Guiding Light of The Month

It is the harmony of boundless Love, Love victorious over all suffering and all obscurity. By this law of Love, Thy law, I want to live more and more integrally; to it unreservedly I give myself. And all my being exults in an inexpressible Peace. - The Mother

Psychic offering



It is the spontaneous attitude of the psychic towards the Divine.- The Mother



Common Name: Hollyhock

Botanical Name: Alcea Rosea

Spiritual Name: Psychic Offering

“Each time that the soul takes birth in a new body it comes with the intention of having a new experience which will help it to develop and to perfect its personality. This is how the psychic being is formed from life to life and becomes a completely conscious and independent personality which, once it has arrived at the summit of its development , is free to choose not only the time of its incarnation, but the place, the purpose and the work to be accomplished.”

- The Mother

Editorial

This year we observe with gratitude and joy forty years of the existence of Sri Aurobindo Society here in Singapore, having been inaugurated in 1972 with The Mother’s blessings. A variety of activities have dotted the scene over the years, such as regular talks by eminent members like the late Prof Nadkarni and Mr Krishnamurthy and invited guests from ashram, such as Manoj-da, Alok Pandey and Shradhalu and other Aurobindonians such as Prashant Khanna, Prof. Rath and Dr Prema Nandakumar giving inspiring and illuminating talks at our centre. The centre has also been blessed with the presence of Champaklal. The few 10-day courses on Sanskrit by Dr. Anuradha Choudary and the health talk cum demonstration by Kalu-da were other activities. Currently, during the 6-7pm slots on Sundays, we have readings from the works of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo, including ‘Savitri’, Talks on Vedic Yoga, Meditations on Savitri, with paintings by Huta and the OM choir. These activities bring members together in collective aspiration. We also have a fortnightly Integral Enrichment Programme (IEP) with young children.




One of the most unique features of our society is the uninterrupted monthly walk conducted on the first Sunday of each month to mark the importance of physical culture in supporting a truly integral life. This month marks the 328th walk and what better way of observing this than to have our walk in Auroville! This is exactly what is happening for our December walk (Refer to the page on walk details).



This edition of our Newsletter is also intended to be a special one. Co-incidentally (or not!) the theme for this month fell in place naturally without much thought or manipulation. We started a theme of the Physical some 4 months ago and went on to incorporate other aspects of the being in the subsequent months, with the theme “Psychic Being” sitting naturally and squarely on the December issue.



The editorial will make no attempts at describing the Psychic Being, neither would it describe experiences of this. Sri Aurobindo and The Mother have elaborated on this most important aspect of our being in their numerous works. Picking up these and knowing from them, at least mentally to start with, what the Psychic Being is would be the best way forward. The Master and The Mother have cautioned us that attaining even knowledge, let alone an experience of The Psychic Being is no mean feat. It has taken ages for some to realise this and for others, life times.



If something within is convinced of the importance of finding this hidden being within as the only solution to a better life, then we will have to embark on that journey and stay on the search, stay on course, picking up the many hints strewn along the way. We probably will also be convinced to an extent, even if we have been on the path for a short while, that this mind that hinges on the rigidity of its formation, this heart that lets out longing gasps of desire, this body that dances to the rhythm of the blind heart and boxes in to the rigidity of the surface mind cannot be fit instruments to find that special being within. It has to be something else.



The Psychic Being appears to be like a treasure hid deep within a cave of rocks. Perhaps an attempt at true silence that facilitates an inward gaze may help. The path has to be something other than that fathomed by the measuring mind and the heaving heart; a path yet trodden in each of us, perhaps.

From Savitri

A Person persistent through the lapse of worlds,


Although the same for ever in many shapes

By the outer mind unrecognizable,

Assuming names unknown in unknown climes

Imprints through Time upon the earth’s worn page

A growing figure of its secret self,

And learns by experience what the spirit knew,

Till it can see its truth alive in God.



(Savitri, Book 2 Canto 14)



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;

We see beyond self’s walls our limitless self,

We gaze through our world’s glass at half-seen vasts,

We hunt for the Truth behind apparent things.



(Savitri, Book 7 Canto 2)

Question of the month

Q: How is one to be sure that an inner guidance is coming from the psychic being?




A: M.P. Pandit : It is an experience of many that when they begin to live a kind of inner life, they become aware of an new personality within themselves, and it is very tempting to believe that this new entity is the psychic being. But in ninety-nine percent of the cases, it is not. The psychic takes a long time to express itself.



People mistake the vital being, the mental being, or any subtler formation for the psychic being. When the psychic emerges and begins to express itself, it carries about it an unquestionable conviction. There is a solid peace, a feeling of purity, an absolutely new dimension added. One knows that it does not answer to any personal preferences or desires. It is something fresh; it is a new experience at least for the moment when the psychic voice is heard. But one has to be extremely discriminating one has to be sure of one’s purity and non-involvement in the problem, before taking the voice that one hears as the guiding voice.



(M.P. Pandit, ‘Sat-Sang’, Vol.2, Edited by Vasanti Rao, Dipti Publications 1982)





Q: What are the two birds sitting on the same tree in Katha Upanishad? Are they the witness soul and the psychic being? If not , what are they?



A: M.P. Pandit : The lower bird is the soul identified with Nature, lost in its workings. It feels enslaved. In its anguish it looks up at the other bird sitting serenely on the higher branch of the tree of life. When the suffering soul realizes that he who is above, the jivatma, not involved in the movement yet presiding over it from his high station, is none other than its own self all sorrow passes away from it.





Q: Isvarah sarvabhutanam hrdaya-tisthati. Is this isvara the supreme Divine or God? And who is to surrender to Him“tameva saranam gaccha ?” Is this the psychic soul? Does Gita admit the Psychic being?



A: M.P. Pandit : The Gita makes no mention of the psychic being of our conception. In the context, Ishwara is the individual Divine who stations himself in each person and who can be reached by a concentrated inward plunge. He who surrenders is the human personality constituted of so many selves and evolving towards godhead. What surrenders is not merely the soul but the entire complex which is upheld, governed and led by the psychic purusha within.



(M.P. Pandit, ‘All Life is Yoga’, Dipti Publications)

The “Psychic Being” in ‘Savitri’ – An Initial Exploration

Savitri, the book of revelations, is Sri Aurobindo’s magnum opus, the book of secrets into inner worlds and worlds above, holding the key to their discovery, to self-mastery and more. The Psychic Being, a central being within, whose discovery in life is pivotal to self-growth and discovery, a widening of consciousness which embraces all, is a ever-recurring theme in Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy. Does Sri Aurobindo mention the term “Psychic Being” in Savitri? Does he describe it? If so where and how? These questions led to this initial exploration in Savitri, seeking the “Psychic Being”. An idea of the “Psychic Being” as glimpsed from literature on Integral Yoga is presented, followed by an examination of part of Canto 5, Book 7: “Finding of the Soul” for reference to the Psychic Being. Some conclusions are then drawn from the brief study.




The Psychic Being and the Soul - Some Explanations



The Psychic Being is one of the central themes in Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga which seeks the transformation of matter such that it would be capable of revealing the face of the Divine immanent in all of creation and beyond. The agent whose task it is to bring about that transformation of nature - the physical, vital and mental - is the Psychic being, which is a portion of the divine put into all life, and in man being given the opportunity to express itself and take over his nature, effecting a gradual transformation of all of his nature such that Divinity may express itself through the “divinised mud”.



What is the relationship between the soul and the psychic being? Is there any essential difference between them? Further reading reveals an essential difference between the Soul and the Psychic Being. In Integral Yoga, the soul state is differentiated into two states, namely “the soul in its essence” and “the soul in its evolved, individualised form”. The soul in its essence is what is referred to in various terms in this yoga as “psyche, psychic essence, soul spark or soul element” (Sri Aurobindo, 1989, p. iii). It is by this soul spark or soul element that “we exist and persist as individual beings in Nature” (Aurobindo, 1970a, p. 891). The soul in its evolved, individualized form is referred to variously as “psychic being, psychic personality, soul-form… or soul personality” (Sri Aurobindo, 1989, p. iii). This is the soul personality that evolves with the growth of consciousness during each life-time. The Psychic Being then is the evolving soul.



The term “Psychic” is derived from the Greek term, “psukhe”, which means the soul. In the many layers that make up the being, the Psychic Being is the innermost being which lends its support to all the other parts of the being, both inner and outer, the layers belonging to both the Purusha (Self) and Prakriti (nature or manifested self). It is described as a “spark or portion of the Divine” present in all forms of creation. The Psychic Being is a flowering of what is called the Psyche or Psychic entity or soul. This psyche grows, in the course of its evolution and through its various experiences in life-times into an individual psychic personality in the human. This individualized personality is termed the Psychic Being (Dalal, 2007, p. 204).



Here is an extract of Sri Aurobindo’s description of these terms in ‘Synthesis of Yoga’ (Aurobindo, 1997, p. 141):



“But the true soul of man is not there; (heart of desire) it is in the true invisible heart hidden in some luminous cave of the nature: there under some infiltration of the divine Light is our soul, a silent inmost being of which few are even aware; for if all have a soul, few are conscious of their true soul or feel its direct impulse. There dwells the little spark of the Divine which supports this obscure mass of our nature and around it grows the psychic being, the formed soul or the real Man within us. It is as this psychic being in him grows and the movements of the heart reflect its divinations and impulsions that man becomes more and more aware of his soul, ceases to be a superior animal, and, awakened to the glimpses of the godhead within him, admits more and more its intimations of a deeper life and consciousness and an impulse towards things divine. It is one of the decisive moments of the integral Yoga when this psychic being liberated, brought out from the veil to the front, can pour the full flood of its divinations, seeings and impulsions on the mind, life and body of man and begin to prepare the upbuilding of divinity in the earthly nature.”



The Psychic Being in Savitri



We have a sense of the significance of the Psychic Being and its emergence in man as a decisive action in the course of individual evolution. However, in ‘Savitri’, Sri Aurobindo’s magnum opus, it is quite a wonder that the term psychic being occurs nowhere in the 24,000 odd lines that constitute this epic poem, as revealed by a word search. However, its closest root, the term “Psyche” occurs once, as described below (Aurobindo, 1970b, p. 487).



But for such vast spiritual change to be,

Out of the mystic cavern in man’s heart

The heavenly Psyche must put off her veil

And step into common nature’s crowded rooms

And stand uncovered in that nature’s front

And rule its thoughts and fill the body and life.



The Psyche, in Sri Aurobindo’s yoga is a direct reference to the “soul” or “innermost part of the being”(Sri Aurobindo, 1989, p. iii) as opposed to the psychic being. In other words, it is “the soul; the essence of the soul; spark of the Divine which is there in all things.”



Going through the first 201 lines (in the first 5 pages, from pg. 522-527) of Canto 5; Book 7, there is some indication that Sri Aurobindo was referring to the Psychic Being, although the term psychic being was never used. These following lines especially hold the clue to the fact that Sri Aurobindo was referring to the Psychic Being (Aurobindo, 1970b, pp. 526, 527):



But since she knows the toil of mind and life

As a mother feels and shares her children’s lives,

She puts forth a small portion of herself,

A being no bigger than the thumb of man

Into a hidden region of the heart

To face the pang and to forget the bliss,

To share the suffering and endure earth’s wounds

And labour mid the labour of the stars.



The key to the fact that Sir Aurobindo was indeed referring to the Psychic Being appears in the line, “A being no bigger than the thumb”. This line is a direct reference to the Upanishadic principle of the caitya purusa (Sri Aurobindo, 1989). It is in the ‘Katho Upanishad’, that the Caitya Purusa is described as a being no bigger than the thumb. The subsequent lines give ample description of the being that is no bigger than the thumb is an out flowering or the putting out of this being in question by “The Spirit’s conscious representative”, referred to in the feminine in order to bear nature’s pangs and toil with her. The Soul-Psychic being relationship echoed in these lines above are taken up again in ‘Synthesis of Yoga’. Sri Aurobindo points out (Aurobindo, 1997, pp. 153-154) that even when a semblance of the Psychic Being is present, “it is still in all but a few a smaller portion of the being—“no bigger in the mass of the body than the thumb of a man” was the image used by the ancient seers..” He is referring here to the Caitya Purusa pointed out by the ancient seers, referred to him as the Psychic Being in later works.



Elsewhere too, in ‘Synthesis of Yoga’, Sri Aurobindo makes a direct reference to the Psychic Being as the Caitya Purusa (Aurobindo, 1997, p. 238 - 239) as in :



“ …—this veiled psychic entity is the flame of the Godhead always alight within us, inextinguishable even by that dense unconsciousness of any spiritual self within which obscures our outward nature. It is a flame born out of the Divine and, luminous inhabitant of the Ignorance, grows in it till it is able to turn it towards the Knowledge. It is the concealed Witness and Control, the hidden Guide, the Daemon of Socrates, the inner light or inner voice of the mystic. It is that which endures and is imperishable in us from birth to birth, untouched by death, decay or corruption, an indestructible spark of the Divine. Not the unborn Self or Atman, for the Self even in presiding over the existence of the individual is aware always of its universality and transcendence, it is yet its deputy in the forms of Nature, the individual soul, caitya purusa, supporting mind, life and body, standing behind the mental, the vital, the subtle-physical being in us and watching and profiting by their development and experience.”



We can be quite assured that Sri Aurobindo was referring to the Psychic Being through these cross-references. A further confirmation of this can also be drawn by analyzing the content in the following lines (Aurobindo, 1970b, pp. 526 -527) as follows:



A being stood immortal in transience,

Deathless dallying with momentary things,

In whose wide eyes of tranquil happiness

Which pity and sorrow could not abrogate

Infinity turned its gaze on finite shapes:



This being is the soul, transcendent, “Observer of the silent steps of the hours, Eternity upheld the minute’s acts And the passing scenes of the Everlasting’s play….. The Spirit’s conscious representative,..” However, to help the natural portion of man to receive and bear the impacts of life,

She puts forth a small portion of herself,

A being no bigger than the thumb of man

Into a hidden region of the heart

To face the pang and to forget the bliss,

To share the suffering and endure earth’s wounds

And labour mid the labour of the stars.



This being, “no bigger than the thumb of man” is an out-flowering of the Soul entity or soul element, as described in these lines, something put forth by the Soul. Savitri gains proximity with The Soul through her Psychic Being. It is likely that in Savitri, her Psychic Being was fully formed and therefore eventually opened the gateway to the Soul, with which she merges, as the forthcoming lines depict.



Here in this chamber of flame and light they met;

They looked upon each other, knew themselves,

The secret deity and its human part,

The calm immortal and the struggling soul.

Then with a magic transformation’s speed

They rushed into each other and grew one.



It is to be understood that the soul spark or psychic spark is present in life forms, but in the more evolved human nature it is given a chance to step forward, influence at first the development of the nature - the physical, mental and vital - and eventually, use perfected nature as its means of self-expression which is a crucial step leading to the divine manifestation upon earth. The mental mind perceives this in a somewhat crude chronological order. It appears that soul states flow over each other, although there is apparent an evolutionary development. In this canto, it appears that Sri Aurobindo describes the psychic being as something that is encountered on the way to the Soul, something that aids the eventual soul contact.



The experience of diving into these few lines of Savitri cannot be described in words. It was a momentary dip into an ocean of delight and wonder, something in one knowing fully well that the best and brightest treasures were far, far away, beyond the clutches of this mind or this intellect. There was a sense of silence in the lines that continuously led and also trailed behind the search, there were deeper voices that hummed the secret of the route and the surface being knew itself ill equipped for that journey. A surrender total was demanded, nothing more, nothing less, to open oneself and wait in silent aspiration. One perhaps never finishes with Savitri. Fresh windows open each time something within us reaches out to Savitri. So it is with this initial exploration. It continues.



References



Aurobindo, S. (1970a). Life Divine. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.

Aurobindo, S. (1970b). Savitri. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.

Aurobindo, S. (1997). Synthesis of Yoga (Vol. VOLUMES 33 and 34). Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.

Dalal, A. S. (2007). Sri Aurobindo and The Future Psychology - Supplement to A Greater Psychology. Puducherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.

Huppes, N. (2001). Psychic Education. New Delhi: Sri Auriobindo Education Society.

Sri Aurobindo, A. (1989). The Psychic Being, Soul: Its Nature, Mission and Evolution (First ed.). Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.





Gratitude

Tring-Tring. The phone clattered, breaking the quietness of the house. Shwetha who picked up the phone was overwhelmed by the news her husband gave her regarding his long-awaited promotion with an overseas offer. Shwetha belonged to a small, loving family, with her husband Mahesh and two daughters, Shreya and Shruthi. In the evening, during a family discussion, a wave of queries arose regarding the transfer for which Mahesh answered that prior arrangements have been done only the school admissions and house hunting still remains, and that they had to leave by the end of the month.




Before heading toward a new experience, they visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram to seek blessings of the Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. Soon after they left for Hong Kong, which greeted them with it's magnificent buildings and roads which caught the children’s fancy. Very soon they found a convenient house where they settled down, but before they could breathe a sigh of relief, they had another big responsibility - to sort out the school admissions. They applied to 2-3 schools who asked them to wait and lookup the results soon through email, Shwetha thought, “Oh my children are just brilliant, no one can afford to deny admission to my kids.”



Days rolled by, slowly Shwetha started worrying about the school admissions as no intimation was received yet. Both Mahesh and Swetha were disturbed.



After two days they received a phone call from a school asking them to come for an interview the next day. Hoping for the best, the family set out to the school, where they were informed of a problem regarding the change of the board, and they would be provided provisional admission as the formalities would take time. If they were willing to take the risk, they could pay the fees and start the academic year.



Her mind rushed with pessimistic thoughts, remorse of shifting from India and imagined how easy life would have been back home. Suddenly she seemed lost in an unknown land and Mahesh as if suggesting a solution asked her to introspect as to what they might have done wrong during the transfer.



Later in the evening after meditation and complete surrender, Mahesh realized that the defect was within them and not in the circumstance, that they never stepped back even for a second when things flowed smoothly to thank The Mother, but when there came a sudden jerk only then they remembered The Mother. Feeling ashamed of their conduct, they stood before The Mother with tears rolling down and asked for forgiveness.



“A mistake recognized is a mistake pardoned.”



With a certitude that The Mother would take care of the problem, they slept peacefully. The next day, the phone rang giving them news of approval of admission. Oh, how grateful they were to The Mother!!! With a sigh of relief they thanked The Mother for making them understand that “Every circumstance comes to reveal a hidden weakness.”



Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Aravindaya Sharanam Mama.



References

‘Rays of Light’, pg 95, pg 85 Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.



- Sharadha

October/ November activites at our center

4 November 2012: Talk on “The Relevance of Integral Education Today” by Partho




We were privileged to have Partho bhai at our centre on this day. He began the session inviting questions from those who attended the talk. Clearly, he did not want to lecture but rather, be engaged in a dialogue session with everyone. Having gauged our understanding on the topic, he proceeded to summarise the concept of Integral Education. In order to accomplish this, he touched on Integral Yoga and what it essentially entailed. Then he brought us into the realm of Integral Education. As he shared his knowledge and experience in this field, many questions followed and some of them, clearly burning questions from parents on the way of bringing up a child. Partho bhai was forthright with his answers. He mentioned that there were no short cuts but for one and all to aspire for and practice a more and more true living. The talk extended to about two hours. It felt as if Partho bhai had kindled some sparks in all of us that day.



11 November 2012: Talk/Discussion on Vedic Yoga



The second Sunday of the month is when we have the Talk at the Centre. And this Sunday, Jared was to speak on the topic Vedic Yoga (Part II), as Part I was covered the previous month. After the Opening Meditation, we formed a circle. As always, we picked up one copy each, of the handout prepared by Jared.



The session started with a few participants sharing their personal experience about how they were initiated into Vedic chanting and its significance in their lives. It was enriching to hear each of these experiences. With that in the backdrop, we started off with our first topic for the day-- “The Inner War”. This is a topic which is relevant to our everyday lives! We all have our constant inner conflicts, inner wars within ourselves every moment, every day. It had beautiful lines on the soul of a man and how it is a world in itself, what with there being positive forces or The Gods and then the negative forces or the demons trying to establish themselves.



The second topic was “The Hostile Forces”. This topic dealt with the hostile forces Man encounters during his spiritual quest, the multiple roles that he has to don during the course of the journey and how all along he is constantly encountering the Dasyu, the natural enemy. This triggered off an interesting discussion about how the Vedic philosophy quotes “Yad Pinde Tad Brahmande” as the important principle which loosely translates to “You are a Universe within the Universe”. One could draw a parallel to this with the Egyptian phrase: “As above, so below. As within, so without” as Jared highlighted. With this enlightenment, and a good discussion later, we sat for our Closing Meditation.



17 November 2012 : The Mother’s Mahasamdhi Day



We gathered at the Centre from 6pm onwards. More flowers arrived at the Centre and these were quietly arranged and offered at the altar. We began with meditation on Sunil-da’s music and read two entries from ‘Prayers and Meditation’. Venkatesh Rao described in brief what Nirod-da had described about Mother’s last few days. Shailaja then read the message from ashram which touched us all in our cores. It asked us to hold always the highest and only goal of knowing the truth of our being before us, in all that we do, feel and think. The lines took us naturally into silent meditation. The poignant session came to a close after about 10 minutes on Sunil-da’s music.



18 November 2012 : Talk/Discussion on Vedic Yoga



This week, we continued with the second part of Jared's talk on Vedic Yoga, based on Sri Aurobindo's The Secret of the Veda. The discussion involved the nature of the Gods, the great Aspects of the Divine that assist us in our evolution. After Jared's explanation, an extract on one of the main Gods was read. Mr Krishnamurthy then chanted Vedic mantras that invoked the particular God we were reading about (either Agni, Indra, Surya or Soma), before group discussion commenced. The group not only sought to grasp the nature of the Gods intellectually, but also tried to experience some of their Radiance through the Vedic mantras. The session ended with the Mother's reading of the 'Adoration of the Divine Mother' - an invocation to the mother of the Gods, Aditi.



23 November 2012 : Musical Offering by Mr. and Mrs. Bhattacharjee



We were privileged to have with us Mr. and Mrs. Bhattacharjee from the Sri Aurobindo Society, Bangalore (otherwise known as Sri Aurobindo Bhavan at Ulsoor) who were on a short stop-over visit to Singapore en route to Australia. They treated us to an evening of deep devotional music. The simplicity in the offering, the devotion, the total involvement, the utter care with which each rendition was offered had its effect on all of us. The silence that pervaded the room when the offering concluded was deeply felt by one and all. We could only refer back to The Mother for the blessings bestowed upon all of us. It was indeed a most fitting way to welcome Siddhi Day.



24 November 2012 : Siddhi Day



We gathered on Siddhi day in our centre. The flowers offered at the altar spoke many sweet words silently. Following meditation with Sunil-da’s New Year music and reading off Prayers and meditation by Shailaja, the Siddhi Day message from ashram was read by Jayanthy. It was another poignant message following the one a week before. Then the significance of Siddhi day as narrated by Purani was read out by Sundari. Jared led us in reading a page each of Canto 15, Book 2: ‘The Kingdoms of the Greater Knowledge’. The hour-long gathering concluded with a short meditation with Sunil-da’s New Year music.

- Jayanthy, Jared and Preethi