Guiding Light of The Month

O LORD, Thou art my refuge and my blessing, my strength, my health, my hope, and my courage. Thou art supreme Peace, unalloyed Joy, perfect Serenity. My whole being prostrates before Thee in a gratitude beyond measure and a ceaseless worship; and that worship goes up from my heart and my mind towards Thee like the pure smoke of incense of the perfumes of India. - The Mother

Integral Wisdom

Education

“It is not a number we want – it is a selection; it is not brilliant students that we want, it is living souls.” 
-          The Mother
Integral Wisdom


The wisdom one obtains through union with the Divine.
-          The Mother

Common Name: Siris tree, Lebbeck tree
Botanical Name: Leucaena leucocephala
Spiritual Name:  Integral Wisdom
  
“Education, to be complete, must have five principal aspects corresponding to the five principal activities of the human being: the physical, the vital, the mental, the psychic and the spiritual.”
-          The Mother


From the Editor’s Desk


We know that education is dictated by the needs of its place and time. The way it operates today, now, in its own place is so because we have endorsed it and we subscribe to it. We have come a long way in mainstream education and how long more we would go is anyone’s guess. Voices there are, raised against its ills, even as its goodness passes by lost in the travail of life’s challenges or championed by it. These voices will potentially spark a small trail of change, sometime in the future, decades maybe or centuries later, in the way children are schooled. The collective consciousness will certainly shape education. It is evolutionary.

We also know that however we educate the young shows itself up in the population decades later. Can we turn the clock back?  Probably not. But lessons there are to learn from. Who is the policy maker who shapes the education system? Who frames the ideology? How and why? We do or are at least, equipped to and certainly contribute. It has always been that, based on collective ideology, education is shaped and so too our young and therefore our future. Maybe the question to ask is, “what is the destiny I want for this country?” than “what is the benefit I want for my child, the family and the school or the institution?” A greater question could be, “what is the destiny we want for the world?” and an even greater question, “what is the destiny we want for humanity?” These questions will put into perspective any attempts we make at educating the nation. But then, who will think of the world? Who will think of humanity? It is still a world of divide along the lines of clime, country, nation, state, colour, creed, culture, conflicts. Yet something deep within us dreams of a better world, has glimpsed a beautiful one, harmonious, united; there is something that hopes and watches and waits with faith. In all the chaos and mayhem that confronts us collectively, some do think of the world, of humanity and the way forward. Sri Aurobindo saw the greater destiny of man and decisively thought of education as a means to manifest the ideal of a greater man on a transformed planet, a humanity that lives on the truest principles of Truth, Beauty and Goodness and more. His was a realisation that saw the Spirit of Divinity shaping mind, matter and life on earth. It is a way of being that actually challenges and hopefully defeats the defeatist, the fatalist, the negativist, the denouncer and the denier in us. 

Sri Aurobindo recognised that this would in no way be accomplished in the next many decades or even centuries perhaps, but still, it was this stamp, without compromises, that he laid on the educational framework he outlined for India and for the world at large, in detail. It was meant for children of the future in whose hands he confidently placed the seeds of posterity. These are the children meant to pave pathways to achieve the unexpected high, for all of humanity, not for one man, for a family, for the institute, for a community, or for a country. It was an education that embraced all of civilisation in its ambit. That too, not for now, or tomorrow, but for all of time to come, for existence here on earth. The start point is always small, minute, so minute, so small and so ordinary it misses the eye, the ear. The start point is this tiny dot, this tiny murmur within that seeks for something more perfect in the way things are done and then based on which the decisions we make for ourselves and those left in our charge, our children. The rest proceeds in its own steam. Reference is made here to an integral system of education which Sri Aurobindo and The Mother envisaged for souls ready for the adventure of self-discovery, no matter how long it would take, no matter where it would lead, what the discovery may be. 

Savitri


Happy are men anchored on fixed belief
In this uncertain and ambiguous world,
Or who have planted in the heart’s rich soil
One small grain of spiritual certitude.
Happiest who stand on faith as on a rock.
But I must pass leaving the ended search,
Truth’s rounded outcome firm, immutable
And this harmonic building of world-fact,
This ordered knowledge of apparent things.
Here I can stay not, for I seek my soul.

(Savitri, Book 7 Canto 3)

Question of the month


“Our aim is not a national system of education for India, but an education for the world at large.”
-          The Mother

Q: Sublime Mother, our aim is no exclusive national system of education for India but an essential and fundamental education for all mankind. But, is it not true, Mother, that this education, because of India’s special fitness (by virtue of its past cultural striving and attainment),is India’s privilege and special responsibility towards herself and the world? At any rate, this essential education is India’s national education to my mind. In fact, I regard this as the national education of each great country with characteristic differentiations peculiar to each nation.

I wonder whether this is correct and Mother would endorse it?

A:  The Mother: Yes, this is quite correct and part of what I would have said if I had had time to answer your questions.

India has or rather had the knowledge of the Spirit, but she neglected matter and suffered for it.

The West has the knowledge of matter but rejected the Spirit and suffers badly for it.

An integral education which could, with some variations, be adapted to all the nations of the world, must bring back the legitimate authority of the Spirit over a matter fully developed and utilised.

This is in short what I wanted to say.
-          With blessings.
26 July 1965

(The Mother, ‘CWM’, Vol. 12, “On Education”, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)

An Introduction to Integral Education

The Education of a human being should begin at birth and continue throughout his life. Indeed, if we want this education to have its maximum result, it should begin even before birth; in this case it is the mother herself who proceeds with this education by means of a twofold action: first, upon herself for her own improvement, and secondly, upon the child whom she is forming physically. For it is certain that the nature of the child to be born depends very much upon the mother who forms it, upon her aspiration and will as well as upon the material surroundings in which she lives. To see that her thoughts are always beautiful and pure, her feelings always noble and fine, her material surroundings as harmonious as possible and full of a great simplicity — this is the part of education which should apply to the mother herself. And if she has in addition a conscious and definite will to form the child according to the highest ideal she can conceive, then the very best conditions will be realised so that the child can come into the world with his utmost potentialities. How many difficult efforts and useless complications would be avoided in this way !

Education, to be complete, must have five principal aspects corresponding to the five principal activities of the human being: the physical, the vital, the mental, the psychic and the spiritual. Usually, these phases of education follow chronologically the growth of the individual; this, however, does not mean that one of them should replace another, but that all must continue, completing one another until the end of his life.
We propose to study these five aspects of education one by one and also their interrelationships. But before we enter into the details of the subject, I wish to make a recommendation to parents. Most parents, for various reasons, give very little thought to the true education which should be imparted to children. When they have brought a child into the world, provided him with food, satisfied his various material needs and looked after his health more or less carefully, they think they have fully discharged their duty. Later on, they will send him to school and hand over to the teachers the responsibility for his education.

There are other parents who know that their children must be educated and who try to do what they can. But very few, even among those who are most serious and sincere, know that the first thing to do, in order to be able to educate a child, is to educate oneself, to become conscious and master of oneself so that one never sets a bad example to one’s child. For it is above all through example that education becomes effective. To speak good words and to give wise advice to a child has very little effect if one does not oneself give him an example of what one teaches. Sincerity, honesty, straightforwardness, courage, disinterestedness, unselfishness, patience, endurance, perseverance, peace, calm, self-control are all things that are taught infinitely better by example than by beautiful speeches. Parents have a high ideal and always act in accordance with it and you will see that little by little your child will reflect this ideal in himself and spontaneously manifest the qualities you would like to see expressed in his nature. Quite naturally a child has respect and admiration for his parents; unless they are quite unworthy, they will always appear to their child as demigods whom he will try to imitate as best he can.

With very few exceptions, parents are not aware of the disastrous influence that their own defects, impulses, weaknesses and lack of self-control have on their children. If you wish to be respected by a child, have respect for yourself and be worthy of respect at every moment. Never be authoritarian, despotic, impatient or ill-tempered. When your child asks you a question, do not give him a stupid or silly answer under the pretext that he cannot understand you. You can always make yourself understood if you take enough trouble; and in spite of the popular saying that it is not always good to tell the truth, I affirm that it is always good to tell the truth, but that the art consists in telling it in such a way as to make it accessible to the mind of the hearer. In early life, until he is twelve or fourteen, the child’s mind is hardly open to abstract notions and general ideas. And yet you can train it to understand these things by using concrete images, symbols or parables. Up to quite an advanced age and for some who mentally always remain children, a narrative, a story, a tale well told teach much more than any number of theoretical explanations.

Another pitfall to avoid: do not scold your child without good reason and only when it is quite indispensable. A child who is too often scolded gets hardened to rebuke and no longer attaches much importance to words or severity of tone. And above all, take good care never to scold him for a fault which you yourself commit. Children are very keen and clear-sighted observers; they soon find out your weaknesses and note them without pity.

When a child has done something wrong, see that he confesses it to you spontaneously and frankly; and when he has confessed, with kindness and affection make him understand what was wrong in his movement so that he will not repeat it, but never scold him; a fault confessed must always be forgiven. You should not allow any fear to come between you and your child; fear is a pernicious means of education: it invariably gives birth to deceit and lying. Only a discerning affection that is firm yet gentle and an adequate practical knowledge will create the bonds of trust that are indispensable for you to be able to educate your child effectively. And do not forget that you have to control yourself constantly in order to be equal to your task and truly fulfil the duty which you owe your child by the mere fact of having brought him into the world.

(The Mother, ‘CWM’, Vol. 12, “On Education”, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)

The Mother on Education


(contd. from the September and October 2013 issues)

“In their early years, children do have intimations of a higher consciousness which may puzzle or even startle their parents and elders.”
                       
As Wordsworth reminiscentially sang:

There was a time when meadow, grove and stream,
The earth and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream...
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy...

Yet the Boy beholds the Light however fitfully, and even the Youth is by the “vision splendid” attended on his way. “Every human being carries hidden within him the possibility of a greater consciousness” wrote the Mother; “a good many children are under its influence”. The crux of the educational problem is therefore to safeguard this light of consciousness, and make it illumine all thoughts, all actions, all feelings and give a new direction and a new tone to our entire life. Hence the paramount need for psychic education:

“With psychic education we come to the problem of the true motive of existence, the purpose of life on earth, the discovery to which this life must lead and the result of that discovery: the consecration of the individual to his eternal principle.”

Whether this awakening comes as the result of a mystic break-through, or of a spurt of intense religious feeling, or yet as the culmination of a course of philosophical inquiry, “the important thing is to live the experience”.

On the one hand, unlike the body, the vital and the mind, of which we are almost constantly aware, the psychic being or soul seems generally to elude us. On the other hand, sooner or later we are driven to realise that this elusive thing is verily the deeper reality about ourselves, and it profits us little to have gained the many mansions of apara vidya or phenomenal knowledge if we have not also won the key to the psychic presence or the soul within. But, then, how does one set upon this adventure of consciousness, this pursuit of the psychic being? The Mother talks to us directly, and the winged words go home:

“The starting-point is to seek in yourself that which is independent of the body and the circumstances of life, which is not born of the mental formation that you have been given, the language you speak, the habits and customs of the environment in which you live, the country where you are born or the age to which you belong. You must find, in the depths of your being, that which carries in it a sense of universality, limitless expansion, unbroken continuity. Then you decentralise, extend and widen yourself; you begin to live in all things and in all beings; the barriers separating individuals from each other break down. You think in their thoughts, vibrate in their sensations, feel in their feelings, live in the life of all. What seemed inert suddenly becomes full of life, stones quicken, plants feel and will and suffer, animals speak in a language more or less inarticulate, but clear and expressive; everything is animated by a marvellous consciousness without time or limit. And this is only one aspect of the psychic realisation; there are others, many others. All help you to go beyond the barriers of your egoism, the walls of your external personality, the impotence of your reactions and the incapacity of your will.”

In another essay also, ‘Transformation’, the Mother seems to refer to the awakening of the psychic consciousness. Though the preparation may have been long and slow there is “a revolution in the basic poise... like turning a ball inside out... the ordinary consciousness... ignorant of what things are in reality... sees only their shell. But the true consciousness is at the centre, at the heart of reality and has the direct vision of the origin of all movements.... Something opens within you and all at once you find yourself in a new world.” But, she cautions, “what is needed is to express it gradually in the details of practical life”.

Wonders are many, there have been great discoveries, but nothing is more wonderful, or is a greater discovery, than the soul. It is not the super-subtle or marvelously resilient mind that can run the quarry of the psychic being to its lair, it is not vital determination or physical agility that can encompass the desired catch; “the supreme value of the discovery lies in its spontaneity, its ingeniousness and that escapes all ordinary mental laws.” But one ceaselessly hankers after, and one waits with infinite patience; one avoids all fever and fret, all anxiety and apprehension; one tries to find joy in all things, one tries to cultivate equality in the face of life's phantasmagoria; one shuns the criteria of the market weights and measures, one walks on the steep and narrow path without sense of time or assurance of success; and one longs and waits - waits on the Invisible - hearkening to steps unheard, turning to the unstruck melodies till at last “an inner door will suddenly open and you will emerge into a dazzling splendour that will bring you the certitude of immortality.... Then you will stand erect, freed from all chains... you will be able to walk on straight and firm, conscious of your destiny, master of your life.”

And yet the psychic opening or the seeking and the finding of the soul is but a stage in integral education. The Mother calls these further stages steps in “spiritual education”. If the psychic opening makes possible a purified and puissant life here and now “in the universe of forms”, a spiritual liberation means “a return to the unmanifest”, a canter beyond the phenomenal world. For the latter realisation - that is, the union or the losing of the soul in the Transcendent - there are the tested paths of Knowledge (Jnana) and of Love or Devotion (Bhakti), though “the swiftest method is total self-giving”. If we must speak in traditional terms, Atma-vicara or inquiry into the nature of the Self can dispel cloud after cloud of Unknowing, and reveal in the end the higher Knowledge (Para Vidya) of identity of self and Atman. The Love Divine, too, can obliterate all distance and difference and local adhesions, and bring about the union of the river with the ocean. But total self-surrender, atma-samarpana, brings cantering to the baby-cat the mother's protective grasp and the resultant realisation of the bliss of oneness.

But although many have desired this supreme liberation into the Transcendent, a total escape from all the heavy weight of this unintelligible and oppressive world of phenomena, still the Mother feels strongly that this mere annulment of the self, this flight of the alone into the Alone, must not be the end of the whole spiritual adventure. The Mother is certainly not for this implied abandonment of the earth and its denizens to their present plight of “death, suffering, ignorance and death”! On the contrary, encouraged by their own aspirations, ardours and realisations, the Mother and Sri Aurobindo thought of the possibility of a supramental change and transformation. Thus, the Mother, in the climactic passage in her sixth essay:

“From beyond the frontiers of form a new force can be evoked, a power of consciousness which is as yet unexpressed and which, by its emergence, will be able to change the course of things and give birth to a new world. For the true solution to the problem of suffering, ignorance and death is not an individual escape from earthly miseries by self-annihilation into the unmanifest, nor a problematical collective flight from universal suffering by an integral and final return of the creation to its creator, thus curing the universe by abolishing it, but a transformation, a total transfiguration of matter brought about by the logical continuation of Nature's ascending march in her progress towards perfection, by the creation of a new species that will be to man what man is to the animal and that will manifest upon earth a new force, a new consciousness and a new power. And so will begin a new education which can be called the supramental education; it will, by its all-powerful action, work not only upon the consciousness of individual beings, but upon the very substance of which they are built and upon the environment in which they live.”

It is true that at a time when psychic and spiritual education are a mystery to most educationists, a mere will-o'-the-wisp and a thing not to be pinned down in the curriculum, or to hold on to and semesterise and evaluate in terms of alphabetised grades, it is perhaps premature to talk of supramental education, which the mere mind cannot grasp at all. But the dream of today may yet become tomorrow's actuality. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother felt convinced that the supramental descent was no mere phantom of hope but an event decreed and inevitable. And it would be specifically a “descent” of consciousness, and hence supramental education too will.....

“......progress from above downwards, its influence spreading from one state of being to another until at last the physical is reached.......the supramental education will result no longer in a progressive formation of human nature and an increasing development of its latent faculties, but in a transformation of the nature itself, a transfiguration of the being in its entirety, a new ascent of the species above and beyond man towards superman, leading in the end to the appearance of a divine race upon earth.”

‘On Education’ is but a series of six brief essays, but it is also a vast arc of comprehension: from Matter to Spirit, from the physical, vital and mental to the psychic, spiritual and supramental, from animal to man and from man to God! Education is a movement, an unfolding, a becoming; what is already involved as a result of the holocaust of the Spirit in inconscient Matter awakens and puts out its sticky leaves and bud of promise, and must end at last in the full blossoming of the Divine potentiality.
(concluded)

(K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar in ‘On The Mother’, Chapter 37, “Mother on Education”, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)

The Mirambika System of Education

During my trip to New Delhi, I had the privilege of visiting Mirambika, a school that practices a form of education that, in its form and spirit, is the diametrical opposite of Singapore's.

In essence, and at the risk of some simplification and hasty generalization, Singapore's system is characterized by the following : clear and fixed learning outcomes that all pupils of a given ability group must attain by a certain age (subject to minor variations in subject combinations, and with increasing latitude of choice as a student matures); standardized and national assessment modes to evaluate and validate the attainment of these outcomes; packed and challenging subject content, with an emphasis on higher level cognitive skills on the academic side - coupled with an orientation towards tangible achievement, character development and often intense training on the co-curricular side. In combination, these lead to a tense and intense educational experience, with a premium placed on efficiency and professional management. Finally, guiding the whole education system are essentially pragmatic goals of economic and social well-being.

The results are, on the one hand, achievements in math, science and reading that are among the best in the world; and on the other hand, a lack of the values that linger at the bottom of our nation's collective heart: creativity, spirituality, curiosity, an appreciation for beauty and an idealistic aspiration for excellence. And needless to say, the Education System is one that moulds its wares with a good degree of flame and pain, and where joy of learning is often a dusty half-dead flower that could hardly breath. Continue on this path, and we will probably be a nation that will last (for a time), but will produce nothing lasting.

In Mirambika, we get the following : 'free progress' of pupils with self-directed, interest-based goals formulated with the help of teachers; flexible  assessments varying with the goals, and (I believe) consisting of assessments by teachers, peers and most importantly, self; spacious and sunlit learning spaces that foster collaboration; generous time given for learning and exploration; and finally, a sincere and single-minded aspiration to flexibly foster the potentialities of a child's mental, vital, physical and spiritual being - arguably something impossible in a system where one eye must always be kept simultaneously on the clock and the exam syllabus.

Having carried out several lesson observations, and having talked to many teachers, one can see that this is not of course a 'perfect' school - as the Mirambika teachers are only too aware. Viewed from an efficiency-driven Singaporean perspective, there would appear to be much 'waste': far too much time is devoted for pupils to explore and 'construct knowledge' through carrying out a few projects. And for someone who is used to the careful design of 'valid assessments', the assessment modes here would probably be lacking in rigour and too dependent on subjective observations (where are the rubrics, the measurable learning outcomes etc.). And at the end of the day, at age fourteen, students graduate to 'normal schools' where they end up preparing for, well, national exams. Finally, Mirambika is a school guided by the spiritual philosophy of the Indian sage, philosopher, poet and independence fighter, Sri Aurobindo. From a 'pragmatic' perspective, this focus on the 'soul' of the child, this emphasis on looking deeply within and without to find one's true potential, might seem to be both dreamy-eyed and impractical.

Yet even in the short time I am there, I saw many things that I could hardly ever see in Singapore, whether in the ultra-elite enclave of Hwa Chong, or in my current more ordinary school. First, the level of engagement and happiness while learning is quite extraordinary. Smiling faces everywhere, and children cheerfully engaged in learning and sharing. Second, there is a very high level of creativity and initiative displayed. Take for instance, a class of primary five children who were engaged in producing a drama showcasing the history of education in India. This project arose out of the children's curiosity, and its script was written collaboratively by the children as well.

It started in the 22nd century, in a world run by artificial intelligence and without schools, where 4 bored children accidentally happened upon an exotic object (which they later realized was something called a 'book') on the history of education. The play then flashed back to the ancient Vedic period, moving through the Buddhist period and the Mughal period before entering the modern world of Mirambika.  In each period, the form of education, accompanied by the real language spoken in that era, was enacted, followed by the rather insightful commentary of the 22nd century children.

The first thing that was clear was the amount of thought expended on the dynamics between characters, the use of plot devices, the creation of suspense and so on. Indeed, the dialogue, characterisation, setting and plot were fresh and interesting.  Given their lack of creative stimulus and training, I wonder how many of my upper Sec kids, or even the 'gifted' top one percent from Hwa Chong, can craft something equalling the work of these eleven-year-olds.

The inter-disciplinary learning that had gone on on was also evident. Not only did the children have to digest the bare facts of educational history and apply the conventions of drama to transform them into striking and interesting materials, they used Sanskrit, Pali, Hindi and English throughout the course of the play, and had to learn about Vedic Hinduism, Theravada Buddhism and (I think) Islam as well. They also had to learn skills of collaboration and co-creation, and practice the usual competencies for self-direction. Of course, throughout the project, they engaged in active reflection about the purpose and practice of education - thus addressing the original thrust of their curiosity.

I am relatively sure that despite the long time spent on the project, whatever they learn will stick for a long time, and they will have a fund of readily transferrable skills and knowledge for their next challenge. And most importantly, they would have done all this not because of the fear of punishment or a greed for marks, but mostly because they want to create and learn. In this way, Mirambika seems to be truly preparing her students for the 'test of life', and not a 'life of tests'. indeed the method here, messy and inefficient as it may seem to one used to careful planning and engineering, mirrors the method of Life itself. By allowing pupils to develop in line with their nature, by trusting to the natural growth of children in a fruitful environment, and by collaborating with a manifesting spirit within, Mirambika may well develop more complete and creative human beings who may, in many cases, be more ready than our hyper-trained Singaporean graduates to deal with the subtle, unforeseen and tremendous challenges of our future.

- Jared

September-October Sunday Activities at the Centre – A glimpse

29th September 2013 - The Upanishads in Light of Sri Aurobindo 
Chants and Translations – by Krishnamurthy, Ramanathan, Sundari

This was the first time such a session was conducted in our centre by own members. Mr. Krishnamurthy and Mr. Ramanathan conducted the session while Ms. Sundari initiated the compilation of materials from readings from Sri Aurobindo on the Upanishads. Being an introductory talk on this subject, a very brief background was given to the following:


A road map from  ‘Deep knowledge of  ‘Veda Samhitas’, through ‘Envelopment of strong ritualism in Brahmanas’, ‘Spiritual pursuits & subtle nature of yajnas’ in ‘Aranyakas’ to the ‘Philosophical truths and Self knowledge  in ‘Upanishads’
An introduction to Upanishads – Literal & deeper meaning of the word itself and what they deal with 
List of Important Upanishads
Sri Aurobindo’s contribution towards their translations and commentaries
Importance of Shanthi mantras
An Introduction to the Isavasya Upanishad – Sri Aurobindo’s favourite, with much relevance to his Integral Yoga

The session concluded with Mr Krishnamurthy and Mr Ramanathan chanting the 18 verses of  Isavasya Upanishad.

The session concluded on a subtle note with Mother’s music.

6th October 2013 - Readings on writings of The Mother in "Steps to Freedom and Mastery" and OM Choir

On this evening, seven of us gathered for our 1st evening meditation cum readings for the month of October, that too after challenging but fulfilling hours of walk at Pulau Ubin in the morning.

We read two passages this evening, one entitled "Life- a Mirror to Make One More Conscious" and "Suppression Leads to Unconsciousness".

As usual, we read aloud the passages in about three rounds of readings and then spent a few minutes sharing our experiences, thoughts and feelings on the point The Mother was making in the passages.

This evening's going within pointed one towards the need for the awareness that behind the unhappiness or irritation one feels over another's so called imperfections was an indication that the same imperfections are within oneself. It was a reminder to look within at our own nature and aspire for the needed change or transformation. Here is what The Mother says:

"Look upon everything with a benevolent smile. Take all the things which irritate you as a lesson for yourself and your life will be more peaceful and more effective as well, for a great percentage of your energy certainly goes to waste in the irritation you feel when you do not find in others the perfection that you would like to realise in yourself."

13th October 2013 - Bases of Yoga Reading Circle

Six of us gathered this day for readings from Sri Aurobindo's Bases of Yoga. We continued from page 11 of the chapter Calm-Peace-Equality. Today's passages cautioned readers against disheartening experiences along the way and being over-powered by ordinary human reactions. Throughout, in all the passages that we read, there was a call to be based in inner tranquility, to seek peace and calm and equality at all times. The first movement towards acquiring this strong base was an aspiration and a prayer directed at the Mother for this and more.

The passages were very powerful and carried in them a deep and steady quietness which engulfed everyone in the circle. Following meditation music, we made our way home, certainly with a light and joyous and quiet heart looking forward to the week to unfold. Here is a poignant passage that presents in a nutshell, the issue presented to us:

"First aspire and pray to the Mother for quiet in the mind, purity, calm, peace, an awakened consciousness, intensity of devotion, strength and spiritual capacity to face all inner and outer difficulties and go through to the end of the Yoga. If the consciousness awakens and there is devotion and intensity of aspiration, it will be possible for the mind, provided it learns quietude and peace, to grow in knowledge."

20th October 2013 - Bases of Yoga Reading Circle

Six of us gathered to continue from where we left off last Sunday. Our readings were from pages 14 to 18 of the book. The message for the day was to remain calm and maintain equality in the midst of all circumstances and especially disturbances. Going deeper within was suggested in order to see everything in perspective, with a deeper and keener sense of perception. After readings, sharing began, this time, about relating to diseases and how best to approach them, given our state of consciousness. The answers were in the lines we read and sharing experiences helped us to revisit the lines and relate them to our lives from different perspectives. Here is the quote for the day, from the passages we read: 

"The inner spiritual progress does not depend on outer conditions so much as in the way we react to them from within — that has always been the ultimate verdict of spiritual experience. It is why we insist on taking the right attitude and persisting in it, on an inner state not dependent on outer circumstances, a state of equality and calm, if it cannot be at once of inner happiness, on going more and more within and looking from within outwards instead of living in the surface mind which is always at the mercy of the shocks and blows of life. It is only from that inner state that one can be stronger than life and its disturbing forces and hope to conquer." -          Sri Aurobindo

- Mr Krishnamurthy and Jayanthy

Along the Way……Reflections on the October 2013 Morning Walk



The walk for the month of October 2013, was at a special place. It was to happen at Pulau Ubin, an island off Singapore. It was much looked forward to, as Pulau Ubin used to be one of the regular venues for the monthly walks a decade ago.  Hence, for the older members of the Society, this walk was especially nostalgic as it was one which brought back a lot of pleasant and fond memories from the past, of walks hosted by Mrs.Sonia Dyne, our past Chairperson.

We gathered at Changi Point Ferry Terminal Point at 7.45am. The weather was very pleasant, breezy and cool as a result of the heavy rain in Singapore the previous night. We got into the bumboats in batches. We were just on time to catch glimpses of the beautiful sun rays as they shone down from the sky, lighting up the waves of the ocean in a sparkling fashion, as we sailed by to the island. At Pulau Ubin, we gathered at the meeting point near the basketball court. There were about 50 of us who had gathered to form a huge circle for the warm-up exercises. After the warm-up session, we finished with the chanting of Sri Aurobindo’s ‘Gayatri Mantra’.



Our host for this walk was Uncle Kashyap, and his birthday was on that same day. We wished him all a very happy birthday and embarked on our walk. We were to walk to the Chek Jawa wetlands. The majority of the members walked while some of us got onto bicycles for another kind of exploration.

Pulau Ubin has a very rustic look and feel about it. From the muddy roads, the tiled roof houses with wooden fences, the tall coconut trees, the small lily ponds, the chirping of so many different kinds of birds, to the variety of flowers and fruits growing on the plants on the way, everything about this place is very different from the urban lifestyle in the rest of Singapore. The roads are not just muddy, they are also extremely steep and at a slope, thus making it very challenging for walkers and cyclists alike. As we walked towards Chek Jawa, we observed many different species of trees, and we did spot some mudskippers as well. The Chek Jawa wetlands are unique as several ecosystems can be observed in one area – rocky beaches, sandy beaches, sea-grass lagoon, mangroves and coastal forest.



Uncle Kashyap had arranged for a few vans for the benefit members who were walking. The return journey saw some of us back to the starting point in those vans in order to keep to the stipulated time of meeting back at out starting point.

When all had gathered where we started, we sat for meditation, in a sheltered area. Upon return to Changi Ferry Terminal, we walked over to the nearby Ramar Temple, where the brunch was to be hosted.

We were about 80 of us, probably a record attendance, at the beautiful Changi Ramar Temple, which was abuzz with activity from the devotees who were there for their worship. The deep sound from the temple bells, the smell of the incense sticks and flowers offered to the deities added to the beauty and charm of the temple. A very hearty and delicious brunch was lovingly served by Uncle Kashyap’s family members, after which there was a cake cutting session for



Uncle Kashyap on the occasion of his birthday. Kudos to Uncle Kashyap and his family for having taken the time and effort to meticulously plan out everything – from the venue, the refreshment packets handed out to us at the start of the walk, the vans arranged for the benefit of walking members, to the arrangement at the temple. The Pulau Ubin walk was an experience to cherish forever.
                                                                                   
- Preethi Saroja

Mother Durga!


“ Mother Durga! Enter our bodies in thy Yogic strength. We shall become thy instruments, thy sword slaying all evil, thy lamp dispelling all ignorance. Fulfil this yearning of thy young children, O Mother. Be the master and drive thy instrument, wield thy sword and slay the evil, hold up the lamp and spread the light of Knowledge. Make thyself manifest.”

-          A verse from ‘Hymn to Durga’ by Sri Aurobindo


From the Editor’s Desk


We continue with the theme of education. In our last issue, we began pondering over how schooling is pursued. In this issue, we continue with the same, pondering over this business of school.
Education has become a system in many countries worldwide. It is fondly and officiously referred to as the “Education System”. A system in this sense is “an organised scheme or method”; or even a set of laws and rules that guide the process of education. Education has been aligned to take up massive numbers of children and guiding them on a certain path, schooling them in certain techniques of letters and numbers and equipping them with skills for particular jobs or vocation. An enterprise taken up en-masse inevitably strives best when systematised, organised and run according to rules, laws and regulations. We are all too familiar with such an educational system and in all probability, have been giving it undue merits.

Such a system becomes problematic when it does not serve its intended purpose. This normally happens in any system that is cast in stone, too rigid to bend to the changing needs of individuals. It fails to serve its purpose, grinds to a painful halt and becomes obsolete, needing to be cast away. It is happy news when education systems attempt changes every now and then to accommodate changing needs of the times. However, perhaps it is too early to rejoice and welcome these changes. Perhaps something at the heart of education is missed? What is the high aim of education? We know only too well the consequences of being entrenched in the utilitarian view of education. Perhaps a radical soul searching is timely. What is the education that would bring out the best in the child, making him a confident, happy person who knows his strengths, who is master of, and is conscious of,  himself and all around him. Even to imagine what a life his would be and what a life he would create around him sends waves of delight within.

Perhaps as the world is, so too the education “system”. But it does appear that the heavy focus on “utilitarian” aims of education are showing their marks on our children and on the society that is forming. Flipping the pages of the daily brings before our eyes dire states of social decadence and deprivation, of the life of individuals tipped off the balance, of a general void taking up spaces of freedom, joy, beauty and all things valued by life, valued in and by the human. More and more is there felt a need for change in the way education is practiced. Alternate educational methods sprout here and there to counter the threats of conventional education. The worst threat from traditional mainstream education is the threat to individuality, a threat to the child knowing his unique person and potentials. However, the success of the alternative system depends largely on how encompassing they are in approaching the development of the whole human individual.
In this time and age, the integral method of education is worth consideration; it stands as a promise of remedy to an ailing existence worldwide; and not only a mere remedy but a transforming agent, catholic in its heart, that builds the foundation of an enlightened era. It does not rest on traditions, or on the strengths of the teacher or the faithfulness of the taught. None of these feature in this method of education. It is an approach conceived from depths far below, heights far above, breathes way beyond human conception and stands on the bedrock of an inner subtle element, the soul.
The juxtaposing of the alternate against conventional education continues.

Savitri


A secret soul behind supporting all
Is master and witness of our ignorant life
Admits the Person’s look and Nature’s front;
A Light comes down into the Ignorance,
Its heavy painful knot loosens its grasp;
The mind becomes a mastered instrument
And life a hue and figure of the soul.
All happy grows towards knowledge and towards bliss.
A divine Puissance then takes Nature’s place
And pushes the movements of our body and mind;

The Light now distant shall grow native here,
The Strength that visits us our comrade power;
The Ineffable shall find a secret voice,
The Imperishable burn through Matter’s screen
Making this mortal body godhead’s robe.
The Spirit’s greatness is our timeless source
And it shall be our crown in endless Time.


(Savitri, Book 2 Canto 2)

Question of the month

Q: What is the real purpose, the aim of our Education Centre? Is it to teach Sri Aurobindo’s works? And these only? And all or some of these? Or is it to prepare students to read Sri Aurobindo’s works and Mother’s? Is it to prepare them for the Ashram life or also for other ‘outside’ occupation? There are so many opinions floating around, and even those older people whom we expect to know make so many different statements, that one does not know what to believe and act by. Then on what basis can we work without any real sure knowledge? I pray, Mother, give us your guidance.

A:  The Mother: It is not a question of preparing to read these works or other works. It is a question of pulling all those who are capable to do so, out of the general human routine of thought, feeling and action; it is to give all opportunities to those who are here to cast off from them the slavery to the human way of thinking and doing; it is to teach all those who want to listen that there is another and truer way of living, that Sri Aurobindo has taught us how to live and become a true being - - and that the aim of the education here is to prepare the children and make them fit for that life.

For all the rest, the human ways of thinking and living, the world is vast and there is place out there for everybody. It is not a number that we want  - - it is a selection; it is not brilliant students that we want, it is living souls.

Q: Why are no diplomas and certificates given to the students of the Centre of Education?

A:  The Mother: For the last hundred years or so mankind has been suffering from a disease which seems to be spreading more and more and which has reached a climax in our times; it is what we may call “utilitarianism”. People and things, circumstances and activities seem to be viewed and appreciated exclusively from this angle. Nothing has any value unless it is useful. Certainly something that is useful is better than something that is not. But first we must agree on what we describe as useful - - useful to whom, to what, for what?

For, more and more, the races who consider themselves civilised describe as useful whatever can attract, procure or produce money. Everything is judged and evaluated from a monetary angle. That is what I call utilitarianism. And this disease is highly contagious, for even children are not immune to it.

At an age when they should be dreaming of beauty, greatness and perfection, dreams that may be too sublime for ordinary common sense, but which are nevertheless far superior to this dull good sense, children now dream of money and worry about how to earn it.

So when they think of their studies, they think above all about what can be useful to them, so that later on when they grow up they can earn a lot of money.

And the thing that becomes most important for them is to prepare themselves to pass examinations with success, for with diplomas, certificates and titles they will be able to find good positions and earn a lot of money. For them study has no other purpose, no other interest.

To learn for the sake of knowledge, to study in order to know the secrets of Nature and life, to educate oneself in order to grow in consciousness, to discipline oneself in order to become master of oneself, to overcome one’s weaknesses, incapacities and ignorance, to prepare oneself to advance in life towards a goal that is nobler and vaster, more generous and more true... they hardly give it a thought and consider it all very utopian. The only thing that matters is to be practical, to prepare themselves and learn how to earn money.

Children who are infected with this disease are out of place at the Centre of Education of the Ashram. And it is to make this quite clear to them that we do not prepare them for any official examination or competition and do not give them any diplomas or titles which they can use in the outside world.

We want here only those who aspire for a higher and better life, who thirst for knowledge and perfection, who look forward eagerly to a future that will be more totally true. There is plenty of room in the world for all the others.


-          17 July 1960.

The Mother on Education (contd. from the September 2013 issue)


‘On Education’(by The Mother) is but a series of 6 brief essays, but it is also a vast arc of comprehension: from Matter to Spirit, from the physical, vital and mental to the psychic, spiritual and supramental, from animal to man and from man to God! Education is a movement, an unfolding, a becoming: what is already involved as a result of the holocaust of the Spirit in inconscient Matter awakens and puts out its sticky leaves of bud of promise, and must end at last in the full blossoming of the Divine potentiality.
-          K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar in ‘On The Mother’

The education of the vital or the life-impulses is as difficult as it is important. The vital is a veritable despot of contraries, forever demanding, and forever unfulfilled. Our knowledge of the nature and functioning of the vital is vitiated by two notions: the hedonistic and the fatalistic. All is indeed the Delight of Existence - raso vai sah - but with man it ordinarily takes the form of the pursuit of pleasure, which may sometimes satiate but can never satisfy. As regards the notion that human character is like an unalterable birthmark - Character is Destiny! - it is too crude and definitive a description of reality. In a dynamic changing universe, man too can change, the race as well as the individuals:

“The transformation of character has in fact been realised by means of a clear-sighted discipline and a perseverance so obstinate that nothing, not even the most persistent failures, can discourage it.”

Human nature, it is known, is a knot of opposing pulls, “like the light and shadow of the same thing”. The divine and the asuric are constantly at variance with each other reducing life to a battlefield or an insurrection. This is how “all life is an education pursued more or less consciously, more or less willingly”. The problem is to encourage in the vital being “the movements that express the light”.

If the education of the vital is begun as soon as the child can use his senses, “many bad habits will be avoided and many harmful influences eliminated”. To facilitate and promote movements in the vital expressing light two things have to be done: the proper growth and efficient use of the sense organs, and the self-mastery of one's own nature or character, and the determination to change and transform it nearer one's heart's aspiration. As for the first, the education of the vital is really something akin to the development of psychological health comprising “the cultivation of discrimination and the aesthetic sense”, for it is essential that the child “should be shown, led to appreciate, taught to love beautiful, lofty, healthy and noble things, whether in Nature or in human creation”. As for self-knowledge and character-transformation, the child should be encouraged by a gradual process to observe himself, to mark and measure the opposing pulls, to attempt judicious discrimination, to initiate change, and to persevere in spite of set-backs or failures:

“One must gain a full knowledge of one's character and then acquire control over one's movements in order to achieve perfect mastery and the transformation of all the elements that have to be transformed.”

Now most of what passes for education is really mental education, yet it is both incomplete and quite insufficient. The aim seems to be to load the memory and make it carry a whole rag-bag of odds and ends of facts, dates, names, formulas and other information. At best it is “a system of gymnastics to increase the suppleness of the brain”. If anything like a revolutionary change is to be effected, mental education will have to be conceived in five phases promoting respectively
“1. the power of attention and concentration;
2. the power of expansion, wideness, complexity and richness;
3. the power of organisation of ideas around a central idea or ideal;
4. the power of thought-control, involving rejection of the false and selection and fostering of the true; and
5. the power of inner calm and mental silence, facilitating “receptivity to inspirations coming from the higher regions of the being”.

This is a consummate analysis of the whole science of mental education. In the life of the growing child, a thousand things distract its attention, and hence to forge intelligent attention and lively reception is the beginning of mental education. The child's curiosity, which often finds expression in continual questioning, should not be frowned upon but used as a means of advancing self-education. Since the enemy of all true education is soulless standardisation, the pupil should be encouraged to view diverse approaches to a subject and to appreciate “the extreme relativity of mental learning”, this in its turn awakening in him “an aspiration for a truer source of knowledge”. From the capacity to concentrate, it is a natural development to learn to accomplish the expansion of knowledge and its organisation around a central idea; and “the higher and larger the central idea and the more universal it is, rising above time and space, the more numerous and the more complex will be the ideas, notions and thoughts which it will be able to organise and harmonise”. After such exercises in expansion and central organisation, the next mental discipline would be self-control and resolved self-limitation - and so on to the casting away of all thoughts and perceptions, and the invocation of mental silence, the meditative calm in which the higher lights may be seen reflected, resulting in an accession of peace:

“...all mental vibration can be stilled and an almost total silence secured. In this silence one can gradually open to the higher regions of the mind and learn to record the. inspirations that come from there. ...
...When it is agitated, thought becomes confused and impotent; in an attentive tranquility, the light can manifest itself and open up new horizons to man's capacity.”

When the best has been achieved through physical, vital and mental education, there will be a cardinal insufficiency still: for, firstly, they cannot by themselves be integrated, and, secondly, even their sum will only be a frustrating incompleteness. It is psychic education alone that can team the other three purposively together, and also link them to the creative centre. Unfortunately, current educational systems have no idea of psychic education - thus tragi-comically playing Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark.
…to be continued

(K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar in ‘On The Mother’, Chapter 37, “Mother on Education”, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)



"Each human being is a self-developing soul and the business of both parent and teacher is to enable and to help the child to educate himself to develop his own intellectual, moral, aesthetic and practical capacities and to grow freely as an organic being, not to be kneaded and pressured into form like an inert plastic material." - Sri Aurobindo

What Education Means to Me

“Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.” - Leonardo da Vinci. ‘Education’ - This is a word that can initiate a spirited discussion everywhere. Educationists, philosophers, psychologists, scientists, poets, writers, artists, teachers and parents have expressed their views on this important topic with authority. Students of all ages – babies, toddlers, teenagers and adults are impacted by these views and theories.

As a teacher and school principal and more importantly, as a parent, I have taken a keen interest in the principles and practice of education for the past four decades. Education is the process of complete partnership between the teacher, student and parents. Unless all of them are in good sync with each other, the objectives and outcomes would be in disharmony and thus results would not be as successful as desired.

A mother is the child’s first and most important teacher. The first five years of a child are the most crucial in his life – the natural curiosity at this age aids learning at a fantastic speed. The child’s brain is like a sponge which absorbs all inputs it receives. Numerous experiments conclude that it in this stage that the most important seeds of joy of learning can be planted. Children can even learn three to four languages in early childhood with ease!

A study conducted in India showed that only 56% of the teachers believed that the education system was efficacious in making an impact on the life of the learner. The implication is that a considerable proportion of the teaching force in India believes in this. Perhaps it is a crucial time to ponder over holistic education. All-embracing holistic education helps to lay the foundation for learning and development throughout life. While subject-related knowledge is necessary, it is important for parents and teachers alike to remember the significance of fun activities in enhancing the joy of the learning experience for students. If the teacher can trigger a spark of interest in the students, the rest is easy.

It is vital for us to realize the importance of helping children imbibe values and life skills all through their schooling years. In my school, I encouraged my faculty to draw up a ‘Values’ curriculum that spanned from pre-primary to senior classes. This was not taught as a separate subject but was inter and cross-disciplinary. Integrated in all the subject classes and even the activity classes like music, art, physical education and library - all the teachers reinforced the value of the month through simple yet powerful activities. Thus, we laid the seeds of values like sharing, caring, respect, independence, humility, peace, tolerance, cooperation, honesty, unity, happiness, etc. in the fertile minds of our students in a fun and creative way. Positive feedback from parents, teachers and students on the impact of this programme encouraged us to strengthen it further.

I conclude with the words of J. Krishnamurti: “Right education should help the student, not only to develop his capacities, but to understand his own highest interest.” - Dr. Anju Aditya

The Beauty of Tanjore Paintings

Tanjore artwork by Sandhya

Tanjore art originated in the ancient town of Tanjore. Inscribed mostly on the walls of sacred temples, this painting is also done on a wooden plank or a palagai as it is traditionally called. Various forms are extolled in Tanjore paintings - peacocks, elephants, beautiful designs and mostly, pictures of gods and goddesses. Mother Yashodha with Krishna on her lap being the most popular one.

This art form involves several stages of precise work starting with board preparation. The plank is scrubbed clean with sand paper and a soft cotton cloth is stuck on it. The board is further smoothened by applying coats of a paste made of yellow oxide, fevicol (white, glue paste) and chalk powder. On this board, a sketch of the picture is done.

The parts that bring Tanjore paintings into light are the gold work and the intricate gem stone work. The designs drawn on the board are embossed with a paste made of chalk powder. This paste is filled in a cone and just like how mehndi designs are drawn the designs are filled and embossed with the cone. It takes a conscious effort to press the gold foil on top of these embossed designs. The careful work of the designs with the cone is turned golden in this stage.

Almost every Tanjore art involves arches and pillars. Gem stone work is done on these places and on the border of the board. Sometimes, when the painting is of gods and goddesses there are crowns and jewels to be adorned with coloured gem stones. There is intricacy involved here when we have to choose the stone of the right colour, right size and shape for each place, and position it accurately. Especially the crowns are decked beautifully with gemstones. The painting is done on the background and on parts that require colour. The background painting looks like a velvet or a satin cloth stuck behind the picture.

This type of art requires skill in both painting and craft work. Slowly, step by step, the picture is grown into a beautiful gold filled, colourfully painted picture designed grandly with rich gem stones or sometimes even American diamonds.

I got an opportunity to practice this art at a centre here at Bangalore. I drew a picture of a dancing Ganesha in the Tanjore painting form. This article is just an expression of the experience I had while I worked on it. - Sandhya

August- September Sunday Activities at the Centre – A glimpse

25th August 2013 – Meditations on Savitri

The last Sunday of every month is when we have the 'Savitri' Reading Circle at the Centre. We were to read selected lines of Book 4 Canto 4 - “The Quest”.  As this was a continuation from the previous month’s “Meditation on Savitri” session, we had an idea about the background to the Quest that Savitri was about to undertake, her Quest to find her soul-mate, Satyavan.

This Canto essentially described the period of Savitri’s search for Satyavan in ancient India. The lines in this Canto give vivid descriptions of the places that Savitri travels through, the changes in terrain and the changes in season and how she is looking out for Satyavan across the lengths and breadths of ancient India. The descriptive nature of these beautiful lines just added to the beauty of Huta’s already beautiful paintings.

After having watched the video, we formed a circle and read the selected lines a couple of times and shared our thoughts and ideas on the same.

Once done, we sat down for our Closing Meditation.

1st September 2013 - Readings of The Mother’s words from “Steps to Freedom and Mastery” and OM Choir

This evening we gathered into a circle of five. We read three passages, 1) We can master only what we are conscious of 2) To develop consciousness is to become increasingly conscious 3) Consciousness - A mirror and a searchlight.

The readings gave further insights into the need of becoming conscious, the necessity even, and what it is that can be achieved with a growing consciousness. We read the passages about two to three times, between pauses.

Some ten minutes were available for talk time during which comments were made pertaining to one's daily life. One question raised was whether problems could be eliminated as one became more and more conscious and the other was the challenge of trusting everyone completely.

After examining together those comments with reference to the writings, we sat down to chant Om for the remaining minutes and dispersed after meditation music, looking forward to a whole new month of growth from looking within.

Here is one passage for sharing:

"Ignorance is dispelled by a growing consciousness; what you need is consciousness and always more consciousness, a consciousness pure, simple and luminous. In the light of this perfected consciousness, things appear as they are and not as they want to appear. It is like a screen faithfully recording all things that pass. You see there what is luminous and what is dark, what is straight and what is crooked. Your consciousness becomes a screen or mirror; but this is when you are in a state of contemplation, a mere observer; when you are active, it is like a searchlight. You have only to turn it on, if you want to see luminously and examine penetratingly anything in any place."    - The Mother

8th September 2013 - Readings from Sri Aurobindo’s “Bases of Yoga”

We have been reading the book, ‘Bases of Yoga’ by Sri Aurobindo, on the second and third Sundays of the month, at the Centre. This book is small, in comparison to the other volumes written by Sri Aurobindo, but is packed with the precious nuggets of wisdom so simply written that the lines reach our hearts upon reading with concentration.

We started off from where we paused the previous month, with the chapter “Calm-Peace-Equality”. In our previous reading, we saw the differences between Quiet, Calm, Peace and Silence. With that background, we began our reading.

Sri Aurobindo says our consciousness is like a vessel, which needs to be emptied of its undesirable contents from time to time. In order to be able to do this, it is important to keep our quietude, for it is this quietude which helps in filling the vessel with things which are new and true, right and pure. We need to open ourselves upwards and wait patiently for the Grace to do its work on us.

Besides aspiring for Peace and Silence, it is a great step in itself to attain Calm. It is the very foundation of the divine consciousness. Even if there is anything else that we aspire for, it is important to retain this rock-solid foundation of Calm, without which even Knowledge, Ananda and Power cannot remain.

After reading the excerpts and discussing them, we sat down for our Closing Meditation.

15th September 2013 - Readings from Sri Aurobindo’s “Bases of Yoga”

This being the Third Sunday, we were to continue reading the chapter “Calm-Peace-Equality” from ‘Bases of Yoga’ by Sri Aurobindo.

We had a large circle of about 15 people. We read each of the sections thrice. In the first section, Sri Aurobindo emphasizes again on how Purification and Calm are the primary-most needs in the Yoga. However rich our wealth of worlds, visions and voices is, the richness tends to be nullified by the unpurified and troubled consciousness. At first, even if the Peace and Calm come and go, it is important to be patient and let it be. Once this happens, the rest—knowledge, strength and Ananda come, to make it complete.

Once this new consciousness is completely formed and has established itself in the vital and physical being, it must not only be calm, it must also expand and become wider and wider. We must remain quiet, open ourselves and call the divine Shakti to confirm the calm and peace. We must not be over-eager in our pursuits and disturb the established level of calm and peace. Aspiration is key.

After reading the excerpts and discussing them, we sat down for our Closing Meditation.

22nd September 2013 - Meditations on Savitri

There were about 13 members in the circle this evening. We contemplated on Book 5, Canto 1 and 2 with Meditations on Savitri. It was the beginning of the Book of Love. We were at the juncture of a highly significant moment in Savitri's life, its turning point even. It was her meeting with Satyavan in the wilderness. Sri Aurobindo takes us deep into Nature's bosom of sweetness and grandeur. We travelled with Savitri into the nature-bound, heavenly abode of Satyavan, where "Love in the wilderness met Savitri....Gaze met close gaze and clung in sight's embrace". It was a meeting of two lives that would spell a revolution for mankind, a vision or even a promise Sri Aurobindo unfolded and revealed through Savitri. Here are the concluding lines for today's session to contemplate on :

"There is a Power within that knows beyond
Our knowings; we are greater than our thoughts,
And sometimes earth unveils that vision here.
To live, to love are signs of infinite things,
Love is a glory from eternity's spheres."

- Preethi and Jayanthy