The Challenge of Death and Conquest of Immortality
Talk by Dr. Alok Pandey, November 11, 2007, Invocation 28.pdf
Death is about living in boundaries; so we test the boundaries. Every time Man tries to exceed the boundaries, he becomes a claimant to immortality. It is very interesting: what is the path to immortality? By gradually expanding the limits and the boundaries. And if we look at it from that point of view, we see that throughout the history of evolution, though we may say that Death is the last victor, ultimately that is not true. If we look at it closely we see that Life is the victor. When the first living beings appear, the boundaries of Matter are pushed a little further, and rigid matter begins to become pliable matter, breathing matter. There is a pushing of the boundaries. Again when Man comes, the boundaries are pushed back further. Savitri gives this logic to Death, saying ‘Look how every time boundaries are being pushed back – again now with human beings.’
There is a natural urge to push at the limits of things, and especially now in our own age we see this coming up in a very big way, whether at the level of Science, of Art, Music…. Everywhere we want to break the norms and push beyond them. And every effort to push back the boundaries, every effort to exceed the limits, every effort to go beyond the law – not just to break the law, but to go beyond the law and exceed it – is essentially a step that humanity takes towards immortality. That is the great labour in which the Ancient Mother is engaged. So Death, when Savitri speaks about all this – that is the context which we are speaking about – he asks her, ‘What is the purpose of all this?’ And she gives the whole story of creation, of how you, Death, have been born: it is the Divine who has plunged into this darkness and is rescuing consciousness out of this darkness. The first sign of this rescue is that Matter is born. The second sign is the rescue of Life, then comes the rescue of Mind. And now, following that inevitable process of logic, Sri Aurobindo comes to rescue the eighth sun of Aditi, the Supramental, which is also plunged into this darkness, hidden in its dark cave. He is rescuing it. That is the whole labour.
In every life, the moment a psychic being is born into matter, some consciousness, however little it be, is increased upon earth. That is the little victory that each one wins. Mother speaks about this. She says, ‘Well, your little victories may not lead to the universal victory right away, but that is what is given to us, and we must do that. And if we do that, we add to the sum of the victory of the universe.’
It is very beautiful to live with that divine humility. It is really not so necessary for our individual body to become immortal. It is amazing that, even Mother, at the level she had reached, the level from which She came, even at the very highest, could say, ‘It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter whether it is this body or some other’ She could have that humility, to say, ‘It doesn’t matter’… She, armed with all the knowledge and the power, armed with such a wonderful preparation, could say, ‘It doesn’t matter whether it is going to be this body or some other body’.
Of course the ego has a penchant for taking every statement that the Divine gives, and twisting it. Ego can reflect and say, ‘Some other body – maybe mine is the one’. We should be very careful about these whispers, how death deceives us. ‘Some other body’ she says, with that humility. But everything that is achieved, every little victory, is a victory for the earth. It is that sense of the collective in which one has to live – that whatever little is stamped upon matter, whatever little truth one can bring down, whatever little light, contributes to the forward movement of the whole...
What does it mean, the Divine reign upon earth? It is not about the victory of a particular religion, or a universal religion spreading over all other religions. It is very simple: it is the victory of the Divine upon earth, the victory of godhead in Matter, Matter divinising itself, and discovering its own spiritual substance. Because it is then and then alone that the embodied Divine need not leave the earth. That is the second coming. That is, as the Mother says, the true resurrection.
It is Matter being lifted up to its true status. That is the coming for which we wait, and Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have made it very, very clear, they have not left any iota of doubt that this is the work we have to do, and it doesn’t matter whether it takes 100 years, 1000 years, 10,000 years, a million years. Have we not been engaged in it for a million years? In a very beautiful poem of Sri Aurobindo, Meditations of Mandavya, he says:
I will not faint, O God. There is the thirst,
And thirst supposes water somewhere. Yes,
But in this life we may not ever find;
Old nature sits a phantom by the way,
Old passions may forbid, old doubts return.
Then are there other lives here or beyond
To satisfy us? I will persist, O Lord.
This is the perseverance required for the seeker of immortality: what does it matter? We have left behind a hundred thousand lives, even if we have to go through a hundred thousand lives more, we’ll have the joy of the labour. If there is something to be done, this is it. And this is the fire that the Mother, I suppose, has awakened in earth. How beautifully she says, this should be the fire with which we should approach. What is that fire? She says, ‘When you feel that this is the thing you are meant to do, and you don’t want to do anything else, this alone attracts you, no longer for your own sake.’ Not that this little personality will become immortal, that everybody knows as Mr. X or Mr Y. – that would be an absurdity, for in all the masks of various personalities is it not the One alone playing with Himself!
But the work of the triumph of the Divine in Matter, the redemption of Matter by the touch divine. That is the task, a task worthy of being Man. And what does it matter how many times we have been born, how many times we have died, how many times death has claimed our bodies, our lives, our minds? How many times this has happened, and yet there is something it cannot claim – and that is what we truly are. That something, and the Grace Divine, will rescue Matter one day out of its inertia and somnolence, and upon this earth will bloom the heavenly Rose, the deathless Rose. Then will the seed of immortality bloom upon earth and then will the divine family be born!
To summarise we may say that there is a double immortality to which man can aspire. The first is to discover his immortal self, the individual soul, and through its doors the eternal Self. The second is to discover the possibility of divinising nature and the stuff of which our mortal sheaths are made. The first has been achieved by rare seers and sages of Truth in different ages of mankind. It is now even more easily accessible because of the coming of the New Force that is awakening matter and helping man in his godward aspiration. But the second is yet to be realised and it is only through a progressive change of the earth consciousness and as its spearhead, of human nature, that this too will become possible one day: for man to enjoy the immortality of the gods. Of course if we take the universal scale, then there is no death, whether at the material, vital or other levels there is no death, only a change of status and condition of organisation in individual beings. But the individual sheaths do dissolve since like their universal counterparts they partake of the nature of Ignorance.
When this Ignorance disappears that divides these sheaths from the One who is their secret origin and Master, then they would not have any reason to disintegrate. Then mind would discover its own supramental infinities and Light and Truth, then life would recover its home of Bliss and Conscious Power from where it has strayed into the dark depths of Inconscience to create and to endure, then matter itself would wake up from the Inconscient’s spell and remember that it is, like everything else, in its origin Divine, a fall from the one and only true Existence. Then shall the spell of Death be broken and we may say not only of our soul but also of our nature that all is indeed divine and shares his infinity and eternity.