Guiding Light of The Month

IN Peace and Silence the Eternal manifests; allow nothing to disturb you and the Eternal will manifest; have perfect equality in face of all and the Eternal will be there. . . . - The Mother

Aspiration for Silence in the Mind


Botanical Name: Eranthemum pulchellum
Common Name: Blue Sage
Spiritual Significance: Aspiration for Silence in the Mind


Hidden in silent depths the word is formed,
From hidden silences the act is born
Into the voiceful mind, the labouring world;
In secrecy wraps the seed the Eternal sows
Silence, the mystic birthplace of the soul.

-          Savitri, Sri Aurobindo

From the Editor’s Desk (Mar 2017)

This March issue of the newsletter casts a glance at, “The Aspiration for Silence in the Mind”. This theme holds within its ambit a number of ideas one should be attempting to make clear to oneself from the out start. Firstly, its about the aspiration for silence in the mind.  Next, is the idea of silence and lastly is the idea of mind. It is about the well-being of the mind that we begin with, in this issue, having been very briefly introduced to it in the February issue. 

Mind is not mind alone. The Aurobindonian philosophy has treated mind in its complexity and organized it in its many forms and strata. There is the outermost mind, the inner mind and the innermost mind, concentric layers from outside to inside. Then there is the hierarchical strata of mind, from the lowest upwards, namely, the Physical Mind, Vital Mind, Mental Mind, Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuitive Mind, Overmind and Supermind. There are indeed, vistas of mind spaces, many of which are not yet realized by our ordinary consciousness. How many of these layers may we be aware of? Which level of mind is most accessible to us in our day-to-day functioning? What efforts are we making in getting to know the various layers of mind? These are questions that need some contemplation and would eventually lead us deeper into the theme of this issue. 

Next, Silence. The commonly known meaning of silence is the absence of any kind of sound. It comes with another connotation and that is ‘stillness’. A silenced mind is one in which the churning of thoughts is ceased. A silenced mind may be, therefore, a mind of “profound stillness”. A silent mind is usually porous, and open. It can open to vistas of force and light from above. In order to know the Self, Sri Aurobindo writes that the mind has to be passive, free of all boundaries and limiting perceptions, hard and fast. “In a complete silence only is the Silence heard…” This Silence with a capital “S” that Sri Aurobindo celebrates is nothing but That; “….to us the name of That is the Silence and the Peace.” 

Have we heard that Silence? 

Silence is the Highest form of Consciousness, or Divinity. The knowledge of this idea of silence, which is a “capacity” and “power” poses before us a fresh challenge, coupled with the challenge of establishing this very silence in a mind that is far complex, multi-tiered and multi-faceted, of which we may actually know very little of.

Now the idea of aspiration comes before us as something which is within one’s own control, which one has to will and one has to feel and voluntarily put forth as a call to the highest we can perceive from our depths, from whichever mind or consciousness level we operate. Aspiration may be looked upon as the key that would or could enable this huge feat of silencing the mind. Why this task is a feat, anyone of us who has attempted to silence the mind would know.

Here we are then, posed with the task of silencing the mind as the best means of receiving the highest force and light of transformation so that the descent of all that is Light, all that is Ananda, all that is Consciousness can take place in us and establish their reign upon earth. Then, in this state, the total well-being of the being is a given; it becomes then, the natural field of expression and play of Divinity. 

Savitri

An equal Cause of things, a lonely Seer
And Master of its multitude of forms,
It acted not but bore all thoughts and deeds,
The witness Lord of Nature’
s myriad acts
Consenting to the movements of her Force.

His mind reflected this vast quietism.

(Book two, Canto Eleven)

In moments when the inner lamps are lit
And the life’
s cherished guests are left outside,
Our spirit sits alone and speaks to its gulfs.

A wider consciousness opens then its doors;
Invading from spiritual silences
A ray of the timeless Glory stoops awhile
To commune with our seized illumined clay
And leaves its huge white stamp upon our lives.


(Book one, Canto four)

Calm, Peace and Quiet mind

Talks by The Mother from Synthesis of Yoga

“Calm, even if it seems at first only a negative thing, is so difficult to attain, that to have it at all must be regarded as a great step in advance.

“In reality, calm is not a negative thing, it is the very nature of the Sat-Purusha and the positive foundation of the divine consciousness. Whatever else is aspired for and gained, this must be kept.
Even Knowledge, Power, Ananda, if they come and do not find this foundation, are unable to remain and have to withdraw until the divine purity and peace of the Sat-Purusha are permanently there.

“Aspire for the rest of the divine consciousness, but with a calm and deep aspiration. It can be ardent as well as calm, but not impatient, restless or full of rajasic eagerness.

“Only in the quiet mind and being can the supramental Truth build its true creation.

Mother, does “keeping ones consciousness high” mean trying to have higher thoughts?

This is rather a consequence than a fact. When one keeps his consciousness on a higher level, naturally it serves as a filter for thoughts and allows only thoughts of a higher nature. But it is rather a consequence than a fact. To keep one’s consciousness in a higher state is to raise it above the lower levels in the being, it is to keep it in the light, in the peace, in the higher knowledge and harmony; that is, to place one’s consciousness as high as possible in ones being, at the level where one is liberated from all lower movements. Then naturally, if the consciousness is there, the thoughts it receives are those of a higher order. And thought is only one form of activity of the consciousness, it is not the stuff of consciousness. There is a consciousness without thought, there is a very much higher state of consciousness in which there are no thoughts. It is a consciousness that can have a very perfect knowledge of things, without it being expressed in thoughts and words. Thought is only one form of activity.

“Silence ismore easily established by a descent from above. “From above” means what, Sweet Mother?

From the higher region of consciousness. You see, if you open to the higher region of consciousness and the force descends from above, quite naturally it establishes a silence in the lower region, for they are governed by this higher power which descends. This comes from higher region of the mind or from beyond, even from the supermind. So when this force and consciousness come down and enter into the consciousness of a lower plane, this consciousness becomes naturally quiet, for it is as though invaded, flooded by that higher light which transforms it.
In fact, this is even the only way of establishing a constant silence in one’s mind. It is to open oneself to higher region and let this higher consciousness, force, light descend constantly into the lower mind and take possession of it. And here, when this happen, this lower mind can remain constantly quiet and silent, because it is this one which acts and fills the whole being. One can act, write and speak without the mind being active, with this force which comes from above penetrating the mind and using it; and the mind itself becomes just a passive instrument. And in fact, this is the only way of establishing silence; for once this is established, the silence is established, the mind does not stir any longer, it acts only under the impulsion of this force when it manifests in it. It is like a very quiet, very silent field and the force when it comes puts the elements into movement and uses them, and it finds expression through the mind without the mind’s being agitated. It remains very quiet.


(CWM, Volume 6, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)

The Mind – ‘On The Dhammapada’, Studies by The Mother

Just as the arrow-maker straightens his arrows, so also the intelligent man straightens his thoughts, wavering and fickle, difficult to keep straight, difficult to master.

Just as a fish cast out of the water, our mind quivers and gasps when it leaves behind the kingdom of Mara.

Difficult to master and unstable is the mind, forever in search of pleasure. It is good to govern it. A mind that is controlled brings happiness.

The sage should remain master of his thoughts, for they are subtle and difficult to seize and always in search of pleasure. A mind that is well guided brings happiness.

Wandering afar, solitary, bodiless and hidden in the deep cave of the heart, such is the mind. Whosoever succeeds in bringing it under control liberates himself from the fetters of Mara.

The intelligence of one whose mind is unstable, who is ignorant of the true Law, and whose faith is wavering will never be able to develop.

If a man’s thoughts are not agitated, if his mind is not troubled by desire, if he no longer cares for good and evil, this man, wide awake, knows nothing of fear.
Observing that the body is as fragile as a jar, and fortifying the mind like a city at arms, one should attack Mara with the blade of intelligence and should guard carefully whatever has been won.

Before long this body will be lying on the earth, abandoned, as lifeless as a piece of old wood.

Whatever an enemy may do to an enemy, whatever a hater may do to a hater, the harm caused by a misdirected mind is even greater still.

Neither mother nor father nor any other kinsman can do so much good as a well-directed mind.

These few verses correspond to all the needs of those whose mind has not been mastered. They point out the attachment that one has to one’s old ways of being, thinking and reacting, even when one is trying to get away from them. As soon as you emerge by your effort, you are like a fish out of water and you gasp for breath because you are no longer in your element of obscure desires.

Even when you make a resolution, the mind remains unstable. It is subtle, difficult to seize. Without seeming to do so, it is continually seeking its own satisfaction; and its intentions are hidden in the core of the heart so as not to show their true nature.

And while not forgetting the weakness of the body, you must try to strengthen the mind against its own weakness; with the sword of wisdom, you must fight against the hostile forces and treasure the progress you have made so that these forces may not despoil you of your progress, for they are terrible thieves. And then there is a short couplet for those who are afraid of death, intended to liberate them from that fear. Finally there is a last short couplet for those who are attached to their family to show them the vanity of this attachment.

In the end, a last warning: an ill-directed, ill-controlled thought does more harm than an enemy can do to an enemy or a hater to a hater. That is to say, even those who have the best intentions in the world, if they do not have a wise control over their thought, will do more harm to themselves and to those whom they love than an enemy can do to an enemy or a hater to a hater.

The mind has a power of deception in its own regard which is incalculable. It clothes its desires and preferences with all kinds of wonderful intentions and it hides its trickeries, resentments and disappointments under the most favourable appearances. To overcome all that, you must have the fearlessness of a true warrior, and an honesty, a straightforwardness, a sincerity that never fail.

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


Silence, the mystic birthplace of the soul.

But for the knowledge of the Self it is necessary to have the power of a complete intellectual passivity, the power of dismissing all thought, the power of the mind to think not at all which the Gita in one passage enjoins. This is a hard saying for the occidental mind to which thought is the highest thing and which will be apt to mistake the power of the mind not to think, its complete silence for the incapacity of thought. But this power of silence is a capacity and not an incapacity, a power and not a weakness. It is a profound and pregnant stillness. Only when the mind is thus entirely still, like clear, motionless and level water, in a perfect purity and peace of the whole being and the soul transcends thought, can the Self which exceeds and originates all activities and becomings, the Silence from which all words are born, the Absolute of which all relativities are partial reflections manifest itself in the pure essence of our being. In a complete silence only is the Silence heard; in a pure peace only is its Being revealed. Therefore to us the name of That is the Silence and the Peace.
-          Sri Aurobindo

(SABCL, Volume 20, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)

Poetic garlands on Silence

Ascent – The Silence

Into the Silence, into the Silence,
Arise, O Spirit immortal,
Away from the turning Wheel, breaking the magical Circle.
Ascend, single and deathless:
Care no more for the whispers and the shoutings in the darkness.
Pass from the sphere of the grey and the little,
Leaving the cry and the struggle,
Into the Silence for ever.
Vast and immobile, formless and marvellous,
Higher than Heaven, wider than the universe,
In a pure glory of being,
In a bright stillness of self-seeing,
Communing with a boundlessness voiceless and intimate,
Make thy knowledge too high for thought, thy joy too deep for emotion;
At rest in the unchanging Light, mute with the wordless self-vision,
Spirit, pass out of thyself; Soul, escape from the clutch of Nature.
All thou hast seen cast from thee, O Witness.
Turn to the Alone and the Absolute, turn to the Eternal:
Be only eternity, peace and silence,
O world-transcending nameless Oneness,
Spirit immortal.


Silence is all

Silence is all, say the sages.
Silence watches the work of the ages;
In the book of Silence the cosmic Scribe has written his cosmic pages;
Silence is all, say the sages.
*

What then of the word, O speaker?
What then of the thought, O thinker?
Thought is the wine of the soul and the word is the beaker;
Life is the banquet-table—
the soul of the sage is the drinker.
*

What of the wine, O mortal?
I am drunk with the wine as I sit at Wisdom’
s portal,
Waiting for the Light beyond thought and the Word immortal.
Long I sit in vain at Wisdom’
s portal.
*

How shalt thou know the Word when it comes, O seeker?
How shalt thou know the Light when it breaks, O witness?
I shall hear the voice of the God within me and grow wiser and meeker;
I shall be the tree that takes in the light as its food, I shall drink its nectar of sweetness.
-          Sri Aurobindo

(SABCL, Volume 5, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)

Flowers Speak… On Quiet Mind

Quiet Mind

The best way to learn.

***

Perfect Quietness in the Mind

Essential condition for true progress.

***

Quietness established in the Mind

The essential condition for its transformation.

***

Aspiration for Silence in the Physical Mind

Practise silence of mind, it gives power of understanding.

***

(Flowers and Messages, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)



Lotus Flowers


(A painting by Sandhya)

The gentleness of blessing hands
Sanctity of Mother’s feet
Advent of the Dawn Goddess
Blossoming shape of Krishna’s eyes
Flowering of a smiling face
Hold within them a secret,
One that is at the heart of a Lotus flower.

Quivering at the touch of sunshine,
Silken petals unfurl one by one.
Seated serenely as in a deep meditation,
The flowers are living sages in trance.

Beautiful symbols are they, of heavenly beauty,
Secretly decorating the earth with sweet ecstasy.


- Sandhya

January - February Sunday Activities at the Centre - A glimpse

January 22nd – Study of Secrets of Veda:

Rig Vedic verses 10 to 12 from Mandala 1, Sukta 3 dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, were covered in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s interpretations. We understood Saraswati as follows:
      She is that power of Truth, which we call inspiration.
      Inspiration from the Truth purifies by getting rid of falsehood.
      As per Indian idea, all sin is merely falsehood, wrongly inspired motion and wrongly directed will and action.
      The Idea of life and ourselves, we start with is a falsehood and all else is falsified by it.
      Truth comes to us as a light, a voice, compelling a change of thought, imposing a  discernment of ourselves and all around us.
      Truth of thought creates truth of vision.
      Truth of vision forms in us truth of being.
      Out of truth of being (satyam) flows naturally truth of emotion, will and action.
She is full of her luminous plenitudes and rich in substance of thought, upholds the sacrifice, the offering of the mortal being’s activities to the divine by awakening his consciousness so that it assumes right states of emotion and right movements of thought in accordance with the Truth.
She brings into active consciousness in the human being the great flood or great movement, the Truth-Consciousness itself and illumines with it all our thoughts.
According to Vedic Rishis, Saraswati liberates the life and being from falsehood, weakness and limitation and opens to it the doors of the supreme felicity.

January 29th – Readings from AIM:

Tantra, the worship of Shakti

1. Hymn to the Goddess: This is a very beautiful hymn on adoration of the Goddess Mother from Tantric compilation. Mother Goddess as the very substance of the whole universe including Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva who creates, preserves and destroys.
She is the primordial cause of the worlds who is ever youthful with full of tenderness and beyond description even by the Vedas.

2. The Philosophy and the Principle behind Tantra: In Tantric philosophy Prakriti is the main principle and the Will-in-Power , executive in the universe. It was by learning and applying the intimate secrets of this will –in –Power , its method, its Tantra, the Tantric Yogin pursued the aims of his discipline.

Vedanta and Tantra: Two sides of the One Truth. While Vedanta deals with the principles and essentials of the divine Knowledge, Tantra deals with forms and processes and Organised  powers. It believes that only the “FORCE OF THE MOTHER” is keeping the whole universe, kicking and alive.

The two paths of Tantra: They are right-hand path and left hand path, Dakshina Marga and Vama Marga. It is way of knowledge and the way of Ananda. But these methods distorted over the time to the obscuration of principles, deformation of symbols and a fall.

The Central Tantric Conception: In the central Tantric conception, Shakti is considered the sole effective force of all attainment. In Vedantic concept, She is the power of Maya, and has to be liberated from Her clutches to attain the silent Purusha. In Integral conception Conscious-Soul is the Lord, the Nature-Soul is His executive energy. Purusha in action is creation and the Ananda of the becoming.

Worshipping the Woman as goddess: Feminine principle found in the living personality is the entire presence of the world supporting maternal soul of the Divinity. The Devi with all her aspects, ”kalas”, is there in the Woman. In Tantra it is said a Woman is equal to a Guru and should be worshipped.

I am reminded how a lot of Indian communities have a ceremony to worship and feed women and young girls before any major celebration like wedding or thread ceremony!

February 5th – Readings from AIM:

Read first two paragraphs from Discovering the Vedas.
The Age of Mysteries
This passage talks about how men of this era of Mysteries, focused on the deeper knowledge and  self -knowledge, brought about the practices and rites of religion. They established symbols. It is interesting to know that the age of Mysteries brought about the quest to know about the one’s own deeper self and the profounder world knowledge.
To Know Thyself was the highest spiritual need. It took different forms in different countries like Orphic in Greece, Magi in Persia etc....In India to know the ever pervading Atman is the  purpose of human birth.
Another preoccupation for them was to systemise the occult knowledge to bring mastery over the physical world and physical things.
 Vedas are the creations of an intuitive Age of mankind.
Veda, then is the creation of an age anterior to our intellectual philosophies. The wisest then depended on inner experience; their aim was illumination, not logical conviction, their ideal the inspired seer not the accurate reason seeker. No Rishi composed or put rhythm to the hymns. The divine hymn came vibrating out of the infinite to the inner audience of the man who was fit for impersonal knowledge. It was Drsti and Sruti , (sight and hearing) which had the revelatory knowledge and contents of inspiration.
February 12th – Readings from Questions and Answers, Book 8:

We read the following question and its answer from page 189 (20th June 1956)  of the book. 
Mother, if the heart can be the means of a more direct knowledge, what is the role of the intellect as an intermediary of knowledge?
Mother replied as follows:
As an intermediary, did you say?
For the true role of the mind is the formation and organization of action. The mind has a formative and organizing power, and it is that which puts the different elements of inspiration in order, for action, for organizing action. And if it would only confine itself to that role, receiving inspirations – whether from above or from the mystic centre of the soul – and simply formulating the plan of action – in broad outline or in minute detail, for the smallest things in life or the great terrestrial organizations – it would amply fulfil its function.  
It is not an instrument of knowledge.
But it can use knowledge for action, to organise action. It is an instrument of organization and formation, very powerful and very capable when it is well developed…………………..
These are the two uses of the mind; it is a controlling force, an instrument of control, and it is a power of organization. That is its true place.

- Compiled by Rama, Krishnamurthy, Jayalakshmi

Along the Way… February 2017 Walk Review

Ask anyone who has visited; he is sure to have a cherished memory of the lush green Singapore Botanic Gardens. Its expansive grounds are ideal for an invigorating jog or a lazy picnic while its dazzling array of thousands of plants makes it a nature lovers’ paradise. Not forgetting to mention that it is a leading centre for botanical and horticultural research!! We should salute the foresight and vision of our forefathers that this sort of nature could exist in the middle of a sprawling city!!! No wonder it is conferred as the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site - A testament to Singapore’s reputation as a City in a Garden.

Sharp at 8am our group assembled near the exquisite Tanglin Core entrance with its four trademark pillars and straight away proceeded with the walk on a cool day to enjoy fresh air, sounds of birds chirping, the sounds of waterfalls.

First, we came across a room called “Shaker Room” where countless bottles with some greenery inside each of them shaking vigorously. We learnt that shaking the tissue helps to confuse the tissue about sense of gravity – they do not differentiate into shoots or roots but grow into more tissues. This way a very large number of plantlets can be obtained from the cluster of tissue in the flasks. Could not help but compare with humans- we are also jumping vigorously from place to place, country to country in search of tissues (material wealth) in the process losing our roots.

While walking, we were awe struck to witness the imposing skyhigh trees, some more than two centuries old. Be it the
·         Palm Valley trees particularly the Tail Pot Palm which flowers only once in its lifetime
·         Monkey Pot Tree (it derives its name from its unique fruit which looks like a pot with a lid. Monkeys are known to put their hands into the pot to get to its rich seeds)

·         Ancient Jelawai tree - an uncommon species in the world more than 50 metres tall
·         Dangerous Keluak tree (It emits cyanide!) with its massive bomb like fruits
·         Penaga Laut (This tree plays host to several ferns, climbers and wildlife. Botany Centre was designed and built around it to accommodate growth of the tree- an excellent example of efforts made to conserve mature trees in Singapore)

·         Awesome Dead Rat Tree (its trunk is like an elephant's leg )
·         The Majestic heritage tree Tembusu (remember Singapore $5 note which features this)

On seeing these mammoth tress, one is reminded of Gita Verse 3 Chapter XV

 “Na roopamasyeha tathopalabhyate
Naanto na chaadirna cha sampratishthaa;
Ashwatthamenam suviroodhamoolam
Asangashastrena dridhena cchittwaa.”

Meaning: Its form is not perceived here as such, neither its end nor its origin, nor its foundation nor resting place; having cut asunder this firmly-rooted peepul tree with the strong axe of non-attachment…

We stepped up our speed and zoomed past

a)      Evolution Garden (journey through time, from the fiery beginnings of our planet to the first living organisms and gradually changing plant life on land)

b)      The Foliage Garden with an extensive collection of aquatic foliage and a board walk which offers a brilliant view of aquatic plants down under. This Garden showcases a wide array of ornamental plants with colourful foliage of varying shapes/textures and demonstrates that the beauty and diversity of plants do not lie in their flowers alone.

c)       Ginger Garden which displays several hundred species of ginger with surprisingly beautiful leaves and very attractive flowers. A walk behind the waterfall and a pool adorned with giant Amazon water lilies, I must admit, are a photographer’s paradise.

Within limited time constraints, we could not even explore 1/3rd of the Gardens. There were various attractions to explore, even little areas not highlighted on the map can be surprisingly stunning too.

After a wonderful morning walk taking our time to appreciate the beauty of the Gardens and be fascinated by the variety of the trees and flowers, we reached our Centre to be warmly welcomed by our gracious hosts Mrs Anju and Prof Aditya. Nearly 40 people turned up for the meditation and for the brunch thereafter. Our sincere thanks to the hosts for organizing such a sumptuous brunch despite arriving in Singapore just the prior day after a hectic overseas tour.


-       Ramanathan