"In Wonders We Sail, Questing for the Answers in Veil"

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Afterlife : Sleep Of Act (Contemplating The State Of Dream and Death In The Respective Consciousness Planes) By Satprem

We have gone from animal sleep to conscious sleep or sleep of experience; we can now go to a third type of sleep, sleep of action. For a long time, our sleep, however conscious it may be, remains indeed a passive kind of state. We are only the witness of things, a helpless spectator of something happening in this or that part of our being. It should be stressed that it is always a part of our being that undergoes a particular experience, although at the time we may have the impression that our whole being suffers, fights, or travels, etc. just as we may have the impression, when discussing politics or philosophy with a friend, that our whole self participates in the discussion, when it is merely a mental or vital function of it. As sleep becomes more conscious, we go from impressions to naked realities. We realize that we are made up of a medley of mental, vital, and other fragments, each with a separate existence and separate experiences on its own particular plane. At night, when the bond of the body and the tyranny of the mental mentor have vanished, this independence becomes remarkably alive. All the vibrations we have gathered in us, and which make up "our" nature, become so many little entities running here and there, and we discover all sorts of strangers in us whose existence we had never suspected. In other words, these fragments are not integrated around the true center, the psychic, and because they are not integrated, we cannot bring them under control and change the course of circumstances. We are passive, because the real "we" is the psychic, and most of these fragments are not connected with the psychic.

Hence the necessity of integration rapidly becomes imperative if we wish to control circumstances here, there, and everywhere.For example, when we leave our body and go into the regions of the lower Vital (corresponding to the area of the navel and lower centers), the part of our being that is exteriorized in this region often goes through very unpleasant experiences; it is attacked by all sorts of voracious forces, giving rise to what is commonly called a "nightmare," from which we escape by returning as quickly as possible into our body, where we are safe. Now, if that particular part of our being has accepted to become integrated around the psychic center, it can safely go into these rather infernal regions because it possesses the psychic light (the psychic is a fragment of the great original Light), and when under attack, it needs only remember this light (or the Master, which is the same) for all adverse forces to vanish. By remembering, it calls upon the true vibration, which has the power to dissolve or disperse all vibrations of a lesser intensity. There is even an interesting transitory stage in which we helplessly participate in terrifying pursuits, for instance, and suddenly that fragment of ourselves remembers the light (or the Master), thus abruptly reversing the situation. On these planes we can also meet many people, known or unknown, near or far away, living or dead – the ever-living whom we name as dead,as Sri Aurobindo says – who are on the same wavelength, and we can be the witness or helpless partner of their misadventures (which may translate into unpleasant happenings on earth, as we have seen; all the blows received there will be received here; each occurrence there prepares something here). But if the fragment of ourselves having the experience with the corresponding fragment of that friend or stranger or "dead" person is able to remember the Light (that is, if it is integrated around the psychic), it becomes capable of reversing the course of events, of assisting a friend or stranger in distress, of helping a disembodied being go through a difficult passage, get out of a dangerous place, or free himself from some unhealthy associations (there are so many places where we are prisoners). The following is an example of such an experience, chosen deliberately in negative terms and as simply as possible: X "dreams" that she is walking with a friend along the shore of a lake with seemingly marvelously clear waters, when suddenly a snake springs up from the bottom of the lake and bites her friend on the throat. She makes several attempts to protect her friend, but becomes frightened herself, is pursued by the snake, and runs "back home" (into her body). The next day she learns that her friend is ill and has completely lost her voice. She herself experiences throughout the day a series of small abortive incidents, within and without. If she had been actively conscious, centered, nothing would have happened, and the adverse force would have fled. There are contrary examples where accidents have been "miraculously" averted because they were overcome on the previous night by a conscientious friend, if not by oneself. Thus, we can usefully participate in many activities that prepare our own tomorrows, or more extensive tomorrows, depending upon our capacities. "A conscious being, no larger than a man's thumb, stands in the center of our self; he is Master of the past and the present... he is today and he is tomorrow," says the Katha Upanishad. (IV.12, 13) We need to have numerous experiences, with actual verification whenever possible, before we can appreciate to what extent these dreams are not dreams. There are some prisons that cannot be unlocked here until we have unlocked them there. The problem of action is thus intimately connected with that of integration.

This integration is all the more necessary when we no longer have a body, i.e., when we are supposedly dead, because these fragments no longer have the recourse of returning to the body for protection. If they are not integrated, they suffer a great deal of unpleasantness. This is probably the origin of all the stories about hell, which – this cannot be repeated enough – concern onlysome lower parts of our nature. For the lower planes (notably the lower Vital, corresponding to the navel and sex centers, the most difficult regions to integrate) are full of ravenous forces. As a young disciple who had died prematurely said when describing his journey to a friend during sleep: "Just behind your world there is no law and order" – a proper British laconism for hell. And he added: "I had Mother's light (the Master) with me, and I crossed over." Since this experience is typical of many deaths, it should be noted that the two friends met in lovely colored gardens, typical of the higher vital regions (corresponding to the heart center), which constitute some of the countless so-called paradises of the other world – though not so lofty paradises, to be sure. Generally, the disembodied person remains there as long as he wishes; then, after he grows tired of it, he moves to the place of true rest, in the original Light, with his soul, to await the time of return. To say that a person will go to "eternal hell" is a cruel absurdity. How could the soul, which is pure Light, ever be a prisoner of those lower vibrations? It would be like saying that infrared light controls the ultraviolet. Like goes with like, always and everywhere, whether here or on the other side. And what could ever be "eternal," truly, except the soul, except joy? If there were an unending Hell, it could only be a seat of unending rapture, said Sri Aurobindo, for God is joy, Ananda, and than the eternity of His bliss there is no other eternity.

As our being becomes integrated around the psychic, it thus goes from passive to active sleep, if one may still speak of "sleep," and from a troublesome death to an interesting journey or another form of work. But, depending on the breadth of our consciousness, there are also many degrees in this experience, from a limited action that does not extend beyond the small circle of living or dead acquaintances, or the worlds familiar to us, to the universal action of a few great beings whose psychic has in a sense colonized vast stretches of consciousness, and who protect the world with their silent light.

Let us conclude these brief generalities, which are at best trail markers for the seeker, with a final observation concerning premonitions. We should again emphasize that having a premonition about something is the sign that this "something" already exists on some plane before taking place here; it does not hang in midair. We are extremely scrupulous and precise regarding physical reality,yet we treat the happenings of nonphysical worlds as if they were incoherent or vague, perhaps because the vagueness is in our own mind. We find through experience, however, that everything is perfectly rational, if not always reasonable: not only does the luminosity intensify as we ascend the scale of consciousness, but time accelerates, covering a wider range of space, as it were, or more distant events (both in the future and in the past), and ultimately we emerge into that motionless Light where everything is. As a consequence, we realize that the fulfillment on earth of our premonitory vision takes place sooner or later in time, depending on the plane of consciousness where the vision has occurred. For example, when we see in the subtle Physical, which borders our world, the earthly transcription is almost immediate, a few hours or a day away; we see an accident, and the next day, it takes place. Moreover, the vision is very precise, down to the slightest detail. The higher we rise on the scale of consciousness, the later the fulfillment of the vision and the more universal its scope; the details of realization are less precise, as if the happening itself were unavoidable (provided our vision is sufficiently free of egoism), with a margin of uncertainty concerning the actual facts of its realization – though in a sense, this margin accounts for the changes or distortions suffered by a higher truth as it descends from plane to plane to its earthly realization. All kinds of interesting conclusions can be derived from this observation, in particular that the more conscious we are on earth, or the higher we are capable of rising on the scale of consciousness and approaching the Origin, the closer we bring the earth to the Origin by annuling the distorting determinisms of the intermediary planes. This can have important consequences not only in an individual sense, for mastering and transforming our own life, but also in global terms, for the transformation of the world. A great deal has been written about determinism versus individual freedom, but the problem is too often seen from the wrong perspective. It is not a question of freedom versus determinism, but of freedom and many determinisms. We are subject, Sri Aurobindo says, to a series of superimposed determinisms – physical, vital, mental and higher – and the determinism of each plane can change or cancel the determinism of the plane immediately below it. For instance, good health and a given life-span in a person can be modified by the vital determinism of "his" passions or various psychological disorders, which in turn can be modified by the mental determinism of his willpower and his ideal, which can then be modified by the greater law of the psychic, and so on. Freedom means to move to a higher plane. And the same applies to the earth, because the very same forces drive the individual and the collective. As individual meeting points of all these determinisms in matter, if we are capable of rising to a higher plane, we automatically help change all the lower determinisms and give the earth access to a greater freedom, until the day when, with the help of the pioneers of evolution, we can lift ourselves to a supramental plane, which will change the present destiny of the world as the Mind once changed its destiny around the Tertiary Era. And in the end – if there is an end – perhaps the earth will attain the supreme Determinism, which is supreme Freedom and perfect accomplishment. Through our work on consciousness, each of us contributes to resisting the fatalities that assail our world, and acts as a leavening agent for the earth's freedom and divinization. Indeed, the evolution of consciousness has a supreme meaning for the earth.

From the book 'Sri Aurobindo or The Adventures of Consciousness'


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