A new world is born. A new evolutionary crisis as radical as the first human aberration must have been among the apes. SOMETHING ELSE, a new being announced by Sri Aurobindo, is seeking to incarnate upon earth, as different from our good as from our evil, and it is sending us invisible signs. How do we recognize those signs? How do we open the gaze that will bring forth the new world under our steps? This new gaze-the process of the transition-is what this book attempts to study, so we may seize the lever ourselves and take part in "experimental evolution."
About the Author
A sailor and a Breton, though born in Paris in 1923. A member of the French Resistance, Satprem was arrested by the Gestapo when he was twenty and spent a year and a half in concentration camps. Devastated, he journeyed first to Upper Egypt, then to India, where he served in the French colonial government of Pondicherry. There he discovered Sri Aurobindo and Mother. Their Message-"Man is a transitional being"-struck a deep chord. He resigned his post and left for Guiana, where he spent an adventurous year in the middle of Amazonian jungle, then wandered on to Brazil, Africa....
In 1953, at thirty, Satprem returned to India for good to be near Her who was in search of the secret of the passage to the "next species"-Mother, whose confidant and witness he became for some twenty years. His first essay was dedicated to Sri Aurobindo or the Adventure of Consciousness and followed a few years later by On the Way to Supermanhood. At the age of fifty, he edited and published the fabulous logbook of Mother's exploration, Mother's Agenda, in 13 volumes, while at the same time writing a trilogy-The Divine Materialism, The New Species, The Mutation of Death-followed by an essay, The Mind of the Cells.
In 1982, with his companion Sujata, Satprem withdrew completely to embark on the last adventure: the search for the "great passage" in the evolution beyond Man. In 1989, after seven years spent "digging in the body," he wrote a brief autobiographical account, The Revolt of the Earth, in which he took stock of Man's present situation. Three years later came Evolution II, a pithy record of Satprem's journey through our human and terrestrial grave: "After Man, who? But the question is: After Man, how?"
In 1994, Satprem edited Letters of a Rebel, two volumes of autobiographical correspondence. The next year, he wrote The Tragedy of the Earth - From Sophocles to Sri Aurobindo, which draws a curve from the Vedic and pre-Socratic era to our Iron Age and to Sri Aurobindo. The Key of Tales appeared in 1998, followed by The Legend of the Future (2000) and Memoirs of a Patagonian (2002). In 1999, Satprem also started the publication of his multi-volume Notebooks of an Apocalypse, the record of his work in the depths of the body consciousness, in which he was brutally plunged after Mother's departure.
The secrets are simple.
Because the Truth is simple, it is the simplest thing in the world, which is why we do not see it. There is only one Thing in the world, not two, as it has begun to dawn on our physicists and mathematicians, and as the child well knows, smiling at the wave on a wide beach where the same foam seems to roll from the womb of time and rejoin a great rhythm that rises from an old memory in which days and pains blend into one story, a story so ancient that it is like an unalterable presence, so boundless that it hangs even its immensity on a seagull's wing. And everything is contained in one second, all ages and all souls, in one simple point shining for a moment upon the wild foam. But we have lost that point, and that smile, and that singing second. So we have tried to rebuild that Oneness by adding up 1 + 1 + 1, like our computers, as if the sum total of all possible knowledge on all possible points could give us the right note in the end, the only note that makes the worlds sing and move, or also the heart of a forgotten child. We have tried to manufacture that Simplicity for every purse, and the faster our sophisticated buttons have proliferated, making life easier, the further away the bird flew, and the smile. Even the beautiful foam is polluted by our calculations. We do not even know if our bodies are really ours-the pretty Machine has eaten everything.
Now, that one Thing is also the one Power, because what shines in one point shines also in every other point: if we seize that, everything else is seized, because there is but one Power in the world, not two. Even a child understands that very well: he is a king, he is invulnerable. But as the child grows up, he forgets. And men have grown up, and nations, and civilizations, each of them in its own way looking for the Great Secret, the simple secret-through arms and conquests, through meditation and magic and beauty, through religion or science. But to tell the truth, we do not know very well who is the most advanced, the Acropolis builder, the Theban magus or the Cape Kennedy astronaut, or even the Cistercian monk, because some rejected life in order to understand it, while others grasped it without understanding it; some left a trace of beauty and others a white trail in an unchanged sky-we are the last ones on the list, that is all. And we have not yet got hold of our magic. The point, the tiny powerful point, is still there on the beach of the wide world, it shines for whoever wants it, as it was when we were not yet humans under the stars.
Yet, others did touch the Secret: maybe the Greeks, the Egyptians too, and surely the Rishis of the Vedic age. But secrets are much like flowers on a beautiful tree: they have their season, their obscure growth, their sudden blossoming. For each thing, there is a "moment," even for the conjunction of stars above our heads, and the passage of the cormorant over the foam-whitened rock, maybe too for that very foam, spurted out from the rhythm of the wave, and everything moves in accordance with a single rite. And so does man. A secret means knowledge, it means power; it has its own organic time: one small isolated cell ahead of others cannot incarnate the power of its knowledge, in other words, cannot change the world or quicken the blossoming of the great tree, unless the rest of the evolutionary ground is fully ready.
And the time has come.
It has come, it is sprouting everywhere on earth, even if the invisible flower is still more like a poisonous pimple: Calcutta students decapitate Gandhi's statue, old gods collapse, minds fed on intellect cry out for destruction and call in the frontier barbarians to break their own jail, as did the ancient Romans of the empire; others call for artificial heavens-any path, except this one! And the earth pants and groans through its every crevice, countless crevices, through all the cells of its huge body under transformation. The so-called evil of our time is a disguised childbirth, which we do not know how to handle. We are faced with a new evolutionary crisis, as radical as must have been the first aberration of the human being among the great apes.
But if the earth body is one, the cure is one, as is Truth, and one transmuted point will transmute all the others. And that point cannot be found in an improvement of our laws and systems, our sciences, religions or schools, nor in any of our many-hued and many-scented "isms"-all these are part of the old Machinery, there is no bolt to tighten anywhere, or to add or improve, we are at the very height of suffocation. And that point is not even in our intellect-which contrived the whole Machinery-nor even in an improvement of the human being, which would still be the glorification of his past weaknesses and greatnesses. The imperfection of man is not the last word of Nature, Sri Aurobindo said, but his perfection too is not the last peak of the Spirit. That point lies in a future yet inconceivable for our minds, but a future growing deep in the being, like the flower of the flamboyant when all its leaves have fallen.
At least, there is a lever to the future, if we go to the heart of the thing. And what is that heart, if it is nowhere in what we found beautiful and good and right according to our human standards? One day, the first reptiles emerging from the waters wanted to fly; the first primates walking out of the forest ran strange eyes over the earth. The same incoercible urge made them gaze at a new state of being; and maybe the whole transforming power was contained in that simple gaze toward the new thing, as if that gaze and that call, that point of unknown which cries out had the power to unseal the floodgates of the future.
For that point, in truth, contains everything, can do every-thing, it is a spark of the solar Self, countlessly unique, shining in the heart of people and things, in every point of space, every second of time, every fleck of foam, and tirelessly becoming the" ever more" it saw in a flash.
The future belongs to those who give themselves wholly to the future.
And we say there is a future more marvelous than all the electronic paradises of the mind: man is not the end, any more than the archaeopteryx is the culmination of the reptiles-how could the great evolutionary wave stop any-where? And we can see it very well, we who put on airs as we invent ever more marvelous machines and endlessly roll back the frontiers of the human, even as far as Jupiter and Venus. But it is only airs, and our air is more and more unbreathable. And we do not roll back anything: we send to the other end of the cosmos a pathetic little being who does not even know how to heal his own tribe, or whether his own caves contain a dragon or a crying baby. We are not progressing, we are immoderately filling an enormous mental balloon, which might well burst in our face-we have not improved man, we have only colossalized him. And it could not have been otherwise. The fault lies not with our lack of virtue or intellect, for taken to their utmost, those can only make supersaints or supermachines: monsters. A saintly reptile in its hole would no more be an evolutionary summit than a saintly monk. Or else, we might as well give up. In fact, the summit of man-or the summit of anything-lies not in the perfection to the highest degree of the particular genus, but in the "something else" that does not belong to his genus and that he aspires to become. Such is the evolutionary law. Man is not the end, man is a transitional being, said Sri Aurobindo long ago, he is on the move toward superman, as inevitably as the last twig on the last branch is contained in the seed of the mango tree. And our only true occupation, our only problem, the only question to resolve through all ages, the one that is tearing apart all the painful ribs of our great terrestrial ship is: How do we work out the transition?
Nietzsche also said it. But his superman was only a colossalization of the human: we saw him spread through Europe. That was not evolutionary progress, but a return to the old barbarism of the fair- or dark-haired brute of human egoism. What we need is not a superman but some-thing else, which is already stammering in man's heart and differs from man as much as Bach's cantatas from the first growls of the humanoid. And, in fact, Bach's cantatas sound poor when the inner hearing begins to open to the harmonies of the future.
It is this opening, this transition that we wish to study, in the light of what we have learned from Sri Aurobindo and from Her who is continuing his work, the modus operandi of the transition, so that we may ourselves grasp the lever and work methodically at our own evolution-work out experimental evolution, as others try to work out test-tube embryos, but they may never hear anything more than the echo of their own monsters.
The secret of life is not in life, nor the secret of man in man, any more than "the secret of the lotus is in the mud from which it grows," said Sri Aurobindo, and yet, that mud and that ray of sunshine blend to produce another degree of harmony. It is this meeting ground, this point of transmutation that we have to find, then we may rediscover what a quiet child was gazing at in a fleck of wild foam, and the supreme music that weaves the worlds, and the sole Marvel that was waiting for its hour.
And what seemed a human impossibility will become child's play.
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