Thoughts and Aphorisms – Karma – 1

The fourth in the series on Sri Aurobindo’s aphorisms and my understanding of it.

Each of us carries a world within. The limits of this world is circumscribed by the extent of our knowledge. The greater the knowledge, the richer the world within. But knowledge is often confused with mere awareness of something. To know the words, even a precise pronunciation perhaps, say like the priest who mouths the mystic words in front of a Deity, is considered enough ‘knowledge’.

But knowledge that does not find its way into action has not served its function. It is as harmful as action that does not have enough knowledge behind it.

What is the use of only knowing? I say to thee, Act and be, for therefore God sent thee into this human body.

Ancient Indian tradition gave its highest regard to the spiritual man; the Rishi set the rhythm of its life. The Sage was seen as the fount of knowledge that helped unravel the mystery of life. Every aspect of its life- arts and science and everything in between was permeated with a spiritual air. The external was enriched by the intuitions within.

We lost our path along the way. We looked up to the Sanyasi, or the ascetic; someone who stood aloof, within the world yet above it.  The Rishi who cavorted with life, even as men, and yet in communion with the highest Divine, was a myth now. The ideal of a Buddha, or a Shankara was nearest to the memory of the race. Knowledge was still cherished, we learnt mantras by the thousands, the brahmin who spouted the mantras was still venerated but we as a race lost the will to live.

A life of contemplation and rumination is all well but it is action that effectuates the thought, that manifests what was just a hazy vibration in the mind. An entire race besotted by the Purusha and the closest route to Him is not the purpose of the human body Sri Aurobindo seems to clarify, to act was our chief mandate.

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