Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Void Where Thought Was Born

'When Sri Aurobindo announced that he was bringing something entirely new into the Earth's atmosphere and revolutionising the world of the Spirit, he meant what he was stating very seriously. Far more seriously than what most people believe. That is they do not have any idea of what such a statement implies. . . .'
- Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (Thea)

'The Void where Thought was born' as reproduced below is one of many 'Letters from Skambha' written by Thea to various students of her work and chronicled in
The Vishaal Newsletter. This particular letter was published in TVN in June of 1989. It is a sequel to letter published in April 1989 TVN  titled 'The Infinite and the Detail'. Subsequent 'Letters from Skambha' include 'The Relative, the Absolute, the One' and 'The Secret of Immortal Life'. These letters continue to expose the error of spiritual pursuits that emphasize the static Being over the spacial and temporal Becoming. 'The Void where Thought was born' also addresses Sri Aurobindo's yogic task (as well as the Mother's) of correcting this error ... undoing this Knot 'that is very, very, deep rooted in the human embodied consciousness'. Earlier this month I posted 'Sri Aurobindo's New Yoga and the Inadequacy of Jung's Pyschology' as a bit of an intro to some of the issues/blockages Thea discusses below.

‘The Void where Thought was born' ...

…I hasten to answer your letter because there seems to be a wrong impression formed. When I wrote about a wrong ‘direction’, I did not mean that you should stop your actual practice of the yoga. This was not the question at all. In fact, as far as I can see, in spite of everything, the practice is bearing results, especially along the lines I have been indicating. It seemed to me that concentration in the heart would be more beneficial. And this is what is happening now, perhaps more than in the past.
The practices you describe are the general lines of the yoga. They are forever valid and should not be dispensed with. However, for each one the practice varies, as you know. In your case, the path you are following seems to suit you; and that is fine. But what I was referring to was the direction. This is something slightly different, though of course it does have bearing on the sadhana one follows.
By ‘direction’ I am referring to something Sri Aurobindo had written about, perhaps not using this term however, when he wrote of the overall aim of the yoga, its goal, which was different from all other paths. That is the direction. In other words, what is the final objective of your sadhana. As expressed by you I saw no difference in what you were pursuing than in most other paths. That is, the yoga was a means to go up and up and away. The sadhana in the embodied centres, the mental and the vital, was ultimately to provide a springboard for the ascending consciousness to reach the overmental and supramental planes. But then, after that? I mean, I see no difference from Tantra. And this has been my point all along.
The way the yoga is practiced by sadhaks does not convince me that what is gained can become a part of the evolution. That is, that it can CHANGE THINGS HERE, much less signify for the sadhak any bringing down of the light of those upper regions and establishing that as this base IN LIFE.
Consequently, I have dealt with this issue at length, in my own yoga and recording the results in the third volume of The New Way. This is because I find it essential. Also because, as I described in my last letter, it is the work of the Third in the Line to make this connection here below. Nothing of that work had been effectively done. Even now we are merely in the beginning, one could say. But with a difference. Now at least the lines are very clear. One sees clearly what has to be done and that the first solid foundation has been laid. This is a big step forward. But there are many more steps yet to be taken.
My whole point in the third volume of The New Way was to reveal the position in the body of the convergence of the descent and the ascent. I refer specifically to Tantra, as well as other paths. In Tantra, though the embodied centres are used for the sadhana and the Shakti is the focus of the worship and practice, what is the finality? The sadhak concentrates on the rise of the Kundalini, from the lowest chakra at the base of the spine, up through the others and then finally to the attainment of the highest. But where is that highest? It is outside the body. It is above the crown of the head. This is a clear ‘symbol’. The final attainment means a liberation from the body. The embodied centres were used simply to reach that liberation. And any Tantric will tell you that his aim is to secure release from birth ultimately, and a dissolution of his consciousness in the Absolute Brahman, unfettered by the coils of earthly flesh. This is no different from any other path. [In fact, the multiplicity of paths is mainly to cater to the different temperaments of seekers, rather than to provide different goals.] And hence the common slogan in spirituality is ‘there is only ONE TRUTH,’ and all paths and all religions ultimately agree and converge on this ONE Truth.
Now, this is clearly where Sri Aurobindo’s work parts ways with ALL other spiritual paths. And this is why in the final analysis it is even difficult to refer to it as a ‘spiritual’ path. Again, this in itself introduces difficulties because one tends to rely on the old patterns and formulas which simply do not prove reliable in this work. But the new pattern or blueprint has been given; and it is this fact that I am constantly stressing. You have finally understood this when you write ‘ used them [the Ashram, Auroville and Matrimandir] as objective examples of the development of their cosmos.’ This is accurate. Time and again I have sustained that the keys to the REAL development of Sri Aurobindo’s work are given in certain items of objective knowledge, foremost of which is the Mother’s original plan of the Matrimandir. Again in my last letter to you I stressed the fact: the Mother gave us a blueprint of a ‘soul’ with all its connections to time and matter. And in my work I have revealed those connections and the inner and deeper significance of the Chamber. For this reason it is not possible to regard the Auroville experiment as something to be left under the tutorship of individuals who have no idea of what the real meaning is in the elements they have taken possession of. We have to accept that this is so and continue with the work in spite of these ‘knots’; but at the same time we must see these conditions clearly and realise that these are the means devised to undo those ‘knots’. This too you have now come to understand.
I know of no sadhak in the Ashram or any person in Auroville or connected with that project who has seen the direction of the Work and who understands anything of the new way. And therefore I see that these people, some of whom may be quite sincere in their aspiration, as cut off from the reality of things, as if suspended, awaiting ‘something’, but not even having any clear idea of what that Something might be. That is, there is no appreciation of what is required to make Sri Aurobindo’s yoga radically different from all others, as he stated it was. The sadhana I have witnessed in the inmates of the Ashram – and I do not include the people in Auroville because I have yet to come across anyone from that place who is actually doing any sadhana at all! – is essentially no different from all other spiritual quests. People may believe they are ‘doing the yoga’ – the new yoga of Sri Aurobindo – but this does not make for any effective progress along these new lines.
When Sri Aurobindo announced that he was bringing something entirely new into the Earth’s atmosphere and revolutionising the world of the Spirit, he meant what he was stating very seriously. Far more seriously than what most people believe. That is, they do not have any idea of what such a statement implies. And so, when I write to you that the direction is wrong, I mean this: the goal you are positing as the finality of your quest does not strike me as being expressive of this newness. I see that it will lead you to the goal of all other paths: a dissolution in the Self, or the Brahman, and ‘release’ from birth.
You may not see this yourself, for you may not even understand what this really means. Hardly anyone does. But it could very well be the finality of your quest. You may not realise this, for you may not even know what is implied in what I write. But nonetheless I must tell you what I see; also because I believe this lies at the basis of the strain you feel. Being destined for this path, it is clear that the Yoga Shakti will be constantly pressuring for a right direction. And when one is sincere, as I believe you are, one’s aspiration will always attract the person or persons or circumstances which will help to correct the direction and guide you along the way that is the truth of your soul in this lifetime.
In the late 1920s, Sri Aurobindo understood that a similar wrong direction was threatening to overtake his work. As you know from the Ashram literature, it was referred to as the Ashram’s ‘brilliant period’. This was because many, many sadhaks at the time were having dazzling visions, the Gods were easily seen and everyone believed that ‘heaven’ was indeed descending on Earth. The Mother herself expressed to Sri Aurobindo that she had received the Creative Word, the power to bring this ‘new’ creation on Earth.
But what was actually happening? Sri Aurobindo knew that the plane that had been reached and the powers responsible for these visions and countless experiences were the lesser forces of the Overmental Plane, and that allowing those powers to shape the new creation would not mean a NEW creation at all. It was in fact a very clever way to cement the old and impede for all times the supramental creation from coming into being.
Sri Aurobindo acted quickly. He halted the movement, stating that if it continued a new world religion would come into being, but nothing to do with his work. This assessment was entirely accurate because the finality of any Overmental creation is necessarily on the level of the religious consciousness. It is in fact the source of Religion.
The result of his action must not have pleased most of his disciples. It plunged everyone right ‘into the mire’. It was then said that the sadhana had gone into the physical, and there were no more dazzling visions and pleasant sleeping pills, as I call them. The work was hard, arduous, but RIGHT.
You see then that even with Sri Aurobindo present there has been a continuous danger of a wrong direction. This pertains to the overall lines of the Work, but it is no less relevant for the individual, through whom these new blueprints have been given. Whether or not they are used by disciples is another matter. If one’s aspiration is sincere for the truly NEW CREATION, then somehow one will be guided to the right way and the person who can guide one on this new path.
There is a ‘knot’ that is very, very deep-rooted in the human embodied consciousness. It is common to all who inhabit a body. This Knot is so difficult to undo – for after all, it is the nexus of the mental creation – that no one prior to Sri Aurobindo has made any effective attempt to get rid of this tremendous obstacle. To attain the heights, as has been done by countless seers and yogis in the past, this Knot presented no obstacle. One could overlook it entirely – precisely because the ‘direction’ was otherworldly; in which case, one had no obligation at all to deal with this problem. Ultimately, it became resolved, or rather dissolved by withholding any reality from it. One could UNDERMINE its existence to the point where it became an ‘illusion’, and the creation that it upheld, the mental human creation, was, by consequence, equally illusory. This was a very effective way of dealing with that Knot. It was so very effective that it is precisely this effectiveness that stands in the way today when we try to deal with this problem. In other words, these great sages had attained such wondrous heights that when we try to convince seekers of the necessity to disregard those past achievements and strive for this ‘new way’, they are not easily convinced. What have we to show for all the struggle and arduous tapasya required to undo that Knot? Especially in these early stages when it is demanded that we plough through the mire of ages in the effort to release those ‘rays of the hidden sun’?
When I assess what has been done so far and the QUALITY of the Knowledge that constitutes this New Way, I find nothing in the legacy spirituality has left us from the past to compare. And I include in this assessment all of Tantra and its various offshoots such as Tibetan Buddhism which has so much of the Tantric School in it. But an appreciation of this sort is not open to all. Precisely because none are aware of the EXACT nature of what is being accomplished by this new way. In the first place, they are not aware what lies at the root of the condition to be transformed, what Sri Aurobindo had alluded to in his poem, ‘A God’s Labour’. He stated very clearly that he had gone ‘where none had gone’, and he described what he encountered as ‘a falsehood…planted deep/At the very root of things’. And further on, he states, as he describes his plunge through ‘the dumb Earth’s dreadful heart’… ‘I have seen the source whence her agonies part and the inner reason of hell’. And finally, ‘I have pierced the Void where Thought was born, I have walked in the bottomless pit’…
The ‘void’ that he sings of is the ‘knot’ I describe. The knot is not actually that Void but it is the ‘web’ that Mind weaves out of this nothingness and which it holds to as its sustaining power and ultimate apotheosis. Hence all the paths of spirituality that we know today in one way or another cling to this goal as the apex of the quest. It may not be explicitly stated, but when the goal is in some way ‘otherworldly’, as in all cases, then this Void is implicit.
So, you see, this is the direction that has to be changed. It means going against the current of aeons and aeons. It means having a PRECISE KNOWLEDGE of the old web and how it came into being and of the new matrix that is being created right now.
It is very easy for me to spot an ‘infiltration’ of the old. To such an extent that sometimes I find it bewildering because there is hardly anything free from this contamination. And yet we must do the work right here, and right now. Thus we are condemned (and I choose the word carefully!) to work in the midst of and in spite of this contamination. Perhaps with this background you can better understand why animals have had to be used for an essential part of the work, regarding certain basic lines of this new ‘web’. Their consciousness is not contaminated by that Knot, by that ‘falsehood…planted at the very root of things’, by that ‘Void where Thought was born’… This does not mean that animals are not subjected to the falsehood that is decay and death, or the perishability of this ephemeral flesh. What it means is that Mind has not the upper hand in the animal and vegetable kingdoms. Regarding the latter, it is clear that the Mother found flowers to be more ‘receptive’ to her force and hence it was her custom to pass something of her power to disciples through this medium. Each flower she gave was a clear container of her Force; and since she had the capacity to perceive the ‘inner truth’ of each flower, she was able to localise the particular ‘container’ that would best suit the occasion and the type of force to be transmitted which would aid the disciple in his/her particular problem. This again is because the vegetable kingdom is not contaminated – the contamination being the rule of Mind. The problem with our species is the dominance of Mind, its USURPATION of the highest position. This is what has produced that hardened knot ‘at the root of things’.
In this too spirituality has provided an answer: go beyond mind, stop thought, sit in meditation and remove yourself from the problem, find peace in the beyond, in the static Brahman…and so on. The formulas are many, but none of them solved the ‘nether mysteries’.

The aim of my work presently is to create an indelible imprint on the human consciousness regarding this ‘new direction’. To achieve this I have to keep pounding away at the obnoxious habit of the human being to equate spirituality with otherworldliness, whatever the disguise. At the same time I have to offer impeccable means to see this new Power working in the world now, in its present state. In a word, I have to bring about a ‘new seeing’, a ‘seeing in understanding’ – not visions and lights and all the rest. In fact, that avenue has to be closed for now. One cannot add more baggage to the seeker which has to be shed in any case. But people equate spirituality with those experiences, or with ‘experiences’ of some sort. When these are lacking the person cannot believe he/she is doing any sadhana at all. Precisely because that ‘new seeing’ is not present, for if it were, ‘all things would be made new’ and the thirst for that sort of enticement would vanish. Whatever one perceives ON THIS EARTH would be transformed – the transformation being the lived experience of seeing the Divine Consciousness IN ALL THINGS, controlling everything, and carrying evolution to the next stage, the supramental creation.
But for most people this is not spiritual enough. And there are so many temperaments to contend with. Each seeker has his own individual consciousness to be accommodated into this new ‘web’.
I have difficulty with the terms ‘ascent’ and descent’ at this point. I feel that with the introduction of the supramental yoga, which had not occurred before, these terms are too linear, they do not truly express the real condition of the sadhana, either individually or collectively. So the terms that NATURALLY evolved out of this phase of the work are ‘vertical’ and ‘horizontal’. I see it in this way: what would be equivalent to the ‘descent’ is a vertical descending direction similar to the descent of old; but the main shift concerns this question of ‘ascent’. Presently it is more on the order of a horizontal expansion. These terms can also be equated with contraction and expansion. Visually, it can be ‘seen’ in this way: there is a descent, like a seed. This then produces ripples, expanding waves in the consciousness-field of the sadhak, which move every outward from that point. And the ‘point’ I refer to is the important NEXUS in the body where this shift or reversal takes place. That is the new dimension of the soul experience I have referred to in my last letter.
In this condition the body, with all its subtle sheaths of course, is the FIELD of the sadhana. It is never rejected and there is no attempt to exceed its boundaries. But there is a widening so as to incorporate into its field more force, more light, more of the higher things which until now the physical instrument was not able to contain. Contraction draws these into the expanding field – a simultaneous movement.
Again I must refer to the real facts of the Manifestation to provide examples of this arrangement which is valid for the individual as well as the collectivity. The ‘descent’ or the descending vertical direction corresponds to the Solar Line – 9, 6, and 3. What does this mean for the individual? In what way can this Descent become a part of his/her sadhana? What the Solar Line represents is the reality of each individual on this planet, but IN POTENTIAL. That is, you consist of Transcendent, Cosmic and Individual Divine attributes. You, as an individual incarnate soul, come with these triadic attributes. The purpose of your sojourn on this planet is to REALISE that, to unveil these triune powers and ultimately to contribute this to the evolution on Earth so that we shall soon see a new world order founded on this hitherto hidden potential. The soul is that Point into which these attributes, transcendent and cosmic, are ‘compressed’. In the course of the sadhana, when that ‘reversal’ takes place, then there begins the expanding movement, with that Stable Constant, that ‘point’ as one’s base and no longer the Void. This is what I refer to as ‘the birth that fills the void’. At the Reversal the expanding movement begins which is like the ripples in a pond, extending outward from the centre.
The Gnostic Circle contains all of this: the Sacred Triangle is the Circle’s relation to the vertical descent; and the rest, the division of 12, corresponds to the fourfold horizontal poise of individual and collectivity. That is, the Gnostic Circle is a combination of 9 and 12, or vertical and horizontal directions. The 4.5 Orbit is the ‘nether region’ which was formerly the ‘void’ but which now, with the release of the Light, has become that kingdom of the Fourth Power in the Line, and hence the great Reversal Point. This diagram represents the complete field of consciousness-being. These are the lines of the Yoga now. (5.4.1989)

© Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet, 1989

Related Posts:
Being and Becoming

Letters from Skambha: 'The Infinite and the Detail' (TVN April 1989)

Letters from Skambha: 'One must go deeper . . . ' (TVN June 1989)

Letters from Skambha: 'The Relative, the Absolute, the One' (
TVN June 1989) coming soon
Letters from Skambha: 'The Secret of Immortal Life' (
TVN June 1989) coming soon'
Sri Aurobindo's New Yoga and the Inadequacy of Jung's Psychology'

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