11. Immortality is not the survival of the mental personality after death, though that also is true, but the waking possession of the unborn and deathless Self of which body is only an instrument and a shadow.
(Thoughts and Aphorisms: Sri Aurobindo)
[Continued from the previous discussion]
The Person behind each appearance that is named a human being is the unborn and the deathless Self. We have seen in the previous discussions that The Supreme Being Himself has manifested as the Universe, as the Cosmic Reality, revealing His Universal aspect, and has also manifested as the Individual Beings in His Universal aspect. And He is the Transcendental Being, above and beyond all Manifestation — besides the Universal and Individual Aspects.
The deathless Self or the Soul is the individual aspect of Manifestation and is termed the atman in Sanskrit. It is a part and portion of the Supreme Consciousness, the Divine — a part who is one with the Whole, who can be the Whole also, who can unite with the Whole. The Soul is originally and can become, through Realization, One with the Supreme Consciousness. It is, in reality, One with the Supreme and with Universe. But ordinarily, the human does not know this, has not realized this. It is thus, in truth, immortal and eternal, beyond Death.
The body is subject to death, but it is an evolutionary condition of the Being that is born and is subject to Transformation and change. In the urge of Manifestation as the Many, the Supreme, That is the Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, the sat-chit-ananda, has taken up the body, the physical being, besides the vital and the mental being. As discussed earlier, the physical, vital and mental beings are the masks taken up by the Soul from the planes of Matter, Life and Mind.
Generally, according to the old philosophical thought, the word Soul was regarded as eternal and ever-conscious, but was regarded as inactive and passive. It was regarded to be a witness that never interfered. However, in Man, there is an active part or aspect of the Soul, which is termed by Sri Aurobindo as the Psychic Being, which participates in the Evolution of Man, in the onward journey of the human being on the Path of Evolution into the higher beings, the supramental beings, towards the Manifestation of the Supramental Consciousness, the next phase of the Evolution. The Psychic is not present in any other living beings. The psychic being is not present even in an Asura or in a Devata, as both of them are non-evolutionary beings. To evolve beyond their present status, both an Asura and a Devata will have to take birth as a human being, as held by Sri Aurobindo.
Sri Aurobindo adopted the term “psychic being” for the word soul is vaguely used:
The word soul is very vaguely used in English- as it often refers to the whole non-physical consciousness including even the vital with all its desires and passions. That is why the word psychic being has to be used so as to distinguish this divine portion from the instrumental parts of the nature.
Thus, in the human who is an evolutionary being, the Soul is to be understood as the psychic being.
We should have a clear understanding of the difference between the soul or, rather, the psychic being and the pure Atman, which is the self or the spirit. The pure self is unborn and does not pass through death or birth. It is not limited or affected or bound by body, mind or life, or even by Nature, and it is independent of them, though it supports them. However, it should also be remembered that the Spirit has become the Manifestation in Nature, from which have emerged and evolved the body and the life and the mind.
The soul or the psychic being participates in the process and procedure of birth and death, though it is neither born nor ever dead, as it is immortal and eternal. In the process, it moves from the earth plane to other planes and comes back again to earth-existence, as said by Sri Aurobindo. The soul moves with the evolutionary progression through several lives, from the existence of a cell to the stage of a human being, supporting the Evolution and development of the physical being, the vital being and the mental being in the human existence and consciousness. It continues its support of the further evolution beyond Mind. And all this is done behind the veil.
When the true spiritual life begins, it is no more behind the veil. Indeed, to begin the true spiritual life, the psychic being has to be unveiled. This is the first step in the process of Transformation — in the Way of the Triple Transformation. The psychic being, when unveiled, takes up the further evolution of the Individual, towards the higher Evolution of planes beyond Mind and of the Supramental Consciousness. It gradually brings a change unto the mental personality also, which is then immortalized. The mental personality then survives after death, for it accompanies the unveiled psychic being.
As Sri Aurobindo has said, in the due course of the Supramental Transformation, the physical body will be changed and it will no more have the necessity of a death, for it can then cure and create the necessary cells, and obviously it will then be different from what the present human body is.
The deathless Self will then transmute the mortal body as a perfect and deathless instrument, which will no more remain a shadow.
Whenever the psychic being takes a new birth, it aims at having a further progress on the Way, developing and perfecting the mental, vital and physical beings, its total personality, the basis of which should be a progressively perfecting body. Until and unless the physical principle in our personality is perfect and prepared to receive the new light, the new consciousness, the new life, the rebirth will be there, and the death will continue. Only an attainment of the physical immortality can this process of rebirth will come to an end for an individual or for a collectivity of individuals.
In this connection The Mother has said:
But usually, when one speaks of immortality, people think of physical immortality — it goes without saying that this has not yet been realised.
Sri Aurobindo says that it is possible and even that it will happen, but he lays down one condition: the body must be supramentalised, it must have some of the qualities of the supra mental being, which are qualities of plasticity and constant transformation. And when Sri Aurobindo writes that the body is “only an instrument and a shadow”, he is speaking of the body as it is now and will probably continue to be for a long time to come. It is only the instrument of the Self, a very inadequate expression of this Self, and a shadow — a shadow, some thing vague and obscure in comparison with the light and precision of the eternal Self. [Vol.10, Collective Works of The Mother]
Regarding the descent of the soul, or the psychic being, The Mother has said:
Its descent into the physical body is necessarily a descent into darkness, ignorance, unconsciousness; and for a very long time it must labour simply to bring a little consciousness into the material substance of the body, before it can make use of it for the experience it has come for. So, if we cultivate the body by a clear-sighted and rational method, at the same time we are helping the growth of the soul, its progress and enlightenment. [Vol.10, Collective Works of The Mother]
The Mother has further said that by physical culture, we can infuse consciousness into the cells of the body. And this is of a great importance, as by this the body can control and perfect itself, and it adds to the action of the psychic being that has entered the body.
Thus, that is the Way, stepping into which the humanity, or at least a willing portion of it, can progress towards the attainment of the deathless body, which shall no more be a shadow, but an expression of the Divine.
[Simultaneously published today by me in Sulekha .]
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