Reconciling Family life with Yoga

Time magazine in Jan, 1950 called it the “Revolt of a doormat” (alternate link).   Nandini Mehta, wife of Bombay textile millionaire Bhagvandas Mehta and mother of three children went to court asking for legal separation.  She had become a disciple of Jiddu Krishnamurti and aspired to live a celibate life but her husband would not permit her to do so.  After an acrimonious court battle, she eventually separated from her husband but was unable to gain custody of her children (1).  She devoted the rest of her life to running an orphanage Bal Anand (i.e. “joy of children”; it still exists; see a report).

Instances of people quitting family life to gain solitude are legion, more so with men than women, since the latter were not always allowed to do so in the past due to social norms.  “All life is Yoga” said Sri Aurobindo implying that one has to apply spiritual principles to all aspects of life.  This is fine in theory but presents practical difficulties for those seeking to make a living amidst people who have no spiritual urge in them.  Life can get pretty exhausting earning a living, meeting children’s and spousal needs, not to mention the endless peripheral social demands which arise as a consequence.  Disparities in the spiritual orientation of the spouse or the children only serve to exacerbate the problem.  You find yourself trapped in a vicious circle with no energy and time left for Sadhana.  The Gita says that one has to develop the power to withstand and resist the clamour around oneself but that itself requires some fairly rigorous Sadhana.  In the meanwhile, one remains hopelessly vulnerable to the swirling tempests of unruly passions and social expectations which continue to circulate all around.

What is the solution to this predicament?  Should we just abandon the foolhardy attempt to reconcile family life with the spiritual aspiration and instead retire to a secluded place?  There is no uniform rule, no settled law if we examine the guidance given to a variety of people by Ramakrishna, Anandamayi Ma, Ramana Maharshi, Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and other Gurus.  Some people were permitted to leave their family life behind while others were asked to remain married and given specific instructions on how to go about their Sadhana.  The Guru’s guidance is based on the orientation of the soul (Dharma) and its stage in spiritual development (i.e. past-life Karma).  For instance, when Kodadarama Rao left his family and came to live with Sri Aurobindo, his father-in-law and wife followed him to Pondicherry and begged him to return, but Sri Aurobindo refused to intervene, probably because he perceived that Kodadarama Rao had some spiritual potential which required his presence in Pondicherry (2).  The Mother herself left her son, Andre Morisset, behind in Paris when she came to stay in Pondicherry with Sri Aurobindo.

In the absence of a living Guru to provide guidance on such involved matters, we can immerse ourselves in written works of past Gurus and allow it unlock the wisdom which lies latent within our own consciousness.   If we subject ourselves to this maieutic process every day, we will inevitably have those unforgettable moments when Time stands still and reveals to us the source of our difficulties.  There will undoubtedly be mistakes in scriptural interpretation but that is part and parcel of the soul’s evolution.

Amiya Sen has compiled Ramakrishna Paramahansa’s words of wisdom in a new book “His Words: The Preaching and Parables of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa”.  One section of this book is devoted to advice on the conflicts between the family life and the spiritual path.  These are some selections from the book interspersed with my comments.

Ramakrishna (to a Brahmo devotee): Truly speaking, there is nothing wrong in leading the life of a householder. But your thoughts must be continually on God. With one of your hands, engage in worldly activity, with the other cling to God.  After you have completed all your activities, clasp God with both your hands!  The mind is at the root of everything. Essentially, both the feeling of being entrapped in this world and the desire to be released from it, are states of mind. The mind is like a piece of cloth which takes on the colour of the dye into which the dyer dips it. If he uses a red dye, it will turn red, if he uses a blue dye, it will turn blue, and if he uses a green dye, it will turn green. Similarly, if you associate with the wicked, your thoughts are bound to be affected by them. If, on the other hand, your mind is in tune with that of a devotee, it will perennially dwell in God.

It is your mind that determines how you conduct yourself in this world. On one side you have your wife, on the other, your children and naturally, you relate to each of them differently. And yet, it is the same mind that performs these diverse functions. (3)

How much money should one earn?  Family desires keep increasing, responsibilities keep growing, and the pressure to earn more and more money keeps rising, especially if one’s spouse and kids are unwilling to embrace the same level of austerity and instead frequently demand the latest gadgets and conveniences that today’s consumer culture has to offer.  Predictably, there are no easy answers .

Mani: Sir, would it be proper for me to try to augment my income or assets?

Ramakrishna: Yes, indeed, but only if it is for a just and right cause. You can certainly attempt to earn more, but do so honestly. Remember, your prime objective in life is not to earn money but to serve God. When you spend your earnings in the service of God you are making good use of money. (4)

Meditation is typically successful when, even for a brief amount of time, you touch a higher plane of consciousness.  It is that imperceptible touch which permeates your inner being and manifests externally in a palpable feeling of calmness.  This peace and immobility that you gain is, however, very difficult to retain when you live amidst a unruly bunch of individuals; it dissipates quickly when you chatter without control, eat in a communal setting or even worse, engage in sexual activities.  In order to increase the retention capacity, one has no choice but to take some time away from the family, as Ramakrishna explains here:

Ramakrishna (to a Brahmo devotee): It is difficult to stay detached or disinterested while leading the life of a householder. Is there then no way out for the man of the world? There certainly is. The way out is to retreat to a secluded spot for a few days for individual sadhana; thereafter, you may return to everyday domestic life. When undergoing this solitary sadhana, you must cut yourself off completely from all possible distractions. Make sure that during that time your wife, children, parents, brothers, sisters and other relatives are nowhere near you. And while doing this sadhana, you must keep reminding yourself that everything you truly have is God, not the people who make up your family.  Pray to Him with heartfelt devotion to grant you knowledge.

If you asked me for how many days you should keep yourself detached from family members, I would say, the longer, the better. This can be extended to twelve days, a month, three months, a year, it all depends on what one is capable of. (5)

There are situations where separation from the family may be required, and this occurs when one has reached the stage where a newer, more illumined consciousness cannot blossom without a temporary withdrawal.  One must however examine oneself and determine that one is not leaving prematurely in frustration at one’s inability to cope with the hardships of life or deal with the abominable and oleaginous people around us.  When we exit prematurely from the challenges that have been set before us, we continue to carry the seeds of frustrations, rage, and disgust within us which go on to cause further complications (i.e. Karma).  One must first have access to a Divine guidance, an inner voice to determine when the time to withdraw from family matters has come.  As the inner consciousness changes, there comes a time when the Karma also changes and the bonds which tied one to one’s past propensities automatically drop away.

Mani: How long are we obliged to fulfill our duties towards our families?

Ramakrishna: You should ensure that they are adequately fed and clothed. However, once a son has grown up and is capable of looking after himself, you may stop supporting him. Once her offspring are capable of gathering their own food, the mother bird does not allow them to feed off the food that she has collected for herself. She chases them away by pecking at them. (6)

In another anecdote, Ramakrishna spoke of the danger of premature renunciation:

Ramakrishna (to a visitor dressed up in the ochre robes of a sanyasi): Why take to the gerua (monk’s robe)? Do you think one can wear just anything, any time? Renunciation comes about broadly speaking in three or four ways. He, who has taken to the gerua simply because of the travails of family life, does not remain in that state for long. There was, for instance, a man, who, exasperated with his day to day domestic life, retired to the holy city of Kashi. And then, only three or four months later, he wrote to say that he had found a job and would be home soon!

True renunciation comes not in a state of material want but prosperity. There is the man who feels that he has everything he wants and yet his mind is not at ease. Occasionally, he withdraws from routine, everyday life and weeps at the thought of being separated from God. That is true renunciation.

That which is fake or false will never yield good results. It is not good even to fake renunciation. A man who tries to renounce the world when his mind is not ready to do so can be adversely affected. A man who keeps lying all the time gradually loses all sense of sin or shame. So long as one is not fully prepared to renounce, it is better to keep to plain clothes. What a disaster it would be if a man caught up in worldly desires and indulging frequently in immoral acts, were to wear the gerua! (7)

This is also a good opportunity to clear up a question that conscientious plebeians as well as wide-eyed novices to the spiritual path frequently raise: why do Gurus marry and then leave their family behind to suffer from hardships?  Why not just live an ascetic life from the beginning?  The reason for that is quite simple: they did not know when they got married that they were going to end up as Gurus later in life! When the spiritual awakening occurs, one starts getting guidance from the Divine in the form of voices, visions and immersive experiences.  After these drastic changes, one has to abandon the social norms and proceed based solely on inner guidance.   This is an exchange between Sri Aurobindo and a disciple on this topic:

Nirodbaran: Somebody writing a biography of Confucius in Bengali says: “Why do the Dharmagurus marry, we can’t understand. Buddha did and his wife’s tale is heart-rending

Sri Aurobindo: Why? What is there heart-rending in it?

Nirodbaran: He goes on: “Aurobindo Ghose, not a Dharmaguru, though he may be called Dharma-mad”—  how do you feel about that, Sir? —  “has done it too.”

Sri Aurobindo: Well, it is better to be Dharma-mad than to be a sententious ass and pronounce on what one does not understand.

Nirodbaran: So we don’t understand why they marry and why this change comes soon after marriage.

Sri Aurobindo: Perfectly natural — they marry before the change — then the change comes and the marriage belongs to the past self, not to the new one.

Nirodbaran: If married life is an obstacle to spirituality, then they might as well not marry.

Sri Aurobindo: No doubt. But then when they marry, there is not an omniscient ass like this biographer to tell them that they were going to be Dharmaguru or Dharma-mad or in any way concerned with any other   … than the biographer’s.

Nirodbaran: I touch upon a delicate subject, but it is a puzzle.

Sri Aurobindo: Why delicate? and why a puzzle? Do you think that Buddha or Confucius or myself were born with a prevision that they or I would take to the spiritual life? So long as one is in the ordinary consciousness, one lives the ordinary life — when the awakening and the new consciousness come, one leaves it —nothing puzzling in that. (8)

What about the hardship and betrayal this renunciation causes to other family members, some might further ask?   Their hardship is an ineluctable aspect of the life that they have adopted.  So long as their consciousness is limited, so long as they do not anchor themselves in the Divine, they must be prepared to endure the unexpected setbacks that the phenomenal world delivers.  In the Essays on the Gita, Sri Aurobindo elucidates that the interpretation of the term “duty” is relative to one’s inner consciousness:

We must remember that duty is an idea which in practice rests upon social conceptions. We may extend the term beyond its proper connotation and talk of our duty to ourselves or we may, if we like, say in a transcendent sense that it was Buddha’s duty to abandon all, or even that it is the ascetic’s duty to sit motionless in a cave! But this is obviously to play with words.  Duty is a relative term and depends upon our relation to others. It is a father’s duty, as a father, to nurture and educate his children; a lawyer’s to do his best for his client even if he knows him to be guilty and his defence to be a lie; a soldier’s to fight and shoot to order even if he kill his own kin and countrymen; a judge’s to send the guilty to prison and hang the murderer. And so long as these positions are accepted, the duty remains clear, a practical matter of course even when it is not a point of honour or affection, and overrides the absolute religious or moral law. But what if the inner view is changed, if the lawyer is awakened to the absolute sinfulness of falsehood, the judge becomes convinced that capital punishment is a crime against humanity, the man called upon to the battlefield feels, like the conscientious objector of today or as a Tolstoy would feel, that in no circumstances is it permissible to take human life any more than to eat human flesh? It is obvious that here the moral law which is above all relative duties must prevail; and that law depends on no social relation or conception of duty but on the awakened inner perception of man, the moral being.

There are in the world, in fact, two different laws of conduct each valid on its own plane, the rule principally dependent on external status and the rule independent of status and entirely dependent on the thought and conscience. The Gita does not teach us to subordinate the higher plane to the lower, it does not ask the awakened moral consciousness to slay itself on the altar of duty as a sacrifice and victim to the law of the social status. It calls us higher and not lower; from the conflict of the two planes it bids us ascend to a supreme poise above the mainly practical, above the purely ethical, to the Brahmic consciousness. It replaces the conception of social duty by a divine obligation. The subjection to external law gives place to a certain principle of inner self-determination of action proceeding by the soul’s freedom from the tangled law of works. And this, as we shall see,—the Brahmic consciousness, the soul’s freedom from works and the determination of works in the nature by the Lord within and above us,—is the kernel of the Gita’s teaching with regard to action (9).

Click image for source

 References

  1. Pupul Jayakar.  J Krishnamurti. A Biography. http://www.jiddu-krishnamurti.net/en/krishnamurti-biography/krishnamurti-biography-1947-1949-krishnamurti-in-india-14
  2. T. Kodandarama Rao. At the Feet of the Master, Pondicherry: SABDA 2007.
  3. Amiya Sen, His words : the preachings and parables of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, New Delhi, India : Pengin Books India : Viking, 2010, 166.
  4. Ibid., 167
  5. Ibid., 174
  6. Ibid., 168
  7. Ibid., 202
  8. Nirodbaran, Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo,  576
  9. Sri Aurobindo.  Essays on the Gita, CWSA vol. 19,  34-35.

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22 thoughts on “Reconciling Family life with Yoga

  1. Alok

    Do you know of any observation made by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother on Theosophical society movement and Krishnamurti? You can indicate me the sources. I have read some in the “Evening talks” by A B Purani.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      I had an inkling that someone would ask about Krishnamurti after reading the first paragraph of this article 🙂

      Sri Aurobindo didn’t think highly of Krishnamurti based on remarks seen in the CWSA vol. 35, Letters on Himself and the Ashram, page 182.

      September 1933: At one time I tried to come into imaginative contact with J. Krishnamurti. I imagined as follows: He has acquired a quiet mind and a semi-quiet vital and has glimpses through them of the Self. He receives some things intuitively in his mind. But he goes no further than that. He has neither the knowledge nor the power nor bliss of the higher planes. What he speaks is all purely mental — if he has any glimpses of realisation, they are in the mind only.

      Dec 1949: I don’t think there is much either in this man himself or in his teachings. It does not seem to me that he is a yogi in the true sense of the word but rather a man with some intellectual ability who is posing as a spiritual teacher. His photograph gives an impression of much pretension and vanity and an impression also of much falsity in the character. As for what he teaches, it does not hang together. If all books are worthless, why did he write a book and one of this kind telling people what they should do, what they should not do and if all teachers are unhelpful, why does he take the posture of a teacher since according to his own statement that cannot be helpful to anybody? Krishnamurti was, before he broke away on his own, certainly the disciple of two Gurus, Leadbeater and Annie Besant: if he has denounced Mrs. Besant, Krishnaprem is quite entitled to denounce him as a gurudrohī.

      My problem with the second passage is that Sri Aurobindo derives his impression from a photograph of Krishnamurti, but in the last two years(1948-1950), Sri Aurobindo’s eyesight was failing. While that won’t diminish his occult sight, this evaluation is still debatable.

      It is difficult to synthesize his evaluation with those of people like Vimala Thakar who claimed she was cured by Krishamurti and had some awakening through him. See an article on Thakar in Yoga Journal, Sept 1986, page 61.

      Sri Aurobindo’s views on Theosophy were discussed in an earlier comment
      https://auromere.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/karma-can-be-changed-destiny-in-your-hands/#comment-8681

      Reply
      1. Sandeep Post author

        Sri Aurobindo: “As for what he (Krishnamurti) teaches, it does not hang together. If all books are worthless, why did he write a book and one of this kind telling people what they should do, what they should not do and if all teachers are unhelpful, why does he take the posture of a teacher since according to his own statement that cannot be helpful to anybody? Krishnamurti was, before he broke away on his own, certainly the disciple of two Gurus, Leadbeater and Annie Besant: if he has denounced Mrs. Besant, Krishnaprem is quite entitled to denounce him as a gurudrohī.”

        The explanation for Krishnamurti’s fervent rejection of the Guru concept as well as books lies in his early life. He had been trapped in the adulatory atmosphere created around him by the Theosophists and had overthrown it after the death of his brother. He spoke out against Gurus because he did not want others to fall into the same trap. As he told Anandamayi Ma, “people use the Guru as a crutch”.

        See Anandamayi Ma’s meeting with Krishnamurti http://www.anandamayi.org/ashram/krishna.htm

      2. Lars

        There was something I read of Aurobindo that a Guru need only be a person who has some connection with the Divine and thus can help you to open such a channel for yourself. He goes on to say that they may not be fully enlightened in order to bring disciples into contact with the Divine and that it is entirely possible that they may even be ignorant of what they possess making it possible for the disciple to surpass the Guru. This sounds similar to Aurobindo’s own experience.

      3. mike

        “He spoke out against Gurus because he did not want others to fall into the same trap. As he told Anandamayi Ma, “people use the Guru as a crutch”.

        Seems like a very narrow and childish viewpoint. Because he had a bad experience everyone will have a bad experience – can blavatsky and besant be compared to a real Guru?; no wonder he had a jaded attitude about guru’s… Obviously, not much realisation there IMO.
        Personally, l’ve never been impressed with krishnamurti at all.
        l read the article about thakur but l can’t take her seriously – the power to cure could have come from any plane [vital] and her awakening could be anything…. l just don’t feel there is much realisation in these people. There definitely seems to be much ‘pretension’ in everything krishnamurti says, just as SA said. l’m not just agreeing with SA, l’ve always had that impression too.

        “His photograph gives an impression of much pretension and vanity and an impression also of much falsity in the character”

        Why would SA say He’s getting an impression from ‘his photograph’ if He couldn’t see it in some way. Obviously, He could see the photograph, even if it wasn’t with His physical eyes.
        l must have missed those quotes by SA on him. Thanks for those sandeep.
        Whether SA was blind or not [and who knows – perhaps He was pretending like with His other illnesses.Even the Mother didn’t know He’d just let Himself fall ill in the beginning] l believe His knowledge of krishnamurti would have been correct – l mean He was in the Supramental Consciousness at that time, wasn’t He.

    2. Saramā Indra

      Dear Alok,

      See the Pavitra’s (Philippe Barbier Saint Hilaire) book “Conversations whit Sri Aurobindo’:
      – Monday, 11 January 1926
      – Friday, 15 January 1926
      – Monday, 19 April 1926
      – Saturday, 4 September 1926

      ……o0o…….

      You will find the observations made by The Mother through the index search of Mother’s Agenda:
      https://sites.google.com/site/agendaindex/

      Namaskar from Italy

      Reply
  2. nizken

    was Sri Aurobindo blind for the last two years i.e. 1948 to 1950? So I guess most of those famous pics of his in his room by CartierBresson show a blind Sri Aurobindo? I’ve always asked myself this, since SA’s eyes look so lively and active in those pics.
    And he was also working on revising Savitri in these two years along with a few letters (probably these were dictations?)
    Was his eyesight just frail in 1950 or was he almost completely blind?

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      We have some remarks in the editing notes of Savitri, Collected Works vol. 33-34

      Publisher’s Note in the beginning of the book says, “In the late 1940s, when his eyesight was failing, he took the help of a scribe and dictated the extensive final stages of revision.”

      Notes on the Text (page 731) at the end of the book says, “By the mid-1940s, Sri Aurobindo’s eyesight was failing and his handwriting was becoming less and less legible. He needed the help of a scribe in order to put Books 1-3 into a finished form, take up the long-neglected later books, and prepare Savitri for publication”

      Also see Savitri, page 736, where it says, “Near the end of his life, Sri Aurobindo’s eyesight was so poor that he no longer wrote at all. He made no more drafts for Savitri and the work proceeded entirely by dictation.”

      Amal Kiran in his book “Our light and delight” provides some details. Here is an excerpt from the book:

      What I may record now are some statements of the Mother and a few of my own communications to her.

      I: “At the last Darshan (24 Nov, 1950 just before he passed away) I observed that, when you saw me approaching both of you, you bent your head towards Sri Aurobindo and said something to him. What did you say?”

      Mother: “I told him: ‘Amal is coming.'”

      I: “Why did you have to tell him that? He could surely know it by himself.”

      Mother: “His eyes had become so bad that he could not have seen you standing before him. Of course, he could contact your consciousness but not physically recognise you and have the outer relationship.”

      It is curious that the Mother should have told Sri Aurobindo about me on this particular Darshan and never before. I remember especially the Darshan on August 15, 1947. I had come to the Ashram after several years. When I approached Sri Aurobindo, I saw him looking at me as if he did not recognise me at all. I was very upset as well as deeply benefited because it knocked the bottom out of my ego and the result was a very painful but most liberating transcendence of the idea of my own importance. Now, listening to the Mother, I realised that Sri Aurobindo could not see even at close quarters. Some people have come to believe he was completely blind. But from what Nirodbaran has told me, this is not true. Nirod described to me how Sri Aurobindo had to take a table-clock close to his eyes in order to see what time it was. Most probably here was a case of advanced cataract in both eyes. The eye trouble must have started round about 1945. In that year he sent the last letter he wrote to me in his own hand, and the writing was shaky and the lines not quite straight. Studying a few late notebooks of his, I have seen that he wrote some of his prose and poetry in the rough without being able to judge correctly the breadth of the page or the space needed between the lines.

      (Amal Kiran, Our light and delight, pp 39-40)

      Reply
  3. Sandeep Post author

    Sri Aurobindo on family ties from the Letters on Yoga

    Family ties

    What you write about the family ties is perfectly correct. It creates an unnecessary interchange and comes in the way of a complete turning to the Divine. Relations after taking up yoga should be less based on a physical origin or the habits of the physical consciousness and more and more on the basis of sadhana – of sadhak with sadhaks, of others as souls travelling the same path or children of the Mother than in the ordinary way or with the old viewpoint.

    When one enters the spiritual life, the family ties which belong to the ordinary nature fall away – one becomes indifferent to the old things. This indifference is a release. There need be no harshness in it at all. To remain tied to the old physical affections would mean to remain tied to the ordinary nature and that would prevent the spiritual progress.

    The attachment to parents belongs to the ordinary physical nature – it has nothing to do with Divine Love.

    It [the child’s indebtedness to his father for bringing him up] is a law of human society, not a law of Karma. The child did not ask the father to bring him into the world – and if the father has done it for his own pleasure, it is the least he can do to bring up the child. All these are social relations (and it is not at all a one-sided debt of the child to the father, either), but whatever they are, they cease once one takes to the spiritual life. For the spiritual life does not at all rest on the external physical relations; it is the Divine alone with whom one has then to do.

    Mixing with others can also serve as a test of one’s inner poise
    Not to mix with others deprives of the test which contact with them imposes on the consciousness and the chance to progress in these respects. Mixing is unprofitable from the spiritual point of view when it is only to indulge the vital, chat, interchange vital movements etc.; but abstention from all mixing and contact is also not desirable. It is only when the consciousness truly needs full retirement that such retirement can be made and even then it may be full but not absolute. For in the absolute retirement one lives a purely subjective life and the opportunity for extending the spiritual progress to the outer life and testing it thoroughly is not there.

    (Letters on Yoga, SABCL vol 23, Section on “Human relationships in Yoga”)

    Reply
  4. mike

    “Notes on the Text (page 731) at the end of the book says, “By the mid-1940s, Sri Aurobindo’s eyesight was failing and his handwriting was becoming less and less legible. He needed the help of a scribe in order to put Books 1-3 into a finished form, take up the long-neglected later books, and prepare Savitri for publication””

    lt makes you wonder why He didn’t cure Himself. What could possibly be the reason? He was curing lots of ppl from what l understand – or was He simply taking on the karma of those He cured?

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Mike: lt makes you wonder why He didn’t cure Himself. What could possibly be the reason? He was curing lots of ppl from what l understand – or was He simply taking on the karma of those He cured?

      Probably because it’s a selfish act. For a minute, imagine that your consciousness has expanded beyond your body and is no longer tied to the ego. In that case, attending to your own body and curing it might feel incredibly selfish.

      At his stage of consciousness, you have to let the Divine Power which works through you decide your fate, even while you exert that same Power to transform others.

      Reply
      1. 01

        Selfish act? I don’t buy into this. If god is love and you’re supposed to treat others like yourself, you have to love yourself first to be able to love others in the same way. It’s health, not buying a Porsche! I don’t think that loving father (god) would cause his child pain for silly reasons, ‘hey, let’s make him suffer because, um, giving him health would be selfish!’… Doesn’t sound reasonable, does it? Now, illness as tough love, to teach a lesson, I understand, approve even. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I wouldn’t be broken by all these illnesses. Due to this, I don’t think everyone should be cured and if I had such power I wouldn’t walk around curing random people. Maybe god had a reason for causing their illnesses, it isn’t my role to judge. For that reason I even purposefully don’t try to develop such power. I’m only trying to control my own energies since if I won’t be alive I won’t be able to continue my sadhana! I assume you believe in reincarnation, but not everyone has that. I was atheist for most of my life so I don’t have much support in afterlife department. Even if I believed in reincarnation it still would mean I would forget everything when new life would start.

        Disease is either from sin (not always in conventional sense, I’m talking about sin against the body here too), not controlling your energies, not controlling your mind (psychosomatic), to teach you/break you (when lesson is over disease is over). It has a purpose but shouldn’t be glorified either, it’s a sign of weakness, not strenght.

    2. arpanrox

      I am inclined to think in terms of inner inspiration. SA saud in an evening talk that he knows how to make money but he just does not have the Sankalp for it. At is stage, he had been guiding his actions purely on basis of inner divine inspiration. In Record of Yoga too, he mentions the perfection of the attitude of Triple Dasyam, wherr even the notion of separation from the divine is absent, forget renunciation of personal will for Divine will.

      He certainly was not against perfection of the body as you can see in Shareer Chatushtyam. When he was being treated for a leg fracture, a disciple told him about his hair falling while combing. He did something inwardly to stop that.
      So, he just might not have the sankalp to cure his eyes. Or may even be unable to, cz he had not really perfected Shareera Chatushtyam, if we go by the Record.

      Reply
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  7. mwb6119

    M.P. Pandit:

    “The next point that Sri Aurobindo makes is that spirited life need not inevitably mean asceticism; negation of life is a mental approach. The understanding and the attitude of a gnostic man in handling riches or living a life of poverty, poverty of material resources, will be of purity and mastery. He will always be pure, always a master of himself and things around him. He will have an understanding detachment. The spirit within will determine the frame of life. It is not the frame of life constructed by others, by social conventions that will determine the spirit of man, but the other way around.” Selected Works Of M.P. Pandit, Vol 1: Sri Aurobindo, p.188 (Chapter title: The Divine Life IV).

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  8. 01

    “Sri Aurobindo: No doubt. But then when they marry, there is not an omniscient ass like this biographer to tell them that they were going to be Dharmaguru or Dharma-mad or in any way concerned with any other … than the biographer’s.”

    Hahaha. Okie dokie.

    Very true about your karma following you. Once I watched programme about businessman who stopped working and moved to some island. He was so focusing on running away from his life that he was living completely wild. And then he started to have problems with his lease on the island. He’d have to fix formal stuff or he’ll get kicked out. Running away from all these documents and these problems came back in different form anyway! I try to remember that when I have moments when I want to leave my company.

    I’m not really into renunciation… I read something, it was either by Swami Rama or his disciple, I don’t remember, about two renunciates who were quarreling and fighting physically with each other. Didn’t work for them, apparently, lol. In the bible, I liked chapter about Daniel. I liked that even with his position he was still doing tapas. Fasting isn’t my thing but it’s still amusing. Like his possesions didn’t controlled him.

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