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Complete Act


                                                                                                            August 2, 1991

Eating, speaking and writing are as complete acts as building a house, winning an election, saving a country.  An act comes to an end either when a unit of action ends or the desired result issues.

If your aim is to travel up to Madras, when you reach there the act becomes complete. One complete act can be split into many other complete acts depending on the description we give to it. Packing, buying the ticket, boarding a train etc. can be complete acts within the one Act of reaching Madras.

In our daily life we successfully complete almost all the acts barring exceptions. In our career we successfully complete only a few and leave many acts incomplete. This leaves us with the feeling that the completion of an act is not in our hands. It depends on a host of things not under our control. Therefore we can never be assured of completing an act.


It is easy for us to accept that in the routine acts like eating, speaking, writing etc. which we do by the thousands, we never fail to complete. But in securing the wife's consent or boss's appreciation, in securing a new job etc., we complete only less than half. We are tempted to say that small acts are at our command while big acts elude us. This is not true. What is true is in doing the small acts we observe all the rules of completing an act while in career projects we act, disregarding those rules and do not even know that we overlook these rules. We disregard those rules because we do not know of their existence. In the smaller acts we act by habit out of long practice. We certainly don't try to bathe when there is no water or write when there is no pen. We do launch on projects without the experience necessary for it and find that it fails. We often ardently seek a promotion for which we do not have the requisite ability and regret we never got it. House projects remain incomplete for the most common reason of having started them without enough funds.

In the discharge of small acts, the habits know and insist on the presence of all the components without fail. In career projects there is no such insistence, rather there is an insistence on launching with more than one component missing or insufficiently present.

There are several ways of theorising the knowledge needed for a complete act. The easiest of them is to list a dozen of the simple acts we successfully performed today or in the last few days. An analysis of those acts will readily reveal that ALL the constituent elements were present in full measure, were available in the right time, each mature or ripe in its own fashion required by the central act.

A similar research about another dozen acts of recent times that failed will instantaneously reveal the missing element or the missing cooperation. This analysis may well give us the knowledge only when an act has failed, not before its failure. It is not so.

If an act can be split into three parts of physical, vital, mental and under each part we list the requirements and the time of requirement or the way in which it is required, the presence of ALL those ingredients does ensure the successful completion of that ACT.

On rare occasions, say one in a few thousand, the situation of the environment changes unhelpfully after the right initiation of the act and that spoils its completion. This is not in our hands, but he who can complete all the acts except this, can pass for a genius of action, a veritable success. That must be enough for any one. But even the rare exception can be protected against failure.  If the first is for the ordinary human being, the rare second is for the extraordinary INDIVIDUAL.

In our life the ordinary human being will have an assured confidence only when endowed with an extraordinary power. So, let us examine the latter and see how it can be acquired or explained.

It is up to us to use spiritual or non-spiritual language, as in either case the explanations or results are the same.  It is appropriate to use the spiritual language since the right understanding issues out of spiritual knowledge.  Even this explanation can be offered in more than one fashion since spirit is infinite, act is infinite in dimension and explanation too is infinite in its quality.

I.  In The Life Divine (p. 654) He describes the seven-fold ignorance as 

1) practical ignorance  2) constitutional ignorance  3) psychological ignorance.

4) temporal ignorance  5) egoistic ignorance  6) cosmic ignorance and 7) original ignorance. Any detailed discussion is possible only after discussing the theories in full. But for our purposes it is superfluous. Sri Aurobindo says that for the practical ignorance to go, all the ignorances should go and the practical ignorance will wait till the original ignorance vanishes.

We can, for the purposes of successfully completing an act, postulate appropriate terms that fully imply these seven-fold layers and then discuss the act only in terms of our terms.

Let us choose an act of traveling to another continent or starting an industry or making a new furniture, the design of which has captured our imagination.

Sri Aurobindo's grades                       Our terms of correspondence that will

                                                            remove the ignorance

1) Practical ignorance                          Skill for this work or project


2)  Constitutional ignorance                Coordination of all our 4 parts with respect to this act (mental, vital, physical, spiritual)


3)  Psychological ignorance                Karmic influence of ours (here we can say that if we do not repeat any of our past failures, karma with respect to this act will not be there)


4)  Temporal ignorance                       The rules of Life Response with respect to Time (i.e. Time sequence with respect to subacts must be there)


5) Egoistic ignorance                          Egoistic initiative of any small description


6)  Cosmic ignorance                          Inner Equality


7)  Original ignorance                         Outer Equality

Note:  (1) Temporal Ignorance --- Rules of Life Response  --  There is a sequence demanded by the chain of acts like ploughing must precede sowing. That must be complied with.  There is one more time sequence to be complied with. For any reason we can get the paddy land ploughed, watered and ready for transplantation, but the requirement that the seedlings must be 14 days old must be complied with. I refer only to those details by this terminology.

 (2) Outer Equality ---  while inner equality is self-explanatory, we ask what is outer equality. When all that we do is perfect, an external factor enters to spoil our project.  This, I said, is rare. To prevent it the outer environment must be quiet. How to keep the outer environment which is out of our control, quiet? We can understand that sometime we are outwardly calm while inwardly excited. At other times inwardly we are quiet but outwardly agitated. Our outward quiet will ensure the cooperation of the environment.

II.  We can use another set of words that are spiritual and find equally suitable terminology from everyday language.  Body, vital, mental, psychic, spiritual and supramental aspects of the work must be complete before we start. The first 4 are enough to complete the act, the last two are superfluous but will ensure against any damage which is rare.

            Spiritual term                          Everyday English term


            Body                                                   Organisation


            Vital                                                    Energy


            Mind                                                   Direction


            Psychic                                                Moral direction


            Spiritual                                               Sense of inner fulfillment


            Supermind                                           The creative element in the act

story | by Dr. Radut