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

Generosity


Gives for the joy of giving.

Botanical Name: Impatiens balsamina
Common Name: Garden balsam, Rose balsam
Spiritual Significance: Psychic Generosity

Be like a flower. One must try to become like a flower: open, frank, equal, generous and kind... A flower is open to all that surrounds it: Nature, light, the rays of the sun, the wind, etc. It exerts a spontaneous influence on all that is around it. It radiates a joy and beauty. 

....how it gives the mysterious beauty and the very own perfume of Nature. It sacrifices itself entirely for our pleasure, even its life it sacrifices to express this beauty and the secret of the things gathered within itself.
-       The Mother

From the Editor’s Desk

This March edition of the Newsletter mulls over the virtue of “Generosity” which appears as deep purple on The Mother’s symbol. Generosity refers to the quality of being generous or kind. “Generous is a late 16th century derivation from the Latin, “generosus” meaning noble or magnanimous, which is a derivation of “genus” which means stock or race. “Generous” is then associated with noble birth, courageous and magnanimous. The opposite of generous is “meanness” which further clarifies the position of generosity. In his ‘Thoughts and Aphorisms’, Sri Aurobindo presents this thought provoking iteration, “Nobleness and generosity are the soul’s ethereal firmament; without them, one looks at an insect in a dungeon.” The “insect in a dungeon” is a powerful imagery that at once brings an experience of a vulnerable, ephemeral creature living in a small, closed-up dark, cloistered and narrow space. This is quite enough to illustrate a state lacking generosity.

Other synonyms associated with generosity are “liberal”, “unselfish”, “benevolent”, “bountiful” and “munific”. In generosity, there is a giving involved from one entity unto the being or space of another which receives for whatever end. What does this giving involve? It may be in terms of kinds or tangibles and in terms of intangibles such as time, effort and intentions of goodwill and the like, such as love and joy. Generosity could be afforded to people, to animals, to plants, to anything and everything one can relate with and feel inspired to give or offer to. 

In this edition, we see flowers being elevated to the position of exemplars in the art of giving, in generosity by The Mother. The one quality that uplifts them to that high status where giving is concerned is that they give without expecting anything in return. The Mother says, “It is he who wants to take who is unhappy; he who gives himself
is never so. Upon an inevitable self-search that ensues following this suggestion, one is faced with these self-directed questions: Whenever I give, do I give without any expectation of a return? When I do not expect anything at all, what is the state of my consciousness? When I expect something in return, what is it I expect? What is the state of my consciousness at these times? Do I regret such a state? Why? Am I at all aware all the time?

As in all cases, a self-observation stands pre-eminent in understanding one’s own nature and the place of a quality, such as generosity, manifesting and expressing itself through it. 

Though generosity is usually associated with material kind, in the eyes of Mahalakshmi, the materially, monetarily rich may be poor whereas, a poor man with a generous heart is rich. Poor, in Mahalakshmi’s eyes is all that is, “…dry, cold, coiled …..” The Mother also speaks about another kind of generosity that she calls, “moral generosity”. This is what She has to say:  

“To feel happy, for example, when a comrade is successful. An act of courage, of unselfishness, a fine sacrifice have a beauty in them which gives you joy. It may be said that moral generosity consists in being able to recognize the true worth and superiority of others.”

Let us invoke generosity within us.

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 in itself, yet turned to all.

In her luxurious ecstasy of joy
She squandered the love-music of her notes,
Wasting the passionate pattern of her blooms
And festival riot of her scents and hues.

(Book Five, Canto One)

Immortal fragrance packed the quivering breeze,
In groves that seemed moved bosoms and trembling depths
The million children of the undying spring
Bloomed, pure, unnumbered stars of hued delight
Nestling for shelter in their emerald sky


(Book Eleven, Canto Five)

Flowers are Mediums of Transmission



Gives for the joy of giving.

When I give flowers, it is as an answer to the aspiration coming from the very depths of your being. It is a need or an aspiration, it depends upon the person. It may fill a void or else give you the impetus to progress, or it may help you find the inner harmony in order to establish peace. Do you understand?

Be like a flower. One must try to become like a flower: open, frank, equal, generous and kind.

 A flower is open to all that surrounds it: Nature, light, the rays of the sun, the wind, etc. It exerts a spontaneous influence on all that is around it. It radiates a joy and a beauty.

It is frank: it hides nothing of its beauty, and lets it flow frankly out of itself. What is within, what is in its depths, it lets it come out so that everyone can see it.

It is equal: it has no preference. Everyone can enjoy its beauty and its perfume, without rivalry. It is equal and the same for everybody. There is no difference, or anything whatsoever.

 Then generous: without reserve or restriction, how it gives the mysterious beauty and the very own perfume of Nature. It sacrifices itself entirely for our pleasure, even its life it sacrifices to express this beauty and the secret of the things gathered within itself.

And then, kind: it has such a tenderness, it is so sweet, so close to us, so loving. Its presence fills us with joy. It is always cheerful and happy.

Happy is he who can exchange his qualities with the real qualities of the flowers. Try to cultivate in yourself their refined qualities.

 I give you flowers so that you may develop the Divine qualities they symbolise. And they can directly transmit into the psychic all that they contain, pure, unalloyed. They possess a very subtle and very deep power and influence. Do you understand? Now, it seems to me that you wish to become like a flower or cultivate these qualities. And, you know, each flower symbolises an aspect, an emanation, an aspiration and a progress in the evolution of the earth.


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

What a Child Should Always Remember

Mother comments upon some of the qualities enumerated in her article “What a Child Should Always Remember” (On Education)
“To be modest”

This is to take oneself at one’s true worth.

Generally people pass from an excessive appreciation of their personal value to an equally excessive discouragement. One day they say, “I am wonderful”, and the next day, “Oh! I am good for nothing, I can do nothing.” That is like a pendulum, isn’t it?

There is nothing more difficult than knowing exactly what one is; one must neither overrate oneself nor depreciate oneself, but understand one’s limits and know how to advance towards the ideal set before oneself. There are people who see in a big way and immediately imagine they can do everything. There are petty officers, for example, who imagine themselves capable of winning all the battles of the world, and small people who think they surpass everybody in the world. On the other hand, I have known some people who had abilities but who spent their time thinking, “I am good for nothing.” Generally the two extremes are found in the same person. But to find someone who knows exactly where he stands and exactly where he can go, is very rare. We have avoided speaking of vanity because we expect that you won’t be filled with vanity as soon as you score a success.

Just imagine, there are plants which are vain! I am speaking of plants one grows for oneself. If one pays them compliments, by words or by feelings, if one admires them, well, they hold up their head—with vanity! It is the same with animals.

I am going to tell you a short amusing story. In Paris there is a garden called “The Garden of Plants”: there are animals there also, as well as plants. They had just received a magnificent lion. It was of course in a cage. And it was furious. There was a door in the cage behind which it could hide. And it would hide itself just when the visitors came to see it! I saw that and one day I went up to the cage and began speaking to it (animals are very sensitive to spoken language, they really listen). I began speaking softly to my lion, I said to it, “Oh! How handsome you are, what a pity that you are hiding yourself like this, how much we would like to see you….” Well, it listened. Then, little by little, it looked at me askance, slowly stretched its neck to see me better; later it brought out its paw and, finally, put the tip of its nose against the bars as if saying, “At last, here’s someone who understands me!”


“To be generous”


I shall not speak here of material generosity which naturally consists in giving others what one has. But even this virtue is not very widespread, for as soon as one becomes rich one thinks more often of keeping one’s wealth than of giving it away. The more men possess, the less are they generous.

I want to speak of moral generosity. To feel happy, for example, when a comrade is successful. An act of courage, of unselfishness, a fine sacrifice have a beauty in them which gives you joy. It may be said that moral generosity consists in being able to recognize the true worth and superiority of others.

(CWM, Volume 4, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)

(Image sourced from cover page of the book “How to bring up a child”, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry)

Flowers – jewels of nature


Right there, just around the corner,
I found a little bush.
A bush of smiling lovely flowers it was
Radiant with beautiful colours.

I went ahead and stroked the flowers,
a wave of happiness swept over me.
Charming and shining they were
Like clusters of stars fallen on ground.

Flowers are givers of joy and light.
Hands of blessing shower them,
Hands of love embrace them,
And a graceful garland strings them
into a jewel of fragrant beads.

Flowers are oceans of purity
Melting all things in their sheer beauty.

-       Sandhya

Awakes the Dawn from Nature’s Bosom


A rose of splendor on a tree of dreams,
     The face of Dawn out of mooned twilight grew.


A message from the unknown immortal Light
Ablaze upon creation's quivering edge,
Dawn built her aura of magnificent hues
And buried its seed of grandeur in the hours.


An infant glow of heavens near to morn, 
A fire intense conceived but never lit, 
Caressed the air with ardent hints of day.


Day came, priest of a sacrifice of joy
Into the worshipping silence of her world;
He carried immortal lustre as his robe,
Trailed heaven like a purple scarf and wore
As his vermilion caste-mark a red sun.


-          Poetic lines from Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri.
-          Photos of Dawn taken at Pondicherry sea-shore

January - February Sunday Activities at the Centre – A glimpse

January 10th – AGM and Readings from Question and Answers:
                                                                                                                     
Following our AGM, we read a few questions from sadhaks and Mother’s answers for them.

January 17th - Readings from ‘Essays on Gita’ by Sri Aurobindo:

Sri Aurobindo contributed these articles in Arya magazine from 1916 to 1920. In 1928, he brought out an extensively revised edition in this book form. We read two passages from the first article “Our Demand and Need from the Gita.” These passages talk about how the man kind  attach themselves to certain scriptures and religious beliefs with full knowledge or half knowledge and look down upon other religions and sacred books as impostures.

In recent times mankind has become more tolerant and respectful of other religious truths and less inclined to fight on these grounds. Truth is one and eternal, and all the other truths get their right place and knowledge in the light of the “ONE TRUTH”.

It is essential for us to approach our spiritual or religious text namely Gita or Vedas for the value they are giving to humanity. Over time the statements made in the scriptures undergo various mutations and divisions according to mankind’s mind set.


January 24th - Savitri, An unending journey:

Meditation on “Savitri” with Huta’s Visuals - Book One, The Book of Beginnings, Canto One, The Symbol Dawn

No one can speak about Savitri with greater authority than The Mother. She has said: Savitri is a revelation. It is a meditation; it is a quest of the Infinite, the Eternal... Our divine association with Savitri continues...

We meditated on the first 12 paintings.

I felt writing the beautiful explanation from Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo gives us the joy of opening to a wider world and beyond!

Before existence, non-existence; before being, non-being.
Before this manifestation of names and forms came to be, it was all a state of indefiniteness, a featureless Blank, as it were. There was simply the Unmanifest; it was an infinite Zero. But this was not an empty zero. It was contentful, holding in itself potentialities without end, immeasurable. And it was because this Nothing contained all in seed in its bosom that things could at all manifest from it.

The Zero is not a negative Void. It exceeds the farthest conception of the mind and strikes it as a blank though it is full in a way that is beyond human comprehension. Out of this Zero issue the Numbers stretching into infinity. Appearance of dawn always carries with it an enchanting beauty that is not of this world but of one beyond; it is bright with hues that bespeak a splendour on which mortal eyes have not rested; it brings the tidings of assurance from a Divine Effulgence, an eternal Light that is forever; though not in evidence today in this world of obscurity and death, it looms above and sends intimations of its existence and advent through the flares of its glow on the horizons of its skies.

The Goddess of Eternal Light forms the link between Timeless Existence and this creation in Time; she renders the truths of the former into terms proper to the latter. She is able to do it for she holds the knowledge of what is to be worked out and in what precise manner. She knows the steps, the course and the goal.

Source: Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo.


January 31st - Reading from the book ‘THE HOUR OF GOD’ by Sri Aurobindo:

The first piece also titled “THE HOUR OF GOD” Sri Aurobindo guides us on how we must make use of the precious moments when God visits our outer being. When that happens anything we undertake will be a success with little effort. We are at terrible loss when we miss these moments indulged in our ego senses or sleeping in inertia. We should cleanse our being of self-deceit, hypocrisy and vain self-flattering and receive the Power of the Breath of the Lord with trust and go forward.


February 7th - Reading from AIM Magazine:

We read the Awakening dated October 2014 during our weekly session on 7th Feb 2016. The following is a brief note on the reading. The subject was "Fearlessness in Action - Manifold, unfettered and fearlessness." We read two stories - The first about the Mother when she was about fifteen or sixteen as recounted to Children by Poorna Prema. Mother had fearlessly prevented the dismissal of an art instructor. The second story was about Lieutenant Commander Edward Henry "Butch" O'Hare, an American fighter pilot who, single handed, destroyed five Japanese bombers on February 20, 1942, and saved the Aircraft Career Lexington from the possible attack by the Japanese Bombers. Though he was killed a year later in an aerial combat, his hometown not wanting to forget the heroic action named the O'Hare airport in Chicago after him. We also read a small prayer from the Mother entitled "Lead us to Victory.”


February 14th - Readings from Question and Answers (2nd May 1956):

Sri Aurobindo says the “UNION WITH THE DIVINE” is threefold. They are the yoga of knowledge, the yoga of love and devotion and the yoga of works. For the Sadhak’s question about whether Supramental has descended upon Earth to bring about the new race, Mother replies as follows:

Like the millions of years passed for the present development of the mind of man, even now some time would pass before the new race would be visible. For people who are inwardly ready, who are open and in direct contact with higher forces, can feel the Supramental light in the earth atmosphere. For people centred in exclusively outer being, think of the sudden and unexpected appearance as miraculous.

-            Jayalakshmi

Along the Way… Feb 2016 Morning Walk - A Review

The morning walk in February was at East Coast Park. This is the event of every month which we always look forward to. East Coast Park which has a total land size of 185 hectares and which is built entirely on reclaimed land, is one of Singapore's most treasured urban getaways. Its scenic coastline stretches over 15 km.
It was raining in the morning and the sky was dark. It was quite evident that the rain would not stop soon. We were eager to meet our friends and join the walk and hoped that everything would be alright and that we would win over the inclement weather when we reached the East Coast Park.
It was a day of inspiration, determination and dedication.
There was no surprise at all when we met Kashyap uncle at the park who had come even in the rainy weather to join all of us who had come for the walk. He is an inspiration to all of us. Whatever may be the circumstances, the message was quite clear—Move on. This inspiration that we got boosted our zeal and determination to continue with the walk.
Everybody was dot on time at 8 AM at the park. There we saw a few families who had been tenting overnight in the park. It was just a start of the long holidays and families were enjoying with camping overnight. Our lovely photo was taken in the rain with everybody holding an umbrella. It was quite thrilling and there was a feeling of satisfaction. After waiting for about half an hour, we started off for the pleasant walk under the swaying coconut palms and Casuarinas. A strong determination was there to keep going.
Along the way, I had the pleasure of a discussion with Mr Ramanathan on topics related to Shrimad Bhagavad-Gita. The atmosphere was just nice to discuss. It was a beautiful moment. A long seemingly unending stretch of road, the blue waters of the sea, with its end nowhere in sight and the droplets of rain falling from the dark skies, the sound of rain drops on the umbrellas that we were holding and a cool pleasant breeze whispering in our ears. These are the moments that we should enjoy and cherish. We all came back to the meeting point at 9.50am. We moved off to Mrs Nisha’s place. After everybody gathered there, we started off with the Opening Meditation. After the Prayers were read we had a lovely brunch. The brunch was no less than a lunch with a variety of items. I should not forget to mention the presence of Ashish, who was there at the Meditation and as a host for the brunch. He had a flight in the afternoon to India. That was dedication.

We went back with the memory of the joyous and the precious moments spent with our dear ones and look forward to the next month’s walk.


-          Kiran Sule