This month’s edition of the Newsletter takes a look at the quality or virtue of sincerity. The word is defined as the absence of pretense, deceit or hypocrisy, according to the Oxford Online Dictionary. What then is pretense, deceit or hypocrisy? Pretense is defined as an attempt at making up something that is not the case, while deceit is the action of or practice of deception by concealing or misrepresenting truth and lastly, hypocrisy is the practice of claiming to have higher standards or more noble beliefs then is actually the case. Sincerity is the absence of all these practices in a person. This means quite a lot. A little contemplation on what sincerity means may throw one into a chasm of doubt.
How many times in a day is one sincere? How often does one show something that is not as that which is the case? How often does one pretend to be what one is not, in our daily lives, in dealings with people and also ourselves? How often does one carry a superiority complex about oneself, as one being a notch higher than another in a certain way of being or practice?
Sincerity calls for much. It demands certain preconditions. First one has to know oneself very well in order to know the intensity of sincerity in oneself. Then, to know oneself, one has to observe, and observe attentively, minutely and intensely. In order to observe in this way, one has to be silent from within, without being distracted by what happens outside or inside oneself. Being sincere appears to be a quality that cannot be gained in a few days. Acquiring it in itself appears a Sadhana. The Mother says that there is no progress without sincerity.
If sincerity means all these and if it is crucial for progress itself, then everyone interested in progress will have to take a serious look at sincerity in oneself and make it one’s business in life to cultivate sincerity and be it. How can this be done?
In order to chart out an action plan for cultivating sincerity, one must know what exactly sincerity is (rather than only what it is not, as the definition above highlights). Here is one statement from The Mother about what is sincerity: “Sincerity means to lift all the movements of the being to the level of the highest consciousness and realization already attained.” If one were to rid oneself of insincerity, one should not have “any preference, any attraction, any dislike, any sympathy or antipathy, any attachment, any repulsion.” On the other hand, one must instead have “a total, integral vision of things, in which everything is in its place and one has the same attitude towards all things: the attitude of true vision.” Above all, one must decide and will that one wants sincerity, above all others.
This is the work before one if sincerity is to become a part of the being and that too relentless work for every moment. Daunting it may sound, The Mother’s assurance is always there, for anyone who sincerely wants to change and embrace sincerity in his or her being: “Whenever there is sincerity, you find that the help, the guidance, the grace are always there to give you the answer and you are not mistaken for long.”
May sincerity be!
Read on for help.
Ardent was her self-poised unstumbling will;
Her mind, a sea of white sincerity,
Passionate in flow, had not one turbid wave.
As in a mystic and dynamic dance
A priestess of immaculate ecstasies
Inspired and ruled from Truth's revealing vault
Moves in some prophet cavern of the gods,
A heart of silence in the hands of joy
Inhabited with rich creative beats
A body like a parable of dawn
That seemed a niche for veiled divinity
Or golden temple door to things beyond.
(Book Four, Canto One)
Q: What do I need to develop most? And what do I need to reject most?
A: Mother: Develop―sincerity (that is, an integral adhesion to the Divine’s way).
Reject―the pull of the old human habits.
(CWM, Volume 14, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)
Stories by the Mother on Sincerity
A Muslim writer, Abu Abbas, tells us of the glory of King Solomon, who reigned in Jerusalem, the holy city of the Hebrews. In his throne room there were six hundred seats, half of which were occupied by sages, the other half by Jinns or genies who assisted Solomon by their magic power. Throughout the sittings of the Council, a multitude of great birds would appear at a word from the king and spread their wings to shade the people in the six hundred seats. And at his command, each morning and evening, a powerful wind would arise, lifting up the whole palace and instantaneously transporting it a month’s journey away. In this way, the king was at hand to govern the distant lands that belonged to him. Besides, Solomon made the most marvellous throne one could ever dream of. And this throne was designed in such a way that no one would dare to utter an untruth in the presence of the king. It was made of ivory, inlaid with pearls, emeralds and rubies, and around it stood four golden date-palms on which the dates were also emeralds and rubies. At the top of two of these palms were golden peacocks, and on the two others were golden vultures. On each side of the throne there were also two golden lions between two pillars of emerald. And golden vines bearing ruby grapes twined around the trunks of the trees.
The elders of Israel were seated at Solomon’s right hand and their seats were of gold, the genies sat at his left hand and their seats were of silver. When the king held his court of justice the people were allowed into his presence. And each time that a man bore witness on another, if he deviated ever so little from the truth, an amazing thing would happen. At the sight of him, the throne bearing the king, the lions, the palm-trees, the peacocks and the vultures, would instantly turn round on itself. Then the lions would thrust forward their claws, lashing the ground with their tails; the vultures and the peacocks would flap their wings.
And so the witnesses would tremble with terror and would not dare to tell a single lie. And this was no doubt very convenient, and must have considerably lightened the king’s task. But fear is always a wretched thing, which consorts ill with truth. Even when by chance, as in the story of Abu Abbas, it forces a man to speak the truth, that does not make him truthful; for, at the very next moment, fear may drive him to speak without frankness, as did the fox in our previous tale. And that is what most often happens. An honest man does not need the marvels of Solomon’s throne to learn to speak the truth. The throne of truth dwells within his own heart; the rectitude of his soul cannot but inspire him with words of rectitude. He speaks the truth not because he is afraid of a teacher, a master or a judge, but because truth is the characteristic of an upright man, the stamp of his nature. Love of truth makes him face all fears. He speaks as he should, no matter what happens to him.
Is it not noble to speak the truth in this way, even when there is some danger in doing it? Besides, very often, things turn out better for those who brave this danger than it might have seemed at first. The success of falsehood is only short-lived, whereas in most cases, to be sincere is the cleverest thing to do.
One morning, the Emperor of Delhi sat on his throne to confer honours on those he considered worthy. As the ceremony was drawing to a close, he noticed that one of the people he had summoned, a young man named Syed Ahmed, had not yet made his appearance.
The Emperor stepped down from his throne and got into a sedan chair which was used to carry him through his vast palace.
Just at that moment the young man hurried in.
“Your son is late,” said the Emperor to Syed’s father, who was his friend.
“Why?” asked the Emperor, looking sternly at the young man.
“Sire,” Syed replied frankly, “it is because I overslept.”
The courtiers looked at the young man in amazement. How dare he admit so shamelessly to the Emperor that he had no better excuse? How tactless of him to speak like that!
But the Emperor, after pondering a moment, felt respect for the young man because of his sincerity; and he gave him the necklace of pearls and the jewel of honour to place on his brow. Such was the reward of Syed Ahmed, who loved the truth and spoke it to all, prince or peasant.
There is a legend in South India which tells of a prince, the Jasmine King, whose laugh alone would fill the land for leagues around with the sweet fragrance of jasmine. But for that his laugh must come from the joyful and spontaneous gaiety of his heart. It would have been no use if he had tried to laugh without true merriment. When his spirit was full of joy, his laughter would bubble up like a fragrant spring. The quality of this laughter came wholly from its sincerity.
The tables in Duryodhana’s palace were laid with an extremely rich display of vessels of gold and silver, ornamented with rubies and emeralds and diamonds sparkling with many colours. Lord Krishna was invited to the feast but did not go. Instead he went that night to the house of a poor Sudra, who had also invited him. The meal was simple, the dishes were plain. And yet Krishna chose this one in preference to the other, for the feast which the Sudra offered him was full of sincere love, whereas the sumptuous banquet of King Duryodhana had been given only for show.
It is also said that the glorious Rama once sat at the table of a very humble woman, whose husband was a fowler. All she could put before the famous hero was a few fruits, for she had nothing else. But she gave the best she had with such a good heart that Rama was touched and wished that the memory of this gift from a sincere soul should not be forgotten, and that is why it is still spoken of after so many centuries.
Jalal was a wise and famous teacher. One day two Turks who wished to hear his teachings came to see him with an offering. As they were very poor, their gift was small—only a handful of lentils. Some of the sage’s disciples looked at this present with scorn. But Jalal told them: “Once the Prophet Mohammed needed riches to carry out one of his undertakings. So he asked his followers to give him what they could spare. Some brought half of their possessions, others a third. Abu Bakar gave all his wealth. In this way Mohammed got a large quantity of animals and weapons. Then came a poor woman who in her turn offered the Prophet three dates and a wheat-cake; and that was all she had. Many smiled at this sight, but the Prophet told them that he had had a dream in which he had seen the angels take a pair of scales and put the gifts of all the people in one of the pans and into the other only the dates and the bread of the poor woman. And the scale stood balanced, for this pan was as heavy as the other.” And Jalal added: “A small gift offered with a sincere heart has as much value as costly presents.” On hearing this the two Turks were full of joy and no one dared laugh any more about the handful of lentils.
(CWM, Volume 2, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)
(With its birth the mind will understand that it is only an intermediary and not an end in itself)
Sincerity means more than mere honesty. It means that you mean what you say, feel what you profess, are earnest in your will. As the sadhak aspires to be an instrument of the Divine and one with the Divine, sincerity in him means that he is really in earnest in his aspiration and refuses all other will or impulse except the Divine's.
- Sri Aurobindo
True sincerity consists in following the way because you cannot do otherwise, in consecrating yourself to the divine life because you cannot do otherwise, in striving to transform your being and emerge into the Light because you cannot do otherwise, because it is the very reason for which you live.
- The Mother
(Excerpt from ‘Flowers and Messages’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)
In ceaseless motion round the purple rim
Day by day sped by like coloured spokes,
And through a glamour of shifting hues of air
The symbol pageant of the changing year
Presenting here a poem for the waning year. With this, we conclude the series of poems and articles on Seasons.
The year begun with our yearning hearts,
in it was planted a tiny little bud.
Aspirations and adventures a lot,
the bud unfurled with time, petal by petal,
Into a beautiful fragrant flower.
With the flaming heart-flower,
a celebration and a joy invites us
into the cool month of December.
An offering we do,
of the blossomed flower to its source.
When the year merges into the next,
the time becomes sacred,
like that of an early morning dawn.
It is also called as Margazhi,
a time of reverence and remembrance.
We remember in our ways,
a sweet little girl. Goda, she is revered as.
Her wonderful black tresses
remind us of a boy as black,
as black as the dense clouds.
She sews a flower garland
with herself entwined in her flowers.
Beckons the cuckoo and the cloud
with adoring songs to reach her beloved.
Kolams decorate house fronts,
very colored and intricate.
Carnatic music takes stage,
showering its pride of culture.
With the richness from the years’ experiences,
we welcome the touch of New Year’s rays,
our hearts opening for a newer bud.
Looking forward to inspiring adventures,
we journey with time and blossom.
October 18th - Meditation on Savitri with Huta’s Visuals:
Book Eleven: Canto 1, The Eternal Day: The Soul’s Choice and the Supreme Consummation, Pictures 18 to 25.
God addresses Savitri as the living power of the manifest Word of the Spirit, which has no creative powers but has the knowledge of the slow pace of time. And asks Savitri “Ascend soul into thy timeless self; Choose destiny’s curve and stamp thy will on time”
Savitri becomes energy of Sat-Chit-Ananda;
Then a voice is heard by the Savitri’s soul. "O spirit, choose now; for this supreme choice is not offered again. The peace beyond name and form, the peace in which all things come to rest, now looks at thee from my highest being.
Savitri’s heart replies without words, "O Lord, give thy peace, a boon to keep within for the magnificent soul of man struggling amidst the fury and ruin of wild Time; thy calm, O Lord, bearing thy joy."
“Give to me, O Lord, thy embrace which cuts across the living knot of pain, thy joy in which all created beings breathe, thy enchanting streaming waters of deep love, give to me thy sweetness for earth and men, not the heart alone. Not the nature alone.
Then a blissful cry from the Infinite arose chanting the following words, "O beautiful body of the embodied Word creative, thy thoughts are my thoughts. I have spoken through thee. My will is thy will, I have chosen thy choice. I give to earth and men all that thou hast asked for them. All this shall be entered in the book of Destiny by eternal Time, which is the trustee of my thought, plan and act, the executor of my will.
Savitri succeeds in her mission finally when she hears the voice of the Eternal giving up its stance and happily blessing Savitri and Satyavan, "Descend thou to life with him whom thy heart desires. Far back in time, O Satyavan, O luminous Savitri, I sent you forth beneath the stars — both of you a dual power of God in an ignorant world, in a bounded creation shut off from the boundless self — bringing down God to the insentient globe, lifting earth-beings to the immortality of God.
(Source: From Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo)
October 25th - Savitri Reading Circle:
Book Eleven: Canto 1: The Eternal Day: The Soul’s Choice and the Supreme Consummation, Page-683 to 685
Savitri’s soul hears the voice of the God’s soul coming from within her.” I am the Ecstasy that is unassailable. Those who have looked on me shall have no more grief. They who are not distracted by the pleasures and the little joys of life but live closed in their consciousness to the outside world shall see my forms”.
Two powers of the same bliss, Nature and Soul in us are divided, where Soul longs to reach the skies, but Nature leans down to earth. They are vainly divided by their empty conceits of independence. Nature and Soul are like bride and bridegroom inexplicably separated. But when the veil of Maya is lifted from the sense of time and space, the spirit shall vibrate with endless bliss.
(Source: From Collected works of Sri Aurobindo)
November 1st - Readings from AIM Magazine:
Mantra (Rhythmic Word of the Infinite)
Since our group wanted to know more about Mantra, we read about what Mother and Sri Aurobindo’s directive on Mantra.
Mother says that repetition of Mantra brings about a change in our physical plane and a mantra should be not more than 3 words.
Her mantra “OM NAMO BHAGAVATEH” is like a phosphorescent radiation from a medium with a powerful action.
A Mantra has life when it springs up spontaneously from within. It has the most power. For people who have contact with their soul the mantra will well up from within.
Sri Aurobindo gives us the most important tips on the way to do Japa.
There is the mental way of doing Japa where you get absorbed in its significance and power. The object of concentration in the head is to rise to the divine consciousness and bring down the Light of the Mother or her Force or Ananda into all the centres.
There is a vital way when it comes from heart ringing it with a sense of Bhakhi. The object of the concentration in the heart is to open the centre there ( heart lotus)to feel the presence of Divine Mother in the heart and to become aware of one’s soul or psychic being which is a portion of the Divine.
He also understands the common man’s problem of the strain, long hours of japa brings, though accustomed to successful meditation!
November 8th - Reading from the book “The Mother”:
Our group decided to read “Four great aspects of the Mother” like a prayer before Deepavali which was on 10th November.
In the words of Sri Aurobindo, four great aspects of the Mother, four of her leading Powers and Personalities have stood in front in her guidance of this Universe and in her dealings with the terrestrial play. To the four we give the four great names Maheswari, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati.
Imperial Maheswari is the one who opens us to the supramental infinities and the cosmic vastness, to the grandeur of the supreme Light, to a treasure house of the Mother’s eternal forces. Her compassion is endless and inexhaustible.
Mahakali embodies her power of splendid strength and irresistible passion, her warrior mood, her overwhelming will, her impetuous swiftness and world shaking force. All her divinity leaps out in splendour of tempestuous action; She is there for swiftness, for the immediately effective process.
Mahalakshmi resides where ever there is harmony and beauty of the mind and soul, harmony and
beauty of the thoughts and feelings, harmony in every outward act and movement, harmony and beauty of the life and surroundings. Her grace lifts our wisdom to pinnacles of wonder and reveals to it the mystic secrets of the ecstasy that surpasses all knowledge, meets devotion with passionate attraction of the Divine and keeps it endure forever.
“All the work of the other Powers leans on her for its completeness”
Mahasaraswati, the youngest of the Four, She is the most skilful in executive faculty and the nearest to physical Nature.
Her grace will give us the intimate and precise knowledge, the subtlety and patience, the accuracy of intuitive mind and conscious hand and discerning eye of the perfect worker.
Reading about the above powers of the Mother, our prayer gets concentrated and sincere to receive Her Grace. I wish one day we can programme and click in our physical, mental and emotional levels, all these “Shakhis” according to the needs of the moment and just be a computer (a tool) without our ego and ignorance coming in the way!
November 15th - Meditation on Savitri with Huta’s visuals
Book Eleven: Canto 1, The Eternal Day: The Soul’s Choice And the Supreme Consummation, Pictures 26 to 33
The pictures depict the soul of Savitri plunging down through unseen worlds amidst joyous voices and triumphant cries greeting her all the way down. She holds the soul of Satyavan within her enveloping soul. The great wings of the Superconscient close above her and she finds herself buried in the breast of the Earth Mother.
A Spirit gazes upon destiny; a glance of undying Love falls from that gaze. A wonderful face looks down with deathless eyes. Over the wide earth broods the infinite bliss. (Source: A Summary of Savitri by M.P.Pandit)
The walk for the month of November was a beach walk and was located in one of the extreme ends of Singapore. We reached the Changi Beach where there was an excellent sunshine with a clear blue sky and a cool breeze to welcome us. We were a small group of seven for the walk.
We had a small warmup led by Saurab which was a good start for the day.
The traditional group photo before we start the walk along the beach -
We decided to walk towards the tip of the park which is opposite to the Changi Point Ferry Terminal (from where bumboats leave for Pulau Ubin).
Just a few minutes later the weather changed completely from sunny to cloudy which made everyone happy.
We split into two groups as some wanted to walk on the beach and the others wanted to try to make it as far as possible in the limited time of 1h30.
We then headed to Anand Venkat’s place for the meditation and brunch.
We had a lovely meditation in their flat with a lot more people who joined us.
After the regular readings and meditation we all moved to the function hall and had lovely spread of varied delicious food prepared by Sheetal & her friends.
When we were planning our trip to Singapore we realised that we could attend the walk so we changed our flight timing. We would like to add that we always enjoy the walk and find this unique experience much enriching for all. As it was very rightly mentioned that we are happy to see young friends joining the group.
- Devdutt and Varsha
(Photos by Devdutt and Varsha)