The world is crooked(vrjina), says the Rig Veda, because every Divine vibration becomes distorted and debased in Man. Our outer personality is cut off from the Light and as a result, our worldly ego distorts every movement of Truth into an act of Falsehood. For example, the vibration of Love becomes disfigured into possession and hatred while the vibration of Delight gets distorted into overeating of food, desire for cheap thrills and other perversions.
Sri Aurobindo described this movement of distortion in his poem Savitri as follows:
A vast deception was the law of things;
Only by that deception they could live.
An unsubstantial Nihil guaranteed
The falsehood of the forms this Nature took
And made them seem awhile to be and live.
A borrowed magic drew them from the Void;
They took a shape and stuff that was not theirs
And showed a colour that they could not keep,
Mirrors to a fantasm of reality.
Each rainbow brilliance was a splendid lie;
A beauty unreal graced a glamour face.
Nothing could be relied on to remain:
Joy nurtured tears and good an evil proved,
But never out of evil one plucked good:
Love ended early in hate, delight killed with pain,
Truth into falsity grew and death ruled life.
A Power that laughed at the mischief of the world,
An irony that joined the world’s contraries
And flung them into each other’s arms to strive,
Put a sardonic rictus on God’s face.
Sri Aurobindo, Savitri – I: The Descent into Night
During her conversations with Satprem(a disciple), the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Mira Alfassa, elucidated on how the pure puissance of Love becomes distorted and manifests into the four stages of human love. (Mother’s Agenda: April 16, 1966)
1. At first one loves only when one is loved
This can be seen in the calculating person who is narrow-minded and selfish, who partitions his/her social contacts into those who are loved and those who are hated. As Sri Aurobindo notes:
The inequality of feelings towards others, liking and disliking, is ingrained in the nature of the human vital. This is because some harmonise with one’s own vital temperament, others do not; also there is the vital ego which gets displeased when it is hurt or when things do not go or people do not act according to its preferences or its idea of what they should do. In the self above there is a spiritual calm and equality, a goodwill to all or at a certain stage a quiet indifference to all except the Divine; in the psychic there is an equal kindness or love to all fundamentally, but there may be special relations with one – but the vital is always unequal and full of likes and dislikes. By the sadhana the vital must be quieted down; it must receive from the self above its quiet goodwill and equality to all things and from the psychic its general kindness or love.
Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga – II: Human Relationships in Yoga – II
2. Next one loves spontaneously but one wants to be loved in return.
This is the situation where a person has an expansive vital(life-force) but with an intact ego within it. Such a person has a large feeling of love for humanity but wants to be loved in exchange for his/her “selfless” deeds. A good example of this is seen in those perform charitable or altruistic acts but expect recognition in return. The idea of helping others is also a subtle form of ego. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:
Human affection is obviously unreliable because it is so much based upon selfishness and desire; it is a flame of the ego sometimes turbid and misty, sometimes more clear and brightly coloured – sometimes tamasic based on instinct and habit, sometimes rajasic and fed by passion or the cry for vital interchange, sometimes more sattwic and trying to be or look to itself disinterested. But fundamentally it depends on a personal need or a return of some kind inward or outward and when the need is not satisfied or the return ceases or is not given, it most often diminishes or dies or exists only as a tepid or troubled remnant of habit from the past or else turns for satisfaction elsewhere. The more intense it is, the more it is apt to be troubled by tumults, clashes, quarrels, egoistic disturbances of all kinds, selfishness, exactions, lapses even to rage and hatred, ruptures. It is not that these affections cannot last – tamasic instinctive affections last because of habit in spite of everything dividing the persons, e.g. certain family affections; rajasic affections can last sometimes in spite of all disturbances and incompatibilities and furious ruptures because one has a vital need of the other and clings because of that or because both have that need and are constantly separating to return and returning to separate or proceeding from quarrel to reconciliation and from reconciliation to quarrel; sattwic affections last very often from duty to the ideal or with some other support though they may lose their keenness or intensity or brightness.
Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga – II: Human Relationships in Yoga – I
3. Further on, one loves even if one is not loved but one still wants one’s love to be accepted.
As the Mother states, this stage is generally seen in those people who have reached a fairly advanced yogic state. It occurs when the psychic being in the heart is unveiled but the outer nature is still not fully transformed. The psychic feels a spontaneous love for all beings but this pure vibration is still muted by the remnants of the egoistic movements which continue to insist of some form of recognition.
4. And finally one loves purely and simply without any other need or joy than that of loving.
The Mother says of this state, “That, to me, according to my personal experience, is really omnipotence. It’s a power than can achieve anything – anything at all. Nothing is impossible to it.” This is the state of the Enlightened One, whose outer nature has been completely tranquilized by the inner Light. Such a person acts without any expectation for recognition.
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- Why bad things happen to good people
- Gita Chapter 7, Verse 16 – Four types of Divine seekers
- Gita, Chapter 2, Verse 69 – Inversion of day and night
- Gita Chapter 4, Verse 18 – action and inaction
- Gita Chapter 6, Verse 5 – uplift the self by the self
- Right attitude towards money
- True intent of the caste system
- Four Powers of Intuition
- Vidyas in the Upanishads