Chapter 17: The Point of No Return
Now this is the beautiful thing about spirituality: I can say to you that I am going to live forever and tomorrow I can die - who are you going to argue with? And one day the mother died. Again the same thing: they waited for three days, and when the body started stinking, she was put into another marble grave next to Sri Aurobindo. And the faithful ones still sit beside the graves every day, waiting for them to return. Slowly, slowly, the number of faithful ones is lessening. The hope is turning into hopelessness, into despair. Perhaps they have not yet found the missing link together.
It is enough that man has an immortal soul, an immortal consciousness, an immortal life principle. But Sri Aurobindo was obsessed with the idea that he had to bring some original contribution to the spiritual progress of humanity. That the human soul is immortal, is as ancient an experience as humanity itself. Even the Vedas, five thousand years old, declare man as amritasya putrah: “you are sons of immortality.” Something new, something original - and this was a great original idea, that your body can be immortal. One cannot conceive how intelligent people can get caught up in such absurd ideas.
Sri Aurobindo was a child, he became a young man, he became old. If the human body is immortal, then you will have to say at what age it is going to be immortal: as a child, as a young man, as an old man, or as a dead man? The last seems to be the only possibility. As a dead man, the human body is immortal. And certainly it is, because all the elements of the human body disperse into nature. Nothing is going to die; everything is going to merge. The earth into earth, the water into water, the air into air; all the elements will go to their sources. In that sense the human body has always been immortal. Not only the human body: buffaloes, donkeys, monkeys, everybody is immortal. It does not need a Sri Aurobindo to declare that his body is immortal.
Gautam Buddha is the rarest human being in that he recognizes that there is still something more, he has not reached the end of evolution. In Japan, they had a beautiful collection of paintings called Ten Zen Bulls.” It is a series of paintings depicting the whole story of the search.
In the first, a man is looking here and there.his bull is lost. You see forest all around, ancient trees, and the puzzled man standing there looking, and he cannot see the bull.
In the second painting, he looks a little happier because he has seen the bull’s footprints. It is the same painting, the same forest. Just one thing he has discovered in this painting and that is, he has seen the bull’s footprints, so he knows where he has gone.
In the third painting he moves and sees the backside of the bull - because it is standing by the side of a tree, and the man is behind him - so he looks. And just the backside is shown in the painting.
In the fourth he has reached the bull; he sees the whole bull.
In the fifth he has caught hold of the bull by the horns.
In the sixth he is riding on the bull. It is difficult; the bull is trying to throw him off.
By the eighth he is returning home, the bull is conquered.
In the ninth the bull is back in the stall and the man is playing on a flute.