How to live in two worlds1If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
— Emily Dickinson
My dear sisters:
I have come here to serve you. Serve I must. If I can serve even one amongst you in her endeavour towards self-discovery, I shall not have lived in vain. Nay, my life on earth will have found its purposeful meaning. You have every right to be proud of being devoted students at this college unparallelled in the United States. And today God presents me with a matchless opportunity to discover in you an aspiring heart.
Sarah Lawrence College is for women, as we all know. I wish to say a few words about Hindu women. I come from India, and I am sure you know by this time that I am a Hindu. A Hindu woman is the living embodiment of sanctity, devotion and faith. Purity is the hyphen between her life and her deeds. Intellectual education she does not care for. Her heart cries for the inner education, the education of the soul. This is no hyperbole. Her life of spontaneous and unending sacrifice is the soul of the Hindu race. In the hoary past, it was a Hindu woman, Maitreyi, who said to her husband, Yagnyavalkya, the peerless sage of the Upanishads, that nothing would satisfy her save Immortality.
When she said Immortality, she did not mean the prolongation of her physical existence for millions of years. She meant that she wanted to have the immortal consciousness, the consciousness of Immortality, within and without.
On behalf of women all over the world, Maitreyi's soul tells us what a woman wants.
There are two worlds: one is the world of Truth, the other is the world of Falsehood. What will decide when Truth and Falsehood disagree? Acceptance, their mutual acceptance. Truth will accept Falsehood to transform the life of Falsehood. Falsehood will accept Truth to manifest the breath of Truth.
Two worlds: one is known as Acceptance, the other as Rejection. I accept. I accept with my deepest gratitude what God has for me: Illumination. I reject with adamantine determination what the world has for me: Frustration.
Two worlds: Condition and Situation. Condition says, "God gives when you give." Situation says, "You are helpless. God alone can give and does give."
Unlike others, my God has two names: Delight and Compassion. In the inner world, I call Him by the name Delight. In the outer world, I call Him by the name Compassion. My God has two souls. The soul that He has in the inner world embodies His Dream. The soul that He has in the outer world reveals His Reality. My God has two bodies. His outer body is my Inspiration. His inner body is my Emancipation.
Heaven and hell represent two worlds in our consciousness. Heaven surprises hell with its boundless Joy. Hell surprises Heaven with its ceaseless cry. Heaven says to hell, "I know how to dance and I can teach you if you want." Hell says to Heaven, "Wonderful, you know how to dance and you are ready to teach me how to dance. But I wish to tell you that I know how to break my legs and I can break your legs too, if I want to."
Science and Spirituality are two different worlds. Science wants to shorten distances. Spirituality wants to unite distances. For me neither is enough. My vision wants to divinise and transform distance.
East and West: two worlds. We must unite them.
The awakened consciousness of man is visibly tending towards the Divine. This is a most hopeful streak of light amidst the surrounding obscurities of today. This is a moment, not merely of joining hands, but of joining minds, hearts and souls. Across all physical and mental barriers between East and West, high above national standards and individual standards, will fly the supreme banner of Divine Oneness. The outer world is a world of reasoning mind. The inner world is a world of experience. The outer world finds it hard to believe in the existence of God. But in the inner world the existence of God always looms large. Sri Aurobindo said,
Can we live in two worlds? Certainly we can. If we have spontaneous inspiration we can successfully live in the outer world and achieve our outer goals. If we have soulful aspiration we can live in the inner world and achieve our inner Goal. The outer world is the body. The inner world is the soul.
If we stay in the body, then we constantly have to abide by the dictates of the soul so that the body, instead of being a blind tool of fate, becomes a perfect channel for the Supreme, for His divine Manifestation in the physical. And if we want to live in the soul, to experience infinite Light, Peace and Bliss, then we must not neglect the body, we must not destroy the body, for it is inside the body that the soul abides on earth.
EL 6. Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York, 14 January 1969.↩