Once, the mathematician Donald Newman(1930-2007) was struggling hard with a problem, but couldn’t resolve it by any means. He went to sleep at night and had a dream. This was not the kind of dream which gives the solution to a problem, but a dream in which he met fellow mathematician John Nash. Newman asked Nash about the problem, and Nash told him the answer. When Newman finally wrote the paper, he gave credit to Nash. (I’m not kidding, read the story in this book or in the Scientific American ).
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.
Until recently, comatose patients who did not regain awareness in a few weeks would be written off as hopeless, but advances in neuroimaging technologies have revealed that comatose patients continue to display a degree of mental awareness. Scientists have found that disorders of consciousness are not an on-off phenomenon but span a continuum. These results validate remarks made by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother several decades ago. That is the subject of the first section below. The second section discusses the surprising learning abilities exhibited by sleeping newborn babies.
The Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, was skeptical of the widespread Eastern notion that the individual ego can be completely transcended and some form of universal consciousness can be attained. He thought it was a psychological projection of an idea which had no foundation in human experience and was critical of any attempt to mix psychology and philosophy. Jung thought that the East made such reductionist errors because it had not reached the high level of self-awareness achieved in the Western development of scientific thought .
You can drive a car while listening to a song, but when you want to see better, you instinctively lower the radio volume in the car. You can listen to a melody while doing chores, but when you want to hear better, you inevitably stop and squint your eyes. The American President Lyndon Johnson once claimed that his political opponent Gerald Ford could not pass wind and chew gum at the same time. Such quotidian observations seem to suggest that there may be some natural constraints in our ability to do multiple tasks simultaneously.
Children have the preternatural ability to discern elementary puzzles that adults, burdened by their self-importance, are no longer able to unravel. A child once asked the Mother why depression seemed to last longer than pleasure. Before you read her answer, I would urge you to step back and reflect on the possible rationale on your own.
Fear plays a preeminent role in the human experience and manifests itself in diverse forms in our lives. There is fear of God which is an artifact of organized religion, fear of loss, failure and humiliation in society, fear of disease and death, fear of darkness, alarming creatures and ghosts and lastly, fear of the Unknown. If you ask anyone who has had a spiritual opening, he or she would instinctively tell you that fear is fundamentally a result of unconsciousness. Excessive indulgence in fear is counter-productive because that propagates vibrations which may attract the very phenomena that we cringe from, according to the Mother.