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Process of Creation in Pride & Prejudice – Part 2

Supreme Truth-Consciousness

In this chapter Sri Aurobindo examines the impersonal psychological truth of the divine Consciousness and explains the process by which the One manifests Space and Time.

1.  The One manifests itself by a process of self-extension in Space and Time. Space is an objective extension by which the One views itself as object. Time is a subjective extension by which the One experiences itself as movement and change.

Jane Austen has decided to create a love story that depicts the process of social evolution in England in response to the French Revolution. Before she formulates the characters and events in the story or writes a single sentence, she possesses within her own creative imagination a conception of the truths, powers and potentials she wants to manifest in a story - the truth of love and goodness, the power of aspiration and goodwill,  the potential for the liberation of women, greater social inequality between the classes, and eventually the emergence of true individuality in society.

Before she can manifest any of these truths, she needs to create a playing field in her imagination on which these truths, powers and potentials can manifest and interact. Otherwise, they can only remain as vague, undefined notions in her mind. That playing field in her mind needs to possess four dimensions - three dimensions in Space to define living objects and locations and one dimension in Time to define movement, change, interaction and transformation. Without these coordinates in Space and Time, she cannot create a story even in her own mind. We call the playing field a story. It consists of a place or places that are related to each other divided by distance. And it consists of actions or events that are related to each other in sequence and spaced out at different intervals of duration. A story without Time would only be a static image like the still life portrait of a human face or a vase of flowers, which remains always the same and never alters its relationship with the objects and persons around it. A story without Space would be only a movement of energy like the changing notes of a raga that appear and disappear into thin air without leaving any trace or altering reality as they pass by.

Thus, Austen conceived of her story in Space and Time. The Space was rural England, a mere twenty miles distance across the Channel from events in Revolutionary France. The Time was just after the French Revolution when the armies of Napoleon still posed a threat to the security of England. The action of the story starts with the arrival of Bingley and his companions from another place, London, which is itself a movement in space and time. Later Collins and Wickham arrive too. The entire volume one takes place within Herefordshire in movements between Longbourn, Meryton and Netherfield and ends with Bingley's departure back to London. The second volume involves movement over greater distances. Jane goes to London. Elizabeth visits Charlotte in Hunsford. The militia leave for Brighton and Lydia follows them. The final volume consists of Elizabeth's travel to London and Derbyshire with the Gardiners, the sudden appearance of Darcy and friends at Pemberley, news of Lydia's departure from Brighton with Wickham, Elizabeth's return to Meryton with Jane, Mr. Bennet's trip to London, news of Darcy's presence in London, Lydia's return and departure for the North with Wickham, and the reappearance of Bingley and Darcy in Herefordshire.

Without these relationships and movement in space and time, there can be no meeting, separation or reunion of the lovers, no transformation in the attitude and behavior of Elizabeth and Darcy, no elopements, falling in love, social evolution or action of any kind. In short, there can be no story. Similarly, without relationships and movement in space and time, the One cannot manifest its truths, powers and potentials as the universe. The universe is the playing field of the Infinite in which it acts out the story of creation and spiritual evolution.

All the places, characters, events and actions in Jane Austen's story are manifestations of her creative imagination, expressions of what lies concealed as potential within her. As readers we know and experience these places and events as she describes and presents them and the characters experience them. They have no reality independent of her consciousness and her creative power of expression. Similarly, the people, places and events that we experience in the world are only projections, extensions, of the Divine Consciousness, conceived by its power of creative imagination, Maya. So too, we ourselves are conceived by that same Divine Consciousness and experience ourselves and the world only by its power, because we are a portion and expression of that same consciousness. In reality, we are like the people of Meryton who witness the story of Elizabeth, Jane, Bingley and Darcy from the sidelines, watching the story from inside the story. Austen is like the Divine Consciousness that creates our life story, our world, and includes us as characters within it, as both actors and witnesses to our own story.

According to Sri Aurobindo space and time are only the means by which the One experiences itself objectively and subjectively. In reality all is the One. All exists eternal. When the One wants to experience a portion of itself in succession, it positions itself at a point in time and experiences a movement of its own consciousness as a passage of time. The One is Infinite and present everywhere. So how can there be a sense of distance? The One positioning itself at a point looks out on the rest of itself as object and experiences itself in terms of space and distance.

What do space and time represent in the story? They are extensions of Jane Austen's creative imagination. She identifies herself with each of the characters, actions and events and looks out at the world she has created through their eyes to imagine how they will experience her story in one place and one moment at a time. It is her consciousness that by limiting itself to the surface viewpoint of her characters creates the sense of duration and distance. When Bingley goes off to London, Jane thinks of him as being far away and it creates the sense of distance. But in reality, both Jane and Bingley, London and Meryton are only creations of Austen's mind relating to one another. When Collins proposes to Elizabeth, he is only with her for about ten minutes, but to Elizabeth that brief interval feels like an eternity because she is so uncomfortable and repulsed by his proposal. Seeing that moment through her eyes, we feel it is long. In fact his proposal did not just occur. It was conceived in the author's mind at the time she wrote the story and it continues to live on ever since. The sense of duration is only created when we position ourselves in the room with Elizabeth and listen to Collins words as she does. Both she and Collins are creations, extensions of Austen's consciousness. It is the author who speaks through Collins and the author who listens through Elizabeth. It is a movement of consciousness in her mind which she experiences subjectively as a passage of time. But in reality, the entire event - beginning, middle and end - exists in her mind as in the story book eternally in an eternal present. 

2. The manifestation of the potentialities of the Divine Consciousness in Time and Space appear to be the result of a working out of things through the shock of contact and struggle between different forms and forces.

When we read Austen's book, it appears to us that Darcy and Elizabeth fall in love and marry through a succession of events that includes meetings, interactions, conflicts, confrontations, accusations, realizations, and ultimately reconciliation. In their initial meeting, Bingley meets and is attracted to Jane, he presses Darcy to dance with Elizabeth, out of arrogant pride Darcy rebuffs her, Elizabeth overhears him and develops a prejudice and resentment against him. His pride clashes with her self-respect leading to prejudice. Darcy's interference in Bingley's relationship with Jane and Wickham's lies about Darcy inflame Elizabeth's prejudice. Later Darcy falls in love with her  and  proposes at Hunsford in a crude and insulting manner, which inflames her further. He is in turn abused by her as ungentlemanly, writes a letter defending himself by exposing Wickham, and departs to nurse the wounds inflicted by her.

Each of these acts appears to spring out of the acts that precede it like a chicken hatching from an egg. But when we try to pin down the actual cause of each act, we find that a mere description of the meeting, contact and clash between people and events is not sufficient. Events are so interrelated, that we find it difficult to actually determine what causes what. Initially we want to blame Darcy for the whole mess because he has insulted Elizabeth by calling her tolerable. Later when we see more of the vulgarity of Mrs. Bennet and Lydia, we are prone to sympathize with Darcy for not wanting to marry into the Bennet family. So we are forced to wonder whether Darcy's act is really to blame or is it the behavior of Mrs. Bennet? When we hear Wickham's story of his life, we too sympathize with Wickham and think the blame belongs to Darcy. Like Elizabeth, we feel this view is confirmed when we learn that Darcy separated Jane and Bingley and when he behaves so rudely to Elizabeth at Hunsford. But when we read Darcy's letter to her, we realize Wickham is the real scoundrel and therefore Darcy cannot be held responsible. Like Elizabeth, we realize that her willingness to believe Wickham's lies is a major source of the problem and we recognize that it was really the behavior of her own family that spoiled Jane's chances with Bingley, not Darcy.

Following the chain of conflicting events all the way to the end of the story never really helps us discover which came first, the chicken or the egg. In fact, it gets more confusing when we realize that Darcy only insulted Elizabeth in the first place because Bingley came over to him gloating over his success with Jane and uncharacteristically called Darcy ‘stupid'. Then we recollect that the whole problem arose because Mr. Bennet married a vulgar, uncultured woman more than 20 years earlier. But if he had not done that, the world never would have had so fine a character as Elizabeth Bennet, who inherited her energy and liveliness from her mother! So all our analysis leads us to the conclusion that the causality for all events arise from contact, shock, clash and conflict between people, forces, objects and events in space and time. But Sri Aurobindo says this is only an appearance.

3.  The shock and the struggle is only an appearance. In reality our lives are a spontaneous working out of things from within. The real determinant is not what happens on the surface. What happens on the surface is determined at a deeper level.

When we watch the BBC film depict Darcy insulting Elizabeth at Hunsford, we see her react with surprise and then with anger and suddenly she explodes back at him with a series of abuses. But if we stop for a moment to think about it, we know that this is not actually what we have witnessed. What we have witnessed is two consummate professional actors playing the parts of Darcy and Elizabeth to perfection, repeating the lines in the screenplay which are the very same lines Austen wrote for these characters in her novel 200 years ago. On the surface Darcy appears to be passionately in love, Elizabeth appears to be totally surprised, then shocked, then angry and abusive. In fact the scene is a working out of something what was predetermined, written in the screen play and acted out before the cameras. It is not Elizabeth who made Darcy feel passionate. It is not Darcy who made Elizabeth appear angry. It is director of the film, the screen writer and Jane Austen herself.

This becomes very obvious when we actually see the movie being shot on location. We find the actors surrounded by movie cameras, extras, camera crews, microphones poised overhead, and so on. When Darcy is being filmed stamping back and forth before Elizabeth at the parlor in Collins' house, the actress playing Elizabeth may be drinking coffee, donning make-up or receiving last minute instructions from the director. She may not even be present when he proposes to her, since we always see the characters on camera one at a time and never in the same view. What we see on the TV screen is only an appearance.

4.  The outer processes and laws of the parts which appear to collide and conflict with one another are actually governed by an inner law of the one and the whole that always expresses a supramental vision and deeper truth of harmony.

In the story, each individual appears to be acting on the basis of his own opinions, attitudes and characters and the customs, rules and habits of the time - Darcy acts out of pride, mothers seek to marry their daughters, everyone runs after a wealthy bachelor and respects money and status, wives obey their husbands within limits, young people like to dance, the community loves gossip, charming officers in red coats and beautiful women are sought after, aristocrats do not work unless they have to, rural people are rustic, commercial people are coarse (most of the time), when a woman is called tolerable she gets angry (at least, most women), a sister can care for a sister's happiness more than she does for any man, parents each prefer one child over the others, Mrs. Bennet's aspiration attracts eligible bachelors to Herefordshire, rude behavior offends, Caroline's jealousy brings misfortune on Elizabeth, Wickham's lies blacken Darcy's reputation, men who inherit commercial wealth submit to the authority of wealthier landed aristocrats, aristocrats assert their self-importance, husbands and wives seek to dominate one another, acts repeat, words have the power to turn into acts, subconscious urges are more powerful than surface acts, insulting proposals are refused, proud men once refused never propose a second time, etc.

In the story these opinions, attitudes, characteristics, customs, rules and habits seems to determine the course of events. Actually we know the course of events is really not determined by these superficial elements. It is determined by the ideas, opinions, attitudes, values and intentions of the author who is writing the story. She determines what occurs and how things turn out. As a highly skilled writer, she uses the surface elements to make her story appear realistic, plausible and inevitable to the reader. But even Austen is not free to write anything she wishes if her goal is to write a realistic romance story. She has to depict characters who act according to basic human nature and events that occur according the laws and character of life and the universal process of creation. When she shows Caroline is jealous, we understand her jealousy arises because she too would like to marry Darcy, so it appears plausible to us. When she shows Wickham is mean and spiteful toward Darcy, we understand it arises from the inferiority and resentment of a person of low consciousness who is jealous and wants to take by force what he is unable or unwilling to earn by desert. Her story is true and consistent with these deeper truths of human nature. The inner law that governs events in our lives, acts according to a supramental harmony and expresses real truths, powers, and forces of the Divine Consciousness. Surface events and causes are only an appearance.

5.  Mind sees apparent conflict and discord as the cause of events because it considers each thing separately in itself. Supermind sees each element as an expression of an ever-present and ever-developing harmony because it views all things as a multiple unity.

When you walk across a crowded street, you take extra care to avoid running into or being hit by passing cars, scooters, cycles and other people, each moving in a different direction according to their own needs without relation to anything else. Yet when we watch the same scene in a movie, we know that every character and vehicle is following a common script and moving precisely as directed. Even when there appears to be no order, rhyme or reason behind their movements, they are moving according to the will of the director to express the developing action of the story. They are not actually functioning as individual characters at all. They are really following common orders like soldiers marching down the street, only the instructions given to each may not be known to us as we watch them. Each actor is following a version of the script appropriate for the character he portrays as part of the overall integrity and harmony of the story.

Lydia proposes to walk into Meryton. Jane, Elizabeth, Kitty and Collins agree to accompany her. She is on the look out for handsome officers and they are introduced to Wickham for the first time. Just then Darcy and Bingley ride by. Darcy and Wickham exchange glaring looks which Elizabeth notices. Later on all of these characters end up related to one another through marriage. To each of the characters, who represent the view of mind, this unusual meeting looks like a chance occurrence. To the author, the apparently chance event is the expression of a deeper intention which is working out four marriages and the social evolution of England.

Austen's view, like Supermind, knows the deeper intention, the whole movement in which each character exists as an integral and indivisible part. Wickham's meeting with Darcy is not by chance. Though they appear to be separate and independent characters, they are deeply connected and intimately related to one another by their past relationships and the vital attitudes. Wickham still longs to be Darcy's brother-in-law and to wrest some further benefit from his past relationship with Pemberley. His aspiration connects and binds him to Darcy and brings him to the place where Darcy is present. Darcy is drawn to the streets of Meryton when Elizabeth is present there, because he is deeply attracted to her and subconsciously senses the threat of competition from Collins and Wickham. Moreover, as a representative of the aristocracy, Darcy is compelled to seek a way to avoid repetition of the French Revolution. He is subconsciously drawn to where Elizabeth is physically present, because by marrying her he can save his class from extinction. His attraction to her is a form of relationship, a connection, which determines his acts. It later brings him to Pemberley at the moment she is visiting there and brings him to Lambton Inn at the instant she is most vulnerable and in need of assistance.

All these actions and events - the arrival of Bingley and Darcy, the arrival of Collins and Wickham, the meeting of Elizabeth and Darcy at Hunsford, their meeting at Pemberley, news of Lydia's elopement reaching Elizabeth at Lambton as Darcy arrives - which the mind sees as separate and independent, are expressions of a deeper movement of harmony working itself out as love and marriage to promote social evolution in the story.

6.  Mind's vision is also limited to a specific time and place. It views many possibilities but cannot know which of these possibilities will actually be realized. Supermind sees the whole span of time and space. It sees all the possibilities envisioned by mind and many more that it cannot imagine, but it never confuses a possibility with an inevitable actuality. It sees the actual potentiality of each force, the necessity of each result, and the right relations of each in time, place and circumstance.

When Bingley arrives at Herefordshire the first time, Mrs. Bennet sees a possibility that he may be made to marry one of her daughters. When he takes to Jane, that possibility becomes an inevitability to her mind. When he suddenly departs and does not return for months, the same possibility appears to be an impossibility and she gives it and him up for good. When he suddenly returns one year later and calls at Longbourn, the impossibility is transformed into a possibility again and when he proposes she sees it as an inevitability. Her mind's changing perception of reality arises because her vision is limited to a specific time and place. When Bingley is present, she sees an opportunity. When he is absent, she sees none. When he stays away a long time, she gives up hope. When he calls at Longbourn twice in two days, her hope is renewed. Her vision of possibility is limited by her vision of space and time.

When Collins arrives the first time, Mrs. Bennet fears loss of Longbourn. Later she gathers hope that he will marry Elizabeth and keep the property in the family. When Elizabeth rejects him, Mrs. Bennet loses heart and feels already bankrupt and abandoned. When Darcy decides to leave Herefordshire to escape the temptation of his attraction to Elizabeth, he thinks he has removed himself from the danger of falling in love with her. When he meets her again at Rosings, he realizes that possibility is still alive. When she violently rejects his proposal of marriage, he concludes there never was any real hope of winning her. When Elizabeth visits Pemberley and realizes she could have been mistress of the place, she is sure that possibility is dead forever after the way she abused Darcy at Hunsford. When Darcy suddenly appears out of nowhere and meets her walking the lawns at Pemberley, the possibility is renewed in his mind. She hesitates to even imagine that he might renew his proposal after having been rejected by her, but a seed of hope does awaken. When he comes upon her and learns of Lydia's elopement, she is sure the possibility is destroyed forever, but in his mind he sees an opportunity to realize his dream. Mind always confuses possibility, impossibility and inevitable actuality in that way, as Mrs. Bennet viewed Collins' marriage to Charlotte as the ultimate catastrophe, rather than as making way for Elizabeth to marry a man of ten times Collins' worth.

To the author, there is and never was any confusion at all, because she sees the entire span of space and time. Austen knows that when Darcy leaves Herefordshire, he will again meet her in Hunsford and Pemberley. She knows that Lydia's disappearance will be followed by her marriage, that Bingley's hasty departure will be followed by his return, that what does not happen now because the time is not ripe, is preparing to happen later when all conditions are fulfilled. When Elizabeth sees Lady Catherine storm away from Longbourn in anger determined to stop her marriage to Darcy, Elizabeth  believes Darcy may be persuaded to forget her, but Austen knows that Lady Catherine is going to London to give Darcy hope that Elizabeth may possibly accept him if he proposes again. Like Supermind, Austen knows the potentiality,  necessity and inevitability of each force and action and the eventual harmonious outcome to which they are moving.

7. Mind is incapable of seeing things whole and in their entirety. Supermind always knows the whole and sees the parts as indivisible elements of that whole.

Mrs. Bennet sees her five daughters and she looks at every eligible bachelor as a possible groom. Supermind sees the evolutionary necessity of Darcy marrying Elizabeth, Wickham being integrated within Darcy's family, Collins becoming distantly related to Lady Catherine, Charlotte becoming related to her closest friend Elizabeth, Bingley and Darcy becoming related through their wives. It also sees the complementarity of character that attracts the proud, introverted Darcy to lively, energetic, extroverted Elizabeth. The supramental vision sees the relation of individuals, classes, families, and psychologically complementary types. To the supramental vision, individuality, family, class, and society are not separate and independent realities. All are expressions of a greater whole, the manifesting spirit, and through their interaction they express the harmony of that One.

story | by Dr. Radut