Those who practice the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have developed the habit of reading their books either alone or during study circles. They claim that this activity is a meditation in itself which naturally awakens the wisdom needed to respond to the multifarious challenges of life. The Mother herself recommended that disciples read Sri Aurobindo’s books with a blank mind without discussing or explaining the writings to each other. Does this work?
The fundamental aim of all Yogic methods is the diversion of the Prana (breath) which normally circulates in the Ida and Pingala channels into the central Sushumna channel, as was elucidated in a previous post. Numerous yogis across the Indian sub-continent over several centuries perfected a multitude of methods to achieve this common goal. If you ever wanted to read all about it in one place, the “History of Yoga” (editor: Satya Prakash Singh) is for you. This is a massive work comprising 40 chapters spanning about 900 pages written by 19 subject experts which traces the origins and development of Yoga starting from the Vedas to the modern times. It is not possible to do justice to such a large comprehensive volume in a short article. Instead, I will present some interesting tidbits that I gained from the book.
The interpretation of centuries-old holy scriptures is always a challenge. Rote learning of scriptures which was undertaken in past centuries due to lack of durable recording material is no longer required; it may improve memory but doesn’t lead us much further. On the other hand, the academic pursuit of hermeneutics through critical thinking produces dry interpretations (as well as misinterpretations) because it is undertaken by those who without spiritual background. What then is the method by which one unlocks the true meaning of a holy book? It is necessarily a maieutic process, to use a Socratic term, that grows through spiritual practice and experience. When we begin to awaken to the influence of the soul within, it gradually discloses to us the secret of the scripture. The blossoming intuition which brings us closer to the Divine can also unlock the original intent of the scripture. In this post, we collect some observations by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother Mirra Alfassa on how to read and interpret holy scriptures.
Enlightened Masters such as Sri Aurobindo who have reached a high level of consciousness are able to state Truths with great clarity by virtue of the illumination they have attained. Every statement becomes a revelation and every paragraph an epiphany. Those who aspire for spiritual progress have to desist from reading books which lower the consciousness precisely because words have power. This is a collection of passages by the Mother of the Aurobindo Ashram, Mirra Alfassa, on the effect of reading ordinary books versus reading Sri Aurobindo’s books. At the end of this post, I have appended an Amazon review by someone who initially found it difficult to read Sri Aurobindo.
The Mother (Mirra Alfassa) elucidates as to why opening a holy book and reading it at random can provide spiritual guidance in times of crisis.
Sri Krishna Prem was born Ronald Henry Nixon in Britain in 1898. After service in the Royal Flying Corps, he took his M.A. at Cambridge and in 1920 went to India to pursue his interest in Buddhism and theosophy. There he met his guru, Sri Yashoda Mai, a Bengali mentor of profound mystical experience. He followed her to a remote ashram in the Himalayan foothills, took holy orders as a monk of the Hindu Vaishnava sect, and was given the name Sri Krishna Prem. After his guru’s death, he was left in charge of the ashram and reluctantly accepted the task of leading the other disciples. Teaching from his own religious insight and retaining only such ritual as he felt to be of universal significance, he became one of the outstanding figures in India’s spiritual life. He died in 1965. Continue reading