Practicing Yoga without a Guru

As seen in the previous article on “Yogic Illness”, deliberately pushing oneself into deeper Kundalini-type experiences without a Guru can be perilous to one’s health.  An authentic Guru, if you can find one, is not a suave orator or an object of worship but someone who links their consciousness with yours during initiation (Diksha) and gradually elevates you to their level by transforming you from within.  Such a Guru can also detect and purge the energy blockages which develop in the subtle body (i.e. aura) during the transformation process.  The disciples who came in physical contact with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were fortunate to obtain this intimate guidance.  What happens to those who are called to Yoga but remain devoid of a Guru?  The Mother once provided a sagacious description of the meandering manner in which the spiritual path unfolds for such seekers.

Enlightened(2006). Acrylic on Canvas by Hufreesh Dumasia@Auroville. Click image for artist homepage

Yoga without a Guru

Question: Mother, here it is said: “There is first the knowledge of the truths, principles…” First the Shastra (spiritual principles) must be known; but to know the Shastra it is said: “The supreme Shastra of the integral Yoga is the eternal Veda secret in the heart…” So to know the Shastra, first a long process of Yoga is necessary. (Laughter)  

(Note: The sentences seen above are from the chapter on the “Four Aids” in Sri Aurobindo’s “Synthesis of Yoga”)

Mother: Yes. According to the usual formula, it is like that. It can’t be learnt overnight, no, nobody believes that, I suppose! Only Sri Aurobindo has made… I don’t know, we haven’t yet read it today… he has made a distinction; he says… no, a little further on he speaks of – we shall see this next time – he speaks of the Guru… no… “the more powerful word of the living Guru”; it comes later.

That is, if it is necessary to prepare oneself by studying books, it is a preparation that takes quite a long time. But if it happens that one can receive a direct teaching, and in all circumstances, then it goes much more quickly. When you have nobody to guide you, and have to find your way by the help of books, when you don’t even have anyone to tell you, “Read that book rather than this one”, when you have to find out everything by yourself, it takes time. Many years.

You see, it makes a difference—people don’t realise it—it makes a considerable difference to be able to ask the question of someone who has realised the thing, that is, one who has had all the experiences and has reached the end and has the knowledge of the thing. You can ask him: “Is this good? Is this useful, is this harmful?” Then in one minute you have the answer: “Yes, no, do this, read that, don’t do that.” And it is so convenient.

But when you are all alone—usually not amidst very favourable surroundings, or in any case where people understand nothing of this, don’t think about it—if they are not hostile—you have to find out everything by yourself; you have nobody to tell you, “Well, read this book, it is better, it is truer than that one.” You have to read a huge number of things, be able to compare them in your own thought, compare the effect they have on you, how far they help you or don’t.

Naturally, people who are predestined are guided by the inner Guide. It happens that they come across the book they should read or meet the person who can give them a useful indication; but this is… After some time they become aware that there was a consciousness there; they did not know very well either where it came from or what it was, or who organized their life, who organised the circumstances of their life—and who helped them at every step to find just the thing which would lead them farther. But it is… it is not very frequent; rather, it is rare. These people are predestined.  Otherwise it is difficult; it takes time, much time. And yet it is just the beginning, you see; it is to find the truths on which to base one’s yoga. It is not yoga; it is the general principles on which one is going to construct one’s yoga.

Obviously, those who are particularly interested can find something. It goes without saying that for those who are in India, it is extremely easy, extremely easy; there is a living tradition; whoever wants to do yoga will always find someone to give him information. And even the most ignorant and uneducated have a vague idea of what ought to be done or of what can help them.

But if you are transplanted to the West, well, you will see how difficult it is, with a whole world organised not only “not for”, not only indifferent, but almost totally against, which deliberately refuses to know this Reality, because it is troublesome; so when this happens within you, when the need manifests, you truly don’t know where to turn to find a way out.

Now it is a little better. But fifty years ago it was not too good —fifty, sixty years ago, it was difficult.  Now they have made some progress; there is a little more light there, everywhere [1].

The situation in the West has improved further since the Mother made these comments in 1955.  It is this spread of spiritual wisdom from India and Tibet to other parts of the world that has confused some people into proclaiming that the “age of gurus is over” and that the community (sangha) is now the Guru.   They fail to understand that the theoretical knowledge gained from fellow seekers is a poor substitute for the healing power that emanates from an authentic Guru.  New Gurus will continue to come as more human beings (including you, dear reader) mature spiritually over incarnations.  The age of Gurus is certainly not over!

In a subsequent dialogue, the Mother elucidated on the two different ways – one more rapid than the other – in which the written word can guide the spiritual aspirant.

Question: Sweet Mother, here: “In some cases this representative word is only taken as a sort of excuse for the inner power to awaken and manifest” Then in this case is it the individual’s aspiration or the power of the Word?

(Note: the sentence again is from the chapter on the “Four Aids” in Sri Aurobindo’s “Synthesis of Yoga”)

Mother: This depends a great deal on the degree of the sadhak’s (aspirant’s) development, you see. If he is developed and conscious enough to be in direct contact with the spiritual Force which is working behind the words, then the word is only an excuse. But if for him it must pass through his mental understanding in order to have its effect, then the word takes on a much greater importance. It depends on the degree of development.

If one is capable of receiving directly, then one opens a book for instance, finds a sentence and has an illumination; because it was just the word one was waiting for in order to put himself into contact with the Force he needed to take the next step.

Otherwise one must take a book, study it, read it sentence by sentence, word by word, and then reflect and then understand it and then assimilate it and then, later, very slowly, after the assimilation and understanding, it begins to have an effect on the character and one makes some progress.

In one case it is a direct contact, you see, and just one sentence, one word… one reads a word, reads a sentence, and has an illumination. And then one receives all the Force that one needs. The other is the path of the learned man, the scholar, who is an intellectual being and needs to learn, reflect, assimilate, reason about all he has learnt, in order to make progress. It is long, it is laborious [2].

Two modes of influence

In another discussion, while speaking on Buddhism, the Mother differentiated between the two types of influences originating from the Buddha: his teaching which lives on in the mental plane, and his direct action (through his eternal presence) which is felt by a few people:

Mother: His (the Buddha’s) direct action, apart from his teaching, is limited to a very few people who are very fervent believers and have the power of evocation. Otherwise, the most important part of his action, almost the whole of his action, is associated, united, fused with his teaching. It seems difficult to make a distinction [3].

We see these two modes in operation in the case of Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and other sages.  Although the principal mode of contact is through their written teaching as expounded in various books, there are also people who may receive a fleeting contact with the departed sage during dreams and meditation. Those who were initiated into Yoga by the Mother before her passing in 1973 unequivocally claim that they continue to feel her presence through the warm psychic fire which is still burning in their heart.  For them, the Mother is still alive.  Similarly, those who were initiated by Anandamayi Ma (1896-1982) also claim that they feel her presence in their hearts, according to Hallstrom who interviewed many of her surviving disciples [4].

Besides the “direct action” and the written works, the spiritual seeker in need of guidance can turn to the Samadhi(grave), the relics and the room where the sage lived because these places continue to carry the vibrations which the sage manifested during their lifetime.  Many continue to feel the presence of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother at their Samadhi in Pondicherry.  Similarly, there are those who are uplifted while visiting the Samadhi of Anandamayi Ma at Kankhal, the room where Ramana Maharshi sat for most of his life, and other similar places. Not everyone benefits from these visits because most of us live in a thick shell of unconsciousness which is difficult to penetrate, but you never know what can happen in a moment of revelation.

Sometimes, people who are raised in an atheistic environment in the West mistakenly declaim obeisances before the Samadhi and relics as signs of a recessive “religion” rather than progressive “spirituality”.  Obviously, the word “religion” connotes different things to different people.  In the West, “religion” implies obesiance to an ethical, anthropomorphic, extra-cosmic God while “spirituality” implies finding the spiritual light within.  As a result, bowing to any external entity automatically summons subconscious anxieties of “Yoga turning into a religion”. In India, where the sharp cleavage between “religion” and “spirituality” never existed, spiritual seekers have long recognized the potency of vibrations emitted by the Samadhi and the relics of a departed sage.   For someone who has not yet attained an inner tranquility, these places of external power are necessary to provide sustenance and affirm one’s resolve during the prolonged and at times depressing spiritual journey.

Transformation (2006). Painting by Hufreesh Dumasia@Auroville. Click image for artist homepage

Integral Yoga without a Guru

In this section, I would like to add a few personal observations with respect to Integral Yoga.  The aim of Integral Yoga is to attain the psychic transformation, followed by the spiritual transformation and then (assuming you are not exhausted by then) the supramental transformation.  People aspire to the initial psychic transformation by reading the written works and living the teachings.  Different written works appeal at different points in one’s spiritual growth: the Letters on Yoga, The Life Divine, the Essays on the Gita, the Synthesis of Yoga, Savitri, Satprem’s Adventures of Consiousnes and other works.  There is no fixed trajectory of development.  The Mother’s voice, her organ music, and the chanting of Savitri all have been found to have a potent effect on sadhana.

Now I would like to address some of the more convoluted questions which I have seen being asked.  These are just my opinions which others may disagree with.

The Supramental Descent and the Yoga of the cells

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother worked on the supramental descent and spoke of the coming of a new species.  The Mother worked on the “yoga of the cells” in the final decades of her life, as can be adduced by reading the Mother’s Agenda.  People without any original spiritual experience who read the gigantic accomplishments of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother tend to react in two antipodal ways: either they become so exhilarated that they lose their mental balance and talk incessantly about the Gurus’ accomplishments; or they become so cynical that they lose their faith in Sri Aurobindo and slink away to another spiritual teaching.  To avoid such outcomes, it is best to ignore these advanced topics in the beginning, otherwise they become a needless distraction from more pressing personal issues related to one’s own spiritual progress.  The initial goal of Yoga is to silence the mind for long periods of time rather than understand what precisely Sri Aurobindo and the Mother achieved during their lifetimes (which will be understood in due time as you mature in your own spiritual life).

The Buddha encouraged a similar attitude by leaving certain questions related to metaphysics and cosmology unanswered.  His insight is captured in the vignette now known as the “Parable of the arrow”  : a story in which a dying man wounded by an arrow refuses medical attention until he is told the name and clan of the person who wounded him, which town he came from, what was his motive, what kind of arrow was used, how the arrow was made, how the bow was made,… you get the point.

Is it enough to read works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother?

They are complete in themselves, but it is still worthwhile to expand one’s knowledge by reading other works on yoga, philosophy, psychology, linguistics and so on.  Some people arrive at Integral Yoga after having methodically worked their way through the whole range of teachings of other Gurus and thinkers.  This enables them to appreciate the relative strengths of each expositor, and mitigates the kind of fanaticism wherein one views Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in superlative terms and denounces other Gurus as inconsequential.  At the same time, one must avoid the other extreme where one dissipates one’s intellectual energy and even the entire life in making detailed diagrams comparing different teachings and theories, otherwise one might end up in the situation the Mother alludes to in this excerpt :

(Concerning a European disciple who praises the merits of a certain pseudo-spiritual book, which Mother calls “spiritual romanticism”:)

It’s very European – they’re like that.  They want to compare – they want to compare teachings: you mustn’t get stuck on any one thing; you have to be “broadminded,” eclectic. And so…. That’s what they want, plenty of vital, plenty of imagination, and just enough falsehood to match their own turn of mind! [5]

Can I practice Hatha Yoga as part of Integral Yoga?

The Mother once explicitly asked a disciple, K.S. Venkatraman, not to practice Hatha Yoga [6].   Although she did not give the reason, I presume it was because the pranic changes induced by Hatha Yoga might interfere with the transformative action that she (as the Guru) applied on the Chakras of the disciples.  In the physical absence of the Mother, this prohibition can be discarded.   If Hatha Yoga helps in your onward journey, practice it.

Obsession with studying Sri Aurobindo and the Mother

One phenomenon often observed is that after the passing of the Guru, people start to spend inordinate amounts of time in reminiscing who they actually were, how great they were and all the work they did.  While some of this study may be legitimate and help us gain insights to apply to our life, it is often a sign of nostalgia.  The Guru might have said “live in the present” but people get stuck in the past, recalling adoringly how he said those words and what miracle happened after that.

One should focus one’s energy more on studying oneself (becoming more self-aware) and less on obsessively studying Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

Contact with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother

It is crucial to develop some contact with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, who continue to exist behind the veil, because it can provide you with a measure of protection from the kinds of yogic illness seen earlier.  It is my belief that unless you are an exceptional soul, it is nearly impossible to attain the Supermind on your own.  The spiritual path becomes much easier when you don’t have to use your wits to battle against forces that are beyond your understanding.

O mortal, bear this great world’s law of pain,
In thy hard passage through a suffering world
Lean for thy soul’s support on Heaven’s strength,
Turn towards high Truth, aspire to love and peace.
A little bliss is lent thee from above,
A touch divine upon thy human days.
Make of thy daily way a pilgrimage,
For through small joys and griefs thou mov’st towards God.
Haste not towards Godhead on a dangerous road,
Open not thy doorways to a nameless Power,
Climb not to Godhead by the Titan’s road.
Against the Law he pits his single will,
Across its way he throws his pride of might.

(Savitri, Book VI, Canto II)

References

  1. Collected Works of the Mother, vol. 7, pp 340-342
  2. Collected Works of the Mother, vol. 7, pp 346-347.
  3. Collected Works of the Mother vol 9, p 195.
  4. Lisa Hallstrom. Mother of bliss : Ānandamayī Mā (1896-1982), New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.
  5. Mother’s Agenda, Feb 9, 1962 (online)
  6. K.S. Venkatraman, My Diary Leaves, 28 Jan 1936.

Related Posts

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  2. Surmounting the unpleasant images and negative thoughts which occur during meditation
  3. Why does depression last longer than pleasure?
  4. The Mother Mirra Alfassa as a Guru
  5. The Vijnana Bhairava Tantra
  6. Anandamayi Ma as the Guru
  7. Taming the monkey mind
  8. Signs of spiritual aptitude
  9. The spiritual aptitude (adhikara) needed for Yoga
  10. Equanimity as the foundation of Integral Yoga.
  11. Religious, mechanical and psychological methods of self-realization
  12. Why spiritual experiences do not repeat?
  13. Sharing spiritual experiences with others
  14. The rhythms of our consciousness
  15. How to read holy books
  16. Aspects of Karma-Yoga
  17. Jnana Yoga : the ego blocks that have to be dissolved
  18. The elusive touch of the psychic being
  19. Interplay of Faith and Doubt in Yoga
  20. On collective prayer and meditation

79 thoughts on “Practicing Yoga without a Guru

  1. Samir

    Thank you Sandeep. This post gave me great heart.

    What is your view on the place of sangha in this Yoga? There are many Sri Aurobindo societies/groups all over the world, which seek to build a community of like-minded individuals participating in some joint activity. I personally have always shied away from them, and felt that it is (for now at least) a very personal sadhana.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      In the beginning, the (sangha) spiritual community is useful in three cases:
      1) when you want to absorb the history of the movement
      2) when you want to understand the normalized and timeworn spiritual practices which were recommended by the Gurus.
      3) when you are a little insecure and need some company to hold you together. It is better to have a spiritual community than the conventional atheistic-type people, who hold parties where they smoke, consume alchohol, and engage in voluble and tendentious arguments about politics, sport and business.

      Once you are secure in your practice, you can coast on your own if you like.

      After that, you need the community for two reasons (that I can think of right now)
      1) You wish to do some community project and need like-minded people with whom you can band to complete it.
      2) You need a break from the relentless stress of daily life to devote more time to their sadhana. At that point, you need to join a community which is more understanding of their needs.

      Reply
  2. Dr. K.S.Vasudevan

    Thank you sir,
    This article came in the exact time as I was having questions in my mind, And I got my directions well. In fact, it happens on most occasions to me, when I am somehow directed to seek explanations or at least further directions from your website.
    Thank You and thanks to The Mother.
    And some words on reading the column above, by Sameer. I am also of this nature, usually avoiding groups and communities. I have this feeliing: the word ‘Sat’ in ‘satsang’ means, not ‘good’ as is usually taken, it means ‘truth’, and so it is all the more difficult to seek real communities, as I find all of them seek to promote good companionship, perhaps, not a path to truth, which is more of individual seeking. As Shankara suggested in Baja Govindam,
    “satsangatve nissangatvam, nissangatve nirmohatvam,
    nirmohatve nischalachitttam, nischalachitte jeevanmukthi,”
    if people are not actually moving to the second step, what is the point of continuing in the first step always!
    In lighter moments I used to imagine myself as a member of a three-member satsang, with the other two being The Mother and The Master! (Perhaps ego, yes, to be got ridden off in its time,)

    Continue to provide us directions sir.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author


      Dr Vasudevan: As Shankara suggested in Baja Govindam,
      “satsangatve nissangatvam, nissangatve nirmohatvam,
      nirmohatve nischalachitttam, nischalachitte jeevanmukthi,”

      For the benefit of non-Sanskrit speaking readers, the translation of this verse is as follows:

      From Satsang (company of fellow seekers) comes non-attachment, from non-attachment comes freedom from delusion, which leads to mental tranquility, from tranquility comes Jivan Mukti (self-realization).

      Reply
  3. LE CHEVANTON

    “It is this spread of spiritual wisdom from India and Tibet to other parts of the world that has confused some people into proclaiming that the “age of gurus is over” and that the community (sangha) is now the Guru.”
    I don’t see why the spread of Tibetan Buddhism has lead some people to think that the age of gurus is over. The importance of the guru in this tradition is central. How can then some think it is not the case ? Are you referring to what Chögyam Trungpa has named spiritual materialism – that has ensued the spread of spirituality in the West and the supermarket approach some people have of it ?
    Jacques

    Reply
  4. mike

    “Yes, it is a defect in the vital, a lack of will to discipline. One has to learn from the master and act according to his instructions because the master knows the subject and how it is to be learnt – just as in spiritual things one has to follow a Guru who has the knowledge and knows the way. If one learns all by oneself, the chances are that one will learn all wrong.
    What is the use of a freedom to learn wrongly? Of course, if the pupil is more intelligent than the master, he will learn more than the master, just as a great spiritual capacity may arrive at realisation which the Guru has not – but even so the control and discipline in the early stages is indispensable.

    * * *

    Up to now no liberated man has objected to the Guruvada; it is usually only people who live in the mind or vital and have the pride of the mind and the arrogance of the vital that find it below their dignity to recognise a Guru.”

    http://intyoga.online.fr/gurus.htm

    Reply
  5. mike

    “What is your view on the place of sangha in this Yoga? There are many Sri Aurobindo societies/groups all over the world, which seek to build a community of like-minded individuals participating in some joint activity. I personally have always shied away from them, and felt that it is (for now at least) a very personal sadhana.”

    Same here [no pun inteneded lol]. l’ve never mixed well with groups.

    Reply
  6. Mansee

    Swami Chinmayananda was once asked by a skeptic “Swamiji why do we need a Guru when we have everything written in the books?”
    He replied, “Well, go ask the question to the book!”
    For me, a Guru is imperative atleast in the early stages of any spiritual practice. For the later stages, i cannot comment as i am not yet there.

    Reply
  7. Mansee

    I think that even if Sri Aurobindo and Mother left all the answers in their writings, one needs to be in the same state of consciousness as them to understand things exactly. For me their writings are like a complex map, which gives me all the data i may need but i also need some help for customizing the right path for me!
    (like Mother did for different devotees during her physical stay in Ashram)

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Mansee: I think that even if Sri Aurobindo and Mother left all the answers in their writings, one needs to be in the same state of consciousness as them to understand things exactly.

      True. The Mother said "What strikes you in a book is what you have already experienced deep within you. Men find a book or a teaching very wonderful and often you hear them say, “That is exactly what I myself feel and know, but I could not bring it out or express it as well as it is expressed here.”…The knowledge that seems to come to you from outside is only an occasion for bringing out the knowledge that is within you.

      See more @ https://auromere.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/hermeneutics-how-to-read-holy-scriptures/

      Mansee: For me their writings are like a complex map, which gives me all the data i may need but i also need some help for customizing the right path for me! (like Mother did for different devotees during her physical stay in Ashram)

      You have put the finger on the precise problem. You need someone who opens the door to the Timeless at least for an instant before you can get going. Only a Guru can customize the path for you, because it needs someone who understands the calling of your soul. The Bhakta (devotee) has a different path than the Jnani (knowledge seeker) although they both reach the same goal in the end.

      In the absence of a Guru, it is best to stick to elementary methods such as
      1) devotional singing,
      2) some meditation
      3) Pranayama,
      4) reading books, reflecting on them and applying the wisdom to worldly matters.
      5) maintaining self-control over diet, sex, music, loose talk.

      At some later point, if you are fortunate to have a sudden opening, you will magically receive instructions on how to proceed.

      Reply
  8. Mark

    Sandeep quoted: “Naturally, people who are predestined are guided by the inner Guide. It happens that they come across the book they should read or meet the person who can give them a useful indication; but this is… After some time they become aware that there was a consciousness there; they did not know very well either where it came from or what it was, or who organized their life, who organised the circumstances of their life—and who helped them at every step to find just the thing which would lead them farther. But it is… it is not very frequent; rather, it is rare. These people are predestined.”

    This has been my experience-Thank You for posting this quote-and I know I will reach the Third Transformation, I can feel this deep inside of me.

    If you knew me, from my beginning, you would not believe that this would be a possibility for me, and most my life, although I have sensed that I have had a calling, I never regarded myself as one who was ever capable of any such endeavor. Apparently Sri Aurobindo felt the same way:

    Sri Aurobindo: “If people were to know all the truth about my life they would never believe that such a man could come to anything.” [Sandeep Post author February 2, 2012]

    Reply
  9. Mark

    Meant to share this:

    “There are people in whom the psychic movement, the emotional impulse is stronger than intellectual understanding. They feel an irresistible attraction for the Divine without knowing, without having the slightest idea of what it is, of what it can be, what it represents – nothing, no intellectual notion – but a kind of impulse, attraction, a need, an inevitable need.
    And these people who have that, if, I may say as a result of the Grace, they have a mind which does not trouble them, does not question, does not discuss, go very fast. 
    And then, what is quite miraculous according to ordinary ideas is that as soon as they reach that degree of consecration which identifies them through their psychic being with the Divine Presence, suddenly they become endowed with capacities of expression absolutely unknown to their nature.. . .
    There are others who understand first, who are very intellectual, have studied, can play with words and ideas, who will give you brilliant lectures on all the philosophies, all the religions, all human conceptions and who, perhaps, will take years to advance one step. Because all that goes on in the head. 
    Many things go on in the head. . . .the head is like a public square. Anything at all can enter there, come, cross over, go out, and create a lot of disorder. And people who are in the habit of playing with ideas are the ones most hampered from going farther. It is a game that’s pretty, attractive; it gives you the impression that you are not altogether ordinary, at the level of ordinary life, but it cuts the wings. 
    It’s not the head which has wings: it’s the heart.” – The Mother [CWMCE, 7:399-401]

    I have fallen under the category of the “emotional impulse” as described here. I always considered myself as a “Fool” like the tarot card.

    Reply
    1. mwb6119

      One Last Share: 🙂

      ***This article does not argue any point about the Sandeep’s topic here. My sharing is not intended to argue a point, or to correct, but simply, I felt it had some relevance.***

      “Third thing is the recognition of him as the guide on the part of each one. We may have many
      other teachers, we may have many books, we may have many experiences but it is very important for everyone to discover, to recognise him, to recognise the Supreme Guide. Above all so-called teachers there is the Supreme Guide. Sri Aurobindo says: “The full recognition of this inner Guide, Master of the Yoga, lord, light, enjoyer and goal of all sacrifice and effort, is of the utmost importance in the path of integral perfection.” Even if you have teachers, human teachers, you may have temporary guides, permanent guides, whatever… the real thing comes when you begin to recognise the inner Guide. He is indeed present always and to recognise him so that you can say: “The Supreme Lord is my teacher.” All other teachers are only helpers and human teachers are really good teachers only when they realise their relative importance and encourage all the pupils to discover the inner Guide Instead of substituting themselves as the inner Guide, which many teachers have the tendency to do so, they
      want to be permanent guides and teachers and they impose upon pupils such a discipline that they may not be able to discover the Supreme Guide. Whereas a good teacher is one who allows every individual to discover, to recognise the Supreme Guide so that every pupil feels that his teacher is the Supreme Lord. This is the third point.”

      by Kireet Joshi, The Synthesis of Yoga – The Four Aides [the PDF file can be found here , the quote is from the bottom of page 69]

      [Sandeep: The PDF that Mark speaks of is located at http://www.auroville.org/organisation/kireet_joshi.htm under the title “Synthesis of Yoga” on the sidebar]

      Reply
      1. Sandeep Post author

        Mark

        No problem if you disagree with me 🙂

        Looks like you forgot to add the PDF link. I updated your comment to provide the location of the zip file.

      2. Mark

        Thanks Sandeep. Actually I don’t disagree, It’s just a broad topic and I like to read everything (I originally found the PDF in one of your blogs). And I did post the PDF link, but once I posted it, it disappeared – THX. BTW this has been a very good article and I have grown from this.

  10. Pingback: What is Truth? « The White Rabbit's Cafe

  11. gopal

    hi sandeep,
    i almost had a heart break reading some of those things Mother said. Until i was reminded by MARK of those quotes by the masters. I remember mother saying that there is no difference between ordinary life and spiritual life and if there is any it is obsolete.murderers and rapists are sometimes accepted by the divine, this is my firm belief. i suggest you immediately update this post with some positive things they said in this respect. am sure there are many…….. because i feel this post should not discourage someone in a difficult period or transition period like myself. aurobindo also has spoken a lot about the preparatory stage in yoga, and there is a certain phase, where a kind of reconciliation process with the life goes on for quite some time, if you read the evening talks you will see what i say. Hope you understand what i feel or felt like when i read this post.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Gopal,

      I do not know what caused your heart break. Could you clarify what you found so discouraging? I also don’t understand what murderers and rapists have to do with this article??

      It is a fact of life for many that spiritual contact diminishes and difficulties increase in the physical absence of a Guru. One also has to be level-headed in walking the spiritual path.

      Also, it is impossible to expect every blog post to be cheerful and carry all the possible quotes from the Masters. An article just examines one perspective at a time and has to be read (or discarded) as such.

      Reply
  12. gopal

    some sadhak reading these in troubling times is sure to feel discouraged.
    i ask “what is the big deal” in 3 of those instances or quotes you have selectively used to support the post ” practicing yoga without the guru” and “a case of yogic illness”

    first is when you quote mother providing a sagacious description of the meandering ways of the spiritual path. i ask..what is your idea about the digital age. quoting mother -” You have to read a huge number of things, be able to compare them in your own thought, compare the effect they have on you, how far they help you or don’t.” do you think this is tough to do in today’s world. am doing it right now. putting things in context, remembering some of the texts i have read online and in the books using keywords. “Random reading” from an Aurobindo material was something she herself practiced in the case of sadhaks who were in her physical presence, for solutions to their problems. Today That has been taken to another level where searches are based on keywords. is this not an indication of the divine intent for the people,especially like sadhaks, to try.So Mother herself has recommended random readings, flower games for the sadhaks. shows us how the work, in any case, was done, even back in those times. So in this digital age what’s the big deal?

    “The disciples who came in physical contact with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were fortunate to obtain this intimate guidance.”

    some of the sadhaks who were physically with them, i mean when you go through some of their correspondences with Aurobindo, you can easily see they were complaining about things like Mother didn’t smile during pranams, darshans, that mother didn’t like some action of theirs, there are n number of such messy examples, that you can easily ask yourself, what is the big deal
    doing yoga with or without the help of their physical presence. what’s the big deal?

    the person you quote in that post “a case of yogic illness” suffering from worsening memory physical fatigue mental cloudiness, tell me, suppose if he had decided not to take the leap into spirituality, would he have been better off, without making the attempt. Infact i ask if the social utility-based-corporate-material- man… is he living a less dangerous life?”, what’s the big deal?

    “This yoga especially, as I have written in my books, needs the help of the Guru and cannot be done without it”.

    Reading between the lines i can infer by laying a special emphasis on the word “especially” and understand what the master said in a totally different LIGHT. I can say this yoga is not limited by the books. these are the things i wanted to say. sorry i didn’t elaborate. And sorry about the murderers and rapists comment if its unparliamentary. got carried away by Mark quoting sriAurobindo : “If people were to know all the truth about my life they would never believe that such a man could come to anything.”
    regards

    gopal.M

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      I am still not sure I understand your concerns but here is a response. I suspect that your heart break is caused more by your personal difficulties given that others have found the article useful.

      Gopal: So Mother herself has recommended random readings, flower games for the sadhaks. shows us how the work, in any case, was done, even back in those times. So in this digital age what’s the big deal?

      Yes, I have posted that article : “Guidance by random book opening” earlier.

      I still maintain that reading books is a poor substitute for having a living Guru who can pour their power into you.

      Read Kodandarama Rao’s book “At the Feet of the Master” where he describes how just sitting in the presence of Sri Aurobindo would just cause subconscious difficulties to evaporate. He called Sri Aurobindo a radiating dynamo (don’t remember the exact words). That is an experience you cannot get by daily reading of books.

      Similarly the manner in which the Mother looked into the eyes of the sadhaks and poured her power into them quickened their development. It strengthened their willpower and deepened their psychic contact.

      Gopal: some of the sadhaks who were physically with them, i mean when you go through some of their correspondences with Aurobindo, you can easily see they were complaining about things like Mother didn’t smile during pranams, darshans, that mother didn’t like some action of theirs, there are n number of such messy examples, that you can easily ask yourself, what is the big deal doing yoga with or without the help of their physical presence. what’s the big deal?

      I don’t see that as significant. Those were minor problems that all sadhaks go through in their initial immaturity because the vital being is not yet tamed. That does not mean that there is no difference between doing yoga with and without their physical absence.

      Gopal: the person you quote in that post “a case of yogic illness” suffering from worsening memory physical fatigue mental cloudiness, tell me, suppose if he had decided not to take the leap into spirituality, would he have been better off, without making the attempt. Infact i ask if the social utility-based-corporate-material- man… is he living a less dangerous life?”, what’s the big deal?

      I stated further in that article that going through preparatory stages of Yoga without a Guru might be fine, but “one has to be extremely cautious in the later stages when the Kundalini begins to circulate within the body. Forcibly awakening the Kundalini through the strenous concentration on the Chakras and without any purification of consciousness is unquestionably dangerous.”

      The intent was to convey not that one should eschew yoga altogether but that one must stick to basic methods in the absence of a Guru.

      Are you aware of cases where people have suffered even by practicing vigorous Pranayama without any guidance ? The practice of Yoga has to be tailored to the individual personality and this is something which is done by the Guru.

      Gopal : “This yoga especially, as I have written in my books, needs the help of the Guru and cannot be done without it”. Reading between the lines i can infer by laying a special emphasis on the word “especially” and understand what the master said in a totally different LIGHT. I can say this yoga is not limited by the books. these are the things i wanted to say

      After that quote, I added that “This might summarily exclude the possibility of practicing Integral Yoga in their physical absence, and yet there are people who continue to do so…”. So again, I am not saying one can’t practice Yoga.

      Let me reiterate what I have tried to convey:
      Unless you are an exceptional soul who has been called to Yoga and who gets guidance from within on how to practice Yoga, it is safer to stick to the basic methods than to deliberately induce deeper Kundalini-style experiences. By basic methods, I mean
      1. Bhakti Yoga (reading Savitri, chanting and singing)
      2. Karma Yoga(offer work to the Mother)
      3. Jnana Yoga (reading their books, self-inquiry, introspection)

      One can progress through these methods without a Guru’s active guidance but progress is slow. This is what most people are doing today in pursuit of the “psychic transformation”, because of which they might claim that there is no difference between having or not having a Guru. But the reality is that the physical presence of the Guru makes a big difference. Had the Gurus been physically present, these people would have progressed through these phases much more quickly.

      Reply
      1. nizken

        So I guess the physical absence of SA & M to the disciple does make following their “Integral Yoga” harder…. even if so many people are enthusiastically trying to be sadhaks. Well, in any case it makes the yoga process proceed much more slowly.

      2. Sandeep Post author

        You still didn’t get it right completely. Physical absence of the Gurus also makes Integral Yoga easier because you can do whatever you like and call it “Yoga”.

  13. gopal

    sandeep:”The situation is similar to what happened after the death of the Buddha when multiple schools of Buddhism proliferated (same with Jesus, Mahavir, or other major religious figures).”
    Mutiple schools of SRI aurobindo and the Mother!!!?!!!!!?????
    the quote taken from the Synthesis[Four Aids] it is clear Sri Aurobindo has placed considerable importance to “The Revealing word” let me quote further, he says ” …….is needed as an aid in the work of self-unfolding; and it may be either a word from the past or the more powerful word of the living Guru.”
    so he puts in the word “OR” in quite a number of places there. So majority need to pass under the dominant influence of Either a book or a living teacher. Sri aurobindo more importantly also states the higher force if you read the entire “FOUR AIDS”. Nowhere there is he “preoccupied with “a living teacher”. It is either this or it could be that “higher force”. Ultimately it is the higher force that acts.
    Progress being fast or slow will entirely be dependant on the sadhaks capacity.And not on some living guru. I think it’s clear and not at all debatable.
    now regarding Mother’s reply, which again you have quoted to support the post it is very clear from her “second subsequent reply” [which i failed to read in depth the first time] you have quoted that the “direct contact she talks about is “the revealing word” or “the higher force” And NOT as you have stated before that -“sandeep:for the healing power that emanates from an authentic Guru”
    sandeep:”BASIC METHODS[Bhakti,Karma,Jnana- One can progress through these methods without a Guru’s active guidance but progress is slow. This is what most people are doing today in pursuit of the “psychic transformation”, because of which they might claim that there is no difference between having or not having a Guru. But the reality is that the physical presence of the Guru makes a big difference. Had the Gurus been physically present, these people would have progressed through these phases much more quickly.”
    You are alluding to the fact that it will take time [followers of Aurobindo and The Mother], that was the case even in their physical presence, by their own affirmation Aurobindo says “the way is long and hard for everyone….”. Let me also quote
    SRI Aurobindo from the four aids ” What is his method and his system? He has no method and
    every method……” – Four aids from synthesis
    i can agree with you on only one point, that going through higher experiences without purification is not advisable.
    In integral yoga there is no kundalini like process. i think you know that better than me. It is ascent and descent. There is freedom to commit mistakes in Integral yoga…. a natural process that takes up all movements either big or small in no particular order, so if you go through stages, not in an abrupt manner, it should be possible to arrive somewhere…..
    my only argument is that your views are yours, that a living guru will fasten the pace of your progress , you can quote Sri aurobindo and the Motherto act as a support to your point of view but that will not be the “entire truth.”
    am not concerned about this post being helpful to a thousand people, i just wanted to state the truth from my state of consciousness just as mark so politely put it from his state of consciousness….. ofcourse you are free to make your mistakes….

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Gopal: Mutiple schools of SRI aurobindo and the Mother!!!?!!!!!?????

      I was speaking with reference to the varied interpretations of the Supramental Descent and what will happen in the future. I have come across several different interpretations on the matter – some believe that we don’t need to reach Self-realization anymore in order to receive the Supramental Force, others believe we have to go through the stages in succession. There are many such subtle differences which might one day turn into multiple schools.

      Gopal: my only argument is that your views are yours, that a living guru will fasten the pace of your progress , you can quote Sri aurobindo and the Motherto act as a support to your point of view but that will not be the “entire truth.”

      Sure, I have already stated in the post itself : “These are just my opinions which others may disagree with.”

      Gopal: Progress being fast or slow will entirely be dependant on the sadhaks capacity.And not on some living guru. I think it’s clear and not at all debatable.

      No, its not all that clear. I have interacted with people who are struggling, who do not know how to proceed.

      Furthermore, I have had the privilege of a living Guru before coming to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother so I know the enormous difference it makes.

      Anyway, we can agree to disagree and leave it at that.

      Reply
    2. Sandeep Post author

      Some arguments of yours that I ignored in my previous answer…

      Gopal: Nowhere there is he “preoccupied with “a living teacher”. It is either this or it could be that “higher force”. Ultimately it is the higher force that acts.

      And how do you contact the Higher Force? By silencing the mind. There are people who cannot do that because they feel dizzy after concentrating on the Sahasrara Chakra for a few minutes. And if they try too hard, they might get a headache or yogic illness like the guy in the other post.

      That is why a living teacher is helpful to jump-start the process and also to provide feedback if things go wrong.

      Gopal: now regarding Mother’s reply, which again you have quoted to support the post it is very clear from her “second subsequent reply” [which i failed to read in depth the first time] you have quoted that the “direct contact she talks about is “the revealing word” or “the higher force” And NOT as you have stated before that -”sandeep:for the healing power that emanates from an authentic Guru”

      You are misinterpreting what I have written over there. The intermediate passage was in the nature of a digression on the current attitude towards Gurus in Western culture. Just because it appears between two quotes of Mother does not mean you can automatically connect it the “revealing word”.

      Gopal: In integral yoga there is no kundalini like process. i think you know that better than me. It is ascent and descent.

      There may be no overt activation of the Kundalini but it does occur, otherwise there would be no Tranformation of Consciousness. There are entire sections in the Letters on Yoga describing Kundalini-type experiences. Ascent and Descent are based on the activation of Kundalini.

      Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      No, sorry, can’t tell publicly 🙂
      He preferred to live anonymously on the sidelines. He is no more.

      Reply
  14. RJ

    From my understanding, SA and M’s method of opening the kundalini from the top down rather than the bottom up was designed to avoid the problems associated with the other yogic/tantric methods of awakening kundalini, right? Not to say there still wouldn’t be problems. I’m very far from needing to deal with these issues, but it’s good to be prepared, I suppose. As a yogic-historical question, why was this top-down method not possible in earlier spiritual practices, was it the advent of the supramental that made this approach possible? Or was it always possible and just under-utilized?

    I think some of the frustration people are feeling with this post is that the spiritual path can be challenging enough without coming over to auromere(usually a source of support and encouragement) and reading that they are “up a creek without a paddle” unless they have a guru! Of course, that’s not what you’re saying, Sandeep. I do think, though, that you can’t view a person’s access to a guru as a factor that is completely independent of one’s life circumstances. Early on the spiritual path, many people probably feel frustrated that they are not born in a Tibetian or Himalayan monastery, free to meditate all day and cruise to the “goal”. (I’m going by induction from a limited sample, here 😉 ) After some reflection and progress, one sees that the obstacles that are faced are necessary for progress and that you can’t really separate those real world obstacles from the spiritual path itself. I think it may be the same with access to the guru – I can’t imagine that access to the guru is “random” and reserved for a “lucky” few. Or, viewed from another perspective, I can’t imagine that all of those who do not have access to the guru are unworthy and lack capacity, unlike those who were “worthy” enough to be in the guru’s presence. There must be a whole range of factors that impact one’s access to the guru, and it seems to be the most prudent for those on the spiritual path to keep aspiring for knowledge and progress, the same way one would be acting if one had access to the guru. Of course, keeping in mind Sandeep’s comments about the dangers of attempting overly sophisticated practices without the proper support and guidance.

    I think that Mother’s assurance of the Sunlit Path is also something to consider.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      RJ: As a yogic-historical question, why was this top-down method not possible in earlier spiritual practices, was it the advent of the supramental that made this approach possible? Or was it always possible and just under-utilized?

      Not sure but I suspect this may have something to do with the way Sri Aurobindo experienced his first awakening (Nirvana) with the help of a Tantric Guru named Lele in Baroda. In Tantra, the Shakti aspect is emphasized. Sri Aurobindo may have realized that the top-down method is much easier than the conventional methods of awakening Kundalini from the bottom, so he emphasized it in his writings.

      RJ: I think some of the frustration people are feeling with this post is that the spiritual path can be challenging enough without coming over to auromere(usually a source of support and encouragement) and reading that they are “up a creek without a paddle” unless they have a guru! Of course, that’s not what you’re saying, Sandeep.

      Thanks for attempting to bridge the gap in understanding 🙂
      I was putting forth a more nuanced understanding of the topic based on interactions with many people.

      I have also mentioned the importance of the Samadhi, the relics, the Mother’s voice and the organ music.
      In the last paragraph, I also encourage people to develop contact with SA&M themselves.

      Anyway, enough said on this topic for now.

      Reply
  15. mike

    From what l understand, the main assertion about having a Guru on the Path is mostly about the necessity within the ‘lntegral Yoga’, which is according to SA the most difficult Yoga on the planet and without direct guidance from SA and Mother would be an impossible task. This is the Truth of the matter, l think.
    As for access to the Guru being for the chosen few, l think it really comes down to who’s ‘Ready’ and who has the necessary ‘Capacity’ for the ‘lntegral Yoga’. lt might be true in SA’s Yoga that many are called but few are chosen – it’s just a matter of ‘readiness’, l think. SA and Mother certainly rejected quite a few from the yoga, think.
    The old adage ‘when the disciple is ready, the Teacher appears’ [whether physical or supra-physically] seems to rings true here.

    “As a yogic-historical question, why was this top-down method not possible in earlier spiritual practices, was it the advent of the supramental that made this approach possible? Or was it always possible and just under-utilized”

    From what Mother said here it does sound like it was something new which SA discovered:

    “The Mother discusses why the descent of Kundalini is better than it’s rising from the bottom

    Satprem: But then what is this consciousness we feel like a force inside us? For instance, sometimes in meditation it rises, then descends; it’s not fixed anywhere. What is this consciousness?

    Mother: The Shakti!

    Some receive it from above; for others, it rises from below (gesture to the base of the spine). As I once told you, the old system always proceeds from below upwards, while Sri Aurobindo pulls from above downwards. This becomes very clear in meditation (well, in yoga, in yogic experience):
    for those who follow the old system, it’s invariably the kundalini at the base [of the spine] rising from center to center, center to center, until the lotus (in an ironic tone) bursts open here {gesture at the crown of the head).

    With Sri Aurobindo, it comes like this (gesture of descending Force) and then settles here (above the head); it enters, and from there it comes down, down, down, everywhere, to the very bottom, and even below the feet – the subconscient – and lower still, the inconscient.

    It’s the Shakti. He said, you know (I am still translating it), that the shakti drawn up from below (this is what happens in the individual process) is already what could be called a “veiled” shakti (it has power, but it is veiled). While the Shakti drawn down from above is a PURE Shakti; and if it can be brought down carefully and slowly enough so that it isn’t (how shall I put it?) polluted or, in any case, obscured as it enters matter, then the result is immediately much better. As he has explained, if you start out with this feeling of a great power in yourself (because it’s always a great power no matter where it awakens), there’s inevitably a danger of the ego meddling in. But if it comes pure and you are very careful to keep it pure, not to rush the movement but let it purify as it descends, then half the work is done.”

    Here is an interesting blog by someone who is apparently experiencing the Descent of Shakti but not following the lntegral Yoga – he follows something called the Diamond Approach, l think, but he quotes SA and Mother as well:

    http://myawakeningjournal.com/2011/03/26/kundalini-ascending-descending-almaas-sri-aurobindo/

    Reply
  16. Sandeep Post author

    In the article above, we read the Mother saying ” His (the Buddha’s) direct action, apart from his teaching, is limited to a very few people who are very fervent believers and have the power of evocation. Otherwise, the most important part of his action, almost the whole of his action, is associated, united, fused with his teaching. It seems difficult to make a distinction”.

    These words seem to resonate her own experience of the Buddha. She used to practice Buddhism early on and there is at least one unmistakable communication from the Buddha recorded in Prayers and Meditations on Dec 20, 1916, which is as follows:

    (Communication received at 5.30 in the evening after meditation.)

    “As thou art contemplating me, I shall speak to thee this evening. I see in thy heart a diamond surrounded by a golden light. It is at once pure and warm, something which may manifest impersonal love; but why dost thou keep this treasure enclosed in that dark casket lined with deep purple? The outermost covering is of a deep lustreless blue, a real mantle of darkness. It would seem that thou art afraid of showing thy splendour Learn to radiate and do not fear the storm: the wind carries us far from the shore but shows us over the world. Wouldst thou be thrifty of thy tenderness? But the source of love is infinite. Dost thou fear to be misunderstood? But where hast thou seen man capable of understanding the Divine? And if the eternal truth finds in thee a means of manifesting itself, what dost thou care for all the rest? Thou art like a pilgrim coming out of the sanctuary; standing on the threshold in front of the crowd, he hesitates before revealing his precious secret, that of his supreme discovery. Listen, I too hesitated for days, for I could foresee both my preaching and its results: the imperfection of expression and the still greater imperfection of understanding. And yet I turned to the earth and men and brought them my message.

    Turn to the earth and men—isn’t this the command thou always hearest in thy heart?—in thy heart, for it is that which carries a blessed message for those who are athirst for compassion. Henceforth nothing can attack the diamond. It is unassailable in its perfect constitution and the soft radiance that flashes from it can change many things in the hearts of men. Thou doubtest thy power and fearest thy ignorance? It is precisely this that wraps up thy strength in that dark mantle of starless night. Thou hesitatest and tremblest as on the threshold of a mystery, for now the mystery of the manifestation seems to thee more terrible and unfathomable than that of the Eternal Cause. But thou must take courage again and obey the injunction from the depths. It is I who am telling thee this, for I know thee and love thee as thou didst know and love me once. I have appeared clearly before thy sight so that thou mayst in no way doubt my word. And also to thy eyes I have shown thy heart so that thou canst thus see what the supreme Truth has willed for it, so that thou mayst discover in it the law of thy being. The thing still seems to thee quite difficult: a day will come when thou wilt wonder how for so long it could have been otherwise.”

    Sakyamuni

    (Prayers and Meditations, CWMCE vol 1, pp 332-333)

    In this passage, the Buddha seems to tell the Mother he hesitated before teaching: “Listen, I too hesitated for days, for I could foresee both my preaching and its results”. This hesitation is well known. It was also noted in the Milinda Panha dialogue between Nagasena and Milinda. See “Section 6. The Reluctance of the Buddha” of the excerpts posted earlier @ https://auromere.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/the-milinda-panha/

    Reply
  17. kehnebuske

    Sandeep,

    I found this post yesterday when I was struggling to understand the intense physical difficulties I’ve been having, it seems my body is calling to be held in the Silence, to let the fear and pain at the cellular level rest in the love. This isn’t easy. Change at the mental, psychological and emotional levels took a long time, but the movement into my sacrum has been like living in a cauldron for the last four years. Like so many others drawn to Sri Aurobindo’s work, it has been a personal and private journey. The pull to study Sri Aurobindo’s work has been so persistent and intense for so long, I can’t help but think that I have been receiving help. Your words from the Mother felt like an affirmation, encouragement to trust and remain confident that no matter how physically uncomfortable, the love and divine support are there. I am happy I discovered your blog and look forward to reading more.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      I do not know the details of your spiritual journey, so I am unsure of how to respond to your first comment here. In case you did not know, the books of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are online. Follow the links seen here

      All I can offer for your physical difficulties is compassion and some lines of hope from Savitri.

      Because thy strength is a part and not God’s whole,
      Because afflicted by the little self
      Thy consciousness forgets to be divine
      As it walks in the vague penumbra of the flesh
      And cannot bear the world’s tremendous touch,
      Thou criest out and sayst that there is pain.
      Indifference, pain and joy, a triple disguise,
      Attire of the rapturous Dancer in the ways,
      Withhold from thee the body of God’s bliss.
      Thy spirit’s strength shall make thee one with God,
      Thy agony shall change to ecstasy,
      Indifference deepen into infinity’s calm
      And joy laugh nude on the peaks of the Absolute.

      (Savitri, Book VI, Canto II – The Way of Fate and the Problem of Pain)

      Reply
      1. kehnebuske

        Sandeep,
        Thank you. I have spent nearly every day for ten years with Savitri and your original post helped me to understand that it may not be my imagination that Sri Aurobindo guides me through the silent knowing that brings Savitri alive and makes it pertinent to my daily life. Your comment today reminds me yet again to keep faith. The love doesn’t falter, and my current physical circumstances remind me that I can’t do this without surrendering to the divine Still there is hope that the agony can change to ecstasy. There is already ecstasy and I sense that the pain is also ecstasy but I don’t yet know how to perceive it that way. May I learn!

        The availability of Sri Aurobindo’s work online is new to me – I have copies of most of his books but it’s not easy to look up something. I really appreciate the index by topic and look forward to using it more.

      2. Sandeep Post author

        I have spent nearly every day for ten years with Savitri

        Ah! Then you might like to participate in the Savitri Yajna, where people post audio readings of Savitri as a collaborative activity. I believe it is still going on.

        See http://www.savitriyajna2012.net/

        Also see other Savitri-related resources over here

      3. kehnebuske

        Thank you. I’m not sure why I never looked before! It does seem that what I need comes when I really need it. Savitri was such a personal and powerful experience that it never occurred to me to reach out before. I’m glad I did.

  18. mike

    Yes, that occured to me as well. They seem to be everywhere, especially in US.
    Not so many in the UK except that kid guru maharaj [l think that was him] years ago.
    Most these days would be new-age guru’s who, IMO, are spouting very dangerous practices, like ‘Channeling’ entities they believe are Ascended Master’s, Angels, Alien Hierarchies etc… very dubious stuff which is opening a lot of gullible ppl to the ‘lntermediate Zone’ or ‘The Valley Of The False Glimmer’ as described by Sri Aurobindo.
    Most ppl are being put in touch with these lower worlds, l think, by these False Guru’s, as described below:

    “”A world of extremes.” And how! You can find there not only the Life Heavens but the Valley of the False Glimmer as well. It is a dangerous world. “Only a trained occultist with the infallible tact born of long experience can guide himself without stumbling or being caught through the maze,” wrote Sri Aurobindo. Mirra, as we know, was certainly a trained occultist and much more. Even otherwise “Mirra is born free” as said Sri Aurobindo. Her unbound soul could, like the proverbial swan,26 separate milk from water. She easily discerned the real nature of this zone; and with the’ sunlight of her clear vision dispersed its shimmering mists and fogs.
    “On the other hand,” said Mother, “there are many unpleasant places in the vital world where it is better not to go. You can also run into things, enter places that will wrest all the energy from you in a minute, and at times leave you sick or even disabled.
    “I knew a woman who, from an occult point of view, was absolutely exceptional, and a similar accident befell her in the vital world. While trying to tear away from the beings of the vital world someone to whom she was attached, she received such a blow on the eye that it made her blind in one eye.” Mother was referring to Madame Theon.
    It is not for nothing that this zone is called the Valley of the False Glimmer.”

    l’d put a lot of these ‘regression therapist’ in the same category, too – all these characters are seen as Guru’s these days; it’s become a very loose term, unfortunately. Anyone and everyone is a Guru, these days.

    Reply
  19. nizken

    Yes there are a lot of fakes and guru-wannabes out there like Dr. Phil and many more. Anyway, how can I know who is genuine and who is not? Especially in the indian spirituality supermarket? It is impossible to check the credentials and investigate every single guru out there (even in India alone!)

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      nizken: Anyway, how can I know who is genuine and who is not?

      There is no well-defined criteria. Generally speaking, Like attracts Like.

      If you have a volatile or easily impressionable personality, you will settle on someone who thrills you or has some exotic appeal. Such people claim that they are seeing a halo of light around their Guru even when it doesn’t exist. Even mature people can get fooled and trapped in such situations for a while before waking up from their delusion.

      The ones who are predestined to find the right Guru are different. The Guru awakens them from a distance and draws them near him or her at the right moment through a miracle. There are stories of Sri Aurobindo, the Mother, Ramana Maharshi, et al engaging in this sort of method. Jyotipriya (Judith Tyberg), for instance, began to unexpectedly smell jasmine flowers after writing a letter to Sri Aurobindo. It was his way of letting her know she had been accepted.

      In the absence of a criteria, the best you can do is to remain open-minded and walk away from someone who becomes abusive and controlling.

      Reply
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  21. Lars

    So in this day and age where both the Mother and Sri Aurobindo are no longer amongst in physical form how do we ask them questions and get responses like one would of a living Guru? Sri Aurobindo and the Mother left no successors in their lineage presumably because their teachings and their image were meant to continue on as the Guru to future aspirants? I fully believe that a Guru need not be alive to be an effect agent of transmutation in the life of a disciple but simultaneously it seems that most people are not equipped to have a master who isn’t physically present. What do you think?

    Reply
  22. mike

    Yes, Lars, it is difficult for those who don’t have physical access to the Guru. lt happens on every path when the Guru departs, but if you read what disciples have said about contacting them after death of the body, they mention visits in vision, dreams, and even physical visits, like a real person in front of you….
    l never met them when they were here, and all my meetings with them have come in dreams or visions – mostly dreams [very vivid and real dreams which leave a deep impression afterwards]. They’ve given me many experiences through dreams.
    When we can leave our bodies at will, and visit those other planes we’ll see that they haven’t gone anywhere, and one of the important things with SA and M is that they have a permanent residence or station in the subtle-physical [plane right next to this one] which most Guru’s don’t as far as l know. l’ve been to SA’s house over there a few times.
    A genuine, sincere prayer or meditation, will always be answered in my experience. Maybe not immediately, but they do hear us – and they will know through our Psychic Being and ultimately to us. Our Psychic Being knows when to go to them, even though we might not be aware of it happening in the beginning [once the inner visions opens you’ll be aware of these things, anyway]…. They answer me all the time in irrefutable ways….
    Also, lt’s possible they’re more powerful now because IMO, l feel the Supramental Force and Power is spreading more rapidly in the world at large….

    Reply
    1. Lars

      Okay that makes sense but how do we know that we aren’t just being deceived by astral illusions. In other words I may desire to see a guru so badly and to have him/her praise me that when I am able to tap into the lower psychic sphere (known as the Astral Plane in occultism) images of such a guru appear to me and I take it for the real thing. This is what happens when so many people “channel” an archangel or an “ascended master” (like Jesus for instance). They are really just contacting astral forces and it is not the real deal at all. I have met such people and they typically aren’t very aware that spiritual development has nothing to do with actually contacting these entities. In any case I am not trying to imply that this is your situation but I am just asking how does one tell the difference?

      Reply
      1. Sandeep Post author

        Lars: I am just asking how does one tell the difference?

        You have to put aside your strong desires for contact with some Guru and then wait patiently for repeated communications to confirm that you are not having hallucinations. The contact has to have a beneficial effect on your consciousness. It must infuse wideness and calm in your being and not leave you excited or feverish.

      2. Lars

        Thank you. That makes a lot more sense to me especially with all the new age channelling claims which to me sound so delusional.

  23. mike

    lt’s a good question Lars and a valid point.. l know this ‘channeling’ new-agey stuff is everywhere these days. ln SA and M’s time it was the spiritualists who were dabbling in these things. lf we find ouselves in these planes consciously[astral projection/exteriorisation etc] it’s always best to call SA and M – l know this works because l’ve used it myself and SA was there like a lightening bolt. ln dreams, it’s not so easy to remember but we can create the habit.. Also, as you suggest, many Gurus, channeller’s, so-called enlightened Teacher’s and Ascended master’s are trapped in an ‘intermediate’ zone according to SA.
    Personally, l’ve always been dubious about these Ascended master’s and the Mahatma’s of Blavatsky and alice bailey etc.. [SA wrote a another long letter about the ‘errors’ of the Theosophists]..
    l suppose by ‘Psychic sphere’ your using the new-age terminology and not SA’s definition of the word, because the Astral etc.. would not belong to the same ‘sphere’ as the Psychic in His terminology….
    What your actually referring to is what SA calls the ‘lntermediate Zone’ – which He wrote a long letter about. lt’s why He emphasizes the ‘Psychic Union/Realisation’ so much l think – because with a Psychic Discrimination and a Central Sincerity, we are able see through the Falshood and anything that masquerades as the Guru, l believe.. ln the letter He mentions this:

    “A central sincerity, a fundamental humility also save from much danger and trouble”

    “On the other hand, it is quite possible that the sadhak may be met at his entrance into this zone by a Power of the Divine which helps and leads him till he is ready for greater things; but still that itself is no surety against the errors and stumblings of this zone; for nothing is easier than for the powers of these zones or hostile powers to imitate the guiding Voice or Image and deceive and mislead the sadhak or for himself to attribute the creations and formations of his own mind, vital or ego to the Divine.”

    l’m not sure if you’ve actually read SA’s letter, so l’ll post it here. lt’s very important advice anyway, IMO..

    “Sri Aurobindo

    The Intermediate Zone (1933)
    All these experiences are of the same nature and what applies to one applies to another. Apart from some experiences of a personal character, the rest are either idea-truths, such as pour down into the consciousness from above when one gets into touch with certain planes of being, or strong formations from the larger mental and vital worlds which, when one is directly open to these worlds, rush in and want to use the sadhak for their fulfilment. These things, when they pour down or come in, present themselves with a great force, a vivid sense of inspiration or illumination, much sensation of light and joy, an impression of widening and power. The sadhak feels himself freed from the normal limits, projected into a wonderful new world of experience, filled and enlarged and exalted; what comes associates itself, besides, with his aspirations, ambitions, notions of spiritual fulfilment and yogic siddhi; it is represented even as itself that realisation and fulfilment. Very easily he is carried away by the splendour and the rush, and thinks that he has realised more than he has truly done, something final or at least something sovereignly true. At this stage the necessary knowledge and experience are usually lacking which would tell him that this is only a very uncertain and mixed beginning; he may not realise at once that he is still in the cosmic Ignorance, not in the cosmic Truth, much less in the Transcendental Truth, and that whatever formative or dynamic idea-truths may have come down into him are partial only and yet further diminished by their presentation to him by a still mixed consciousness. He may fail to realise also that if he rushes to apply what he is realising or receiving as if it were something definitive, he may either fall into confusion and error or else get shut up in some partial formation in which there may be an element of spiritual Truth but it is likely to be outweighted by more dubious mental and vital accretions that deform it altogether. It is only when he is able to draw back (whether at once or after a time) from his experiences, stand above them with the dispassionate witness consciousness, observe their real nature, limitations, composition, mixture that he can proceed on his way towards a real freedom and a higher, larger and truer siddhi. At each step this has to be done. For whatever comes in this way to the sadhak of this yoga, whether it be from overmind or Intuition or Illumined Mind or some exalted Life Plane or from all these together, it is not definitive and final; it is not the supreme Truth in which he can rest, but only a stage. And yet these stages have to be passed through, for the supramental or the Supreme Truth cannot be reached in one bound or even in many bounds; one has to pursue a calm patient steady progress through many intervening stages without getting bound or attached to their lesser Truth or Light or Power or Ananda. This is in fact an intermediary state, a zone of transition between the ordinary consciousness in mind and the true yoga knowledge. One may cross without hurt through it, perceiving at once or at an early stage its real nature and refusing to be detained by its half-lights and tempting but imperfect and often mixed and misleading experiences; one may go astray in it, follow false voices and mendacious guidance, and that ends in a spiritual disaster; or one may take up one’s abode in this intermediate zone, care to go no farther and build there some half-truth which one takes for the whole truth or become the instrument of the powers of these transitional planes, – that is what happens to many sadhaks and yogis. Overwhelmed by the first rush and sense of power of a supernormal condition, they get dazzled with a little light which seems to them a tremendous illumination or a touch of force which they mistake for the full Divine Force or at least a very great yoga Shakti; or they accept some intermediate Power (not always a Power of the Divine) as the Supreme and an intermediate consciousness as the supreme realisation. Very readily they come to think that they are in the full cosmic consciousness when it is only some front or small part of it or some larger Mind, Life-Power or subtle physical ranges with which they have entered into dynamic connection. Or they feel themselves to be in an entirely illumined consciousness, while in reality they are receiving imperfectly things from above through a partial illumination of some mental or vital plane; for what comes is diminished and often deformed in the course of transmission through these planes; the receiving mind and vital of the sadhak also often understands or transcribes ill what has been received or throws up to mix with it its own ideas, feelings, desires, which it yet takes to be not its own but part of the Truth it is receiving because they are mixed with it, imitate its form, are lit up by its illumination and get from this association and borrowed light an exaggerated value.

    There are worse dangers in this intermediate zone of experience. For the planes to which the sadhak has now opened his consciousness, – not as before getting glimpses of them and some influences, but directly, receiving their full impact, – send a host of ideas, impulses, suggestions, formations of all kinds, often the most opposite to each other, inconsistent or incompatible, but presented in such a way as to slur over their insufficiencies and differences, with great force, plausibility and wealth of argument or a convincing sense of certitude. Overpowered by this sense of certitude, vividness, appearance of profusion and richness, the mind of the sadhak enters into a great confusion which it takes for some larger organisation and order; or else it whirls about in incessant shiftings and changes which it takes for a rapid progress but which lead nowhere. Or there is the opposite danger that he may become the instrument of some apparently brilliant but ignorant formation; for these intermediate planes are full of little Gods or strong Daityas or smaller beings who want to create, to materialise something or to enforce a mental and vital formation in the earth life and are eager to use or influence or even possess the thought and will of the sadhak and make him their instrument for the purpose. This is quite apart from the well-known danger of actually hostile beings whose sole purpose is to create confusion, falsehood, corruption of the sadhana and disastrous unspiritual error. Anyone allowing himself to be taken hold of by one of these beings, who often take a divine Name, will lose his way in the yoga. On the other hand, it is quite possible that the sadhak may be met at his entrance into this zone by a Power of the Divine which helps and leads him till he is ready for greater things; but still that itself is no surety against the errors and stumblings of this zone; for nothing is easier than for the powers of these zones or hostile powers to imitate the guiding Voice or Image and deceive and mislead the sadhak or for himself to attribute the creations and formations of his own mind, vital or ego to the Divine.

    For this intermediate zone is a region of half-truths – and that by itself would not matter, for there is no complete truth below the supermind; but the half-truth here is often so partial or else ambiguous in its application that it leaves a wide field for confusion, delusion and error. The sadhak thinks that he is no longer in the old small consciousness at all, because he feels in contact with something larger or more powerful, and yet the old consciousness is still there, not really abolished. He feels the control or influence of some Power, Being or Force greater than himself, aspires to be its instrument and thinks he has got rid of ego; but this delusion of egolessness often covers an exaggerated ego. Ideas seize upon him and drive his mind which are only partially true and by over-confident misapplication are turned into falsehoods; this vitiates the movements of the consciousness and opens the door to delusion. Suggestions are made, sometimes of a romantic character, which flatter the importance of the sadhak or are agreeable to his wishes and he accepts them without examination or discriminating control. Even what is true, is so exalted or extended beyond its true pitch and limit and measure that it becomes the parent of error. This is a zone which many sadhaks have to cross, in which many wander for a long time and out of which a great many never emerge. Especially if their sadhana is mainly in the mental and vital, they have to meet here many difficulties and much danger; only those who follow scrupulously a strict guidance or have the psychic being prominent in their nature pass easily as if on a sure and clearly marked road across this intermediate region. A central sincerity, a fundamental humility also save from much danger and trouble. One can then pass quickly beyond into a clearer Light where if there is still much mixture, incertitude and struggle, yet the orientation is towards the cosmic Truth and not to a half-illumined prolongation of Maya and ignorance.

    I have described in general terms with its main features and possibilities this state of consciousness just across the border of the normal consciousness, because it is here that these experiences seem to move. But different sadhaks comport themselves differently in it and respond sometimes to one class of possibilities, sometimes to another. In this case it seems to have been entered through an attempt to call down or force a way into the cosmic consciousness – it does not matter which way it is put or whether one is quite aware of what one is doing or aware of it in these terms, it comes to that in substance. It is not the overmind which was entered, for to go straight into the overmind is impossible. The overmind is indeed above and behind the whole action of the cosmic consciousness, but one can at first have only an indirect connection with it; things come down from it through intermediate ranges into a larger mind-plane, life-plane, subtle physical plane and come very much changed and diminished in the transmission, without anything like the full power and truth they have in the overmind itself on its native levels. Most of the movements come not from the overmind, but down from higher mind ranges. The ideas with which these experiences are penetrated and on which they seem to rest their claim to truth are not of the overmind, but of the higher Mind or sometimes of the illumined Mind; but they are mixed with suggestions from the lower mind and vital regions and badly diminished in their application or misapplied in many places. All this would not matter; it is usual and normal, and one has to pass through it and come into a clearer atmosphere where things are better organised and placed on a surer basis. But the movement was made in a spirit of excessive hurry and eagerness, of exaggerated self-esteem and self-confidence, of a premature certitude, relying on no other guidance than that of one’s own mind or of the “Divine” as conceived or experienced in a stage of very limited knowledge. But the sadhak’s conception and experience of the Divine, even if it is fundamentally genuine, is never in such a stage complete and pure; it is mixed with all sorts of mental and vital ascriptions and all sorts of things are associated with this Divine guidance and believed to be part of it which come from quite other sources. Even supposing there is any direct guidance, – most often in these conditions the Divine acts mostly from behind the veil, – it is only occasional and the rest is done through a play of forces; error and stumbling and mixture of Ignorance take place freely and these things are allowed because the sadhak has to be tested by the world-forces, to learn by experience, to grow through imperfection towards perfection – if he is capable of it, if he is willing to learn, to open his eyes to his own mistakes and errors, to learn and profit by them so as to grow towards a purer Truth, Light and Knowledge.

    The result of this state of mind is that one begins to affirm everything that comes in this mixed and dubious region as if it were all the Truth and the sheer Divine Will; the ideas or the suggestions that constantly repeat themselves are expressed with a self-assertive absoluteness as if they were Truth entire and undeniable. There is an impression that one has become impersonal and free from ego, while the whole tone of the mind, its utterance and spirit are full of vehement self-assertiveness justified by the affirmation that one is thinking and acting as an instrument and under the inspiration of the Divine. Ideas are put forward very aggressively that can be valid to the mind, but are not spiritually valid; yet they are stated as if they were spiritual absolutes. For instance, equality, which in that sense – for yogic Samata is a quite different thing – is a mere mental principle, the claim to a sacred independence, the refusal to accept anyone as Guru or the opposition made between the Divine and the human Divine etc., etc. All these ideas are positions that can be taken by the mind and the vital and turned into principles which they try to enforce on the religious or even the spiritual life, but they are not and cannot be spiritual in their nature. There also begin to come in suggestions from the vital planes, a pullulation of imaginations romantic, fanciful or ingenious, hidden interpretations, pseudo-intuitions, would-be initiations into things beyond, which excite or bemuse the mind and are often so turned as to flatter and magnify ego and self-importance, but are not founded on any well-ascertained spiritual or occult realities of a true order. This region is full of elements of this kind and, if allowed, they begin to crowd on the sadhak; but if he seriously means to reach the Highest, he must simply observe them and pass on. It is not that there is never any truth in such things, but for one that is true there are nine imitative falsehoods presented and only a trained occultist with the infallible tact born of long experience can guide himself without stumbling or being caught through the maze. It is possible for the whole attitude and action and utterance to be so surcharged with the errors of this intermediate zone that to go farther on this route would be to travel far away from the Divine and from the yoga.

    Here the choice is still open whether to follow the very mixed guidance one gets in the midst of these experiences or to accept the true guidance. Each man who enters the realms of yogic experience is free to follow his own way; but this yoga is not a path for anyone to follow, but only for those who accept to seek the aim, pursue the way pointed out upon which a sure guidance is indispensable. It is idle for anyone to expect that he can follow this road far, – much less go to the end by his own inner strength and knowledge without the true aid or influence. Even the ordinary long-practised yogas are hard to follow without the aid of the Guru; in this which as it advances goes through untrodden countries and unknown entangled regions, it is quite impossible. As for the work to be done it also is not a work for any sadhak of any path; it is not, either, the work of the “Impersonal” Divine who, for that matter, is not an active Power but supports impartially all work in the universe. It is a training ground for those who have to pass through the difficult and complex way of this yoga and none other. All work here must be done in a spirit of acceptance, discipline and surrender, not with personal demands and conditions, but with a vigilant conscious submission to control and guidance. Work done in any other spirit results in an unspiritual disorder, confusion and disturbance of the atmosphere. In it too difficulties, errors, stumblings are frequent, because in this yoga people have to be led patiently and with some field for their own effort, by experience, out of the ignorance natural to Mind and Life to a wider spirit and a luminous knowledge. But the danger of an unguided wandering in the regions across the border is that the very basis of the yoga may be contradicted and the conditions under which alone the work can be done may be lost altogether. The transition through this intermediate zone – not obligatory, for many pass by a narrower but surer way – is a crucial passage; what comes out of it is likely to be a very wide or rich creation; but when one founders there, recovery is difficult, painful, assured only after a long struggle and endeavour.”

    Reply
    1. Lars

      Yes I have read this. The intermediate zone is very similar to the astral plane of occultism. While none of the theosophists were masters like SA or M I still think there is much great wisdom in the writings of HPB and AAB. And I would like to point out that SA himself referred to HPB as a “remarkable woman” (http://www.theosophy.com/theos-talk/200012/tt00028.html). I am not totally sure as to the validity of this source but in another essay on theosophy SA did say that while there was much theosophy was lacking in he also acknowledged that it has done a tremendous amount of good. Also there is this about the master KH http://www.theosophy.com/theos-talk/200012/tt00066.html… again I don’t know the validity of the source but it is interesting to ponder. In any case I don’t consider myself a theosophist but I do study their work and it is fascinating and there is truth there but I don’t compare it to SA because he himself was a realized master whereas Blavatsky and Bailey were not.

      Reply
  24. nizken

    Do you think gurus like Sathya Sai Baba or Mahesh Yogi or Osho etc. are trapped in this Intermediate zone detailed in the letter above? What is your opinion about the hugging saint of Kerala or of Mother Meera who is in Germany?

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Satya Sai Baba seemed to have the power of materialization, according to this note recorded by M.P.Pandit

      A visitor from the West – a Professor – just returned from a visit to Satya Sai Baba’s place, took to Mother a bead which the Baba had ‘created’ and given him. He gave it to Mother and asked about the nature of the bead. She felt it with her palms and said it was a materialised object. Then he asked what she thought of the Baba. Mother told him : One Guru does not pronounce upon another.
      (Sidelights on the Mother by M.P.Pandit, p. 83)

      Reply
  25. mike

    Hi Ken,
    l think those you mention probably do belong to that ‘Zone’. This is what Alan Khardev on the Kheper site says about the Guru’s you mention:

    “Mother Meera – early life in Sri Aurobindo ashram, lives in Germany where she gives silent Darshan. Travels occasionally. Considered by her followers to be an avatar, but better considered as niddle or possibly late Intermediate Zone. Some controversy from former disciple Andrew Harvey, otherwise no record of abuse.

    Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi – TM – Hindu – The movement sells fake mantras and spiritual techniques at progressively very high prices. – Avidya – Basically took advantage of his connections with the Beatles to set himself up in the West. Too much money element for my liking, but has not abused his position sexually. Not an enlightened being. Following: T.M. is a big organisation, that is making lots and lots of money. Their so-called “Sidha program” involves contracting certain buttock muscles allowing you to “bounce”. The Tibetans did that ages ago (Read Alexandra David Neel’s “Magic and Mystery in Tibet”). The practice can be harmful for one’s psychological well-being, probably also physically harmful.

    Osho Rajneesh – Orange People – Syncretic – Basically a mixture of sincerity and fake. Presented himself as the guru for the rich. There is no denying his affection for his followers, nor his love of all the money, rolls royces, and (from his Western female followers) sexual favours his office gave him ( Some refernce). Tremendously influential in the New Age movement, mainly because of the appeal to the infantile western attitude of being spiritual but keeping your materialistic ego and selfish attitude at the same time. His ‘Zorba-Rajneesh’ discoteks were all over Europe at one period; Zorba is the symbol of the ultimate worldly male chauvinist. Fled the US with over 100 federal charges, leaving behind 84 Rolls Royces. Not a true enlightened being, a good example of an Intermediate zone guru. Under Ma Sheela things were pretty nasty; the following now is non-harmful. Without doubt the single most influential of all treh Eastern gurus.[He also had no understanding of Sri Aurobindo IMO, who he condemned]..

    Sathya Sai Baba – Sai organisation – Hindu – Sathya Sai Baba is a highly controversial figure. People have had many psychic expereinces, and some of the vibhuti materialisation on photos etc may be authentic (like the weeping virgin mary statues, probably a similar principle), but most of the so-called materialisations (of baubles for devotees) are sleight of hand. I have been to his ashram. He has been called everything from con-artist to paedophile and homosexual (and even anti-christ and devil) to avatar. Faked his birthdate to be considered an avatar. Serious allegations of sexual abuse The main organisation is either covering up the abuses or is in denial; ex-devotees who have tried to bring this to light have been defamed by slanderous devotees – one example; another example, – My experience with all this . Huge following in India (many millions), where his high status has prevented legal inquiry into the allegations against him. Somewheat smaller following in the West.

    Ammachi – the “Hugging Saint”, based in India, travels widely. Appears to be a saintly figure, considered authentically enlightened by her followers, but growing abusiveness in organization, and her failing to address this, indicates Middle or possible\y Late Intermediate Zone rather than Realisation. Official website. Maligning Of Ex-Devotee, Cult Of The Hugging Saint”
    Big list of these guru’s here:
    http://www.kheper.net/topics/gurus/listing.html

    l’ve had some dealings with sai baba and m.meera. With both l had certain experiences which demontrates to me that they have some kind of power. When l went to sai baba’s ashram, l found myself out of my body on the first night, and him seated in front of me – the next day he proved this genuinely happened to me in a way l understood. l also felt a strong energy coming from him at the time. Now l believe he had some little helpers on the other side, lf you see what l mean.. One clairvoyant said she saw two astral entities perched on his shoulders which knocked her down when they noticed she could see them. So, there was occult power there. l’ve also seen him in some very colorful dreams where he appeared to help me lol..
    With mother meera, l wrote to her a few times in the past, when l thought she was connected to SA and M [mainly because some SA devotees believe she is]. l’ve concluded she’s probably deluded in her claims. However, when l did write to her, l always received a strong physical energy for a while. l have also seen her in many dreams – she has always been kind and helpful – but that can be deceiving too, can’t it..
    Mother has mentioned the Maharishi in the agenda l believe, and said some good things abut him..

    On the Kheper site, alan believes that SA was not saying that Guru’s in the intermediate zone can’t offer anything or that there all charlatan’s – alan says below:

    “In my understanding, by far the bulk of charismatic gurus and spiritual teachers that are around in the world today (and no doubt in past historical periods too) that claim to be enlightened are actually at one of these transitional stages; this is where their inspiration, their power, their insights and their charisma derive from. It is highly misleading to simply explain them away or dismiss them as con-artists or self-deluded, as many critics and sceptics believe. This ignores the very real transpersonal experiences that for example devotees have, and that it can be assumed the gurus and teachers themselves have. Most of them are in fact totally sincere in their statements and experiences; even the ones who are abusive towards their devotees. But conversely the naive New Age view that they are all enlightened masters is equally misleading. Very very few spiritual teachers could be considered authentic satgurus. This is not to deny that there are still many that, although not actually liberated, are still genuine

    Because of the Intermediate Zone’s power to puff up the tiny human ego, usually through identification with a “god”, “archetype”, “attractor” or “fascinator”, or even a lesser nonphysical entity, many Intermediate Zone gurus suffer from extreme narcissism and delusions of godhood, which leads to them quickly becoming dysfunctional and abusive on the interpersonal level, and exploiting their devotees for their own lower desires and fantasies.

    This is not to say that all Intermediate Zone gurus are like this. There are also those who are awakened to their inner divinity, which prevents them from acting in a negative manner. Or they may have be in touch with an inner beauty and sensitivity and/or detachment and discrimination that they don’t let themselves be caught up in fantasies of power and exploitation. In other cases such individuals don’t want set themselves up as “gurus” and teachers, because they realise they still have a long way to go. They may serve as quiet and humble friends and mentors, gurus in an informal sense of a spiritual friend who has advanced a bit further along the path than oneself, but they would have no interest in attracting a large following, and certainly would never claim to be enlightened.

    Thus, to say that a teacher or master or guru is at the level of the Intermediate Zone doesn’t mean that what they say is deceptive, their behaviour abusive, etc. It is probably more likely that it is just a smaller number of bad apples giving the rest a negative reputation by association.”

    Alan actually puts the intermediate zone into sections, like below from the Kheper website – he goes into a long analysis of intermediate zone guru’s:

    http://www.kheper.net/topics/gurus/IMZ_guru.html

    “A better way of subdividing the Intermediate Zone is into Gross, Subtle, Causal, and Transcendent [not sure if SA would agree, but it’s interesting].. These are levels of being that are not limited only to the Intermediate Zone of course. But at this level they take on a whole new dimension. Thus gurus and spiritual teachers and masters can be categorised according to the level of consciousness and being in which they abide, with a further category of Integral for those who encompass and can equally move through all the levels.

    Basically the descriptions are:

    Gross Intermediate Zone – Tantric and Taoist bodily realisations, experiences, and transmutation, experiences of the subtle body, kundalini, ch’i, chakras, healing, etc

    Subtle Intermediate Zone – experiences of occult forces and phenomena on the subtle planes, remote healing, meeting with deities, dream experiences, astral experiences.

    Causal Intermediate Zone – experiences of deep meditative states, nondual states that are formless, deep samadhi, subtle archetypal realities.

    Transcendent Intermediate Zone – experiences of the transcendent Absolute or abiding in the Supreme. The nondual teaching; Advaitin or Mahayanist realisation , not in words but in actual practice and fact, formless or else equally beyond form and formless.”

    Reply
  26. Felix

    “Mother has mentioned the Maharishi in the agenda l believe, and said some good things abut him”

    That’s not correct, her comments about him were not complementary. I’ll see if I can find those passages, but essentially what she said is that he possessed strong vital power, which makes one charismatic.

    On an unrelated note, I purchased the book “Mother’s Log” by Satprem and highly recommend it. It is sort of map of Mothers Agenda, which covers the period of her spiritual journey from 1950 – 1973.
    Quoting Satprem’s words from the preface: “Hence this unlikely venture to condense some 3000 pages of Mother’s Questions and Answers plus some 6000 pages of Mother’s Agenda, using Mother’s own words reduced to their essential cry – just as the scientist jots down brief notes in his laboratory logbook – without always knowing for certain whether we have not let slip the invisible, ‘insignificant” key.”

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Mother’s comment on Mahesh Yogi (Agenda Feb 14 1968)

      Yesterday I was shown the photo of a man who is the guru of many people.[[Mahesh Yogi, whose disciples included the Beatles and a few Hollywood stars. ]] ….I saw his photo yesterday. Vitally, he is extraordinarily strong. I don’t know if it’s his own force or if it’s what he receives from others, because you can find that out only through physical contact.

      http://mother-agenda.narod.ru/Agenda_9/1968-02-14.htm

      Reply
      1. mike

        Thanks for finding that Sandeep. lt’s good to read it again. The bit at the end is revealing too [especially about rudolph steiner – founder of anthroposophy, an offshoot of theosophy. He was a theosophist under blavatsky before leaving to set up his own cult].

        “I should have kept that photo [Maharishi] to show you. His body too lives in freedom! Uncombed hair (maybe he never washes!), a beard … Very strong eyes.

        It’s strange, successful people of this sort are always Indians.

        Though there was Steiner who had much power over his disciples, but in his case, it was without doubt an adverse force with all the power of the Asuras.”

    2. mike

      Yes, Felix, l’d say your right. Mother didn’t exactly say good things about him. He had some vital hypnotic power, that’s all..

      Reply
  27. Darius

    Lars, read Pavitra’s Converstations with Sri Aurobindo Monday, January 11, 1926. Hopefully you won’t waste your invaluable time with theosophists after that anymore.

    Reply
    1. Lars

      Thank you for bringing this to my attention. It contains some very pertinent critiques which I would agree with. But you must understand that the kind of theosophy that evolved after HPB died was very glamorous and illusory and a lot of the concepts she sought to promote mainly through her work The Secret Doctrine were in many cases bastardized and changed. HPB was by no means a fully realized yogi but she was a profoundly deep, sincere, intelligent and compassionate woman. Blavatsky never presented her masters as perfect beings who had nothing else to learn (http://secretdoctrine.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/morya-and-kuthumi-fact-not-fiction/). If studied properly HP Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine has the power to radically shake many taken for granted ideas and outmoded ways of viewing the world. This book is at the very least a profound study in comparative religion. I myself do not regard anyone as perfect or flawless and I don’t worship Blavatsky nor am I a member of the theosophical society for many reasons. It is true that the society, after its formation, quickly eroded. But as I see it the real purpose of the society was to combat the strong trend in materialistic thought which pervaded the western world and in this manner I believe it succeeded. Even SA speaks of the good the society has performed a short essay on theosophy. I do personally find great inspiration in studying the concepts presented in their mature body of work as well as much wisdom. But theosophy is not really a path and I do not think I am wasting my time in reading such a work as The Secret Doctrine.

      Reply
  28. mike

    Darius, thanks for pointing out that ‘conversation’. l don’t think l’ve seen that before.

    l also found the article by SA on Theosophy, called ‘The Claims of Theosophy’. Here’s a bit of it:

    hxxp://www.aurobindo.ru/workings/sa/37_12/0016_e.htm

    “We must more and more begin to feel that to believe a thing because somebody has heard from somebody else that Mrs Besant heard it from a Mahatma, is a little unsafe and indefinite. Even if the assurance is given direct, we shall learn to ask for the proofs. Even if Kutthumi himself comes and tells me, I shall certainly respect his statement, but also I shall judge it and seek its verification. The greatest Mahatma is only a servant of the Most High and I must see his chapras before I admit his plenary authority. The world is putting off its blinkers; it is feeling once more the divine impulse to see.

    It is not that Theosophy is false; it is that Theosophists are weak and human. I am glad to believe that there is much truth in Theosophy. There are also considerable errors. Many of the things they say which seem strange and incredible to those who decline the experiment, agree with the general experience of Yogins; there are other statements which our experience appears to contradict or to which it gives a different interpretation. Mahatmas exist, but they are not omnipotent or infallible. Rebirth is a fact and the memory of our past lives is possible; but the rigid rules of time and of Karmic reaction laid down dogmatically by the Theosophist hierophants are certainly erroneous. Especially is the hotchpotch of Hindu and Buddhist mythology and Theosophic prediction served up to us by Mrs Besant confusing and misleading. At any rate it does not agree with the insight of much greater Yogins than herself. Like most Theosophists she seems to ignore the numerous sources and possibilities of error which assail the Yogin before his intellect is perfectly purified and he has his perfection in the higher and superintellectual faculties of the mind. Until then the best have to remember that the mind even of the fairly advanced is not yet divine and that it is the nature of the old unchastened human element to leap at misunderstandings, follow the lure of predilections and take premature conclusions for established truths. We must accept the Theosophists as enquirers; as hierophants and theocrats I think we must reject them.”

    Reply
  29. Darius

    Mike, I am curious why have you posted so many Kazlov’s thoughts about gurus on this blog? It seems he has no expertise to judge to which plane what guru belongs to. To do so one must be able to see through man. From what I learned reading his bio and his some remarks he is very confused man and doesn’t look very advanced even intelectually. Have I missed something important about him and done wrong judgement?

    Reply
  30. mike

    Yes, your right darius, what alan says should be taken as speculative [the classification of the ‘intermediate zone’ are obviously his own ideas and we have to judge for ourselves] because, as you say, unless we can enter the plane where these guru’s or so-called guru’s have their station we can’t be sure what their status is. Although, l am inclined to believe [based on SA’s description of the ‘intermediate zone’, that a lot of the guru’s mentioned above are most probably operating from that region – of course, like alan l have no real idea [l’m not sure what abilities he has, but l think his propositions are merely intellectual]….
    l certainly don’t agree with alan on everything, but he has put a lot of intellectual work into his website and a lot of the information is helpful – l wouldn’t say he’s very confused IMO. What makes you think he’s a ‘very confused man’??

    l don’t agree with what he says below, for instance:

    “And the thing is, it was and is Ramana’s Light. In this manner, Ramana Maharshi, who is the ultimate source of this Light, became my Guru, along with Sri Aurobindo and The Mother (yes there is no reason why one cannot have several gurus, and honour all of them equally!).”

    This has been discussed here at length and as we know, coming under the influence of many guru’s is not a good idea.. We can honour or admire them at a distance of course, but l believe we need to stick with the one we are mean’t for and not accept a whole lot of other influences….

    l do know Mother said at the end of her life, that all those who were claiming to have the highest realisations were only half way up the ladder.She could see them below her, at their respective stations, it seems. l believe this was mentioned in one of Satprem’s books, but not sure at the moment….

    Reply
  31. mike

    At least he has a sense of humour, though. This is from alan’s curriculum vitae:

    “Overseas Travel:
    I did spend 3 months travelling around India when I was much younger but because of my stutter plus my Australian accent no one there could understand me. Once I as in Bangalore (beautiful city btw) and I wanted to go to the Post Office so I hailed a taxi and I said (well, stuttered, whatever) “Post Office” and he said “what?” and I said “I want to go to the Post Office” and he said “where do you want to go?” and I said “to the porhhhst ahhhficceee!!!!” and this went on for quite a while, and finally he drove me miles and miles to some suburb I’d never been to (the name of which I suppose sounded something like “Porhhhstahhfiss”) on the other side of Bangalore and dropped me off at the post office there (rather than at the local post office)”

    Reply
  32. Darius

    With regard to Sai Baba I can tell the short story how a man from distant post soviet country faced this phenomenon. I doubt any other guru can come even close to Sai Baba by the scale of activity and by amount of devotees. I suppose there are millions of them around the globe. There were many local projects acompliched such as healthcare, water supply, educational etc. There are many indications that quality of those widely marketed projects is questionable to say the least.
    SSB organization amassed 5-7 billion dollars by various estimations. In SSB apartments alone there were found close to 3 millions dollars in cash.

    However in my country I could found only positive info in the last decade of past century. It was like soviet propaganda from all directions. Except one case when I found very negative info in an artical written by catholic priest in local magazine. The priest stated that SSB was seen in collective masturbation together with young devotees. An explanation was given as if it was ancient yogic technic to awaken kundalini and that it was done namely for that purpose. It was serious accusation but somehow I did not take it seriously that time. I thought it was slander from one of competitors.
    My acquaintance practising integral yoga visited India at the end of last century. He told me later that he got a chance to touch SSB foot during collective darshan when SSB passed near him. He said that an avalanche of light hit him and he became unconscious for a while. Local devotees started worshiping him because he was touched by God.
    He was not person who like to exaggerate things so I had no reason not to believe in what he told. The fact that he is powerfull almost convinced me that SSB is perhaps genuine teacher. However I hated extremely religious atmosphere around him so I stayed aside.

    As we all know there is no smoke without fire. Ten or less years later I returned to SSB theme again.I don’t remember exact reason I guess it was simple curiosity. To my big surprise net was full of negative info from all directions: authorities, international organizations,victims of sexual abuse, ex-devotees etc. etc. Very disgusting story.
    The fairy tale was over.

    Reply
  33. Darius

    Mike, Alan studied Sri Aurobindo. After 5 years he realy appreciated Adi Da. After 10 more years he got interested in Reiki and after 10 more years he rediscovered Ken Wilber. This is what I call ‘confused’. Should I say he got into a muddle?
    I apologize if I sound offensive towards him. Nothing personal. Actually I appreciate the work he has done.

    Reply
  34. mike

    Yes, l have no doubt that sai baba had occult powers – as for his divinity, that’s something else. l believe he used astral beings to perform most of the miracles.
    l should say that he certainly has a powerful presence. When l saw him it looked like he was gliding along the ground, and he was very calm and collected.
    l don’t doubt your friend experienced an ‘avalanche of light’ – the question is ‘where did this light come from’, what region, that is.
    l remember Mother saying that you don’t need Divine Power to perform miracles – it wouldn’t surprise me if She was referring to sai baba….

    Apparently, after sai baba’s death they found this:
    “It took twenty people 36 hours to count the cash recovered from the private chambers of Sai Baba at his ashram in Puttaparthi. 98 kilos of gold, 11.56 crore in cash, and 307 kilos of silver have been discovered in the Yajur Mandir.”

    Reply
  35. mike

    “Mike, Alan studied Sri Aurobindo. After 5 years he realy appreciated Adi Da. After 10 more years he got interested in Reiki and after 10 more years he rediscovered Ken Wilber. This is what I call ‘confused’. Should I say he got into a muddle?
    I apologize if I sound offensive towards him. Nothing personal. Actually I appreciate the work he has done.”

    Darius, yes alan has certainly been back and forth over the years.. l see what you mean. l think after all those experiences he still prefers Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, though, from what l gather….

    Reply
  36. Darius

    It’s his life and karma therefore he can do whatever he wants with it. It’s still rather strange and unusual when one returns from touched higher mathematics to algebra after so many years of intellectual effort.

    Reply
  37. Pingback: Sandeep Joshi | The Mother's Lasso

  38. Darius

    Though I am not certain if this is a right place to ask I would like to know does anybody have some info on this man?
    w w w. srimatransformationalyoga.com/directory/253/swami-vidyanand/

    Reply
  39. mike

    Darius, l’ve never heard of this man before. l can see why you mentioned him, considering his backgroud – 10 years teaching at the Delhi branch Sri Aurobindo ashram. l’m not sure about his ‘Transformational Yoga System’, though..He says it was derived from SA’s lntegral Yoga [and quickens the process]. l know Mother used Mantra’s and SA adopted certain elements from Tantra, but the other things l’m not sure about – esp. kundalini yoga, which, as you probably know, is totally different in SA’s Yoga. Anyway, it’s interesting. Thanks for the info..

    “Swami Vidyanand is a renowned yoga master and the founder of Transformational Yoga, an innovative yogic system that synthesizes techniques of Hatha, White Tantra, Raja, Mantra, Ashtanga and Kundalini Yoga to bring about rapid transformation. His signature system is inspired by the integral yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, and was developed when he taught yoga for more than a decade at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Delhi Branch”

    Reply
  40. mike

    He also says a few things below about his system and implies that the Mother is behind everything taught in his yoga – l don’t think M would endorse pranayama [She did advise satprem on it’s practice in the Agenda, however]..l suppose hatha yoga is good for the body [l believe M has said a strong body is needed for this yoga]. So, it’s possible his yoga is effective..but, unless l definitely know that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have given their sanction, l’d be a bit cautious..
    Also, he only mentions awakening 7 chakras. We know SA and M talk about 12 chakras [so, what happens with them?]..

    ““Transformational Yoga is a means to relax, clean and awaken all seven chakras through yogasana, pranayama and mantra.” – Swami Vidyanand

    Inspired by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Transformational Yoga aims to awaken all five bodies and seven chakras in order to experience a continuous state of physical health and stamina, emotional balance, higher mental guidance, unconditional love and faith, and spiritual bliss consciousness.

    SriMa – the Mother – is the inspiring fountainhead of all that is taught at SriMa International School of Transformational Yoga.”

    Reply
  41. MW

    Sandeep: “Just because certain textual descriptions match your changing phenomenal experience of the world, that may not imply that you have undergone a major yogic transformation.”

    You stated “may not imply”. So there is the possibility of knowing ones spiritual status via textual descriptions? According to this blog, the answer is ‘yes’, but that is not easily attainable. Ultimately the guidance/discrimination of a guru would be the best means to confirm ones degree of spiritual attainment – but that is not my case as there is no such contact available – that’s why I am here 🙂 rather than reading to myself in isolation (and I know you are not a guru – we have established that fact already).

    Ultimately I am doing the best I can with what I have. And all I have are the writings of SA & M and that of the teachers of Integral Yoga. It’s a clumsy, slow, and inefficient means.

    Thank You for ALL your responses! Very helpful indeed.

    Reply
    1. MW

      Post Script:

      I like to think of this as the Divine fail-safe:

      MP Pandit:

      “…Sir Aurobindo warns us, that we not erect any premature certitudes. …Sri Aurobindo cautions: do not have any premature certitudes, and even if you have, have the faith in the Shakti that what is premature will be removed and what is permanent will take its place. Recognise also that there is always a possibility of error. Till the last threads of ignorance are removed, the last shade of ignorance dispelled, no one can be sure that he is always right.” Source: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, p.204

      Reply

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