Spirit and Word - the Crestone Immersion
Author: Rod Hemsell
Last Updated: September 25, 2009Spirit and Word
Spirit what we call spirit first manifests through sound and eventually through speech and meaning. Why do we say this, rather than something more traditional like spirit originally is breath, the finest element? The answer is because we mean by spirit essentially the truth of what is, its essence, or being. And this meaning implies the development of human consciousness, which has followed certain paths. From the most primitive or basic human sounds, or natural sounds, to the most sophisticated descriptions and theories, sound has helped us see spatially and temporally, beyond what our eyes can see in an immediate focused field. Sound guides consciousness or creates consciousness, vibrationally and through meaning, that covers a vaster field of space and time than the other senses can perceive.
It is therefore through sound, and especially the expression of speech and language, that we become aware of the connectedness of things in time and space, and eventually of logic, truth, logos. It is a matter of metaphysical speculation, or perhaps occult vision, whether sound or logos was prior to human intelligence or even to cosmic manifestation. But in any case, we can be sure that it has been instrumental in forming our mental conceptions of things and our ability to communicate our understanding in very precise ways.
The problem of course as recognized by spiritual seers for millennia, and as explored fully by the science of phenomenology is that what we see and express as our understanding is largely an illusion because our mental, conceptual, representative understanding of things is only partial, limited by our perceptions, our conditioning, our intelligence. The real truth of things is vaster, more complex, more powerful. And at this point of our development and realization we can grasp these inherent limitations of mind and its expressions. Phenomenology identifies our constrained, conceptual and impressionistic way of understanding things with the term enframing. But of course human beings have also discovered higher forms of expression through music and mantric speech, which can go beyond the framework of mental understanding if one has the vision and power. This is what we are exploring with Savitri.
According to Sri Aurobindo, no age of human development has been so far from understanding this higher potentiality of language and expression than ours, and yet he devoted much of his life to changing this situation. His teaching says that thought is prior to language and not dependent on it. And higher than thought is the Real Idea or Truth-Consciousness, which all our sense faculties have been evolved to perceive and express. In other words, sight and hearing and thought and speech are created by Consciousness, and not the other way around. Therefore, he says, it is possible to rise above mind and its instrumentations into realms of pure thought and Truth, and to use the evolved instruments of mind and speech to convey Reality itself the being of things. This is the potentiality of mantric speech.
One purpose of this workshop, and of the poetry notebook which explores this theory through a close reading of The Future Poetry, is for us to come to a direct understanding and experience of what this means. And since Sri Aurobindo has developed the technique of mantric poetry to convey the reality of spiritual consciousness and the inner reality of all the planes of manifestation and all their outer forms and experiences, we should be initiated by it into a consciousness of these things that are beyond our normal mental understanding. We should become capable of a more direct vision of the truth of things especially spiritual things, but also all kinds of things themselves. Sri Aurobindo points out that he is using mantric poetry and the epic form not only to convey the realty of gods and higher spiritual truth, which has been the case in the past, but also to convey the inner truth and reality of man and nature and life and the material creation.
Now, he has explained that the technique he has developed for achieving this is primarily based on sound and rhythm. Therefore, he says, the eye cant get it. When we read with the eye and filter the meaning through our highly conditioned mental instrument, we do not either hear or see the real meaning. So there must come into play another kind of reading in which rhythmic speech conveys the truth directly to the hearing and vision shruti and smriti in the Sanskrit.
Our next purpose, and also Sri Aurobindos purpose in writing this poetry, is to become conscious of higher planes of truth and force and how they can be brought down into mind and life to transform them. That is the aim of Integral Yoga and Savitri is the revelation and teaching of that path. Therefore we begin to see and feel levels of consciousness and force carried to us through this rhythmic speech, of which we are not normally aware. And it is possible that these realities of force and consciousness can become permanent vibrational structures in us that can transform our minds and lives. The force that descends here in response to the call of Savitri is at the very least a demonstration of the prophetic truth of Savitri itself, for example in such lines as:
A few shall see what none yet understands
We do not really understand, nor do we need to understand what is happening here, in the conventional sense. We need only to see the reality of it and associate ourselves with its truth and force in order to be on this path of transformation.