Guiding Light of The Month

Extricate me from the illusory consciousness of my mind, from its world of fantasies; let me identify my consciousness with the Absolute Consciousness, for that art Thou. - The Mother

Physical Culture - Rest and Sleep


Opens out in calm relaxation. The true repose is that of perfect surrender to the Divine


Botanical Name: Clerodendrum ugandense
Common Name: Butterfly Bush
Spiritual Significance: Repose

Day sank into the burning gold of eve;
The moon floated, a luminous waif through heaven,
And sank below the oblivious edge of dream;
Night lit the watch-fires of eternity.
Then all went back into mind's secret caves;
A darkness stooping on the heaven-bird's wings
Sealed in her senses from external sight
And opened the stupendous depths of sleep.
-        Savitri, Sri Aurobindo

From the Editor's Desk (September 2016)

In this editorial, we examine rest and sleep as a component of physical culture. Rest refers to the cessation of movement or activity in order to relax or take a break from an intense activity, and sleep refers to a state of bodily rest where the mind and body are at rest, usually for several hours in the night hours. In this state, the postural muscles are at rest, the eyes closed, and the nervous system relatively inactive with the surface consciousness more or less suspended. The state of sleep occurs in every animal in its own pattern as a recoil from physical activity so that the bodily engine is given a rest or a break. During this period of sleep, the energies of the being is directed to an internal activity that heals the body of fatigue, repairs damaged cells and tissues, such as of the skeletal muslces, heart muscles and the blood vessels, regulates the body’s reaction to insulin, the hormone that controls the blood glucose level, balances the hormones that control hunger and keeps the body’s immune system in order. Sleep replenishes and rejuvenates the entire body so as to prepare it for another day’s existence and probably towards a better chance of survival. Studies have shown that the mind creates new pathways during sleep and prepares the being to remember lessons and prepare to receive new information.

 A sleep deficient person finds it difficult to make decisions, solve problems, process new information of situations effectively, controlling emotions and managing change. It is quite clear that in an ordinary person, sleep is of prime importance for the continuity of a certain quality of life and eventually of life itself. It is said that one or two hours of lost sleep can show tangible effects on the body and psychology. One sign of the body lacking its needed hours of sleep is the tendency to go into micro sleep during daytime while in the middle of an activity. Micro sleep refers to brief moments of sleep during waking hours. Rest, according to Dr. Mathew Edlund, is of four types: social, mental, physical and spiritual rest. Social rest occurs when one spends time with relations, friends or colleagues. Mental rest occurs when we pull ourselves out of an engaging mental activity by focussing on the breath and directing our concentration on something particular, such as a place of significance and beauty and ‘seeing’ oneself move in that space such as along a beach or a “sun drabbled forest”. Imagination may help in this and the mind enters through a rest phase. Physical rest occurs when we deliberately take deep breaths, fill our lungs with oxygen and let this exercise continue till oxygen replenishes the body system. Lastly, spiritual rest entails meditative practices and prayers.


When we systematically and rigorously observe our tendency to follow certain rest or sleep patterns, and start observing our bodily functions and state of being, we may realise our needs in this area of physical culture. To remedy defects in our habits of rest and sleep requires will and discipline. One finds that usually vital desires and perceived needs influence our life-style. When we become aware of these, and become clearer about our aim in life, and support this with a deep aspiration for progress towards that aim, then somehow, life falls into order and rest and sleep find their own congenial patterns, offering us the needed replenishment, and rejuvenation to head towards the aim of our lives.

Savitri

Here in the fashioning chamber of the worlds.
An interval was left twixt act and act,
Twixt birth and birth, twixt dream and waking dream,
A pause that gave new strength to do and be.

(Book two, Canto fifteen)

His day is a moment in perpetual Time;
He is the prey of the minutes and the hours.


(Book three, Canto four)

Question and Answers (September 2016)

Q: Sweet Mother, Why is it better to go to bed early and to get up early?

The Mother: When the sun sets, a kind of peace descends on earth and this peace is helpful for sleep. When the sun rises, a vigorous energy descends on earth and this energy is helpful for work. When you go to bed late and get up late, you contradict the forces of Nature, and that is not very wise. Blessings.

Q: Sweet Mother, Often after a long meditation (an effort to meditate), I feel very tired and want to rest. Why is this and how can I feel differently?

The Mother: So long as you are making an effort, it is not meditation and there is not much use in prolonging this state. To obtain mental silence, one must learn to relax, to let oneself float on the waves of the universal force as a plank floats on water, motionless but relaxed. Effort is never silent.


(CWM, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)

For an Effective Rest during Sleep

Sleep must not be a fall into unconsciousness which makes the body heavy instead of refreshing it. Eating with moderation and abstaining from all excess greatly reduces the need to spend many hours in sleep; however, the quality of sleep is much more important than its quantity. In order to have a truly effective rest and relaxation during sleep, it is good as a rule to drink something before going to bed, a cup of milk or soup or fruit-juice, for instance. Light food brings a quiet sleep. One should, however, abstain from all copious meals, for then the sleep becomes agitated and is disturbed by nightmares, or else is dense, heavy and dulling.

But the most important thing of all is to make the mind clear, to quieten the emotions and calm the effervescence of desires and the preoccupations which accompany them. If before retiring to bed one has talked a lot or had a lively discussion, if one has read an exciting or intensely interesting book, one should rest a little without sleeping in order to quieten the mental activity, so that the brain does not engage in disorderly movements while the other parts of the body alone are asleep. Those who practise meditation will do well to concentrate for a few minutes on a lofty and restful idea, in an aspiration towards a higher and vaster consciousness.

Their sleep will benefit greatly from this and they will largely be spared the risk of falling into unconsciousness while they sleep.


(CWM, Volume 12, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)

On Dreams

As a general rule, each individual has a period of the night that is more favourable for dreams, during which his activity is more fertile, more intellectual, and the mental circumstances of the environment in which he moves are more interesting.

The great majority of dreams have no other value than that of a purely mechanical and uncontrolled activity of the physical brain, in which certain cells continue to function during sleep as generators of sensory images and impressions conforming to the pictures received from outside.

These dreams are nearly always caused by purely physical circumstances—state of health, digestion, position in bed, etc.
With a little self-observation and a few precautions, it is easy to avoid this type of dream, which is as useless as it is tiring, by eliminating its physical causes.

There are also other dreams which are nothing but futile manifestations of erratic activities of certain mental faculties, which associate ideas, conversations and memories that come together at random.

Such dreams are already more significant, for these erratic activities reveal to us the confusion that prevails in our mental being as soon as it is no longer subject to the control of our will, and show us that this being is still not organised or ordered within us, that it is not mature enough to have an autonomous life.

Almost the same in form to these, but more important in their consequences, are the dreams which I mentioned just now, those which arise from the inner being seeking revenge when it is freed for a moment from the constraint that we impose upon it. These dreams often enable us to perceive tendencies, inclinations, impulses, desires of which we were not conscious so long as our will to realise our ideal kept them concealed in some obscure recess of our being.

You will easily understand that rather than letting them live on unknown to us, it is better to bring them boldly and courageously to the light, so as to force them to leave us forever.

We should therefore observe our dreams attentively; they are often useful instructors who can give us a powerful help on our way towards self-conquest.

If our night has enabled us to gain some new knowledge—the solution of a problem, a contact of our inner being with some centre of life or light, or even the accomplishment of some useful task—we shall always wake up with a feeling of strength and well-being.

The hours that are wasted in doing nothing good or useful are the most tiring.


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

The Mother says... On Rest and Sleep

I know by experience that it is not by lessening the food that sleep becomes conscious; the body becomes restless but this in no way increases the consciousness. It is in good, sound and quiet sleep that one can get in contact with a deeper part of oneself.

***


Before you go to bed, concentrate a few seconds in the aspiration that the sleep may restore your fatigued nerves, bring to your brain calmness and quietness, that on waking up you may, with renewed vigour, begin again your journey on the path of the great discovery.

***

I hope that soon you will completely recover and that you will not feel tired any more. But are you eating enough? Sometimes it is hunger that keeps one from sleeping.
My blessings are always with you.

***

Sleep is indispensable in the present state of the body. It is by a progressive control over the subconscient that the sleep can become more and more conscious.

***

Proper rest is a very important thing for the sadhana.

-        The Mother

(CWM, Volume 14, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)

July - August Sunday Activities at the Center - A glimpse

July 17th - Hymns of the Mystic Fire:

Our reverence to the Lord Agni (the Fire) starts from the dawn with lighting up of the lamps at the altar of the gods. Agni inside and outside our existence tells us amply how HE is the imperative “FORCE”.
For HIM, the first mandala of Rig Veda opens with 10 hymns of the seer Madhuchchhandas, son of Vishwamitra.

MADHUCHCHHANDAS VAISHWAMITRA
SUKTA 1
1.  I adore the Flame, the vicar, the divine Ritwik of the Sacrifice, the summoner who most founds the ecstasy.
2.  The Flame adorable by the ancient sages is adorable too by the new. He brings here the Gods.
3.  By the Flame one enjoys a treasure that verily increases day by day, glorious, most full of hero-power.
4.  O Flame! the pilgrim-sacrifice on every side of which thou art with the environing being, that truly goes among the Gods.
5.  The Flame, the summoner, the Seer-Will, true and most full of richly varied listenings, may he come a God with the Gods.
6. O Flame! the happy good which thou shalt create for the giver is that Truth and verily Thine, O Angiras!
7. To thee, O Flame! we day by day, in the night and in the light, come, carrying by our thought the obeisance.
8. To thee, who reignest over our pilgrim-sacrifices, luminous guardian of the Truth, increasing in thy own home.
9. Therefore, be easy of access to us as a father unto his son, cling to us for our happy state.

July 24th - Savitri- An Unending Journey:

We continued our journey of Savitri, meditating on the pictures 12 to 18 from Secret Knowledge, Canto 4, Book 1.

Summary of the pictures as follows:

There are great Gods emanating from the Supreme Divine, who are beyond Time, Space and Death and not subject to the currents of life movement but watch the Light of Consciousness at work to change the course of world movement. Time - Purusha with his mighty ride brings about the changes for the progress, breaking the resistance to cosmic movement and returns even before the mortals realise!

Light from the flame of the Divine Agni brings the matter closer to Spirit which is now divorced from it. Man will no more be subject to the impulsion of ignorant desire but a radiation of the divine Power.

July 31st - Secret of Veda:

An introduction to Mandala 1 Suktas 1 to 9 of Rig Veda and the importance of God Agni was emphasized by Jared.  Chanting of all the Suktas were also done. Detailed explanations of each Sukta will be taken up in subsequent sessions.

August 7th - Reading from AIM Magazine:

We read some passages from the AIM Magazine March 2016, Pathways to the Future.
The passage we read about was “What is True attitude”
True attitude is being transparent, receptive to the new force.

To wriggle out from our material consciousness from its depth of hard rock ignorance built by sufferings and struggles, we have to have endurance, patience and wipe out pessimism. We have to perfect ourselves first instead of getting disturbed and agitated by others imperfection.

Clinging to our old ways of knowing, feeling, loving and judging is like getting glued with monster glue to our ignorance without the thirst for Truth and transformation.


August 14th - Q&A from The Mother’s Complete works Volume 8

“Inadequate too is the very frequent attempt at a mis-alliance between the vital and the spiritual, a mystic experience within with an aestheticised intellectual and sensuous Paganism or exalted hedonism outside leaning upon it and satisfying itself in the glow of a spiritual sanction.” The Synthesis of Yoga (page... 128)

Question - What does Sri Aurobindo mean by an “aesthecised Paganism”?

Mother’s answer: What Sri Aurobindo means is different pantheons of different countries like Greece or India evolved from giving aesthetic and intellectual transformation to every aspect of Nature. It is a symbolic and artistic and literary and poetic way of dealing with all the universal forces and realities.

It is a kind of approach to Truth or a reality!


August 15th - Sri Aurobindo’s 144th Birth Anniversary- A special Programme.

The evening programme started with Meditation music.

The floral arrangement done by Marty and family brought a luminous joy to the atmosphere.

After the reading of the prayers, the  Darshan Day message was read by Ramachandran.

“He has come to bid the earth to prepare for its luminous future.”  - The Mother.

Our Chairman Kashyapji gave a very interesting account of birth and growth of the Sri Aurobindo Centre in Singapore and the activities that are conducted followed by Invocation music by Anand Venkat which filled the atmosphere with devotional calm. He also read the poem Krishna by Sri Aurobindo.

Then the story of Sri Aurobindo Society in Singapore began with the visual treat of pictures taken from 1972 to 1993.

It was a great experience reliving the days and listening to the valuable contributions of Mr Devan Nair, Dr Nadkarni, Ms Sonia Dyne, Konkana and many others, towards spiritual enriching of the members with Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy.

A video of the beautiful Matrimandir and its surrounding was shown followed by Sri Aurobindo’s Mantra “Om Anandamayi Chaitanyamayi”. Our Ananda continued with delicious Mahaprasad organised by Mr Popatbhai Patel.

-        Jayalakshmi

Along the way...August 2016 Morning Walk - Review

The venue for this walk was Mac Ritchie Reservoir.

Mention Mac Ritchie to any Singaporean and the talk will certainly turn to cross-country runs, nature trails and the Treetop Walk. Anchored by Singapore’s largest reservoir - part of a water catchment system that captures rain water - the park and nature reserve at the very heart of Singapore is a popular destination for runners, water sports enthusiasts, and of course, nature lovers.
There were 8 of us assembled at around 8am. With Mr Ramanathan leading the warming up exercises, we paid our salutations to Surya Bhagavan with Sri Aurobindo’s mantra. “Om Namo Bagavathe Sri Aurobindaya Sharanam mama.” This is the mantra for Peace, Protection, Purity, Perfection and Progress. It means "Om, I offer my obeisance to the Divine Personality of Sri Aurobindo."

At 8am the whole place was bursting with energy. The people in Singapore really go to great lengths to keep their physical fitness topping high! Interacting with a person doing yoga kind of exercises, we learnt that that person walks and jogs 10 miles around the reservoir and does yoga stretches with his friends four times a week!

What discipline! Just amazing and inspiring!

The path we chose was very stony and rugged! Ramanathan’s force of speed took his friends to the finishing line in no time. My friend Manjula and Prithi and I had a very interesting conversation with our eyes fixed on the ground to avoid any breakage of bones. We could finish only half the distance before returning to the meeting point.

At our host’s, Mr KV Rao and Shailja’s 17th floor, Mandale Heights home, every beautiful display kept me absorbed!

The whole atmosphere was reverberating with joy and the variety of food was very delightful!
Our Sincere thanks to Raos’ family for the beautiful self-forgetting experience!


-        Jayalakshmi