Is mathematics invented or discovered? Do mathematical objects pre-exist in some transcendental plane, are they abstractions of our sensory experiences, or are they just fictional objects invented by our minds? Would an alien species specify mathematical abstractions in a different way? These are the questions which are explored under the “Philosophy of mathematics”. Several competing theories such as Logicism, Intuitionism, Formalism and Platonism have been proposed to explain the nature of mathematics. Here, I shall present some insights by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother which are connected to this topic.
Tag Archives: Mirra Alfassa
2013 in review
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 200,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 9 days for that many people to see it.
Anecdotes of my Guru
Over the past few years, quite a few blog readers have written to me appreciating the manner in which I have presented the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. I would attribute much of it to my Guru whom I met early in my teenage years. My experiences with him seemed to correspond closely with the manner in which the Sri Aurobindo and the Mother interacted with their disciples. It is this correlation which has enabled me to provide an alternative perspective on their life and teachings.
A book on Sri Aurobindo in Arabic
Zackaria Moursi, whose spiritual journey was covered in a an earlier blog post “How an Egyptian discovered Sri Aurobindo” has just published a bilingual book featuring quotes from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The book is listed on Amazon and can also be viewed on his website.
Energy but it is not my energy
These are the reminiscences of an Aurovillian named Roy who came to India in the 1970s. The article was posted earlier on Savitri Era Devotees and Afforestation Auroville blogs.
The Grace is at work everywhere
Have you ever lamented – if only I had an easier job, a more spacious home, sagacious parents, compatible spouse, trustworthy friends, etc., I would be able to devote more effort to living spiritually and might even progress faster. Driven by this desire for space and ease, we disdainfully ignore the challenges before us and withdraw to a spiritual retreat where we hope to live a life more attuned with the Divine. In these couple of passages, the Mother points out that living in an Ashram may not always be helpful because we need difficulties in order to become conscious.
At the beginning of my present earthly existence I came into contact with many people who said that they had a great inner aspiration, an urge towards something deeper and truer, but that they were tied down, subjected, slaves to that brutal necessity of earning their living, and that this weighed them down so much, took up so much of their time and energy that they could not engage in any other activity, inner or outer. I heard this very often, I saw many poor people―I don’t mean poor from the monetary point of view, but poor because they felt imprisoned in a material necessity, narrow and deadening.
I was very young at that time, and I always used to tell myself that if ever I could do it, I would try to create a little world―oh! quite a small one, but still… a small world where people would be able to live without having to be preoccupied with food and lodging and clothing and the imperative necessities of life, so as to see whether all the energies freed by this certainty of a secure material living would turn spontaneously towards the divine life and the inner realisation.
Well, towards the middle of my life―at least, what is usually the middle of a human life―the means were given to me and I could realise this, that is, create such conditions of life. And I have come to this conclusion, that it is not this necessity which hinders people from consecrating themselves to an inner realisation, but that it is a dullness, a tamas, a lack of aspiration, a miserable laxity, an I-don’t-care attitude, and that those who face even the hardest conditions of life are sometimes the ones who react most and have the intensest aspiration.
That’s all. I am waiting for the contrary to be proved to me.
I would very much like to see the contrary but I haven’t yet seen it. As there are many energies which are not utilised, since this terrible compulsion of having something to eat or a roof to sleep under or clothes on one’s back does not exist―as one is sure of all that―there is a whole mass of energies which are not utilised for that; well, they are spent in idle stupidities. And of these, the foolishness which seems to me the most disastrous is to keep one’s tongue going: chatter, chatter, chatter. I haven’t known a place where they chatter more than here, and say everything they should not say, busy themselves with things they should not be concerned with. And I know it is merely an overflow of unused energy.
The Mother, Questions and Answers (1956): 30 May 1956
In another passage, she elucidates that the Grace is at work everywhere. One can live anywhere and progress spiritually.
I have already told you this several times. When you are in a particular set of circumstances and certain events take place, these events often oppose your desire or what seems best to you, and often you happen to regret this and say to yourself, “Ah! how good it would have been if it were otherwise, if it had been like this or like that”, for little things and big things…. Then years pass by, events are unfolded; you progress, become more conscious, understand better, and when you look back, you notice―first with astonishment, then later with a smile―that those very circumstances which seemed to you quite disastrous or unfavourable, were exactly the best thing that could have happened to you to make you progress as you should have. And if you are the least bit wise you tell yourself, “Truly, the divine Grace is infinite.”
So, when this sort of thing has happened to you a number of times, you begin to understand that in spite of the blindness of man and deceptive appearances, the Grace is at work everywhere, so that at every moment it is the best possible thing that happens in the state the world is in at that moment. It is because our vision is limited or even because we are blinded by our own preferences that we cannot discern that things are like this.
But when one begins to see it, one enters upon a state of wonder which nothing can describe. For behind the appearances one perceives this Grace―infinite, wonderful, all-powerful―which knows all, organises all, arranges all, and leads us, whether we like it or not, whether we know it or not, towards the supreme goal, that is, union with the Divine, the awareness of the Godhead and union with Him.
Then one lives in the Action and Presence of the Grace a life full of joy, of wonder, with the feeling of a marvellous strength, and at the same time with a trust so calm, so complete, that nothing can shake it any longer.
The Mother, Questions and Answers (1956): 8 August 1956
- The ability to withstand hardships in the spiritual path
- Dharana Shakti : the capacity to sustain spiritual experiences
- Obsessive-compulsive spirituality
- Sattwic ego, Rajasic ego and Tamasic ego
- The message of the Gita
- Why bad things happen to good people
- Perception of Time changes with the concentration of consciousness
- The story of a soul
- Why spiritual experiences do not repeat?
- Rape victims and Karma
- How to rise above the ordinary life?
- How do movies affect yoga practice?
- Jnana Yoga : the ego blocks that have to be dissolved
- The Paradox of Life
- Sravana Manana and Nidhidhyasana
- Transcending the work-leisure cycle
Xu Fancheng (徐梵澄) : a Chinese disciple of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
Xu Fancheng (Chinese: 徐梵澄) was born in Changsha, Hunan province, on 26th October 1909. As a child he studied classical Chinese. In 1929 he went to Germany to study the History of Art at Heidelberg University. He also practiced wood engraving there and became the first Chinese artist of the new style wood engraving. He came back to China in 1932, and encouraged by Luxun (one of the most famous writers of modern China), he started to translate the works of Nietzsche from German into Chinese, and became the first expert of Nietzsche’s philosophy in China.
Anything that shocks you is the very thing you carry in yourself – The Mother.
It is rather remarkable that when we have a weakness – for example a ridiculous habit, a defect or an imperfection – since it is more or less part of our nature, we consider it to be very natural, it does not shock us. But as soon as we see this same weakness, this same imperfection, this same ridiculous habit in someone else, it seems quite shocking to us and we say, “What! He’s like that?” – without noticing that we ourselves are “like that.” And so to the weakness and imperfection we add the absurdity of not even noticing them
Reminiscences of the Mother’s physician, Dr. Bisht
Dr. D. B. Bisht had a distinguished career in the medical profession. He was the Director-General of Health Services, Govt. of India, and upon retirement joined the World Health Organisation. While Dr. Bisht was posted at JIPMER in Pondicherry, he was called to attend on the Mother and served as her physician. He captured the interactions he had with her in a book titled “Mother and me“. I haven’t read the book but I am reproducing two reviews of this book in this post.
The exchange of vital forces during social interactions
There is a stage in the yogic transformation when the inner being awakens (i.e. when Chakras begin to open) but the consciousness is not fully centered in the Atman (Self). This half-way mark is an extremely vulnerable phase of life because now you become exposed to the vital forces which are being continuously exchanged between human beings during all social interactions. You may find yourself becoming angry for no reason whatsoever after talking to an eccentric and turbulent man or you may become worried about your own life after listening to the dejected musings of some depressing and ineffectual person.
Reading and writing books in a dream
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.
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Rape victims and Karma
In the context of the recent Delhi gang rape case, a woman from India wrote to me asking “what take spirituality has on crimes such as these. Does the victim suffer because of sanchit (past accumulated) karma? Should one regard whatever happens as good?” A few weeks before this horrific Delhi incident, another woman had asked on a mailing list: “There are lots of places where Sri Aurobindo says that God is in evil too. I cannot see this when I think of someone being raped or tortured or molested. Can someone explain how this can be?”. Today, Huffington Post published a short piece by Dr. Deepak Sarma, professor of South Asian religions and philosophy at Case Western Reserve University, questioning what answer Karma can offer in response to such tragedies. In light of all this discussion, these are some answers based on the model of Karma proposed by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. I am not sure if I have satisfactory answers to these profound questions but I am going to try!
How does the Self-realized person speak? (Gita 2:54)
While reading the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, have you ever wondered from what level of consciousness they spoke? Was their brain constantly tingling with luminous revelations as they answered questions? Were subtle images of the past or future dancing before their eyes when they looked at people? There are recorded conversations where Sri Aurobindo admits to not knowing certain worldly matters, implying that either omniscience is not what it is projected to be or that he didn’t care to use his occult powers to investigate mundane matters (see Notes below)
2012 in review
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 190,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 3 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!
Click here to see the complete report.
For 2011 report, click here
On popular music and movie songs
This post is an addendum to the previous one on the influence of movies on our consciousness. It discusses the phenomenon of “popular music”, by which we mean those shrill, raunchy, meretricious musical hits which gain instant appeal among the masses but fade away into obscurity soon after.
How do movies affect yoga practice?
Someone asked in a comment what rules one should follow in the spiritual path regarding music, movies and popular entertainment. This post covers movies and the next will cover popular music songs. I would like to open with a personal anecdote.
Hands can become independently conscious
One of the pleasures of studying dual Gurus like Sri Aurobindo and the Mother is that sometimes one can find spontaneous and fascinating coincidences in their records. It is as if they had independently experienced the same occult phenomenon. In a previous article “Does Nature revolt against machinery?“, we saw an example where Sri Aurobindo and the Mother independently perceived that some machinery failures could be due to the action of occult forces. While Sri Aurobindo alluded that occult forces could be behind large air and sea disasters, the Mother saw that the vital forces released during sugarcane crushing could cause a breakdown of machinery.
The laissez-faire approach of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
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.
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.