Monthly Archives: February 2011

Allusions in Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri

In his epic poem Savitri, Sri Aurobindo sought to convey many of the superconscient experiences that he and the Mother Mirra Alfassa underwent. In order to bring home the touch of the Ineffable to the reader, he employed a number of literary devices as part of the diction, including what are known as “allusions“.  An allusion is a distinct phrase, assumed to be relatively familiar to the discerning reader, which is used in poetry to kindle specific images and symbols in the reader’s mind.  V.K.Gokak, a professor of English and Kannada literature, was able to uncover about 130 allusions to Romantic era poetry in Savitri (not unusual considering that Sri Aurobindo was a Cambridge-educated classics scholar). Gokak has discussed these allusions in his book Sri Aurobindo – Poet and Seer[1].   In this article, we cover a few of allusions that he discovered.

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The role of intellectual development in the spiritual path

Someone asked the question in a comment on this blog, “If one is automatically going to obtain knowledge by following the spiritual path, why should we read books and create stress in the body? Why bother?  Why not just sleep well and be relaxed?” People in spiritual communities sometimes tend to deprecate the intellect (and consequently, intellectuals) because the scriptures state that the intellect is a creator of illusions and has to be transcended in order to experience the Spirit which pervades the universe.  The question raised above calls for a nuanced understanding of the felicitous role played by the intellect in the often-misunderstood “spiritual path”.

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Stages of meditation

It is known that the restless mind cannot immediately enter into a state of thoughtlessness.  That is why meditation is practised in stages.  A 2005 paper “Meditation and the Neuroscience of Consciousness” by Antoine Lutz and his colleagues contains a very succinct description of this graded process accompanied by a concise table, which we highlight in this post.    Continue reading

The teachings of Paracelsus

Theophrastus Paracelsus(1493-1541) was a remarkable physician, alchemist and occultist of the Renaissance era who left behind 106 books filled with highly original insights on a wide range of esoteric subjects such as astrology, healing plants and minerals, occult anatomy, sleep and dreams, elemental beings, etc.   Frantz Hartmann, who wrote the book “Paracelsus: Life and Teachings“, remarks that many of his divinations, then unknown in the West, were quite compatible with the teachings of Eastern mysticism.  The Theosophists speculate that he had interactions with Eastern mystics in the course of travels during his early youth.  Paracelsus himself stated that he derived his insights from the “Book of Nature” (i.e. intuition and observation).  He is said to have received the Philosopher’s Stone (an allegorical expression for wisdom) from an adept named Solomon Trismosinus.  His disciples testify that he dictated his works without the aid of memoranda or manuscripts.  Nominally a Catholic, he held an independent interpretation of the Bible.  An inventory of goods taken after his death revealed nothing other than a Bible, a Biblical concordance and a book of Medicine. [1]

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Can a brain stroke victim experience Nirvana?

In her 2006 book “My Stroke of Insight”, neuroscientist Jill Bolte-Taylor describes a brain haemorrhage that incapacitated her left brain and induced a feeling of bliss and euphoria, a state she alludes to as being akin to Nirvana. (“I’m no authority, but I think the Buddhists would say I entered the mode of existence they call Nirvana“)  This post explores the intriguing possibility whether her experience could resemble the transcendental  moments experienced by yogis.

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