Patterns of the Present

Patterns of the Present by Georges Van Vrekhem

Patterns of the Present

Patterns of the Present is a profound and enjoyable account of the present situation of mankind and the world it lives in. On the threshold of the new millennium, countless pages have been written on the meaning of our world and its possible development. The conclusion in most cases was depressing – man would become an automaton in a sci-fi world. The author puts the present situation of humanity in the perspective of the evolutionary vision of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. The result is a positive interpretation of the global situation.

The meaning of history, the globalization of our planet, the values represented by East and West, their meeting and reciprocal fertilization, the future evolution of mankind – all these topics and more are presented here in a fresh, often surprising, perspective.

Book Details

Author: Georges Van Vrekhem

Print Length: 238 pages

Publisher: Stichting Aurofonds

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Book format: Kindle

Language: English

Price: $1.56

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  • Introduction
  • The Big Picture
  • The Avataric Field
  • East and West
  • Reason on Trial
  • Science, Scientism, Modern Technology
  • The Supramental “Catastrophe”
  • The Future of Humanity

Book Sample

Patterns of the Present

The Big Picture

Always he is the traveller of the cycles and his road is forward.

Spiralling Upwards

If the global change now in progress has the importance Sri Aurobindo and the Mother ascribed to it, it must be seen in a much larger perspective than the academic historians are willing to accept. Only when perceived in the context of humanity and its evolution, of our planet Earth and its evolution, and therefore of the universe, can one begin to grasp what the present transition from “the lower hemisphere” of Ignorance, Falsehood and Darkness to “the higher hemisphere” of Knowledge, Truth and Light actually means.

It is often thought that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s view of evolution was straightforwardly linear. But simple linearity, like flawless symmetry, is a typical child of the human mind, of the intellectual interpretation and ordering of things. More than once one meets in Sri Aurobindo phrases like “much too symmetrical to be true” and warnings against erring by rigidity and substituting “a mental straight line for the coils and zigzags of Nature” [2]. (“Nature” in Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s writings is always a concrete Being, in fact an emanation or personality of the Universal Mother charged with the manifestation of the universe and everything in it.) The unity of the Truth that is All can to our mind only be represented as global. This too is a metaphor and a symbol, of course, but the one that is best suited to represent the unthinkable, the unfathomable to mental beings like us.

“The idea of human progress itself is very probably an illusion”, writes Sri Aurobindo taking the broad view, “for there is no sign that man, once emerged from the animal stage, has radically progressed during his race-history; [3] at most he has advanced in knowledge of the physical world, in Science in the handling of his surroundings, in his purely external and utilitarian use of the secret laws of Nature. But otherwise he is what he always was in the early beginnings of civilisation; he continues to manifest the same capacities, the same qualities and defects, the same efforts, blunders, achievements, frustrations. If progress there has been, it is in a circle, at most perhaps a widening circle . Man today is not wiser than the ancient seers and sages and thinkers, not more spiritual than the great seekers of old, the first mighty mystics, not superior in arts and crafts to the ancient artists and craftsmen.” Didn’t a recent expert opinion tell us that art has not improved on the wall paintings at Lascaux? And Sri Aurobindo continues: “The old races that have disappeared showed as potent an intrinsic originality, invention, capacity of dealing with life and, if modern man in this respect has gone a little farther, not by any essential progress but in degree, scope, abundance, it is because he has inherited the achievements of his forerunners. Nothing warrants the idea that he will ever hew his way out of the half-knowledge, half-ignorance which is the stamp of his kind, or, even if he develops a higher knowledge, that he can break out of the boundary of the mental circle” [4].

Nonetheless, in The Life Divine he also writes: “It may be conceded that what man has up till now principally done is to act within the circle of his nature, on a spiral of nature-movement, sometimes descending, sometimes ascending, – there has been no straight line of progress, no indisputable, fundamental or radical exceeding of his past nature: what he has done is to sharpen, subtilise, make a more and more complex and plastic use of his capacities. It cannot truly be said that there has been no such thing as human progress since man’s appearance or even in his recent ascertainable history; for however great the ancients, however supreme some of their achievements and creations, however impressive their powers of spirituality, of intellect or of character, there has been in later developments an increasing subtlety, complexity, manifold development of knowledge and possibility in man’s achievements. In his politics, society, life, science, metaphysics, knowledge of all kinds, art, literature; even in his spiritual endeavour, less surprisingly lofty and less massive in power of spirituality than that of the ancients, there has been this increasing subtlety, plasticity, sounding of depths, extension of seeking.

“There have been falls from a high type of culture, a sharp temporary descent into a certain obscurantism, cessations of the spiritual urge, plunges into a barbaric natural materialism;  but these are temporary phenomena, at worst a downward curve of the spiral of progress. This progress has not indeed carried the race beyond itself, into a self-exceeding, a transformation of the mental being. But that was not to be expected; for the action of evolutionary Nature in a type of being and consciousness is first to develop the type to its utmost capacity by just such a subtilisation and increasing complexity till it is ready for her bursting of the shell, the ripened decisive emergence, reversal, turning over of consciousness on itself that constitutes a new stage in the evolution …

“If the appearance in animal being of a type similar in some respects to the ape-kind but already from the beginning endowed with the elements of humanity was the method of the human evolution, the appearance in the human being of a spiritual type resembling mental-animal humanity but already with the stamp of the spiritual aspiration on it would be the obvious method of Nature for the evolutionary production of the spiritual and supramental being.” [5] This, now, is the privileged moment of the bursting of the shell, of the ripened decisive emergence, of the great reversal in consciousness; it is the moment of the appearance of the overman, enabling the embodiment of the superman.

“We believe in the constant progression of humanity and we hold that that progression is the working out of a Thought in Life which sometimes manifests itself on the surface and sometimes sinks below and works behind the mask of external forces and interests. When there is this lapse below the surface, humanity has its periods of apparent retrogression or tardy evolution, its long hours of darkness or twilight during which the secret Thought behind works out one of its phases by the pressure mainly of economic, political and personal interests ignorant of any deeper aim within. When the Thought returns to the surface, humanity has its periods of light and rapid efflorescence, its dawns and splendid springtides, and according to the depth, vitality, truth and self-effective energy of the form of Thought that emerges is the importance of the stride forward that it makes during these Hours of the Gods in our terrestrial manifestation.” [6]

Sri Aurobindo wrote about the cyclic movement of the evolution of humanity: “In the history of man everything seems now to point to alternations of a serious character, ages of progression, ages of recoil, the whole constituting an evolution that is cyclic rather than in one straight line. A theory of cycles of human civilisation has been advanced[;] we may yet arrive at the theory of cycles of human evolution, the Kalpa and Manwantaras of the Hindu theory. If its affirmation of cycles of world-existence is farther off from affirmation, it is because they must be so vast in their periods as to escape not only all means of observation, but all our means of deduction or definite inference.” [7] According to the Hindu scriptures, the four Ages or yugas are the Krita or Golden Age, the Treta or Silver Age, the Dwapara or Bronze Age and the Kali or Iron Age. Together they cover the enormous span of 4,310,000 (human) years. (Hindu scripture also speaks about a “year of Brahman” which equals 360 human years.)

“Every world creation begins in the perfection of the Krita Age, progressively deteriorates throughout the Tre t a  and Dwapara until the final destruction comes at the end of every Kali – only to give way once more to a recreation in a new Krita,  and so on.” [8] Talking about the cycles, the Mother once used the occult symbol of a Snake biting its own tail. In the course of the cycles there is “a progressive descent from the most subtle to the most material.” [9] The end of the Kali Yuga represents the most material point in the whole development, specifically on the Earth, which, as we will see, occupies a very special place in the universe. As a new Golden Age will follow the Iron Age, it is precisely at this end – the point where the Snake bites its tail – that the Work of change to enter the Golden Age can be done in its most concentrated and most effective form.

The cycles of the human evolution are not exact and eternal repetitions of a given sequence of events, as is for instance Nietzsche’s “eternal return”, but “cycles of a growing but still imperfect harmony and synthesis”. Nature brings man back “violently to her original principles, sometimes even to something like her earlier conditions so that he may start afresh on a larger curve of progress and self-fulfilment.” [10]

The spiralling movement is double: widening, to include ever larger portions of the divine manifestation, and upward, towards the divine perfection.

“There have been beautiful civilisations like the one which left something like an occult memory of a continent that might have linked India with Africa and of which no trace remains – unless certain human races be the remnants of that civilisation”, said the Mother. “There are civilisations like that which disappear suddenly and which are followed by a long period full of darkness, inconscience, ignorance, with very primitive races apparently so close to the animals that one asks oneself whether there is really any difference. And so there is there a big dark hole and [humanity] has to pass through upheavals of all kinds. But then, all of a sudden, there emerges something at the top, something higher than before, with greater qualities, a greater realisation – as though all the time spent in the night and of work in the night had prepared Matter so that it might express something higher. Then again another darkness, oblivion: the earth again becomes barbarous, obscure, ignorant, wretched. And some thousands of years later suddenly a new civilisation emerges. [11] – Until now one has always fallen back. [12]” It was the Mother and Sri Aurobindo’s constant endeavour to found their supramental creation “to front the years”, in a way that there would not be any falling back this time, or as Sri Aurobindo put it “not to repeat the old fiasco”.

More than once the Mother recalled what her former teacher, Max Théon, had told her in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains: “The traditions say that a universe is created, then withdrawn in pralaya[13] ;  then a new one appears, and so on.

And according to them we should be the seventh universe, and being the seventh universe we are the one that will not return into pralaya but progress continuously without ever drawing back. It is because of this, moreover, that there is in the human being this need of permanence and of an uninterrupted progress: it is because the time has come.” [14] But she said also, when battling in the swamps of the subconscious: “In the subconscious there is the memory of bygone pralayas,  so it is this memory that always gives the feeling that everything will be dissolved, that everything will collapse.” [15]