Dec 30, 1896. Swami Vivekananda was fast asleep on the ship which was taking him back to India after a whirlwind tour of Europe and America when he had a vivid dream. An old and bearded man appeared before him, saying, “Observe well this place that I show to you. You are now in the island of Crete. This is the land in which Christianity began.” In support of this origin of Christianity, the speaker gave two words, one of which was Therapeutae, and showed both to be derived direct from Sanskrit roots. “The proofs are all here,” added the old man, pointing to the ground, “Dig and you will find!”. The Swami woke, feeling that he had had no common dream, and tumbled out on deck, to take the air. As he did so, he met a ship’s officer, turning in from his watch.
As you put in the daily effort to live consciously, you might begin to obtain, perhaps after many years, fleeting and unmistakable glimpses of the psychic being which sits veiled within. You might find a strong mental conviction overturned by a clairvoyant voice which emerges unbidden from the deepest recesses of the heart; you may feel your obstinate subconscious tendencies being dissolved by a warm fire glowing within; or you may momentarily perceive that it is indeed possible to enjoy a self-existent bliss whose source seems to be an inner light. These experiences cannot establish themselves permanently because there are rebellious tendencies in the external personality which take time to dissolve. The peculiar vagaries of the meandering psychic transformation are the subject of this article.
The Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, was skeptical of the widespread Eastern notion that the individual ego can be completely transcended and some form of universal consciousness can be attained. He thought it was a psychological projection of an idea which had no foundation in human experience and was critical of any attempt to mix psychology and philosophy. Jung thought that the East made such reductionist errors because it had not reached the high level of self-awareness achieved in the Western development of scientific thought .
Goutam Ghosal is the Head of the Department of English and Other Modern European Languages at Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan (for those who may not know, this was the experimental school founded by Rabindranath Tagore). His research areas include Sri Aurobindo’s Prose, Poetry and Drama, Tagore’s Poetry and Songs, Shakespeare’s Characters and Poetry from the point of view of Consciousness, Indian Poetry in English (Old and New School), 19th Century British and American Literature. The following article appeared as chapter nine “Style in the Major Works: Fusion of Myths and Seven Kinds of Style” of Ghosal‘s book Sri Aurobindo’s Prose Style published in 1990.
When once asked about what surprises him, the Dalai Lama responded, “Man — because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.” In the same vein, these are some remarks by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Continue reading