Part I

America: transmitter of the new light

When one has run through a very wide range of glittering ephemeral things and sought incessantly to perfect them, one may see a true light from beyond. From this point of view, America has a great possibility of taking to the life of the Spirit. This life does not mean withdrawal and inaction, retirement into the forest to give oneself up solely to the contemplation of the Supreme. That kind of isolation is of no avail. The Divine has to be manifested in all His aspects here and now in life. Life itself should be Yoga, union with the Divine; and Matter and Spirit must go hand in hand. Vida Reed Stone writes in The Dawn of the Cosmic Age:
"Loneliness is another phantasy of the self-mind. Lose thy separate self, and thou shalt find thy Universal Self: in union with the One Life all that exists is included, and all that was thought to be lost is found again."

Self-protection, then, must precede spiritual realisation. There can be no satisfactory attainment where one's existence itself is under a threat. Life is a series of struggles and the fittest only will survive. The spiritual life is beset with difficulties, disturbances and dangers. One can hardly proceed in an even tenor of progression, however one may wish for it. So America has to prepare herself to meet the world's challenges, and to do that she must be in the vanguard of countries possessing the latest scientific inventions. She has already achieved much in this field and much more is likely to follow. Thus only will the pursuit of her spiritual life be made secure. William O Douglas, Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, in his thought-provoking book America Challenged significantly observes:
"We need deep spiritual resources and active inventive genius to survive the oncoming challenges."

To a shallow observer, America appears to be rolling in luxury and cannot be expected to be deeply spiritual. But the falsity of this observation cannot better be described than in the words of Rabindranath Tagore, whose bold statement is borne out by personal experience:
"... when we say that America is materialistic, we speak of a fact that is too apparent to be completely true... there is a strong current of spiritual idealism flowing beneath the surface soil of the American mind."

Further, what he said to the late President Franklin D Roosevelt, in a cablegram from Kalimpong, India, in June of 1940 shows what a significant role he expected America to play on the world-stage:
"All our individual political problems today are merged into one supreme world of politics which I believe is seeking help in the United States as the last refuge of spiritual men."

America has fully realised that the dollar and the bomb cannot quench her soul's thirst. Spirituality alone can do this. The dollar can help friends, the bomb deter aggression — nothing more. The greatest of American thinkers have perfectly understood that it is through spirituality that the finite reaches its fulfilment in the infinite. Now the pertinent question is, how can the aspirant know that his choice is inspired and secure and bears the divine sanction? Here is the answer given by Sri Aurobindo, the Seer of seers:
"He who chooses the infinite has been chosen by the infinite."