Monthly Archives: January 2010

Cultivating witness consciousness (Saksi Bhava) – part 2

In our daily life, our consciousness is like a constantly changing movie-screen across which various thought forms flip through, have their play and die out.  We are so busy with ourselves that these transitions normally goes unnoticed.  Traditionally, various parts of our body consciousness emit their own semi-conscious response to any stimulus and the cumulative sum of these responses is denoted as our personality.   But as we deepen our practice of witness consciousness discussed in a previous post (Cultivating witness consciousness),  this coherence of our personality begins to fall apart.   It is then that we  become aware of the time interval during which our consciousness undergoes a change while responding to an external stimulus.   These subtle changes in our reaction process are discussed here.

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Difference between religion and spirituality

We live in times where spirituality is the new buzzword and religion is derided as outdated, but it is not clear what the differences between the two are.  The religious approach can be summed up as a combination of nostalgia for the past, desire for structure  in life, respect for authority and an inability to entertain ambiguity.  The spiritual path is propelled by the desire to rediscover the Truth for oneself by using some psychological and occult practices.  The rest of this article delineates these differences in detail.

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Are earthquakes due to Divine retribution?

After a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane, religiously inclined personalities tend to attribute the disaster to Divine retribution.  In 1934, when an earthquake hit the state of Bihar in India killing thousands of people, Mahatma Gandhi called it God’s punishment for the sin of untouchability in India [1].   More recently, we have Pat Robertson claiming that the earthquake in Haiti was God’s punishment [2].   This absurd pattern of thinking can be found across all religions. This post outlines Sri Aurobindo and the Mother Mirra Alfassa’s observations on the cause of natural disasters.

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The liminality or negative capability required in Yoga

The path of Yoga begins with an imperfect understanding of the working of the Divine  Power which pervades the Universe, as well as the planes and parts of one’s own consciousness.   This understanding grows with spiritual experiences and expansion of consciousness.   Under such circumstances, what is crucial is the attitude of liminality or ambiguity towards Truths uttered by past prophets and passed down through extant scriptures.

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The purpose of idolatry and its limitations

We are all idol-worshippers.  We worship actors, sportsmen, thinkers and – when we are feeling proud – even ourselves!   Our subconscious desire is to mold ourselves in the image of our idols.   The Hindu practice of idolatry directs this urge to spiritual goals by clothing the Divine in various forms.   The modern rational mind forgets the original psychological motive behind image worship and dismisses it all as an abomination.  On the other hand, there are those who narrowly fix themselves in adoration of their  chosen image forgetting that this is only a preparatory step in the spiritual path.   This post explores the various pros and cons of idolatry(aka image worship).

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Is fear and awe of God necessary?

Why do we live in fear or awe of God?  Sri Aurobindo says it is our primitive mentality, which creates a deformed conception of God based on our egoistic human standards, that is to blame.  We see God as a magnified Man and seek to influence him by bribing him with animal sacrifice, self-mortification  and more generally, with a crafty trading mentality(e.g. “I will do this if you give me that”).  Religion begins with an adoration of God but due to the crudity of human nature and lack of any practical method for abolishing the ego, ends up as the fear and awe of God.   The path of Yoga by virtue of  various spiritual practices aimed at abolishing the ego does not suffer from the same limitation and hence brings about Divine union.  The following is an excerpt from the Synthesis of Yoga on the rationale behind man’s fear and awe of God.

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Art as an aid in Yoga

Any activity, if done with the right attitude, can elevate the consciousness and prepare the  foundation for an integral union with the Divine.  This was the rationale  behind Sri Aurobindo’s assertion “All life is Yoga“.   A previous post discussed how the study of science can aid in Yoga.  In this post, we cover Sri Aurobindo & The Mother’s thoughts on how artistic endeavours such as poetry, painting and music can aid in the Yogic effort.

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Karma can be changed. Your destiny is in your hands

This article continues the previous post on the Illusion of Free will.   Free will, as we commonly understand it, is an illusion because the personality which drives our will is fixed and makes predictable decisions.  Furthermore, we are unaware of the invisible Forces of Nature (Prakriti) which impinge on our consciousness and compel us to act in pre-determined fashion.   It is only when we expand in consciousness and gradually unite with the Divine through Yoga that we begin to experience the true nature of free will, for then our will becomes aligned with the will of the Supreme.  True freedom comes with True Knowledge.

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Study of science as an aid in Yoga

A child studying in the Ashram school, perhaps bored with his studies, once asked the Mother(Mirra Alfassa) how studying mathematics, history or sciences could help him in Yoga.  She replied, “They can help in several ways:

  1. To be able to receive and bear the light of Truth, the mind must be strengthened, broadened and made supple. These studies are an excellent way to achieve this.
  2. Sciences, if you study them deeply enough, will teach you the unreality of appearances and will thus lead you to the spiritual reality.
  3. The study of all aspects and movements of physical Nature will bring you into contact with the universal Mother, and you will thus be nearer to me.  “

The Mother, Mother’s Agenda: December 17, 1966

This post elaborates on these three aspects.

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