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

Beauty

The Beauty of tomorrow



The beauty that will express Divine Power.

- The Mother

Common Name: Chinese hibiscus
Botanical Name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
Spiritual Name: Beauty of Tomorrow

From the editor's desk

Beauty is the theme of this first issue of our newsletter for 2012. It would be an interesting exercise to bring to mind how many times a day we encounter the word or idea of ‘beauty’, whether in speech, written words, songs and in thought or even in feelings and through the senses, silently. This will give us an indication of how often in a day we may be affiliated and associated with this phenomenon called beauty or with what intensity we feel beauty within us. But is it so important to live such an association? What could beauty possibly serve in our lives?

This newsletter throws some light on beauty in light of integral philosophy, and some possibilities of beauteous experiences in our own lives and around us and the greater good that beauty could serve. But before attending to any issues or questions on beauty, one needs to be intimately familiar with what beauty means in the psyche of each one of us. What do we hold as beautiful – this must then be the primary question that one ought to pose oneself. It takes some time to get to the root of this but it is worth trying. For in the attempt at coming to an understanding of what beauty means to oneself, one is made to delve into something about oneself, of the stuff that one is made out of. The determining factor could be a mental framework we carry with us, or something that pleases the heart or it could be one that makes one feel, “just good”. What makes one decide that something is or is not beautiful? Then there is another question worth pondering over…. Are there common objects or subjects of beauty that every human being would accept as beautiful? If yes, what would these be? And if no, can there be an ultimate beauty that one can aspire for or take as a standard against which to measure all other expressions of beauty?

Sri Aurobindo, in his vast wisdom, has presented beauty as an expression of Divine Ananda and explains that one is negated in the absence of the other or if not negated, than less able to be manifest with ease. He expresses also that there does exist the highest form of beauty that is able to be manifest on earth and that is Supramental Beauty. He categorically points out that beauty is an expression of the spirit and that in order to fathom beauty in anything at all, one would first have to penetrate into the spirit of that subject, since the seat of beauty is in the spirit.
How much of this high interpretation of the Indian Psyche fits into our common mould? What are the terms of references in our lives? What are the theoretical standpoints of beauty we subscribe to, or the philosophical standpoint that helps us to determine beauty where it exists?
Perhaps beauty is beyond all these mental complexities? Perhaps, as The Mother would have said, beauty is in simplicity? However, this beauty will have to be known integrally, for its fullest experience. The mind needs to know beauty and how it limits beauty within its mental frameworks. The heart will have to intimately feel beauty which it probably can when it lifts ingrained preferences, its likes and dislikes born out of a limited and limiting ego and the body will have to live beauty in its flesh and veins, in its very cells. Then can we know that we have integrally experienced beauty and move on and on, expanding the boundaries of what is beauty. Perhaps this can happen in a flash, when one knows one’s “secret self” which is again said to be All-Beauty, All-Goodness and All-Truth.
But again, these are mere words. Let’s turn the pages and direct some blunt questions to ourselves. Do we know beauty? Have we truly touched the body of beauty? Lived it? Only we can tell, each one of us, explicitly, in our own terms …..

Savitri

A Nature lifted by a larger breath,
Plastic and passive to the all-shaping Fire,
Answers the flaming Godhead’s casual touch:
Immune from our inertia of response
It hears the word to which our hearts are deaf,
Adopts the seeing of immortal eyes
And, traveller on the roads of line and hue,
Pursues the spirit of beauty to its home.
Thus we draw near to the All-Wonderful
Following his rapture in things as sign and guide;
Beauty is his footprint showing us where he has passed,
Love is his heartbeat’s rhythm in mortal breasts,
Happiness the smile on his adorable face.

(Savitri, Book 2, Canto 2)

This greater life is enamoured of the Unseen:
It calls to some highest Light beyond its reach,
It can feel the Silence that absolves the soul;
It feels a saviour touch, a ray divine:
Beauty and good and truth its godheads are.

(Savitri, Book 2, Canto 6)

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.

(Savitri, Book 11, Canto 1)

Question of the month

Why dost thou recoil from a mask? Behind its odious, grotesque or terrible seemings Krishna laughs at thy foolish anger, thy more foolish scorn or loathing and thy most foolish terror.

Q: Is it only our mental conception that sees grotesque and odious things, or are they really as we see them? And the same applies to beauty, doesn’t it?

A: The Mother: It is certain that in the present state of the physical world, appearances are still very deceptive; physical beauty is not always the sign of a beautiful soul, and an ugly or grotesque body may conceal a genius or a resplendent soul.

But for one who has more inner sensitivity, appearances are no longer deceptive and he can perceive the ugliness hidden beneath a pretty face and the beauty concealed beneath a mask or ugliness.

There are also cases, and these are becoming more and more numerous, where the appearance reveals the inner reality which then becomes discernible to all.

(The Mother, ‘On Thoughts and Aphorisms’ Volume 10, ‘Collected Works of The Mother’, Centenary Edition, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1977)

The Mother’s Prayers

In the world of forms a violation of Beauty is as great a fault as a violation of Truth in the world of ideas. For Beauty is the worship Nature offers to the supreme Master of the universe; Beauty is the divine language in forms. And a consciousness of the Divine which is not translated externally by an understanding and expression of Beauty would be an incomplete consciousness.

But true Beauty is as difficult to discover, to understand and above all to live as any other expression of the Divine; this discovery and expression exacts as much impersonality and renunciation of egoism as that of Truth or Bliss. Pure Beauty is universal and one must be universal to see and recognise it.

O Lord of Beauty, how many faults I have committed against Thee, how many do I still commit. Give me the perfect understanding of Thy Law so that I may not again fail to keep it. Love would be incomplete without Thee, Thou art one of its most perfect ornaments, Thou art one of its most harmonious smiles. At times I have misunderstood Thy role, but in the depths of my heart I have always loved Thee; and the most arbitrary and radical doctrines could not extinguish the fire of worship which, from my childhood, I had vowed to Thee.

Thou art not at all what a vain people think Thee to be, Thou art not at all attached exclusively to this or that form of life: it is possible to awaken Thee and make Thee shine in every form; but for that one must have discovered Thy secret. . . .

O Lord of Beauty, give me the perfect understanding of Thy Law, so that I may no longer fail to keep it, so that Thou mayst become in me the harmonious consummation of the Lord of Love.

- The Mother (29th June, 1917)

I glimpsed the Apsaras bathing in the pools

I glimpsed the Apsaras bathing in the pools
And saw the wood-nymphs peering through the leaves;

Animated cartoons depict these celestial beings, fairies, apsaras, wood-nymphs, or whatever we might call them, in a setting of great harmony and beauty either playing with flowers, butterflies or birds. The creative world of artists, poets, painters, and to a great extent, small children, are familiar with this world where “apsaras roam” and play. (it might be difficult to encounter them in shopping malls or construction sites!) We are not able to tune in to this beautiful world or glimpse the Apsaras bathing in the pools as Satyavan did, as we live too much in our mental being and our vibrational frequency does not tune in with this wonderful world. However there was a time when there was an earthly paradise which was ‘simple, luminous, uncomplicated”. The Mother has described this earthly paradise which existed in earth’s history where there was perfect harmony without any perversion or distortion.

In her own words “I remember there was certainly a moment in earth’s history when there existed a kind of earthly paradise, in a sense that it was a perfectly harmonious and natural life; that is to say, the manifestation of the mind was in accord, was still in complete accord with the ascending march of Nature and totally harmonious, without perversion and distortion. This is the first stage of mind’s manifestation in material forms.”

A godlike packed intensity of sense
Made it a passionate pleasure even to breathe;
All sights and voices wove a single charm.
The life of the enchanted globe became
A storm of sweetness and of light and song,
A revel of colour and of ecstasy,
A hymn of rays, a litany of cries: (‘Savitri’, Book Four, Canto One)


As Sri Aurobindo concludes in this beautiful passage “All Nature was at beauty’s festival”. Why is it that the world we live in now has changed so dramatically with all the perversions and distortions? The Mother was asked these questions: How long did it last? How was this world, and if it existed, where did it exist? She pointed to the Indian Ocean, first to the west of Ceylon and India and then to the east, between Ceylon and Java, but she added that such a place does not exist now as it was swallowed by the sea.

The Mother recollects “I have a memory of a life in which the body was perfectly adapted to its natural environment and the climate adapted to the needs of the body, the body to the needs of the climate. Life was wholly spontaneous and natural, just as a more luminous and more conscious animal life would be; but there were none of the complications and distortions that the mind brought in later in the course of its development. I have the memory of that life- I had it, I relived it when I became conscious of the life of the earth as a whole”

This world of “imperishable beatitudes, the moments of early awakenings and divinity” are described in these thrilling lines of ‘Savitri’:

Here upon earth are early awakenings,
Moments that tremble in an air divine,
And grown upon the yearning of her soil
Time’s sun-flowers gaze at gold Eternity:
There are the imperishable beautitudes.
A million lotuses swaying on one stem,
World after coloured and ecstatic world
Climbs towards some far unseen ephiphany. (‘Savitri’, Book Two, Canto Twelve)

However this earthly paradise did not last long. With the progress of evolution the “mind began to develop in itself, for itself, that all the complications of distortions began.” The Mother points out that the old traditions of the story of Genesis symbolically talked of such a moment in earth’s history. This paradise, as The Mother recollected, must have been exceedingly beautiful, spontaneous and close to Nature. During our trip to Java some years ago, I was wondering if this paradise the Mother talked of could be submerged beneath the sea there somewhere?

The Mother has said that if one has a poetic or artistic consciousness and if you love harmony and beauty you can build a world like this in your imagination , she called this “telling stories to oneself and… It is not at all a telling with words, in one’s head: it is a going away to this place which is fresh and pure, building up a wonderful story there. And if you know how to tell yourself a story in this way… this story will be realized in your life…The dreams of childhood are the realities of mature age. (K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar, ‘On The Mother- The Chronicle of a Manifestation and Ministry’).

Let us join Satyavan in exploring this wonderful world and hear the “strange voices cross the ether’s waves”, “the happy faces which looked from ray and flame” and “glimpse the Apsaras bathing in the pools and wood –nymphs peering through the leaves;”


The day and dusk revealed to me hidden shapes;
Figures have come to me from secret shores
And happy faces looked from ray and flame.
I have heard strange voices cross the ether’s waves,
The centaur’s wizard song has thrilled my ear;
I glimpsed the Apsaras bathing in the pools
And saw the wood-nymphs peering through the leaves; (‘Savitri’, Book Five, Canto Three)


The next time you are in a beautiful garden or a harmonious setting in Nature, if you are emanating vibrations which tune in to these beings - harmony, beauty and silence - you might just catch them peering through the leaves or playing with the butterflies and inviting you to their world …

- Sudha.

The power of Beauty in daily Life

Beauty is an attribute or quality that an object or a phenomenon may possess due to some arrangement of its forms or movements, possibly emanating from a deeper truth. However that is not all. This expression that we call beauty has to be in relationship between an object or subject with an experiencing being. All that pleases, elevates, engages in a subtle joy or otherwise, while evoking a sense of awe and wonder in the experiencing being can be attributed the term beauty. In this relationship, when a state of well-being and elevation of spirit is evoked in the experiencing being, then beauty is said to exist. Beauty is an expression in form and form here can be a physical entity, or an idea or a thought, a feeling, an act that naturally appeals to one, because it is attractive. Sri Aurobindo indicates, “Beauty is Ananda taking form—but the form need not be a physical shape. One speaks of a beautiful thought, a beautiful act, a beautiful soul.” (Aurobindo, 1999; 14 March 1933).

We have an innate draw in us towards that which is beautiful, just as we have a draw towards that which is delightful or lovely. Very often, we find that all is well till the mind, in its customary fashion intervenes, starts its interrogations and then the vital does its share of seizing the object of beauty for its sole enjoyment and possession. The movement that surges forth with eager, grabbing hands is quite apart from the movement of self-giving that beauty essentially is.

True artists, including poets, are those who are able to perceive beauty as it is and to express their comprehension of beauty on their chosen medium for the sake of art and the expression of beauty, perhaps in the best way and the highest form known to them. We perceive the making of this selfless appreciation in exquisite forms of sculpture and painting, prose, poetry or musical composition from all around the world.

It is said that the Psychic being responds to true, simple beauty as the lotus to the sun. Whenever beauty is recognized, the being seems to be in some state of elevation, feeling a subtle and deep inner experience. It has been categorically stated by The Mother and Sri Aurobindo in their writings that a constant contact with beauty has the power of kindling the psychic flame within and nurturing its growth. Lines from ‘Savitri’ speak of beauty thus (Aurobindo, 1970, p. 485):

Our soul from its mysterious chamber acts;
Its influence pressing on our heart and mind
Pushes them to exceed their mortal selves.
It seeks for Good and Beauty and for God; (‘Savitri’, Book Seven; Canto Two)

This can be the greatest Power of Beauty in our everyday lives then. For when the psychic flames forth, there is nothing that can stop the outpouring of love and devotion towards the Divine, in consecrating one’s entire existence at the Divine’s feet. When in contact with beauty, we inevitably sense a power previously latent, a power that transforms our state of being for that moment, if not integrally, at least in parts, but eventually towards that fulfillment. It is this transforming power of beauty that is intriguing.

Different ideas of Beauty

In the world of relativities, can there be the highest form of beauty? How does one set the standard for what real beauty is? Maybe, with our measuring mind, there can never be an ultimate standard of beauty. Beauty may mean different things to different people. Perhaps something more than the mind or the heart can recognize or express real beauty? Let us take a look at ideas of beauty from a few angles.

Historian and philosopher Havell makes a comparison between the perception of beauty between the Western and Eastern mind. The Western mind, more steered towards a materialistic viewpoint, views beauty as inherent in certain forms of matter and not in others. There is suggestion of a definition of beauty that denotes something as beautiful according to some principles and some not as beautiful based on some other sets of principles.
Kai Hammermeister offers further insights into the Western idea of beauty from other thinkers, from the recent to the ancient ones. He illustrates Western approach to beauty as one that was “treated together with the ideas of the good and the true as one of the aspects of being ….. There was never much doubt in any philosopher’s mind that beauty is something praiseworthy and valuable”. Beauty was an “expression of the harmony of the cosmos” according to Plato, and Plotinus proclaimed that “the visible beauty of worldly things mirrored the divine beauty”. Kai traces out that the same approach was predominant in the Middle Ages. Beauty in objects, according to the 13th century thinker, Thomas Aquinas, was “luminous symbolizations of God’s glory” (Garcia-Rivera, Graves, & Neumann, 2009).
The Eastern idea of beauty, on the other hand, is steeped in subjectivity. Beauty is not inherent in form or matter; it belongs only to the spirit and is only expressed in the outer form and can therefore, only be apprehended by spiritual vision. Sri Aurobindo’s point on the spirit in this respect in ‘Foundations of Indian Culture’ further illustrates this notion of the spirit being the seat and source of beauty (Aurobindo, 1988):
“For the Indian mind form does not exist except as a creation of the spirit and draws all its meaning and value from the spirit. This characteristic attitude of the Indian reflective and creative mind necessitates in our view of its creations an effort to get beyond at once to the inner spirit of reality it expresses and see from it and not from outside.”
In Indian philosophy, there is a definite movement away from the employment of only the sensory organs and the subsequent experience of pleasure that defines beauty. Beauty, when seen does not stop short at pleasure, a lower form of enjoyment; it can evoke Ananda or bliss, a higher form of spiritual enjoyment of the essence of beauty. Sri Aurobindo pronounces that “Where there is Ananda, Beauty finds itself expressing with ease.” (Aurobindo, 1999).
In fact, in ‘Letters on Poetry, Literature and Art’ he writes “beauty is Ananda in manifestation; beyond manifestation beauty loses itself in Ananda or, you may say, beauty and Ananda become indistinguishably one.” (Aurobindo, 1999; 14 March 1933).

According to Sri Aurobindo’s vision, Beauty is an expression of the Divine in the physical. Though the expression is in the physical, the “principle and law of Beauty” is spiritual, something having its root and emerging from within…it is this that expresses itself outwardly on the form. On a similar vein, it is also then true that it is through an object or a subject of beauty that one can touch the inner truth of things, that some intimation of the inner spirit is known and works of beauty, such as Art and Literature thrive only towards this high aim (Aurobindo, 1999; 23 August 1933). What could then be the highest form of beauty? “Beauty is the special divine Manifestation in the physical, as Truth is in the mind, Love in the heart, Power in the vital. Supramental beauty is the highest divine beauty manifesting in Matter.” (Aurobindo, 1999; 19 February 1934).

The Power of Beauty

What is so special about beauty then, that it is sought after incessantly, that makes it one remembered and that we so readily allow to become a part of ourselves, our consciousness? There is a power in beauty, as there is a power in love, a power in silence or in concentration. Beauty holds in it power, a kind of energy or capacity that is offered to us to be engaged in some kind of self-growth, even if momentarily, to be propelled forward on the wings of this power of beauty. Beauty evokes in us sensations of happiness, delight, joy, a strong sense of well-being and puts us in contact with some sort of movement within, an energy within, an energy creative, rejuvenating, therapeutic and even transformative. If we watch ourselves carefully when involved with an experience of beauty, we can sense a very strong vibration of gratitude that springs from a nameless fount within. This gratitude wells up towards the grace that brought the beauty to one’s attention. Beauty also evokes a sense of gratitude from within for the boon granted, with a humbling realization of a state of poverty that was there within before that experience of beauty was lived.

What is sensed as beautiful makes us stop a moment, arrested. All movements that were on the run, come to a standstill and we are drawn towards the object/subject of beauty. There is a concentration of attention on the object or subject of beauty, an inner engagement, and the mind is on standstill at least for seconds. This stilling of the mind itself, in an environment of well-being that beauty brings, can do wonders to our system. There is a meditative power in objects of beauty, as the being engages with them. This meditative quality is only possible when the being looks upon the object of beauty with a disinterest, appreciating it only for the sake of itself, and its quality of beauty, with a sort of detachment. Beauty transmits a sustaining energy. When one finds oneself surrounded by beauty there is felt an energy that can sustain one. Fatigue leaves and one is rejuvenated and charged with new energy to carry on with one’s daily tasks.

Most of all, beauty must emit a transformative power upon us as well. As one contemplates on objects of beauty, one’s psychic being is said to respond and come closer to the surface. This is marked by a certain happiness (if not Ananda itself), a certain glee that arises from deep within, a quiet joy. In this engagement sustained for a longer period of time in contemplation, in close association, something of the spirit behind the object of beauty communes with the spirit within the experiencer of beauty who is enjoying the object of beauty for its own sake. Our own senses yearn for the lovely and beautiful always because of the heightened sense of experience made possible by the contact and we seek beauty in our own self and existence, in Body, Mind and Vital. Therein is transformative Power.

Herein lies the supreme Power of Beauty in everyday life, its ability to transform our outlook, the way in which we think, feel and our aspiration for more and more of beauty. There is possible a contact with one’s Psychic or at least the vicinity of it or a chance to invoke it and bring it to the fore-front, in a shorter or longer period of time, today tomorrow or hereafter.

Daily encounters with Beauty

We may choose to look at our normal life as mundane, ordinary, uneventful or as something eventful, with stimulating points of growth and progress at given moments of the day. When one looks at anything at all, and looks with a deeper vision that seeks out the spirit behind the object or the subject and the experience, then there is a possibility that life can become simple and extraordinary. Peaks of joy and bliss can be felt as the Divine glow is perceived in everything, event or object, thought or feeling or sensation … anything at all can become occasions that bring us closer to the highest we can fathom here and now, in whatever constitutes our being, in the presence of beauty.

Let us take a snapshot view of our everyday life. It begins with the opening of our eyes as consciousness rises to the surface being. The moment is even more precious if the hour of awakening happens to be the very hour of dawn. There is a beauty in the silence around us, as the phenomenal world around us is largely still awake or gradually awaking. There is a deep silence as of Gods asleep. In the depth of that silence, it becomes possible to listen to one’s own silence harboured within. The first splash of cold water on one’s face adds glory to the awakening day as we step out of drowse and with wide-eyed freshness, face life, only to embrace it. Then stepping outdoors, when luck is on one’s side, the eastern sky undergoes changes, and one almost perceives an artist at work, splashing colours of varied shades and hues and shaping a dawn that is at once a breathtaking joy to behold and the herald of the future to unfold in silence promises hidden within its folds. There is an intriguing beauty in the way the unknown is strewn across our path, with dawn casting its opening signature on the seal about to break.

Then there is Nature we are surrounded with, wild or tamed. When one looks closely at plants, behind their appearances there is a spirit of giving, just for its sake. They are made that way, just to give, and the flowers, their crowning glory, bear testimony to this giving, this self-offering. There is beauty in being aware of this. There is gratitude in the heart for being made aware of this. There is a joy that dances within to be gifted the nearness of all things green and there is an aspiration to always value Nature as she is offered to us. The play of little animals scurrying about, receiving prasad from the giving hands of plants and trees is an added occasion for joy. There is beauty in watching the harmony between the animals and the plants. There is no vengeful bickering there, there is a sweet and harmonious giving and taking, all for the joy of living, for existing. There is an immense beauty in this perception of the harmony in Nature. There is beauty in the way leaves fall from the trees, spent, used, their purpose fulfilled. There is a beauty in the way they fall with grace and self-giving, only to be embraced by the soft hands of the earth for the other lives to share and be sustained, for new life to begin. There is a beauty in this perception. There is beauty in the way the winds sweep across the earth, touching us gently, giving us sensations of hot and cold, brushing past trees, making the leaves move, rustle, producing soothing sounds that reach far in whispers. There is beauty too in the fiercest of hurricanes that blow across countries, at the way the strong winds scoop up waves after huge waves tossing them carelessly across the coast, thrashing rocks and sand and anything across it’s path. There is an immense beauty in coconut trees leaning under the weight of the force, giving in, without breaking, not confronting them; in huge trees being uprooted within seconds and thrown upon land, large, majestic, fallen. There is an awesome beauty in the encounter with the other side of Nature, the furious and the so called destructive. But here too, the dance of Mahakali prevails. There is destruction from which life regenerates, where renewal is assured. The eye that sees the wrath of Mahakali dancing on the chest of a blissful Shiva, withdrawn in Samadhi also sees Her immense love for her creations. This relationship perceived also seethes with the beauty of the Divine forces at work, in accordance to a higher Intelligence.

There are countless such encounters with beauty in everyday life that we may possibly come across. The fragrance of fresh flowers abloom in the garden throw us into a subtle world of ecstasy; A sincere and simple smile on an unknown face is beautiful and we return that gesture with gratitude. There is beauty in this. There in Power in this, the power that enables us to recognize our kinship with one and all and in that recognition to feel freedom, a freedom that uplifts one and enables one moment of growth? There is beauty in the dark clouds gathering at the edge of the horizon, brimming to the full, ready for a cloud burst and the subsequent showering of rejuvenating waters upon the earth. There is beauty in watching the falling rain drops and a greater beauty in watching the water eagerly seeping into parched earth, which equally eagerly absorbs the droplets into itself, both becoming one. There is a power in this beauty. A harmony is at work and the sky and the earth merge in strange ways. There is power in this and we realize the harmony in nature and we grow likewise, seeking that same harmony around ourselves and within. This beauty which kindles that flame of aspiration is powerful.

We meet a dear friend, or someone more than a friend, more than kin, with whom some soul connection looms though we cannot put our finger to it. Eyes meet and a depth is dug into our souls, and a smile speaks pages. There is beauty in this encounter and a power to inch our way inwards a little more.

Let’s now turn our attention to how we carry ourselves physically in our everyday lives. Is there beauty in a good posture? Is there beauty in the way we stand, walk, sit and rest? If there is, what are the aspects of this that gives beauty to the form? If there isn’t, then why not? And if there is beauty, how does it impact us? And if it doesn’t, why not? Anyone on the path of this yoga will have to become aware of himself, right to the details. These are some aspects of that detail. And if there is perfection in the way we carry ourselves, is this a sustainable perfection or is this perfection a fleeting appearance dictated by egoistic claims of vanity? Like this, we can encounter beauty or a lack of it in our being as well, in the way we speak, listen, eat and clothe.

The Soul in us tends towards the Beautiful, together with Love, Truth, Goodness, as Sri Aurobindo spells out in ‘The Synthesis of Yoga’. He also places the true place of Beauty and that is to interpret the Eternal (Aurobindo, 1997, p. 155):

“It (the soul) insists on Truth, on will and strength and mastery, on Joy and Love and Beauty, but on a Truth of abiding Knowledge that surpasses the mere practical momentary truth of the Ignorance, on an inward joy and not on mere vital pleasure,—for it prefers rather a purifying suffering and sorrow to degrading satisfactions,—on love winged upward and not tied to the stake of egoistic craving or with its feet sunk in the mire, on beauty restored to its priesthood of interpretation of the Eternal, on strength and will and mastery as instruments not of the ego but of the Spirit.”
It is soul-growth or the gradual definition of the psychic quality in us that beauty empowers. “It is the soul in us which turns always towards Truth, Good and Beauty, because it is by these things that it itself grows in stature; the rest, their opposites, are a necessary part of experience, but have to be outgrown in the spiritual increase of the being.” (Aurobindo, 1997, p. 632)

What can be more fitting than to conclude this exploration of beauty in everyday life with The Mother’s quotation:

Let beauty be your constant ideal.
The beauty of the soul
The beauty of sentiments
The beauty of thoughts
The beauty of the action
The beauty in the work
So that nothing comes out of your
Hands which is not an expression
Of pure and harmonious beauty.
And the Divine Help shall always
Be with you.
- The Mother.

- Jayanthy

Reference

Aurobindo, S. (1970). Savitri. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.
Aurobindo, S. (1988). Foundations of Indian Culture (3rd, Revised ed.). Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.
Aurobindo, S. (1997). Synthesis of Yoga (Vol. Volumes 33 and 34). Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.
Aurobindo, S. (1999). Letters on Poetry, Literature and Art. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.
Garcia-Rivera, A., Graves, M., & Neumann, C. (2009). BEAUTY IN THE LIVING WORLD
Journal of Religion and Science, 44(2), 20.

Thoughts on center activities

11 Dec 2011,
Reading of excerpts from ‘Lights on Yoga—With The Mother’s Comments’

After the Opening Meditation, everyone present at The Centre formed a small circle to read excerpts from the book ‘Lights on Yoga—With The Mother’s comments’. We were to read the questions and answers from Page 67. It is always nice to read the questions, pause for a while, reflect on the questions, exchange our thoughts and ideas with each other only to see the varied ways in which the human mind perceives the same question. Interestingly, the questions we had in front of us that day were innocent questions asked with a child-like candor.

“Sweet Mother, here it is written: “This liberation, perfection, fullness too must not be pursued for our own sake, but for the sake of the Divine.” But isn’t the sadhana we do done for ourselves?”

This triggered an intriguing discussion of the connection between the Self and the Divine. It is fascinating to see how each of us has our own way of interpreting and assimilating ideas. After sharing these ideas with one another, we set out to see what answer The Mother had given for the same question. It is to be noted that The Mother always says we need to put the Self (the egoistic self) out of the frame when we do any work for The Divine. In order to understand the answer to the fullest, we read it aloud and re-read it in an attempt to absorb the essence of it completely. We went on to read the next 3 questions and answers too, trying to absorb as much as possible from the answers given by the Mother.
- Preethi

Along the way

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning a lion wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.
When the sun comes up, you better start running.”
---An African proverb

There could not be anything more apt to describe the 4th of December, 2011—the day when a lot of people in Singapore were all set to run the Standard Chartered Marathon 2011, and a few of us from the Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore had gathered for our monthly walk at Fort Canning Park. Fort Canning is a small hill and history has it that Sir Stamford Raffles had his first residence built atop the hill. What a lovely choice of location for a house! The unique blend of lush greenery, historical relics and expansive lawns makes Fort Canning stand out from the rest of the parks in Singapore. The Gate of Fort Canning is a magnificent structure with inconspicuous stairways that lead to bunkers on the sides. There were plenty of boards on the side of the pathways with crisp bits of information to enlighten us about the significance of the various features of the park. We found a couple of 9-pound cannons on the way. Fortunate to be part of a generation where these are mere relics and of no more importance, there was a silent sense of gratitude amidst us. Along the way, we did catch up with each other, making the walk every bit more special with the sharing of thoughts, experiences and ideas. Moments like these make us realize that there is so much to learn from each person around us after all. And this is what makes life and enchanting and enriching experience.

After traversing the entire path, we all gathered for a small round of Mantras and OM chanting--The perfect end to the perfect walk at Fort Canning. We then embarked on our journey to the Ganeshs where we were heartily greeted by family members for a soulful Collective Meditation and a good Sunday brunch.

We have been blessed with twelve lovely walks in the year 2011. With the Divine Grace, we shall have all this and more in the coming year. A very Happy New Year to one and all!
- Preethi