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

Aspiration in the Mind for Supramental Guidance


The mind feels that its complexity is powerless and asks for a greater light to illuminate it.

-          The Mother

Common Name: Acanthaceae

Botanical Name: Justicia aurea


Spiritual Name:  Aspiration in the Mind for Supramental Guidance

It is through Beauty that the Divine manifests in the physical, in the mental through Knowledge, in the vital through Power, and in the psychic through Love.

When we rise high enough we find out that these four aspects melt into one another to make one single, luminous, powerful, beautiful, all-containing, all-pervading, loving Consciousness.


-          The Mother

From the Editor’s Desk (June 2014)

This issue of the Newsletter continues with the exploration of the theme on mental education.

Further discussion on mental education cannot proceed without a recollection of the five areas that The Mother placed as central to mental education, namely,

(1) Development of the power of concentration, the capacity of attention.
(2) Development of the capacities of expansion, widening, complexity and richness.
(3) Organisation of one’s ideas around a central idea, a higher ideal or a supremely luminous idea that will
serve as a guide in life.
4) Thought-control, rejection of undesirable thoughts, to become able to think only what one wants and when one wants.
(5) Development of mental silence, perfect calm and a more and more total receptivity to inspirations coming from the higher regions of the being.

Back to schools, taking up subjects hold much good for the student. It offers a chance for the student to acquire information on bodies of knowledge and more than that, to explore the ways in which the bodies of knowledge were built up. However, subjects lose their true utility when students do not learn that that are a multiple ways of approaching the subject, interpreting and understanding it as well as forming theories. The Mother explains that approaching a subject in various ways  will remove all rigidity from his brain and at the same time it will  make his thinking richer and more supple and prepare it for a more complex and comprehensive synthesis. In this way also the child will be imbued with the sense of the extreme relativity of mental learning and, little by little, an aspiration for a truer source of knowledge will awaken in him.” 

In order to realise this goal of mental education, creative and bold considerations of alternative methods of assessing students may be used, in a school system that holds assessments as means of measuring students’ progress in the academics. Alternative ways of assessments could facilitate the learning of subjects with a wider perspective and for a wider utilization. This too depends on how educationists perceive education and its purpose. If their aims were to be high, focusing on the all-rounded growth of their students, and not merely on churning out skilled personnel to propel the economy, then we can hope for more enlightened and creative ways in which schooling is carried out.

While calling for wideness and openness in approaching a subject, there is a need for a central idea to unify the diverse points of view that is encouraged. The Mother says, And if you want to make the totality of your thoughts into a dynamic and constructive force, you must also take great care as to the choice of the central idea of your mental synthesis; for upon that will depend the value of this synthesis.” This point illustrates the 3rd area that needs to be fulfilled in mental education. Points 4 and 5 are elaborated further in The Mother’s work on education that follows on pages 3 and 4.

Mental education calls for more. Read on.

Savitri

Thought lay down in a mighty voicelessness;
The toiling thinker widened and grew still,
Wisdom transcendent touched his quivering heart:
His soul could sail beyond thought’s luminous bar;
Mind screened no more the shoreless Infinite.
Across a void retreating sky he glimpsed
Through a last glimmer and drift of vanishing stars
The superconscient realms of motionless peace
Where judgment ceases and the word is mute
And the Unconceived lies pathless and alone.
There came not form or any mounting voice;
There only were Silence and the Absolute.

(Savitri, Book 1 Canto 3)


As yet a mask is there and not a brow,
Although sometimes two hidden eyes appear:
Reason cannot tear off that glimmering mask,
Her efforts only make it glimmer more;
In packets she ties up the Indivisible ;
Finding her hands too small to hold vast Truth
She brakes up knowledge into alien parts
Or peers through cloud-rack for a vanished sun:
She sees, not understanding what she has seen;
Through the locked visages of finite things
The myriad aspects of infinity.


(Savitri, Book 2 Canto 10)

Question of the month (June 2014)

Q: One knows that something is true but still doubts. Why does one doubt the truth?

A:  The Mother: The usual answer, it is because one is foolish!  (Laughter).

But the truth is that the physical mind is truly completely stupid! You can prove it very easily. It is constructed probably as a kind of control, and in order to make sure that things are done as they ought to be. I think that this is its normal work… But it has made it a habit to doubt everything.

I think I have already told you about the small experiment I made one day. I removed my control and left the control to the physical mind - it is the physical mind which doubts. So I made the following experiment: I went into a room, then came out of the room and closed the door. I decided to close the door; and when I came to another room, this mind, the material mind, the physical mind, you see, said, “Are you sure you have locked the door?” Now, I did not control, you know… I said, “Very well, I obey it!” I went back to see. I observed that the door was closed. I came back. As soon as I couldn’t see the door any longer, it told me, “Have you verified properly?” So I went back again… And this went on till I decided: “Come now, that’s enough, isn’t it? Closed or not, I am not going back any more to see!” This could have gone on the whole day. It is made like that. It stops being like that only when a higher mind, the rational mind tells it, “Keep quiet!”. Otherwise it goes on indefinitely…. So, if by ill-luck you are centred there, in this mind, even the things you know higher up as quite true, even things of which you have a physical proof- like that of the closed door, it doubts, it will doubt, because it is made of doubt. It will always say, “Are you quite sure this is true?”Isn’t it an idea of yours?You don’t suppose it is like that?” And it will go on until one teaches it to keep quiet and silent.

(‘Stories told by The Mother’ Volume 2, Chapter “Are you sure you have locked the door”, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1978, Published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry)


Q: When we are concentrated in mental movements or intellectual pursuits, why do we sometimes forget or lose touch with the Divine ?

A:  The Mother: You lose it because your consciousness is still divided. The Divine has not settled into your mind: you are not wholly concentrated to the Divine Life. Otherwise you could concentrate to any extent upon such things and still you would have the sense of being helped and supported by the Divine.

In all pursuits, intellectual or active, your one motto should be, “Remember and Offer”. Let whatever you do be done as an offering to the Divine. And this too will be an excellent discipline for you; it will prevent you from doing many foolish and useless things.


(‘Words of The Mother’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1978, Published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry)

Man, the Thinking Animal

A trifling unit in a boundless plan
Amidst the enormous insignificance
Of the unpeopled cosmos’ fire-whirl dance,
Earth, as by accident, engendered man,

A creature of his own grey ignorance,
A mind half shadow and half gleam, a breath
That wrestles, captive in a world of death,
To live some lame brief years. Yet his advance,

Attempt of a divinity within,
A consciousness in the inconscient Night,
To realise its own supernal Light,
Confronts the ruthless forces of the Unseen.

Aspiring to godhead from insensible clay
He travels slow-footed towards the eternal day.

-          Sri Aurobindo

The Mother on Mental Education (continued from the May 2014 issue)

In order to increase the suppleness and comprehensiveness of his mind, one should see not only that he studies many varied topics, but above all that a single subject is approached in various ways, so that the child understands in a practical manner that there are many ways of facing the same intellectual problem, of considering it and solving it. This will remove all rigidity from his brain and at the same time it will make his thinking richer and more supple and prepare it for a more complex and comprehensive synthesis. In this way also the child will be imbued with the sense of the extreme relativity of mental learning and, little by little, an aspiration for a truer source of knowledge will awaken in him.

Indeed, as the child grows older and progresses in his studies, his mind too ripens and becomes more and more capable of forming general ideas, and with them almost always comes a need for certitude, for a knowledge that is stable enough to form the basis of a mental construction which will permit all the diverse and scattered and often contradictory ideas accumulated in his brain to be organised and put in order. This ordering is indeed very necessary if one is to avoid chaos in one’s thoughts. All contradictions can be transformed into complements, but for that one must discover the higher idea that will have the power to bring them harmoniously together. It is always good to consider every problem from all possible standpoints so as to avoid partiality and exclusiveness; but if the thought is to be active and creative, it must, in every case, be the natural and logical synthesis of all the points of view adopted. And if you want to make the totality of your thoughts into a dynamic and constructive force, you must also take great care as to the choice of the central idea of your mental synthesis; for upon that will depend the value of this synthesis. 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.

It goes without saying that this work of organisation cannot be done once and for all. The mind, if it is to keep its vigour and youth, must progress constantly, revise its notions in the light of new knowledge, enlarge its frame-work to include fresh notions and constantly reclassify and reorganise its thoughts, so that each of them may find its true place in relation to the others and the whole remain harmonious and orderly.

All that has just been said concerns the speculative mind, the mind that learns. But learning is only one aspect of mental activity; the other, which is at least equally important, is the constructive faculty, the capacity to form and thus prepare action. This very important part of mental activity has rarely been the subject of any special study or discipline. Only those who want, for some reason, to exercise a strict control over their mental activities think of observing and disciplining this faculty of formation; and as soon as they try it, they have to face difficulties so great that they appear almost insurmountable.

And yet control over this formative activity of the mind is one of the most important aspects of self-education; one can say that without it no mental mastery is possible. As far as study is concerned, all ideas are acceptable and should be included in the synthesis, whose very function is to become more and more rich and complex; but where action is concerned, it is just the opposite. The ideas that are accepted for translation into action should be strictly controlled and only those that agree with the general trend of the central idea forming the basis of the mental synthesis should be permitted to express themselves in action. This means that every thought entering the mental consciousness should be set before the central idea; if it finds a logical place among the thoughts already grouped, it will be admitted into the synthesis; if not, it will be rejected so that it can have no influence on the action. This work of mental purification should be done very regularly in order to secure a complete control over one’s actions.

For this purpose, it is good to set apart some time every day when one can quietly go over one’s thoughts and put one’s synthesis in order. Once the habit is acquired, you can maintain control over your thoughts even during work and action, allowing only those which are useful for what you are doing to come to the surface. Particularly, if you have continued to cultivate the power of concentration and attention, only the thoughts that are needed will be allowed to enter the active external consciousness and they then become all the more dynamic and effective. And if, in the intensity of concentration, it becomes necessary not to think at all, 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.

But even before reaching this point, silence in itself is supremely useful, because in most people who have a somewhat developed and active mind, the mind is never at rest. During the day, its activity is kept under a certain control, but at night, during the sleep of the body, the control of the waking state is almost completely removed and the mind indulges in activities which are sometimes excessive and often incoherent. This creates a great stress which leads to fatigue and the diminution of the intellectual faculties.

The fact is that like all the other parts of the human being, the mind too needs rest and it will not have this rest unless we know how to provide it. The art of resting one’s mind is something to be acquired. Changing one’s mental activity is certainly one way of resting; but the greatest possible rest is silence. And as far as the mental faculties are concerned a few minutes passed in the calm of silence are a more effective rest than hours of sleep.

When one has learned to silence the mind at will and to concentrate it in receptive silence, then there will be no problem that cannot be solved, no mental difficulty whose solution cannot be found. When it is agitated, thought becomes confused and impotent; in an attentive tranquillity, the light can manifest itself and open up new horizons to man’s capacity.

-          ‘Bulletin‘, August 1951
(concluded)


(CWM  Volume 12, ‘On Education’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1978, Published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry)

April-May Sunday Activities at the Centre – A glimpse

Fourth Sunday Programme, 27th April, 2014 : ‘Meditations on Savitri’ and ‘Savitri’ Reading Circle

We continued with Book Six, The Book of Fate, Canto One : “The Word of Fate”. We meditated on Pictures 9 to 14. In this section, Narad pronounces the dire fate of Savitri with, "This day returning, Satyavan must die." This word of fate had a dual reaction. From the human mother of Savitri, there was an outpouring of emotions and a vehement cry to have Savitri change her mind about the "fated head", Satyavan, while on the other front, Savitri's will was steeled. She replies, "If for a year, that year is all my life, And yet I know this is not all my life..."

Following the viewing of the slides, we sat down in a circle and read the passages a few times and engaged in sharing our thoughts and feelings on the lines. There was one impressive painting with Narad looking skywards with twelve mallards flying across his vision, in a single long line. This beautifully depicted Narad's pronouncement of "twelve swift-winged months..." We marveled at how Sri Aurobindo also brings before us a typical interchange between a mother and child confronted with a situation such as faced Savitri and the queen mother. Another beautiful line which took our imagination away was this cryptic one which in a flash shows Savitri's purpose on earth, "...A heavy shadow float above the name Chased by a sudden and stupendous light...".. The heavy shadow probably being the life of ignorance and falsehood on earth, chased by the light, represented by Savitri herself, the daughter of Light.


First Sunday Programme, 4th May, 2014 : Readings of The Mother’s words from “Steps to Freedom and Mastery” and OM Choir

We read the passages titled, 'Self-Seeing, Not Self-Analysis', 'Self-Observing and Self-Regarding' and 'Not Being Self-Conscious While Doing' from the above book. It spelt out the difference between self-analysis, a mental and intellectual process and self-observation, which Sri Aurobindo explains as, "...a seeing of oneself and of all the living movements of the being and the nature, a vivid observation of the personalities and forces that move on the stage of our being, their motives, their impulses, their potentialities, an observation quite as interesting as the seeing and understanding of a drama or a novel, a living vision of how things are done in us, which also brings a living mastery over this inner universe." The Mother adds, "When one is no longer a self-regarding being, an ego looking at itself acting, when one becomes the action itself, above all in the aspiration, this truly is good." She adds too, "But it is difficult." One then knows what it takes, this self-observation and resultant self-knowing. And knowing, we can prepare ourselves for this activity of self-observation.


Second Sunday Programme, 11th May, 2014 : Readings on Sri Aurobindo’s ‘Bases of Yoga’

This evening we started with the Chapter, 'Desire-Food-Sex', reading from pages 63 to 67. The main point from today's readings were that "all the ordinary vital movements are foreign to the true being and come from outside". This truth would be known to us should we be living in our "true consciousness". In one's state of ignorance, desires that arise from outside are mistakenly seen as "rising from the vital into the mind" and here is the succinct message that explains the phenomena further, "what belongs to the vital .... makes it responsible is not the desire itself, but the habit of responding to the waves or the currents of suggestion that come into it from the universal Prakriti." 

We went a little further into the idea of rejection and suppression. Rejection was when one "abstains from the action suggested, if it is not the right action". Suppression was when the abstaining "from the action suggested" were to be based on a hard moral rule or a mental ascetic principle.

Last of all was offered the hope for progress:

"When the psychic being is in front, then also to get rid of desire becomes easy; for the psychic being has in itself no desires, it has only an aspiration and a seeking and a love for the Divine and all things that are or tend towards the Divine. The constant prominence of the psychic being tends of itself to bring out the true consciousness and set right almost automatically the movements of the nature."



Third Sunday Programme, 18th May, 2014 : Readings on Sri Aurobindo’s ‘Bases of Yoga’

We continued with the readings from page 67 to 70. This week, we considered issues related to food. The key message was moderation, not "forceful suppression" nor willful indulgence. The Mother advises, "It is only when one stands back, separates oneself from the lower vital, refusing to regard its desires and clamours as one's own, and cultivates an entire equality and equanimity in the consciousness with respect to them that the lower vital itself becomes gradually purified and itself also calm and equal." 

The Mother goes on, "It is no part of this Yoga to suppress taste, rasa, altogether. What is to be got rid of is vital desire and attachment, the greed of food, being overjoyed at getting the food you like, sorry or discontented when you do not have it, giving an undue importance to it. Equality is here the test as in so many other matter."

We discussed our own attitude towards food candidly and fell silent towards the end of the session with meditation music.

- Jayanthy

Along the Way… Walk at the ECP on the 4th of May, 2014

A monthly group walk organised by the Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore in one of the many lovely parks in Singapore is an opportunity too good to be missed. Sunday, the 4th of May dawned as a clear, hot and humid morning.  The venue of this walk was the all-time favourite, East Coast Park, which has lovely walking trails that run along the sea. The sun was bright yellow, illuminating the green trees and the ocean waters.

A small group of walking enthusiasts collected at the scheduled time to warm up for the walk. By the poolside in the shade of the tall building towers at Casa Del Sol, the light breeze was cool and refreshing. After fifteen minutes of stretching and light exercises as a group, we all moved briskly through the underpass that led to the park itself.

The sound of birds chirping, tweeting, singing in the trees in the early morning is heart-warming. We all started to walk towards ‘the sun’ accompanied by the music of nature. The light waves hitting the coast languidly created rhythmic soothing sounds too. Lovely shady trees, frangipani flowers spreading fragrance and bougainvillea bushes diffusing colours around them are an irresistible treat for the senses. We thank God for gifting us with such treasures.

Moving along the trail we crossed joggers, walkers, cyclists, skate-scooterists of all ages and sizes. So many ships are anchored in the sea waters off Singapore! It is a fascinating sight. Not just this – every couple of minutes we could see and hear a plane flying for either take-off or landing. Children alone are not stimulated by the outdoor sights and sounds. We adults enjoy them too!

All too soon it was time to return and we moved to the hosts’ home for the meditation and brunch. On behalf of everyone, I take this opportunity to thank our hosts, Mrs. & Mr. Ashok and Bhakti Patel and family for organizing an enjoyable gathering for all of us. We are grateful to them for providing soothing music to help engage the mind in meditation and delicious food to please the palate.

Given below for your reading pleasure are links to two very interesting articles I read recently about walking. A number of recent books have lauded the connection between walking and thinking. But are people losing their love of the purposeless walk? Read more: at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27186709

If you are unable to think of a catchy, creative way to present sales data or begin a newspaper column, take a walk. A brief stroll, even around your office, can significantly increase creativity, according to a handy new study. Please refer to this link for the full article: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/30/want-to-be-more-creative-take-a-walk/?src=rechp

Anju Aditya