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)
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!
For 2011 report, click here
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?
In the last chapter of his book “The Emperor’s New Mind”, Roger Penrose draws on his scientific career to offer insights into the spontaneous, aesthetic and non-algorithmic nature of mathematical insight, the non-verbal thought process of the scientist, and other topics related to what he calls the “physics of the mind”. Many of his remarks chime quite well with corresponding observations made by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on the nature of the thought process, as we see in this article.
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.
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.
A reader from India asked a question which deserves to be highlighted as a separate blog post. The question was: “Many times people on their way to temples meet with accidents and die. What is the point of praying to Deities if they cannot protect their own devotees ? We also hear of stories where people claim that their beloved Deity saved them. How do we know if it was the Deity who intervened. Why does the Diety intervene in one case and not in another?”
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.
Given the 300+ pages which now comprise this blog, I thought it may be a good idea to summarize the myriad ways in which you can navigate this blog.
Before she became the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Mirra Alfassa was a spiritual seeker like any other, reading books on mysticism, communing with nature, probing the recondite worlds of her dreams, meeting with fellow seekers, and generally assimilating the mysterious intimations of a vaster consciousness that were being disclosed to her from time to time. Along the way, she read Swami Vivekananda’s book on Raja Yoga and found it illuminating. Jnanendranath Chakravarty, who was visiting Paris, gave her a French translation of the Bhagavad Gita and asked her to read it with the understanding that Krishna was the symbol of the immanent God, the inner Godhead .
In The Life Divine, there is a chapter entitled “Brahman, Ishwara, Purusha – Maya, Prakriti, Shakti“. According to the editing notes, this chapter was inserted by Sri Aurobindo as part of a revision of The Life Divine completed in 1940 . The purpose of this chapter is to reconcile three different views of the Universe proposed by the philosophies of Samkhya, Vedanta and Tantra. This intent may not be immediately apparent to those not well-versed in Indian metaphysics, because the word “Samkhya” is explicitly used only twice in this chapter while the terms “Vedanta” and “Tantra” never occur. This article is a light contextual introduction to this chapter.
Between the eighth and twelfth centuries A.D, a distinctive school of yoga and philosophy flourished in Kashmir under masters such as Vasugupta, Somananda, Utpaladeva, and Abhinavagupta, Jayaratha and Ksemaraja. For these Rishis, Shiva was not a destructive God or eccentric yogi but the eternal Self which resides in all beings . This school is now called “Kashmir Shaivism”. Beginning in the 1850s, the Kashmir research department, which was founded by Maharaja Pratap Singh to study the ancient heritage of the region, began recovering and publishing the extant texts of this ancient school. Among the texts discovered was the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra which enumerates 112 Dharanas (methods of centering the awareness). The Vijnana Bhairava states in verse 162 that it is the distillation of an earlier text named the Rudrayamala Tantra, a scripture which is now lost. This article details some of the methods of inducing contemplation listed in the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra.
In 1934, Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the Indian freedom struggle, sought to meet Sri Aurobindo because they had never met in person before. The latter declined the request because he didn’t want to break the seclusion that he had been observing since 1926. Strangely, the Mother who had no such restriction also declined to meet him. By combining the correspondence available in the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi with the records in the Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo, it is possible to build a complete picture of why this important meeting never transpired. One of Mahatma Gandhi’s letters seen below also furnishes us with a second-hand account of daily life in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
Time magazine in Jan, 1950 called it the “Revolt of a doormat” (alternate link). Nandini Mehta, wife of Bombay textile millionaire Bhagvandas Mehta and mother of three children went to court asking for legal separation. She had become a disciple of Jiddu Krishnamurti and aspired to live a celibate life but her husband would not permit her to do so. After an acrimonious court battle, she eventually separated from her husband but was unable to gain custody of her children (1). She devoted the rest of her life to running an orphanage Bal Anand (i.e. “joy of children”; it still exists; see a report).
The spiritual journey begins in enigmatic ways and progresses along sinuous and untrodden paths in its ascending arc towards some dim, distant promise of greater harmony. Some come disillusioned by life and seek to comprehend why the world is so treacherous, while others may be motivated by a mystic verse which promises a larger and fuller vision of life. Even after a promising start, we may vacillate for a long time unable to relinquish our past attractions or get trapped in inferior ideals before recovering our purpose and resuming our pursuit. In this excerpt taken from the Synthesis of Yoga, Sri Aurobindo reflects on the myriad ways in which people begin the spiritual journey.
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.
A blog reader asked in a comment what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother thought of atheism and agnosticism. Since I couldn’t find a pithy conspectus by them on the topic, here is a synopsis based on whatever I have absorbed from their writings. It is followed by a passage from Sri Aurobindo’s work on social philosophy, The Human Cycle.
This article brings together some predictions and uncanny observations made by Sri Aurobindo that were fulfilled later in time. To preserve chronological fidelity, I will only draw on remarks which predate the actual occurrence of the event. If the modern tech-savvy yogi had to record predictions about the future, he or she could use Trusted timestamping(digital notary), a cryptographic technology which is now available in commercial software products. Such technology was unfortunately not available in Sri Aurobindo’s time nor did he care to impress others with his yogic abilities. Consequently, the neutral observer wishing to verify these predictions has to rely on a combination of trust as well as the fact that the original manuscripts from which these remarks are drawn are preserved in the Archives Department of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry.
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.