by The Mother
For those who practise the Integral Yoga, the welfare of humanity
can be only a consequence and a result, it cannot be the aim.
And if all the efforts to improve human conditions have miserably failed
in the end in spite of all the ardour and enthusiasm and self-consecration
they have inspired at first, it is precisely because the transformation
of the conditions of human life can only be achieved by another preliminary
transformation, the transformation of the human consciousness or at
least of a few exceptional individuals capable of laying the foundations
for a more widespread transformation.
But we shall return to this subject later on; it will form our conclusion.
First of all, I want to tell you about two striking examples chosen
from among the adepts of true philanthropy.
Two outstanding beings at the two extremes of thought and action, two
of the finest human souls expressing themselves in sensitive and compassionate
hearts, received the same psychic shock when they came into contact
with the misery of men. Both devoted their whole lives finding the remedy
for the suffering of their fellow-men, and both believed they had found
it. But because their solutions, which may be described as contraries,
were each in its own domain incomplete and partial, both of them failed
to relieve the suffering of humanity.
One in the East, Prince Siddharta, later known as the Buddha, and the
other in the West, Monsieur Vincent, who came to be called Saint Vincent
de Paul after his death, stood, so to say, at the two poles of human
consciousness, and their methods of assistance were diametrically opposite.
Yet both believed in salvation through the spirit, through the Absolute,
unknowable to thought, which one called God and the other Nirvana.
Vincent de Paul had an ardent faith and preached to his flock that one
must save one's soul. But on coming into contact with human misery,
he soon discovered that in order to find one's soul one must have time
to look for it. And when do those who labour from morning till night
and often from night till morning to eke out a living really have time
to think of their souls? So in the simplicity of his charitable heart
he concluded that if the poor were at least assured of the barest necessities
by those who possess more than they need, these unfortunate people would
have enough leisure to lead a better life. He believed in the virtue
and efficacy of social work, of active and material charity. He believed
that misery could be cured by the multiplication of individual cures,
by bringing relief to a greater number, to a very large number of individuals.
But this is only a palliative, not a cure.
The fullness of consecration, self-abnegation and courage with which
he carried on his work has made of him one of the most beautiful and
touching figures in human history. And yet his endeavour seems to have
rather multiplied than diminished the number of the destitute and the
helpless. Certainly the most positive result of his apostleship was
to create an appreciable sense of charity in the mentality of a certain
section of the well-to-do. And because of this, the work was truly more
useful to those who were giving charity than to those who were the object
of this charity.
At the other extreme of consciousness stands the Buddha with his pure
and sublime compassion. For him the suffering arising out of life could
only be abolished by the abolition of life; for life and the world are
the outcome of the desire to be, the fruit of ignorance. Abolish desire,
eliminate ignorance, and the world will disappear and with it all suffering
and misery. In a great effort of spiritual aspiration and silent concentration
he elaborated his discipline, one of the most uplifting and the most
effective disciplines ever given to those who are eager for liberation.
Millions have believed in his doctrine, although the number of individuals
capable of putting it into practice has been very small. But the condition
of the earth has remained practically the same and there has been no
appreciable diminution in the mass of human suffering.
However, men have canonised the first and deified the second in their
attempt to express their gratitude and admiration. But very few have
sincerely tried to put into practice the lesson and example that were
given to them, although that is truly the only effective way of showing
one's gratitude. And yet, even if that had been done, the conditions
of human life would not have been perceptly improved. For to help is
not the same as to cure, nor is escaping the same as conquering. Indeed,
to alleviate physical hardships, the solution proposed by Vincent de
Paul can in no way be enough to cure humanity of its misery and suffering,
for not all human sufferings come from physical destitution and can
be cured by material means - far from it. Bodily well-being does not
inevitably bring peace and joy; and poverty is not necessarily a cause
of misery, as is shown by the voluntary poverty of the ascetics of all
countries and all ages, who found in their destitution the source and
condition of a perfect peace and happiness. Whereas on the contrary,
the enjoyment of worldly possessions, of all that material wealth can
provide in the way of comfort and pleasure and external satisfaction
is powerless to prevent one who possesses these things from suffering
pain and sorrow.
Neither can the other solution, escape, the solution of the Buddha,
present a practical remedy to the problem. For even if we suppose that
a very large number of individuals are capable of practising the discipline
and achieving the final liberation, this can in no way abolish suffering
from earth and cure others of it, all the others who are still incapable
of following the path that leads to Nirvana.
Indeed, true happiness is the happiness one can feel in any circumstances
whatsoever, because it comes from regions which cannot be affected by
any external circumstances. But this happiness is accessible only to
a very few individuals, and most of the human race is still subject
to terrestrial conditions.
So we can say on one hand that a change in the human consciousness is
absolutely indispensable and, on the other, that without an integral
transformation of the terrestrial atmosphere, the conditions of human
life cannot be effectively changed. In either case, the remedy is the
same: a new consciousness must manifest on earth and in man.
Only the appearance of a new force and light and power accompanying
the descent of the supramental consciousness into this world can raise
man out of the anguish and pain and misery in which he is submerged.
For only the supramental consciousness bringing down upon earth
a higher poise and a purer and truer light can achieve the great miracle
Nature is striving towards this new manifestation. But her ways are
tortuous and her march is uncertain, full of halts and regressions,
so much so that it is difficult to perceive her true plan. However,
it is becoming more and more clear that she wants to bring forth a new
species out of the human species, a supramental race that will be to
man what man is to the animal. But the advent of this transformation,
this creation of a new race which Nature would take centuries of groping
attempts to bring about, can be effected by the intelligent will of
man, not only in a much shorter time but also with much less waste and
Here the integral Yoga has its rightful place and utility. For Yoga
is meant to overcome, by the intensity of its concentration and efforts,
the delay that time imposes on all radical transformation, on all new
The integral Yoga is not an escape from the physical world which leaves
it irrevocably to its fate, not is it an acceptance of material life
as it is without any hope of decisive change, or of the world as the
final expression of the Divine Will.
The integral Yoga aims at scaling all the degrees of consciousness
from the ordinary mental consciousness to a supramental and divine consciousness,
and when the ascent is completed, to return to the material world and
infuse it with the supramental force and consciousness that have been
won, so that this earth may be gradually transformed into a supramental
and divine world.
The integral Yoga is especially intended for those who have realised
in themselves all that man can realise and yet are not satisfied, for
they demand from life what it cannot give. Those who yearns for the
unknown and aspire for perfection, who ask themselves agonising questions
and have not found any definitive answers to them, they are the ones
who are ready for the integral Yoga.
For there is a series of fundamental questions which those who are concerned
by the fate of mankind and are not satisfied with current formulas inevitably
ask themselves. They can be formulated approximately as follows:
- Why is one born if only to die?
- Why does one live if only to suffer?
- Why does one love if only to be separated?
- Why does one think if only to err?
- Why does one act if only to make mistakes?
The sole acceptable answer is that things are not what they ought to
be and that these contradictions are not only not inevitable but they
are rectifiable and will one day disappear. For the world is not irremediably
what it is. The earth is in a period of transition that certainly seems
long to the brief human consciousness, but which is infinitesimal for
the eternal consciousness. And this period will come to an end with
the appearance of the supramental consciousness. The contradictions
will then be replaced by harmonies and the oppositions by syntheses.
This new creation, the appearance of a superhuman race, has already
been the object of much speculation and controversy. It pleases man's
imagination to draw more or less flattering portraits of what the superman
will be like. But only like can know like, and it is only by becoming
conscious of the divine nature in its essence that one will be able
to have a conception of what the divine nature will be in the manifestation.
Yet those who have realised this consciousness in themselves are usually
more anxious to become the superman than to give a description of him.
However, it may be useful to say what the superman will certainly not
be, so as to clear away certain misunderstandings.
For example, I have read somewhere that the superman race would be fundamentally
cruel and insensitive; since it is above suffering, it will attach no
importance to the suffering of others and will take it as a sign of
their imperfection and inferiority. No doubt, those who think in this
way are judging the relations between superman and man from the manner
in which man behave towards his lesser brethren, the animals. But such
behaviour, far from being a proof of superiority, is a sure sign of
unconsciousness and stupidity. This is shown by the fact that as soon
as man rises to a little higher level, he begins to feel compassion
towards animals and seeks to improve their lot.
Yet there is an element of truth of the conception of the unfeeling
superman: it is this, that the higher race will not feel the kind of
egoistic, weak and sentimental pity which men call charity. This pity,
which does more harm than good, will be replaced by a strong and enlightened
compassion whose only purpose will be to provide a true remedy to suffering,
not to perpetuate it.
On the other hand, this conception describes fairly well what the reign
of a race of vital beings upon earth would be like. They are immortal
in their nature and much more powerful than man in their capacities,
but they are also incurably anti-divine in their will, and their mission
in the universe seems to be to delay the divine realisation until the
instruments of this realisation, that is to say, men, become pure and
strong and perfect enough to overcome all obstacles. It might not perhaps
be useless to put the poor afflicted earth on guard against the possibility
of such an evil domination.
Until the superman can come in person to show man what his true nature
is, it might be wise for every human being of goodwill to become conscious
of what he can conceive as the most beautiful, the most noble, the truest
and purest, the most luminous and best, and to aspire that this conception
may be realised in himself for the greatest good of the world and men.
in "Bulletin", November 1954
also in CWM volume 12 "Education" pages
published by Sri
Aurobindo Ashram - Pondicherry
diffusion by SABDA