Guiding Light of The Month

Tell me, wilt Thou grant me the marvellous power to give birth to this dawn in expectant hearts, to awaken the consciousness of men to Thy sublime presence, and in this bare and sorrowful world awaken a little of Thy true Paradise? What happiness, what riches, what terrestrial powers can equal this wonderful gift! - The Mother

Happy new year 2009


Flowers of the month

Perfect New Creation

Clustered, manifold and complete, it asserts its right to be.

Common Name: White, double tuberose
Botanical Name: Polianthes tuberosa
Spiritual Name: Perfect New Creation

The new world


The result of transformation.

Common Name: Annatto, Lipstick tree, Achiote
Botanical Name: Bixa orellana
Spiritual Name: The New World

A New Year – A New Beginning

Each year a mile upon the heavenly Way,
Each dawn opens into a larger Light.



THERE IS ALWAYS LIGHT IN ME
BRINGS ME NEARER THE SUPREME
ONLY I CAN FEEL, SMELL, BREATHE
SEE THE BEAUTIFUL COLOURS
SPREAD OVER MY ENTIRE BODY
IT IS AN AURA AROUND ME, A SHIELD
THE LIGHT IN ME MAKES ME GLOW
MAKES ME SPARKLE DURING MY CONVERSATION WITH GOD ONLY HE CAN SEE THIS WONDERFUL BEAUTIFUL MIRACULOUS
LIGHT WITHIN ME
BEING ALONE WITH THE ALONE


I WAKE IN THE MORNING TO SEE THE BEAUTIFUL SUN
THE SUNRAYS PROVIDE VITAMIN D FOR ME
THE BIRDS AND THE BEES AND ALL THINGS SMALL AND BIG WELCOME THE SUN
THE TREES, FLOWERS AND BRANCHES SWAY TO AND FRO
BREATHING IN THE RAYS OF THE SUN
FROM MY PRIVATE DISCOVERY, IT BECOMES PART OF ME
LAUGHTER BUBBLES WITHIN TO SEE THE SUN SHINING ON ME
OH! HE IS SO GREAT AND MIGHTY THAT NOBODY DARES NEAR HIM
HE IS FIRM AND FRIENDLY TO ALL LIVING THINGS
HE IS SO BEAUTIFUL SPREADING HIS RAYS ALL OVER THE SKY
OH! BEAUTIFUL SUN I SIMPLY LOVE YOU
WITHOUT YOU I WILL SURELY DIE

Sri Rajes is a self-made artist who tries to express her inner movements on canvas, with mixed media. She paints for leisure and undertakes painting lessons for all those who wish to open themselves to a higher level of creativity through this art form. She believes that there is an artist hidden in everyone, without exception.

Mother's prayer: January 2nd 1915


It is true to say that the divisions of time are purely arbitrary, that the date assigned to the renewal of the year varies according to the latitude, the climate, the customs, and that it is purely conventional. This is the mental attitude which smiles at the childishness of men and wants to let itself be guided by profounder truths. And then suddenly the mind itself feels its powerlessness to translate these truths precisely, and, renouncing all wisdom of this kind, it lets the song of the aspiring heart arise, the heart for which every circumstance is an opportunity for a deeper, vaster and more intense aspiration…. The year of the West renews itself; why not profit by it to will with renewed ardour that this symbol should become a reality and the deplorable things of the past give place to things which must exist in all glory?

(An extract from Mother’s Prayers and Meditations of January 2nd, 1915)

Mother's prayer: January 1, 1914

To Thee, supreme Dispenser of all boons, to Thee who givest life its justification, by making it pure, beautiful and good to Thee, Master of our destinies and goal of all our aspirations, was consecrated the first minute of this new year.

May it be completely glorified by this consecration; may those who hope for Thee, seek Thee in the right path; may those who seek Thee find Thee, and those who suffer, not knowing where the remedy lies, feel Thy life gradually piercing the hard crust of their obscure consciousness.

I bow down in deep devotion and in boundless gratitude before Thy beneficent splendour; in the name of the earth I give Thee thanks for manifesting Thyself; in its name I implore Thee to manifest Thyself ever more fully, in an uninterrupted growth of Light and Love.

Be the sovereign Master of our thoughts, our feelings, our actions.

Thou art our reality, the only Reality.

Without Thee all is falsehood and illusion, all is dismal obscurity.
In Thee are life and light and joy.
In Thee is supreme Peace.

(“Mother’s Prayers and Meditations”, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)

Question of the month

Q : The world is preparing for a big change. Will you help?

How should we help the big change in the world, about which
your New Year’s Message speaks?


The best way of helping is to let the Consciousness that has come down upon the earth work in you for transformation


(9th January, 1970- CWM- Centenary Edition, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1980, published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry 605002)

From Savitri

Source, http://photo.plasmanet.tv/

The middle path is made for the thinking man.
To choose his steps by reason’s vigilant light,
To choose his path among the many paths
Is given him, for each his difficult goal
Hewn out of infinite possibility.
Leave not thy goal to follow a beautiful face.
Only when thou hast climbed above thy mind
And livst in the calm vastness of the One
Can love be eternal in the eternal bliss
And Love divine replace the human tie.
There is a shrouded law, an austere force:
It bids thee strengthen thy undying spirit;
It offers its severe benignances
Of work and thought and measured grave delight
As steps to climb to God’s far secret heights.
Then is our life a tranquil pilgrimage,
Each year a mile upon the heavenly Way,
Each dawn opens into a larger Light.

Editorial

We are approaching an important landmark in time with the close of this year and the beginning of the next. The 1st decade of the 2nd millennium would draw to a close soon, in two years’ time, before the blink of an eye. However, before that, one more full year has to be lived and lived well. As 2009 stands poised at our door steps with all her bounties, 2008 cries for a review and a valediction. As all years, this too has been a unique year, in its own right. As usual, many wars were fought, both up front and from the back door. Many casualties in terms of deaths and injuries added up, as usual, to mere numbers on some politician’s desk, or in the print of a journalists’ well meaning article; scientific discoveries were made, paving the path for miraculous cures some years down the road, as patents are sought and the drugs subject to a series of tests, both on animals and on humans alongside battles against human and animal rights activists; natural catastrophes were faced, with some countries gravely unprepared and some, a little more prepared through lessons of the past; environmental issues appeared to be getting into the limelight in many more countries with significant changes in physical structures of the earthly terrain and climate; a brave new attempt at recreating a replay of the Big Bang was launched; a historic nuclear pact was signed and the first ever Olympic Games of its kind was hosted in an Asian country with unprecedented pomp and grandeur. These are some in the many events that dotted the world scene in 2008. In many ways, these events served to portray humanness at its greatness as well as its baser levels, with whatever lens we choose to examine each event. There will always be many sided opinions on each of these issues that confront us. But the final say on an issue comes back to us after a 360 degrees turn.

Did one have a part to play in any of these events? In what direct or indirect way has one been responsible in shaping world events and the responses to them? Did all these contribute to an eventual growth, and a sense of self-fulfillment within one or did any of these events that meant much to us leave a strangely obnoxious after-taste?

This is perhaps that time of the year to stringently, mercilessly and honestly cross-examine oneself, in relation to one’s individual self and others around us and make resolutions along the lines of progression. The rule for the measure of ‘progress’ need only be, perhaps, a tiny little voice within which would tell us whether we have been worthy of ourselves or not. The next task that would naturally fall in place here would be a resolution to right the imbalance that we perceive in the way we conduct our lives, if there was one.

An aspiration is said to be the beginning of all great things. If peace and harmony are what the world at large is in need of now, then that peace and harmony need to be cultivated in each of us. It is in place here and now to begin with the highest aspiration, and reach out for that high, luminous and mighty state of life on earth as echoed in these prophetic lines:

Life’s tops shall flame with the Immortal’s thoughts,
Light shall invade the darkness of its base.
Then in the process of evolving Time
All shall be drawn into a single plan,
A divine harmony shall be earth’s law,
Beauty and Joy remould her way to live:
Even the body shall remember God,
Nature shall draw back from mortality
And Spirit’s fires shall guide the earth’s blind force;
Knowledge shall bring into the aspirant Thought
A high proximity to Truth and God.

Here then, are prayers for a year of discoveries of all that lies within us and without; to new make these in beauty’s form and truth’s substance, a joyous expression and a living in light and love. Happy New Year to all and wishes for A Glorious New Birth and Beginning.

Flowers of the month

Remembrance of Sri Aurobindo




Botanical Name: Lobelia erinus
Common Name: Lobelia
Spiritual Name: Remembrance of Sri Aurobindo

Let us strive to realise the ideal of life that Sri Aurobindo has shown us.

Opening to Sri Aurobindo's Force




Botanical Name: Thunbergia kirkii
Common Name: Lavender
Spiritual Name: Opening to Sri Aurobindo's Force

The help of Sri Aurobindo is constant; it is for us to know how to receive it.

Sri Aurobindo's last darshan

The following selection is taken from pp. 198-202 of “The Radical Thinkers”, a book published in 1969 by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press and now out of print. The account describes the ashram atmosphere during November and December 1950, immediately preceding and subsequent to Sri Aurobindo's leaving the body.

At last it was the morning of November 24. At Golconda, rumors flew. Although thousands had now arrived for this darshan, it was said that Sri Aurobindo was ill and might find it impossible to appear. Then at the last minute, we were told he was well enough.

A long line led from the main building around the block: people of every color, every style of dress, government officials and high-ranking professors, young and old, from dozens of countries, wanted to see the philosopher-sage. Each of us finally climbed the stairs to the floor where, at the end of a long narrow room, Sri Aurobindo in white and the Mother in a gold sari sat side by side upon a slightly raised platform.

As a westerner, the idea of merely passing by these two with nothing being said had struck me as a bit ridiculous. I was still unfamiliar with the Hindu idea that such a silent meeting could afford an intensely spiritual impetus. I watched as I came up in line, and I noted that the procedure was to stand quietly before the two of them for a few silent moments, then to move on at a gesture from Sri Aurobindo. What happened next was completely unexpected.
As I stepped into a radius of about four feet, there was the sensation of moving into some kind of a force field. Intuitively, I knew it was the force of Love, but not what ordinary humans usually mean by the term. These two were 'geared straight up'; they were not paying attention to me as ordinary parents might have done; yet, this detachment seemed just the thing that healed. Suddenly, I loved them both, as spiritual 'parents.'

Then all thought ceased. I was perfectly aware of where I was; it was not 'hypnotism,' as one Stanford friend later suggested. It was simply that during those few minutes, my mind became utterly still. It seemed that I stood there a very long, an uncounted time, for there was no time. Only many years later did I describe this experience as my having experienced the Timeless in Time. When there at the darshan, there was not the least doubt in my mind that I had met two people who had experienced what they claimed. They were gnostic beings. They had realized this new consciousness, which Sri Aurobindo called the supramental. Later, this same experience made me understand what Heidegger meant by 'standing presence.'

Several days later, an English doctor staying at Golconda warned me that the condition of Sri Aurobindo's health was becoming worse. At 1:30 in the morning on December 5, 1950, he passed away of a kidney infection. About 3:30 that same morning, this was announced to everyone in the ashram. With great sorrow, I realized I had been at the last darshan at which both of them would appear together!

During the day of December 5, I hovered about the ashram grounds, feeling desolate. Already it has been decided, despite the objections of the French colonial governor, that Sri Aurobindo would be buried in the courtyard of the main building beneath a huge spreading tree. The male ashramites, including the visiting doctor, began to build the tomb. I watched the doctor, who had confided to me that he expected Sri Aurobindo to 'reveal himself as an avatar,' and he beat with his sledgehammer on the concrete slab as if he would destroy death itself.

There was weeping but no hysteria. By afternoon, men and women passed baskets of earth from hand to hand, as the digging continued beneath the tree. Then there was a new announcement. For all of us there, there would now be a second darshan. In lesser numbers, we filed through to view the body of the poet-philosopher lying upon his couch in the upper chamber.

Again, the following morning on December 6, we all filed past. The 'force field' which I mentioned earlier seemed to remain about the body and throughout the room. Dressed in white, upon a white couch before the windows, Sri Aurobindo now lay in state. Bowls of flowers stood around the couch; and at the bed's head and foot, disciples of long standing sat quietly, heads bowed.
Unexpectedly, in the afternoon, there was another darshan. Sri Aurobindo's face still did not look deathlike. The skin was golden in color, the white hair blowing on the pillow in a breeze from a fan. The aquiline profile continued to have a prophetic look. There was no odor of death and little incense was burning. To my astonishment, the repeated viewings of his body had a comforting effect.

By December 7, everyone momentarily expected the funeral. This was, after all, a tropical climate. Bodies were usually burnt as quickly as possible in India. Even the planned burial in earth was a major departure from the usual Hindu custom. The grave had now been completed with large cement blocks lining the tomb. But instead of the burial, an announcement came from the Mother:

'The funeral of Sri Aurobindo did not take place today. His body is charged with such a concentration of supramental light that there is no sign of decomposition and the body will be kept lying on his bed so long as it remains intact.'

From the French colony, already exploding with disapproval and its officials much disturbed by the burial plans, came the rumor that the body must have been 'shot with formaldehyde' secretly, to preserve it. Moreover, said the officials, the ashram was not only breaking the law in burying anyone in the garden, it was worse to keep it so long unburied. (The legal regulation was that no body should be kept unburied longer than 48 hours.)

On the morning of December 7, therefore, a French doctor representing the government, a Dr. Barbet, arrived to inspect the body of Sri Aurobindo. At the end he reported it was a 'miracle'; there was no deterioration, no rigor mortis. It was an unheard of occurrence; the weather had continued to be hot during the entire time. After this official and scientific approval, nothing further could be done to prevent another darshan.

Visitors were flocking from all over India; and the Indian newspapers now proposed that Sri Aurobindo be suggested, posthumously, for the Nobel Peace Prize.

This time, I suspected it might be the last time. Everyone and anyone was allowed into the ashram to pass by Sri Aurobindo's body: beggars in rags, curiosity seekers, villagers, ashramites, and visitors.

By December 8, silence was observed throughout the ashram grounds. Only latecomers who had just arrived in Pondicherry were allowed to view the body.

Tension grew among the ashramites, and incredible speculations became the order of the day. An Indian representative of Life magazine came around, wanting to talk to those of us from America. He told us that this phenomenon of bodily preservation after death had never taken place anywhere in India. Why, even yogis who specialized in 'live' burial had never performed such a feat. No Indian 'living saint' in history had preserved his body after death in this fashion. The Indian magazine representative wondered if Sri Aurobindo was not, after all, still alive and only in some kind of trance state or coma.

On December 9, at noon, a notice was posted that there would be a final darshan for those in the ashram at one o'clock. Later the time was changed to 2:30 p.m. and visitors from outside were allowed in first. The night before, a plane chartered by 19 people from Darjeeling had flown in. By now, in Golconda, everyone was sharing his or her room; bedrolls crowded the floors and halls of the guest house.

I had, of course, postponed my planned departure date. All of this, I realized, was a situation which would remain entirely unduplicated in my own life. I intended to remain until the end.
On the afternoon of December 9, at 5:00 p.m., the burial service finally took place after another final darshan. A feeling of force and energy remained in the atmosphere around Sri Aurobindo's vicinity, but that force had now weakened. Afterwards, in absolute silence, everyone in the ashram sat in the courtyard. The gates were locked against further curiosity seekers.

There was no orthodox religious service at the burial. The coffin, of rosewood with metal gold rings, much like an old and beautiful sea chest, was borne from the ashram and lowered into the earth. French officials, all dressed in white, made a line to the left, their faces stern, a bit superior in expression and definitely disapproving of the entire affair. Over the coffin, concrete slabs were laid. Then everyone lined up and, one by one, we scattered earth from wicker baskets. It was dark under the spreading tree when each of us had made this last farewell.
On the morning of December 10, when I visited the grave, it was already covered with flowers, incense sticks burning. It was announced that the Mother would carry on at the ashram and that a new International University would be opened.

Although the Mother had announced there would be two weeks of meditation during which she would see no one, she graciously granted me a farewell interview on December 15, at 6:00 p.m.
At 5:30 I went into the meditation hall, still very much mentally and emotionally upset by everything that had occurred. She appeared at the top of the stairs, dressed in white. When I smiled, she nodded and said: 'Come on up.'

All the questions I had meant to ask seemed to vanish. I was intensely aware that the interview itself was an imposition, when she had so recently lost the companion of 30 years. 'They say you wish to see me,' she said quietly.

Before I could think I blurted out that I seemed to be full of fears, fears of new wars, fears of this or that in my personal life.

'One must not fear,' she said. 'By fear you bring about what you fear.' I nodded, then she added; and I had a feeling she spoke to the world, not just to me: 'It's ego! Ego!'

Several personal matters were discussed, and then of spiritual development she said: 'One must have a spirit of adventure all this, you know.'

When our brief talk was over, she took a double French marigold from a bronze bowl on the edge of a small dark table, against which she had leaned an elbow while we talked. With a long look, she handed the flower to me.

Only much later, many years later, did I realize how fortunate I had been. Within the space of a year, far from my own shores, I had met three of the world's greatest human beings: Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist, who had said that man had outgrown his concept of God; and these two: Sri Aurobindo and Mira Alfassa, or the Mother, who together, had attempted to give the world that new needed concept of God, as those of spiritual genius always do.
Because of them, life continues to have hope and meaning.

* * *
Rhoda LeCocq received a degree in philosophy from the California Institute of Integral Studies.

Sri Aurobindo and Savitri


Some months before his passing , Sri Aurobindo, as if in foreknowledge of the event, said: "I want to finish Savitri soon." The words took by utter surprise the disciple, his scribe, who had been used to the grandly patient way in which so far it had been composed and frequently retouched and amplified. Even when, in the past, composition had been extraordinarily swift - once four to five hundred lines needing hardly any change were dictated in succession - there had been no hurry in the poet's attitude to his work. But now he increased immensely the general tempo of composition and revision. There seemed a race with time. And it was almost towards the end that, after rapidly revising the long second Canto of the Book of Fate, he paused with some satisfaction. Then he inquired what still remained to be written. On being told about the Book of Death, and the Epilogue entitled The Return to Earth, which were yet to be caught up into a larger utterance, he remarked: "Oh , that?" We shall see about that afterwards".
Savitri, as the footnote to the Book of Death indicates, was not completed in the common meaning of the term and indeed Sri Aurobindo's original plan was to give this part of the poem as well as the Epilogue a thorough recasting. But his strange remark suggests that later, for reasons of his own, he was not anxious about them and that what he had thought necessary had been done. So it is impossible to say definitely that he did not wish Savitri to be, on the whole, just as he left it after making corrections and additions in the Canto already mentioned of the Book of Fate.

These corrections and additions were the last things he wrote in this epic of twenty-three thousand eight hundred and thirteen lines, over which he spent so many years. Among them, in view of subsequent circumstances, three newly written passages in the speech of Narad stand out most significantly. The first is about the sacrifice of the God-Man given in history:

He who has found his identity with God Pays with the body's death his soul's vast light His knowledge immortal triumphs by his death.

The second dwells on the inner meaning with which Satyavan's departure from the earth is packed:
His death is a beginning of greater life... A vast intention has brought two souls close And love and death conspire towards one great end. For out of danger and pain heaven-bliss shall come, Time's unforeseen event, God's secret plan.

The third is a passage of seventy-two lines, absolutely the last piece of poetry dictated by Sri Aurobindo, in which, with a sound as of massive repeating bells, Narad admonishes King Ashwapathy's wife when she protests against the fate of loneliness that will be her daughter Savitri's in consequence of the predestined passing of Satyavan, even as it appeared to be that of Sri Aurobindo's spiritual co-worker, the Mother, at the time the Master of the "Integral Yoga' withdrew from his body. Some lines may be quoted:

As a star, uncompanioned, moves in heaven Unastonished by the immensities of space, Travelling infinity by its own light, The great are strongest when they stand alone... A day may come when she must stand unhelped On a dangerous brink of the world's doom and hers, Carrying the world's future on her lonely breast, Carrying the human hope in a heart left sole To conquer or fail on a last desperate verge, Alone with death and close to extinction's edge, Her single greatness in that last dire scene, She must cross alone a perilous bridge in Time And reach an apex of world-destiny Where all is won or all is lost for man... For this the silent Force came missioned down; In her the conscious Will took human shape: She only can save herself and save the world... Even though all falters and falls and sees an end And the heart fails and only are death and night, God-given her strength can battle against doom... Think not to intercede with the hidden Will, Intrude not twixt her spirit and its force But leave her to her mighty self and Fate.

(An extract from Sri Aurobindo's “Letters on Savitri ", “Savitri”, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry 1954)

Sri Aurobindo's samadhi



The Samadhi itself, visited daily by hundreds in an attitude of devotion and prayer, seemed to testify to the reality of Sri Aurobindo’s continued Presence, bathed in the life-giving rays of the Everlasting Day. In Nirodbaran’s inspired language,

“Out of his Samadhi, a thousand flames seem to be mounting up and , lodged in our soul, burning in an ever rejuvenating fire, while His Presence enveloping and merging with and radiating from the Mother’s being and body is pervading the whole atmosphere. One can see His Presence, hear his footfalls, his rhythmic voice, ever vigilant, devoid of the encumbrance of the physical body.”

Still Nirod hears the Master’s whisper, “I am here, I am here”, and with the ear of faith we can hear the words too.

The mystic realization of his presence in our midst - for his nectarean presence and beneficence is not confined to the Samadhi environs or even the Ashram alone - is the Promise of preservation, liberation and transformation to humanity poised perilously on the edge of the precipice: the deep Abyss on one side, the steep ascent to truth on the other. In this phoenix hour, the hour of the unexpected, when the Asuric and Divine forces are fighting the battle of man’s future - the battle of Satyavan, the Soul of the World, Sri Aurobindo gives the all-suffering Word that his coming will not have been in vain, that his ministry, “ Sri Aurobindo’s Action”, is as pauseless and potent as ever.

“Come, O Creator Spirit, come,
And make within our hearts thy home;
To us thy grace celestial give,
Who of thy breathing move and love.”

(An extract from “The Mystery of 5th December 1950”, All India Magazine, December 1998)


Last night we (you and myself and some others) were together for quite a long time in the permanent dwelling of Sri Aurobindo which exists in the subtle physical (what Sri Aurobindo used to call the true physical). All that happened there ( much too long and complicated to be told) was, so to say, organized in order to express concretely the rapid movement with which the present transformation is going on; and Sri Aurobindo told you with a smile something like this: “Do you believe now?” It was as if he was evoking these three lines from Savitri :

“God shall grow up while the wise men talk and sleep;
For man shall not know the coming till its hour
And belief shall be not till the work is done.”
- The Mother (1963)
-
(“The Flame Of Truth” edited by V.K. Gokak and V. Madhusudhan Reddy, Institute of Human Study, Hyderabad, India)

“Sri Aurobindo is here with us, conscious and alive. “


“Lord, this morning Thou hast given me the assurance that Thou wouldst stay with us until Thy work is achieved, not only as a consciousness which guides and illumines but also as a dynamic Presence in action. In unmistakable terms Thou hast promised that all of Thyself would remain here and not leave the earth atmosphere until earth is transformed. Grant that we may be worthy of this marvelous Presence and that henceforth everything in us be concentrated on the one will to be more and more perfectly consecrated to the fulfillment of Thy sublime work.”

- The Mother
(7th December 1950)


“We stand in the presence of Him who has sacrificed his physical life in order to help more fully his work of transformation.

He is always with us, aware of what we are doing, of all our thoughts, all of our feelings and all our actions.”

- The Mother
(18th January 1951)


“Sri Aurobindo's help is constant. It is for us to know how to receive it.”

- The Mother

Pilgrim of the night


I made an assignation with the Night;
In the abyss was fixed our rendezvous:
In my breast carrying God’s deathless light
I came her dark and dangerous heart to woo.
I left the glory of the illumined Mind
And the calm rapture of the divinised soul
And traveled through a vastness dim and blind
To the grey shore where her ignorant waters roll.
I walk by the chill wave through the dull slime
And still that weary journeying knows no end;
Lost is the lustrous godhead beyond Time,
There comes no voice of the celestial Friend,
And yet I know my footprints’ track shall be
A pathway towards Immortality.


Sri Aurobindo

Question of the Month

How should one spend the Darshan days, December fifth and ninth, and one’s birthday?

In search of a knowledge truer than ordinary knowledge. The fifth and ninth on understanding what death is, the birthday in finding out the purpose of life.
- The Mother
(All India Magazine December 2000 )

Savitri


The Immortal bound to earth’s mortality
Appearing and perishing on the roads of Time
Creates God’s moment by eternity’s beats.
He dies that the world may be new-born and live.



*********

Earth shall be made a home of Heaven’s light,
A seer heaven-born shall lodge in human breasts;
The superconscient beam shall touch men’s eyes
And the truth-conscious world come down on earth
Invading Matter with the Spirit’s ray
Awaking the dumb heart to the living Word.
This mortal life shall house Eternity’s bliss,
The body’s self taste immortality.
Then shall the world-redeemer’s task be done.


(Book Six, Canto Two)

Editorial

Death. This term brings into our perception some sense of sombre solemnity, a despairing sadness, fear, separation, annihilation, disappearance and an end. The term “birth”, on the other hand, brings to our sensibilities hope, happiness, newness, and the semblance of a future. There is tension between these two terms apparently anti-thetical when viewed with the measuring mind and a vehement vital. But are these all that can be ascribed to birth and death? Are these all that we can understand with our humanness? Where was one before birth and where, after death? Can we know? Which part in us decides that death is an end? And an end to what? Pleasures, pain in life, joy, sadness, happiness, comfort, relations? What or who in one was hanging on to these? Who is this ‘one’?

However illuminating religious and spiritual explanations of death maybe, they will only flower as truths in our consciousness when we start to “see” and “know” from within, with our own being. Now, how is this “seeing” going to be part of the “being” or experience? Certainly it cannot come about in the way we take death to be in our ordinary consciousness that suffers a pang at the mention of the word “death”. The principle of ‘ego’ is probably at work here, as the ‘pang’ would well indicate to us. If we can imagine, just for a minute, of an egoless state within and how life would then turn out to be, then we may see a faint glimmer of another way of seeing death.

The theme of this issue centres on Sri Aurobindo’s passing and evokes some thought of the issue of Death. Sri Aurobindo himself has examined this phenomenon extensively in his writings and in nowhere do they appeal to our sensibilities more than in the way he dealt with it in Savitri, where Death is given a voice that rises against the voice of She who came down upon earth to reveal death in His utter truth, as a mask of the Divine. Let us not forget to fix a rendezvous with the revealing chapters of Savitri in our seekings on the meaning of death.

A Truth supreme has forced the world to be;
It has wrapped itself in Matter as in a shroud,
A shroud of Death, a shroud of Ignorance.

In response to a Sadhak’s question on how one could approach the darshan days of 5th and 9th Dec and one’s birthday, The Mother replied: “In search of a knowledge truer than ordinary knowledge. The fifth and ninth on understanding what death is, the birthday in finding out the purpose of life.”(Mother’s words italicised by editor) There is more to death than what we choose to understand or are capable of understanding.

In Dr Alok Pandey’s story, “The second coming”, the master, responds, to a devotee’s apprehensions of the master’s impending passing thus: “But where am I leaving you? Do you think I am this body? None of us are mere physical bodies alone. Only you are not conscious of it whereas I am fully conscious of my deathless Self and the many births before. And the deathless Self is immortal. It does not die.”

This could be the subject of meditation (or object) of one who may want to know what death is, in another dimension.

When Sri Aurobindo passed, his body was lowered into the earth and a Samadhi erected over it. 58 years have passed and the Samadhi continues to draw an ever increasing number of devotees who stand around it in silent reverence for a man the majority of whom had never seen before. What then is death with Sri Aurobindo, the avatar and what is it with a common man? Can death be a needed end for a glorious beginning? Where do the terms ‘mortal’ and ‘immortal’ fit in the scheme of things?

“Evam pravartitam chakram……” and the credit crisis

In the 3rd Chapter of the Bhagvad Gita (Karma Yoga, verses 14 to 16), Sri Krishna explains the working of the cosmic wheel of action. The idea of cyclicity and balance is conveyed in these verses in such a pithy and elegant manner that it can sometimes escape true appreciation by its sheer obviousness. Perhaps it is topical to mention here something I read a while ago….”A work of genius is something that seems obvious after someone has stated it”. This, at least has been the case with me. I have “learnt” of cycles of all sorts since my school days (the carbon cycle, oxygen cycle, nitrogen cycle, Carnot cycle), but I never quite appreciated the fundamental idea behind cyclicity in nature until I was explained these verses. The point hit home even more emphatically when the credit crisis struck.

The time we are living through right now has been described by many as the worst crisis since the Great Depression. Confidence, trust and sentiment have all but evapourated. Once-venerable institutions have now gone out of existence, consumer confidence is at multi-year lows, banks have stopped trusting each other and those lucky enough to have excess cash prefer hoarding it to lending it out. Asset prices have fluctuated wildly over the past few weeks but have headed mostly downwards. The idea gaining favour, as a last resort, is for Governments to spend their way out of this crisis either directly through expansionary fiscal policy or indirectly by supporting asset prices.

But behind all this chaos there seems to be a force that is relentlessly working towards a definitive goal. What we are experiencing, through the meltdown, is active demand destruction. Demand is classically defined as the willingness and the ability to buy a good or a service. Both the willingness and the ability are present in varying degrees in all of us. They have historically grown or reduced in relatively moderate measure. The willingness aspect has always received a push from our egoistical nature but has not always found proportional support from the ability aspect and this mismatch kept demand at sustainable levels. The credit boom of the last six years shook that balance.

The loose monetary policies adopted by central banks all around the world in the aftermath of the dot-com crash of 2001-02 ensured that the global financial system was flush with cash. As growth began to pick up, driven in large measure by China and other emerging market economies, there was a pressing need to make this excess cash “work”. The hungry rush for yield started in right earnest and herein lay the genesis of the sub prime crisis where loans were made out to individuals, sometimes even without elementary due diligence done on the individual, (the so-called “ninja loans”) who didn’t have the ability to service those loans. Billions of dollars of such loans were made in the last five years. But the problem did not stop there. These loans were then packaged into pools which were then sliced and diced (through securitization) into tranches (French for “slices”) and spiced (through leverage) and were thus made tradable by entities all over the world, from the usual suspects (hedge funds) to large pension funds, to wealthy artists in Europe, to retirees in Singapore, to Norwegian town councillors. Financial engineering had, through some genuinely brilliant structuring and some very questionable assumptions (the ability to fund these liabilities at low rates, in particular) fuelled the “ability” to fund a purchase to levels not seen before in human economic history. The indirect consequence of this was a rampage on the earth’s resources as the boom in housing fed voraciously into demand for natural resources. As this happened, and as near-term profits and an inflated wealth effect took charge, the fact that a lot these resources were non-renewable was thrown to the winds. We behaved like we had an infinite supply of these resources to gorge upon. Not much thought was spared for future generations. Greed had cast its vice-like grip on us. The balance of life had been disturbed. The cosmic wheel of action that sustains all of us had come unhinged.

In “The Mother”, Sri Aurobindo writes on Mahakali’s powers “….she is there for swiftness, for the immediately effective process, the rapid and direct stroke, the frontal assault that carries everything before it.” He goes on to say, in reply to a question on Mahakali’s power, “It is felt as something swift, sudden, decisive and imperative. When it intervenes, it has a kind of divine or supramental sanction behind it and is like a fiat against which there is no appeal”. One cannot but be struck by what Sri Aurobindo says and juxtapose it with the rapidity and intensity with which the credit crisis has taken hold of the world, to correct our excesses. Demand has fallen dramatically, across the board, to levels that are seen as more sustainable. Efforts at developing “alternative”, renewable and “green” energy has taken on a new-found urgency. Complexity in financial trading is being shunned (a lot of the instruments that were built on sub-prime loans and whose acronyms had a nasty habit of starting with the letter “C”, have since disappeared) and a realization that human material progress should be achieved through more sustainable means is quietly gaining ground. In most people’s view the process has some more way to run. Mahakali, it seems, has yet more work to do in the coming months. All this is not to say that human innovation in conducting finance and economics will permanently grind to a halt and that we would revert to a primitive way of doing business. Many man-years of creative work have gone into the development of the complex financial instruments that had quite unintended consequences. And they all dealt with a problem that we as human beings would always look for a solution to, namely, credit risk. Newer, simpler and more trustworthy instruments would emerge. Development would, hopefully, happen at a more sustainable pace. We would, hopefully, stop exploiting the earth and the resources that she so generously offers us. We would offer genuine hope to our future generations. We would accept Mahakali’s actions as a means for our own evolution.

We, quite simply, have no choice. The alternative is that sambhavami yuge, yuge might be a visitation we would have to contend with more and more frequently.

NOTES:

evam pravartitam chakram, na’nuvartayati’ha yah,
aghayur indriyaramo, mogham partha sa jivati.
(Verse 16).

“ He who does not follow here the wheel thus set revolving, who is of sinful life, rejoicing in the senses, he lives in vain, O son of Pritha. “ (Swami Chinmayananda)

Flowers of the month

“…for Kali is the most loving of all the aspects of the Mahashakti; hers is the most active and most powerful love.”

- The Mother

Divine Love


A flower reputed to bloom even in the desert

Common Name: Punica Pomegranate tree, fully double vermilion flower
Spiritual Name: Divine Love

Divine Love Governing the World


A beautiful and happy world for which we all aspire

Common Name: Scarlet flame bean
Spiritual Name: Divine Love Governing the World
Large striking dense rounded clusters of numerous brilliant orange red cup-shaped flowers with extended stamens. A small to medium-sized tree with soft pendulous translucent
new leaves.


Unmanifest Divine Love


The splendour of that marvellous love which the Divine keeps for the pure in heart

Common Name: Punica Pomegranate tree, Fully double white flower
Spiritual Name: Unmanifest Divine Love

All reeled into a world of Kali's dance

Every year during the great festival of Navaratri or Dassara, Hindus chant the powerful hymn called Durga Saptasati or Chandi which comprises of seven hundred majestic verses told as an interesting story addressed to the Divine Mother. As one chants these seven hundred verses, one is awestruck at the mighty power of Mahasakthi as she annihilates and violently battles the titans in their forms as Chanda, Munda, Dumralochana, Nishumbha and Mahishasura.
As she battles these mighty asuras one is reminded of the immortal words of Sri Aurobindo on Mahakali:
“Mahakali embodies her power of splendid strength and irresistible passion, her warrior-mood her overwhelming will, her impetuous swiftness and world-shaking force.”

Some years ago I looked up the meaning of some of the verses of Chandi and was struck by its graphic and violent description of this battle and the victory of the Divine Mother, such as these below:

“She seized one by the hair and another by the neck, one she crushed by the weight of her foot, and another of her body.
And she caught with her mouth the weapons and the great arms shot by those asuras and crunched them up with her teeth in her fury.
Some were killed with her sword, some were beaten with her skull topped staff, and other asuras met their death being ground with the edge of her teeth.”


The Mother said that this annual battle and victory of Durga symbolizes “the rhythmic intervention of the Supreme Divine Consciousness that periodically gives a new impetus to the universal progress”. The unfolding of the events in the world coinciding with this annual battle of Durga and the violent turmoil of the financial markets seems very much like the action of Mahakali which has intervened in its “warrior mood and impetuous swiftness” to make us shake off the egoism, ignorance, greed, selfishness and obscurity into which we have sunk. It does feel like Mahakali is literally seizing us by the hair and neck and crushing us with her anger and wrath. Everything around us is reeling in this dance of Mahakali’s overwhelming intensity and “warrior-mood”, which is doing in a day what might have taken centuries.

In the Prayer of August 31, 1914, the Mother writes prophetically that it is from the disorder and terrible destruction that will be seen a “great working, a necessary toil preparing the earth for a new sowing”. We turn to the Mother in this time of disorder and chaos and join the Gods and Sages and chant to the Mother who is “at once the destroyer and the builder”… and in “whom the whole Universe lives with all its life innumerable”.

“O Devi, you who remove the suffering of your suppliants, be gracious. Be propitious, O Mother of the whole world. Be gracious, O Mother of the Universe, Protect the Universe. You are O Devi, the ruler of all that is moving and unmoving.”


REFERENCES
“ The Mother” , Sri Aurobindo, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry
“Devi Mahatmyam “, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras.

The working of Kali


Behind all destructions, whether the immense destructions of Nature, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, cyclones, floods, etc, or the violent human destructions, wars, revolutions, revolts, I find the power of Kali, who is working in the earth-atmosphere to hasten the progress of transformation.

All that is not only divine in essence but also divine in realization is by its very nature above these destructions and cannot be touched by them. Thus the extent of the disaster gives the measure of the imperfection.

The true way of preventing the repetition of these destructions is to learn and make the necessary progress.

(All India Magazine- October 2006- “Mahakali Aspect of the Mother”)

Mahakali



She burst open the veil and leaped to the front,
Into the very thick of the comba -
Our Captain, our Warrior - her flaming sword, her battering mace,
Her thundering cry sweeps the field.

She brooks no delay, has no mercy for weaknes -
Straight is her path and swift she speeds to the goal:
Here and now shall be her victory.
Terrible Mother who presses her children through blazing fire,
The sooner to burn out the dross and free the gold-
The sooner to smother them with her passionate bliss!

Her every tread crushes a demon’s head,
Unseals for mortals a fount of immortality.


(Nolini Kanta Gupta, “To The Heights” translated from “Vers Les Hauteurs”, Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education Pondicherry)

Question of the month

Q : About the Mother’s Mahakali aspect it is said in “The Mother”: “When she is allowed to intervene in her strength, then in one moment are broken like things without consistence the obstacles that immobilize or the enemies that assail the seeker.” How is this intervention of the Mahakali force felt?


It is felt as if something swift, sudden, decisive and imperative. When it intervenes, it has a kind of divine or supramental sanction behind it and is like a fiat against which there is no appeal. What is done cannot be reversed or undone. The adverse forces may try, may even touch or invade, but they retire baffled and it is seen as soon as they withdraw that the past ground has remained intact - it is felt even in the attack. Also the difficulties that were strong before it touched by this fiat lose their power, their verisimilitude destroyed or are weak shadows that come only to flicker and fade away. I say “allowed”, because this supreme action of Mahakali is comparatively rare, the action of the other Powers or a partial action of Mahakali is more common.

(All India Magazine – October 2006, “Mahakali Aspect of the Mother”)

Savitri


Here on a boulder carved like a huge throne
A Woman sat in gold and purple sheen,
Armed with the trident and the thunderbolt,
Her feet upon a couchant lion’s back.
A formidable smile curved round her lips,
Heaven-fire laughed in the corners of her eyes;
Her body a mass of courage and heavenly strength,
She menaced the triumph of the nether gods.
A halo of lightnings flamed around her head
And sovereignty a great cestus zoned her robe
And majesty and victory sat with her
Guarding in the wide cosmic battle-field
Against the flat equality of Death
And the all –levelling insurgent Night
The hierarchy of the ordered Powers,
The high changeless values, the peaked eminences,
The privileged aristocracy of Truth,
And in the governing Ideal’s sun
The triumvirate of wisdom love and bliss
And the sole autocracy of the absolute Light.

(“Savitri”, Book 7, Canto 4)

From the Editor's desk

In the ebb and flow of life, in its ups and downs and all the thrills and pains of a roller coaster ride, if one stands back and observes, two entities are always there; one deeply involved and entrenched in the movement and the other, silently watching, unperturbed, untouched. Then this watcher element, that which is cognizant of these two entities, sometimes wears a smile, amused that two seemingly disparate entities can be in one and the same vessel, if vessel it is that holds these entities, since, to complicate matters in this little, inadequate mind, another proposition has it that this vessel does not hold that but is held in that.

Let’s turn our gaze then to just one entity, the one that is in constant movement, full of energy, entrenched and apparently effectuating the roller coaster ride. Life is never smooth, at least if we place ourselves on the surface of things. Every minute, things are drawn, made, mended, withdrawn, unmade, broken, closed, opened. Appears like the principle of duality works too close to home, does it not? All that is drawn, made, mended, closed affords some comfort, since seemingly, there is little upheaval. All that is withdrawn, unmade, uncovered, broken offers little in terms of solace. The settled being seems to dislike being unsettled, ruffled, tossed about here and there, without a home-base. But of the two states, which offers better prospects of inner growth, one wonders. An honest assessment actually points to the fact that challenging moments that throw us off the throne of complacency we would have occupied for time unknown, actually offer us opportunities for growth, in whichever element of our being and nature. These would truly have been moments of growth spurts that helped to prop us up a little higher on the scale of inner progress.

And this cycle continues indefinitely. A force seems to be behind, cajoling us onwards, despite ourselves, despite our resisting self of nature thatwants to curl up like a well fed cat and go to sleep in a warm corner, oblivious to the world around. In fact, this tendency to sleep and this disturbance, disquiet and dissatisfaction because one had been sleeping for too long, co-exist, closely locked. A tension builds and it takes the immaculate dance of Mahakali to break the lock or deadlock. Very often, a force is sensed, even in our little microcosm. The world at large reverberates with the same pattern. It does not take long to consider lull periods interspersed with earth shattering events along the time line of even a hundred years of our history. Consider the world wars, localized wars, natural calamities and the credit crunches. Tensions erupt into uncontrollable catastrophes. A whirlwind of forces, of energies circle furiously, clash and cast aside, trample upon and destroy all along the path of these formidable energies.

But perhaps, what we need to pay attention to is not so much the hue and cry raised by the calamitous moments, to the clash and the thunder and the roar, but actually to the moment of peace and silence that follows these hair-raising hell rides. When one lives with these unique “after” moments, one may just about sense a huge foreboding presence about, throwing vague hues of calm, silence and assurance in the aftermath scenario. Perhaps divinity was all along there doing its bit, that creation, that stubborn nature could proceed one more step forward towards where it is due and destined. An immanent, immaculate and precise choreography of seemingly calamitous occasions dawns on us when we study tumultuous situations some time after they pass. Perhaps it is because of this that we ascribe calamities to the Dance of Mahakali – naked and terrible.

In this edition of our Newsletter, we take a plunge into the thick of this immaculate and stupendous dance of Mahakali and therein attempt to taste the blissful wine of what could be Divine intent.

Flowers of the month

Mahasaraswati’s Perfection in Works

Botanical Name: Rondeletia
Common Name: Rondeletia
Light terminal corymbs of small orange-red or deep pink salverform flowers.
Spiritual Name: Mahasaraswati’s Perfection in Works
It is not satisfied with makeshift.

Psychic Work

Botanical Name: Cassia javanica
Common Name: Apple-blossom cassia, java cassia;
Cluster of fragrant rose-pink flowers turning white.
Spiritual Name: Psychic Work
A work governed by harmony.

Skill in physical work

Botanical Name: Phlox drummondii
Common Name: Annual Phlox - Carmine red
Spiritual Name: Skill in physical work
Skillful hands, a clear vison, a concentrated attention, an untiring patience
and what one does is done well.

Organised Team-Work

Botanical Name: Averrhoa carambola
Common Name: Carambola
Compact clusters of small fragrant rose-pink bell shaped flowers with red calyces
Spiritual Name: Organised Team-Work
Each in his place and all together.

Thoughts and Aphorisms: Karma

227. He who will not slay when God bids him, works in the world an incalculable havoc.

310. Fix not the time and the way in which the ideal shall be fulfilled. Work and leave time and way to God all-knowing.

311. Work as if the ideal had to be fulfilled swiftly & in thy lifetime; persevere as if thou knewest it not to be unless purchased by a thousand years yet of labour. That which thou darest not expect till the fifth millennium, may bloom out with tomorrow's dawning and that which thou hopest and lustest after now, may have been fixed for thee in thy hundredth advent.

329. Imperfect capacity & effect in the work that is meant for thee is better than an artificial competency & a borrowed perfection.

338. Tangled is the way of works in the world. When Rama the Avatar murdered Vali or Krishna, who was God himself, assassinated, to liberate his nation, his tyrant uncle Kansa, who shall say whether they did good or did evil? But this we can feel, that they acted divinely.

371. The path of works is in a way the most difficult side of God's triune causeway; yet is it not also, in this material world at least, the easiest, widest & most delightful? For at every moment we clash against God the worker & grow into His being by a thousand divine touches.
- Sri Aurobindo

Taking up work as Karma Yoga in Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga


The past – what work meant
In the history of man, work and action have taken different meanings and forms, and has been for different ends, evolving along with the species. We can trace this change and its broad stages and shades. In Stage 1, man worked or rather hunted to satisfy the basic need of hunger. In this, man was driven by the raw instinct to survive. This is the beginning of human action and work. At some point, call it Stage 2, work became more than a way to earn the daily bread. The daily labour began to provide an avenue for intellectual progress, cultivation of individual talents and satisfaction of personal interests. Work in that sense was a “career” and not just an “occupation”. Moving beyond this work as “career” stage, there is now a small minority who do not merely seek to satisfy their personal interests, intellectual curiosity or talents. Call it Stage 3. Man has begun to seek “meaningful work”. Not only individuals, even corporates with profit motive have found meaning and satisfaction in working for the “greater good”. For example, from mere profit centered corporations, we see growth in “corporate social responsibility”. All these developments and urges represent the changing role of action and work for mankind reflecting the human evolution. At the same time, it is true that man still “slavishly” clings to jobs for the financial security it provides (unless other financial provisions have been made). In that sense, the higher meaning of work is still laid on top of the “basic” function of providing for our daily bread.

In his essays on Sri Aurobindo’s poem “The Divine Worker”, the great Aurobindonian, Professor Seetaraman says, “We see the beginnings of enlightenment when he (man) realises that he should not drift aimlessly and be a puppet in the hands of every chance force from outside or whim of his own nature and tries to govern his life and actions by mental standards of conduct given to him by the best cultured minds of the race – the thinkers, artists and moralists. This way of life ensures a regulation of the energies in his nature and a balance in and a sense of proportion to his conduct. He is dominated now by Sattwa and not by Rajas or Tamas as before. But he perceives sooner or later that this regulation or balance is precarious and the peace or light of mind not at all inviolable. Nature binds him still though with a golden chain”[1].

For the sadhaka trying to follow the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, work is Karma Yoga - much more than a “career” which is usually driven by “rajas” and binds as a “silver chain”; and much more also than “philanthropic work” or “work for the greater good” which may be an expression of “sattwa guna” but is still a “golden chain”. It is the next step of the evolutionary ladder that we are trying to climb - call it Stage 4 or Rung 4. That is where we want to be as aspirants on the path. Work, in this yoga, is not even just an expression of “love” or “desireless action” in the remaining years of earthly life while we actually aspire for nirvana and escape from the earth. After all, the integral yoga represents the next step in the human evolution. Work also takes a different dimension altogether in the yoga.

Work as the means and the end – for a higher, truer, sweeter life on earth
The Mother has said that if we remain in meditation and contemplation, we will not know if we have truly progressed. On the other hand, engaging in action and work shows us the true work to be done to purify our being. Indeed, it is our personal experience that the poise and consciousness one attains in prayers and meditation are hard to attain at work and family dealings. Work is hence where sadhana reaches its highest effort and that is how it is meant to be in the integral yoga.

Professor Seetaraman continues, “this perception (of “golden chain”) makes him ready to look deep within him and the world and discover that he had left all along out of reckoning the One for whom, in whom and by whom the world and man exist and indeed considered his life and the world to be fields of gratification for his fantastic and preposterous egoistic desires. So he begins to live and act increasingly in the awareness of God, trying to give up desire in all its forms and to open more and more to the Will of the Lord. Karma Yoga has its beginnings here”.

Professor Seetaraman quotes Sri Aurobindo from the Synthesis of Yoga, “We may indeed distinguish three stages of a growing progress by which first, the personal will is occasionally or frequently enlightened or moved by a supreme Will or conscious Force beyond it, then constantly replaced and, last, identified and merged in that divine Power-action”[2].

In our lives, we may not yet be even in the first stage where the personal will is “occasionally or frequently” enlightened or moved by the Divine Will. Indeed, we may even not have a “will”. Often, we are a cork on the sea, tossed by different influences, though we tend to think we are a complete and independent “individual”. That should, however, be our aspiration. We may not even be in touch with the Divine, be it personal or the impersonal Divine. That should not deter us. This is the purpose of our life and “all life is Yoga”, the Master says.

The marvellous adventure of Karma Yoga – it is ours to live out this adventure
Professor Seetaraman writes, “The Divine Worker does the Divine Work in the Divine Way for he has by conscious union realised identity in nature, likeness to the Divine, sadharmya.” To get there, the Master has given us guidance in Savitri.

“My light shall be in thee, my strength thy force.
Let not the impatient Titan drive thy heart,
Ask not the imperfect fruit, the partial prize.
Only one boon, to greaten thy spirit, demand;
Only one joy, to raise thy kind, desire.
Above blind fate and the antagonist powers
Moveless there stands a high unchanging Will;
To its omnipotence leave thy work's result.
All things shall change in God's transfiguring hour."[3]

My light shall be in thee, my strength thy force
Trying to do work as an offering to the Divine, in a truly higher consciousness, is typically a difficult endeavour. After all, we live through our egos. The Mother’s light and strength is with us and inside us to help us. Wisdom and Force are two of the Mother’s powers. As we know in life, Wisdom alone is not enough to succeed or bring about change or progress. Strength, Courage and Force are also needed. She is promising us HER Wisdom (Light) and Strength (Force) in the sadhana. This means in small and big things, she will help us walk the path. Small things? Whenever we have Monday blues; when we are stressed about the challenges at work; we can offer this to the Mother. Big things? personal ambition; lack of contentment; mistaking the instrument to be the real doer; feeling more than a tinge of pleasure when we are praised; feeling ashamed when we are faulted; or a lack of aspiration - we can simply offer this to the Mother. We do not have to conquer these natural movements of the “ego-self” by ourselves, entirely. We need to simply offer these movements to the Mother. We then open to Her influence and Her Wisdom and Force works in us and takes up the sadhana.

The Mother has said that we do not do the sadhana (Who is the real “I”, anyway?) and that it is the Divine in us who does the sadhana. The Divine in us does the sadhana – our role the Mother says is to “keep the pot upright” (to receive the Divine Grace and Force that will transform us). Significantly, when we rely on and open to the Mother’s Light and Force, She throws light on our insincerities (and that of others). Insincerity is dangerous. When we are insincere, we fool ourselves and others even *without our knowledge*. Transparency is just the opposite. No matter what our ills and weakness, She can change it to strengths if we are transparent to Her. On the contrary, if we are insincere, we may think we are doing the “right thing” or even “the Mother’s will”, when it is actually our desires and opinions that we are furthering. We don’t lie to a doctor. We should certainly not hide anything from the Divine doctor.

Let not the impatient Titan drive thy heart,
Ask not the imperfect fruit, the partial prize.

To aspire and be vigilant, aware that the “impatient Titan” is not driving our heart. Let us not ask the “imperfect fruit, the partial prize”. That next promotion or raise is an imperfect fruit, a partial prize. A bigger house, more savings, better returns on investments, more recognition at work and at home, praying that our kid lands a great job – and if we are sincere, we find the entire list of what most of us aspire fall under this category. Our lives are made up of desires. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking the Mother for these things. Asking Her is much better than not talking to Her at all. Asking her builds a relationship with Her. However, do we want to ask for a million dollars or a billion dollars? A billion, surely. This is the point we often miss as we weigh everything with our rational mind. A much greater prize awaits us. So, what is that? What should we really ask for?

Only one boon, to greaten thy spirit, demand;
Only one joy, to raise thy kind, desire.

We ought to ask Her for only one boon and one joy – to greaten our consciousness and that of our fellow human beings. This does seem to present itself with some practical challenges. Our choice of our work reflects our desires and ambitions. We do it to further our “mental knowledge” and our “bank balances” amongst other things. Besides, we do our work through and with our mind. We don’t see any wrong in loving and caring mainly for our family and friends rather than widening to embrace all humanity. So how do we even reach the state where raising human kind is the “one joy” we desire? There is a way out and the Mother has lovingly shown us an intermediate path. It doesn’t involve “sheer will power” or a “just do it” attitude. We don’t have to go cold turkey and kill our desires. The Mother has made it simpler for us. She has asked us to “aspire (for higher consciousness), reject (weakness, all that keep us in our ego consciousness) and offer (all movements to the Mother)”. Slowly, we will “remember” more often and “offer” more often.

Above blind fate and the antagonist powers
Moveless there stands a high unchanging Will;
To its omnipotence leave thy work's result.
All things shall change in God's transfiguring hour

The Mother will then open our eyes, make us aware of our ego, give us Her Light and Force, and do the sadhana for us. “To its omnipotence leave thy work's result” then becomes a reality. Slowly, we become unified around our divine centre, the psychic. Slowly, the mind falls silent and can listen to the Divine Will. We become aware that it is the Mother who does the work through us. We truly realise our potential and our purpose - it is much more than a PhD degree or a CEO post - She will change the world and establish a harmonious divine life on earth – All things shall change in God’s transfiguring hour. It is to this great adventure that the Mother is beckoning us. “It is the pearl of great price which is offered for our Realisation”. As long as we open to the Mother, we will be gradually guided. Gradually, once we are “ready” to really serve the Divine rather than our desires and ambitions, the Divine will guide us to the “purpose” for which we were born. Then, life and work truly begin.

From “The Mother’s Prayers and Meditations”[4] (December 25 1916)
(What I heard in the silence and noted down last evening)
“By renouncing everything, even wisdom and consciousness, thou wer’t able to prepare thy heart for the role assigned to it: apparently, the most unrewarding role, that of the spring which always lets its waters flow abundantly for all, but towards which no waters can ever run back; it draws its strength from the depths and expects nothing from outside. But thou cans’t already sense the sublime felicity that accompanies this inexhaustible expansion of love; for love is sufficient into itself and needs no reciprocity; this is true even of individual love, how much more true then of divine love which so nobly reflects the infinite.
“Be this love in all things and everywhere, ever more widely, ever more intensely, and the whole world will become at the same time thy work and thy wealth, thy field of action and thy conquest.

Fight with persistence to break down the last limits which are only frail barriers before the expansion of the being, to vanquish the last obscurities already lit up by the Illuminating Power. Fight in order to conquer and triumph; fight to overcome everything that was till today, to make the new Light spring forth, the new Example the world needs. Fight stubbornly against all obstacles, inner or outer. It is the pearl of great price which is offered for thy Realisation.”
Divine worker[5]

I face earth's happenings with an equal soul;
In all are heard Thy steps: Thy unseen feet
Tread Destiny's pathways in my front. Life's whole
Tremendous theorem is Thou complete.

No danger can perturb my spirit's calm:
My acts are Thine; I do Thy works and pass;
Failure is cradled on Thy deathless arm,
Victory is Thy passage mirrored in Fortune's glass.

In this rude combat with the fate of man
Thy smile within my heart makes all my strength;
Thy force in me labours at its grandiose plan,
Indifferent to the Time-snake's crawling length.

No power can slay my soul; it lives in Thee.
Thy presence is my immortality.

- Sri Aurobindo

- Ramya Suryanarayanan
Sources:
1. “Meditations on Sri Aurbindo’s Hymns”, Seetaraman, Pages 23-24
2. “The Synthesis of Yoga”, Sri Aurobindo (International Centre Edition), Pages 250-251
3. Vision and the Boon, “Savitri”
4. “The Mother’s Prayers and Meditations, December 25 1916”.
5. “Collected Poems”

The four aspects of The Mother: Mahasaraswati

Mahasaraswati is the Mother's Power of Work and her spirit of perfection and order. The youngest of the Four, she is the most skillful in executive faculty and the nearest to physical Nature.

Maheshwari lays down the large lines of the world-forces, Mahakali drives their energy and impetus, Mahalakshmi discovers their rhythms and measures, but Mahasaraswati presides over their detail of organization and execution, relation of parts and effective combination of forces and unfailing exactitude of result and fulfilment. The science and craft and technique of things are Mahasaraswati's province. Always she holds in her nature and can give to those whom she has chosen the intimate and precise knowledge, the subtlety and patience, the accuracy of intuitive mind and conscious hand and discerning eye of the perfect worker.

This Power is the strong, the tireless, the careful and efficient builder, organiser, administrator, technician, artisan and classifier of the worlds. When she takes up the transformation and new building of the nature, her action is laborious and minute and often seems to our impatience slow and interminable, but it is persistent, integral and flawless.

For the will in her works is scrupulous, unsleeping, indefatigable; leaning over us she notes and touches every little detail, finds out every minute defect, gap, twist or incompleteness, considers and weighs accurately all that has been done and all that remains still to be done and all that remains still to be done hereafter. Nothing is too small or apparently trivial for her attention; nothing however impalpable or disguised or latent can escape her.

Moulding and re-moulding she labours at each part till it has attained its true form, is put in its exact place in the whole and fulfils its precise purpose. In her constant and diligent arrangement and rearrangement of things her eye is on all needs at once and the way to meet them and her intuition knows what is to be chosen and what rejected and successfully determines the right instrument, the right time, the right conditions and the right process.

Carelessness and negligence and indolence she abhors; all scamped and hasty and shuffling work, all clumsiness and 'à peu près' and misfire, all false adaptation and misuse of instruments and faculties and leaving of things undone or half done is offensive and foreign to her temper. When her work is finished, nothing has been forgotten, no part has been misplaced or omitted or left in a faulty condition; all is solid, accurate, complete, admirable.

Nothing short of a perfect perfection satisfies her and she is ready to face an eternity of toil if that is needed for the fullness of her creation. Therefore, of all the Mother's powers she is the most long-suffering with man and his thousand imperfections.

Kind, smiling, close and helpful, not easily turned away or discouraged, insistent even after repeated failure, her hand sustains our every step on condition that we are single in our will and straightforward and sincere; for a double mind she will not tolerate and her revealing irony is merciless to drama and histrionics and self-deceit and pretence.

A mother to our wants, a friend in our difficulties, a persistent and tranquil counsellor and mentor, chasing away with her radiant smile the clouds of gloom and fretfulness and depression, reminding always of the ever-present help, pointing to the eternal sunshine, she is firm, quiet and persevering in the deep and continuous urge that drives us towards the integrality of the higher nature. All the work of the other Powers leans on her for its completeness; for she assures the material foundation, elaborates the stuff of detail and erects and rivets the armour of the structure.

(Selection from “The Mother" by Sri Aurobindo)

Mahasaraswati


Supreme Artisan and Fashioner of perfection,
Atom by atom she builds up the world – she is slow, patient, faultless.
And by her consummate craftsmanship the universe- and each object in the universe-
Is a marvel of pattern, a model of divine arabesque,
A carefully wrought jewel.
Hers is the keen eye, hers the deft finger, the sure handling
And they compel intractable Matter
To bend and bow down to her as to its sovereign Mistress.

She is the growing divinity within us that like inevitable fate
Is slowly taking possession of our human life,
She is moulding it as she wills it to be-
A vessel and an instrument- a visible embodiment
Of the Consciousness, the Power, the Bliss
Of the Divine Mother.


(Nolini Kanta Gupta, “To The Heights” translated from “Vers Les Hauteurs”, Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education Pondicherry)

Question of The Month

“Mahasaraswati is the Mother’s Power of Work and her spirit of perfection and order. The youngest of the Four, she is the most skilled in executive faculty and the nearest to physical Nature.... Always she holds in her nature and can give to those whom she has chosen the intimate and precise knowledge, the subtlety and patience, the accuracy of intuitive mind and conscious hand and discerning eye of the perfect worker.”
(Sri Aurobindo in “The Mother”)

Q : Sri Aurobindo speaks of a ‘ conscious hand’; what does that mean ?

What! I have told you this I don’t know how many times, I have explained it hundreds of times and you still ask this question? I have told you that no matter what you want to do, the first thing is to put consciousness in the cells of your hand. If you want to play, if you want to work, if you want to do anything at all with your hand, unless you push consciousness into the cells of your hand you will never do anything good- how many times have I told you? And this is felt. You feel it. You can acquire it. All sorts of exercises may be done to make the hand conscious and there comes a moment when it becomes so conscious that you can never leave it to do things; it does them by itself without your little mind having to intervene.

(“Collected Works of The Mother- Centenary Edition- Volume 4”, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1972. Published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram)

From Savitri

This bright perfection of her inner state
Poured overflowing into her outward scene,
Made beautiful dull common natural things
And action wonderful and time divine.
Even the smallest meanest work became
A sweet and glad and glorious sacrament,
An offering to the self of the great world
Or a service to the One in each and all.

Editorial

If work is to mean “action” or “deed” or “karma”, then it exists every moment. The body is continuously working, even when at rest or in sleep. The outer actions may seemingly be halted for a period of time, but the internal organs do not rest, including the nervous system and the heart. The waking mind continuously churns out thoughts. Even when the state of no-thought is reached, the very action of experiencing an emptied mind, in being “with it” must also be action, or work, since consciousness is active. It is work that enables the expression of the essence within. It is work that helps us to arrive at self actualization, at forming an identity of the self and revealing it to the self itself. The very act of being must be work.

If what is work is this, and when it is performed every moment of one’s life-span, the next enquiry settles on the nature of how a particular work is done. Work can be a spontaneous act, where it proceeds naturally, as in eating, walking, blink or even sleeping. Work can be pre-planned, with steps and directions drawn up, even mentally, as in learning how to drive for the first time, in operating a machine or device or in drawing a scientific diagram and in cooking. The next enquiry settles on the nature of the state in which a work is done. Is work done with deep involvement, or is it done without much thought given to it, or is it done with disinterestedness, or in a hurry? Is work done with joy, happiness, with love? Or is work done with disgust, anger and bitterness? What is responsible for these states that we experience when doing work? In fact, the experience is different with different works. There is preference for work and this stems from the being’s history of likes and dislikes, from biases, from the law of attraction and repulsion.

What kind of result do we seek from our work? Do we do specific work for specific results? Earning a living through various physical and mental activities is said to be carried out because of the need to survive in today’s society. The work of eating is performed for physical build-up and existence. We may do a particular work for the well-being of someone we love, or for our nation, or for the world. The reasons for which work is done may range from subjective to objective reasons, from very personal to impersonal reasons. Work seems always to proceed from a need or a desire for a specific outcome. How then, about the measure of quality we seek in work?

What kind of works do we carry out and for what end? How do we actually work? In what state do we perform it and with what mark of quality? These must be questions we need to ask if we want to find out more about the works we engage ourselves in, every moment of our lives. As long as work walks in us, with us, lives and breathes in us, its nature is also something one ought to understand.

But why bother to understand something as natural and as common place as work? There is one possible answer. If we do not understand work as it exists with us at present, the course of our future direction cannot be altered. All of human kind strives for some kind of progress, at whatever level. Progress itself is an output of work of some kind that has been aligned towards this progress, its measure inevitably resting on the quality of work. And perhaps, the nature of progress we seek tend also to influence the quality of our work?

Is there perfection in work? Let’s find out. This edition of our Newsletter details out work, through the words of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo, with some insights and reflections on the topic by a few writers.