As you put in the daily effort to live consciously, you might begin to obtain, perhaps after many years, fleeting and unmistakable glimpses of the psychic being which sits veiled within. You might find a strong mental conviction overturned by a clairvoyant voice which emerges unbidden from the deepest recesses of the heart; you may feel your obstinate subconscious tendencies being dissolved by a warm fire glowing within; or you may momentarily perceive that it is indeed possible to enjoy a self-existent bliss whose source seems to be an inner light. These experiences cannot establish themselves permanently because there are rebellious tendencies in the external personality which take time to dissolve. The peculiar vagaries of the meandering psychic transformation are the subject of this article.
When once asked about what surprises him, the Dalai Lama responded, “Man — because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.” In the same vein, these are some remarks by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Continue reading
This article continues a previous article “Allusions in Savitri” in which we discussed some allusions employed by Sri Aurobindo in his epic poem Savitri. Sri Aurobindo had to evolve a new diction in English to describe his supernatural experiences and towards this end, he occasionally employed images, symbols and phrases from English Romantic poetry. All allusions discussed herein were discovered by Dr V.K. Gokak(1909-1992), a professor of English and Kannada literature, and have been extracted from his book “Sri Aurobindo – Seer and Poet”.
Imagine for a moment that you knew the future. Doesn’t that seem a good thing? You could relax and work without getting stressed out; you could plan ahead and direct your energies only in those paths that you know would lead to success; you could avoid all those intransigent people who keep trapping you in some debilitating vortex of time. There would be no wastage of energy, no error, no agonizing in hindsight over missed opportunities. What a utopian world it would be! But counter-intuitive as it seems, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother Mirra Alfassa offered some legitimate reasons as to why the future is deliberately hidden from us.
“How would the lives of Western women have been different if they had been raised to believe that God was a Mother, all loving and all powerful?” It is with this thought-provoking question that Lisa “Prajna” Hallstrom opens her book Mother of Bliss on the life of the Bengali woman saint, Anandmayi Ma(1896-1982). Hallstrom, through this book, sought to understand the phenomenon of female spiritual Gurus in India. (See her website)
In his epic poem Savitri, Sri Aurobindo sought to convey many of the superconscient experiences that he and the Mother Mirra Alfassa underwent. In order to bring home the touch of the Ineffable to the reader, he employed a number of literary devices as part of the diction, including what are known as “allusions“. An allusion is a distinct phrase, assumed to be relatively familiar to the discerning reader, which is used in poetry to kindle specific images and symbols in the reader’s mind. V.K.Gokak, a professor of English and Kannada literature, was able to uncover about 130 allusions to Romantic era poetry in Savitri (not unusual considering that Sri Aurobindo was a Cambridge-educated classics scholar). Gokak has discussed these allusions in his book Sri Aurobindo – Poet and Seer. In this article, we cover a few of allusions that he discovered.
Someone asked the question in a comment on this blog, “If one is automatically going to obtain knowledge by following the spiritual path, why should we read books and create stress in the body? Why bother? Why not just sleep well and be relaxed?” People in spiritual communities sometimes tend to deprecate the intellect (and consequently, intellectuals) because the scriptures state that the intellect is a creator of illusions and has to be transcended in order to experience the Spirit which pervades the universe. The question raised above calls for a nuanced understanding of the felicitous role played by the intellect in the often-misunderstood “spiritual path”.
In her 2006 book “My Stroke of Insight”, neuroscientist Jill Bolte-Taylor describes a brain haemorrhage that incapacitated her left brain and induced a feeling of bliss and euphoria, a state she alludes to as being akin to Nirvana. (“I’m no authority, but I think the Buddhists would say I entered the mode of existence they call Nirvana“) This post explores the intriguing possibility whether her experience could resemble the transcendental moments experienced by yogis.
This is Jyotipriya’s summary of Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem Savitri. Jyotipriya aka Dr Judith Tyberg (1902-1980) was the founder and director of the Sri Aurobindo Center of Los Angeles. Savitri is an epic poem in blank verse of about 24000 lines, which narrates the spiritual journey undertaken by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as part of their Integral Yoga. It details the varied occult worlds they witnessed, the states of consciousness they experienced, and the work of Supramental Transformation that they undertook in their life. Sri Aurobindo has rendered in accessible English verse many of the concepts found scattered across the numerous Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas.
We desire security in life and the manner in which we satisfy this desire alters considerably as we evolve in consciousness. At the lowest level stands the social individual, who prudently nurtures an extensive network of family and friends to whom he/she can turn to in times of desperation. In the middle stands the neophyte on the spiritual path, who seeks shelter in a place of meditation – a room where the vibrations have been made serene through devotional music and incense – where he or she can withdraw to contemplate and gain strength during trials and tribulations.
In the history of various countries, one often finds a core group of artists born about the same time who went on to create a cultural movement which ennobled civilization as a whole. Some examples of this trend would be the European Renaissance, the Carolingian Renaissance, the Bengal Renaissance, the Harlem Renaissance, the Celtic Revival and many other literary and art movements. Is there an occult explanation for such collective movements?
In the Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhrigu is asked by his Guru to (spiritually) realize : “Matter is Conscious!”. The ancients believed that Matter was also a form of Consciousness and that this fact could be uncovered through Yoga. This consciousness within Matter discloses itself as the will in the atom, the symmetry of the crystals, the fatigue in metals, etc. There is an Intuition in Matter which holds the action of the material world from the electron to the sun and planets and their contents. To the modern rational mind, any such proposition seems preposterous and untenable. Modern science has found that Matter and Energy are interchangeable but it has not yet been able to resolve the mind-body dichotomy. On this topic, Sri Aurobindo said, “Only by an extension of the field of our consciousness or an unhoped-for increase in our instruments of knowledge can the ancient quarrel be decided.” The Life Divine – I: The Two Negations: The Refusal of the Ascetic In the absence of such an advance on either side, all one can do for now is examine and anticipate the possibilities…
The ordinary human mind interfaces with the phenomenal world through abstractions; with the aid of the senses, it builds a representation of the world in the human memory which it manipulates with the reasoning process, rejecting and accepting ideas based on the ego’s subjective inclinations. The nature of the thought process changes as the mind becomes electrified with progress in Yoga. The practice of mental silence heightens the vibratory pitch of the brain and the awakening of the Kundalini kindles subtle centers in the brain. The mind expands into the cosmic planes of the Mind and acquires new powers of consciousness. In such a mind, the memory of the past is purged, the reasoning process is replaced by spontaneous intuition, and the abstractions within are substituted by a more intimate knowledge acquired by direct contact of subject consciousness with object consciousness.
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother Mirra Alfassa were twin souls. They made explicit statements and also dropped plenty of hints as to the essential unity of their consciousness. He wrote that the “supreme state of human love…is the unity of one soul in two bodies” [Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga – I: The Release from the Ego]. This post collects some of the material on twin souls.
The universe is larger than the physical world as explained in the section on Cosmology. There are many occult worlds peopled by conscious beings which exert an influence on earth and man. There is some element of truth in the fairy tales of yore which talk of elfins, genii, fairies and Titans. The majority of men are ignorant puppets in the hands of these forces and it only when the Yogin has progressed to a stage where his/her subliminal consciousness has opened to a greater cosmic consciousness that he/she begins to directly perceive the influence of these occult forces. One may find oneself succumbing to sudden depressions, violent outbursts and other dreadful thought formations which are the handiwork of these beings of various occult worlds. This post covers the characteristics of some of these nefarious activities against which one must guard.
Oftentimes in life, one hits a fork in the road where one is faced with a life-changing decision and has to make a choice without knowing all the facts. In such situations, one must understand that there is not just one future but alternative futures. Those who want to grow spiritually should know that the inner motive with which one makes the choice is more important than the choice itself. One must examine one’s thoughts and ask, “what is the underlying motive on which my choice is based?” Is the choice driven by money, comfort, desire for social status, religious law, despair, anger, cruelty or the inability to admit mistakes ? Can one live with the decision in the future…? One must look for signs of uneasiness in the heart. Looking back later in life, it is quite possible that one realizes that the choice one made then was pre-destined!
When the Yoga enters into deeper states of trance, the heat of the Kundalini begins to course through the body, the subtle body is activated and the brain experiences a reverberating natural silence. The Yogin experiences a sense of purity, rejuvenation and alertness within. At this point, one may hear subtle sounds in the ear, smell burning incense or floral fragrances (which have non-worldly origin) and gain sight into the occult worlds. The sounds which the Yogin hears tend to vary depending on the inner plane of consciousness to which one is currently attuned. This post is a collection of these subtle sounds as noted in various ancient scriptures. As we see, there is lot of similarity in these descriptions.
The television, a relatively recent 20th century invention, is a powerful form of entertainment and escape from the travails of life. By identifying with someone else’s life, we momentarily forget the ennui of our own life. TV also provides excitement in the form of sports programs or crime dramas (not to mention the absurd reality shows). But watching TV also has some subtle negative consequences on the consciousness of the spiritual aspirant which are seldom mentioned. In his poem Savitri (all of which was composed before 1950), Sri Aurobindo seems to have anticipated what the advent of television would bring to humanity. He wrote in his poem…
This post describes the three knots/granthis of mental, vital and physical ignorance that tie our consciousness to the physical world and bind our soul to the superficial personality. When these knots are broken, our consciousness widens and opens to the cosmic mind, vital and physical.
The Vedas and the Upanishads speak of a golden lid (Hiranmaya Patra in Sanskrit) which divides the lower rational mind from the higher planes of the Mind above us. This post explains the significance of that Golden Lid in the words of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother.