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

Humility



Adorable in its simplicity


Botanical Name: Agrostis nebulosa
Common Name: Dropseed
Spiritual Significance: Humility 

Humility is the recognition that one does not know, that one knows nothing, and that there may be something beyond what presently appears to us as being truest, noblest, most disinterested. True humility consists in referring oneself constantly to the Lord, in placing everything before Him.


-          The Mother

From the Editor’s Desk

Humility is the theme that this month’s issue carries. This English word is derived from the Latin word humilitas. The Oxford Dictionary defines humility as being humble, and having a ‘low view of one’s importance.” The root of humilitas is humilis, which means ‘ground’. In Sanskrit, humility is, ‘Namrataa”.  The Mother tells a simple and beautiful story about the skilled flower-artist and his opinion of his work. The man with humility is one who sincerely knows that his work needs improvement or may have flaws unnoticed by him. This man is appearing open to criticism of his work and also improving it with the right suggestions. The Mother points this out as a desirable trait; his behaviour is “pleasing”. This is humility. Perhaps one can understand humility better when considering the opposite of humility, and that is ‘vanity’. Who may be a vain person? It is he who thinks highly of his work, or boasts about it. Accordingly, hearing boastful words or self-praise is not pleasing, one indeed, “smiles” at the person. In such a person, there is no opening for self-improvement as one already feels that he is good and need not look for further improvement. Such a person, who does not have humility, is one who is closed; his world is all done.

There is “…Greatness that is modest” as in the case of King Solomon. Contemplate on this phrase. What does this mean? It will be useful to register all the feelings and thoughts that this statement evokes within one. What does this mean? What is greatness? What are we when we think we have achieved something really great, meaningful? What is our state within? Is there vanity within or humility? When? 

And whichever our response, why is that the case? 

Now, back to humility, the common notion of being humble is generally assumed to be one being modest in the midst of other human beings, to be not vain in the eyes of other human beings and or to have a “low view of one’s importance”, as the definition goes. The Mother and Sri Aurobindo elevate the meaning of true humility by referring to it in terms of the Divine, thereby exceeding the common meaning wrought with and given to limited human tendencies and capabilities. Here’s what The Mother says:

“True humility is humility before the Divine - that is, the precise, exact, living sense that one is nothing, can do nothing, under¬stands nothing without the Divine, that even if one is an exceptionally intelligent and capable person, one is nothing in comparison with the Divine Consciousness. And one has to keep that always, because always one has the true attitude of receptivity, a humble receptivity which does not put personal pretension in the way of the Divine.”

Like the rest of the virtues represented in the Mother’s symbol, Humility is one aspect of the manifestation of the Divine Shakti. Its spontaneous expression in any individual must be a divine grace. Its absence then would only indicate that, though immanent, it is clouded by undesirable elements within the being, which is not part of what the being is in essence. The good news is that once we make an effort to see the cloud, realise the obscurity and ask sincerely for the clouds to be removed or dissipate in Light, then the true quality of Humility may come forward and express itself. But again, it requires a yogic attitude and effort. We still need to ask, simply, for it.

Savitri

The first fair life that breaks from Nature's swoon,
Mounts in a line of rapture to the skies;
Absorbed in its own happy urge it lives,
Sufficient to itself, yet turned to all.
It has no seen communion with its world,
No open converse with surrounding things.
There is a oneness native and occult
That needs no instruments and erects no form;
All contacts it assumes into its trance,
Laugh-tossed consents to the wind's kiss and takes
Transmutingly the shocks of sun and breeze:
A blissful yearning riots in its leaves,
A magic passion trembles in its blooms,
Its boughs aspire in hushed felicity.

(Book Four, Canto One)


A real joy to see greatness that is modest

Stories by The Mother on Modesty

Who is this coming to the door of this Japanese house?
It is the flower-artist, the man who is skilled in arranging flowers.
The master of the house brings a tray with some flowers, a pair of scissors, a knife, a little saw, and a beautiful vase.

“Sir,” he says, “I cannot make a bouquet beautiful enough for such a beautiful vase.”
“I am sure you can,” replies the master politely as he leaves the room. Left alone, the artist sets to work, cutting, snipping, twisting and tying until a beautiful bunch of flowers fills the vase—a delight to the eyes.

The master and his friends enter the room; the artist stands to one side and murmurs, “My bouquet is too poor, let it be taken away.”

“No,” replies the master, “it is good.”

To one side of the table, near the vase, the artist has left a pair of scissors. By this he means that if there is any flaw in the bouquet, anyone can take the scissors and cut away what offends the eye.
The artist has done a fine piece of work, but he would not dream of exalting its merits. He admits that he may have made mistakes. He is modest.

Perhaps the Japanese artist really thinks that his work deserves compliments. I cannot tell his thoughts. But at any rate he does not boast and his behavior is pleasing. On the other hand, we smile at people who are vain.

Suleiman, Caliph of Damascus, was like that. One Friday, coming out of his hot bath, he dressed himself in green clothes, put on a green turban, sat on a green couch, and even the carpet all around was green. And then looking into a mirror and feeling pleased with himself, he said, “The Prophet Mohammed was an apostle, Ali Bakr was a faithful servant of the truth, Omar could distinguish the true from the false, Otman was modest, Ali was brave, Muawiyah was merciful, Yazid was patient, Abd-ul-Malik a good governor, Walid a powerful master, but I am young and handsome.”
The flowers in the vase are beautifully arranged and our eyes are delighted. But it is for us and not for the artist to praise them.

Suleiman is handsome. It is true that there is no harm in his knowing it, but we laugh at his vanity when he gazes at himself in a mirror and tells himself that his good looks make him a finer man than Omar the truthful or Yazid the patient.

***
You have heard of great Solomon who was the King of Israel many years ago. There are many stories in the Bible and in other books which tell of his glory and his majesty. I shall tell you one story about him.

He was very rich. He had a magnificent throne, his plates were of gold, and in his palace silver was as common as stones in the city of Jerusalem. Merchants were constantly bringing him gold, silver, ivory, peacocks, monkeys, beautiful clothes, armour, spices, horses, mules and many other riches. King Solomon built a splendid temple in honour of the God of his fathers and his nation. But before the temple was built, while the timber for it was still growing in the form of cedar-trees on the mountains, Solomon had a dream in which his God appeared to him and said: “Ask of me what you wish me to give you.”

Solomon answered:
“My father David was a just and truthful man and now I have succeeded to his throne. The work that lies before me is great. I feel like a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. I do not even know how to rule this people of which I am king. Therefore my desire is to have knowledge, so that I may know good from evil.”

And God replied:
“Because you have not asked for long life or riches but have desired knowledge and a heart which can distinguish justice from injustice, I will give you this wise mind so that none shall surpass you in understanding; and long life and riches will be yours also.”

You will notice the modest words spoken by the king, “I am but a little child.”

Do we think less of Solomon because he spoke humbly of himself? On the contrary, it is a real joy to see greatness that is modest.

***
Many years ago a great singer, who had won a world-wide reputation for her wonderful voice and outstanding talent, happened to be at a party. There, a little girl with a beautiful voice was asked to sing. The piece she was ready to sing was a duet, a piece of music for two voices. The child was to sing the main part, but no one wanted to sing the accompaniment. All the grown-ups thought that it was beneath them to sing the second voice to a child. There was a pause; no one offered to accompany the child.

Then the famous singer said: “I will sing the second voice if you wish.”

And she did so. The duet was sung to the audience; the little girl’s voice rose high and clear, with the voice of the most famous singer of her time following sweetly, making a lovely harmony.
Noble was the heart of the modest lady who was willing to give her service to a child.

***
Sometimes we feel contempt for vain people who not only admire themselves too much, but boast. No one likes a braggart; even braggarts despise braggarts.

We are not surprised to learn that Ravana the terrible foe of Rama, whose wife Sita he had stolen away, was a braggart; it was quite natural for such a monster. In the last great battle between Rama and the demons of Lanka, the glorious lord stood in his chariot face to face with the demon king, also in his chariot. It was a single combat. The army of demons and the army of monkeys and bears watched the fight.

Then with a dreadful voice, Ravana the king of Lanka cried:
“Today, O Rama, this war will come to an end unless you save yourself by running away from the battlefield. Today, wretch, I shall give you over to death. It is with Ravana that you must fight.”

Rama smiled calmly. He knew that Ravana’s doom was near and he said:
“Yes, I have heard of all your might, O Ravana, but now I want to see as well as hear. I beg you to remember that there are three kinds of men in this world, who are like three kinds of trees: the dhak, the mango and the bread-fruit. The dhak tree bears flowers. It is like the man who only speaks. The mango tree has both flowers and fruits. It is like a man who both speaks and acts. The bread-fruit tree bears only fruit. It is like the man who speaks not but acts.”

The demon laughed at these wise words. But before long his boasting tongue was silent forever.

***
In 1844 the Sanskrit College of Calcutta needed a teacher of grammar, and the post was offered to Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar. At that time he was earning fifty rupees a month, and in this new position he could earn ninety, but he thought that his friend Tarkavachaspati was a better grammar teacher than himself and he said so. So it was decided that his friend should take the post. Vidyasagar was very happy. He walked some distance from Calcutta to find his friend and tell him the news.

Tarkavachaspati was struck by the noble modesty of the scholar and exclaimed, “You are not a man, Vidyasagar, but a god in human form!”


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

Selfless Admiration

People are so unwilling to recognise anything that expresses the Divine that they are ever on the alert to find fault, discover apparent defects and so reduce what is high to their own level. They are simply furious at being surpassed and when they do succeed in finding superficial “shortcomings” they are greatly pleased. But they forget that if they confront even the Divine, when its presence is on the earth, with their crude physical mind they are bound to meet only what is crude. They cannot hope to see what they are themselves incapable of seeing or unwilling to see. They are sure to misjudge the Divine if they consider the surface-aspect of its actions, for they will never understand that what seems similar to human activity is yet altogether dissimilar and proceeds from a source which is non-human.

The Divine, manifesting itself for the work on earth, appears to act as men do but really does not. It is not possible to evaluate it by such standards of the obvious and the apparent. But men are utterly in love with their own inferiority and cannot bear to submit to or admit a higher reality. This desire to find fault, this malicious passion to criticise and doubt what something in oneself tells one is a higher reality is the very stamp of humanity—marks out the merely human. Wherever, on the other hand, there is a spontaneous admiration for the true, the beautiful, the noble, there is something divine expressed. You should know for certain that it is the psychic being, the soul in you with which your physical consciousness comes in contact when your heart leaps out to worship and admire what you feel to be of a divine origin.

The moment you are in front of what you feel to be such, you should be moved to tears of joy. It is the mean creature who stops to reflect: “Yes, it is something great but it would be worth admiring if it fell to my lot, if I were the happy possessor of this quality, the instrument of this superior manifestation” Why should you bother about your ego when the main concern is that the Divine should reveal itself wherever it wants and in whatever manner it chooses? You should feel fulfilled when it is thus expressed, you should be able to burst the narrow bonds of your miserable personality, and soar up in unselfish joy. This joy is the true sign that your soul has awakened and has sensed the truth. It is only then that you can open to the influence of the descending truth and be shaped by it. I remember occasions when I used to be moved to tears on seeing even children, even babies do something that was most divinely beautiful and simple. Feel that joy and you will be able to profit by the Divine’s presence in your midst.


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

Humility in the Love for the Divine

(Delicate, effective and surrendered, but very persistent in its feelings)

It is very simple: when you tell people, "Be humble", they immediately think of being humble before other men, and that humility is bad. True humility is humility before the Divine - that is, the precise, exact, living sense that one is nothing, can do nothing, under­stands nothing without the Divine, that even if one is an exceptionally intelligent and capable person, one is nothing in
comparison with the Divine Consciousness. And one has to keep that always, because always one has the true attitude of receptivity, a humble receptivity which does not put personal pretension in the way of the Divine.
-          The Mother

(‘Flowers and their Messages’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)

Aspects of Self-Development – Humility

And finally, the last on my list: humility. We cannot be effective as teachers if we think that we are supposed to know everything that there is to know. When a student corrects us for a mistake or asks a question that we don’t know the answer to, if we get angry, we create barriers, we fear we are going to expose our ignorance, and then what flows is cut off into pieces. We cannot flow as a teacher; we cannot carry them with us. And where does the strange idea that a teacher must know everything comes from? It’s a remnant of the British, when they created this aura of superiority. They were a special race and we were failures; they knew everything and we had to follow blindly, continuing the slave mentality. So, the day we got into the position of the Babus, we wanted to pretend we were like them. Do you know that until Abdul Kalam became president of India, every other president of India had his shoes put on his feet by a servant? What a disgusting idea created by the British. The tradition was sustained because we got into their place; we had to be like them. How silly, and Abdul Kalam said: “Why? I can put my shoes on.” And he began to walk around everywhere, meeting the gardener, for example, which nobody had done before him.

The need to pretend is part of the hypocrisy of what we call the industrial mindset of education. Dissolve it all; we are all here learning together and I meet you with the same humility. We are all the same. There are things I don’t know, and you also teach me. You find it so much more fun when you teach with this attitude. So, it is humility in the face of the vastness of the knowledge. All that I know is a drop – this is the first movement of humility. The second, is the infinity of viewpoints. We can present whatever we know in so many ways, and each one in my class will have his own viewpoint. The third is the recognition of one’s own limitations. Be conscious of this and be with the children; we are learning together. Well, I consider these to be some important facets and you can check out which ones are more developed, and which you need to work on. Use those that are stronger to develop the others that are weaker.


(Excerpt from Chapter ‘Preparing ourselves as teachers, Introduction to Integral Education’ by Sraddhalu Ranade)

September - October Sunday Activities at the Centre – A glimpse

September 20thQuarterly committee meeting and Savitri with Huta’s Visuals:

From 4.30pm to 5.30pm AGM was conducted successfully with a good number of committee members attending.

Savitri with Huta’s visuals: Book Eleven, The Book of The Everlasting Day.
Canto 1, The Eternal Day: The Soul’s Choice and The Supreme Consummation, Pictures 10 to17



September 27th – Savitri Reading Circle:

Book Eleven, The Book of The Everlasting Day - Canto 1, The Eternal Day: The Soul’s Choice and The Supreme Consummation. Pages 674-683:

Savitri sees the Death and the darkness dissolve and there gleams the lurking love of God on her front. All grace, all glory, all divinity are here focussed in one form; all adored eyes gaze through his eyes from one face; Death transformed holds all godheads in his grandiose limbs.
Savitri discovers that the creator of these marvellous worlds is the same as the one who creates this universe, the same one whom her soul has faced as Death and Night. His darkness is no more; instead there is a luminous splendour. All grace and divinity are here collected in a single form. She regards in him the Virat, the Spirit of things seen, the Hiranyagarbha, author of thoughts and dreams.
Behind both the Virat and the Hiranyagarbha — their secret cause — stands a third Purusha, the Prajna. His is a massed superconscience, wrap in himself, with closed eyes. He broods in his omniscient sleep and creates all things.
He is dormant in the atoms and in the burning star. He is asleep in all forms, god, man, beast, stone. Because he is there within it, the Inconscient does its work faultlessly. And because he is there indwelling, the world does not die. Of the circle of God, he is the Centre; he is also the circumference within which Nature moves. His is a creative slumber that is the pervading might of God in all things, Awake; he is the Eternal, the Supreme.
All powers were woven in countless concords here.
The two look upon each other; Savitri’s Soul sees Soul of death.
Then like an anthem rising from the luminous cavern of the heart, a voice soars up whose enchanting sound can change the painful weeping of suffering earth into sobs of rapture and her cry into a happy song of the spirit.
As a messenger of the confident felicity of her heart, a smile gently ripples across her wide eyes, like the first beam of the morning sun rippling along two awakened lotus-pools.
(Sourced from Collected works of Sri Aurobindo)
Since the meditation was on the same canto, the summary is combined.

October 4th – Reading from AIM Magazine:

Mantra (Rhythmic word of the Infinite)
In the theory of Mantra, Mother says the Sound always has more Power than most of us think. Uttered with right aspiration brings positive effect. Even wishing someone “Good Day” with a will and aspiration will make it concrete and more effective than greeting casually.
I found this magazine very enlightening, bringing more awareness on the usage of our speech. Mother gives a detailed explanation on the source power that come into words.
Next in the passage by Ramakrishna Das in “The Arduous Path of Transformation becomes Easy by the Japa of Ma” the author says that Sanskrit letter  (M) is the bija (seed-syllable) for Chandra the moon. Chandra contains amrita, divine nectar and is cooling and peaceful.


It is the embodiment of Bliss. Sanskrit letter  (A) to the letter  (M), one gets the word Ma.  (A) is the seed syllable for Agni, the purifying spiritual fire for three types of our karma. Sanchita karma (the results of actions from previous lives),kriyamana (the results of actions from this life) and prarabdha (the present destiny) –will be burnt away by the japa of Ma.

October 11th - Readings from “Questions and Answers, 1956”, The Mother - Volume 8- pages 93 to 95:
In the first passage we read, the Mother talks about the number “12.”
She says that in the very old tradition, even before the Vedic tradition there was a belief that “If twelve men of goodwill unite and call the Divine, the Divine is obliged to come”.
But only the number 12 cannot do the magic! It is what kind of united aspiration the 12 people had. And also it is a superstition to think that always when the 12 people of same good will pray the Divine will descend.
In the next question, “How can one understand the Divine and how can we find the Divine within ourselves” 
Sri Aurobindo says that we are already THAT in our secret nature.
It is because He is the very essence of our being that we can become Him and consequently understand Him; otherwise it would be impossible.
To realise Him, the aspiration and preoccupation should be constant and not a half hour pass time! Mother says that our silent aspiration can give us the most precious gifts!
Reading and writing all these glimpses help me to bring and see more of divine in my otherwise mundane routine!

-          Jayalakshmi

Along the Way… October 2015 Morning Walk – A Review

That was the morning of 4th of October 2015. We were awaiting to join the monthly walk. In the uncertain weather during hazy days, how did we feel that it was certain that we could carry on with the morning walk?

The Grace of Mother is always with us.  The haze which had reached a hazardous level of 190, the day before had reduced quite substantially.  Hence we could enjoy the morning walk mingling with Mother Nature and having conversations with our dear ones.

The walk was arranged at gardens By the Bay. We all gathered dot on time and with no surprise to all of us, Kashyap uncle was there at sharp 8 AM as usual. The commencement of the walk was thus by walk the talk.

The weather was pleasant, just bringing the right mood for a good morning walk on a leisurely Sunday.
As we started off, I saw a board describing about the 12 characters of the Chinese Zodiac. It was actually a race that was arranged by the Jade emperor. The rat came first after deceiving everybody and pig was the last. Was it just indicative about the rat race that we all humans have to undergo? There are always lessons learnt during the walk, direct or indirect. There is much to be taken during the walk.

The garden being adjacent to the Marina reservoir, we set off for the walk with the Super trees by the side and the sky walk above. Walking along the waterfront promenade we could see the Marina Bay financial district skyline. This month walk at the Gardens was through different shades of nature, with us enjoying the quaint stroll walking by the shrubs, palm trees, admiring flowers and the beautiful water promenade.

Different shades of nature, different people, different discussions, but all leading to the same ultimate goal. Mr Krishnamurthy was discussing about the 15th chapter of Shrimad Bhagavad-Gita and we enjoyed the walk, listening to him. I had another opportunity with Jared, discussing about how to understand Savitri that has immense meaning in it. It was really encouraging to listen form him how to uncover the hidden beauty of the meaning in Savitri.

We walked through the Heritage Garden. It is a collection of four themed gardens that reveals the history and culture of Singapore’s ethnic groups. Wondering the fantastic architecture of the two domes, viz. the Flower dome and the Cloud Forest, we also realised that exhibition of Chrysanthemum was going on in the flower dome. A wonderful thing about the Chrysanthemum is that, it is MOTHER’s flower. The word mum in Chrysanthemum stands for the flower of the mother and in some western countries, it is given to mother on Mother’s Day. How symbolic of the flower and our walk in this month! It would be quite unimaginable, but some of us just took the opportunity to peep into the flower dome and had a quick tour of the Chrysanthemum flower exhibition, which would normally take more than an hour. Everything is possible, if there is a strong will and all of us followed the time line strictly. This is the wonderful thing about the walk that I personally like.

After the walk, we had a warm welcome at Kashyap uncle’s house. A very distinctive thing about the walk, hosted by Kashyap uncle is the beautiful singing of Bhajans by the entire Kashyap family. This experience was enhanced by Kashyap uncle’s grandson, Amit who did a great job with his beat box. That was amazing. Another noticeable thing was the bhajan by Anand, who sang the bhajan despite him having to join for his concert at Esplanade the same evening. Kudos to Anand.
Afterwards we all joined---not for the brunch, but for a sumptuous lunch. A wonderful time was spent on a beautiful Sunday morning and we will all cherish the memories of those moments spent.


-          Kiran