Guiding Light of The Month

Oh! how I call Thee from the very depths of my heart, True Light, Sublime Love, Divine Master who art the source of our light and of our living, our guide and our protector, the Soul of our soul and the Life of our life, the Reason of our being, the supreme Knowledge, the immutable Peace! - The Mother

The parable of the Search for the Soul



All that has been renews in him its birth,
All that can be is figured in his soul.




Botanical Name: Terminalia Catappa
Common Name: Tropical Almond
Spiritual Significance: Spiritual Aspiration


On a dim ocean of subconscient life
A formless surface consciousness awoke:
A stream of thoughts and feelings came and went,
A foam of memories hardened and became
A bright crust of habitual sense and thought,
A seat of living personality
And recurrent habits mimicked permanence.

-          Savitri, Sri Aurobindo


From the Editor’s Desk (Aug 2018)

This month’s Newsletter edition carries as the theme the title of Canto two of Book seven of Savitri, “The Parable of the Search for the Soul”. In the previous edition, we saw the union of Savitri with Satyavan and the immense joy with which this was lived. At the same time, as a shadow to this joy, she lived the pain of the knowledge of Satyavan’s impending fate. It seemed as a reflection of our own state of being, with joy and pain as inevitable roommates in the same house, in a lesser or amplified degree. Her inner countries were out of her reach at least at that moment. She lived alone with the impending knowledge of Satyavan’s fate and sank into deep sorrow and dejection. In this episode, she sits alone in the night, her heart heavy with grief, each ticking moment tearing a page off her beautiful life with Satyavan. This scene paints in our minds a grim picture of an earnest young woman in distress, desperation and dejection. 

Savitri’s is a noble nature, a being full of deep love and generosity, a being divine, if not wholly in view of her Divinity, at this point of the epic. There a force around that helps, a hand that guides. As an answer to her silent cry of despair, a voice arose in her at this curiously propitious moment and changed the course of her life. This was a defining moment, we will find, as it brought her on the path that she must take. It indicated to her the source she must reach and from which gain her strength and direction to conquer the cause of her current pain. Her initial reaction to that voice was an expression of dejection and hopelessness, a tendency to drift along with the whips of fate towards a natural progression to its end. However, that voice is persistent and reminds her of her mission upon earth. Something in Savitri awakes and overpowers the dejection of her surface being and takes over her life from thence. Without resistance, her mind falls silent, her heart still and she lets her real, truest Self reveal itself to her, from which she will receive all directions for her every move.

This canto, in a story, gives us the message of life as it is and life towards which we must progress. This canto is one of the many that reveals Sri Aurobindo’s vision for the human race. It recognises the plight that the race has put itself into, its plunge into the abyss of darkness and ignorance, a result of which is pain. It is clear that we are needed to rise above the stroke dealt on us by the hands of fate. In order to do that, one needs to pull one’s consciousness away from the exterior and focus within and live the reality within. This task requires from us a silencing of the mind and the stilling of the heart (or vital). We probably know what this entails, in the usual consciousness. Are we able to leave this heavy concentration on our outer lives and turn within? Are we able to silence our noisy mind which at best is a chaotic market place of varied transactions? Are we able to receive with equanimity all that comes our way or allow only those that uplift us? Then only the voice speaks to us in the silence and stillness of our being and the needed is done. Till then, this task of preparation is ours with the Guidance of Grace. This is the sadhana before us.

This month of August venerates the birth of Sri Aurobindo. Let us remember him for his vision for the human race and its evolution into a supramentalised race living the divine here on earth in matter and in life. Let us take stock of where we stand today as we prepare to salute him and hold his revelations before us for our progress. Let us be his true children and take a plunge into ourselves to know ourselves for what we are and transform for the better, all the time invoking the presence and guidance that alone can transform our nature.

Savitri, a journey of Love and Light



But holding back her troubled rebel heart,
Abrupt, erect and strong, calm like a hill,
Surmounting the seas of mortal ignorance,
Its peak immutable above mind’
s air,
A Power within her answered the still Voice:
“I am thy portion here charged with thy work,
As thou myself seated for ever above,
Speak to my depths, O great and deathless Voice,
Command, for I am here to do thy will.

(Savitri)


And lead man to Truth's wide and golden road


Her nights are sleepless, for still she hears and sees "the dumb tread of Time and the approach of ever-nearing Fate". Then one night she is startled by a mighty voice invading her mortal life; she is jerked into a trance and becomes "a stone of God lit by an amethyst soul". What use Savitri—"O spirit, O immortal energy"!—coming to "this dumb deathbound earth" if it was merely to nurse a hopeless grief in a helpless heart? Not passive sufferance but positive action is expected of her:

      Arise, O soul, and vanquish Time and Death.

Still in her tranced state, Savitri replies: How can she strive when she has neither the strength nor the will to fight? Feeble are her chances of success, feeble the chances of the ignorant race of man responding to the "saviour Light" from above. "Is there a God whom any cry can move?" Isn't he careless of mankind, their dolour and their defeat?

What need have I, what need has Satyavan
To avoid the black-meshed net, the dismal door,
Or call a mightier Light into life's closed room,
A greater Law into man's little world? 

For her own problem there surely is cure enough; she can follow Satyavan to the far off bourne and there "lie inarmed breast upon breast...forgetting eternity's call, forgetting God". Almost a drowsy and pendant reply, hardly worthy of Savitri; the voice therefore admonishes her: "Is this enough, O spirit?" She has come down with a mightier intent, and it will not do to shrink from the task:

Cam'st thou not down to open the doors of Fate,
The iron doors that seemed for ever closed,
 And lead man to Truth's wide and golden road
 That runs through finite things to eternity? 

The petulant human rebel is silenced, and another power, the creator spirit within her, makes a reply. Savitri is ready for action as a vessel of the immortal Spirit; when she knows what she has to do, she will readily strive to do it. The voice answers:

      Find out thy soul, recover thy hid self,
      In silence seek God's meaning in thy depths,
      Then mortal nature change to the divine.


Human thought and human sense can be barriers checkmating the passage of the soul to the Soul; casting away everything, everything has to be gained; and by this means Savitri will be able to invoke the force of the Supreme and conquer Death.

      The voice is withdrawn, and Savitri finds herself sitting "rigid in her gold motionless pose" by sleeping Satyavan's side. The sky lours, thunder rumbles, rain hisses; but Savitri sits impassive still in self-absorbed concentration. She will look into herself, she will go in quest of her soul (as earlier she had gone in quest of her spouse), and she will not turn back till she sights and claims her hidden self.

      Her first series of insights disclose to her, "the cosmic past, the crypt-seed and the mystic origins,/The shadowy beginnings of world fate". It is a vivid and breathless pageantry—from the cosmic whirl of atomic space, the appearance of huddled masses of matter, the emergence of life' in algae, plant and tree, in insect, bird and beast, to the ultimate flowering of 'mind' in man:


      Mind nascent laboured out a mutable form,
      It built a mobile house on shifting sands,
      A floating isle upon a bottomless sea.

 Restless and enterprising, Mind has made conquests of all sorts and organised the "thousandfold commerce of the world". Sometimes probing below, sometimes gazing above, Mind has extended its inquiries into the lower as well as the higher regions of consciousness, nether Hell as also .high Heaven. Mind has its handmaidens—fancy, imagination—and they annex vast territories of experience for man to lord over. In apprehension like a god, yet man can also solicit the dark and devalue himself:

      Man's house of life holds not the gods alone:
      There are occult Shadows, there are tenebrous Powers,
      Inhabitants of life's ominous nether rooms,
      A shadowy world's stupendous denizens...
      The Titan and the Fury and the Djinn
      Lie bound in the subconscient's cavern pit
      And the Beast grovels in his antre den...

They are best kept caged and cribbed in the chambers of the underground, for once you start negotiating with them, they seize you body and soul, pervert all instruments, press their advantages without mercy, and deluge man's world with blood and terror:

      The terrible Angel smites at every door:
      An awful laughter mocks at the world's pain
      And massacre and torture grin at Heaven:...

 Man has propensities both towards good and evil; to give evil full and free play is to turn God's purposes upside down, for,

      It imitates the Godhead it denies,
      Puts on his figure and assumes his face.
      A Manichean creator and destroyer,
      This can abolish man, annul his world.

Thus man finds himself at the crossroads where meet opposing paths that show the way either to the world of the blessed or to the condemned wastes of hell. Man has a past and future, and the narrow isthmus of the present is his playground of trial and striving. While his mind is his helper, he cannot wholly depend upon it; mind too can mislead, unawares sometimes, and sometimes deliberately. There are other forces, however, to redress the balance, at times also to tilt it to dangerous consequence:

A portion of us lives in present Time,
A secret mass in dim inconscience gropes;
Out of the inconscient and subliminal
Arisen, we live in mind's uncertain light
And strive to know and master a dubious world
Whose purpose and meaning are hidden from our sight.

But this is no more than a first report or preliminary finding; deeper meanings, clearer purposes, emerge on a closer look at the human drama that is being played on the cosmic stage. Not out of a "blind Nature-Force" has life emerged, and then mind; the sea of inconscience carries the potencies of life, mind, and any powers that may be above mind, though all as yet held in suspension as it were. What is 'involved', nascent or held in suspense comes out when the time is ripe, and so the evolutionary march begins and continues.

      There is a law that controls, yet transcends, the wide ranges of consciousness, from inert matter to man and the future superman. It may be that man has his "prone obscure beginnings" in the jungle ape; but he has not ceased to grow, he has not ceased to hanker after good and beauty and God, and he has been moving "in a white lucent air of dreams". The setbacks have been many, the frustrations numberless, but pioneering man has moved breast-forward, flirted with the omniscient, and made vague approaches to omnipotence:

      Thus man in his little house made of earth's dust
      Grew towards an unseen heaven of thought and dream
      Looking into the vast vistas of his mind
      On a small globe dotting infinity.
      At last climbing a long and narrow stair
      He stood alone on the high roof of things
      And saw the light of a spiritual sun.

As Savitri sees these vistas pass before her, the realisation comes to her that the mighty Mother has made her,

      .. .the centre of a wide-drawn scheme,...
      To mould humanity into God's own shape
 And lead this great blind struggling world to light
 Or a new world discover or create.

But for this to be accomplished, the heavenly psyche hidden in Savitri should come out into the open and "liberate the god imprisoned in the visionless mortal man".

 (An excerpt from “Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri – A study of the cosmic epic”, Dr. Premanandakumar, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)
                                                             

Flowers Speak…



Devotional Attitude

Modest and self-effacing, it yields remarkable fruit

Conquer thy heart’s throbs, let thy heart beat in God:
Thy nature shall be the engine of his works,
Thy voice shall house the mightiness of his Word:
Then shalt thou harbour my force and conquer Death.

***


Modesty of Beauty


It blossoms without attracting attention

Impassive mid the movement and the cry,
Witness of the thoughts of mind, the moods of life,
She looked into herself and sought for her soul.

Savitri

(Flowers and Messages, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)




June-July Sunday Activities at the Centre - A glimpse


June 17th – Self-Dynamising Meditation using Savitri and Huta Paintings
We continued with our dive into Book 3, ‘The Book of the Divine Mother’, Canto 3, ‘The House of The Spirit and The New Creation’. Though it was a repeat, our view this time was from the integral of the Time infinity and the Timeless infinity – the 3rd dimension indeed; it was as if we were unearthing new knowledge from this whole view – the Triune of ‘The Knower Knows the Knowledge’, ‘The Lover Loves the Beloved’ and so on. We also virtually experienced the delight of being at the gardens and the petal rooms of the Matrimandir.


July 1st – Q&A 1954, The Mother, 8th September 1954

Question- Sweet Mother, what are the adverse powers of the subtle physical?

Mother says there are countless adverse forces as there are elements in the world. They all exist in the vital world as thought, impulses desires and wills. Only with the psychic influence we can be away from the bad ones and be a collaborator in the divine work.
The mind and the heart should be one pointed and concentrated in the single aspiration to the Divine.

July 8th – The Future Poetry with On Quantitative Metre, The complete works of Sri Aurobindo

The Character of English Poetry-1
Jared guided us in the journey of the reading and understanding a few pages from the above. The glimpse as follows:

Character of poetry of a nation is better understood in relation to the mental and dynamic makeup of its people. Sri Aurobindo has identified gaps in the English contribution towards arts especially in the field of music, artichitecture, painting in comparison to those of the rest of Europe (Italy, France, Holland). Similarly, the English lack any profundity in philosophical tradition & scientific culture. However, England has proved herself to be a world leader when it comes to industrialization and exploration.

The influence of Anglo Saxon, Scandinavian, Celtic elements was highlighted. Anglo Saxon provides the Teutonic strength and practicality dealing with facts while the Celtic qualities highlight inherent spirituality and imagination. This juxtaposition of characteristics creates a chaotic fusion that defines both the greatness and limitations of English poetry.


July 15th – Self-Dynamising Meditation using Savitri and Huta Paintings
We concluded our prolonged journey into the upper hemisphere of the Unknown, the Supramental Light, the symbol OM and the creator Flame with a small glimpse of Grace of our infinite Mother – all these through Book 3, ‘The Book of the Divine Mother’. Aswapati obtains The Vision and The Boon

“… one shall descend and break the iron law,
Change Nature’s doom by the lone Spirit’s power”
To experience this all-powerful Savitri, at the conclusion of Her yoga, we commenced our journey into the Canto 6 (Nirvana and the Discovery of the All-Negating-Absolute) and 7 (Omnipresent Reality and the Discovery of the All-Fulfilling Godhead) of Book 7: The Book of Yoga.

July 22nd – The Future Poetry with On Quantitative Metre, The complete works of Sri Aurobindo

The Character of English Poetry-2
Jared guided us to the next level in Character of English Poetry.

The gist as we understood is as follows:

Sri Aurobindo believed that English poetry is richer than the poetry of other European languages. He adds that this superior quality contributed to 'a long continuity of poetic production'.
Shaped by various European influences, early English verse was energetic and vigorous. It continued to evolve into greater forms through the Elizabethan, the Romantic and Victorian periods. 
He reiterates that English poetry is great because it is a reflection of life and holds the mirror up to nature, thereby making the thought deeply personal. Such sentiments could be expressed in a style full of rhythm, vision and beauty. 

- Jayalakshmi & Ramadoss


Along the Way… July Walk Review (walk no 395)


Nestled in the midst of Pasir Ris housing estate, the lush greenery of Pasir Ris town park welcomed us on the morning of 1st of July.  While we waited for more members to join us at the starting point, I marvelled at the location of the park that was accessible by public transport and seemed to serve as a popular spot for social interactions for nearby residents.  At the park’s center is a large pond and one could observe a number of fishing enthusiasts waiting for their catch. 
Once all members were gathered we commenced the walk by heading towards Pasir Ris Park via the Pasir Ris Park connector.  Along the way the group broke up with some preferring to take a run while others a brisk walk. 

At the end of the park connector we headed to the west side of Pasir Ris Park and walked along the beach.  While the beach on the surface looked litter-free, the number of ships that were anchored along the coast made me wonder whether the quality of the water was fit to swim or even just wet your feet. Perhaps that is the reason we saw families preferring to camp, jog, or cycle along the beach rather than take a swim in the water.

There was a varied conversation going around in the group.  We spoke about the environment and the usage of plastic in our daily life.  With countries like New Zealand and even India banning plastic, Singapore seemed way behind in implementing measures to reduce the usage of plastic in our day-to-day activities.  Another group was reminiscing about a camping trip that had taken place a couple of years ago at Pasir Ris as a part of the Integral Education Programme with children and adults enjoying the activities despite the sudden downpour.

We slowed down a bit to spot some of nature’s wonders around us like a unique flower that looked like a Magnolia but had a smaller flower within. The trees were lined with some mushrooms and
this made a good spot to take some nature pictures.





Pasir Ris park has quite a few observation points for nature enthusiasts to enjoy the  flora and fauna. We climbed the Look-out tower to spot some birds and spotted two yellow birds that Kiruthika identified as Orioles.  

No walk at Pasir Ris is complete without seeing the Mangrove forest.  The mangrove boardwalk leads off to a small pier overlooking the mangrove-lined Sungei Tampines. Children tried to identify some of the marine life and spotted a monitor lizard.



At the end of the walk, it was ascertained that this walk had a record number of attendees of 35 members. We then headed towards the hosts’- Ami, Sanjay, and Aakash’s - residence for meditation and prayers. The prayer session was followed by a small birthday celebration for all July-born members and we were all treated to a delicious brunch prepared by the family which was much enjoyed by everyone present.

---- Swati Kiran