Author: Agali Venkappa Sastri
Continued from Part 13
CONDITIONS FOR THE DECISIVE TURN TO A SPIRITUAL AGE
Before this decisive turn can come, there must be a fortunate coincidence of two factors. The individuals who initiate, who communicate the impulse and the mass which receives, responds, must meet in fruitful conjunction. If either of them shows defect, if the individual is imperfectly evolved and is in undue haste, or the mass is dull and impervious, not susceptible in the right degree, the divine consummation cannot be.
The key to the evolution is the individual.
The group is static, conservative. Society suppresses the individual at its peril, for the individual is the luminous point of the social formation, the spirit-head of the community in whom the dumb instincts and impulsions of the man become articulate, assume energy and throw out creative possibilities. These impacts of light and energy from the individual permeate the mass and raise it to new levels. Left to itself the mass would wallow; it is a leviathan that cannot understand, manage itself but lays ‘floating many a rood’.
A group-soul that has understood itself or has the right psychic sense will recognise in the individual its own crystallised expression, the embodiment of its own possibilities and help him to flower into his perfection so that he may pour forth his idealism, spiritual quality and raise society to new heights. If, on the other hand, the group entity is only a collective ego, it will require the individual to annul himself, in the end bringing about its own stagnation and possible extinction from failure of living inspiration and direction from the individual.
“Within this general nature and general destiny of mankind each individual human being has to follow the common aim on the lines of his own nature and to arrive at his possible perfection by a growth from within. So only can the race itself attain to anything profound, living and deep-rooted. It cannot be done brutally, heavily, mechanically in the mass; the group self has no true right to regard the individual as if he were only a cell of its body, a stone of its edifice, a passive instrument of its collective life and growth. Humanity is not so constituted.
“We miss the divine reality in man and the secret of the human birth if we do not see that each individual man is that Self and sums up all human potentiality in his own being. That potentiality he has to find, develop, work out from within. No State or legislator or reformer can cut him rigorously into a perfect pattern; no Church or priest can give him a mechanical salvation; no order, no class life or ideal, no nation, no civilisation or creed or ethical, social or religious Shastra can be allowed to say to him permanently, “In this way of mine and thus far shalt thou act and grow and in no other way and no farther shall thy growth be permitted.” These things may help him temporarily or they may curb and he grows in proportion as he can use them and then exceed them, train and teach his individuality by them, but assert it always in the end in its divine freedom. Always he is the traveller of the cycles and his road is forward.” (CWSA, Vol. 20, p. 67)
Led by an increasing number of individuals, the standard-bearers of the spirit, society must learn to regard itself as a collective soul. It must give up its compacted egoism seeking to immolate the individual on its altar. An inwardly turned society should make “the revealing and finding of the divine Self in man the supreme, even the guiding aim of all its activities, its education, its knowledge, its science, its ethics, its art, its economical and political structure.” (CWSA, Vol. 25, p. 256)
BASIS OF A SPIRITUAL SOCIETY
Basing all the vision and endeavour of a spiritual society will be three essential truths of existence; God, freedom, unity. To the sceptic and agnostic of today, an endeavour that begins with God may seem remote and illusory, but that is where it has to begin. “As the old Vedic seers put it, “Their divine foundation was above even while they stood below; let its rays be settled deep within us.” (CWSA, Vol. 20, p. 74) To point to a rough analogy in Nature’s organic realm, it is a sort of an immense stalactite formation hanging down from the roof of the heavens. The nourishment is from the super regions.
God is the highest term of liberation; all other freedoms are relative; once man realizes God he knows his place in the Cosmos, can obey lesser divinities and finds the just meaning of all human ideas and institutions. God gives meaning to the universe; God gives meaning to individual life. Freedom and unity become real only when founded upon the absolute.
“Three things [God, Freedom, and Unity] which are one, for you cannot realise freedom and unity unless you realise God, you cannot possess freedom and unity unless you possess God, possess at once your highest Self and the Self of all creatures. The freedom and unity which otherwise go by that name, are simply attempts of our subjection and our division to get away from themselves by shutting their eyes while they turn somersaults around their own centre.
“When man is able to see God and to possess him, then he will know real freedom and arrive at real unity, never otherwise. And God is only waiting to be known, while man seeks for him everywhere and creates images of the Divine, but all the while truly finds, effectively erects and worships images only of his own mind-ego and life-ego. When this ego pivot is abandoned and this ego-hunt ceases, then man gets his first real chance of achieving spirituality in his inner and outer life.” (CWSA, Vol. 25, p. 255)
A spiritual society will concede the largest measure of freedom to the individual; it will admit the superiority of inner sanction to outer regulation; it will diminish the element of external compulsion.
“For the perfectly spiritualised society will be one in which, as is dreamed by the spiritual anarchist, all men will be deeply free, and it will be so because the preliminary condition will have been satisfied. In that state each man will be not a law to himself, but the law, the divine Law, because he will be a soul living in the Divine Reality and not an ego living mainly if not entirely for its own interest and purpose. His life will be led by the law of his own divine nature liberated from the ego.
“Nor will that mean a breaking up of all human society into the isolated action of individuals; for the third word of the Spirit is unity. The spiritual life is the flower not of a featureless but a conscious and diversified oneness. Each man has to grow into the Divine Reality within himself through his own individual being, therefore is a certain growing measure of freedom a necessity of the being as it develops and perfect freedom the sign and the condition of the perfect life. But also, the Divine whom he thus sees in himself, he sees equally in all others and as the same Spirit in all. Therefore too is a growing inner unity with others a necessity of his being and perfect unity the sign and condition of the perfect life. Not only to see and find the Divine in oneself, but to see and find the Divine in all, not only to seek one’s own individual liberation or perfection, but to seek the liberation and perfection of others is the complete law of the spiritual being.” (CWSA, Vol. 25, p. 259)
Continued in Part 15…