On suicide, euthanasia, and capital punishment

Benjamin Franklin famously said that there are two things we cannot escape: death and taxes (he didn’t know about tax shelters).  In this article, we cover observations made by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother Mirra Alfassa on some taxing questions related to death – suicide, euthanasia and capital punishment.

Suicide

Both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were adamantly opposed to any talk of suicide emanating from their disciples or others whose lives they touched.  The only exception allowed was in the case of an enlightened individual who, after realizing his true identity and being free from Karma, might choose to cast off the physical body

These are some observations made by them on the matter.  The first passage is from Sri Aurobindo’s commentary on the Upanishads:

When a man dies in great pain, or in great grief or in great agitation of mind and his last thoughts are full of fear, rage, pain or horror, then the Jivatman (soul) in the Sukshmasharir (subtle body) is unable to shake off these impressions from his mind for years, sometimes for centuries. The reason of this is the law of death; death is a moment of great concentration when the departing spirit gathers up the impressions of its mortal life, as a host gathers provender for its journey, and whatever impressions are predominant at that moment, govern its condition afterwards Hence the importance, even apart from Mukti(liberation), of living a clean and noble life and dying a calm & strong death.  For if the ideas & impressions then uppermost are such as associate the self with this gross body and the vital functions, i.e. to say, with the lower upadhi, then the soul remains long in a tamasic condition of darkness & suffering, which we call Patal or in its worst forms Hell.  If the ideas & impressions uppermost are such as associate the self with the mind and the higher desires then the soul passes quickly through a short period of blindness to a rajaso-sattwic condition of light & pleasure and wider knowledge, which we call Paradise, Swarga or Behesta(Bengali word for heaven), from which it will return to birth in this world; if the ideas & impressions are such as to associate the self with the higher understanding & the bliss of the Self, the soul passes quickly to a sattwic condition of highest bliss which we call Heaven or Brahmaloka and thence it does not return. But if we have learned to identify for ever the self with the Self, then before death we become God and after death we shall not be other.  For there are three states of Maya, Tamasic illusion, Rajasic illusion, and Sattwic illusion; and each in succession we must shake off to reach that which is no illusion, but the one and only truth.

The Sruti (divine revelation) says then that those who slay themselves go down into the nether world of gloom, for they have associated the self with the body and fancied that by getting rid of this body, they will be free, but they have died full of impressions of grief, impatience, disgust and pain. In that state of gloom they are continually repeating the last scene of their life, its impressions and its violent disquiet, and until they have worn off these, there is no possibility of Shanti for their minds. Let no man in his folly or impatience court such a doom [1].

In this conversation, the Mother elucidates that after suicide, one is thrust into tenebrous worlds where one can be tormented by malevolent beings who feed off one’s vitality like vampires.   The suffering after suicide is far worse than the suffering that might induce one to commit suicide.

Disciple: Why does one suffer when one commits suicide?

Mother: Why does one commit suicide? Because one is a coward…When one is cowardly one always suffers.

Disciple: In the next life one suffers again?

Mother: The psychic being comes with a definite purpose to go through a set of experiences and to learn and make progress. Then if you leave before its work is finished it will have to come back to do it again under much more difficult conditions. So all that you have avoided in one life you will find again in another, and more difficult. And even without leaving in this way, if you have difficulties to overcome in life, you have what we usually call a test to pass, you see; well, if you don’t pass it or turn your back upon it, if you go away instead of passing it, you will have to pass it another time and it will be much more difficult than before.

Now people, you know, are extremely ignorant and they think that it is like this: there is life, and then death; life is a bunch of troubles, and then death is an eternal peace. But it is not at all like that. And usually when one goes out of life in an altogether arbitrary way and in an ignorant and obscure passion, one goes straight into a vital world made of all these passions and all this ignorance. So the troubles one wanted to avoid one finds again without even having the protection which the body gives, for – if you have ever had a nightmare, that is, a rash excursion in the vital world, well, your remedy is to wake yourself up, that is to say, to rush back immediately into your body. But when you have destroyed your body you no longer have a body to protect you. So you find yourself in a perpetual nightmare, which is not very pleasant. For, to avoid the nightmare you must be in a psychic consciousness, and when you are in a psychic consciousness you may be quite sure that things won’t trouble you. It is indeed the movement of an ignorant darkness and, as I said, a great cowardice in front of the sustained effort to be made[2].

A disciple asked the Mother to elucidate on the case in the Ramayana scripture where Rama voluntarily relinquishes his life.

Disciple: The Ramayana says that when Rama saw that his work on earth was finished, he entered the river Sarayu along with his companions. This looks like mass suicide and suicide is regarded as the greatest sin. How to understand this?

 Mother:

  1. For the Supreme there is no sin.
  2. For the devotee there is no greater sin than to be far from the Lord.
  3. At the time when the Ramayana was conceived and written, the knowledge revealed by Sri Aurobindo that the earth will be transformed into a divine world and an abode of the Supreme was not known or accepted.

      If you consider these three points you will understand the legend. (Although it may be that the actual facts were not as they have been told.) [3]

Euthanasia

Some religious folks reject euthanasia because “life is precious”, by which they mean that it is better to keep an individual breathing rather than dead, but this is a specious argument since it depends on how we define “life”.  According to Hinduism, human beings have indestructible self-effulgent souls which reincarnate thousands of times in different bodies during the ascending arc of evolution.  In the context of euthanasia, this implies that the doctor must be able to divine on a case-by-case basis whether the suffering patient should continue living or whether the soul has reached the point where it is ready to move on to the next incarnation.  In the absence of any insight into the spiritual reality behind the material world, this is a formidable puzzle to solve.

There are two sources where Sri Aurobindo has commented on euthanasia.  The first was in the following conversation, where he was open to it under certain circumstances.

Dr. Manilal : Is not the taking of life a sin, Sir?

Sri Aurobindo: You are all the time thinking of sin. It depends on circumstances. English doctors advocate giving injections to cases of incurable suffering in order to cut short their lives.

Purani : Gandhi also advocated it in case of the Ashram cow and there was a row among the Jains.

Dr. Manilal: What about suicide?

Sri Aurobindo: It depends on the spirit in which it is done. If it is done in a vital spirit or with a vital motive it may be sin. Would you say that the Sannyasi who committed suicide in the story about Alexander engaged in an act of sin?

Dr. Manilal: I don’t know the story.

Sri Aurobindo: When Alexander was returning to Greece he wanted to take with him two Sannyasis. One refused, the other accompanied him. But after some time the latter had a severe attack of colic. He said his body was betraying him. So he decided to give up his body by immolating himself. In spite of pleadings he carried out his decision [4].

The second source is a letter written to a disciple, where Sri Aurobindo calls attention to  the inherent limitations of the human intellect in determining whether a suffering soul should be kept alive or allowed to die and proceed to the next incarnation.  The original question, which we do not have at present, seems to be related to the taking of animal life, but the response also touches on the subject of euthanasia.

It is the same with the problem of the taking of animal life under the circumstances put forward by your friend in the letter. It is put on the basis of an invariable ethical right and wrong to be applied to all cases – is it right to take animal life at all, under any circumstances, is it right to allow an animal to suffer under your eyes when you can relieve it by an euthanasia? There can be no indubitable answer to a question put like that, because the answer depends on data which the mind has not before it. In fact there are many other factors which make people incline to this short and merciful way out of  the difficulty – the nervous inability to bear the sight and hearing of so much suffering, the unavailing trouble, the disgust and inconvenience – all tend to give force to the idea that the animal itself would want to be out of it. But what does the animal really feel about it – may it not be clinging to life in spite of the pain? Or may not the soul have accepted these things for a quicker evolution into a higher state of life? If so, the mercy dealt out may conceivably interfere with the animal’s Karma. In fact the right decision might vary in each case and depend on a knowledge which the human mind has not – and it might very well be said that until it has it, it has not the right to take life. It was some dim perception of this truth that made religion and ethics develop the law of Ahimsa (non-violence) – and yet that too becomes a mental rule which it is found impossible to apply in practice. And perhaps the moral of it all is that we must act for the best according to our lights in each case, as things are, but that the solution of these problems can only come by pressing forward towards a greater light, a greater consciousness in which the problems themselves, as now stated by the human mind, will not arise because we shall have a vision which will see the world in a different way and a guidance which at present is not ours. The mental or moral rule is a stop-gap which men are obliged to use, very uncertainly and stumblingly, until they can see things whole in the light of the spirit[5].

Paramahansa Yogananda relates the tale of a deer who wanted to move on to the next incarnation but was being held back by Yogananda’s desire to keep him alive.  The following story is from his book “Autobiography of a Yogi“:

We had many pets, including a young deer who was fairly idolized by the children. I too loved the fawn so much that I allowed it to sleep in my room. At the light of dawn, the little creature would toddle over to my bed for a morning caress.

One day I fed the pet earlier than usual, as I had to attend to some business in the town of Ranchi. Although I cautioned the boys not to feed the fawn until my return, one of them was disobedient, and gave the baby deer a large quantity of milk. When I came back in the evening, sad news greeted me: “The little fawn is nearly dead, through over feeding.”

In tears, I placed the apparently lifeless pet on my lap. I prayed piteously to God to spare its life. Hours later, the small creature opened its eyes, stood up, and walked feebly. The whole school shouted for joy.

But a deep lesson came to me that night, one I can never forget. I stayed up with the fawn until two o’clock, when I fell asleep. The deer appeared in a dream, and spoke to me:

“You are holding me back. Please let me go; let me go!”

“All right,” I answered in the dream.

I awoke immediately, and cried out, “Boys, the deer is dying!” The children rushed to my side.

I ran to the corner of the room where I had placed the pet. It made a last effort to rise, stumbled toward me, then dropped at my feet, dead.

According to the mass karma which guides and regulates the destinies of animals, the deer’s life was over, and it was ready to progress to a higher form. But by my deep attachment, which I later realized was selfish, and by my fervent prayers, I had been able to hold it in the limitations of the animal form from which the soul was struggling for release. The soul of the deer made its plea in a dream because, without my loving permission, it either would not or could not go. As soon as I agreed, it departed [6].

Capital Punishment

Behind the material world, there exist occult worlds populated by beings – benevolent and malevolent – who are capable of and enjoy influencing our lives (see occult spirits which influence us).   Certain cases of horrifying murders and other violent inhumane crimes committed by menacing psychotic individuals  can in fact be attributed to these malevolent beings who stand above the criminals and motivate them to kill.   Seen in this light, the insanity defense which is employed by criminals to absolve them of their inhumane crimes is not without basis.   The following conversation between Sri Aurobindo and a disciple must be read in this context.

Disciple : What is the aim of these beings in taking possession of the human being ?

Sri Aurobindo: Firstly, to have influence on the physical plane which they can have by taking possession of a man. Secondly, to play a joke – just to see what happens. Thirdly, to play God and be worshipped. Fourthly, to bring about a manifestation of vital power. To this class belong those beings that effect miraculous cures and have great healing powers. Fifthly, to satisfy some desire or impulse like murder or lust.

From this point of view you will see that capital punishment is absurd. The man who murders was, most probably, under possession of impulse of some being. When the man is executed, the being takes possession of another. Many of those who commit murder have admitted that they had their first impulse when they saw an execution. Some vital beings want to have their play here.

Disciple : Why do they do like that ?

Sri Aurobindo : They get supported. But these are not strong beings. Really strong beings are those that are behind world-movements, like Theosophy ; they have not only vital force but mental power.

[…]

Disciple: Does the soul of the man, who is possessed, try to recover the lost ground ?

Sri Aurobindo : After some time, during possession, there is no soul; it is thrust behind, – into the background. Gene­rally, in man the soul is not in front. By yoga the soul is supposed to come to the front. But it can be thrown into the background by these forces taking advantage of some weakness, some vital or physical defect – unless the Central Being comes down and takes hold of the instruments.

Disciple : Can these forces take possession when the man has got a fine mind – a mind which is higher than the vital impulses ?

Sri Aurobindo : What is man’s mental knowledge before those beings ? What does man know ? Practically nothing. They know the complex of forces at work, while man knows nothing of it. Man has a great destiny if he goes along the right lines, but as he is, he is shut up in the physical consciousness which is a very inferior plane. Even his reason requires data for its knowledge, and argument or reasoning can justify anything. Two quite opposite conclusions can be supported by the aid of the same reasoning.  And your preferences determine which one you accept.  For the data of reasoning, again, you require to depend upon what you see and hear – on your senses. The vital beings are not so foolish as all that, they are not so limited[7].

References

  1. Sri Aurobindo.  Isha Upanishad.  CWSA vol. 17, p. 122
  2. The Mother.  Collected Works of the Mother, vol. 7, pp. 23-24.
  3. The Mother.  Collected Works of the Mother, vol. 17, p 318.
  4. Nirodbaran.  Talks with Sri Aurobindo, 7 Dec 1940.
  5. Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Yoga, Section on Rebirth, SABCL vol. 22, p 450
  6. Paramhansa Yogananda.  Autobiography of A Yogi.  Chapter 27, Founding a Yoga School in Ranchi.
  7. A.B. Purani. Evening Talks with Sri Aurobindo, Second Series, Psychology, 29th May, 1926

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21 thoughts on “On suicide, euthanasia, and capital punishment

  1. Mohan

    Is it significant, the fact that you’ve chosen “On suicide, euthanasia, and capital punishment” to succeed “…on Lawyers”?

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Hmm…an ethical state of mind, perhaps?

      Another passage where Sri Aurobindo speaks against capital punishment occurs when he is lucubrating on the “Religion of Humanity”:

      War, capital punishment, the taking of human life, cruelty of all kinds whether committed by the individual, the State or society, not only physical cruelty, but moral cruelty, the degradation of any human being or any class of human beings under whatever specious plea or in whatever interest, the oppression and exploitation of man by man, of class by class, of nation by nation and all those habits of life and institutions of society of a similar kind which religion and ethics formerly tolerated or even favoured in practice, whatever they might do in their ideal rule or creed, are crimes against the religion of humanity, abominable to its ethical mind, forbidden by its primary tenets, to be fought against always, in no degree to be tolerated.
      (Sri Aurobindo. Ideal of Human Unity, CWSA vol. 25, p 565)

      Reply
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  4. K

    //Sri Aurobindo : They get supported. But these are not strong beings. Really strong beings are those that are behind world-movements, like Theosophy ; they have not only vital force but mental power.//

    Dear Sandeep,
    What kind of being SA is saying that is behind Theosophy.

    Reply
  5. K

    In another exchange in 1936, he said Madame Blavatsky “was an occultist, not a spiritual personality. What spiritual teachings she gave, seemed to be based on intellectual knowledge, not on realisation.”
    Reading the Theosophical literature, I feel that they deal more with occult and technical aspects than the spiritual side, however the book on vegetarianism by AB is a source of inspiration for following the Vegean diet.
    Some say that Secret Doctrine itself is a plagiarism of a Hindu, I don’t know but the material is difficult to comprehend and confusing

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      K said: Some say that Secret Doctrine itself is a plagiarism of a Hindu, I don’t know but the material is difficult to comprehend and confusing

      Her teachings were an amalgam of Buddhism, Hinduism, and the Western esoteric tradition.
      The Secret Doctrine (online) is readable if you put in some effort to understand the jargon.
      The diagrams on this page are useful, for instance.

      Reply
  6. Sandeep Post author

    The Mother has also commented on capital punishment and her views are in agreement with those of Sri Aurobindo. I am adding her remarks here…

    Indeed, one can have also an inspiration to commit a murder! In countries where they decapitate murderers, cut off their heads, this causes a very brutal death which throws out the vital being, not allowing it the time to decompose for coming out of the body; the vital being is violently thrown out of the body, with all its impulses; and generally it goes and lodges itself in one of those present there, men half horrified, half with a kind of unhealthy curiosity. That makes the opening and it enters within. Statistics have proved that most young murderers admit that the impulse came to them when they were present at the death of another murderer. It was an “inspiration”, but of a detestable kind (CWMCE vol 5 page 206)

    …The death of Stalin (unfortunately not anymore than the death ofHitler) has not changed the present state of the world. Something more than that would be necessary. For this is like the assassin who is guillotined: when his head is cut off, his spirit remains behind and is projected outside him. It is a vital formation and it goes and takes shelter in one of the benevolent spectators, who suddenly feels a criminal instinct
    in himself. There are many men like that, specially very young criminals who when questioned have acknowledged this. They have been asked: “When did this desire to kill come to you?” and the frequent reply is: “It got hold of me when I saw so-and-so
    executed.” (CWMCE vol 5, page 376)

    Reply
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  8. hari

    In principle, I am against capital punishment. But lately I’ve been wondering … what about extreme cases like taliban and other animal-like beings?

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Death penalty stops the criminal temporarily but doesn’t erase the violent tendencies which will manifest again through another being. If criminals can be taught to love, that may be the way out. They can be given Yoga lessons which might alleviate their hatred.

      Reply
  9. Kevin Nelson

    8th January, 1939.
    Disciple: Can one way that snoring is the protest of the subconscient against somebody’s presence? (Laughter )
    Sri Aurobindo: Against whom? against whose presence when one snores alone! (Laughter)
    Disciple: We read in the papers about the conversion of John Middleton Murry to theism. It was Hitler’s statement after the purage that he “embodies justice and law”, that, he dispenses with “trials”– which made Murry consider him as the Anti-Christ. It seems Gandhian non-violence has also appealed to Hitler. He wants to become a village pastor and stop the flow of villagers to the cities. Gandhi has written about Hitler’s regime that the sufferings of Bishop Niemuller are not in vain. He has covered himself with glory. Hitler’s heart may be harder than stone, but non-violence has power to generate heat that can melt the stonier heart. What do you think of that?
    Sri Aurobindo: I am afraid, it would require quite a furnace! (Laughter) Gandhi has mainly to deal with Englishmen and the English want to have their conscience at ease. Besides, the Englishman wants to satisfy his self-esteem and wants world-esteem. But if Gandhi had to deal with the Russian Nihilists–not the Bolshevites–or the German Nazis then they would have long ago put him out of their way.
    Disciple: Gandhi is hopeful about the conversion of Hitler’s heart or about the German people throwing him over.
    Sri Aurobindo: Hitler would not have been where he is if he had a soft heart. It is curious how some of the most sentimental people are most cruel. Hitler, for instance, is quite sentimental. He weeps over his Mother’s tomb and paints sentimental pictures.
    Disciple: It is “the London cabman’s psychic” as you said the other day.
    [bold]Sri Aurobindo: Yes. Men like Hitler can’t change, they have to be bumped out of existence[/bold]: There is no chance of their changing in this life. He can’t get rid of his cruelty–it is his blood.
    Not that the British can’t be brutal and sentimental too. But they can’t persist as the Germans and the Russians in their brutality. The Englishman may be sentimental, but he likes to show off that he is practical, prosaic and brave. In the Russian, you find a mixture of cruelty and sentimentalism. He can break your neck and in the next moment embrace you. The English man behaves quite well, if you give him blows on his face when he treats you badly.
    Disciple: In Fiji islands there was the case of a Punjabi from a good family, who went there as an indentured labourer. An Englishman was his supervisor and used to beat him every day, in spite of his doing the hard allotted work.
    One day the Punjabi got fed up and caught hold of him and threw him on the ground and went on giving him blows. Then the Englishman said “that will do!” He got up and shook hands with him and the two became great friends! (Laughter)

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      yeah, men like Hitler are an exception and need to be bumped out, but I don’t know if that holds for all criminals on death penalty.

      Incidentally, Hitler had told Lord Halifax (who had been Viceroy of India) that the British should just shoot Gandhi.

      Shoot Gandhi, and if that does not suffice to reduce them to submission, shoot a dozen leading members of Congress; and if that does not suffice, shoot 200 and so on until order is established.

      Reply
      1. mwb6119

        Sandeep: “yeah, men like Hitler are an exception and need to be bumped out…”

        M.P. Pandit on rudra: We feel the unity but realise that the form has strayed and is becoming an obstruction in the way of the Divine manifestation and we are called to remove it from the path.” The Yoga of Self Perfection, p.128 *I would read the entire passage before taking any such action.

      2. Sandeep Post author

        Mark : *I would read the entire passage before taking any such action.

        Tell that to Sri Aurobindo! He is the one who recommended bumping Hitler out of existence.

      3. mwb6119

        I meant for any such undertaking, i.e., on a whim [Mark said it’s okay to kill anyone I think is bad]. lol. But if I ever do see SA, I’ll let him know. 😉

  10. mike

    lt all comes down to possession in the end. We know from what M said that hitler was, and She implied that stalin was too. These days they would be called psychopaths, l suppose. There’s a lot come out about this condition in the last few years. These psychopaths (who are everywhere, lt seems) would be the most prone to possession, l’d say – lack of a conscience would be the main qualification.
    Also, how could passive resistance work with a psychopathic nazi who doesn’t have a conscience? lmpossible..
    l find it hard to believe that ppl like hitler actually had a psychic being. He seems to fit the description of the vital beings M describes below.
    She also says they’re attracted to the Spiritual or Occult. Hitler and his henchmen certainly were – he had a string of ‘occult’ teachers, and even slept with a copy of blavatsky’s ‘Secret Doctrine’ by his bedside.

    “Have these vital beings a psychic being?
    No, I said that the first thing they have to do to incarnate is to
    drive away the psychic being of the person whom they possess.
    That may happen from the very birth. There are children who
    are almost stillborn; they are taken to be dead and suddenly they
    revive—this means that a vital being has incarnated in them. I
    have known such cases. This may happen also in the course of an
    illness: someone is very ill and gradually he begins to lose contact
    with the psychic being, then, in a swoon or some other similar
    state, he cuts the contact entirely and the vital being rushes into
    the body. I have known cases of this kind also. Or it may be
    a slow action: the vital being enters into the atmosphere of the
    person, goes on influencing him and finally brings about illness,
    attacks, especially mental illness; then a time comes when the
    connection with the psychic being is entirely cut and the vital
    being takes possession of the body. There are cases of people
    falling very ill and coming out of the illness altogether different
    from what they were. Very often it is this that happens.”

    “But how is one to get such creatures out of one’s environment
    when they are once there?

    The vital power incarnated in these beings is of a very material
    kind and it is effective only within a short distance. Ordinarily,
    if you do not live in the same house or if you are not in the same
    company with them, you do not come within their influence.
    But if you open some channel of connection or communication,
    through letters, for example, then you make possible an interchange
    of forces and are liable to be influenced by them even
    from a far distance. The wisest way with these beings is to cut
    off all connection and have nothing to do with them—unless
    indeed you have great occult knowledge and power and have
    learned how to cover and protect yourself—but even then it is
    always a dangerous thing to move about with them. To hope to
    transform them, as some people do, is a vain illusion; for they do
    not want to be transformed. They have no intention of allowing
    any transformation and all effort in that direction is useless.
    These beings, when in the human body, are not often conscious
    of what they really are. Sometimes they have a vague
    feeling that they are not quite human in the ordinary way. But
    still there are cases where they are conscious and very conscious;
    not only do they know that they do not belong to humanity but
    they know what they are, act in that knowledge and deliberately
    pursue their ends. The beings of the vital world are powerful by
    their very nature; when to their power they add knowledge,
    they become doubly dangerous. There is nothing to be done with these creatures; you should avoid having any dealings with
    them unless you have the power to crush and destroy them. If
    you are forced into contact with them, beware of the spell they
    can cast. These vital beings, when they manifest on the physical
    plane, have always a great hypnotic power; for the centre of their
    consciousness is in the vital world and not in the material and
    they are not veiled and dwarfed by the material consciousness
    as human beings are.
    Is it not a fact that these creatures are drawn by some
    peculiar fascination towards the spiritual life?
    Yes, because they feel they do not belong to this earth but come
    from somewhere else; and they feel too that they have powers
    they have half lost and they are eager to win them back. So
    whenever they meet anyone who can give them some knowledge
    of the invisible world, they rush to him. But they mistake the
    vital for the spiritual world and in their seeking follow vital and
    not spiritual ends. Or perhaps they deliberately seek to corrupt
    spirituality and build up an imitation of it in the mould of their
    own nature. Even then it is a kind of homage they pay, or a
    sort of amends they make, in their own way, to the spiritual
    life. And there is too some kind of attraction that compels them;
    they have revolted against the Divine rule, but in spite of their
    revolt or perhaps because of it, they feel somehow bound and
    are powerfully attracted by its presence.
    This is how it happens that you see them sometimes used
    as instruments to bring into connection with each other those
    who are to realise the spiritual life upon earth. They do not
    purposely serve this use, but are compelled to it. It is a kind of
    compensation that they pay. For they feel the pressure of the
    descending Light, they sense that the time has come or is soon
    coming when they must choose between conversion or dissolution,
    choose either to surrender to the Divine Will and take their
    part in the Great Plan or to sink into unconsciousness and cease to be. The contact with a seeker of Truth gives such a being his
    chance to change. All depends upon how he utilises his chance.
    Taken rightly, it may open his way to liberation from falsehood
    and obscurity and misery, which is the stuff out of which these
    vital creatures are made, and bring him to Regeneration and to
    Life.”

    Reply
  11. mike

    There seems to be some inconsistency between the two quotes below. One has SA talking about ‘bombing’ hitler’s heart and the other doesn’t.

    “Sri Aurobindo: I am afraid, it would require quite a furnace!
    (Laughter) Gandhi has mainly to deal with Englishmen and the English want to have their conscience at ease. Besides, the Englishman wants to satisfy his self-esteem and wants world-esteem. But if Gandhi had to deal with the Russian Nihilists–not the Bolshevites–or the German Nazis then they would have long ago put him out of their way.”

    “PURANI: Gandhi writes that the non-violence tried by some people in Germany has failed because it has not been strong enough to generate sufficient heat to melt Hitler’s heart.
    SRI AUROBINDO: It would have to be a furnace in that case. The only way to melt his heart is to bomb it out of existence.
    (Nirodbaran: Talks with Sri Aurobindo, pp. 120–1)”

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  12. arpanrox

    Regarding the question equating Ram’s Jal Samadhi to “suicide”:
    Swami Vivekanand, while explaining the difference between the sattwik and the rajasic natures, had used an intruiging example-he said that things opposite to each other often bear similar outward appearances eg an old man and an infant both lack teeth and hair..both have unsure limbs, but inwardly are opposite..one is a treasure of life-experience and the other is just a beginner..similarly
    Two kinds of people can give up their own life: One who is at the acme of will-force and character and the other who utterly lacks Will/character.(he was going forth to explain the passivity of saatwik vs the passivity of tamasik)
    As Mike here has said in his comments on the article about TV viewing…it all depends on our inner attitude. Did one give his life out of dejection and weakness or some mental perversion ? If yes, then SA’s comments about such soul going into depraved states of existence hold for such a person as is obvious when SA talks about the “condition” in which the person had died(in Isha Upanishad)..if no..then such a death can obviously not be equated with a “mere suicide”.

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