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

PEACE


The indispensable condition for the body’s progress.

Botanical Name: Ixora thwaitesii
Common Name: White ixora
Spiritual Significance: Peace in the Cells


The moments fell into eternity.
But someone yearned within a bosom unknown.
.And silently the woman's heart replied:
"Thy peace, O Lord, a boon within to keep
Amid the roar and ruin of wild Time
For the magnificent soul of man on earth.


-          Savitri, Sri Aurobindo

From the Editor’s Desk

The theme that garners our attention in this issue of our Newsletter is “Peace”, another of the twelve virtues that revolve around the fourfold Shaktis – Maheshwari, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati in The Mother’s symbol. Of all virtues we ask for, Peace perhaps is the most invoked and invited or called after. It is coupled with every morning mantra, as OM Shanti or a prayer uttered, be it at the sanctums of temples, along the banks of scared rivers of India or in the haven of our own hearts’ altar. There is something within that goes after peace. It appears that everything that is sought after in life has as its hidden aim, peace of mind, heart and being. Nobody wants to sit with a troubled heart or mind, or an agitated being who knows no quietude, silence or stillness, even if momentarily. There is a natural tendency to aspire for or at least desire peace, whatever one’s station in life. Peace has that special attribute, more than any other virtues or qualities. 

For one after spiritualisation of one’s being, the settlement of peace becomes a basic necessity in his or her advancement in consciousness. The Mother succinctly puts it in this way, “The first sign of the divine presence in the being is peace.” The Mother explains that deep in each of us is the Divine Presence. A being devoid of peace is in no condition to discern this presence within. The presence of or the absence of peace serves as an indicator of one’s state of being. A being lacking peace is essentially one dragged from one surface concern to another, one trouble to another, one attraction after another. There is constant movement and noise in the being and in such a state, discerning an inner presence becomes very difficult and challenging, if not impossible. 

One can experience the state of being one is in when one cultivates peace or allows peace to exist within and one who does not have any place for peace within. When we settle down quietly and pull our senses away from the surface movement and noise, when we go deep within and down into ourselves, the state of being somehow becomes strikingly calm and rested. Besides securing the first condition to meet with that Presence within, such a state automatically exerts an effect on the physiological and somatic component of our being. One’s breathing is calmed and becomes regulated and steadily decreases; one’s heart beat simultaneously drops to a calm steady rhythm, one’s mind becomes more open, spacious and a feeling being free settles in; one’s heart space delves in a potent silence, open and still, not demanding or expectant. It is a state of true rest that does one’s health well, contributing to an overall state of wellbeing. 

Here is an assurance from The Mother that everyone can attain peace and that he or she is not alone, and that She herself will help, guiding us towards the descent of peace into our entire being. Here is her assurance, “Together you and I shall try to silence all the external noise on the surface of your being, so that in silence and peace you may unite with this inner glory. Then that day will become the day of your new birth.” The Mother has given us all a mantra to deal with out state of restlessness that impedes the state of peace that is possible to be realised. She offers, “Peace, peace, O my heart!” 

Let us hold this mantra within and may each cell of our being, each nerve and vessel within be suffused with Peace.

Savitri


The prophet moment covered limitless space
And cast into the heart of hurrying Time
A diamond light of the Eternal's peace,
A crimson seed of God's felicity;
A glance from the gaze fell of undying Love.

(Book Eleven, Canto One)

Only a while at first these heavenlier states,
These large wide-poised upliftings could endure.
The high and luminous tension breaks too soon,
The body's stone stillness and the life's hushed trance,
The breathless might and calm of silent mind;
Or slowly they fail as sets a golden day.
The restless nether members tire of peace;
A need to call back small familiar selves,
To tread the accustomed and inferior way,
The need to rest in a natural poise of fall,
As a child who learns to walk can walk not long,
Replace the titan will for ever to climb,
On the heart's altar dim the sacred fire.

(Book One, Canto Three)


Stepping Back

Most of you live on the surface of your being, exposed to the touch of external influences. You live almost projected, as it were, outside your own body, and when you meet some unpleasant being similarly projected you get upset. The whole trouble arises out of your not being accustomed to stepping back. You must always step back into yourself—learn to go deep within—step back and you will be safe. Do not lend yourself to the superficial forces which move in the outside world. Even if you are in a hurry to do something, step back for a while and you will discover to your surprise how much sooner and with what greater success your work can be done. If someone is angry with you, do not be caught in his vibrations but simply step back and his anger, finding no support or response, will vanish.

Always keep your peace, resist all temptation to lose it. Never decide anything without stepping back, never speak a word without stepping back, never throw yourself into action without stepping back. All that belongs to the ordinary world is impermanent and fugitive, so there is nothing in it worth getting upset about. What is lasting, eternal, immortal and infinite—that indeed is worth having, worth conquering, worth possessing. It is Divine Light, Divine Love, Divine Life—it is also Supreme Peace, Perfect Joy and All-Mastery upon earth with the Complete Manifestation as the crowning. When you get the sense of the relativity of things, then whatever happens you can step back and look; you can remain quiet and call on the Divine Force and wait for an answer. Then you will know exactly what to do. Remember, therefore, that you cannot receive the answer before you are very peaceful. Practise that inner peace, make at least a small beginning and go on in your practice until it becomes a habit with you.

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

Bird of Peace


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

This is a graphic representation of the signature. It means “The Bird of Peace Descending upon Earth”. It has its wings tilted towards the earth. It is coming down to the earth. You see the angle of its wings and how it is descending towards the earth? It is to bring Peace. It is the messenger of Peace. The Bird of Peace Descending upon Earth. You see?...

Now I will explain to you how this bird corresponds to the signature. Look, first, this is the tail of the bird. Here are the two tips of the tail, and I extend it as the wing which is seen like a curved line. You have seen the tails of birds, they are like this… So, with these two tips of the tail and one wing, it is one part of the bird. And this is the other wing. They are large wings. And these are the eyes which are represented here by these two points. And here is the head.

One sees the bird appearing from far, that is why one sees only the eyes that shine and not all the details of the figure. It has very large wings and it is inclined like this to one side, that is why its body is hidden. Once does not see its body, it is hidden behind its large wing. And from far one sees only its two eyes and the beak and all that. Because it is only the eyes that shine: the eyes reflect the soul. They are important, the eye. So it is like this: the tail joins with one wing and this is the other wing, and these two points are the eye.


This is the symbolic representation of the Bird of Peace Descending upon Earth. Instead of drawing the whole bird each time, I have made a symbolic drawing which represents the bird. You can see clearly this is the bird in flight which is descending towards the earth. It is still far, but one day it will alight upon the earth. Then there will be Peace. This, then, is the significance of my signature. It comes from another world to bring Peace down here.

(Conversation with the Mother as noted by Mona Sarkar in Luminous Notes)


The Word of the Silence

A bare impersonal hush is now my mind,
A world of sight clear and inimitable,
A volume of silence by a Godhead signed,
A greatness pure of thought, virgin of will.

Once on its pages Ignorance could write
In a scribble of intellect the blind guess of Time
And cast gleam-messages of ephemeral light,
A food for souls that wander on Nature’s rim.

But now I listen to a greater Word
Born from the mute unseen omniscient Ray:
The Voice that only Silence’ ear has heard
Leaps missioned from an eternal glory of Day.

All turns from a wideness and unbroken peace
To a tumult of joy in a sea of wide release.
-          Sri Aurobindo
(Sonnets, Collected Poems by Sri Aurobindo, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)


Words of The Mother

In the very depths of your being, deep within your breast, the Divine Presence is always there, luminous and peaceful, full of love and wisdom. It is there so that you may unite with it and it may transform you into a luminous and radiant consciousness.

Together you and I shall try to silence all the external noise on the surface of your being, so that in silence and peace you may unite with this inner glory.

Then that day will become the day of your new birth.


(CWM, Volume 17, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)

Shades of the sky

Gentle fingers tune the strings of tanpura*. Soft music emerges, announcing the beginning of a song. The singer’s voice hums tuning with the music coming from the strings. An alaap* talks of the raagam* that is going to carry the song. Then walks in the flowering words stringed like beads of a jewel. The various instruments join in, harmoniously creating a confluence with the singer. Various levels are reached, the song is lived by everyone. Gently the music comes to an end, gradually reducing in intensity. Strings of tanpura reverberate again, marking the end of the song. A feeling stays in everyone’s heart as though, a single sound has traversed through all the notes of the song.


Gentle fingers of the sun touch the dark sky. Soft light emerges, announcing the beginning of the day. The seeker’s energy aligns with that of the rising sun. A bright smile talks of the cheerfulness in his heart for the day. He then decides on the various tasks to be carried out. Various people join in, creating a beautiful team effort. Achievements are made, the day is lived along with everyone. Gently the day comes to an end, as the calm of the dusk sets in. Fingers of the sun reach out again to paint the sky with pink hues, marking the end of the day. A feelings stays in everyone’s heart as though, a single beam has traversed through the various shades of the day.


Shades of the sky – dawn, day, twilight and nightfall - are similar to the various stages of a beautiful music.

Savitri begins with “The Symbol Dawn”:

It was the hour before the Gods awake”.

Sets into evening in “The Return to Earth”:

“In indolent skies reclined, the thinning day
Turned to its slow fall into evening’s peace”

Decorates Nightfall towards the end:

Night, splendid with the moon dreaming in heaven

And finishes by saying:

And in her bosom nursed a greater dawn

To celebrate the various shades of the day, we welcome readers to a series which will spread through the year, beginning with the dawn, brightening into an active day, setting to a calm evening and relaxing into a cool night.
-          Sandhya
Terminologies and References:

  • Tanpura is an Indian string instrument accompanying the musician in Carnatic music.
  • Alaap is initial notes of a Carnatic music that marks the beginning of a song
  • Ragaam is a melody of music. (A terminology used in Indian music)
  • Savitri lines from Book Twelve, “The Return to Earth”
  •  Panorama of Savitri by M.P.Pandit, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry.
  • Image sourced from http://img0.mxstatic.com/wallpapers/2af1d28801aee381875c98b49169b395_large.jpeg




November – December Sunday Activities at the Centre – A glimpse

November 22nd and 29th - Meditations and Discussions on Savitri (Book 9, Canto 1):

The great wrestle of Savitri with Yama is over – and respite should have been. Instead, Savitri is confronted with Yama transfigured – an arisen Godhead representing the Supreme. Yet, this Godhead, while sweet and luminous and full of an entrancing Ananda, nonetheless denies Savitri her prize: Satyavan resurrected.

This sets the scene for the lines we studied these three weeks – some of the most musical, potent and fiery in the whole of Savitri. We read these lines in a circle, appreciating their beauty and absorbing the magic of the Mantra. Then we discussed these lines, seeking to appreciate something of their mysteries.

The scene begins with temptation: The temptation of the Divine by the Divine – and luminous Yama asks Savitri to leave the earth and ascend to her rightful home where she can be eternally be with Satyavan. Yet Savitri refuses. In a series of sweet images, she outlines her natural royalty and divinity, her right to the kingdom of heaven that was “once her natural home” (l.542). 

But she is the embodiment of something greater: The sublime song of struggling earth. And she is the magnificent Mother who embraces the labour and the battle and the pain:

A heavier tread is mine, a mightier touch.
There where the gods and demons battle in night
Or wrestle on the borders of the Sun,
Taught by the sweetness and the pain of life
To bear the uneven strenuous beat that throbs
Against the edge of some divinest hope,
To dare the impossible with these pangs of search,
In me the spirit of immortal love
Stretches its arms out to embrace mankind.” (Savitri, Bk 9, Cant 1., ll.557-565)

To complete her mission, Satyavan must return. The hilt and the blade must be made one.



But the God still demurred. In a vast sweep of Vision and time, he outlines the story of the worm-man, crawling through the mud, his spirit far from bursting a gray chrysalis. He asks, commands even, Savitri to trust in the grand unfolding of the aeons – when all that must be shall be done.

Again Savitri is commanded to return to her “original might / On a seer-summit above thought and world”.

Our study stops here. Man’s destiny is now poised on a knife-edge. We await Savitri’s choice – which will fix the evolutionary path of humanity. 

December 6th - Readings from All India Magazine:

This week’s reading and discussion is on the most advanced stage of the Integral Yoga: The Yoga of the cells. We read several entries on how the Mother had been doing the inconceivable work of impregnating her cells with the Supramental Force, putting them totally under the influence of the Supreme. We also discussed the great mysteries concerning the purpose of the Mother leaving her body and how this may have facilitated her Work to transform the earth.

We also briefly touched on the existing controversies between those who view the Yoga of the cells as the ultimate stage of the Integral Yoga, being only feasible for those who have been put into direct mental and vital contact with the Supramental (something aligned to the views expressed in Sri Aurobindo’s writings) – and those who believe that the Mother’s arduous work over thirty years has made the Yoga of the cells a possibility for many more than a few supreme spiritual athletes. 

-          Jared

Along the Way… December 2015 Morning Walk – A Review


The walk started on 6th Dec 2015, 8.30am at the Fort Canning Park Located at the junction of Canning Rise and Fort Canning Road in Singapore's Central Business District, it is only slightly more than 60 metres high but has a long history intertwined with the city-state, not least due to its location as the highest elevation within walking distance of the civic district.

I would like to share a few lines about the History of that place. Fort Canning Hill, originally known as Bukit Larangan (or "Forbidden Hill" in Malay) has been a local landmark in the city since Singapore's earliest recorded history. It has been the exclusive address of many of Singapore's rulers and colonial leaders dating back to the 14th century when it was the site for the palatial resort of former Majapahit kings, then in colonial times became the location for the residence of colonial governors starting with Sir Stamford Raffles.



The hill was renamed Fort Canning Park with the planting of a fruit tree by the then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on 1 November 1981.Today, Fort Canning Park is a venue for celebrations. Its expansive, sprawling lawns play host to concerts, theatre productions and festivals such as Shakespeare in the Park and Ballet under the Stars.

We had a group of 10 persons for the walk. It was pleasant morning with a cool weather. We enjoyed the beauty of nature in the garden. The heritage rain tree marks the start of the walk. The rain tree, a native of Central America, is planted in Singapore for its large, shady, umbrella-shaped crown. Its trunk and branches host beautiful ferns and orchids, and its leaves often fold up at dusk or before impending rain.




We walked on the side of the tall banyan trees that looked older than a century. The fresh air, green plantation and tall trees and their communion with our souls go beyond words to express.  On the way of the walk we saw a man who was practising his vocal skill building with a loud voice. 

We were walking down the steps that pave the way through the spice garden. This Spice Garden is a small replica of the original garden Sir Stamford Raffles established in 1822 as the first experimental and botanical garden in Singapore. We had an opportunity to see some varieties of plant species like Artemisia Scoparia (Redstem wormwood). This plant has strongly aromatic foliage with a hint of lemon.

I cannot end this walk review without sharing a few words about the Archaeological dig and exhibition area. We experienced the fascinating connection between the landscape and historical journey back to the 14th century. Going round the bend and following the path leads you to the archaeological dig and exhibition area, one of the biggest attractions on this trail. On display are several 14th century artefacts uncovered by researchers at the site. These artefacts provide evidence that way before the arrival of the British in 1819, Chinese merchants were already travelling to this part of the world to engage in trade.



Finally the walk finished at the Aurobindo Centre with a Delicious food served by Mr. Prabhu Deva Basappa & Family. They took care of each and every one and they served us with delicious fruits on the way back to home.                           

- N.Manikandan