Here is an interesting history of how Russians came into contact with Sri Aurobindo during the time of the Soviet Union. This article was originally posted on the website of Varuna Energy & Water Pvt. Ltd., which is a unit based in Auroville.
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 (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.
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
The Overman Foundation has published the entire set of conversations with Sri Aurobindo that were recorded by Anilbaran Roy. These talks cover a wide spectrum of issues (symbols, occultism, karma, politics) and were originally published in the Sri Aurobindo Circle from 1977 to 1994.
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.