84 - 87 (The supernatural is that the nature of which we have not attained...)
84 – The supernatural is that the nature of which we have not attained or do not yet know, or the means of which we have not yet conquered. The common taste for miracles is the sign that man's ascent is not yet finished.
85 – It is rationality and prudence to distrust the supernatural; but to believe in it is also a sort of wisdom.
86 – Great saints have performed miracles; greater saints have railed at them; the greatest have both railed at them and performed them.
87 – Open thy eyes and see what the world really is and what God; have done with vain and pleasant imaginations.
Why didn't you or Sri Aurobindo make a greater use of miracles as a means of overcoming resistance in the external human consciousness? Why this kind of selfeffacement where outer things are concerned, this nonintervention or discretion?
As for Sri Aurobindo, I only know what he told me several times. People give the name of miracle only to interventions in the material or the vital world. And these interventions are always mixed with ignorant and arbitrary movements.
But the number of miracles that Sri Aurobindo performed in the mind is incalculable; but naturally you could only see it if you had a very straight, very sincere, very pure vision – a few people did see it. But he refused – this I know – he refused to perform any vital or material miracles, because of this mixture.
My experience is that in the present state of the world, a direct miracle, material or vital, must necessarily take into account a great many elements of falsehood that are unacceptable – they are necessarily miracles of falsehood. And they are unacceptable. I have seen what people call miracles; I saw many of them at one period, but this gave a right of existence to many things which to me are not acceptable.
What men call miracles nowadays are almost always performed by vital beings or by men who are in contact with vital beings, and this is a mixture accepts the reality of certain things, the truth of certain things that are not true. And this is the basis on which it works. So that is unacceptable.
I did not quite understand what you meant by saying that Sri Aurobindo performed miracles in the mind.
I mean that he used to introduce the supramental force into the mental consciousness. Into the mental consciousness, the mental consciousness that governs all material movements, he would introduce a supramental formation or power or force which immediately changed the organisation. This produces immediate effects which seem illogical because they do not follow the normal course of movements according to mental logic.
He himself used to say that when he was in possession of the supramental power, when he could use it at will and focus it on a specific point with a definite purpose, it was irrevocable, inevitable: the effect was absolute. That can be called a miracle.
For example, take someone who was sick or in pain; when Sri Aurobindo was in possession of this supramental power – there was a time when he said that it was completely under his control, that is, he could do what he wanted with it, he could apply it where he liked – then he would apply this Will, for example, to some disorder, either physical or vital or, of course, mental – he would apply this force of greater harmony, of greater order, this supramental force, and focus it there, and it would act immediately. And it was an order: it created an order, a harmony greater than the natural harmony. That is, if it was a case of healing, for example, the healing would be more perfect and more complete than any obtained by ordinary physical and mental methods.
There were a great many of them. But people are so blind, so embedded in their ordinary consciousness that they always give explanations, they can always give an explanation. Only those who have faith and aspiration and something very pure in themselves, that is, who truly want to know, they were able to perceive it.
When the Power was there, he even used to say that it was effortless; all he had to do was to apply this supramental power of order and harmony and instantly the desired result was achieved.
What is a miracle? Because Sri Aurobindo often said that there are no miracles and, at the same time he says in Savitri, for example: All's miracle here and can by miracle change. 1
That depends on how you look at it, from this side or that.
You give the name of miracle only to things which cannot be clearly explained or for which you have no mental explanation. From this point of view you can say that countless things that happen are miracles, because you cannot explain the how or the why of them.
What would be a true miracle?
I can't see what a true miracle can be because, after all, what is a miracle? A true miracle… Only the mind has the notion of miracles; because the mind decides, by its own logic, that given this and that, another thing can or cannot be. But this represents all the limitations of the mind. Because, from the point of view of the Lord, how can there be a miracle? Everything is Himself which He objectifies.
So here we come to the great problem of the way which is being followed, the eternal way, as Sri Aurobindo explains it in Savitri. Of course, one can conceive that what was objectified first was something which had an inclination for objectivisation. The first thing to recognise, which seems consistent with the principle of evolution, is that the objectivisation is progressive, it is not total for all eternity…
It is very difficult to tell, because we cannot get out of our habit of conceiving that there is a definite quantity unfolding indefinitely and that there can only be a beginning if there is a definite quantity. We always have, at least in our way of speaking, the idea of a moment (laughing) when the Lord decides to objectify Himself. Like this, the explanation becomes easy: He objectifies Himself gradually, progressively, and this results in a progressive evolution. But that is only a manner of speaking; because there is no beginning, there is no end, and yet there is a progression. The sense of succession, the sense of evolution, the sense of progress only exists with the manifestation. It is only when one speaks of the earth that one can give an explanation that is both very rational and in accord with the facts, because the earth has a beginning, not in its soul but in its material reality.
It is also likely that a material universe has a beginning.
If you look at it this way, for a universe a miracle would be the sudden intrusion of something from another universe. And for the earth, this reduces the problem to something very understandable – a miracle is the sudden intrusion of something which did not belong to the earth: it produces a radical and immediate change by introducing a principle which did not belong to this physical world of earth.
But there again, it is said that at the very centre of each element everything exists in principle; so even that miracle is not possible.
One could say that the sense of miracle belongs only to a finite world, a finite consciousness, a finite conception. It is the sudden entry – the intrusion, the intervention, the penetration – without preparation, of something which did not exist in this physical world. So obviously, any manifestation of a will or a consciousness which belongs to a domain that is more infinite and more eternal than earth, is necessarily a miracle on earth. But if you leave the finite world, the understanding of the finite world, miracles do not exist. The Lord can play at miracles if it so amuses Him, but there are no miracles – He plays every possible game.
You can begin to understand Him only when you feel in this way, that He plays every possible game, and “possible” does not mean possible according to the human conception, but possible according to His own conception!
And there, there is no room for miracles – except that it looks like a miracle.
If, instead of a slow evolution, something belonging to the supramental world appeared suddenly, man, the mental being, could call that a miracle, because it would be the intervention of something which he does not consciously carry within himself and which intervenes in his conscious life. And in fact, if you consider this taste for miracles, which is very strong – much stronger in children and in hearts that have remained childlike than in highly mentalised individuals – it is a faith in the realisation of the aspiration for the marvellous, of something higher than anything one can expect from normal life.
Indeed, in education, both tendencies should be encouraged side by side: the tendency to thirst for the marvellous, for what seems unrealisable, for something which fills you with the feeling of divinity; while at the same time encouraging exact, correct, sincere observation in the perception of the world as it is, the suppression of all imagination, a constant control, a highly practical and meticulous sense for exact details. Both should go side by side. Usually, you kill the one with the idea that this is necessary in order to foster the other – this is completely wrong. Both can be simultaneous and there comes a time when one has enough knowledge to know that they are the two aspects of the same thing: insight, a higher discernment. But instead of a narrow, limited insight and discernment, the discernment becomes entirely sincere, correct, exact, but it is vast, it includes a whole domain that does not yet belong to the concrete manifestation.
From the point of view of education, this would be very important: to see the world as it is, exactly, unadorned, in the most down-to-earth and concrete manner; and to see the world as it can be, with the freest, highest vision, the one most full of hope and aspiration and marvellous certitude – as the two poles of discernment.
The most splendid, most marvellous, most powerful, most expressive, most total things we can imagine are nothing compared to what they can be; and at the same time our meticulous exactitude in the tiniest detail is never exact enough. And both must go together. When one knows this (down ward gesture) and when one knows that (upward gesture), one is able to put the two together.
And this is the best possible use of the need for miracles. The need for miracles is a gesture of ignorance: “Oh, I would like things to be like this!” It is a gesture of ignorance and impotence. And those who say, You live in a miracle, know only the lower end – and even then they know it only imperfectly – and they have no contact with anything else.
This need for miracles must be changed into a conscious aspiration for something – which is already there, which exists which will be manifested by the help of all these aspirations; all these aspirations are necessary or, if one looks at it in a truer way, they are an accompanyment – an agreeable accompaniment – in the eternal unfolding.
Of course, people with a very strict logic tell you, “Why pray? Why aspire? Why ask? The Lord does what He wants and He will do what He wants.” It is quite obvious, there is no need to say it, but this impulse: “O Lord, manifest!” gives a more intense vibration to His manifestation.
Otherwise, He would never have made the world as it is. There is a special power, a special delight, a special vibration in the intensity of the world's aspiration to become once more what it is.
And that is why – partly, fragmentarily – there is an evolution.
An eternally perfect universe, eternally manifesting the eternal perfection, would lack the joy of progress.
6 March 1963
1 Savitri, cent. Vol, 18, p. 85 (back)