Guiding Light of The Month

IN Peace and Silence the Eternal manifests; allow nothing to disturb you and the Eternal will manifest; have perfect equality in face of all and the Eternal will be there. . . . - The Mother

Flowers of the month

Krishna's play in matter

Beauty, love and joy are His companions. A play that widens and makes us progress.

Common Name: Wishbone Flower
Botanical Name: Torenia fournieri
Spiritual Name: Krishna’s Play in Matter

Krishna's Ananda

The boy with the flute is Sri Krishna, the Lord descended into the world-play from the divine Ananda; his flute is the music of the call which seeks to transform the lower ignorant play of mortal life and bring into it and establish in its place the Lila of his divine Ananda.

- Sri Aurobindo

First Sign of Krishna’s Light in Matter

It is the indication of the coming transformation.

Common Name: Slender Dwarf Morning Glory
Botanical Name: Evolvulus alsinoides
Spiritual Name: First Sign of Krishna’s Light in Matter

Walking in light - a peek at physical culture

In the last issue, we read, in The Mother’s words, “It is good to do exercises and to lead a simple and hygienic life, but for the body to be truly perfect, it must open to the divine forces, it must be subject only to the divine influence, it must aspire constantly to realize the Divine.”1 The perfection of the body is a high ideal that we can seek. In fact, perfecting this physical entity is not going to be without troubles and challenges. Sri Aurobindo says that, “…physical impurity is strong enough to bar the inner progress and limit rigidly the inner experience to some passive peace.”2 Without the transformation of the physical nature, he has said that “no complete transformation is possible”, thus diverging from the stance of ancient seekers “satisfied with rising into the spiritual or psychic realms and leave this part to itself”2. The secret behind perfection of the body is to have it “open to the divine forces.” What are the divine forces? What is “divine influence”? These can only refer to forces or influences from the divine, from The Mother herself. Sri Aurobindo assures, “You have only to remain quiet and undisturbed and let the higher Force work to change this obscure physical nature.”2

Any number of books written by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother would highlight to our seeking mind the nature of the divine force, and its influence. However, it would probably take more than just reading to get on with this yoga. One has to consent to the practice of it, and very often, nothing short of a whole hearted involvement in the practice is called for and that too, integrally, touching all parts of the being. Even if one aspect is touched, as in physical perfection, that too calls for an integral exposure and treatment in minute details for some results to show. Next, the understanding fully of what this “opening” entails, to what force and the methods of opening to the force are inevitable practical considerations to make a meaningful start in this endeavour towards physical perfection. We continue with this introspection in our next issue.

- Jayanthy

1. Excerpts from: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry (2006). Towards Perfect Health, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry
2. Sri Aurobindo (1970). Letters on Yoga,Vol 2, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry

Four great events in history - part 1

“There are four very great events in history, the siege of Troy, the life and crucifixion of Christ, the exile of Krishna in Brindavan and the colloquy with Arjuna on the field of Kurukshetra. The siege of Troy created Hellas, the exile in Brindavan created devotional religion (for before there was only meditation and worship), Christ from his cross humanised Europe, the colloquy at Kurukhetra will yet liberate humanity. Yet it is said that none of these four events ever happened." Sri Aurobindo

The first great event, our Master says, was the siege of Troy by Greeks that gave rise to the growth of Hellenic culture. This war was fought between the Greeks and Trojans with their allies, upon a Phrygian city of Troy (Ilium), on Asia Minor (modern Turkey). The war lasted ten years and it has been traditionally dated from 1194 to 1184 BC and narrated in the great Epics of Homer ( Illiad and Odyssey) wherein the gods and the earthly beings intermingled as if belonging to adjacent provinces and the episodes were interwoven with beings of earth, heaven and hell. Greece had very close commercial as well as cultural interaction with the eastern civilized world like Persia, Mesopotamia, India and Egypt, all of which were cradles of earliest human civilizations.

Rational thinking, scientific reasoning, materialistic perfection and aesthetic outlook of life were the major highlights of the Hellenic culture. Western thought is greatly dependent upon the theories of Greek philosopher-scientists like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Archimedes, Pythogoras. Worldly prosperity, fit and well maintained physique by practice of sports activities, freedom of expression and intellectual growth were very important for the ancient Greeks. The spiritual and material aspects were never separated. They never believed in escape from life but gave more importance for all rounded happiness and enjoyment of life here on earth. Unlike in the post Christian era where science and religion were two contradicting forces, in ancient Greece all scientists, theologians, philosophers, thinkers, artists, socio political leaders were respected with equal position.

Ancient Greece is considered by most historians to be the foundation of Western Civilization and it has been immensely influential on the language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, art and architecture of the modern world, particularly during the Renaissance in Western Europe and again during various neo-Classical revivals in 18th and 19th century Europe. It was only after the Renaissance from 15th century, which promoted the revival of ancient Greek thought and ideals, that Europe again woke up from its deep slumber of the dark middle ages when progress was completely stopped or retarded by the religious or monarchic controls. Both adventure and scientific temperament that resulted in the growth of Europe in the coming centuries occurred during this period of Renaissance of Hellenic intellectual spirit.

Sri Aurobindo mentions in ‘Human Cycle’ about Hellenic culture,

“The Hellenic mind largely dominated by a love of the play of reason for its own sake, but even more powerfully by a high sense of beauty, a clear aesthetic sensibility and a worship of the beautiful in every activity, in every creation, in thought, in art, in life, in religion. So strong was this sense that not only manners, but ethics were seen by it to a very remarkable extent in the light of its master idea of beauty; the good was to its instinct largely the becoming and the beautiful. In philosophy itself it succeeded in arriving at the conception of the Divine as Beauty, a truth which the metaphysician very readily misses and impoverishes his thought by missing it” ( Human cycle page 95)

Sri Aurobindo has summarized the evolutionary journey of animal man towards the divine man in the above statement of four great events that had triggered progressive changes in the history of mankind. Each again was an hour of God bringing down one aspect of the Divine Sachidananda and accordingly the Hellenic culture reached the peak of Beauty in its perfection making the Beauty aspect of “ ‘Wisdom, Strength, Harmony, Perfection’ wherein the Perfection is by Mahasaraswathi the Mother’s Power of Work and her spirit of Perfection and order.” The Mother by Sri Aurobindo.

.....to be continued.

- Sundari

The yoga of the cross


It is a wisdom that none of the masters of this age have ever known, or they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. - Corinthians 2:8

Imagine yourself in the Palestine 2100 years ago and you want to start a new religion. Seems strange, as there was no shortage of religions in the world around you. Obviously, there were the Jews with their belief in one God, whose name they did not dare to utter, so they called Him with an unpronounceable YHWH. They worshiped him in Jerusalem in their most sacred temple and the sacrificial blood of the lambs invoked his blessings. They waited for his Messenger, a Saviour, who would restore the slaved Jews to the old glory of a chosen nation. They called him the Messiah.

Then there were the Romans, the mighty conquerors of the ancient lands. Their many gods controlling storms, oceans, marriages, professions… had to be kept always happy. Your luck was linked to their happiness, so to be pleased, they too required sacrifices and precious gifts. Further north over the Mediterranean Sea were the Greeks with their own pantheon of Gods residing on the Mount Olympus…. Then there were Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Syrians….

YHWH, Jupiter, Zeus all of them competed for the hearts and minds of their followers, who burnt for them animals and incense, offered gold in return for Gods’ favours and averting bad luck. All that the believers wanted was control and predictability. The Gods were to be feared, every time they appeared on the scene, it was not good news to the people. Thus most religions worked out words and rituals to placate the angry Gods and, by doing so, hoped to keep their lives and history predictable.

Now, what God would you choose for your new religion? What would be his throne and what crown would beautify his head? What rituals would wheedle his favours and what miracles confirm his sovereign power over the Earth and the Heaven? Would you, in all your new religion marketing strategy and “out of box thinking”, ever come up with an idea of a God with a cross as a throne, head crowned with thorns, scourged and nailed naked to two wooden beams, stinking of blood, sweat and tears? And would you call this an avatar of LOVE??? A God abhorred by the Romans and a blasphemy to the Jews? I would not.

Well, exactly such a God a small group of Jews chose 2000 years ago as their God. His name was Jesus and they called him the Christ, the Anointed One. Could they be more absurd in claiming that in Him, the Crucified lied the God’s secret, unknown since the beginning of time and revealed to them: “Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”(1 Corinthians 1:20-25).

No wonder that around the end of the second century someone has scratched on a Roman wall a graffito of a man worshiping a donkey-head figure on the cross. Was it a mockery of a crazy sect worshiping a symbol of foolishness? Possibly. Whatever it was, today it is the first known representation of the crucifixion. Not an encouraging start in a new religion indeed.

In fact the image of a bleeding on the cross God was just too much for the early Church theologians. They had to struggle hard in trying to reconcile the nature of an Omnipotent God with the helpless figure hanging on the cross. Was this God Jesus Christ just divine? Was He fully divine and a little bit human? Or maybe he was equally and perfectly both human and divine? The raging horror of the crucifixions and Roman persecutions of the early Christians - until the Emperor Constantine proscribed it in 314 A.D., left a lasting imprint on the Christian memory so that, cross representations remained a rarity for the first six centuries. Then the cross image emerged as another affirmation of Christ’s humanity in the continuing struggle with those who saw only his divinity. It competed with Christ hovering on the cross, often wearing a long robe, eyes open and head erect, unbloodied by nails, his feet resting firmly on the platform. This triumphant Christ must have indicated the difficulty of expressing the death of the Son of God. Between the eighth and the tenth century the doctrine of the substantial unity of Christ’s full human and full divine natures became sufficiently assimilated and established. From now on His death can coexist with His victory. Gradually a loin cloth replaces the robe, his eyes close, head drops to one side, blood flows from the wounds, his weight hangs from the arms, legs twist and feet are nailed to the wood. This naked man nailed to a cross becomes a symbol of humanity on the rack and, according to C.G. Jung, perhaps the deepest archetypal symbol in the Western psyche.

Today, twenty centuries after His death, Christianity still claims to have the privilege to name the Divine secret. That does not automatically make Christians chosen nation and better people. As history has shown our patterns of violence and hatred pretty well match and in time surpass those of non-Christians. Neither does this privilege, though many would have wished for it, makes Christianity the only way through which God revealed Himself to the humanity. Nevertheless it is still amazing that this “failed” God made it after all. This we Christians call the folly, the scandal or the mystery of the Cross, or as Ravi Ravindra puts it in Indian vocabulary, the “Yoga of the Cross”. Let us try and unveil a bit of this mystery.

A Franciscan monk Fr. Richard Rohr writes: “The doctrine of the cross is the great interpretative key that makes many things clear, at least for Christians, but perhaps also for history. It's no accident that we have made the cross the Christian logo, because in the revelation of the cross, many great truths become obvious and even over¬whelming, yet not so obvious beforehand.”* What are these great truths that Fr. Rohr speaks about?

Human history from its biblical archetypes of Cain and Abel is in its major part a continuing succession of violence and bloodshed. It has always been determined by the masters of the age telling us whom to fear and whom to crucify. Millions of soldiers and innocent victims have given their lives believing in their lies. Recently, a modern interpretation of this human addiction to violence was suggested by Rene Girard, a contemporary French anthropological philosopher. His scapegoat theory describes how the scapegoat sacrifice became the foundation of the human culture, and how religion emerged as a necessity in human evolution to control the violence that comes from rivalry. “We usually dealt with human anxiety and evil by sacrificial systems, and that has largely continued to this day. Something has to be sacrificed. Blood has to be shed. Somebody has to be killed. Someone has to be blamed, accused, attacked, tortured or imprisoned—or there has to be capital punishment—because we just don't know how to deal with evil without sacrificial systems. It always creates religions of exclusion and violence, because we think it is our job to destroy the evil element.”* This is the tit-for–tat, eye-for-eye, a hard-to-die paradigm which Gandhi used to say would make the whole world blind. To deal with our human fear and violence and run away from our “shadow” we learned to project the evil outside - to our neighbor and God himself. “We end up making God very small and draw the Godhead into our own ego-driven need for retribu¬tion, judicial resolution and punishment. Yet that's exactly what Jesus came to undo!”* This was the sin of the world to be taken away, the seeing us as separated from God by exposing it as different from what we imagined. It led Him on the Way of the Cross and since then Christianity became “the only religion in the world that worships the scapegoat”*.

Most Christians today would agree that the death of Jesus was a heroic sacrificial payment of a cosmic debt to His Father. What this opinion leaves unsaid is that it unwillingly makes God the Father into a blood thirsty Chief Sacrificer. The contemplative Christian tradition has always insisted that this exactly is NOT, not the reason of Jesus’ incarnation and death on the cross. A Benedictine monk Fr. John Main, who revived the long forgotten Christian Meditation tradition, after learning to meditate from a Hindu Swami Satyananda, said: “When we look at the cross we should not think 'we are saved by the suffering of Christ' but 'we are saved by the love we see here’”. The meaning of the Cross is much deeper and much more mysterious then just an easy to grab for a violent mind atonement theory. “Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity; Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God. This grounds Christianity in love and freedom from the very beginning; it creates a very coherent and utterly attractive religion, which draws people toward lives of inner depth, prayer, reconciliation, healing…Nothing "changed" on Calvary, but everything was revealed so we could change!... Those who "gaze upon" the crucified long enough— with contemplative eyes—are always healed at deep levels of pain, unforgiveness, aggression and victimhood. It demands no theological education at all, just an "inner exchange" by receiving the image within and offering one's soul back in safe return. If all these human crucifixions are leading to some possible resurrection, and are not dead-end tragedies, this changes everything. If God is somehow participating in human suffering, instead of just passively tolerating it and observing it, that also changes everything—at least for those who are willing to "gaze" contemplatively.”*

After Jesus the game for the world crucifiers was over. The new game began whose name was God’s Nonviolence and Forgiveness. The new image of God we have is not a Platonic idea or a Form, nor a mythical creation of our imagination, but boundless Love that empties himself in order to first unite us within and then unite us with Himself in love. This is only possible if God enters fully into the human condition - with its limitations, its sinful aspects and its suffering. All this is evident in the Cross. The necessary thing is for us to understand and see it correctly – and this knowledge transforms us moment by moment.

As Ravi Ravindra puts it from the perspective of Indian mysticism: “As far as Jesus is concerned, the right preparation consists in dying to self-will and in denying the self, so that the person can obey the will of God. His yoga consists of this and the cross is the supreme symbol…spiritual significance of the cross cannot be exaggerated…. Every moment, whenever we are present to it, we are at a crossing; at this point of crossing we choose whether to remain in the horizontal plane of the world or to be yoked to the way of Christ and follow the vertical axis of being.”

Finally we arrived at the last Station of the Cross - The Resurrection. We cannot – says Fr. Laurence Freeman, the Director of the World Community for Christian Meditation - separate the Cross from the Resurrection. The way Jesus died (forgiving his enemies, plunging to the depth of human despair but not losing faith with God) and the deepest identity He had in his human nature with the Father God had to lead to His resurrection from the dead. Since then He lives in us, universalised through the gift of His Spirit, the Spirit of God. This understanding makes sense within the framework of the Christian idea of God as Trinity- not just Supreme Being but Being as Communion - the Love of the three Persons in One God. Jesus is the second Person and He was this Word that became flesh, a unique individual in the human history, not the Father or the Spirit. But where One is the other Two are also. So union with Jesus - through faith, love and hope - is union with all Three, with God. The Christian sees Jesus as the incarnation of the universal Word that exists from the beginning. This incarnation however does not negate, replace or in any way diminish other religious traditions through which God has revealed Himself to humanity.
- Andrzej Ziolkowski

Bibliography:

• * From “Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality”, copyright 2008 by Richard Rohr. Reprinted with permission of St. Anthony Messenger Press, 28 W. Liberty St., Cincinnati, OH 45202.
• Ravi Ravindra “The Gospel of John in the Light of the Indian Mysticism”
• Works of John Main and Laurence Freeman
About the author: Andrzej is a Catholic, a Polish living in Singapore. He has great interest in exploring all religions as paths to the One Universal Truth. He is a member of the World Community for Christian Meditation (www.wccm.org).

Question of the month

Q: To what plane of consciousness did Christ belong?

A: The Mother: In the Essays on the Gita, Sri Aurobindo mentions the names of three Avatars, and Christ is one of them. An Avatar is an emanation of the Supreme Lord who assumes a human body on earth. I heard Sri Aurobindo himself say that Christ was an emanation of the Lord’s aspect of love.

The death of Ceasar marked a decisive change in the history of Rome and the countries dependent on her. It was therefore an important event in the history of Europe.

But the death of Christ was the starting-point of a new stage in the evolution of human civilization. This is why Sri Aurobindo tells us that the death of Christ was a greater historical significance, that is to say, it has had greater historical consequences than the death of Ceaser. The story of Christ, as it has been told, is the concrete and dramatic enactment of the divine sacrifice: the Supreme Lord, who is All-Light, All-Knowledge, All-Power, All-Beauty, All-Love, All-Bliss, accepting to assume human ignorance and suffering in matter, in order to help men to emerge from the falsehood in which they live and because of which they die.

Q: (1) Were the meditation and worship of former times the same as those of today?
(2) What does this mean: “the colloquy at Kurukshetra will yet liberate humanity”?

A: Mother: (1) In ancient times, as in our own day, each religion had its own particular kind of meditation and worship. And yet everywhere, always, meditation is a special mode of mental activity and concentration, only the details of the practice vary. Worship is a series of ceremonies and rites that are scrupulously and exactly performed in honour of a deity. Here Sri Aurobindo refers to the worship and meditation of ancient India, in Vedic and Vedantic times.
(2) The colloquy at Kurukshetra is the Bhagavad Gita. Sri Aurobindo considers the message of the Gita to be the basis of the great spiritual movement which has led and will lead humanity more and more to its liberation, that is to say, to its escape from falsehood and ignorance, towards the truth. From the time of its first appearance, the Gita has had an immense spiritual action; but with the new interpretation that Sri Aurobindo has given to it, its influence has increased considerably and has become decisive.

- The Mother (29 June 1960)

(CWM Volume 10, Centenary Edition Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1976, Published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry- 605002) .

Savitri

He who would save himself lives bare and calm;
He who would save the race must share its pain:
This he shall know who obeys that grandiose urge.
The Great who came to save this suffering world
And rescue out of Time’s shadow and the Law,
Must pass beneath the yoke of grief and pain:
They are caught by the Wheel that they had hoped to break,
On their shoulders they must bear man’s load of fate.
Heaven’s riches they bring, their sufferings count the price
Or they pay the gift of knowledge with their lives.
The Son of God born as the Son of man
Has drunk the bitter cup, owned Godhead’s debt,
The debt the Eternal owes to the fallen kind
His will has bound to death and struggling life
That yearns in vain for rest and endless peace.
Now is the debt paid, wiped off the original score.
The Eternal suffers in human form,
He has signed salvation’s testament with his blood:
He has opened the doors with his undying peace.


(Savitri, Book 6, Canto 2)

Pursuing her in her fall, implacably sweet,
A face was over her which seemed a youth’s,
Symbol of all the beauty eyes see not,
Crowned as with peacock plumes of gorgeous hue
Framing a sapphire, whose heart-disturbing smile
Insatiably attracted to delight,
Voluptuous to the embraces of her soul.

(Savitri, Book 11, Canto 1)

Editorial

Marco Polo’s venture into China in 1266 that opened the gate of the East to the West;,the Scientific Revolution between 1600 to 1700 that paved the path for present day science and technology, the invention of the computer in 1946 that has shrunken the world and increased the speed of communication and processing are but just a few events in recent world history that have revolutionized the very way we live. The many moments that re-directed a well trodden path have never failed to gain recognition in history as turning-points or revolutions, in the way of thinking, of feeling or acting, thereafter. These significant moments put in place a forward march, almost always, alongside a corresponding progressive, seeking spirit that emanates from within us.

This month’s Newsletter has for its focus an unusual subject. We have taken up one of Sri Aurobindo’s aphorisms to explore, as it appears below, where Sri Aurobindo presents four ancient but major events that set the course of human evolution:

There are four very great events in history, the siege of Troy, the life and crucifixion of Christ, the exile of Krishna in Brindavan and the colloquy with Arjuna on the field of Kurukshetra. The siege of Troy created Hellas, the exile in Brindavan created devotional religion (for before that there was only meditation and worship), Christ from his cross humanized Europe, the colloquy at Kurukshetra will yet liberate humanity. Yet it is said that none of these four events ever happened.
Sri Aurobindo wrote a total of 547 aphorisms around 1913, under three main headings or categories, namely, Jnana (Knowledge), Karma (Works) and Bhakti (Love), all of which appear to correspond closely with major themes treated.

This aphorism is numbered as the 40th aphorism in the category of Jnana or Knowledge, for which The Mother wrote the commentaries between 1960 to 1961. The aphorism takes up four great events in history and points to each of their significance. Then in a twist, Sri Aurobindo, who first referred to these events as “great events in history”, slaps a statement that casts a shadow on the authenticity of their place in history and we are made to cry out loud, at least silently, “you mean these events never took place???!!!!” Mother’s comments on Sri Aurobindo’s aphorisms is timely here:

Here again, as always, Sri Aurobindo sees every aspect of the question … In the union of opposites lies true wisdom and total effectiveness.

Let us re-look the last sentence, “Yet it is said that none of these four events ever happened.” A troubling thought remains after reading the aphorism again and again. He questions the foundation of fundamental belief systems with the last suggestion and the stir created within is especially the greater after he extols their place in history as course-steering. A general study of these events from sources on cyberspace highlights one commonality that bind these different occurrences together. All of these took place in antiquity, narrated and passed down from generation to generation before they found their place in recorded history and hence have less of the rigour that recent historical records carry in them, and therefore the sceptism in the truth of their actual occurrence. But the fact remains, that they played a great part in altering human evolution in very significant ways.

Read on.

Health: Flowers

Health

Not to be preoccupied with it, but to leave it to the Divine.

Common Name: Portia tree
Botanical Name: Thespesia populnea
Spiritual Name: Health

Spiritual Power to Heal


Opening and receptivity to the Divine influence.

Common Name: Bluebird vine
Botanical Name: Petrea volubilis
Spiritual Name: Spiritual Power to Heal

How to cure illness

Concentrate exclusively on the Light and the Force coming from above; Let the Lord do for your body whatever He pleases. Hand over to Him totally the entire responsibility of your physical being. This is the cure.

- The Mother


Physical Consciousness Entirely Turned Towards the Divine

As soon as one feels a wave of physical disequilibrium of ill health coming, well, to concentrate in the inner calm a trust in the divine Grace, and a will to remain in physical equilibrium and good health. This is the right spirit.
- The Mother
-


Peace in the physical

(Source :The 2009 calendar designed and produced by Navavihan- Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)

The Mother on the cause of illness


I was in Japan. It was at the beginning of January 1919. Anyway, it was the time when a terrible flu raged there in the whole of Japan, which killed hundreds of thousands of people. It was one of those epidemics the like of which is rarely seen. In Tokyo, every day there were hundreds and hundreds of new cases. The disease appeared to take this turn: it lasted three days and on the third day the patient died. And people died in such large numbers that they could not even be cremated, you understand, it was impossible, there were too many of them. Or otherwise, if one did not die on the third day, at the end of seven days one was altogether cured; a little exhausted but all the same completely cured. There was a panic in the town, for epidemics are very rare in Japan. They are a very clean people, very careful and with a fine morale. Illnesses are very rare. But still this came, it came as a catastrophe. There was a terrible fear. For example, people were seen walking about in the streets with a mask on the nose, a mask to purify the air they were breathing, so that it might not be full of the microbes of the illness. It was a common fear.

Now, it so happened I was living with someone who never ceased troubling me: “But what is this disease? What is there behind this disease?” What I was doing, you know, was simply to cover myself with my force, my protection so as not to catch it and I did not think of it any more and continued doing my work. Nothing happened and I was not thinking of it. But constantly I heard: “What is this? Oh, I would like to know what is there behind this illness. But could you not tell me what this illness is, why it is there?” etc. One day I was called to the other end of the town by a young woman whom I knew and who wished to introduce me to some friends and show me certain things. I do not remember now what exactly was the matter, but anyway I had to cross the whole town in a tram­car. And I was in the tram and seeing these people with masks on their noses, and then there was in the atmosphere this constant fear, and so there came a suggestion to me; I began to ask myself: “Truly, what is this illness? What is there behind this illness? What are the forces that are in this illness?” I came to the house, I passed an hour there and I returned. And I returned with a terrible fever. I had caught it. It came to you thus, without preparation, instantaneously.

Illnesses, generally illnesses from germs and microbes take a few days in the system: they come, there is a little battle inside; you win or you lose, if you lose you catch the illness, it is not complicated. But there, you just receive a letter, open the envelope, hop! puff! The next minute you have the fever. Well, that evening I had a terrible fever. The doctor was called (it was not I who called him), the doctor was called and he told me: “I must absolutely give you this medicine.” It was one of the best medicines for the fever, he had just a little (all their stocks were exhausted, everyone was taking it); he said: “I have still a few packets, I shall give you some” --- “I beg of you, do not give it to me, I won’t take it. Keep it for someone who has faith in it and will take it.” He was quite disgusted: “It was no use my coming here.” So I said: “Perhaps it was no use!” And I remained in my bed, with my fever, a violent fever. All the while I was asking myself: “What is this illness? Why is it there? What is there behind it?”

At the end of the second day, as I was lying all alone, I saw clearly a being, with a part of the head cut off, in a military uniform (or the remains of a military uniform) approaching me and suddenly flinging himself upon my chest, with that half a head to suck my force. I took a good look, then realised that I was about to die. He was drawing all my life out (for I must tell you that people were dying of pneumonia in three days). I was completely nailed to the bed, without movement, in a deep trance. I could no longer stir and he was pulling. I thought: now it is the end. Then I called on my occult power, I gave a big fight and I succeeded in turning him back so that he could not stay there any longer. And I woke up.

But I had seen. And I had learnt, I had understood that the illness originated from beings who had been thrown out of their bodies. I had seen this during the First Great War, towards its end, when people used to live in trenches and were killed by bombardment. They were in perfect health, altogether healthy and in a second they were thrown out of their bodies, not conscious that they were dead. They did not know they hadn’t a body any more and they tried to find in others the life they could not find in themselves. That is, they were turned into so many countless vampires. And they vampirised upon men. And then over and above that, there was a decomposition of the vital forces of people who fell ill and died. One lived in a kind of sticky and thick cloud made up of all that. And so those who took in this cloud fell ill and usually got cured, but those who were attacked by a being of that kind invariably died, they could not resist. I know how much knowledge and force were necessary for me to resist. It was irresistible. That is, if they were attacked by a being who was a centre of this whirl of bad forces, they died. And there must have been many of these, a very great number. I saw all that and I understood.

When someone came to see me, I asked to be left alone, I lay quietly in my bed and I passed two or three days absolutely quiet, in concentration, with my consciousness. Subsequently, a friend of ours (a Japanese, a very good friend) came and told me: “Ah! You were ill? So what I thought was true.... Just imagine for the last two or three days, there hasn’t been a single new case of illness in the town and most of the people who were ill have been cured and the number of deaths has become almost negligible, and now it is all over. The illness is wholly under control.” Then I narrated what had happened to me and he went and narrated it to everybody. They even published articles about it in the papers.

Well, consciousness, to be sure, is more effective than doctors’ pills! The condition was critical. Just imagine, there were entire villages where everyone had died. There was a village in Japan, not very big, but still with more than a hundred people, and it happened, by some extraordinary stroke of luck, that one of the villagers was to receive a letter (the postman went there only if there was a letter; naturally, it was a village far in the countryside); so he went to the countryside; there was a snowfall; the whole village was under snow... and there was not a living person. It was exactly so. It was that kind of epidemic. And Tokyo was also like that; but Tokyo was a big town and things did not happen in the same fashion. And it was in this way the epidemic ended. That is my story.

- The Mother, 22-Jul-1953


(CWM Volume 5, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1977, Published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry 605002)

Sri Aurobindo's thoughts and aphorisms


• Medical Science has been more a curse to mankind than a blessing. It has broken the force of epidemics and unveiled a marvelous surgery; but, also, it has weakened the natural health of man and multiplied individual diseases; it has implanted fear and dependence in the mind and body; it has taught our health to repose not on natural soundness but a rickety and distasteful crutch compact from the mineral and vegetable kingdoms.

• We laugh at the savage for his faith in the medicine man; but how are the civilised less superstitious who have faith in the doctors? The savage finds that when a certain incantation is repeated, he often recovers from a certain disease; he believes. The civilised patient finds that when he doses himself according to a certain prescription, he often recovers from a certain disease; he believes. Where is the difference? One could say in conclusion that it is the faith of the patient which gives the remedy its power to heal. If men had an absolute faith in the healing power of Grace, they would perhaps avoid many illnesses.

• The healthiest ages of mankind were those in which there were the fewest material remedies.

• We ought to use the divine health in us to cure and prevent diseases; but Galen and Hippocrates and their tribe have given us instead an armoury of drugs and a barbarous Latin hocus­pocus as our physical gospel.

• The spirit within us is the only all­efficient doctor and submission of the body to it the one true panacea.

• God within is infinite and self­fulfilling Will. Unappalled by the fear of death canst thou leave to Him, not as an experiment, with a calm and entire faith thy ailments? Thou shalt find that in the end He exceeds the skill of a million doctors.

• Medical Science to the human body is like a great Power which enfeebles a smaller State by its protection or like a benevolent robber who knocks his victim flat and riddles him with wounds in order that he may devote his life to healing and serving the shattered body.


(CWM Volume 10, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1977, Published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry 605002)

Prayers and meditations


When physical conditions are a little difficult and some discomfort follows, if one knows how to surrender completely before Thy will, caring little for life or death, health or illness, the integral being enters immediately into harmony with Thy law of love and life, and all physical indisposition ceases giving place to a calm well-being, deep and peaceful.

I have noticed that when one enters into an activity that necessitates great physical endurance, what tires one most is anticipating beforehand all the difficulties to which one will be exposed. It is much wiser to see at every moment only the difficulty of the present instant; in this way the effort becomes much easier for it is always proportionate to the amount of strength, the resistance at one's disposal. The body is a marvelous tool, it is our mind that does not know how to use it and, instead of fostering its suppleness, its plasticity, it brings a certain fixity into it which comes from preconceived ideas and unfavourable suggestions.

But the supreme science, O Lord, is to unite with Thee, to trust in Thee, to live in Thee, to be Thyself; and then nothing is any longer impossible to a man who manifests Thy omnipotence.

Lord, my aspiration rises to Thee like a silent canticle, a mute adoration, and Thy divine Love illumines my heart.

O divine Master, I bow to Thee!
- The Mother, 17 March 1914

Peace and stillness are the great remedy for disease. Catch hold of a peace deep within and push it into the cells of the body. With the peace will come back the health.
- The Mother

Peace can be brought down into the physical – to its very cells. It is the active transformation of the physical that cannot be completely done without the supramental descent.
– Sri Aurobindo

Question of the month

Q: Nirodbaran: The Mother once said that there is hardly a disease that cannot be cured by Yoga. Can cancer be cured by it?

A: Sri Aurobindo: Of course it can, but on condition of faith or openness or both. Even a mental suggestion can cure cancer – with luck of course, as is shown by the case of the woman operated on unsuccessfully for cancer, but the doctors lied and told her it had succeeded. Result, cancer symptoms all ceased and she died many years afterwards of another illness altogether.

(Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo, Nirodbaran, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1969, published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)


Q: Can one get ill through fear?


A: Mother: Yes. I knew someone who was so full of fear that he got cholera! There was cholera in the next house and he got so frightened that he caught the illness and without any other reason, there was no other reason for his catching it: it was through sheer fright. And it is a very common thing; in an epidemic, it is so in the majority of the cases. It is through fear that the door is opened and you catch the illness. Those who have no fear can go about freely and generally they catch nothing. But still as I have said there, you may have no fear in the mind, you many have no fear even in the vital, but who has no fear in the body? Very few.

A very strict discipline is needed to cure the body of fear. The cells themselves tremble. It is only by discipline, by yoga that one can overcome this fear. But it is a fact that one can catch anything through fear, even invite an accident. And, you see, from a certain point of view everything is contagious. I knew a person who got a wound through the kind of fear that he felt seeing someone else’s wound. He really got it.


(CWM Volume 5, Centenary Edition Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1976, Published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry- 605002) .

From Savitri

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.



(Savitri, Book 11, Canto 1)

And when that greater Self comes sea-like down
To fill this image of our transience,
All shall be captured by delight, transformed:
In waves of undreamed ecstasy shall roll
Our mind and life and sense and laugh in a light
Other than this hard limited human day,
The body’s tissues thrill apotheosised,
Its cells sustain bright metamorphosis.
This little being of Time, this shadow-soul,
This living dwarf figure-head of darkened spirit
Out of its traffic of petty dreams shall rise.

(Savitri, Book 2, Canto 5)

Editorial

In this issue, the spotlight is on “Health and Healing”, a subject that has been a vital part of human life on earth since antiquity. According to Cochrane (1996, An Illustrated History of Medicine, Tiger Books International, PLC) man has been at healing for 12,000 years, since pre-historic times. Health and healing were very much associated with religion, since the cause of ill-health was supposedly a mystery. However, from the time bacteria was understood and described and later the virus, medical science progressed in leaps and bounds and health and healing became closely associated with medical science. However, health and healing never have dissociated themselves from the religious or the spiritual. Since health and healing are fundamental to man’s survival, there is no surprise that they be associated with man’s deepest core, his spiritual realms or even religious, for that matter.

The indulgence in health and healing appears to be an expression of a special instinct especially developed in animals and man, the survival instinct, born out of nature’s need to preserve herself. Of all creatures on earth, as in most cases, man has been largely successful in understanding the nature of diseases and their cures and modes of prevention. He has been able to systematize processes towards health and healing through centuries of seeking, finding and refining. As always, we can, to an extent, ascribe this to his spectacular mind, ceaselessly seeking and searching for greater levels of perfection. However, it is only an extension of life, really, that he has succeeded in arriving at, in temporal terms. The rare fruit of immortality eludes him and lures him on his march forward and onwards.

Why preserve life? Would it be to enjoy life to the fullest and then perish, satisfied? Would it be to fulfill certain needs of the body or the vital, after whose satisfaction life could end? Who decides? Or is there something else behind this apparent body that, whilst clothed in the apparel of a body, seeks out some experiences for itself, as an actor on stage, and discards the apparel as would the actor, after the show? Healing implies some disorder, disequilibrium or disharmony that has to be set right or “healed” in the affected part of the being, be it the mind, the vital or the body. It implies restoring the being back to the condition of equilibrium prior to the setting in of disequilibrium (or was there such a state of equilibrium to begin with, or was it just another dimension or level of disequilibrium?). We can move a step further and ask ourselves, “How and why, the disequilibrium, the disharmony or the disorder?” A suggestive finger points to balance. What then is balance? Balance in what? When is balance no more?

Health houses in it suggestions of some stability of being, a state of equilibrium, of well-being in all parts of the nature, the mind, vital and body. Associated with “health” words such as joy, happiness, peace and calm float in, and the possibility of new adventures, new discoveries and growth that a prolonged life and a happy state may offer.

Is health a given or has it to be nurtured, systematically and with discipline? What is the nature of a healthy mind, life and body? In this issue, we present some ways of approaching this special area of importance to all of us. The Mother, with Her luminous words, refers to a perfected state of being, while at the same time giving us a concrete idea of the cause of excellent health:

A perfect harmony in the proportions, suppleness and strength, grace and force, plasticity and endurance, and above all, an excellent health, unvarying and unchanging, which is the result of a pure soul, a happy trust in life and an unshakeable faith in the Divine Grace.

Health and Healing demand a disciplined life, systematically organised, consciously balancing every aspect of our being from the food we eat, the way we carry out our physical activities, to the way we think and feel, interact and communicate, to the very way we live life, in our very being, our consciousness. One more important ingredient stands out. The Mother states, “If men had an absolute faith in the healing power of Grace, they would perhaps avoid many illnesses.” Flip the pages, find out more.