Kena Upanishad

1. By whom missioned falls the mind shot to its mark? By whom yoked moves the first life-breath forward on its paths? By whom impelled is this word that men speak? What god set eye and ear to their workings?

2. That which is hearing of our hearing, mind of our mind, speech of our speech, that too is life of our life-breath and sight of our sight. The wise are released beyond and they pass from this world and become immortal.

3. There sight travels not, nor speech, nor the mind. We know It not nor can distinguish how one should teach of It: for It is other than the known; It is there above the unknown. It is so we have heard from men of old who declared That to our understanding.

4. That which is unexpressed by the word, that by which the word is expressed, know That to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.

5. That which thinks not by the mind that by which the mind is thought, know That to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.

6. That which sees not with the eye that by which one sees the eye’s seeings, know That to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.

7. That which hears not with the ear that by which the ear’s hearing is heard, know That to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.

8. That which breathes not with the breath that by which the life-breath is led forward in its paths, know That to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.

First Part. Translation by Sri Aurobindo.


Will (in Savitri)

[1] “Prolonging for ever the unseeing will, ”
[2] “Heavy, unwilling were life s servitors ”
[3] “Her will must cancel her body s destiny ”
[4] “Ardent was her self poised unstumbling will;”
[5] “That will not suffer long too glad a note ”
[6] “So bows and must the mind born will in man ”
[7] “Her single will opposed the cosmic rule ”
[8] “Barring its dreadful route no will can change, ”
[9] “That moves the veiled Ineffable s timeless will: ”
[10] “Annul the claim of man s free human will ”
[11] “His will a hunter in the trails of light ”
[12] “A fearless will for knowledge dared to erase ”
[13] “Aims too sublime for Nature s daily will: ”
[14] “And will is nursed by an ethereal Power ”
[15] “The grandeur and greatness of its will to live, ”
[16] “And all the sweetness none will ever taste ”
[17] “And all the beauty that will never be ”
[18] “Replace the titan will for ever to climb, ”
[19] “It draws the unwilling spirit from the heights, ”
[20] “Till they too feel the need and will to change ”
[21] “And felt the occult impulse behind man s will ”
[22] “Unwillingly compelled to emerge and be ”
[23] “Thus will the masked Transcendent mount his throne ”
[24] “Our will a force of the Eternal s power, ”
[25] “Undriven by a brief life s will to act, ”
[26] “No will can take away and no doom change, ”
[27] “All will come near that now is naught or far ”
[28] “Answers to a will that sees upon the heights, ”
[29] “He takes birth in her world, waits on her will, ”
[30] “He yields to her as the mover of his will, ”
[31] “He makes the hours pivot around her will, ”
[32] “This grand surrender is his free will s gift, ”
[33] “He is whatever her artist will can make ”
[34] “Even for an hour and she work out his will; ”
[35] “His will he thinks his own, is shaped in her forge ”
[36] “Her will he has made the master of his fate, ”
[37] “Whatever she desires he wills to be: ”
[38] “Of the great Mother s wide uncharted will ”
[39] “Late will he know, opening the mystic script, ”
[40] “Whoever leaves her, he will not depart ”
[41] “This constant will she covered with her sport, ”
[42] “The will to know in an inconscient world, ”
[43] “The will to live under a reign of death, ”
[44] “Lay bare to the burning splendour of his will ”
[45] “Her will shaping the undetermined vasts, ”
[46] “It moves events by its bare silent will, ”
[47] “And the universe the slave of mortal will ”
[48] “Whose alien will touches our human life, ”
[49] “She invents for her self bound free will its grooves ”
[50] “And the control of a spiritual will ”
[51] “All could be done no mortal will can dare ”
[52] “The wonder and beauty of her will to be ”
[53] “All here is driven by an insentient will ”
[54] “From her blind unwilling substance must emerge ”
[55] “This faery artistry could not keep his will: ”
[56] “Assuming whatever shape her fancy wills, ”
[57] “Have drawn the strength to be, the will to last ”
[58] “At her will the inscrutable Supermind leans down ”
[59] “At her will, led by a luminous Immanence ”
[60] “Imagination the free will of Truth, ”
[61] “Life s puissances reigned on seats of marble will, ”
[62] “And her acts the living body of his will ”
[63] “The strong compulsion of their will to joy ”
[64] “A large spontaneous order freed the will, ”
[65] “At will she wove her wizard wonder dance, ”
[66] “For its tormented will to think and live ”
[67] “Engrossed the tense precarious moment s will ”
[68] “Whose will to be brought poor and sad results ”
[69] “Pregnant with magic will and change divine ”
[70] “And the keen lust and hunger of its will ”
[71] “The will to conquer and have, to seize and keep,”
[72] “Yet are its roots of will ever the same; ”
[73] “And actions driven by a blind creature will ”
[74] “An unborn godhead s will, a mute Desire ”
[75] “And jets of subconscious will or hunger s pulls ”
[76] “A thought was there that planned, a will that strove, ”
[77] “Ignorant and dangerous wills but armed with power, ”
[78] “A slowly changing order binds our will ”
[79] “Yet is all here his action and his will ”
[80] “Or wrought the will of some supreme Unknown ”
[81] “A will to live moved the Inconscient s dust, ”
[82] “Thought bordered her instincts with a frame of will ”
[83] “Our will tunes not with the eternal Will, ”
[84] “Speech leaps, thought quivers, the heart vibrates, the will ”
[85] “Unwillingly they serve a mightier Power ”
[86] “Only to Titan force their will lies prone ”
[87] “They build our huddled structures of self will ”
[88] “And tutors of his stumbling speech and will, ”
[89] “A Witness sanctioning her will and works,”
[90] “Our will lifts towards it slow and shaping hands ”
[91] “A growing volume of the will to be, ”
[92] “A superb madness of the will to live, ”
[93] “Her hungry will to lavish everywhere ”
[94] “To brute bodies gives a soul, a will, a voice ”
[95] “Her will is to shut God into her works”
[96] “Will wrestled with will on mind s invisible ground; ”
[97] “But tied to some immediate sight and will ”
[98] “Felt laid on him her abrupt mysterious will, ”
[99] “The soul s native will for truth and joy and light ”
[100] “In high professions wrapped self will walked wide ”
[101] “And forced the unwilling body to vibrate ”
[102] “fixed in its will to be its own grey self, ”
[103] “An empty page on which all that willed could write ”
[104] “Driven by a strange will down ever down, ”
[105] “World egos racked with lust and thought and will, ”
[106] “Unwillingly begotten by the mute Void, ”
[107] “All who once stayed our will are smitten and dead; ”
[108] “On earth by the will of this Arch Intelligence ”
[109] “And could create the high things its fancy willed; ”
[110] “At will she spaces in thin air of mind ”
[111] “It plans without thinking, acts without a will, ”
[112] “We move by the rapid impulse of a will ”
[113] “But our dwarf will and cold pragmatic sense ”
[114] “At each moment willed or adventure of the soul, ”
[115] “Restraining its will to monopolise the world, ”
[116] “Forewilled inalterably in the spiral ”
[117] “Assenting to his nature and his will, ”
[118] “Climbed by the spirit s naked athlete will ”
[119] “He through the Ideal s kingdoms moved at will, ”
[120] “Desire came not nor any gust of will, ”
[121] “Mute in the fathomless passion of his will ”
[122] “At will he lived in the unoblivious Ray ”
[123] “His will took up the reins of cosmic Force ”
[124] “And the dull moods of its perverting will ”
[125] “Help from a Power too great for mortal will, ”
[126] “This now he willed to discover and exile, ”
[127] “The athlete heavings of the will were stilled ”
[128] “He felt the footsteps of a million wills ”
[129] “The will obeyed the thought, the act the will ”
[130] “Ever she framed stark bonds for the will to break, ”
[131] “Immobile with excess of passionate will, ”
[132] “To her it turned for whom it willed to be ”
[133] “Its seeing filled the blank of mind and will; ”
[134] “To make his thought and will a magic door ”
[135] “A will prevails cancelling his conscious choice: ”
[136] “And the inviolate sequence of its will ”
[137] “And wrestlers with destiny in her lists of will, ”
[138] “Movements and moments of a mortal will, ”
[139] “Fate shall be changed by an unchanging will ”
[140] “He made joy a willing prisoner in her breast ”
[141] “She keeps her will that hopes to divinise clay; ”
[142] “Out of those crystal windows gleamed a will ”
[143] “Too small and eager for her large paced will, ”
[144] “Her will was puissant on their nature s acts, ”
[145] “Drawn by her charm and mastered by her will, ”
[146] “Some drawn unwillingly by her divine sway ”
[147] “How long will you tread the circling tracks of mind ”
[148] “This transient earthly being if he wills ”
[149] “Her force and will exceed her form and fate ”
[150] “Fate is unwilling and the Abyss denies; ”
[151] “At once the agents of his spirit s will ”
[152] “And from the furrows laboured by our will ”
[153] “At rest from its blind outwardness of will, ”
[154] “Moved by a universal will of joy ”
[155] “Unwilling to break the charm, then slowly spoke ”
[156] “But thou hast come and all will surely change: ”
[157] “My heart will stay here on this forest verge”
[158] “Which soon will lose one loved accustomed tread ”
[159] “All shaping without will or thought or sense, ”
[160] “And surely will that flame set earth alight: ”
[161] “Doom surely will see her pass and say no word! ”
[162] “Father and king, I have carried out thy will ”
[163] “Perhaps the blindness of our will is Fate ”
[164] “My Savitri will dwell and bring in heaven ”
[165] “A will entire couchant behind wisdom s shield, ”
[166] “So now she arraigned the world s impassive will:”
[167] “Forcing to steel the will of Savitri, ”
[168] “A will to climb lifts a delight to live, ”
[169] “Let Fate do with me what she will or can; ”
[170] “Fate s law may change, but not my spirit s will ”
[171] “An adamant will, she cast her speech like bronze ”
[172] “Against the Law that is the eternal will ”
[173] “To whom his own fierce will is the one law ”
[174] “He is not driven by an unthinking will ”
[175] “My will is part of the eternal Will, ”
[176] “Unless heaven s will itself could change its course ”
[177] “A will that strove against the immutable Will ”
[178] “Or what cold freak of a Creator s will,”
[179] “Its guides the unsure idea, the wavering will ”
[180] “Inspiring Matter with the will to live, ”
[181] “His will conspires with death and time and fate ”
[182] “Who willed to form or feign a universe ”
[183] “Who laid on it the ceaseless will to live”
[184] “Thy heart s hopes hide from thee the Eternal s will, ”
[185] “His will must be worked out in human breasts ”
[186] “Against the stumblings of man s pervert will, ”
[187] “With heavenly cruelty an unwilling mould ”
[188] “Implacable in the passion of their will, ”
[189] “His will has bound to death and struggling life ”
[190] “A power opposed to the eternal will ”
[191] “His will immobile meets the mobile hour; ”
[192] “Fate s deaf resistance cannot break his will ”
[193] “Against the Law he pits his single will, ”
[194] “Too soon will grief and anguish find thee out ”
[195] “Too enormous is that venture for thy will; ”
[196] “But what is Fate if not the spirit s will ”
[197] “The will of the Timeless working out in Time ”
[198] “If human will could be made one with God s, ”
[199] ” Queen, strive no more to change the secret will; ”
[200] “That knows its single will and God s as one: ”
[201] “In the mightiness of her silent spirit s will, ”
[202] “Its too vast theme of a lonely mortal will ”
[203] “Strive not to save her from her own high will ”
[204] “And lead his blind will towards an unknown goal ”
[205] “Nature and Fate compel his free will s choice ”
[206] “A rude refuge of the thought and will of man ”
[207] “Unwilling to separate sorrowful clinging hands, ”
[208] “Unwilling to see for the last time a face, ”
[209] “An absolutism of sweet imperious will, ”
[210] “Only her violent heart and passionate will ”
[211] “Her body s actions shared not by her will ”
[212] “Unwilling ever to separate again ”
[213] “Unwilling to loose his body from her breast, ”
[214] “Above her brows where will and knowledge meet ”
[215] “Command, for I am here to do thy will ”
[216] “Invading at will his outer tenement, ”
[217] “And hold at will a rebel s holiday ”
[218] “Invade with blood lust and the will to slay ”
[219] “Only a little has will and purposed pace ”
[220] “His head of reason and his guardian will ”
[221] “Unshaken her will pressed on the rigid bars: ”
[222] “A press of uncertain powers and drifting wills; ”
[223] “A rally without key of common will, ”
[224] “Holding by her will the senseless meute at bay; ”
[225] “Out of the dreadful press she dragged her will ”
[226] “Of aimless thought and will had fallen from her ”
[227] “Coerced her despot will, her fancy s dance, ”
[228] “Her will lived closed in adamant walls of law, ”
[229] “We are thy will and all men s will towards Light ”
[230] “Yet have I cried not out against his will, ”
[231] “I know my fate will ever be the same, ”
[232] “One day I will return, a bringer of strength, ”
[233] “Uncaring I serve his will who sent me forth, ”
[234] “He praises his free will and his master mind ”
[235] “I will make glass and raiment out of milk, ”
[236] “What God imperfect left, I will complete, ”
[237] “His sin and error I will eliminate; ”
[238] “I will take his means of sorcery from his hands ”
[239] “He guards my house, looks up waiting my will ”
[240] “One day I will return, a bringer of light; ”
[241] “Then will I give to thee the mirror of God; ”
[242] “The mind of man will think it earth s own gleam, ”
[243] “One day I will return, His hand in mine, ”
[244] “In the mystery of its selecting will, ”
[245] “Whence it shoots the arrows of its sight and will, ”
[246] “The immortal s will took into its calm control ”
[247] “Moving as if by a common breath and will ”
[248] “It willed to expunge the choked and anguished air ”
[249] “And slay the will to live, the joy to be ”
[250] “And Matter is the Spirit s willing bride ”
[251] “And the free initiative of Nature s will ”
[252] “A seeing will pondered between the brows; ”
[253] “Thence upon all she laid her sovereign will ”
[254] “But met a barring will, a blow of Force ”
[255] “There was no strong initiator will; ”
[256] “There was no will behind the word and act, ”
[257] “Being that never willed to bear a world ”
[258] “Crying, Now, now perhaps his voice will cease ”
[259] “And measureless above our striving wills, ”
[260] “A high and lonely ecstasy of will ”
[261] “A slow embodiment of the aeonic will, ”
[262] “A sovereign power was there, a godlike will ”
[263] “All was the violent ocean of a will ”
[264] “Stood up in its sheer will a primal force ”
[265] “In his unwilling heart they have lit their fires ”
[266] “These if thy will accepts make freely thine ”
[267] “The flaming will that reigns beyond the stars, ”
[268] “My will too is a law, my strength a god ”
[269] “To do with him my spirit s burning will ”
[270] “I will bear with him the ancient Mother s load, ”
[271] “I will follow with him earth s path that leads to God ”
[272] “I will take from thee the black eternal grip: ”
[273] “My God is will and triumphs in his paths, ”
[274] “I am, I love, I see, I act, I will ”
[275] “And cease to will, delivered from thy heart ”
[276] “In the eternity of his ruthless will ”
[277] “Her deep original sin, the will to be ”
[278] “The will to be immortal and divine ”
[279] “Unwillingly it descends to earthly air ”
[280] “Separate, or thy unsatisfied will to others ”
[281] “Soon hard necessity will smite thee awake: ”
[282] “Of thy own sensuous will the ardent slave, ”
[283] “Designing my unwilled, unerring plan, ”
[284] “How shall the will o the wisp become a star? ”
[285] “A reasoning animal willed and planned and sought; ”
[286] “She has invented speech, unveiled a will ”
[287] “A will to live persists, a joy to be ”
[288] “My will is greater than thy law, O Death; ”
[289] “I am his conquering and unslayable will ”
[290] “How shall thy will make one the true and false? ”
[291] “Then will I give thee all thy soul desires, ”
[292] “My will once wrought remains unchanged through Time, ”
[293] “Intent upon her silent will she walked ”
[294] “And they in front were followers of her will ”
[295] “He imparts to the Immobile his own will, ”
[296] “No aim is there, only a will to be ”
[297] “And bodies careless Death can slay at will? ”
[298] “Her will tempered in the blaze of Wisdom s sun ”
[299] “Oppressed by its own obstinate meaningless will, ”
[300] “Their giant wills compel the troubled years ”
[301] “I claim from Time my will s eternity, ”
[302] ” Why should the noble and immortal will ”
[303] “The cosmic Law is greater than thy will ”
[304] “Then will I give thee back thy Satyavan ”
[305] “And watches his will done by the forms of Gods ”
[306] “Then will I give back to thee Satyavan ”
[307] “And eternal Will seizes the mortal s will ”
[308] “His spirit bowed; his will obeyed the law ”
[309] “And left no room for his enormous will ”
[310] “Punishing the unwillingness to be one, ”
[311] “His is the dumb will of atom and of clod; ”
[312] “Our will labours permitted by thy will ”
[313] “My will, my call is there in men and things; ”
[314] “How shall he will with the Omnipotent s force? ”
[315] “I keep my will to save the world and man; ”
[316] “And his dynamic will in men and things, ”
[317] “Thou art my vision and my will and voice ”
[318] “Do then thy work and force thy will on Fate ”
[319] “Choose destiny s curve and stamp thy will on Time ”
[320] “All things she knew, all things imagined or willed: ”
[321] “My will is thine, what thou hast chosen I choose: ”
[322] “The executor of my will, eternal Time ”
[323] “Because thou hast obeyed my timeless will, ”
[324] “Now will I do in thee my marvellous works ”
[325] “I will fasten thy nature with my cords of strength, ”
[326] “My will shall be the meaning of their days; ”
[327] “I will enact the drama of thy soul, ”
[328] “I will pursue thee across the centuries; ”
[329] “I will possess in thee my universe, ”
[330] “I will pour delight from thee as from a jar, ”
[331] “I will whirl thee as my chariot through the ways, ”
[332] “I will use thee as my sword and as my lyre, ”
[333] “I will play on thee my minstrelsies of thought ”
[334] “Then will I spare thee not my living fires, ”
[335] “Through life and pain and time and will and death, ”
[336] “Who is a thought, a will of the Divine, ”
[337] “The hour must come of the Transcendent s will: ”
[338] “And human wills tune to the divine will, ”
[339] “Turbulent in will and terrible in love ”
[340] “My human earth will still demand thy bliss ”
[341] “A heavenly queen consenting to his will, ”
[342] “The game of chance of an omnipotent Will ”
[343] “Some Chance has settled or hazarded some Will, ”
[344] “A Will expressive of soul s deity, ”
[345] “The mighty process of the cosmic Will ”
[346] “Who are overseers of Fate and Chance and Will ”
[347] “Calm they repose on the eternal Will ”
[348] “In the hidden strength of her omnipotent Will, ”
[349] “And Fate revealed a chain of seeing Will; ”
[350] “A Will, a hope immense now seized his heart, ”
[351] “In her bosom bearing the eternal Will, ”
[352] “The secret Will that robes itself with Night ”
[353] “A restless hungry energy of Will, ”
[354] “Only some flame of mindless Will had power ”
[355] “Betrayed the heavings of an imprisoned Will ”
[356] “Impelled by an unseen Will there could break out ”
[357] “Our will tunes not with the eternal Will, ”
[358] “Channels perverse of a stupendous Will, ”
[359] “A Will that unpersisting failed, worked there: ”
[360] “The Will that pushes sense beyond its scope ”
[361] “But labours driven by a nameless Will ”
[362] “Will wrestled with will on mind s invisible ground; ”
[363] “A secret Will compels us to endure ”
[364] “A nameless Power, a shadowy Will arose ”
[365] “It falsified the primal cosmic Will ”
[366] “Opposing in the heart the eternal Will, ”
[367] “There in the slumber of the cosmic Will ”
[368] “Far from our danger zone of stumbling Will ”
[369] “And Will is a conscious chariot of the Gods, ”
[370] “Zigzagged at the gesture of a chess player Will ”
[371] “And destiny the unrecognised child of Will ”
[372] “And seized in things the bodiless Will to be ”
[373] “Where Will is one with Truth and Good with Power; ”
[374] “The effort to rule seemed a vain pride of Will; ”
[375] “And ineffective paused the actor Will ”
[376] “An agent of its own transcendent Will, ”
[377] “Moveless there stands a high unchanging Will; ”
[378] “Once more that Will put on an earthly shape ”
[379] “Yet are they instruments of a Will supreme, ”
[380] “The seers attuned to the universal Will, ”
[381] “Or, comrades of the everlasting Will, ”
[382] “Only for good the secret Will can work ”
[383] “My will is part of the eternal Will, ”
[384] “A will that strove against the immutable Will ”
[385] “And strive to work out the eternal Will ”
[386] “In her the conscious Will took human shape: ”
[387] “Think not to intercede with the hidden Will, ”
[388] “Willed the expense of centuries in one day ”
[389] “And the far intention of some ordering Will ”
[390] “Or at the highest pitch some calm Will s plan ”
[391] “And mightier seems than the eternal Will ”
[392] “Awaiting the unknown eternal Will ”
[393] “An ignorant Power took charge and seemed his Will ”
[394] “Death s rule and Law and the unknowable Will ”
[395] “And eternal Will seizes the mortal s will ”
[396] “All waited on the unknown inscrutable Will ”
[397] “Forgetting the Will to love that gave it birth, ”
[398] “A Will that without sense or motive acts, ”
[399] “And to the working of the inconscient Will, “

Kena Upanishad

“Our life, a breath of force and movement and possession attached to a form of mind and body and restricted by the form, limited in its force, hampered in its movement, besieged in its possession and therefore a thing of discords at war with itself and its environment, hungering and unsatisfied, moving inconstantly from object to object and unable to embrace and retain their multiplicity, devouring its objects of enjoyment and therefore transient in its enjoyments, is only a broken movement of the one, undivided, infinite Life which is all-possessing and ever satisfied because in all it enjoys its eternal self unimprisoned by the divisions of space, unoccupied by the moments of Time, undeluded by the successions of Cause and Circumstance.

(…) The mortal life is a dual representation of That with two conflicting elements in it, negative and positive. Its negative elements of death, suffering, incapacity, strife, division, limitation are a dark figure which conceal and serve the development of that which its positive elements cannot yet achieve, — immortality hiding itself from life in the figure of death, delight hiding itself from pleasure in the figure of suffering, infinite force hiding itself from finite effort in the figure of incapacity, fusion of love hiding itself from desire in the figure of strife, unity hiding itself from acquisition in the figure of division, infinity hiding itself from growth in the figure of limitation. The positive elements suggest what the Brahman is, but never are what the Brahman is, although their victory, the victory of the gods, is always the victory of the Brahman over its own self-negations, always the self-affirmation of His vastness against the denials of the dark and limiting figure of things. Still, it is not this vastness merely, but the absolute infinity which is Brahman itself. And therefore within this dual figure of things we cannot attain to our self, our Highest; we have to transcend in order to attain.”

Commentary on the Kena Upanishad
Sri Aurobindo

Space, Mind and Death: whither frontier?

The concept of frontier pervades all aspects of reality. Paradoxically, it appears to do so without being real or, at least, being at most an illusory phenomenon; an approximation for the benefit of effective perception and practical action. A tool. A very powerful tool indeed. Like our thought, a tool that takes control over the toolmaker or the craftsman. An artifact whose original purpose was forgotten and whose remembrance feels both familiar and strange now. A mixture of sweet home with alien bitterness. After days lost in the ocean, we must decide to take a sip of sea water to mitigate our thirst. Frontiers are appearances that appear everywhere. This is because the nature of the notion of frontier is to exist in space in order to survive. I would even say it is space itself. As such, it is not fond with time.

Put it plain, we like to say “this is not that”. We spend our hours segmenting, discriminating, evaluating. Actually it seems to me that “X not Y” is all we are able to claim. From the domain of cognitive all the way that of particle physics, frontiers are there to help us mistake the problem by creating it. They are not bad consequences, but just necessary causes. When we ask something, don’t we at least suppose (or impose) a contro-verse within a uni-verse? We, who like to think and study and debate and explore, are not all doomed by our passion to divide in order to unite? At the same time, it is only our sustained effort -with some miraculous push- that prevents a total ignorance from overruling our lives.

It is true. I will not dispute that it is of the essence of physical things to lend themselves to division as many times as one wishes to image. Paradoxically, being eager to accept only a material world leaves us with that geographical split, which is ready for immediate deployment. Our duty then, is to fight in order to conceal or conciliate. What a beautiful contradiction to wedge war in order to achieve peace. However, rather than recreating ourselves in that which cannot be done, we will try to do something instead. Let us borrow from different disciplines what is common and what is different when it comes to dealing with such a gap. Or, how are we supposed to tackle the frontier issue without crossing, sewing, copying and pasting from different clothing? Here I assume that when we treat the present issue, we are more inclined to reduce than to increase the number and extension of the frontier. In other words, we ask because due to our will to be… Understanding is a kind of special union. Of course, we shall not pretend to exclude multiplicity out of the equation. But that is a harder matter. So, let us now see more specifically where approaches converge. Perhaps afterwards we will have a better idea of what a frontier is, and what (or where?) it is not. If we fail to get to the idea, at least we will have stuff to entertain ourselves in such a Herculean effort.

We can begin with the so-called genesis. A book that tells us how evil Eve induced adorable Adam to taste a piece of Nature that was not allowed. But I do not reckon such a prohibition as the beginning of law but rather as the start of our journey through knowledge. Here we find our first specific frontier. That which inspired ancient religion by stating that there is one tree whose fruits keep us in paradise while there is another tree whose fruits makes us sin. Namely, the tree of Life and the tree of Knowledge, respectively. Which one are we constantly eating from? This business is not about doing bad things. We are sinners from the very moment we engage in the process of finding out some truth. A stairway to heaven and, of course, another one to hell. No reward without suffering. Working during the day and praying at night. Sacrifice in this life and the price of glory in the afterlife…

When we look at history, we recognize with shock the mysterious evolutionary experiment we are. History is the story of conflict within and between men. With a warm cup of coffee and a comfortable chair we can philosophize about life, and progress, and all that. But what has been our occupation throughout centuries? Killing each other! Fighting either to survive or to dominate. Fear and greed. We (the pieces of DNA that passed on from our ancestors) had to do it, no doubt. Being very cautious about the dogmatic mantra of the “survival of the fittest” (and all the theories to impose as a natural fact that which capitalism wanted to artificially implant in our culture), we did not know how to do it better. Making it to the next dawn was the job of the day. But now, what do we have to contribute to history with? The same old story?! How are we going to break the chain of repetition? Do we realize the source of that chain to begin with? In a word, it is the urge to become (but we can come back to this later). The battles for territories and the quests for new lands illustrate very neatly the correspondence between conflicts in geographical frontiers and those in our minds. As the materials and methods of our famous “conquistadores” taught us: the man with the cross comes first with his hands together in beatific attitude, the man with the sword lifted above our heads comes behind in rage. O por la buenas, o por la malas… But the frontier between the two options was never clear to me. In essence, the choice between two alternatives is never a free act.

When we move to politics (maybe not the true governance of the polis but actual politics), we cannot recognize in there the signature of something greater than the art of constraining a bunch for the benefit of a few. We see frontiers there too: left sided, right sided. Definitely different aspects of the same illusion that proclaims that outer order will permeate to inner peace. Bureaucracy is the mechanization of that failed wish. Communism failed too, like capitalism, and many other systems. Unfortunately, communism was only given one ticket to ride. Other decrees seem to have a flat rate. Globalization looks like a naive experiment to achieve that communal dream that communists had. The concept of frontier appears once more: trying to dilute separations, to increase interconnectedness, to put things in contact. However, who is ready to share? Business, trading, exchange, etc. But who shares? Who cares? Look at economy. The concept of inter-est evokes this idea of a frontier separating three beings: you, me and what lies in between one another. Education, being the source of salvation, is then the root of all evil. Incubating newborns in the same water can only produce the same soup. And that is perhaps what we want because we cannot conceive how to paint a different picture with the same old brush.

What about our daily lives at work? Are we efficient enough? Are we well-paid? Men created the machines and then wished to be like them: fast, accurate, focussed, systematic, effective, mendable, disciplined, well-fed with fuel. Territories are drawn everywhere: you first are an Analyst 1, then 2, then 3, later you can become Consultant A, B and C. Why do we need a label to know where we are and where to go? We invent a destination to make sense of our journey. Does that tell us who we are or who we want to be? Do we need to become something in the first place? Is time real at the psychological scale? What about in science? Quite often the second question after your name is whether you are a PhD student or a postdoc. What difference does it make to place somebody in a map before even looking at that person in the eyes? I guess organizing him or her in this or that frontier is helpful to quickly infer lots of biassed information. The principle of misplaced concreteness! It is like saying tomato; you do not have to eat it, you can just think of it. It saves time (and experience). Elaborating a bit more on this issue, note how reluctant we are to try things beyond our normal range of experience. It is all about habits, inertia and Newton’s laws. And realize how poorly we are induced to express it. For instance, apart from obvious comments about our lovely petty lives, all that Facebook demands from us is that we click “I like”. This is the shape it adopts: either you say nothing or you like it. Void versus triviality. Freedom of expression to its minimal digital expression. About our daily lives at home (if we still have some energy after our professional duties…), we can leave the discussion for the coffee break.

What is science, what is not science and what science is not, our friend asked. Well, two more countries with frontiers to explore! Maybe with provinces such as pseudo-science, meta-science, pop- science, etc. By the way, I really enjoy the transit through the border control. Note that what is proven by science now might have not been before. That does not mean it was not scientific or it did not exist. Simply, the empire had not conquered that piece of map. And when we stick to a hypothesis as a fact or as a dogma without acknowledging it, it feels like we stuck a flag on a hill claim that is ours and forever will be. A big mistake. Frontiers are dynamic. If they did not move, they would be understood, thus boring, even then ignored. We can shape the shape of the interface. Interesting idea when we bring in the difference between bounded space and infinite space. It is simple: what happens to the frontier if a country conquers the whole globe? Where did it go? Space ate itself. Time still flows. You can never cross the same frontier twice, like the river.

Another puzzle to talk about: the frontiers of the ego. If you are repelled by psychoanalytic jargon, let us just consider the frontiers of your body. They seem pretty clear, right? And ultimately they cause all the trouble cause when you say “this is mine”, then you are ready to dispute it to somebody else. Conflict kicks in! It can be a pencil or a nation. Then the eternal return smiles; the cycle of story repeats. I go to the supermarket, I buy a bottle of water. The water is mine. I drink it (the water). Is the water me now? Am I the water? What happened to its and my frontier? Like lovers, who are one through the flame of their souls. Like sex merging flesh. Altruism is also a paradoxical selflessness that requires the presence of others and yourself. So boundaries are ambiguous, flowing, useful, misleading. Looking for clear and distinct Cartesian stuff, it all ends up in a blurred vision.

Neurobiology is my favorite subject to talk about moving frontiers and dualities: the brain and the mind, the soul and the body, genes and the environment, external stimuli and inner moods. We still do not understand the relationship between perception and action. And how instinct in insects is a divergent path when compared to intelligence in mammals. If mechanistic stimulus-response chains explain everything, how do we generate spontaneous actions? What is creativity? Is there free will? Notice, these are all questions about the frontiers between choice and noise. The principles and processes underlying purposeful behavior appear to span across a large territory too, from bacteria approaching a food source to humans writing poetry. What is the difference, we may ask? Then we are once more pondering the question of frontier and its nature (of kind or of degree). Consciousness is not in the brain, it is in the world! Consciousness is one of the hardest questions that, upon resolution, would comprehensively embrace the rest.

In psychology, limits and frontiers come in the flavor of atoms: I might be happy now and angry later. But, can I be in a superposition of these two states? If not, how shall we conceive the nature of an abrupt transition from one to the other? Are these solid and static accounts real or simply a convenient representation of reality? Specifically, the dominant levels of explanation in human psychology and animal neuroscience stem, benefit and suffer from the philosophical framework of Democritus theory of atoms. We need to explicitly discuss the origins and implications of what appears as a pervasive but implicit trend in the behavioral sciences: to conceive behavior as a sequence of frozen, impenetrable and discrete units of action. Mini-frontiers and mini-bits, we think we are. We might also talk about physics and, in particular, about relativity (space curvature), thermodynamics (time’s arrow) and quantum mechanics (observer not only observing). I have no space-time here-now.

When it comes to language, it is clear that we necessarily express ourselves by means of words and, irremediably, think in terms of space. The interweaving of our sensorimotor capacities, our conception of time and space, and the unfolding of language is patent. Words and sounds are neither the cause nor the effect of meaning. They are part of it. They form it in terms of space and time by means of images and rhythm, respectively. In poetry -the highest expression of human language- actions, images and words are intensely and intimately intertwined. The poet, while trying to express and impress a whole complex personal experience on the reader, faces a unique and practically impossible task. He tries to avoid the frontier. That is is main job! The reader, failing to understand all that is behind the poet’s words, is provided with an image of it, one that is tangible and distinct enough that ideas seem to be extended like objects in space. To comprehend an idea, or to “grasp” it, recalls the same action as to firmly hold a thing, namely, to grasp that thing. We might say we “understand” something when are placed under its full influence and power, namely, when we stand under it. To “see” means both to perceive with your physical eyes as well as to discern or deduce after reflection, expressing comprehension. In that way, human language seems to stem from embodied language, in which the meaning of abstract ideas emerged from sensorimotor metaphors. Space is where action takes place (forgiving the space-where-place redundancy).

But, what is the fundamental limit constrained by the very notion of a frontier? In my opinion, the ultimate gap is that of death. I argue that a deeper understanding (and experience!) of the notion of mind is the key to both understand why there appears to be a limit and, accordingly, how to surpass it. Human beings stand upright, have the faculty of language and a superior mind when compared to other animals. Our frontier begins where our most precious endowment ends: intelligence. We excel at manipulating matter. We can build machines that build machines. The systematic application of our skills is overwhelming, as both the industrial and digital revolution testify. Science is their sovereign representative. Necessary as it was, I argue that reason crumples insufficient now. Frontiers do not call for refinements. To truly overcome our curb as a species, a transformation of our mind is required. I advocate for the need (and possibility) of a difference in kind, not degree, in the way we see reality. Why is this crucial? Nature manifests as an evolutionary process: matter gave way to life in it; then life entrusted its creative pursue to instinct and intelligence. And here we are, at the summit of the complexity gradient, with a nervous system that seems to hide more than we want to acknowledge and less than we are ready to accept. I believe that the decisive frontier is that which defines -and by the same token constrains- who we are. We must face this question: what will supersede mankind? We went to the moon, built particle accelerators, controlled neural activity. Yet little do we know about who we are. What empowered us, is now retarding our evolution. If most people is so happy to ridicule creationists, if Darwin was right, why do we not behave accordingly? We came from the monkey. Who will come from us?

How can we address such a monumental adventure? My proposal is threefold: it needs to be a courageous, collective and conscious endeavor. Courageous as we spearhead it, with the willingness to find what is there to be found, not what we allowed in the first place. Collective beyond a one-man war; with true debate, collaboration and even communion. Finally, and unprecedented in the history of the universe, the effort to evolve can recruit consciousness. In their strong sense, frontiers are provinces where the unknown rests. Perhaps, after all, pushed by our survival instinct, our desire for immortality might not be an impossible feat. Space stuck in the mind dictates death.

Despite shedding some light, these reflections and potential discussions raise more questions than those they may answer. This is because of the ill-defined nature of our endeavour, namely, to reduce what is irreducible: the manifestation of human consciousness into as a duality that is posed in space and awaits to be resolved in space. Noticing this, (namely, our biggest limitation), can nevertheless be a departure point from to succeed in opening the doorways of meaning. Nothing prevents us from enquiring about the notion of frontier as a geographical aspect, despite then being left with nothing but quantitative relationships devoid of any true qualitative element. Ironically, the very same thing that we had sought to eliminate (by division) in the first place, and strove to keep out of the picture during our scientific detour, is precisely what we expect to emerge at the end; and thus we fail to see. Perhaps by attempting such impossible feats we shall become more aware of the necessity to lessen the duality (and the obscure confusion) between quality and quantity. This has been the ground (and ceiling) of philosophical thought for centuries: the relationship between Logos and Phusis, Matter and Spirit, Brain and Mind, Chance and Necessity, Difference and Repetition, Process and Reality, Being and Time… Paraphrasing Bergson, it seems that the notion of frontier borrows rom the dual nature of reality the space on which it feeds and restores it in the form of a pleasant image which it has stamped with its own static curse and appearance of stability. Instead of seeking how to solve the question, we shall show the mistake of those who ask it as the only way to successfully address it.

On the whole, my train of thought and invitation to discuss is as simple as subtle: when we speak about frontiers the notion of space immediately comes to our minds nearly by default. At the same time, frontiers evoke all sort of conflicts, limitations, problems, dualities, dilemmas, separations etc. Therefore, rather than (or together with) debating about this or that frontier, can we observe what happens “when” we try to think without a “where”? My discourse is one of ignorance too. But let us invoke a kind of alchemic principle in which sincere communal ignorance becomes less ignorant. I hope we can make this exercise together during these days, at least hoping for some moments of pure light in the midst of so much darkness around and inside… In a word, all this can be very interesting or enlightening. Let us hope we are able to sacrifice the former in the name of the latter.


“A WORLD’S desire compelled her mortal birth.
One in the front of the immemorial quest,
Protagonist of the mysterious play
In which the Unknown pursues himself through forms
And limits his eternity by the hours
And the blind Void struggles to live and see,
A thinker and toiler in the ideal’s air,
Brought down to earth’s dumb need her radiant power.
His was a spirit that stooped from larger spheres
Into our province of ephemeral sight,
A colonist from immortality.
A pointing beam on earth’s uncertain roads,
His birth held up a symbol and a sign;
His human self like a translucent cloak
Covered the All-Wise who leads the unseeing world.
Affiliated to cosmic Space and Time
And paying here God’s debt to earth and man
A greater sonship was his divine right.
Although consenting to mortal ignorance,
His knowledge shared the Light ineffable.
A strength of the original Permanence
Entangled in the moment and its flow,
He kept the vision of the Vasts behind:
A power was in him from the Unknowable.
An archivist of the symbols of the Beyond,
A treasurer of superhuman dreams,
He bore the stamp of mighty memories
And shed their grandiose ray on human life.
His days were a long growth to the Supreme.
A skyward being nourishing its roots
On sustenance from occult spiritual founts
Climbed through white rays to meet an unseen Sun.
His soul lived as eternity’s delegate,
His mind was like a fire assailing heaven,
His will a hunter in the trails of light.
An ocean impulse lifted every breath;
Each action left the footprints of a god,
Each moment was a beat of puissant wings.
The little plot of our mortality
Touched by this tenant from the heights became
A playground of the living Infinite.
This bodily appearance is not all;
The form deceives, the person is a mask;
Hid deep in man celestial powers can dwell.
His fragile ship conveys through the sea of years
An incognito of the Imperishable.
A spirit that is a flame of God abides,
A fiery portion of the Wonderful,
Artist of his own beauty and delight,
Immortal in our mortal poverty.
This sculptor of the forms of the Infinite,
This screened unrecognised Inhabitant,
Initiate of his own veiled mysteries,
Hides in a small dumb seed his cosmic thought.
In the mute strength of the occult Idea
Determining predestined shape and act,
Passenger from life to life, from scale to scale,
Changing his imaged self from form to form,
He regards the icon growing by his gaze
And in the worm foresees the coming god.
At last the traveller in the paths of Time
Arrives on the frontiers of eternity.
In the transient symbol of humanity draped,
He feels his substance of undying self
And loses his kinship to mortality.
A beam of the Eternal smites his heart,
His thought stretches into infinitude;
All in him turns to spirit vastnesses.
His soul breaks out to join the Oversoul,
His life is oceaned by that superlife.
He has drunk from the breasts of the Mother of the worlds;
A topless Supernature fills his frame:
She adopts his spirit’s everlasting ground
As the security of her changing world
And shapes the figure of her unborn mights.
Immortally she conceives herself in him,
In the creature the unveiled Creatrix works:
Her face is seen through his face, her eyes through his eyes;
Her being is his through a vast identity.
Then is revealed in man the overt Divine.
A static Oneness and dynamic Power
Descend in him, the integral Godhead’s seals;
His soul and body take that splendid stamp.
A long dim preparation is man’s life,
A circle of toil and hope and war and peace
Tracked out by Life on Matter’s obscure ground.
In his climb to a peak no feet have ever trod,
He seeks through a penumbra shot with flame
A veiled reality half-known, ever missed,
A search for something or someone never found,
Cult of an ideal never made real here,
An endless spiral of ascent and fall
Until at last is reached the giant point
Through which his Glory shines for whom we were made
And we break into the infinity of God.
Across our nature’s border line we escape
Into Supernature’s arc of living light.
This now was witnessed in that son of Force;
In him that high transition laid its base.
Original and supernal Immanence
Of which all Nature’s process is the art,
The cosmic Worker set his secret hand
To turn this frail mud-engine to heaven-use.
A Presence wrought behind the ambiguous screen:
It beat his soil to bear a Titan’s weight,
Refining half-hewn blocks of natural strength
It built his soul into a statued god.
The Craftsman of the magic stuff of self
Who labours at his high and difficult plan
In the wide workshop of the wonderful world,
Modelled in inward Time his rhythmic parts.
Then came the abrupt transcendent miracle:
The masked immaculate Grandeur could outline,
At travail in the occult womb of life,
His dreamed magnificence of things to be.
A crown of the architecture of the worlds,
A mystery of married Earth and Heaven
Annexed divinity to the mortal scheme.
A Seer was born, a shining Guest of Time.
For him mind’s limiting firmament ceased above.
In the griffin forefront of the Night and Day
A gap was rent in the all-concealing vault;
The conscious ends of being went rolling back:
The landmarks of the little person fell,
The island ego joined its continent.
Overpassed was this world of rigid limiting forms:
Life’s barriers opened into the Unknown.
Abolished were conception’s covenants
And, striking off subjection’s rigorous clause,
Annulled the soul’s treaty with Nature’s nescience.
All the grey inhibitions were torn off
And broken the intellect’s hard and lustrous lid;
Truth unpartitioned found immense sky-room;
An empyrean vision saw and knew;
The bounded mind became a boundless light,
The finite self mated with infinity.
His march now soared into an eagle’s flight.
Out of apprenticeship to Ignorance
Wisdom upraised him to her master craft
And made him an archmason of the soul,
A builder of the Immortal’s secret house,
An aspirant to supernal Timelessness:
Freedom and empire called to him from on high;
Above mind’s twilight and life’s star-led night
There gleamed the dawn of a spiritual day.”

Sri Aurobindo