The Experience called Sri Aurobindo….

By Greta Jonker

His work called, ‘The Life Divine’, contains 52 chapters and was written between 1914 and 1919 after four years of silent Yoga he began the publication of a philosophical monthly, the Arya. Most of his more important works, The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, Essays on the Gita, The Isha Upanishad, appeared serially in the Journal Arya between 1914 and 1919.

It looked to me an enormously large document when it landed in 1996 in my hands in It was and still is for me an adventure to dive into Aurobindo’s works, and reading what seemed a totally foreign expression as the profound language in symbolism, that is the Eastern spiritual Veda, the Indian scripture.

SRI AUROBINDO was born in Calcutta on August 15, 1872. In 1879, at the age of seven, he was taken with his two elder brothers to England for education and lived there for fourteen years. Brought up at first in an English family at Manchester, he joined St. Paul's School in London in 1884 and in 1890 went from it with a senior classical scholarship to King's College, Cambridge, where he studied for two years. In 1890 he passed also the open competition for the Indian Civil Service, but at the end of two years of probation failed to present himself at the riding examination and was disqualified for the Public Service as the glittering carrier which his Father had designed for him.

But instead engaged himself actively by writing rebellious articles for newspapers to bring about a new experience for India. His single intent became to return India to its own people, out of the clutches of the British law and order. He landed in jail through these activities and experienced great frustration with being unable to further his plans of rebellion.

It was in his confinement that an awakening, a new and glorious transformation came upon him. “That one year in Alipore jail was perhaps the most eventful for his future. The nationalist and political leader was now changed wholly into a mystic and a yogi.” Another world opened out in front of Sri Aurobindo. A mighty hand was all the while guiding him, perhaps even without his knowledge.

In that experience all struggle ceased in him having glimpsed the Divine Purpose. From then on, Sri Aurobindo dedicated all of his time to bring this awareness in a manner of expression so eloquent through the journal Arya, and as he described it, ‘For the great ignorance of man.’

The text of The Life Divine begins with chapter 1, entitled, ‘The Human Aspiration,’ and closes with chapter 28, ‘The Divine Life’ These chapters are the greatest synthesis between the East and the West; as a poet par excellence; he is the builder of a structure of ideas based on enduring values of the life of the spirit.

Throughout his message he takes the mind through every possible twist and turn, which is the action of the mind of man’s in the repetition of time and space. It is by his own fearless looking within that Sri Aurobindo could express with lucidity and great clarity ‘The Life Divine’.


 Here are some excerpts:

“The universe comes to the individual as life, a dynamic whirl of potential energies out of which he has to master some supreme order and some yet unrealized harmony.

This is man’s awakening from the sleep of ignorance, not a restatement in slightly different terms of what physicality has already accomplished. Nor can the ideal of human life be simply the animal repeated on a higher scale of mentality.

Man, a transitional being, cannot rest permanently until he reaches the highest good. He is the greatest of living beings because he is the most discontented, because he feels most the pressure of limitation.

We mean by man, mind imprisoned in a living body.  But mind is not the highest possible power of consciousness, for mind is not in possession of Truth, but only its ignorant seeker.

Man in himself is little more than ambition. He looks for grandeur that is beyond him, his life a striving, exulting,
suffering, an eager passion-tossed and sorrow stricken.

His body is a laboring perishable speck in the material universe.

But this cannot be the all and end, there is something that man will be in the widening of his consciousness, it is seen in broken glimpses through rifts in the wall of limitations. Because man is a mental being, he naturally imagines that mind is the one great leader or the indispensable agent of his life.

And God is only waiting to be known, while man seeks for him everywhere and creates images of the divine, but all the while truly finds and effectively erects and worships images only of his ego.

When this ego pivot is abandoned and this ego hunt ceases, then man gets his first real chance of achieving spirituality in his inner and outer life. It will not be enough, but it will be a commencement, a true gate and not a blind entrance.

The apparent freedom and self assertion of a personal being to which one is so profoundly attached, conceal a most pitiable subjection to a thousand suggestions, impulses, forces which we have made extraneous to our little person. The ego boasting of freedom, is at every moment the slave, toy, puppet of countless beings, powers, forces, influences in the universe.”


Over and over, in every chapter of The Life Divine, he makes clear and details his warning that man does not want to hear that he is asleep to his true identity, nor that this world is an illusion of his own making. His descriptions of the mind in time, with its insane tantrums are brilliantly documented in the most expressive manner of the eastern symbolism, yet with an immense English vocabulary.

The man called Sri Aurobindo in a single moment of time while in prison saw the unreality of the struggles of this world, its endless movement between the negative and positive forces that are played out and called the history of man. He then dedicated all of his time to extend this awakening awareness by teaching and sharing his certainty with all that are willing for this greater experience.

‘The Life Divine’ is a thorough document in which Aurobindo, from his own light-experience brilliantly describes the mind in time and its awakening journey with its enormous pitfalls.

A Mind like Sri Aurobindo had little patience and time to deal with all the concepts that those around him managed to hang onto. In his book called Himself, there are many funny examples of how he sharply addresses the mind that asked stupid questions. Despite his clear and lucid answers to his own disciples and devotees, many preferred and prefer still to deny the teaching he gave so generously until his body was laid aside. He actually has some very fine descriptions in ‘The Life Divine’ of what happens when a guru or teacher is adored; he was painfully aware of the total courage it takes to apply his teaching in every situation, event, condition, and relationship with disciples and devotees.

The expressions as language of Sri Aurobindo are magnificent and unique in its power to convey the conversion of thoughts that lies on the pages of ‘The Life Divine’ The expressions as language of Sri Aurobindo are magnificent and unique in its power to convey the conversion of thoughts that lies on the pages of ‘The Life Divine’

For me personally, I enjoy tremendously his expressions that are so excitedly colorful and rich, …wickedly funny…  He remembered to laugh... It serves well for opening and widening the mind which is ever-awakening.

Greta Jonker
Email: gretajonker@yahoo.com

Read: The Call to the Quest
from "Savatri" - Sri Aurobindo