One of the themes on which Sri Aurobindo and the Mother differ from early Vedantins is “conscious dream exploration”. While Sri Aurobindo claimed that the occult worlds that we enter in our dreams are as “real” as the physical world, the earliest Advaita Vedantins, Gaudapada and Adi Shankaracharya (8th century C.E.) saw all the worlds as illusory. For Gaudapada and Shankara, the highest state was sushupti (deep sleep) because the Atman became united with the Brahman in that state.
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?
Yoga is a predominantly psychological process of conquering one’s weaknesses through the assistance of a Higher Light. As part of the surrender (samarpan) to the Divine, one is expected to reject deviant movements within oneself and offer them to the Divine for removal. This is a private exercise which does not require confessing in front of family, friends, priests or the public at large (…by writing a memoir or appearing on a TV talk show, as Americans tend to do these days). The exercise is undertaken not to gain social acceptance or to unburden oneself but to eliminate the depravities which occlude the inner light – the psychic being – from shining forth.
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.
Someone wrote to me regarding his experience of worsening health due to the practice of Integral Yoga. He had read Satprem’s “Adventures of Consciousness” about 15 years ago and started practicing immediately. In the beginning, it was slow walking meditation where he would attempt to suspend his thought process while keeping attention on surrounding objects. Later, he imagined himself becoming one with his surroundings and offering it to the Divine.
These are some excerpts from the Milinda Panha, a Pali work dating to about the 100 B.C. The Milinda Panha is a dialogue between a Buddhist monk named Nàgasena and the Greek King Milinda(Melander), who ruled over Bactria(modern-day Afghanistan). The king raised a number of questions on the philosophy, psychology, and ethics of Buddhism, as well contradictions present in the life of the Buddha.