26 (Sir Philip Sidney said of the criminal led out to be hanged, “There, but ...)
26 – Sir Philip Sidney said of the criminal led out to be hanged, “There, but for the grace of God, goes Sir Philip Sidney.” Wiser, had he said, “There, by the grace of God, goes Sir Philip Sidney.”
I have not understood the meaning of this Aphorism.
Sir Philip Sidney was a statesman and a poet, but in spite of his success in life, he retained his humble nature. Seeing a criminal being taken to the gallows, he is supposed to have said the famous words which Sri Aurobindo quotes in his Aphorism and which could be paraphrased like this, “That could have happened to me too, but for the Grace of God.” Sri Aurobindo remarks that had Sir Philip Sidney been wiser he would have said, “That could have happened to me too, by the Grace of God.” For the divine Grace is everywhere, always, behind everything and every event, whatever our reaction to that thing or event may be, whether it appears good or bad, catastrophic or beneficial.
And if Sir Philip had been a Yogi, he would have had the experience of human unity and he would have felt concretely that it was himself or a part of himself which was being led to the gallows and he would have known at the same time that everything that happens happens by the Grace of the Lord.
30 March 1960