Recap Chapter 20 & Chapter XXI Paragraph 5-6

Study Notes

                                                           Chapter 20 – Recap

Chapter XX – Death, Desire and Incapacity

  • Life is the final operation by which the Force of Conscious-Being maintains and energises, constitutes and reconstitutes individual forms. As Supermind is behind Mind so is Conscious-Force behind Life. Our Life is functioning under the darkened and dividing operation of Mind. Therefore, Life itself is darkened and divided, subjected to death, limitation, weakness, suffering and ignorant functioning. The original source of this perversion is self-limitation of the individual soul. So, the universal life in us which obeys the direction of the soul imprisoned in mind exists and acts as a separate life with a limited insufficient capacity.
  • Life, as a poor, limited, individual existence at first helplessly suffers and obeys the giant interplay. As consciousness develops it seeks first nervously and then mentally to master, use and enjoy the play. As long as individual life remains a divided individualised life and force, the individual life in the individual form must always be subject to Death, Desire and Incapacity, the three badges of its limitation.
  • The life in the body is constantly exposed to the possibility of being broken by the attack of the life external to it. Or its devouring capacity becomes insufficient or is not properly served. Or there is no right balance between the capacity of consumption and the capacity of providing food for the life outside. It is unable to renew itself and therefore it has to go through the process of death for a new construction or renewal.
  • Life energy in us supplies the material by which the body is built up and constantly maintained and renewed. At the same time the life-energy is constantly using up the substantial form of itself which it thus creates. The disease and decay set in and the process of disintegration starts when the balance between the two operations is imperfect.
  • The life in the body seeks infinite experience on a finite basis. This can be possible only by dissolving it and seeking new forms. The soul is driven to seek its infinity again by the principle of succession. The finite living substance aspires for the sole immortality through eternal change of form. The finite mind involved in the living body aspires for sole infinity through eternal change of experience. To enable this process, change of form (by death) is essential.
  • The attempt of the individual, the living atom, to maintain and aggrandise itself is the whole sense of Desire. This Existence which is divided and individualised, is yet ever secretly conscious of its all-embracing, all-possessing infinity. The impulse to realise that secret consciousness is the urge of the cosmic Divine. It seeks to realise it in the physical world by feeding on the environment; by increasing oneself through the absorption of others or their possessions.
  • Hunger in the subconscious vital parts becomes craving of Desire in the mentalised life. It becomes the Will stretching itself to achieve something in the intellectual life. This is the movement of desire which is caused by the self-limitation of the individual and persists till he becomes the master of himself.
  • Death, Desire and Incapacity are three phenomena of Life. Desire is the impulse which comes directly from its law of Incapacity. The life-force is individualised within a form is limited and full of incapacity on account of two factors. One, it has to work against the mass of other surrounding individualised life forces. Secondly it is subject to control and denial by the infinite Life itself. Therefore, the third characteristic, namely the limitation of force and phenomenon of incapacity of individualised and divided Life happens.
  • On the other hand, the impulse of self-enlargement and all-possession remains. It is not limited by its present force or capacity. Hence there is a gap between the impulse to possess and the force of possession. This gap leads to the birth of desire.
  • The individualised life-force is the energy of the individualising and ignorant Mind separated from Supermind. Therefore, incapacity becomes inevitable to its relations in Life and in the nature of things. At the same time an infinite force cannot work in a finite environment. If that be so, such a force would work against the working of the divine and omniscient omnipotence.
  • Death, Desire and Strife are the trinity of divided living. They are the triple mask of the divine Life-principle in its first attempt of cosmic self-affirmation.

                                                                    Chapter XXI
                                                              The Ascent of Life


     We have then two principles in Life, the necessity or the will of the separate ego to survive in its distinctness and guard its identity and the compulsion imposed upon it by Nature to fuse itself with others. In the physical world she lays much stress on the former impulse; for she needs to create stable separate forms, since it is her first and really her most difficult problem to create and maintain any such thing as a separative survival of individuality and a stable form for it in the incessant flux and motion of Energy and in the unity of the infinite. In the atomic life therefore the individual form persists as the basis and secures by its aggregation with others the more or less prolonged existence of aggregate forms which shall be the basis of vital and mental individualisations.


     We have two principles in Life. One is the will of the separate ego to preserve its distinct identity. Second is the compulsion imposed upon it by Nature to fuse with others. In the physical world the stress is on the self-preservation. For the Nature, the most difficult problem is the creation and maintenance of stable separate forms. Nature faces the challenge of continuous change and motion of Energy. In the midst of this continuous change and in the infinite unity She has to ensure separateness and individuality of forms.
In the atomic life individual form persists as the basis. The individual forms join together and form aggregates. The formation of aggregates ensures prolonged existence of forms. They form the basis of vital and mental individualisations.

But as soon as Nature has secured a sufficient firmness in this respect for the safe conduct of her ulterior operations, she reverses the process; the individual form perishes and the aggregate life profits by the elements of the form that is thus dissolved. This, however, cannot be the last stage; that can only be reached when the two principles are harmonised, when the individual is able to persist in the consciousness of his individuality and yet fuse himself with others without disturbance of preservative equilibrium and interruption of survival.


     Once the Nature achieves her objective of securing sufficient firmness in her operations, she reverses the process. Individual form perishes. The aggregate life gains by the dissolved elements of individual form. However, this cannot be the last stage.
     The last stage (Supramental) can be reached when there is a harmony between individualisation and fusion with others. In a state of harmony, the individual can remain in the consciousness of his individuality and yet he can fuse himself with others. Here there is no disturbance to the preservation of his individuality; there is no interruption in his survival.


     The terms of the problem presuppose the full emergence of Mind; for in vitality without conscious mind there can be no equation, but only a temporary unstable equilibrium ending in the death of the body, the dissolution of the individual and the dispersal of its elements into the universality. The nature of physical Life forbids the idea of an individual form possessing the same inherent power of persistence and therefore of continued individual existence as the atoms of which it is composed. Only a mental being, supported by the psychic nodus within which expresses or begins to express the secret soul, can hope to persist by his power of linking on the past to the future in a stream of continuity which the breaking of the form may break in the physical memory but need not destroy in the mental being itself and which may even by an eventual development bridge over the gap of physical memory created by death and birth of the body.


     In the ascent of Life it is presumed that there will be full emergence of Mind. Because there cannot be a well-balanced vitality without conscious mind. In the absence of mind there would be unstable equilibrium resulting in the death of the body with its elements dispersed into the universality.
     The nature of physical life does not permit the individual form to possess its inherent power of persistence (continuation in the same form). Therefore, individual existence cannot continue forever like the atoms of which it is composed.
     It is possible for the mental being to have a psychic centre within, supported by a secret soul. Then, the mental being can persist by the power of his connecting the past to the future in a stream of continuity. This continuity may be broken in the physical memory due to breaking up of the physical form. But the mental being is not destroyed. It may bridge over the gap created by the death and birth of the body.

Even as it is, even in the present imperfect development of embodied mind, the mental being is conscious in the mass of a past and a future extending beyond the life of the body; he becomes aware of an individual past, of individual lives that have created his and of which he is a development and modified reproduction and of future individual lives which his is creating out of itself; he is conscious also of an aggregate life past and future through which his own continuity runs as one of its fibres. This which is evident to physical Science in the terms of heredity, becomes otherwise evident to the developing soul behind the mental being in the terms of persistent personality. The mental being expressive of this soul-consciousness is therefore the nodus of the persistent individual and the persistent aggregate life; in him their union and harmony become possible.


     Even in the present state of imperfect development of our mind, the mental being in us is conscious of its past and future extending beyond the life of the body. He is aware of an individual past and of individual lives that have created his present life. He is also aware of the future individual lives which his present life is creating out of itself. Not only his individual life but he is also aware of the aggregate life past and future. His own continuity runs as one of the fibres of the aggregate past and future life.
     The character of past aggregate life is evidenced through what physical Science terms as heredity. This becomes otherwise evident to the developing soul behind the mental being as persistent personality. The mental being that expresses this soul-consciousness is the centre (nodus) of persistent individual life and the persistent aggregate life. Their union and harmony become possible in him.