Guiding Light of The Month

THE result of all my reflections of yesterday is the finding that the only disturbance I experience comes from my fear of not having been or of not being perfectly identified with Thy law. - The Mother

GRATITUDE


The whole being offers itself to the Lord in absolute trust
The Mother



Botanical Name: Operculina turpethum
Common Name: Wood rose
Spiritual Significance: Integral Gratitude


Gratitude, when you can enter this vibration in its purity, you realise immediately that it has the same quality as the vibration of Love: it is directionless. Ultimately, gratitude is only a very slightly coloured shade of the essential vibration of Love.


-       The Mother

From the Editor’s Desk (Oct 2015)

Gratitude is the next in the spectrum of qualities or virtues on The Mother’s symbol and this shall be the theme of exploration in this October issue of our Newsletter. According to records, the word “gratitude” originated around the 15th century from the medieval Latin word. “gratitudinem” or thankfulness or Latin “gratus”, thankful.  The earlier Latin word of the 12th century, “gratia” appears to be a predecessor of “gratus”, meaning (1) a pleasing quality, (2) favour or goodwill and (3) gratitude or thankfulness. In the Sanskrit form, gratitude is referred to as kritagyata.

The Mother refers to this quality as a psychic virtue, a vibration, in its purity, quite akin to the quality of the vibration of Love (note the capital letter that dots the beginning of this word), only slightly varied in its shade of colour. It is a quality that widens one, according to The Mother, and one that is, “within the reach of human consciousness, the one that draws you the most out of your ego.”

So what is this Gratitude, in actual terms, in one’s ordinary life? How is it known, recognised and reciprocated? Perhaps it is a vibration that does not arise when one lives one’s life ordinarily, left to the slow process of evolution and the whims and fancies of one’s nature? One needs to find out, it appears. The Mother says that, “of all movements, [this is] the one that gives perhaps the most joy – an unalloyed joy, untainted by that egoism…”The realization that one can do nothing in one’s small person, that it is only the Divine who moves every atom… in such a state, there is hope of gratitude, as the response to this realization, this feeling of  gratitude that wells from within that Grace had taken care of one, whatever the situation. We must have all felt gratitude at one point or other in life, some of us more often than the other.  Whatever the case may, how does “gratitude” feel like? What is the vibration of gratitude like?  This has to be contemplated upon, lived in order to know for sure the vibration. The Mother’s aid is here too:

“One hears a bird sing, sees a lovely flower, looks at a little child, observes an act of generosity, reads a beautiful sentence, looks at the setting sun, no matter what, suddenly this comes upon you, this kind of emotion – indeed, so deep, so intense – that the world manifests the Divine, that there is something behind the world which is the Divine. “

“It is a very special vibration unlike anything other than itself. It is something that widens you, that fills you, that is so fervent.”

Feelings of wideness, awe, and a kind of thankfulness that one is associated with whatever that gave rise to that feeling – that must be gratitude. We may take a minute to re-live this vibration, instantly feeling grateful for the life we have been given and all the opportunities to excel one’s small self, perhaps. Or else, one does not know this vibration, this quality. But it seems that whatever has been written about it, discussed about makes it a quality worth knowing, worth aspiring to know and live. For who would want to live within the narrow confines of a complaining nature? We do know how limiting one feels within whenever we get into a complaining mode, which is probably diametrically opposite to the movement of gratitude. For gratitude then we aspire, more and more, pure and unalloyed.

Savitri

Earth must transform herself and equal Heaven
Or Heaven descend into earth's mortal state.
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.


(Book Seven, Canto two)

Question of the Month (Oct 2015)

Q: Is gratitude a psychic virtue?

A: Mother: Compassion and gratitude are essentially psychic virtues. They appear in the consciousness only when the psychic being takes part in active life.
The vital and the physical experience them as weaknesses, for they curb the free expression of their impulses, which are based on the power of strength.
As always, the mind, when insufficiently educated, is the accomplice of the vital being and the slave of the physical nature, whose laws, so overpowering in their half-conscious mechanism, it does not fully understand. When the mind awakens to the awareness of the first psychic movements, it distorts them in its ignorance and changes compassion into pity or at best into charity, and gratitude into the wish to repay, followed, little by little, by the capacity to recognise and admire.
It is only when the psychic consciousness is all-powerful in the being that compassion for all that needs help, in whatever domain, and gratitude for all that manifests the divine presence and grace, in whatever form, are expressed in all their original and luminous purity, without mixing compassion with any trace of condescension or gratitude with any sense of inferiority. 


(The Psychic Being, Soul: Its Nature, mission and Evolution, Selections from the works of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry) 

The Virtues

The weekly meetings continued, and while the group had its centre in Mirra's residence in Paris, it was to register a widening circumference of beneficent influence. There were discussions, talks, plans. Experience mingled with logic, the heart wrestled with the mind; and so the spiritual seekers groped towards an integral aim in life and integral means to achieve it. In the discussion with the young Russian revolutionary leader, the emerging ideas were the need to awaken a new "intelligence", to affirm an "integral right", and to accept the identity of ends and means forged on the anvil of Purity and Truth, And of course all this had a wider application than only to Russia, for Mirra and her group were really concerned with the global human condition - how mankind might transcend its current limitations and lacerations, and deserve a new deal, a life of harmony and integral realisation.

Earlier there were evenings when the discussion wound its way to a spiritual focus; at other times the discussions were more general. Sometime in 1904 she wrote a remarkable parable entitled "The Virtues", but it is not known whether it was read at any of the weekly meetings.
In the Hall of Intelligence - the vestibule of the Palace of Truth situated on a very high cloud - a festival is held for the higher beings, who on earth are known as Virtues. They arrive one after another, and presently gather into congenial groups "full of joy to find themselves for once at least together, for they are usually so widely scattered throughout the world and the worlds, so isolated amid so many alien beings".

Sincerity presides over the festival, dressed in a transparent robe, and holds in her hand a cube of the purest crystal wherein things are reflected without the slightest deformation. Humility and Courage are her two faithful guards. Prudence, a woman wholly veiled, stands close to Courage.
Charity, "at once vigilant and calm, active and yet discreet", is at the still centre that is everywhere; and affiliated to her is her twin sister, Justice. When she moves unobtrusively in the Hall, Charity leaves a trail of "white and soft light" which suffuses the entire atmosphere. Kindness, Patience, Gentleness and Solicitude are in the background, pressing round Charity.

All are assembled - or so, indeed, they imagine - but now there appears another on the threshold, an utter stranger to the rest, "very young and slight, the white dress which she wore was very simple, almost poor". She is timid and hesitant in her steps, she feels dazzled by the brilliant company, and is almost rooted to the spot. It is Prudence who advances towards the new arrival and politely asks her name. "Alas!" she answers with a sigh, "I am not surprised that I appear to be a stranger in this palace, for I am so rarely invited anywhere. My name is Gratitude."

It is significant that, of the Virtues, it is Sincerity who presides in the Hall of Intelligence of the Palace of Truth; she accordingly takes precedence over all others. And Gratitude is hardly known, and it is with difficulty that she gets admission to the Hall, and she has actually to introduce herself.

In a talk on 25 January 1956, the Mother was to stress again the importance of these two particular Virtues, as also of Faith (or Trust in the Divine), Courage or Aspiration, and Endurance or Perseverance. In all combinations of Virtues, Sincerity must take the first place, "For if there is no sincerity, one cannot advance even by half a step.” Hypocrisy, on the contrary, is the very negation of sincerity, and assumes the shape of cloud behind cloud, screen behind screen, opaqueness behind opaqueness; but "transparency" is the crystalline lucidity of the mind and soul. In a later talk, she was to present sincerity as a progressive or evolutionary virtue: As the being progresses and develops, as the universe unfolds in the becoming, sincerity too must go on perfecting itself endlessly. Every halt in that development necessarily changes the sincerity of yesterday into the insincerity of tomorrow.

If one did not deceive oneself, if one were determined to advance and not to stagnate, then "sincerity is the safeguard, the protection, the guide, and finally the transforming power".
Again, gratitude isn't simply a dull if necessary virtue; gratitude can be a pure joy in its own right, with close affiliations with the virtue of Devotion: There is nothing which gives you a joy equal to that of gratitude. One hears a bird sing, sees a lovely flower, looks at a little child, observes an act of generosity, reads a beautiful sentence, looks at the setting sun, no matter what, suddenly this comes upon you, this kind of emotion - indeed so deep, so intense - that the world manifests the Divine, that there is something behind the world which is the Divine. So I find that devotion without gratitude is quite incomplete, gratitude must come with devotion. The love and adoration of the Divine - and the Divine behind things, beings and actions - must also induce the feeling of pure joy and gratitude as well.

(‘On The Mother’, Chapter 3 – “Encounters and Explorations”, K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar, Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry)


Smile of Gratitude


Gratitude - It is you who open all the closed doors and allow the saving Grace to enter

And yet, of all movements, the one that perhaps gives the most joy—an unalloyed joy, untainted by egoism - is spontaneous gratitude. It is something very special. It isn't love, it isn't self-giving. It is a very full joy. Very full. It is a very special vibration unlike anything other than itself. It is something that widens you, that fills you, that is so fervent! Of all the movements within the reach of human consciousness, it is certainly the one that draws you most out of your ego…. When you can enter this vibration in its purity, you realise immediately that it has the same quality as the vibration of Love: it is directionless. .. . Ultimately, gratitude is only a very slightly coloured shade of the essential vibration of Love
-       The Mother
(Flowers and Messages, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)


Gratitude Prayer

To Thee who hast been the material envelope of our master,
To thee our infinite gratitude, before thee who hast done so much for us,
Who hast worked, struggled, suffered, hoped, endured so much,
Before thee who hast willed all, attempted all, prepared, achieved all for us,
Before thee we bow down and implore that we may never forget even for a moment,
All we owe to thee.
-       The Mother (December 9, 1950)

(Prayer inscribed on the Samadhi at Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)




We say Gratitude

Gratitude… says the flower
Whose petals blossom
To the mighty sun’s power.

Gratitude… says the smile
That which comes rippling
In a heart waiting all the while.

Gratitude… says the river
As she merges with the blue ocean
Growing along vaster and wider

Gratitude… says the trees
As the dawn breaks through
Rising tall to reach the skies

Gratitude… says the child
To feel always a gentle hand
Holding it strong and kind.

-          Sandhya

The Banyan Talks…

A bell from Russia that tolls for peace


The 82-kg Peace Bell is housed at the International Zone of Auroville

With an aluminium plate bell weighing 82 kilograms, and supported by an elegant wooden frame, the Peace Bell has a commanding presence. It is made more special because of its unique deep, resonating tone. Designed exclusively for Auroville by Russian bell-master Alexander Zhikharev, it was welcomed on September 4 in a special ceremony at the Pavilion for Tibetan Culture in the International Zone of Auroville, where it is now housed.
The Peace Bell was brought from Moscow to Auroville on August 15, and was part of the bonfire ceremony commemorating the birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo held near the Matrimandir. The wooden frame was designed by Sergey Kornienko from Russia and made by Ricardo and team of New Dawn carpentry at Auroville. Contributions towards getting the bell came from across the world.

Incidentally, Mr. Zhikharev is the inventor of the Russian singing Bells (a set of flat bells) which is installed in Auroville. The Peace Bell is a symbolical contribution from Russia to the International Zone.

Mother’s wish

“The International Zone links Auroville to the international community. Its purpose, as per the Mother’s wish, is to reveal the soul of nations,” says Vera Lipen of the Peace Bell Project team. In the same way that an individual finds the purpose of life, nations have to find their purpose of oneness and peace, and having the Peace Bell with its deep and long resonating tone will help focus energies on the work, feels Ms. Lipen. “This is a call to nations to be awakened to fulfilling the Mother’s wish for the International Zone,” she says.

A Korean visitor who had experienced listening to the Peace Bell said it reminded her of childhood, with images of butterflies and a carefree life floating in her thoughts. It helped her recollect memories and taught her how to cherish her life, said Kelsang of the Pavilion for Tibetan Culture. Playing bells allows the expression of inner feeling and is an instrument of collective play, says Ms. Lipen, who conducts workshops with bells at Auroville.

Towards human unity and peace

“The sound of the bell has always been considered sacred. It has been used to connect with the cosmic spirit,” says Ms. Lipen. The sound of the bell helps the individual to connect with the silent space within, she says. It is only when there is silence, one can receive the consciousness of peace. The bell will aid Auroville’s work towards human unity and peace, she adds.

The Peace Bell will also add to the places of concentration within Auroville, which include the Matrimandir and the Peace Table for Asia at the Unity Pavilion.

“The bell will aid Auroville’s work towards human unity and peace”
(Article written by Annie Philip and sourced from The Hindu. A short video of the peace bells can be watched at - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4axi7dIqfU)

August - September Sunday Activities at the Centre – A glimpse

August 23rd – Savitri Reading Circle:

Read from Book Eleven, Canto 1 (page- 671 to 674) - The Eternal Day: The Soul’s Choice and the Supreme Consummation:

After Death is eaten away by light, Savitri’s experience in the eternal light is beautifully given in the passages from 671 to 674.

Savitri is in a realm of marvels. A wonderful sun leans down from skies of ecstasy upon worlds of deathless bliss, home of perfection, where the smile of the Eternal is constantly unfolded in its magic, captivating his inner heart-beats of delight. Thoughts take forms in happy dimensions to satisfy, as it were, some casual need in the divine peace around. By their happy embodiment they answer the deep demand of an infinite sense and fulfil its need for forms to contain its formless thrill.

Below the mystic heaven of Satchidananda are seen in their truth the seven immortal planes (based upon the eternal principles of Existence, Consciousness, Bliss, Truth-Consciousness. Mind, Life, Matter). These are the homes where dwell the blessed ones released from death and sleep, where neither grief nor any pang can come from the self-lost and seeking worlds Wow to affect the unchanging quietude of the Heaven-nature, alter its eternal calm, its poise of immutable ecstasy.
Immortal harmonies fill Savitri’s listening ear. A great spontaneous speech of the heights comes borne on the huge wings of a rhythmic grandeur, pouring, from sonic deep spiritual fount of sound, notes quivering with the secrets of the gods. Through every cry of virgin attraction and desire a consciousness yearns. It finds the depths but is not satisfied and searches them again and again as if hunting in some deep secret heart to find a lost or missing felicity.
(From collected works of Sri Aurobindo)
The description of Savitri’s experience really gives us the glimpse of the unknown and unthinkable which rents our horizon into infinity!

August 30th – Reading from Mother’s Works:

 Questions and Answers 1956-The Mother (Book 8):

“Life not a remote silent or high-uplifted ecstatic Beyond. Life alone, is the field of our Yoga. The transformation of our superficial, narrow and fragmentary human way of thinking, seeing, feeling and being into a deep and wide spiritual consciousness and an integrated inner and outer existence and of our ordinary human living into the divine way of life must be in central purpose” – (The Synthesis of Yoga, page 82)

Disciples question on what is divine life and if the divine way of Life is established only when the Supermind descends. Mother answers this thus:

Divine means that which is infinitely superior to our present way of thinking, feeling and understanding.
And there is inner urge in every human being to become that!
At every evolutionary point divine expression is more and more manifested from matter to mind. It is progressive and it is as though He is reserving for the end the most beautiful things in the His being.
Sri Aurobindo has used the word Super mind to explain something beyond our present mind and superior to human creation. It is something infinite and has no limits.

September 6th – Reading from AIM Magazine:

We read a few passages from a Special Number on The Divine Compassion.

In the first passage we read, Sri Aurobindo says we should have the Simple Approach to the Divine. We should have the trust that He hears our prayer and with the faith, perfect and simple confidence and reliance, wait for the help in His wisest choice of time.
2.     The Mother’s presence is always there, but with our own idea, notion of things and demand upon things her presence will get veiled. She is not withdrawing from us, but it is the other way.
Rama also quoted a few lines from Devaram and songs of Siddars’ supporting the above passages which carried the highest philosophy by the seers who had such amazing poetic ability.


September 13th – Q&A on Synthesis of yoga from Book 8, The Mother:

The first passage we read deals with “what is Dynamic meditation?”

For disciples’ question on what Sri Aurobindo meant by Dynamic meditation, Mother answers that our meditation should be “self dynamising” for the purpose of transformation. Our general conception of sitting motionless with eyes closed for any length of time doesn’t help in any way as we come out of it the same as we entered it. So we should have an aspiration for transformation burning bright when we meditate. Dynamic meditation can be even to find a solution for our problems or a difficulty to clear up.

In the 2nd question we read, Mother says whatever we do or give to anybody, even the most mundane things, it should be with the remembrance of the Divine and as an expression of our consecration to the Divine.

The 3rd question is about whether there is any special significance of 2,3,4,5,6 {23rd April 1956) to the Ashram? The Mother says it is only our belief that develops with the use of certain numbers and something exceptional happens; otherwise it is like any other number. She also relates that it is similar to a medicine, which, with concurrence of favourable circumstances, has cured a number of people and immediately it is proclaimed that medicine is all powerful against a particular disease. It could be dramatically opposite for others. It is the same thing with belief in numbers also. It is all relative!


-       Jayalakshmi

Along the Way… September 2015 Morning Walk – A Review

The Walk was in the East Coast Park, which is a 15 km stretch of outdoor revelry for locals as well as tourists known for its variety of sporting, entertainment and dining attractions.

After warming up exercises, the members split into 3 to 4 groups and started walking along in their own pace and sharing their thoughts, enjoying the beautiful sights and sounds of Mother Nature. The colourful Bougainvillea all along reminded me of the significance Mother has given to them. 


She says that every colour of these beautiful flowers signifies the awesome divine protection in ways like: attempt at protection, discreet protection, Psychic protection, emotional protection, vital protection, physical protection, integral protection, triple protection, manifold protection and protection of the gods. My thoughts also took a walk along Srimad Bhagavatham where Krishna says to Balarama that “Look at the trees laden with flowers. The boughs are so heavy with flowers they are bearing, they are almost touching the ground. It seems to me like they are falling at your feet and asking you to rid them of some sin which they have committed in some previous birth of theirs which has made them to be born as trees.” (Quote from Srimad Bhagavatham by Kamala Subramaniam). Nature is described by Krishna so lovingly, who is awed at His own creation!

Our host, Arjun Madan took a long stride in giving us a warm welcome at his “My Manhattan” with a cosy function room and the beautiful roses radiant in the presence of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. With meditation music, reading of prayers and bringing blessings to all members celebrating their birthdays and wedding anniversary this month, I felt the Ananda pervading everywhere. The brunch was really delicious and fruit platter was heavenly with exotic fruits! Our sincere gratitude to the young and bright host Arjun Madan, and the collaborators Ramanathan, Ami and Sanjay, for the beautiful experience and memory to walk forward with!
First Sunday of every month is always one to look forward to by me and my family, to enjoy the morning walk with our dear friends of Sri Aurobindo Society in the beautiful parks of our scintillating Singapore and the get-togethers in the blissful atmosphere at the hosts’ home!

Our dear Uncle Patel, Mr Dhana, Dr Nadkarni, Mr Rajah and Mr Shashilal Kashyap have paved the happy highway for that and we walk along with an evergreen gratitude towards them.

-        Jayalakshmi
***
On 6th September, we had our monthly walk at East Coast Park, near car park F3. We tried to find a spot to do our warm up exercises. The beach was a good spot so we started doing our warm up exercises facing the sea. It was so tranquil that I could hear the calm and soothing waves hitting the shore. After the warm up exercises, we took a group photo to safe keep for memories.

We started our walk. I followed the veterans Ramanathan uncle, Anand uncle, Saurav uncle who decided to walk till Changi beach and return back. Ramanathan uncle and Anand uncle were ahead of us. The peace was disturbed by the roar of jet engines. It reminded me of nearby changi airport. The walk seemed never ending. We ran out of time so we had to return back soon. We had walked about 7km.

After the walk, we went for brunch where we did our opening and closing meditations. It was very peaceful during the meditations.  The food was very delicious and all of us enjoyed it. We all thanked the host for a good brunch and walk.


-        Dheeraj

PERSEVERANCE


Botanical Name: Wadelia
Common Name: Creeping daisy, West Indian creeper
Spiritual Significance: Detailed Perseverance
One continues the work begun for as long as necessary – The Mother


PERSEVERANCE

It is by persevering that one conquers difficulties, not by running away from them. One who perseveres is sure to triumph. Victory goes to the most enduring.

-          The Mother

From the Editor’s Desk (Sep 2015)

The theme we are examining in the September issue of the Newsletter is “Perseverance”. This word found its origin in the 14th century in the regions of England and France. It is derived from the root word, “persevere”, which means, “to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult”. Perseverance, as a noun, means, “the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult”. 
(http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ perseverance). 

The Mother refers to Perseverance as an “active patience” which is undaunted by disappointments and defeats, marching on with the certitude that what is sought after will be gained, no matter when, no matter how. This seems to be patience that is poised on the path of victory. It appears to be a quality, which, in order to be expressed, needs the being to be endowed with some other qualities, such as faith, determination and a stability within which knows how to wait. One wonders when such a stability of the being sets in. Is it in-born or can be nurtured over time? That experiences in life may nurture patience and stability of the being is something that one may be able to speak of, with confidence. The Mother refers to the vital as the determinant of how patient one is, how perseverant. Likes and dislikes, desires, and the seeking after comfort are some ways of the vital in one state of being. However, mastery over this nature of the vital is what gives rise to an effective condition of patience and stability in the vital, which helps it to endure discomfort and disappointments, supporting the expression of the quality of perseverance, The  Mother offers a  remedy  to conquer the vital urges of grievances and disappointments and unhappiness over conditions contrary to what could have been, ideally. She says, “… just stop to consider how very happy you are, compared to so many in this world. Reflect for a moment on what the soldiers who fought in the last war had to go through. If you had to bear such hardships you would realise the utter silliness of your dissatisfactions.” However, She makes it clear that one need not invite difficulties for that reason, and continues, “… what I want is simply that you should learn to endure the little insignificant troubles of your life.”

 In taking stock of one’s life experiences of the present moment, one can make out for oneself the level of patience within and when it is challenged, in what state of the being and how one can attempt to rise over a dark and shadowy state of being that denies stability of the mind and vital, establishing faith in a higher power that helps and guides and an unshakeable certitude of victory. These in themselves are qualities one works on before that quality of perseverance can be established. Children for one, can be caught in beautiful acts of perseverance, in simply trying and trying until they get at what they had wanted, as in taking the first few baby steps, or a toddler mastering the act of cycling or scaling a hill of considerable height.

For perseverance to be actualized, a sincere call for help is within our reach, and the other quality of aspiration too is there, with courage to take up the next necessary step for progresses from within towards a life worth offering to the Divine.

Savitri

Our being must move eternally through Time;
Death helps us not, vain is the hope to cease;
A secret Will compels us to endure.
Our life's repose is in the Infinite;
It cannot end, its end is Life Supreme
(Book two, canto six)
All is not here a blinded Nature's task:
A Word, a Wisdom watches us from on high,
An Eye unseen in the unseeing vast;
There is an Influence from a Light above,
There are thoughts remote and sealed eternities:
A mystic motive drives the stars and suns.
In this passage from a deaf unknowing Force
To struggling consciousness and transient breath
A mighty supernature waits on Time.
The world is other than we now think and see,
Our lives are deeper mystery than we have dreamed;
Our minds are starters in the race to God,
Our souls are deputed selves of the Supreme.


(Book Two, Canto five)

Endurance

Let endurance be your watchword: teach the life-force in you—your vital being—not to complain but to put up with all the conditions necessary for great achievement. The body is a very enduring servant, it bears the stress of circumstance tamely like a beast of burden. It is the vital being that is always grumbling and uneasy. The slavery and torture to which it subjects the physical is almost incalculable. How it twists and deforms the poor body to its own fads and fancies, irrationally demanding that everything should be shaped according to its whimsicality! But the very essence of endurance is that the vital should learn to give up its capricious likes and dislikes and preserve an equanimity in the midst of the most trying conditions. When you are treated roughly by somebody or you lack something which would relieve your discomfort, you must keep up cheerfully instead of letting yourself be disturbed. Let nothing ruffle you the least bit, and whenever the vital tends to air its petty grievances with pompous exaggeration just stop to consider how very happy you are, compared to so many in this world. Reflect for a moment on what the soldiers who fought in the last war had to go through. If you had to bear such hardships you would realise the utter silliness of your dissatisfactions. And yet I do not wish you to court difficulties - what I want is simply that you should learn to endure the little insignificant troubles of your life.

Nothing great is ever accomplished without endurance. If you study the lives of great men you will see how they set themselves like flint against the weaknesses of the vital. Even today, the true meaning of our civilisation is the mastery of the physical through endurance in the vital. The spirit of sport and of adventure and the dauntless facing of odds which is evident in all fields of life are part of this ideal of endurance. In science itself, progress depends on the countless difficult tests and trials which precede achievement. Surely, with such momentous work as we have in hand in our Ashram, we have not any less need of endurance. What you must do is to give your vital a good beating as soon as it protests; for, when the physical is concerned, there is reason to be considerate and to take precautions, but with the vital the only method is a sound “kicking”. Kick your vital the moment it complains, because there is no other way of getting out of the petty consciousness which attaches so much importance to creature comforts and social amenities instead of asking for the Light and the Truth.


(CWM, Volume 3, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)

Stories by the Mother on Perseverance

The people of the Punjab have a song which goes like this:

The bulbul does not always sing in the garden,
And the garden is not always in bloom;
Happiness does not always reign,
And friends are not always together.

The conclusion to be drawn from this song is that we cannot expect to be always happy, and that to know how to be patient is most useful. For there are few days in our lives which do not give us the opportunity to learn greater patience.

You want to see a very busy man to ask him something. You go to his house. Already many visitors are there and he keeps you waiting a very long time before seeing you. You stay there quietly, perhaps for several hours. You are patient.

Another time, the person you wish to see is not at home when you arrive. You return again the next day, but his door is still closed. You go back a third time, but he is sick and cannot see you. You let a few days go by and then return once more. And if something new again prevents you from meeting him, nevertheless you are not discouraged, but renew the attempt until at last you see him. This kind of patience is called perseverance.

Perseverance is an active patience, a patience that marches on.

***
The famous Genoese sailor Columbus set sail from Spain to cross the unknown seas of the West. For days and weeks on end, in spite of the murmurs of his companions, he persisted in his will to reach a new land; in spite of delays and difficulties, he would not give up until he had reached the first American islands. Thus he discovered the New World.

What did he ask of his companions? He asked them only to have patience, for they had simply to rely on him and quietly allow him to lead them. But what did he himself need to reach his goal? He needed the sustained energy and the unremitting will that we call perseverance.

***

The famous sage Shankara whose name brought glory to the land of Malabar, and who lived about 1200 years ago, had resolved from childhood to become a Sannyasi.
For a long time his mother, although she appreciated the nobility of his wish, did not allow him to devote himself to that way of life.

One day mother and child went to bathe in a river. Shankara dived in and felt his foot suddenly seized by a crocodile. Death seemed close at hand. But even at that dreadful moment the brave child thought only of his great project and cried out to his mother, “I am lost! A crocodile is dragging me down. But let me at least die a Sannyasi!”

“Yes, yes, my son,” his mother sobbed in despair.

Shankara felt such joy that he found the strength to free his foot and throw himself ashore. From that moment he grew in learning as in years. He became a guru, and remained true to his great work of teaching philosophy to the very end of his wonderful life.

***

All who love India know the beautiful poem of the Mahabharata.

It was written in Sanskrit many hundreds of years ago. Until recent times, no European could read it unless he knew Sanskrit, and that was rare. A translation into one of the European languages was needed.

Babu Pratap Chandra Rai decided to devote himself to this work. In his own land he was able to find a learned friend, Kishori Mohan Ganguly, who could translate the Sanskrit book into English, and its hundred parts were published one by one. For twelve years Pratap Chandra Rai went on with the task he had set himself. He devoted all his resources to the publication of the book. And when he had nothing left he travelled all over India to ask help from all who were willing to give. He received help from princes and peasants, from scholars and simple folk, from friends in Europe and America.

In the course of one of his journeys he caught the pernicious fever from which he died. During his sickness all his thoughts were turned towards the completion of his work. And even when it became painful for him to speak, he would still say to his wife: “The book must be finished. Don’t spend money on my funeral rites if it is needed for the printing. Live as simply as you can so as to save money for the Mahabharata.”
He died full of love for India and her great poem.

His widow, Sundari Bala Rai, faithfully carried out his great wish. One year later the translator completed his work, and the eleven volumes of the Mahabharata were presented to the European public who could now know and admire the eighteen Parvas of the splendid epic poem. And reading it, they would learn to respect the great skill and wisdom of the profound thinkers who were the poets of ancient India.

Such are the fruits borne by the efforts of all those who, like Pratap Chandra Rai and so many other useful men, know how to persevere.
And you, brave children, will you not join the great army of men and women who never tire of doing good and never abandon their task until they have completed it?

In this wide world, there is no lack of noble work to be accomplished, nor is there any lack of good people to undertake it; but what is very often lacking is the perseverance which alone can carry it through to the end.

(CWM, Volume 2, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)

Secret of small, repeated efforts



(Painting by Sandhya: A depiction of Sand dunes checking the Ocean)

“For nothing in the world can prevail against perseverance. And even the greatest things are always an accumulation of small and untiring efforts.

Enormous boulders have been completely destroyed, worn by raindrops falling one after another on the same spot. A grain of sand is nothing very powerful, but when many come together, they form a dune and check the ocean.

And when you learn about natural history, you will hear how mountains have been formed under the sea by little animalcules piled one upon another, who by their persistent efforts have made magnificent islands and archipelagos rise above the waves.

Don’t you think that your small, repeated efforts could also achieve great things?”

-          The Mother
(CWM, Volume 2, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)

Song of Autumn


The hours went by with slow contended tread:
A wide and tranquil air remembered peace,
Earth was the comrade of a happy sun.
A calmness neared as of the approach of God,
A light of musing trance lit soil and sky.
And an identity and ecstasy
Filled meditation's solitary heart.
Autumn led in the glory of her moons
And dreamed in the splendour of her lotus pools

-          Savitri, Sri Aurobindo.

***
A reflection: It was a long hard day, so many things have happened at work and at home. I decide to take a calm evening walk in the nearby garden. There is a soft bed of wet green grass and it puts me in a state of repose. I choose to lie down on the grass-earth and gaze at the blue sky. Smooth creamy clouds are passing by, one after the other, the setting sun playing hide and seek about them. The sky is painted with interspersed pink and blue hues and it appears as though the lovely colors are embracing each other.

The sense of autumn season is so much closer to a calm evening, I feel. Nature has gone through her long journey through musical spring, blazing summer and thunderous monsoon. Now it is time to slow down and prepare for the waning year with cool winter just around the corner. Autumn, a season of transition, is an invitation to reflect and relax. A shower of crimson leaves falling slowly from swaying trees forms a pool on the ground. And the rustle of the dried leaves as they sweep the ground carries a profound music. One can feel the richness of various events that have happened through the year and experience the silence they have created inside.

-          Sandhya
***
Autumn (or Fall as it is known in North America) marks the transition from summer into winter. In a sense it is like evening, when the soft sunshine, harsh noon have given way to a space which is neither day nor night. It is indeed one of those auspicious and sacred moments which leaves one in a contemplative mood. Indeed this is why dawn and twilight are special as it is a transition time of day or night.
The Mother begins one of her Prayers written on May 31, 1914 with these moving words – “When the sun set in the indrawn contemplation of the calm twilight, all my being prostrated itself before Thee, O Lord, in mute adoration and complete self-giving...”
Just like evening or twilight, autumn is a magical season. The heat of the summer has passed, winter has not come yet, it is neither hot nor cold...There is a coolness in the air, days are shorter, nights are cooler. These changes in the weather make the leaves turn colour from the green of the summer to vibrant hues of the sunset orange, deep red, yellow... The fall colours are spectacular in the NE corner of America, a country blessed with abundance of Nature. Just as viewing of the cherry blossoms is a sacred obsession of the Japanese, in this part of the country viewing of Fall colours is a favourite activity. People would drive miles and miles to view the "fall colours”, especially in New England, the beautiful states of Vermont, Maine offer the best views of fall colours. Since each tree's leaves turned colour at a slightly different time, the overall scenery would be so magical with the spectacular sunset colours and Nature at her most colourful offering…
Just as the Mother wrote about the cherry blossoms in the Prayer of April 1, 1917, on seeing the colours of the leaves one would exclaim... oh! What magical power hast thou put in these leaves... "They seem to speak of Thy sole Presence" they bring with them the radiance of the Divine.

-          Sudha