The inner life1It is with deep joy and satisfaction that I tell you that today I complete my Ivy League talks. This is my last talk, but not the least, far from it. Yours is the college which is a veritable pride of the United States. I am most happy and most proud to be here among you this evening.
Aum Aum Aum
Before I enter into my talk, I wish to invoke, in silence, the soul of the illustrious poet, Robert Frost, once a student of this august college.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep.
And miles to go before I sleep.
And miles to go before I sleep.
Indeed, these soulful lines come directly from the inmost recesses of the poet. Since I am going to speak on the inner life, that is to say, the spiritual life, I would like to say a few words on these immortal lines.
The woods, from the spiritual point of view, signify aspiration. The spiritual significance of a lovely, dark and deep wood is intense aspiration. Now, what is aspiration? Aspiration is the mounting flame deep within us that leads us to the Highest Absolute. When we say intense aspiration, we have to feel that the intensity of aspiration is something that will lead us faster to our destined Goal, and at the same time it will bring our destination closer to us. When intensity looms large in our aspiration, realisation can no longer remain a far cry. Nay, realisation will soon be within our easy reach.
The poet further says, "And miles to go before I sleep." Here, aspiration is the journey's dawn, and realisation is the journey's close. When we launch onto the inner path, we come to realise that the destined Goal is far, very far. The poet unmistakably and soulfully tells us that the Goal of the Beyond is extremely far. And once he reaches the Goal, he will be able to take rest, sleep.
From the ordinary human point of view, this is absolutely correct. We enjoy the fruit of our realisation only when we reach our destination. But from the strict spiritual point of view we notice something else. We see that realisation is something that constantly transcends itself. Today's aspiration transforms itself into tomorrow's realisation. Again, tomorrow's realisation is the pathfinder of a higher and deeper Goal. There is no end to our realisation. God is eternal. Our journey is eternal, and the road that we are marching on is also eternal. We are eternal, divine soldiers marching towards the Beyond that is constantly transcending its own boundary.
The inner life is the union of Truth and Reality. This life reveals what the Transcendental Will truly is. This life manifests without what God is within.
Meaninglessness and impossibility are for the outer life. They are not for the inner life, never. The inner life unmistakably feels that everything has its own intrinsic value and that nothing can remain unachieved, unaccomplished or unfulfilled.
When we live in the gross and unaspiring physical, each hour is a deplorable loss, a dangerous sickness and a fatal failure. At this point, the message of Seneca commands our attention: "The hour which gives us life begins to take it away."
But the human breath has an inner cry for Immortality. It knows and feels that death is not and cannot be the ultimate answer. The real poet in Alfred Lord Tennyson inspires us to sing,
Needless to say, a true aspirant in his inner life does not long for death. He does not cry for Immortality either. What he needs and cries for is the conscious, unreserved and unconditional surrender to the Will of the Supreme. To fulfil the Supreme's Will Supreme is his heart's only cry.
The inner life, which is the smile of the soul, is always in the making. There is no end to its realisation. Its past is the Pride of Eternity. Its present is the Pride of Infinity. Its future is the Pride of Immortality.
There are two levels of life: the conscious level and the unconscious level. Since we are all aspirants, let us deal only with the conscious level of life. The conscious level of life has to realise the Highest and fulfil the Absolute on earth through its ever-glowing meditative selfless service to the Divinity in humanity, and through its ever-flowing contemplative unconditional surrender to the Sole Pilot Supreme.
— Will Durant"
This is what we are apt to observe in the outer life. Strangely enough, we can divide the inner life, too, into two periods: In the first we aspire, in the second we inspire.
William James said something profoundly significant: "The best use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts life." Now, what is that something that outlasts life? And further, what is that something that outlasts life for the longest period of time? We have seen that man's inner hunger for the highest Truth outlasts life. But there is only one thing that outlasts life for the longest period of time, and that thing is called Sacrifice. Sacrifice is by far the best of all the immortal treasures of earth and heaven. The Vedas tell us who made the Supreme Sacrifice: Brihaspati, the preceptor of the gods. "Death he chose to help the gods. Immortality he chose not, to help mankind."
They say that life is the same uninspiring thing over and over. The seeker of the Supreme Light has a different experience to offer. He soulfully declares: Life is God the ever-transcending Vision. Life is God the ever-fulfilling Manifestation.
The cry for the endless God is an endless cry. Because of its endlessness, the outer life finds God-realisation a futile cry. But yesterday the inner life felt that God-realisation was possible. Today it discovers that God-realisation is inevitable. The inner life shook hands with yesterday's limited light. It embraces today's abundant light. It will drink deep tomorrow's Infinite Light.
IVY 11. Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, 3 April 1970.↩