link: Patterns of the Present
link: Hitler and His God
Review of Beyond Man, from The Awakening Ray, Jan/Feb 1998, p. 34-35. By Carel Thieme.
IF any persons from India’s political history, philosophical thought and spiritual greatness can be labeled as The Great Unknown, they are Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. Few indeed know about Sri Aurobindo’s role as one of the leaders of India’s early independence movement; or of his theory of evolution beyond mankind; or of his and The Mother’s occult action on world events. Even less is their true mission known: to bring down on earth a higher level of consciousness, called by Sri Aurobindo “the Supermind”, in order to make a divine life on earth possible. For, says Sri Aurobindo, “Evolution is not finished; reason is not the last word nor the reasoning animal the supreme figure of Nature. As man emerged out of the animal, so out of man the superman emerges.”
In August 1997, Harper Collins India released Beyond Man, The Life and Work of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother by Georges Van Vrekhem. The book comes as an unexpected, agreeable and timely surprise, in this 125th year of Sri Aurobindo’s birthday and the 50th anniversary of India’s freedom, to which not only Sri Aurobindo but also The Mother have contributed so much.
Georges Van Vrekhem, who lives in Auroville, has been working for six years on this book. He quotes extensively both from the works of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother as well as from the writings by those who have been near to them. The result is a hefty volume of over 500 pages. But its story is gripping and will introduce the reader to the heart of the matter. In fact, the book is so informative and thought -provoking that its length feels rather like a bonus than an ordeal. It has clearly been the aim of the author to write an integral, catholic text about his subject, based on all the documents available.
While reading, one starts to realize how much outward facts are determined
by interventions from other levels of consciousness, for which those facts are only the external appearances and signs. The writer has presented us the biographical material in this context, for instance when explaining Sri Aurobindo’s and The Mother’s occult action on world events. The inclusion of interesting historical, philosophical and spiritual vistas drawn from other sources, has resulted in a richly embroidered tapestry as a background to the exceptional life of the Two-in-One, the “double–poled Avatar of the Supermind” as Van Vrekhem calls Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.
The book reveals the golden thread running through the realization and fulfillment of the work of the double-poled Avatar. Highlights are the explication of the descent of Sri Krishna in Sri Aurobindo’s body on 24 November, 1926; the rationale behind the two World Wars; Sri Aurobindo’s voluntary confrontation with Death; the manifestation of the Supermind on 29 February, 1956, when the aim of the avataric incarnation was fulfilled; and The Mother’s ordeal while going still further and building the archetype of the supramental body.
The author shows that Sri Aurobindo had progressed much farther in his Yoga than is commonly believed. He stresses the relevance of the double-poled Avatar, the One Consciousness incarnated in two bodies, which e.g. made possible that one half of the incarnated Avatar (Sri Aurobindo) could consciously enter death because the other half (The Mother) would remain on earth. He shows The Mother’s acceptance, in her Love for mankind, to venture beyond every known limit for the realization of the supramental body, in an effort that will have shortened the material manifestation of the new species by thousands if not millions of years.
In Beyond Man, the importance of the transitional being, called in French by The Mother “le surhomme” is stressed. The Mother, announcing the descent of the consciousness of the ‘surhomme’ in January 1969, explains that, just as in every other great leap in evolution, this time too transitory beings or races will appear. They, born like all of us from human parents, but manifesting a certain degree of a supramental consciousness, will in turn find the key for the creation of the supramental beings. This important element in the evolution, first described by Sri Aurobindo in ‘The Supramental Manifestation Upon Earth’ and afterwards time and again elaborated upon by The Mother, has rarely been given due attention. It is one of several illuminations in this important book.
It is unavoidable in a book of this magnitude that some prevailing standpoints and opinions on the life and work of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother are being put into question. But Van Vrekhem’s comments are always restrained and worded in a language of moderation. He clearly has been writing in a spirit of understanding, inclusion and construction. His guiding idea seems to have been to consider all Aurobindonians as one family. So doing, Beyond Man shuns no important point or argument, but it is never polemical.
The publishers, Harper Collins Publishers India, have done a fine job and produced a beautiful book that lays lightly and comfortably in the hand. Still, most of the printing errors might have been’ avoided if the proof-reading had been done with more care. It even happens in a couple of sentences that some words have been omitted – and no, Sri Aurobindo did not marry in 1889, but in 1901 – but the book as a whole reads very fluently and pleasantly indeed. The errors will surely be corrected when a second impression is issued – and we hope an index, indispensable for the really interested reader, will then also be included.
Beyond Man is a standard work and a fount of information on the life and work of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. It is a must for all those who aspire to live in their Light.