‘The Adventure of Consciousness and Joy’

I suppose it became obvious to you all, through Sri Aurobindo’s powerful lines in my previous post: we came down here actually for an Adventure – a Divine Adventure…

Sri Aurobindo didn’t wait until page 454 of his vast ‘Savitri’ poem, though, for revealing such a crucial fact to his readers; he made it quite clear from the very beginning: the second page ends on a line saying how that new dawn which is described, the dawn of that new day somewhere on Earth, is waking up all terrestrial beings in that area from their night’s oblivious sleep,

‘Calling the adventure of consciousness and joy’

(that line is continued on the next page by these two, part of the same sentence:

‘And, conquering Nature’s disillusioned breast,

Compelled renewed consent to see and feel.’)

This line is particularly well known even by people who have never read ‘Savitri’ itself, but who  have read books about Sri Aurobindo, for one very famous such book, published at the end of the sixties, has been written upon Mother’s request by a French disciple, Satprem, who included this specific line in the title he gave to the book: ‘Sri Aurobindo or the Adventure of Consciousness’.

As you can immediately notice, though, the line has not been included in its entirety. Probably  somewhere inside the book it is given in its totality, but not in that title which has become so famous. Because of that, most people who know this line, know it only in its shortened form: without the joy being mentioned.

After many years without being able myself to read ‘Savitri’ in its original English text, when I became finally able to do it, I immediately recognized that line when I read it at the end of the second page – and I noticed at once that it actually was ‘the adventure of consciousness’… ‘and joy’.

What a surprise! But it made total sense to me that joy too, and not consciousness alone, would have been put together by Sri Aurobindo in that line that somehow sums it all up: among his earliest writings (1913-1914), and first published (1915-1916) texts were his ‘Thoughts and Glimpses’, in which one can find already the whole basis for all his further and larger writings. Here are some of the gems that shine already there:

‘We may speak of the Supreme as if He were a mathematician working out a cosmic sum in numbers or a thinker resolving by experiment a problem in relations of principles and the balance of forces: but also we should speak of Him as if He were a lover, a musician of universal and particular harmonies, a child, a poet. The side of thought is not enough; the side of delight too must be entirely grasped: Ideas, Forces, Existences, Principles are hollow moulds unless they are filled with the breath of God’s delight.

These things are images, but all is an image. Abstractions give us the pure conception of God’s truths; images give us their living reality.

If Idea embracing Force begot the worlds, Delight of Being begot the Idea. Because the Infinite conceived an innumerable delight in itself, therefore worlds and universes came into existence.

Consciousness of being and Delight of being are the first parents. Also, they are the last transcendences. Unconsciousness is only an intermediate swoon of the conscious or its obscure sleep; pain and self-extinction are only delight of being running away from itself in order to find itself elsewhere or otherwise.’

‘Delight is the secret. Learn of pure delight and thou shalt learn of God.’

And now, from ‘Savitri’ again, how this Delight of Being manifests Itself also in this physical world so many religions have deemed an irredeemable creation from some evil Power:

‘A hidden Bliss is at the root of things.
A mute Delight regards Time’s countless works:
To house God’s joy in things Space gave wide room,
To house God’s joy in self our souls were born.
This universe an old enchantment guards;
Its objects are carved cups of World-Delight
Whose charmed wine is some deep soul’s rapture-drink:
The All-Wonderful has packed heaven with his dreams,
He has made blank ancient Space his marvel-house;
He spilled his spirit into Matter’s signs:
His fires of grandeur burn in the great sun,
He glides through heaven shimmering in the moon;
He is beauty carolling in the fields of sound;
He chants the stanzas of the odes of Wind;
He is silence watching in the stars at night;
He wakes at dawn and calls from every bough,
Lies stunned in the stone and dreams in flower and tree.

But what about, will you say, all the suffering in human as well as other forms of life? Where is that Bliss there, where the Delight of Being, the Joy from our Divine Nature?

Well it is there too… Just look at the deeper reality in ourselves:  images

Even in this labour and dolour of Ignorance,
On the hard perilous ground of difficult earth,
In spite of death and evil circumstance
A will to live persists, a joy to be.
There is a joy in all that meets the sense,
A joy in all experience of the soul,
A joy in evil and a joy in good,
A joy in virtue and a joy in sin:
Indifferent to the threat of Karmic law,
Joy dares to grow upon forbidden soil,
Its sap runs through the plant and flowers of Pain:
It thrills with the drama of fate and tragic doom,
It tears its food from sorrow and ecstasy,
On danger and difficulty whets its strength;
It wallows with the reptile and the worm
And lifts its head, an equal of the stars;

Remember, what our Spirits are after is experience, experiential knowledge of all the Possibles that can be explored in the infinite, divine Reality we are part of:

In the small paltry pleasures of man’s life,
In his petty passions and joys it finds a taste,
A taste in tears and torture of broken hearts,
In the crown of gold and in the crown of thorns,
In life’s nectar of sweetness and its bitter wine.
All being it explores for unknown bliss,
Sounds all experience for things new and strange.

It is of course present also in the creativity of our mental and artistic faculties, in the sense of heightened existence they give us, even when they are followed by fall to the other extremes again:

Life brings into the earthly creature’s days
A tongue of glory from a brighter sphere:
It deepens in his musings and his Art,
It leaps at the splendour of some perfect word,
It exults in his high resolves and noble deeds,
Wanders in his errors, dares the abyss’s brink,
It climbs in his climbings, wallows in his fall.
Angel and demon brides his chamber share,
Possessors or competitors for life’s heart.

But…  in the eternal Loving Wisdom, called in some parts of the world the Divine Mother, that carries this whole Game within Herself, caring always for each of us Her children, all this is not meant to go on for ever, our spirits aren’t trapped for ever in this apparently endless, aimless experiencing:

But not for ever endures this danger game:
Beyond the earth, but meant for delivered earth,
Wisdom and joy prepare their perfect crown;
Truth superhuman calls to thinking man.
At last the soul turns to eternal things,
In every shrine it cries for the clasp of God.
Then is there played the crowning Mystery,
Then is achieved the longed-for miracle.

  Immortal Bliss her wide celestial eyes
Opens on the stars, she stirs her mighty limbs;
Time thrills to the sapphics of her amour-song
And Space fills with a white beatitude.
Then leaving to its grief the human heart,
Abandoning speech and the name-determined realms,
Through a gleaming far-seen sky of wordless thought,
Through naked thought-free heavens of absolute sight,
She climbs to the summits where the unborn Idea
Remembering the future that must be
Looks down upon the works of labouring Force,
Immutable above the world it made.
In the vast golden laughter of Truth’s sun
Like a great heaven-bird on a motionless sea
Is poised her winged ardour of creative joy
On the still deep of the Eternal’s peace.
This was the aim, this the supernal Law,
Nature’s allotted task when beauty-drenched
In dim mist-waters of inconscient sleep,
Out of the Void this grand creation rose,–
For this the Spirit came into the Abyss
And charged with its power Matter’s unknowing force,
In Night’s bare session to cathedral Light,
In Death’s realm repatriate immortality.


For this we came into this crazy physical world… It is indeed the ‘Adventure of Consciousness’… ‘and Joy’!

To remember that all the time might be a very powerful help while we are in that Adventure… As this quote says, that my friend Don sent me:

Just to be is a blessing; just to live is holy.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. donsalmon
    Feb 17, 2014 @ 12:52:31

    Lovely post as always.

    I’m so glad to hear an Aurovillian had difficulty reading Savitri!:>) Took me (many, many) years.

    But for others reading this – if you’ve tried before, never never never give up. When you finally “get it” – it’s so so worth it. Truly as Bhaga says, life is joy, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen any other writing that conveys this as thoroughly and totally as Savitri.

    One of the main criticisms I hear is that “Oh, that’s the old Victorian style poetry.” The best response I ever heard to that was from a friend in New York who had studied Greek, and had a particular interest in the mystics of ancient Greece. He told me, “the long lines of Sri Aurobindo, those undulating rhythms, they are really not at all like the Victorians, they call up those ancient mystic poets and philosophers of Greece.” And surely those who know Sanskrit will recognize the beauty and mystery of the ancient Indian sages.

    But more than that, if instead of looking at the surface structure of the words, if you savor the SOUND, enjoy it, let it roll over you without thinking of the meaning or analyzing it in any way, you’ll find that the joy Bhaga writes about – this self-existent joy which is so all pervasive, when you taste even a drop of it you’ll be astonished that you ever could have ignored it – is undulating, reverberating through every syllable of Savitri.



    • Bhaga
      Feb 18, 2014 @ 09:46:04

      Personally, I always LOVED ‘Savitri’, but at the beginning could read only translations: my problem was that I was French, not knowing much real English at all, so for a long time I couldn’t read anything from Sri Aurobindo in the original Englsh! I should have given the reason why I couldn’t read it… Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do so – and for taking yourself the opportunity to express your own feelings about ‘Savitri’ and the beauty of Sri Aurobindo’s language in it…



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