from the necessary awareness, are actually acting as a hypnosis.
A hypnosis one could easily imagine being the effect of a deliberate enterprise conducted by antagonist forces whose aim would be to prevent the evolutionary saltus to the next species.
But how is it that this hypnosis finds in us such a favorable terrain and can so easily operate?
Is it not that another, more ancient and deeper hypnosis has made it possible?
The intention of this essay
In the course of this essay, the phenomenon and the fact of death will be presented as the evolutionary barrier we must now cross. (1)
To dwell at such length on this regrettable state of affairs, however much it is part of nature with which we all must learn to make peace, may appear as a morbid complacency; here is not the case. On the contrary, it is to show how much this fact of death determines all of our choices, our needs and our instincts, our expectations and our hopes: how much the certainty of death is lodged upstream from all our decisions.
Thus, not only do we all die, but almost all of our choices and our actions are so determined and conditioned by this certainty that, the more we search for remedies and escapes and the more we are the hostages of death.
And in this condition, all our solutions seem but to multiply its destructive power in the material world.
Then one will try to get a sense of the changes which would take place in us if we would become capable of anchoring into a concrete continuity of conscious existence in the presence of which death would lose its supremacy, would in effect be de-realized, for its absoluteness would be undone by a new relativity. (2)
What would then be our priorities, our values, our necessities…?
In parallel will be presented an outline of another nature that has formed itself sheathed away from our ordinary human ignorance, throughout all the experiences of our human lives, invisible and unknown to our front personality; a nature that has developed behind the scene until here and there it may be ready to step forward into the world and set to its work. (3)
For this nature alone can lead us to the other State, where we shall be freed from all division and all contradiction, at last able to truly be and love truly.
Then will be approached the question of a new practice of choice, taking as subject matter the ancient and persistent problem of whether – and when – the end justifies the means. (4)
For this very question is today most relevant in all areas of terrestrial life, stricken as it is by the multiplicity of damages our proud civilization has inflicted upon the whole earth.
How did we ever come to this?
Is there still time – for the earth, for what of humanity bears enough grace to evolve harmoniously -, is there still sufficient time to discern another material path and to learn to walk it?
Is there such a power capable not only to prevent the irreversible destruction of this wonderful home, but also to undo and dissolve the obstructions and the poisons we have caused?
Is it at all legitimate, if one may use the term, to consider a generic action of the consciousness which would at least partly dissipate the hypnosis that prevents humanity from realizing the ills its egotism is causing, so that it may desist from it and an indispensable harmony may be restored in the physical world?
An action of the Consciousness-Force upon all individual consciousnesses at once so that all, at least partly, may be freed from this hypnosis and from the fears which have given it its power, and may realize the Unity of all that is? (5)
Thus this essay will attempt on the one hand to brush a summary picture of our human condition and, on the other, in referring to another, emergent nature, to broach the possible practice of another discernment which, like a sword of light, may hasten the discovery of another material becoming and of a better destiny for the entire earth.
“This too the Supreme Diplomat can use,
He makes our fall a means for greater rise…”
The fact of death
What do we really know?
So, here it is.
First and foremost, we are physical creatures and our certitudes are, first and foremost, physical.
What we know physically, we do know with certainty.
It is about real facts, which suffer no exception.
The object I hold tight in my hand, if I open my hand and let this object loose, I do know that it will fall, that it can but fall.
It is a physical knowing.
My body knows this law of gravity, one of the laws that rule the behavior of physical bodies and objects in the earth atmosphere.
And if one explains to me that this law ceases to operate away from the earth atmosphere, where weightlessness reigns, my body not only can understand it but it is able to know it and almost to experience it.
But, among all these physical knowings, amidst these bodily certainties, there is one that dominates all others as far as we are concerned.
It is that of our individual physical disappearance – each living human body is going to die.
While the body may situate itself in relation to the various laws that govern the physical atmosphere of the earth, it has no way, no margin and no choice in the face of its own end, of its own cessation, which are effectuated by a force over which it can exert no control and no influence.
So, here it is.
All of us, however many we are, possess one certainty and one alone: we are going to die.
Death shall come.
Alone, death is sure to come.
Whatever may be our accomplishments or our lacks and lacunae, our quests and our findings, our social position or our individual situation, our condition, our assets, our capacities or infirmities, we only really know one thing: we will one day die.
Death is thus the single and only absolute which nothing, neither any power nor any knowledge, is able to question.
And even for those who have passed through the stages and obtained a spiritual realization, the new certainty which was revealed to their individual awareness is only tangible to the subtle members of their inner being: the physical being itself does not know what they know or declare that they know, it does not have the concrete certainty of a superior, immortal existence.
Its only, single absolute certainty remains: that death shall come.
That the body and the entire cognitive and experiential experience which the body alone makes possible, will cease to be, will be destroyed.
Perhaps, in the entire history of the life of humanity upon earth, those who as the Aborigines of Australia have developed their center of experience in sleep, that is through the capacities of the subtle bodies and no longer only those of the material body which are measurable and verifiable, are the only ones who were able to relativize the fact of death, of the disintegration of the material body.
The fact of death effectively governs our human existence upon earth and each of our lives.
It determines and directly influences the least of our choices, conditions our reflexes and our acts and dictates all of our behaviors.
In vain have we through the ages attempted to discern, to identify, to perceive and to feel a certainty which may, if not undo, at least match that of death.
We obtain only secondary certainties which are more or less useful to our physical experiential existence in terms of apprehension and comprehension of the material universe, of enjoyment and harmony or of knowledge of the different domains of the being.
But even our approach of these is itself informed, underpinned and motivated by the absolute certainty that we shall die.
No area of our human experience is free from the dictatorship and the autocracy of this certainty.
None of our knowings, none of our powers – innate or acquired – can attenuate, diminish, repel or mitigate the impact of death and of its absolute.
Life and death, death and life
This observation can thus be made: consciousness incarnated in matter is effectively, till this day, dominated and ruled by death.
That is to say, what of Consciousness has so far been able to incarnate remains still exclusively dominated by death.
The very process of incarnation is subjected to death, since death has the power to interrupt or to annul it.
If, consequently, one wants to break this absolute hold on life in matter, there must be either an increase of the consciousness incarnating, or a more powerful precipitate, closer to the Oneness of all that is, so as to liberate life in matter form this absolute subjection.
From the Supreme a principle of conscious manifestation superior to death must come to succeed to the principles already manifest.
There are of course all the other planes and levels of existence where consciousness “incarnates”= manifests, takes form and expression.
But – and one can verify this experience repeatedly – it is only in matter, here upon earth that, from the incarnate consciousness, one may have access to all the other planes and directly to the Supreme.
To have this access, one must take a human material body.
It is therefore here itself, upon earth, that consciousness must surpass death.
I do not mean to say here that all of us seven or eight billions of humans as of today are conscious of the absolute of death in the same way, at the same degree and constantly.
The life-thrust, the joy of life, the impetuous, eager confidence of the life-force which animates each body from the moment of its birth, well occupies the physical house and mobilizes most of the moments of its time.
This imperious vital eagerness in its innocence, in its ignorance of defeat, of suffering and death, provides, by its very intensity, almost every one of us with the needed distance.
The force of life by its very nature knows itself eternal, irresistible, inexhaustible and ever new.
But here it depends on the human, terrestrial body to express itself and, if that is taken away, it too must cease – or, at any rate, disappear.
The influx of energy in the bud about to open, in the frolics of the young goat, in the foal bounding ahead across the prairie, in the child running towards the foaming waves on the beach, in the dancer leaping towards her right note – this impetus knows no contradiction.
Until menace shows itself.
Ever since birth, gradually the evidence presents itself of the limited duration, as well as of the successive stages of all human life and of the precariousness of the status of physical being in this physical world. Not only does this evidence get further confirmed with the passage of time, but not one single proof of its contrary – of another physical status here upon earth – can ever be considered as factual. The pattern is invariable and absolute= this human body is born, grows and develops to its optimal adult capacity and, even before it reaches this maturity, it has already begun to deteriorate, till the process of ageing takes over and all faculties diminish and weaken and comes the inevitable final instant of cessation – of death. And this is merely the best of scenarios: for evidence is presented as well of an altogether other gamut of possibilities, most of them unpredictable, which demonstrate the absence of any security as of any guarantee.
Death can happen at any moment.
Be it an effect of hazard or chance, be it the working of fate, a disease may enter the house, an accident may occur, a violence may strike.
The very hour of birth is, one may say, presided over by death.
For it is on an underlying substratum of fear, anxiety, doubts and worry that the mother must join to an act of faith and invoke the innate trust in her own body so as to fight off the shadow encircling the scene with images of terrible outcomes, even while every other person present must, according to one’s own nature, push back and dispel these dark formations, or else seek comfort in a variety of superstitious postures. In such instants, those who dare affirm the sovereignty of Life run the risk of being silently cursed or surreptitiously pointed at with the “evil eye” for showing such arrogant temerity in their confidence when in fact, sooner or later, the law of suffering and death shall impose itself.
“As long as death is there, all ends badly” (The Mother)
Even though for many of us almost one’s entire lifetime passes without one ever being confronted or exposed to the brutal and physical fact of death, while very many others among us must live with it from one’s early years, this circumstantial ignorance is in no way accompanied by any sort of liberation from death’ absolute hold, but , instead, by an acceptance of its determinism= we come into the world, we grow up and develop, we reach a relative equilibrium and then we decline and dim as so many ephemeral lamps. It hardly ever comes to mind to question this final order; and even if some sort of jolt of lucidity insisted on it, we know it is fruitless – merely a distraction, more or less intelligent, but of no possible consequence whatsoever in the course of things. As for wanting to modify in any fashion the given sequence of the biological stages of human physical existence, fate or chance do often enough and with enough drama take it upon themselves to disrupt and jostle and interfere, without ever any occurrence to suggest any other boundary than that of the death of the body.
All are equal before death
This reality of death for all – the only absolute equality amongst all living beings – has never been contradicted or proved wrong.
No breach has ever formed or been made in this ineluctable physical absolute.
Across the millennia - across the ages -, human life has indeed found itself exposed to very different physical circumstances and to all sorts of physical conditions often extreme and to many variations of behavior as well as to a growing multiplicity of social, cultural and racial identities.
But always and constantly and without exception death has intervened and destroyed the body.
Behind all the noise and the movement, behind all the ceaseless succession of intensities, of lacks and of wants, of worries and miseries, of pleasures and of boredoms, there lies this abysm awaiting us, without a doubt.
Nothing else is certain.
This alone is sure= we are heading to the abysm, we will be taken by death.
Our human density
Human activities are distributed in two main fields of experience.
There are those activities that accept and revolve around the absolute reality of the stages of life, from conception to death.
They are those that seek to regulate, for the relative welfare of the largest number, the energetic needs and expenses of all members of the group, whichever it may be.
And there are all those activities which, faced with the inevitability of the death of the body, seek to emancipate us from it, at least partially, by exploring and developing the energies which are not physical - although they may seem to depend of the physical instruments in order to be apprehended.
Thus the arts, the sciences, the philosophies, the religions, have formed.
And even though the action of death reduces all we have ever been, felt, perceived, lived and willed to a phenomenon of destruction and decomposition that is purely and absolutely final and irreversible, yet we do seem, at times, to have access, through some of these energetic activities which are not exclusively devoted to the maintenance and management of the physical needs and expenses, to other planes of experience.
However we remain unable to isolate any one element of their reality so as to prove their independent existence.
We are in all our choices confronted with death; that is, the certainty that death shall come determines each of our choices.
But, while we all die, we do not all die at the same time and each of us is thus in a position to observe the others’ behaviors in the face of death - their own as well as that of those around them.
In this way each one little by little forms a sort of opinion or of assessment of the situation and of the condition we all are share.
This positioning – and its elaboration into communicable terms – is then transmitted within the collective time-space.
Humanity has evolved.
The type, the quality and the degree of satisfaction each one will seek during the period of existence that is imparted will vary from one individual to another – and also from one stage of the individual’s life to another.
Willy-nilly through the ages, by a slow process of “civilization” humanity in its diverse groupings has constituted a common space-time which exists parallel and almost independently from the space and time that are physically measured.
It is the space-time of its acquired traits and qualities.
It is there that progressively and despite all ordeals external and internal, humanity’s achievements in terms of knowledge, faculties and capacities are laid in the common shared space.
Likewise has developed, throughout all experiences under the permanent and inflexible yoke of the finality of all material and physical existence, a kind of wisdom that is accessible and transmissible, a wisdom which offers and proposes itself to each one as a code of conduct and as the core, living and necessary and enduring, of humanity itself – of the human species.
This wisdom, precisely because it has become transmissible, is our one relative victory over the absoluteness of physical death – as it survives the destruction of the individual bodies.
Nevertheless a destruction of all bodies may still take place: therefore this victory is neither entire nor is it definitive.
This “human wisdom” is our collective response to the physical fact of death, to the disappearance of the persons.
Thus it is loaded with an irrepressible pathos: faced with the unavoidable separation, the irreducible destruction, we yet must endure and, if not vanquish, at least temper the sorrow and the pain sufficiently so we may also know the satisfaction to have served the need to live and the joy of existence and of love! Of these qualities and values which we place thus at the heart of our humanity, we can only be assured by an act of faith, which our increasing and consequent sharing makes all the more accessible.
Born human, we are first and foremost physical creatures.
And as physical creatures, immersed in the immense milieu of physical nature, we are afraid of dying.
We have of death, of its destroying act, a terror called “visceral”.
A physical terror.
It is only, and very gradually, by the civilizing effect of shared values, that we are able to raise ourselves beyond this terror and to distance ourselves from what our physical organism brutally feels.
Little by little, helped by the mental and vital forces which circulate everywhere in the terrestrial atmosphere and have their respective organic instruments in our bodies, we learn to constitute ourselves, no longer merely as creatures ruled by the most elementary instincts, but as distinct and separate personalities capable of functioning vitally and mentally – at once as individuals and as members of the group.
This evolution however in no way frees us from physical death.
But it allows us to seek and to make use of other modes and qualities of satisfaction.
For, deprived of any satisfaction of any kind, our situation would be positively intolerable and unbearable.
And it is by this evolution that we progressively become able to stand straight, in the moral sense of the term, that is, to affirm human dignity.
This primal terror, which lies curled in within each of our corporal fibers, secretes in our lives a latent fear, which is constant, of the multitudinous faces death can assume so as to take hold of our body and annihilate it – after some varied measure of suffering.
And thus it is that we all become victims of violence.
For everything, potentially, may reveal itself a source of suffering and, as we know fear is well alive in each one of us equally, we ourselves may be tempted to exert violence or, at least, to threaten it.
Because we are haunted by the fear of dying, of being torn from what we are, what we have, what we hope, by the absolute act of death, we are weak before any threat and any menace, whichever form it may take.
And so it is possible for anyone to gain power and ascendency through the exercise of threat, even before that of violence itself.
Our vital and mental explorations of the reality of existence, in search of the satisfaction, the balance and the distancing which allow us to somewhat relativize the certainty of death and of its inevitable advent, also yield as a result, according to the priorities elected by the individual consciousness of being, to detail, delineate and refine the perversion of these very values which appear to alone contribute to the shared space of transmissible civilization.
The legitimacy of satisfaction
The more vivid is our satisfaction and the more intense is our sense of existing.
This density of experience acts as an anchorage and we then forget that death will come: that the accretion we are, however complex and capable, is but temporary and remains open to the absolute destruction of its physical, concrete base – the only base we know, of which we can verify the presence, or the disappearance.
Along with the diversification of our human experience and the increase of its possibilities, we each have been able to explore different modes of satisfaction – rewards for our efforts.
For our condition is such that, not only our very existence is condemned, but it demands of us the acceptance of effort.
Indeed, our physical humanity seems to be operational only when we feed it with our effort: every task asks for an effort, every aim necessitates the sustained management of the effort to be contributed, the needs of the day-to-day life require an effort and, thus, every satisfaction appears that much more deserved.
The question of how legitimate satisfaction is arises insofar as the elaboration and transmission of a common space seem to be viable only when each one endeavors not to exact one’s own satisfaction to the detriment of others and of the group as a whole.
And it is out of this necessity that the moral sense of a given civilization forms itself.
Energy and dependency
Whether or not we believe that the individual consciousness, or its sense of being, continue after the death of the material body or already were before its birth and formation, whether or not we believe that other planes, other states, other worlds may shelter and nourish some form of individualized consciousness, our passage into and away from this world which alone we know at present, is characterized by our total dependency.
If indeed we cannot really explain to ourselves, nor even precisely perceive, the differences in the intensity and the presence accompanying the arrival of the newcomers into this world, what is certain and unvarying is the fact that each one of us at this stage of our experience depends entirely on others for the birth and formation of this habitation that our physical and material body is.
Similarly, when death causes all our corporeal functions to cease and only our remains are left, we must even then rely upon others to look after them one way or another.
Whatever may be our personal concern and wish to leave everything in order, we have no means to ensure it physically. We are forced to leave this burden or this chore to others.
And further, we discover physically our dependency on energy.
The capital of energy at the disposal of our organism is so reduced that it must constantly be replenished by a new input, a new infusion.
It is through this first need and necessity that we begin to relate to the environment.
Thereafter we gradually discover the different sources of energy, its different modes of action, its different behaviors and the different movements it requires or necessitates on our part.
We become accustomed to its passages through the body.
Hunger, thirst, the need for activity or for sleep, the sexual need.
Some of its passages alter the body more tangibly and visibly even as they stir and mobilize a more intense emotional engagement: so it is with the sexual desire, by which the penis hardens
and swells and rises erect to its welcome, breasts and nipples tauten and pucker and the nub pulsates and the deep lips flood in expectation of the entry.
Forms change as energy courses in and through them.
And, in the orgasm, another fleeting link, an unseizeable encounter with the union, with the response we have so long and so much missed – and which still and again eludes us and escapes: it is as if we were dying there too.
But wherefrom do these currents come, from which perennial source have they surged?
Even if, by some effort more or less effective of our personal will – which we must learn to educate and train – we succeed in abstaining from such or such immediate satisfaction, we yet remain totally ignorant of the actual origin of these pulses of energy.
In order to go on living, to exist in the world, we must constantly resort to new draws of energy: first every desire, every need, every attraction and every emotion, then every thought, every idea, every project, every analysis and every engagement of the will and of the intelligence a bit later, bring us into contact with corresponding energies, which have multiple effects in our own individual reality as around us and in others.
We become participants in a complex circulation of the energy, constantly implying loss, exchange and gain.
But of this we have neither the mastery nor the entire knowledge.
Almost all of our relationships are built up around a trade.
There is a mutual investment, which evolves from basic bargaining to give and take and on to mutual enrichment.
The object is constant: to obtain one form or another of satisfaction, so as to compensate as far as possible for the fact of our personal mortality.
Whether through affection, stability, continuity, comfort, stimulation, return of care and attention, companionship, moral or material support, we all seek to warrant an amount of satisfaction which will be sufficient and will be well enough distributed so as to remedy to physical solitude and to help us face as bravely as we can this fatal journey from birth to death – death which our body will meet alone.
And the energy that does reach us is not always neutral.
Its influence may either be beneficent or maleficent depending on the domain from which one has solicited it.
Human, we have become capable of manifesting the most obscure and contrary perversions - such as the capacity to inflict pain deliberately, to knowingly exploit another being’s weakness, to exert torture and abuses -, as we are also able to bring into the world sublime beauties and vast generosities and the harmonies and illuminations of the highest spheres.
And all of this is energy.
And all of this, either potentially or effectively, death annihilates abruptly – as far as we are individually concerned.
Perhaps, while alive, we may happen to be prodigies or genii, or monsters.
The marks we leave when death reduces us to dust remain active within the shared human space and, in this, do we obtain for a part of what we were an indefinite duration.
A lesson, however, that each of us eventually learns, more or less gracefully, is that the more one gives and the more apt one is to receive.
The child who, playing, gives of itself to the game without counting, exuberant, receives more energy than if he had sat away merely watching.
The more we give ourselves and the more consequent is our opening.
Thus do we pass a first threshold, from mere dependency to participation.
This particular progress constitutes one of the civilizing factors of our common space.
But when death acts, there is cessation of energy.
Where does the intervention occur?
Wherefrom does it operate?
And where does the process of defeat of the body begin – the gradual ageing process which, in its cellular activity, leads it inexorably to the betrayal of its organic integrity and makes death that much more necessary?
Our dependency remains entire, from the first to the last instant.
We remain separated from the energy which animates everything by a veil of ignorance, just as we are from the fact of death.
Of course it is possible to follow an individual discipline which may allow one, on the condition of developing a considerable force of will, to dissociate oneself progressively from desires and even from needs and, eventually, one can even bring one’s own physiological organism to its own failure.
Yet we have neither penetrated the mystery of Energy, nor that of death.
Yes, we do study matter in its most fundamental energetic states, where precisely it is no longer distinct from energy, and we have even grasped some particular intersections and learnt to reproduce certain conditions so as to obtain an accessible and exploitable multiplication of energy.
Which turns back against us.
Which joins the destructive force of death.
Is there another way of affranchising, of freeing ourselves from that separation and ignorance?
Where is the illusion?
It is the fact of physical death, of the cessation of individual corporeal existence, which induced us to pose the question of the illusion.
That a reality so concrete, so alive, so felt and experienced, so personal and so shared at the same time, could be condemned to its entire disappearance, is perhaps only explicable by a phenomenon of illusion.
Yet it is obviously not death itself that can be considered as illusory, since the consequences of its intervention are overwhelming and absolutely concrete.
What was, is no more.
What lived, has disappeared.
Only remain a decomposing organism or ashes or a skeleton.
But life itself, then, can it be considered as an illusion?
Life, as death, - as long as it lasts -, is undeniable, irrefutable and almost totally convincing: almost, because a fissure, a crack opens through which doubt alters, invades its beauty, through which fear comes in, the fear of destruction.
Therefore we have come to situate the illusion in the belief we have formed of our separate existence, which we strive to preserve despite certain death and to which we are attached and riveted as to a post in the field of the universe. And it is precisely this very attachment that, according to a widely shared observation, engenders pain and fear and all the selfish acts that harm the harmony and well-being of the whole.
It is thus generally agreed that a certain individual effort to attain a modicum of detachment is a necessity for everyone in the course of one’s development, from an ethical standpoint.
This necessity has been treated differently by the more influent religions and philosophies, as per their respective interests or according to the concerned collective temperaments.
May it be the injunction to behave well so as to deserve access to a world of perfection invisible in our present lives but promised thereafter, or may it be the more austere and extreme admonishment that the impersonal, eternal and infinite Self alone exists and this apparent manifestation which we apprehend through our bodily senses is entirely and fundamentally illusory, a snare or, at the most, a school of awakening – the thesis of the illusion of this world and its reality has played and continues to play a large role in this shared human space.
Nevertheless other currents of understanding and other approaches have also become defined over time as to the very nature of the illusion which must be identified and dissolved.
The approach of the occultists and the initiates is founded on the repeated and reproducible explorations of subtle domains, with the help of subtle organs of perception which can be awakened and methodically developed, realities which are in some ways parallel to the physical reality, with which it is possible to discern verifiable material correspondences, no longer through one’s senses but through attentive and intelligent observation.
If many of these researchers have been content with mere exploitation of these parallel sources so as to enhance or augment their personal capacities, many others have concerned themselves with attaining a higher, deeper and wider knowledge. Through a discipline as scientific as that of an astronomer, they have confirmed the existence of these other realities which, even though they do not have the fixity or the density of physical matter, yet have their own permanence and dynamics and are governed by their own laws, independent of this physical world of which we share the existence.
Consequently, they may state with certainty that the existence of consciousness does not depend exclusively on that of our physical body.
There is thus a kind of illusion in the belief that alone exists this material life, that alone is real this material world.
However this discovery hardly relieves us of the weight of death.
No one, till this day, has been able to prove that there is a continued personal existence after the death of the body and the cessation of the material instruments.
We do have indeed our ghosts and apparitions and our various communications with what we call our “departed ones”.
But these are only jumbles of meaning or scattered features, not the entire person whom we have known.
And perhaps there is for this a good reason: it is perhaps a boon.
Our frontal personality, our identity as a separate individual and conscious member of the collectivity, forms and composes itself, agglomerates and organizes itself through a kind of incessant working out with the materials, elements and clues that are passed on to us, genetically and biologically first of all, and then through our environment and circumstances on the one hand and on the other and simultaneously through our own unique orientation and our own progressive ability to chose and to assimilate.
Confronted with our precariousness as creatures, we are also subjected to a subconscious load which weighs and drags all our responses.
In this process of the formation of the personality, the other’s eyes play a considerable role.
Likewise the repetition, expected by the others and desired by oneself, so as to establish the stability and continuity of our personal identity in spite of the constant flux of influences, plays its part. These repetitive contours and tracks gradually form the ruts for the constantly renewed passage of energy: one must be this particular person with its recognizable characteristics and behavior and it is understood that we shall remain faithful to this image and shall only let it be modified by the generic terms of the successive phases and accidents of human existence.
We play the game.
It is understood.
However these ruts, so very necessary, are also the agents of wear and tear.
There is diminution: as one distances oneself from the initial movement of simply drawing the energy to grow and to become and as a personal formation crystallizes, the thrust of the being towards the future lessens and turns calculating.
There occurs ageing, stifling, engorgement and burdening and fatigue.
Whatever the result, in our eyes as in the others’, whatever our success or our routs, our subterfuges or our offerings, this personality we assume and to which we have identified, which has become our life-buoy amongst the waves and the surge of the world, becomes also our yoke and our cross.
If each one is thus partly the creator of the personality which acts as one’s passport in society, each one becomes as well its slave and its prisoner.
Of this illusion of being, of this role assembled hither-thither out of disparate elements, of this creation more or less accomplished, it is death that frees us.
Death, the challenger of self-illusion?
In the great majority of individual cases, indeed we do feel an immediate liberation from the weight and gravity of human material separate experience, just as one almost drowned is suddenly released and fast and straight rises to air and light.
The vestment of lead has dropped away from our shoulders.
We cease from this mask, this frown, this fabrication.
We no longer are.
Where does the work of evolution begins?
Death bars our way.
No power as yet has been capable of making it yield and clear the road.
Death has no pity.
And why would we seek to last longer still, such as we are?
Never to cease from this charade?
Just because we may have this project, own that gift, possess this ability, this talent, this aptness or this quality, we would want to remain the same, for all times to come?
Today we may believe that through our technological feats, we shall at last be able to defy death and outplay it by investing our individual sense of being – know-how, self-perception, gifted and acquired abilities, memory and hopes, all transferred as information data into instrumental robots which will serve as our vehicles and our means of expression, freeing us in the same stroke of cunning, of all physiological need. It is to comprehend nothing of what consciousness is – of which the mental force and its organ the brain and the vital force and its organs of perception and action, are but the most evolved instruments at present upon earth.
So, there it is.
There is death.
There is our death.
Because we are separated?
Because the instruments which consciousness utilizes to express itself through us, instruments developed by the forces of nature as all terrestrial living organisms are, are insufficient?
The ego, this “Me-I”, this constant compulsion which whips and goads us and enjoins us to construct our separate personality and provide it with its own traits and specific terms, is in fact tributary of a state of contradiction, opposition and polarity that ceaselessly compels it to situate and position itself in relation to the others and to the world. A minuscule puppet tossed about by the currents of energy that course through the physical world, it must harden and tighten and precise itself with the help of vital motives and of intelligence so as to form and erect and firm up the barriers and the moulds necessary to its own development and survival. It must watch and protect itself from below – where the subconscient threatens to engulf it -, from all sides – from where at every moment the world might reject it - and from above – from where formless vastness might crush it.
It is the ego that, by all means, seeks to turn death– the ruin of its project - into an abstraction.
It is the ego that, voracious, demands to be satisfied. It is the ego that is avid for recognition.
There can be satisfaction only if there is separation.
If there is satisfaction, it is the ego that feeds from it.
From an impersonal standpoint, there is no qualitative difference between the satisfaction of having done one’s duty at the service of the nation, of having taken in a stray dog, of having prepared a delicious dish or of having realized the spiritual presence in everything.
The evolutionary forces of Nature are impartial.
Any given situation can evolve for the worst or for the best, according to the concerned agents.
When the individual human consciousness feels the need to evolve, that is, to accede to another threshold of perception and of becoming, the involved questioning must be intense and oriented enough so as to cross the limits of the known.
Through time we have thus been able to observe the crossed thresholds and to bear witness.
It is most often, although not always, in a context of extreme necessities that evolutionary advances have occurred.
When, human beings in our growing multitude, we enter a movement and an effort of introspection, seeking to understand and to know what moves and motivates us and what we exist for and the cause of our sufferings and helplessness and the origin of our gifts, we do join the evolutionary force. Rather than of the mere progress of the instruments, we are in search of a progress of consciousness – of a surer discernment and capacity of choice, of a wider range of perception, of a more direct knowledge of beings, of things and of the universe.
Which human reality?
“Till death do us part…”
Thus are celebrated the marriage vows, the oath of fidelity between two beings who are about to join their lives.
So here we are, engaged for all of our existence as a man or as a woman, from this instant to the “last”.
The entire experience of all the days and all the years will thereafter be the occasion of verifying our loyalty, our integrity, our resilience, our faithfulness, our generosity – and our patience. There are such commitments – service of a body of work or of one’s country, weddings, the giving of birth, the promise of friendship – which help us to gauge and assess our human valor through the expression of qualities that render us worthy of the shared human space.
Willingly or grudgingly each of us is thus brought, through others, through one’s milieu, to one of these exemplary trajectories which it will be our bounded duty to emulate.
Any lapse will have to be honorably justified.
For it is a matter of the integrity of the group, of the society, of the model of humanity which acts for us all as a beacon and a measuring rod and alone allows us to raise ourselves a little above our mortality.
Even today, as all of these our values are shaken and merged and muddled and jumbled together and our respective traditions are brought to harm by the sheer brutality of difference and the exploitation and mining of all wants and appetites is encouraged so as to provide the largest number with “comfort” and “openness”, these very trajectories, even though they are ill-treated and somewhat damaged in the general mix-up, do still hold.
Thus do we go hither and thither in solitude as in the crowd, accompanied with shadows and clarities, as present themselves to us all such and such options, variations on the same theme.
And then we ache, we feel this sorrow and this need: a need that grows without our active will or knowledge, a need to comprehend, a need to find another certainty than the one that is imposed on us.
And the questions arise: why are we subjected to error, to fear and fright, why this essential ignorance?
From where do our desires come, that drag and possess us?
Our joys, that uplift and liberate us?
Our ambitions that gnaw at us, our hopes that sustain us?
What is this confuse, inarticulate baggage that weighs us down, glues us, betrays us, that wears us?
What is this force of inertia that undermines all our efforts?
Is there no one but us in this whole universe?
Are we condemned, and why, to doubt everything, to oscillate incessantly and with no respite from the absurd to the reasonable, indefinitely producing other versions of the same illusion of being?
Why this human being?
Is there nothing, no one at all keeping watch?
To what end these grand realizations, these elaborate societies, these brilliant machines, these enthusiasms and these elegances and these flights of the intelligence and these forages and breakthroughs into matter and this increasing complexity of experience, if we remain powerless before a child’s pain, incapable of protecting the earth from our own debaucheries; ignorant of how to shift to a more worthy state?
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