Guiding Light of The Month

O Lord, how ardently do I call and implore Thy love! Grant that my aspiration may be intense enough to awaken the same aspiration everywhere: oh, may good- ness, justice and peace reign as supreme masters, may ignorant egoism be overcome, darkness be suddenly illu- minated by Thy pure Light; may the blind see, the deaf hear, may Thy law be proclaimed in every place and, in a constantly progressive union, in an ever more perfect harmony, may all, like one single being, stretch out their arms towards Thee to identify themselves with Thee and manifest Thee upon earth. - The Mother

From the Editor’s Desk

August is one of the few months where more than one special event marks our calendar. First Sri Aurobindo’s birth centenary features prominently, on 15th August. Then for all of us associated with India directly and through an Indian ancestry, the 15th means Independence for India from foreign rule, and a divine opportunity to take her true place in the earth scene. Then here in Singapore, our own National Day is observed, where some 47 years ago, on 9 August 1965, we gained our independence and freedom from foreign rule. Then, this year, our Society, The Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore, observes forty years of existence, having been inaugurated with The Mother’s blessings on 14th August 1972.

In this Newsletter, we celebrate the birth of Sri Aurobindo and his unflinching presence in our midst even now, touching us, our lives, our souls in ways beyond the means of measure left for us by Nature’s faculties. Our surface nature may not know this; only something very deep in the secret cave of our heart’s chamber may know this ever-present relationship with the Divine. This is the only relationship that does not insist on a physical presence but transcends all sorts of relations we know on the surface. It is a subtle relationship we share with the Divine, and words do not so much succeed in expressing this. Only we know, with a deeper insight, what this is, where we are in this journey and how long and how much more to sojourn. Though it is Sri Aurobindo’s birthday, readers may wonder why the theme of The Samadhi dons these pages. It is for the simple fact that the Samadhi represents for many of us a living symbol of Sri Aurobindo’s and The Mother’s presence. The special atmosphere one would feel around the Samadhi is a unique one, a rare treat for the soul, a concrete presence, a result of the divinity that was them. Whether it is the thought of The Mother or Sri Aurobindo, whether it is the physical silence with which people carry out their work or move about, or the flowers, really… something about the Samadhi is special. If we care to go within even a little, we may discover that it may not necessarily be the above, though they play a part. It is how something deep within one communes with what is living in that atmosphere. Ever so often, a senior didi or bhaiya bids one goodbye, when leaving Pondicherry after a visit, with the words, “Bring the Samadhi with you”, said quietly, with a soft and sweet smile. Strangely, the meaning of this poignant statement has taken time to unravel itself. First one must know why at all one sits at the Samadhi, what at all it means to one and why at all are samadhi’s erected. This edition deals with these questions with articles from senior sadhaks like Nirodhbaran, M P Pandit and Udar Pinto.

In conjunction with the Society’s 40th Anniversary observation, this edition also carries a speech by Tay Joo Teck, our first chairperson. In that letter, delivered in 1975, he asks the pertinent question (which is also the title of the article) of why one should join the Society at all. This article may trigger important questions in us that seeks a Higher Reality than what is seemingly apparent and fleeting, impermanent or simply inadequate for the groping or growing presence of the spirit within. This is a good opportunity for us to dwell on our Society’s evolution to the present and our aspirations for the future. What the Society will be is ours to shape with our collective aspirations.

August will be a charged month, a certain consciousness will prevail, and this is a certainty. May there be an opening from within for light to be, for illumination and transformation of even a small fraction of this nature and lots of goodwill and love to one and all who belong to the Sri Aurobindo family, here in Singapore and in India and abroad, on this auspicious month.


As man disguised the cosmic Greatness works

And finds the mystic inaccessible gate

And opens the Immortal’s golden door.

(Savitri, Book 7 Canto 3)

The Spirit shall look out through Matter's gaze

Matter shall reveal the Spirit’s face

(Savitri, Book 11 Canto 1)

Nature shall live to manifest secret God,

The Spirit shall take up the human play,

This earthly life become the life divine.

(Savitri, Book 11 Canto 1)

Question of the month

Q: Even now when the Ashram has become a pilgrimage centre, is everybody BROUGHT here? Is it not a fashion for some?

A: M.P. Pandit: It is not a pilgrimage centre, it is a spiritual centre. A pilgrimage centre is a place where people go out of a sense of religious duty, either because at some time or other they have taken a vow to visit that place when someone was ill or in distress, or it is ordained in the scriptures that one should visit a number of these places, and so on. But a spiritual centre is different. A pilgrimage centre need not be spiritual. It can be infested by all kinds of elements. A spiritual centre is one where a spiritual manifestation has taken place and that spiritual consciousness stays alive or is kept alive by those living in that place.

Q: One sees many buses coming and the people get out, go the rounds, and then go away.

A: M.P. Pandit: But we can always be sure that there are one or two in that group who reap spiritual benefits from their visit here. So many times we have received letters from people saying that they had no intention of coming here, but their bus conductor had brought them here and they had a particular kind of experience. And afterwards they come and stay here. Something captured them and they had to come.

Q: This may happen to anyone at any stage of evolution?

A: M.P. Pandit: It will help the person at any stage of his evolution. There may be some difficulty and that knot will be loosened.

(‘Sat- Sang with M.P. Pandit’, Volume 2, Dipti Publications, Sri Aurobindo Ashram)

India is Free

It will be seen from what has been set forth in the earlier chapters that, on the one hand, Mirra was reaching the end of the Japanese interlude, having arrived at a new poise of purposive purity and serenity and puissance; and, on the other hand, Sri Aurobindo was approaching the end of the great ‘Arya’ phase of his career, "tying up his bundle ... teeming with the catch of the Infinite", awaiting the right time to open it and call into existence his Deva Sangha. He had a few ardent young men with him, Nolini, Amrita, Moni, Bejoy Nag. But the Deva Sangha, the Ashram, was yet to be born. The ‘Arya’ itself was magisterially drawing towards its preordained end. The major sequences had been concluded, and one or two were well on their way to a rounded close. Sri Aurobindo's Yoga had won phenomenal victories during the decade then ending, and the uplifting message of ‘The Life Divine’ had been broadcast through the pages of the ‘Arya’. The Yoga was now poised for a new leap, for a new and decisive of phase action and manifold realisation. Everything was ready: the room, the lamp, the oil, the wick - and it only needed somebody divinely appointed for the task to arrive upon the scene, strike the match, light the lamp and throw open the illumined chamber for the reception and initiation of the first of the new race, those that Mirra had described in 1912 as "the race of the sons of God" or the elect of Sri Aurobindo's Deva Sangha. That 'somebody' who came to Sri Aurobindo's aid was of course Mirra, the Mother. As Sri Aurobindo wrote in 1935, "the Sadhana and the work were waiting for the Mother's coming". Anilbaran Roy has recorded Sri Aurobindo telling a group of disciples in 1926: “When I came to Pondicherry, a programme was dictated to me from within for my sadhana. I followed it and progressed for myself but could not do much by way of helping others. Then came the Mother and with her help I found the necessary method.”

There is a divinity indeed that shapes our ends, and answering its veiled dictates, Mirra and Paul Richard as also Dorothy Hodgson finally decided to leave Japan for Pondicherry in the early months of 1920. For Mirra, the four years in Japan had on the whole been a period of quietude and sadhana, a time for perfection in minutiae, a season for the cultivation of the integral as well as the miniature; in a word, the Japanese interim had proved a sanctuary and phoenix-hour for the whole tapasya of a Mahasaraswati:

“The science and craft and technique of things are Mahasarawati'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. 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.”

While in solitary confinement in the Alipur Jail in 1908, Sri Aurobindo had composed a poem of supreme defiance doubled with an appeal that was not to be resisted:

With wind and the weather beating round me

Up to the hill and the moorland I go.

Who will come with me? Who will climb with me?

Wade through the brook and tramp through the snow?

I sport with solitude here in my regions,

Of misadventure have made me a friend.

Who would live largely? Who would live freely?

Here to the wind-swept uplands ascend.

That call must haunt those who had heard it once, and Mirra of course had come to Pondicherry in 1914 even without that particular call, and instantaneously recognised in Sri Aurobindo "the Lord of my being and my God"; and now, after an absence of five years in France and Japan, she was coming back to Pondicherry. She was leaving behind in Japan her good friends - the Kobayashis, the Okhawas, and others - and Japan meant the kindliest memories. But the boat was carrying her towards the shores of India, and she was sublimely content. And on 24 April 1920, the boat approached the shores of Pondicherry. As she was to recall her experience thirty years later: “I was on the boat, at sea, not expecting anything (I was of course busy with the inner life, but I was living physically on the boat), when all of a sudden, abruptly, about two nautical miles from Pondicherry, the quality, I may even say the physical quality of the atmosphere, of the air, changed so much that I knew we were entering the aura of Sri Aurobindo. It was a physical experience.”

Again, returning to the subject two days later: “ the experience I was speaking about, what gave it all its value was that I was not expecting it at all, not at all. I knew very well, I had been for a very long time and continuously in "spiritual" contact, if I may say so, with the atmosphere of Sri Aurobindo, but I had never thought of the possibility of a modification in the physical air and I was not expecting it in the least, and it was this that gave the whole value to the experience, which came like that, quite suddenly, just as when one enters a place with another temperature or another altitude.”

And, perhaps on her part, expectant Bhaaratvarsha, our India, felt something like the promise of the Divine Mother, in Sri Aurobindo's epic, King Aswapathy, the father of ‘Savitri’:

One shall descend and break the iron Law,

Change Nature's doom by the lone Spirit's power. ...

And in her body as on his homing tree

Immortal Love shall beat his glorious wings ....

She shall bear Wisdom in her voiceless bosom,

Strength shall be with her like a conqueror's sword

And from her eyes the Eternal's bliss shall gaze.

A seed shall be sown in Death's tremendous hour,

A branch of heaven transplant to human soil;

Nature shall overleap her mortal step;

Fate shall be changed by an unchanging will.

Once, in a moment of startling divination, Mirra actually saw India free. She was to refer to it more than once in after-years, but the only time she dwelt on its date at length was in a Playground talk of 1953: "I do not remember exactly when it happened; it must have been some time in the year 1920 probably (perhaps earlier, perhaps in 1914-1915, but I don't think so, it was some time in the year 1920). One day - every day I used to meditate with Sri Aurobindo: he used to sit on one side of a table and I on the other, on the veranda - and one day in this way, in meditation... I reached a place or a state of consciousness from which I told Sri Aurobindo just casually and quite simply: "India is free." It was in 1920."

"But how", queried Sri Aurobindo, and Mirra's answer was that there would be no fight, no battle, no violence, no revolution: "The English themselves will leave, for the condition of the world will be such that they won't be able to do anything else except go away." And, she further added, "It was done. I spoke in the future when he asked me the question, but there where I had seen I said, India is free, it was a fact. Now, India was not free at that time: it was 1920. Yet it was there, it had been done .... That is to say, from the external point of view I saw it twenty-seven years in advance. But it had been done."

Could she see Pakistan as well? "No, for the freedom could have come about without Pakistan." In 1956, she further clarified that she had not seen the precise details of the British withdrawal. "There must have been a possibility of it’s being otherwise, for, when Sri Aurobindo told them to do a certain thing, sent them his message, he knew very well that it was possible to avoid what happened later. ... Consequently, the division was not decreed. It is beyond question a human deformation."

In this connection, it is interesting to recollect that Sri Aurobindo, - who had prophesied India's independence as early as 1910, - had given a similar assurance to Ambalal Purani in 1918, though without any reference to the circumstances in which the independence would come. When, in the course of their talk, Purani insisted,

" ... I must do something for the freedom of India. I have been unable to sleep soundly for the last two years and a half .... "

Sri Aurobindo remained silent for two or three minutes. It was a long pause. Then he said: "Suppose an assurance is given to you that India will be free?"

"Who can give such an assurance?"

Again he remained silent for three or four minutes. Then he looked at me and added: "Suppose I give you the assurance?"

I paused for a moment ... and said: "If you give the assurance, I can accept it."

"Then I give you the assurance that India will be free", he said in a serious tone.

If Mirra's vision of a free India - as a thing decreed and accomplished already there where these things are first settled - was to offer effective corroboration to Sri Aurobindo's own conviction on the subject and help him to concentrate exclusively on his Yoga, her second coming to Pondicherry and close association with him were to lead to momentous results in their work of "divine man-making" and earth-transformation.

(K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar in ‘On The Mother’, Chapter 14, ‘Second Coming’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)

Nirodbaran on Sri Aurobindo’s Samadhi

The Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo is not just a conventional place of pilgrimage. Every part of it is vibrant with the Consciousness-Force that the Master embodied during his unparalleled lifelong sadhana. From the oldest to the youngest, devotees see his glorious face, hear his ethereal voice, receive his answer to their prayers and become filled with something that cannot be mathematically proved, but subjectively apprehended. Yogis, saints, sadhus through the ages have done miracles; the Samadhi does the same in a different way; it is Presence that radiates a constant stream of Peace, Light, Force, and responds to all our soul- needs when we approach it with faith and devotion.

Udar Pinto on building Sri Aurobindo’s Samadhi

The Mother then said Sri Aurobindo had lived so long in the Supramental Consciousness that it had come down into His body and made it shine with a golden light. But She added that one could not be sure how long the light would remain and in case it remained for a long time it was necessary to protect the body against dust and air-borne insects. So She asked me to prepare a large glass covering to go over the whole body in a way which would not disturb it. Immediately a man was sent to Madras to get the necessary large sheets of glass and through Dyuman we arranged for the silver angle strips to join them to form a cover.

In the meantime we thought it would be good if we could keep the room temperature low by arranging large blocks of ice round about with fans to blow over them. We did this without consulting the Mother. As soon as She saw it, She asked us to remove everything at once: She did not want any artificial measure to be taken at all. If the body was to remain without perishing, it would be by His will alone…

Mother gave me instructions for the casket which was made of solid wood and lined with silk. Sri Aurobindo was still lying on his bed and there was the most marvellous golden light emanating from his body, and a scent like a celestial perfume. The Mother told me how deep to go into the Samadhi and how to design it.

We built the Samadhi not as a hole in the ground but as a vault with thick concrete walls nine inches thick with cement floors and a cement roof. We went down eight feet and built a four-foot room with cement slabs. Over that the Mother instructed me to build another room also with walls, a floor and a roof. She told me to fill it with clean river sand and to put a large slab on the top. Thus was the Samadhi built.

Mother wanted Sri Aurobindo’s ‘Samadhi’ to be under the Service Tree in the Ashram courtyard. She gave detailed instructions, saying how deep we should go and that we should construct a waterproof chamber down below with a waterproof cement slab cover and then an air-space with another waterproof cement slab cover. Then earth was to be filled over this till it came above the surface of the ground, and around it the walls of the Samadhi were to be built.

‘The Mother also told us to prepare a fine case for His body. I got the Harpagon Workshop to start making one in solid thick rosewood with brass straps and brass rings on the side to take the ropes.

‘We started working from the morning of the 5th. We decided to build the Samadhi ourselves without paid labour. The ground was hard—very hard—and breaking it was quite a job. It was decided that the burial would take place on the evening of the 5th. Discoloration of the body generally sets in within 24 hours, 35 hours is the outside limit. But when it was about time for the burial there was no sign of decomposition at all. In fact, even though life had left the body, it was suffused with a golden light and Sri Aurobindo’s face shone with it.

(Udar Pinto in ‘Udar, One of Mother’s Children’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)

The Service Tree

It was significant that Sri Aurobindo's body should have been interred at the centre of the Ashram complex, and beside the "Service" tree. Was it all part of "God's secret plan" that the Mother had asked Dyuman and Manubhai, the Ashram gardener, to bring a sapling of Peltaphorum pterocarpum (Copper Pod) from the French colonial garden to replace the mango tree that had died sometime back? Was it again part of that divine foresight that she had named the flower of this tree "Service"? On Tuesday, 4 January 1930 the sapling was placed in a six foot deep pit that Dyuman, Ambu and Manubhai had themselves dug and filled with compost. The tree flourished in the coming years, and its branches spread out in all directions, often obstructing the movement of persons in the Ashram courtyard. A proposal was made to the Mother that the tree or at least some of its branches should be cut down, but she would not hear of it. In fact the Mother used to pay special attention to facilitate the full and unimpeded growth of its hundred arms and pervasive personality. She asked Sammer, the Czech architect of "Golconde", to design artistic pillars and railings to support the sagging branches. Known always and loved as the Service tree, it was now - in the winter of 1950 to serve with its golden flowers as the golden canopy for Sri Aurobindo's Samadhi and give harbourage to an unceasing flow of disciples and devotees at all hours of the day. Rightly has the Service tree inspired many an Ashram poet to spontaneous rhythmic utterance. Thus Pujalal, whom the Mother had called "My poet":

Calm thou standest here close by

The Master's deep material trance;

Thine is a silent prayer's cry

That mates with God's all-gracious glance.

The Golden God thou serves! here

Thou hast the Mother's golden grace;

All gold thou shalt be. Soul sincere!

And shower gold on earth apace.

And thus, William Jones, a devotee poet, in "Sylvan Samadhi":

Fraternal tree, this metaphor is best:

My immobility became a tomb

Of massive grey-veined marble; incense bloom

Of rose and jasmine dreamed upon its breast;

A gold embrace of boughs a golden vigil kept;

Close by a sacred body's sleep, my thinking slept.

(K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar in ‘On The Mother’, Chapter 35, ‘Mysterious Sacrifice’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)

”Sri Aurobindo came upon earth to teach this truth to men. He told them that man is only a transitional being living in a mental consciousness, but with the possibility of acquiring a new consciousness, the Truth-consciousness, and capable of living a life perfectly harmonious, good and beautiful, happy and fully conscious.

This was a forefront of God's thousandfold house

Far wandering seekers on the Eternal's path

Brought to these quiet founts their spirit's thirst

And spent the treasure of a silent hour

Bathed in the purity of the mild gaze

That uninsistent, ruled them from its peace,

And by its influence found the ways of calm. (‘Savitri’)

There comes a time when we get restless of what the world has to offer and we seek for some thing beyond this ephemeral, trivial existence. We become 'seekers' trying to 'find' something beyond this. This spirit's thirst is what gets us to places like The Ashram, which vibrate with peace, beauty, silence. The moment one enters the ashram this peace and silence overpowers us with its vibrant presence.

A magic happiness flowed from their touch;

Oneness was sovereign in that sylvan peace...

In the luminous words of M.P. Pandit

“The moment people enter the gate, they feel something changing in them. Either they may feel an elevation, or a peace, or maybe deep happiness, but they do feel a change. As for a person who once felt that change there is no going back to what he was. Circumstances may not be in his favour, his will may be weak, but his soul has seen and one day the direction of his life will change.”

Traveller to a prefigured high event,

She seemed to her remembering witness soul

To trace again a journey often made.

Each of us must have made this extraordinary journey and have sought to quench our spirit's thirst. We all have our own special story or incident which brought us to the gate of the ashram and be overpowered by the silence, peace and beauty of the samadhi. Some would not have had any intention of coming but by some random events were 'forced' to come The Mother said that nobody COMES here, everybody is BROUGHT here. In the luminous words of M.P. Pandit

India is one such place where the contemplative moods and psychic atmosphere is very tangible, this is what makes thousands of people come to its shores. Why is it that India draws these "far-wandering seekers on the Eternal's path”? In the words of Mouni Sadhu

“This is easy to understand if we admit that no energy is lost in nature. Millions of human beings, often endowed with extraordinary spiritual powers, with a mighty radiating influence, have from time immemorial been throwing into the atmosphere of India streams of energy generated by their meditations. Also, since the thoughts of many inhabitants are directed towards superphysical aims all this creates a peculiar magnetism, especially in so-called holy places like the ashram and its surroundings.”

It is this magnetic atmosphere that draws us to the Ashram. Sri Aurobindo says that the development of the psychic being is what supports our spiritual life. Being in the atmosphere and aura of the samadhi is of great help in this process and acts like a electric power house to recharge our being.

“It is for this reason that it is necessary for those drawn towards this Truth to come here in order that they may receive the touch which will bring about or prepare the awakening of the psychic being - that is for them the beginning of the effective psychic contact.

It is also for this reason that a stay here is needed for many- if they are ready- in order that under the direct influence and nearness they may have the development or building up of the psychic being in the consciousness or its coming to the front.” (Sri Aurobindo on Himself and The Mother)

This 'touch' helps us to return to the outside world with renewed protection and guidance. However Sri Aurobindo warns that the influences of the outside world are not favourable to the psychic development and if the sadhak is not careful the psychic contact may be easily lost, retarded or diminished by adverse movements and influences.

This is why it is helpful to return to the "place of central influence in order to fortify or recover the contact or to restore or give a fresh forward impulse to the development. The aspiration of such nearness from time to time is not a vital desire; it becomes a vital desire only when it is egoistically insistent or mixed with a vital motive, but not if it is an aspiration of the psychic being calm, deep and without clamour in it or perturbing influence.” (Sri Aurobindo on Himself and The Mother)

We are living in extraordinary times, witnessing the disintegration of the old world in all aspects. The prophetic words of Sri Aurobindo ring true…

The frontiers of the Ignorance shall recede,

More and more souls shall enter into light,

Minds lit, inspired, the occult summoner hear

And lives blaze with a sudden inner flame...

And bursting into life! As M.P. Pandit said it is places like the ashram and individuals who have progressed who will become the stimulants for others to perceive this change of consciousness happening in a spectacular manner. He says that holy places and centres of spiritual energy will act like an electric power house.

“There is a sudden impact and an opening takes place. Thereafter you may go anywhere but you are not the same person who had come, something more. That is why people continue to visit a place like our Ashram even though Sri Aurobindo and The Mother are not here in their physical bodies. ...”

This was a forefront of God's thousandfold house,

Beginnings of the half-screened Invisible

A magic porch of entry glimmering

Quivered in a penumbra of screened Light,

A court of the mystical traffic of the world,

A balcony and miraculous facade. ( ‘Savitri’ )

- Sudha

Why we join the Society

In commemoration of our Society’s 40th Anniversary this month, we produce here excerpts of a speech by the first Chairperson of the Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore, Mr Tay Joo Teck, delivered in April 1975. From time -to -time, it does well to reflect on our association with the Society and this article may be a good starting point on this special occasion.

We come to join the Society for various reasons. Some have joined hoping to find relief from the pressure of their hectic life, the suffering in the world. Some have joined seeking for knowledge of the truth, some for social gregariousness and, of course, some have come simply to wonder how an earthly NTUC man could suddenly become a spiritual seeker. Whatever be the reason, it doesn't matter whether it is good or bad, it is a start to something new to come. But I think it is essential to make our first object clear so that we don't wander into side lanes and circles. This is not a society formed for social service, or for collecting funds to help the needy, or for getting to know each other on a social basis, or even to get publicity for Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo did not care two buttons whether his name was known or not in his lifetime.

Our first object shall be to hold at least intellectually that we, in our present nature, are an imperfect creation, that there is a perfect spiritual reality behind our present limited physical senses. This perfect spiritual reality within all beings, all things, all happenings, we may call it the Truth, Divine, God, Christ, Allah, Buddha or by whatever name we like, it does not matter what mental construc¬tion we give it, for it is not, as our premise first holds a Reality which can be proved by our senses, mental logic or any empirical means. This Reality can only be proved by a higher instrument which we do not normally possess.

Here I would like to relate to you a Zen Story. A young fish once went to an old fish and asked, "Dear respected and wise one, I have heard so much about the sea, and I pray to you to tell me what it is and where it is." The old fellow wagged his tail but did not know what to say. Show him the sea? How ? After a while he said, "The sea is above you, around you, under you, within you, you see the sea, you eat the sea, you touch the sea, you breathe the sea, and yet I cannot show you the sea." So it is with the Spirit, it is useless we ask what is this Spirit, where is this Spirit? Our first object shall be to form ourselves into a like minded group and to strive sincerely to become an instrument fit to realise this Reality within us. In other words, a spiritual change of our present imper¬fect nature.

It is quite apparent that we do not become spiritual beings by joining the Society. There is often a tendency in members of a spiritual society to act in a holier-than-thou manner, to behave like spiritual supermen or pretend to act righteous and virtuous on a social basis. .. Being a member of the Society does not make one a holy man. On the contrary, it is because we realise we are imper¬fect that we have come to Sri Aurobindo, there is no need to otherwise. And if we are sincere to ourselves, the deeper we strive to realise this spiritual change in our nature, the more conscious we will become of the imperfections in ourselves. We shall also realise that this vain pretension of wanting to look virtuous in the eyes of others, is a bondage to our imperfect nature, a root cause of many self-created sufferings.

The Mother once said, if we have never told a lie we are already the Truth, if we have been perfectly sincere, we are already the Divine. Since we are not the Truth and the Divine, there is no need to pretend that we are so. But to strive and aspire for the Truth, and move forward in stages.

So far, during the past year, through our effort of reading Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's books, and listening to the monthly talks, we have generally come to grasp intellectually what Sri Aurobindo's message is all about. But intellectually is not enough. We should now try to live this message. An inner change in ourselves is the first essential need but it must also be expressed in our outer activities.

This is more easily said than done. In a society like Singapore, we find ourselves on the other side of the coin. Everything, men, women, cars, houses, dogs and gods are valued in term of dollars and cents, anything which cannot be thus valued is of no value. We talk of higher values which we cannot even define. We talk of more gracious living, like listening to music and buying a few paintings which we can't really appreciate. We praise ourselves for achieving a higher GNP, a bigger foreign reserve in the day, and in the evening come to attend meetings like this, where we con¬demn ourselves for being economic barbarians. Our pet defence being often, "Man shalt not live by bread alone, but without bread, he shall not live at all."

This double nature, we should observe and admit to ourselves. To be conscious of our shortcomings is the first step towards remedying them. We should hold firmly, at least in faith in the beginning, that Spirit and Nature are one and the same thing. There is no meaning and purpose in life and action by just feeding it with bread if there is no Spirit. And without bread, there is no action, no life which could manifest the spirit.

To appreciate Sri Aurobindo intellectually, to study his beautiful English, philosophy, 'Poetry, as an evening pastime’, is definitely a great help to improve one's literary capacity, but it does little to our main object of a spiritual change. We do not really understand Sri Aurobindo's message, if we do not try to live it in our lives, in our work. .. when we shrink with disgust from the present chaotic social systems with its attendant sufferings and problems, it is usually our vain ego with its self-interest at work. When we dream of a distant flight to some mountain top retreat away from all the injustice and corruption, it is usually again our self-¬righteous ego at work in the robe of a holy apparel.

We shall therefore stay in whatever posts we have been entrusted, as businessman, teacher, educationist, artist, or professional man, but our aim would be different. In every act, whether work or play, in every feeling, in every thought, our aim is to invoke the Divine to act through us. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:

"The arrow did not ask to be made, nor does it resist its user, or lament when it is broken. There is a joy of being made, a joy of being used, a joy of being put aside and a joy too in being broken. That equal joy discover."

- Tay Joo Teck

(Courtesy of Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry)

”Sri Aurobindo belongs to the future; he is the messenger of the future. He still shows us the way to follow in order to hasten the realisation of a glorious future fashioned by the Divine Will.

All those who want to collaborate for the progress of humanity and for India's luminous destiny must unite in a clairvoyant aspiration and in an illumined work.”

June-July Sunday Activities at Centre – A glimpse

30/06/2012: Collective Meditation with Music

Starting last month, the Sunday Activity to be held on the day we have the Monthly Walk (first Sunday of the month), has been shifted to the Saturday (i.e. the day before the walk). And the evening after the Walk, we have Silent Meditation at the Centre from 6 pm to 7 pm. On this particular Saturday, there were a few of us who had gathered at the Centre for Collective Meditation. We all know the sheer power of Meditation. The same Power increases many fold when it is done in a collective manner. Having experienced the joy of meditating with music in the background, we were all set for the Walk scheduled for the next day.

08/07/2012: “Elements of Yoga” by Sri Aurobindo (Transformation)

“Elements of Yoga” by Sri Aurobindo was the book we were to read at the Reading Circle. “Transformation” was the chosen chapter for the day. After reading the chapter aloud, we used the “Commentaries on Elements of Yoga” by the Mother as a guide to help us understand it better. We all aspire for Transformation—True and Total transformation of the Self for the better. The first step is to aspire, the next step is to be conscious of the aspiration at every given moment, to open up our inner selves and be aware of the stages of transformation. The Mother explains so beautifully how to achieve Transformation at different levels. Soaking in a bit of all the words read aloud and the discussions that followed, we sat for the Closing Meditation for that day.

15/07/2012: Reading of “Sri Aurobindo and The Mother about themselves”, “Vignettes” followed by OM Choir

We had all gathered at the Centre and started our Sunday session with an Opening Meditation. With the same calm, we formed a circle. We were to read a very special book that day—“Sri Aurobindo and The Mother about themselves”. Such beautiful lines of the book opened themselves to us that day. There were some very strong passages about the four manifestations of the Mother—Mahalakshmi, MahaSaraswati, Mahakali and Maheshwari. After a quick round of sharing our thoughts on the same, we picked up “Vignettes”. Each of us present there opened a page of our choice and read out the experiences shared by people like us, those who belong to The Mother’s family. They narrate short and sweet stories which shows us how close each one feels to The Mother. Once done, we formed a small circle for the OM choir around a candle lit gloriously. We had a quick voice exercise session and then began offering our best OMs in a group. The synchrony and harmony of the OMs exude a very sweet musical effect which we all carried with ourselves as we left the Centre that Sunday.

27/05/2012: Reading of select lines from “Savitri”

We started our Sunday session with an Opening Meditation with Sunilda’s Organ music playing in the background. After reading a couple of prayers from “Prayers and Meditation”, we formed a small circle to sit and read select lines from “Savitri”. We were to read lines from Book Two Canto Six—“The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Greater Life”. We had a quick synopsis by Jared which put things so clearly in front of us. With Huta’s paintings being played on the screen, we did a couple of rounds of reading the select lines. And each time the lines seemed to be revealing something more profound than the previous time. We ended that day’s session with a nice discussion and the Closing Meditation.

ALONG THE WAY……Reflections on the July 2012 Morning Walk

It was a nice, bright and sunny Sunday morning. We were to have our monthly walk in Pasir Ris park. It was my first time at Pasir Ris Park. The park, at the entrance, seemed like it was part of a rustic village. Everyone seemed to be laid-back and in no hurry whatsoever—A refreshing change from the busy-busy world outside. There were some handsome horses standing majestically. Pony ride is an attraction at the park. There was a small “Bicycle for hire” shop and a few stalls selling some beverage and refreshment. There was a small group playing football. There were a few others cycling around. There were too many huge trees forming a pretty canopy over our heads. We soaked in this ambience as we formed a circle for our Warm-up session. Once done, we headed off on our morning walk.

Pasir Ris is Malay for 'beach bolt-rope', implying a narrow beach. Along this beach there were a few campers who were just waking up. As we chatted and walked along, we were greeted by this pretty mangrove forest. There was a boardwalk which took us through the mangrove area. Thanks to this boardwalk, we could spot some rather elusive mudskippers and mud crabs. It was good fun to see who spots what first. Once we were done with the boardwalk, we were back on the soft sand near the beach. We could spot a few ships from where we were walking. The Sun was out in all its Glory! After walking for about an hour and a half, we assembled at the Car Park to embark on the last leg of our journey. We were to go to Sanjay and Ami’s beautiful house for the Meditation followed by the Brunch. We were warmly greeted by Ami, Sanjay and the little champ Aakash. After a nice opening meditation and a couple of announcements, it was time to celebrate Aakash’s birthday which happened to fall on the 14th of July. Ami had baked a very yummy cake which was so tasty that you could almost feel the love with which it was baked. A hearty sumptuous meal followed the cake-cutting. It was also time for some catching up and merry making. A good start for the Sunday it sure was. And a great start to the week and month ahead!

- Preethi