“August 15th, 1947 is the birthday of free India. It marks for her the end of an old era, the beginning of a new age. But we can also make it by our life and acts as a free nation an important date in a new age opening for the whole world, for the political, social, cultural and spiritual future of humanity. August 15th is my own birthday and it is naturally gratifying to me that it should have assumed this vast significance. I take this coincidence, not as a fortuitous accident, but as the sanction and seal of the Divine Force that guides my steps on the work with which I began life, the beginning of its full fruition. Indeed, on this day I can watch almost all the world-movements which I hoped to see fulfilled in my lifetime, though then they looked like impracticable dreams, arriving at fruition or on their way to achievement. In all these movements free India may well play a large part and take a leading position. — Excerpted from the the 15th of August 1947 Message by Sri Aurobindo which he wrote at the request of All India Radio, Tiruchirapalli, India, for broadcast on the eve of India’s independence. “India cannot perish, our race cannot become extinct, because among all the divisions of mankind it is to India that is reserved the highest and the most splendid destiny, the most essential to the future of the human race. It is she who must send forth from herself the future religion of the entire world, the Eternal Religion which is to harmonize all religion, science and philosophies and make mankind one soul. “We are no ordinary race. We are a people ancient as our hills and rivers and we have behind us a history of manifold greatness, not surpassed by any other race. We are the descendents of those who performed tapasya and underwent unheard-of austerities for the sake of spiritual gain and of their own will submitted to all the sufferings of which humanity is capable. We are the children of those mothers who ascended with a smile the funeral pyre that they might follow their husbands to another world. We are people to whom suffering is welcome and who have a spiritual strength within them, greater than any physical force. We are a people in whom God has chosen to manifest Himself more than any other at many great moments of our history. “Why should not India then be the first power in the world? Who else has the undisputed right to extend spiritual sway over the world? This was Swami Vivekananda’s plan of campaign. India can once more be made conscious of her greatness by an overmastering sense of the greatness of her spirituality. This sense of greatness is the main feeder of all patriotism. This only can put an end to all self-depreciation and generate a burning desire to recover the lost ground. “It will be well when every Indian, instead of taking a waxlike stamp from his foreign surroundings, is able to carry India with him wherever he goes. For that will mean that India is destined to conquer and place her stamp upon the whole world. “India can best develop herself and serve humanity by being herself and following the law of her own nature. This does not mean, as some narrowly and blindly suppose, the rejection of everything new that comes to us in the stream of Time or happens to have been first developed or powerfully expressed by the West. Such an attitude would be intellectually absurd, physically impossible, and above all unspiritual; true spirituality rejects no new light, no added means or materials of our human self-development. It means simply to keep our centre, our essential way of being, our inborn nature and assimilate to it all we receive, and evolve out of it all we do and create. “Our first necessity, if India is to survive and do her appointed work in the world, is that the youth of India should learn to think, – to think on all subjects, to think independently, fruitfully, going to the heart of things, not stopped by their surface, free of prejudgments, shearing sophism and prejudice asunder as with a sharp sword, smiting down obscurantism of all kinds as with the mace of Bhima… “It is only the Indian who can believe everything, dare everything, sacrifice everything. First, therefore, become Indians. Recover the patrimony of your forefathers. Recover the Aryan thought, the Aryan discipline, the Aryan character, the Aryan life. Recover the Vedanta, the Gita, the Yoga. Recover them not only in intellect or sentiment but in your lives. Live them and you will be great and strong, mighty, invincible and fearless. Neither life nor death will have any terror for you. Difficulty and impossibility will vanish from your vocabularies. “That is all settled. It is a question of working out only. The question is what is India going to do with her independence? The above kind of affair? Bolshevism? Goonda-raj? Things look ominous. “Have I not told you that the independence is all arranged for and will evolve itself all right? Then what’s the use of my bothering about that any longer? It’s what she will do with her independence that is not arranged for — and so it is that about which I have to bother. — On being questioned about India’s independence, September 1935 “As regards Bengal, things are certainly very bad; the conditions of the Hindus there are terrible and they may even get worse in spite of the interim mariage de convenance at Delhi. But we must not let our reaction to it become excessive or suggest despair. There must be at least 20 million Hindus in Bengal and they are not going to be exterminated,— even Hitler with his scientific methods of massacre could not exterminate the Jews who are still showing themselves very much alive and, as for Hindu culture, it is not such a weak and fluffy thing as to be easily stamped out; it has lasted through something like 5 millenniums at least and is going to carry on much longer and has accumulated quite enough power to survive. What is happening did not come to me as a surprise. I foresaw it when I was in Bengal and warned people that it was probable and almost inevitable and that they should be prepared for it. At that time no one attached any value to what I said although some afterwards remembered and admitted, when the trouble first began, that I have been right; only C. R. Das had grave apprehensions and he even told me when he came to Pondicherry that he would not like the British to go out until this dangerous problem had been settled. But I have not been discouraged by what is happening, because I know and have experienced hundreds of times that beyond the blackest darkness there lies for one who is a divine instrument the light of God’s victory. I have never had a strong and persistent will for anything to happen in the world — I am not speaking of personal things — which did not eventually happen even after delay, defeat or even disaster. There was a time when Hitler was victorious everywhere and it seemed certain that a black yoke of the Asura would be imposed on the whole world; but where is Hitler now and where is his rule? Berlin and Nuremberg have marked the end of that dreadful chapter in human history. Other blacknesses threaten to overshadow or even engulf mankind, but they too will end as that nightmare has ended. I cannot write fully in this letter of all things which justify my confidence — some day perhaps I shall be able to do it. — The Communal Problem, 19 October 1946 “Sri Aurobindo is in no way bound by the present world’s institutions or current ideas whether in the political, social or economic field; it is not necessary for him either to approve or disapprove of them. He does not regard either capitalism or orthodox socialism as the right solution for the world’s future; nor can he admit that the admission of private enterprise by itself makes the society capitalistic, a socialistic economy can very well admit some amount of controlled or subordinated private enterprise as an aid to its own working or a partial convenience without ceasing to be socialistic. Sri Aurobindo has his own view as to how far Congress economy is intended to be truly socialistic or whether that is only a cover, but he does not care to express his view on that point at present. — Capitalism and Socialism, 15 April 1949. Sri Aurobindo dictated this note to his secretary, who replied to the correspondent. “We have to awaken the true soul of India and to do everything in accordance with it. For the last ten years I have been silently pouring my influence into this foreign political vessel, and there has been some result. I can continue to do this wherever necessary. But if I took up that work openly again, associating with the political leaders and working with them, it would be supporting an alien law of being and a false political life. People now want to spiritualise politics — Gandhi, for instance. But he can’t get hold of the Right way. What is Gandhi doing? Making a hodgepodge called satyagraha out of “Ahimsa parama dharma”,1 Jainism, hartal, passive resistance, etc.; bringing a sort of Indianised Tolstoyism into the country. The result—if there is any lasting result—will be a sort of Indianised Bolshevism. I have no objection to his work; let each one act according to his own inspiration. But it is not the real thing. If the spiritual force is poured into these impure forms—the wine of the spirit into these unbaked vessels—the imperfect things will break apart and spill and waste the wine. Or else the spiritual force will evaporate and only the impure form remain. It is the same in every field of activity. I could use my spiritual influence; it would give strength to those who received it and they would work with great energy. But the force would be expended in shaping the image of a monkey and setting it up in the temple of Shiva. If the monkey is brought to life it may grow powerful, and in the guise of the devotee Hanuman do much work for Rama—so long as the life and strength remain. But in the temple of India we want not Hanuman but the Godhead, the Avatar, Rama himself. “We, however, are not worshippers of power; we are worshippers of the easy way. But one cannot obtain power by the easy way. Our forefathers swam in a vast sea of thought and gained a vast knowledge; they established a vast civilisation. But as they went forward on their path they were overcome by exhaustion and weariness. The force of their thought decreased, and along with it decreased the force of their creative power. Our civilisation has become a stagnant backwater, our religion a bigotry of externals, our spirituality a faint glimmer of light or a momentary wave of intoxication. So long as this state of things lasts, any permanent resurgence of India is impossible. — Excerpted from Sri Aurobindo’s letter to his brother, Barin “I realised what the Hindu religion meant. We speak often of the Hindu religion, of the Sanatan Dharma, but few of us really know what that religion is. Other religions are preponderatingly religions of faith and profession, but the Sanatan Dharma is life itself; it is a thing that has not so much to be believed as lived. This is the Dharma that for the salvation of humanity was cherished in the seclusion of this peninsula from of old. It is to give this religion that India is rising. She does not rise as other countries do, for self or when she is strong, to trample on the weak. She is rising to shed the eternal light entrusted to her over the world. India has always existed for humanity and not for herself and it is for humanity and not for herself that she must be great. “This then is what I have to say to you. The name of your society is “Society for the Protection of Religion”. Well, the protection of the religion, the protection and upraising before the world of the Hindu religion, that is the work before us. But what is the Hindu religion ? What is this religion which we call Sanatan, eternal ? It is the Hindu religion only because the Hindu nation has kept it, because in this Peninsula it grew up in the seclusion of the sea and the Himalayas, because in this sacred and ancient land it was given as a charge to the Aryan race to preserve through the ages. But it is not circumscribed by the confines of a single country, it does not belong peculiarly and for ever to a bounded part of the world. That which we call the Hindu religion is really the eternal religion, because it is the universal religion which embraces all others. If a religion is not universal, it cannot be eternal. A narrow religion, a sectarian religion, an exclusive religion can live only for a limited time and a limited purpose. This is the one religion that can triumph over materialism by including and anticipating the discoveries of science and the speculations of philosophy. It is the one religion which impresses on mankind the closeness of God to us and embraces in its compass all the possible means by which man can approach God. It is the one religion which insists every moment on the truth which all religions acknowledge that He is in all men and all things and that in Him we move and have our being. It is the one religion which enables us not only to understand and believe this truth but to realise it with every part of our being. It is the one religion which shows the world what the world is, that it is the Lila of Vasudeva. It is the one religion which shows us how we can best play our part in that Lila, its subtlest laws and its noblest rules. It is the one religion which does not separate life in any smallest detail from religion, which knows what immortality is and has utterly removed from us the reality of death. This is the word that has been put into my mouth to speak to you today. What I intended to speak has been put away from me, and beyond what is given to me I have nothing to say. It is only the word that is put into me that I can speak to you. That word is now finished. I spoke once before with this force in me and I said then that this movement is not a political movement and that nationalism is not politics but a religion, a creed, a faith. I say it again today, but I put it in another way. I say no longer that nationalism is a creed, a religion, a faith; I say that it is the Sanatan Dharma which for us is nationalism. This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatan Dharma, with it it moves and with it it grows. When the Sanatan Dharma declines, then the nation declines, and if the Sanatan Dharma were capable of perishing, with the Sanatan Dharma it would perish. The Sanatan Dharma, that is nationalism. This is the message that I have to speak to you. — Excerpted from Sri Aurobindo’s Uttarpara Speech, 1909 “Self-sacrifice involuntary or veiled by forms of selfishness is, however, the condition of our existence. It has been a gradual growth in humanity. The first sacrifices are always selfish—they involve the sacrifice of others for one’s own advancement. The first step forward is taken by the instinct of animal love in the mother who is ready to sacrifice her life for the young, by the instinct of protection in the male who is ready to sacrifice his life for his mate. The growth of this instinct is the sign of an enlargement in the conception of the self. So long as there is identification of self only with one’s own body and its desires, the state of the jiva is unprogressive and animal. It is only when the self enlarges to include the mate and the children that advancement becomes possible. This is the first human state, but the animal lingers in it in the view of the wife and children as chattels and possessions meant for one’s own pleasure, strength, dignity, comfort. The family even so viewed becomes the basis of civilisation, because it makes social life possible. But the real development of the god in man does not begin until the family becomes so much dearer than the life of the body that a man is ready to sacrifice himself for it and give up his ease or even his life for its welfare or its protection. To give up one’s ease for the family, that is a state which most men have attained; to give up one’s life for the honour of the wife or the safety of the home is an act of a higher nature of which man is capable in individuals, in classes, but not in the mass. Beyond the family comes the community and the next step in the enlargement of the self is when the identification with the self in the body and the self in the family gives way to the identification with the self in the community. To recognize that the community has a larger claim on a man than his family is the first condition of the advance to the social condition. It corresponds to the growth of the tribe out of the patriarchal family and to the perfection of those communal institutions of which our village community was a type. Here again, to be always prepared to sacrifice the family interest to the larger interest of the community must be the first condition of communal life and to give one’s life for the safety of the community, the act of divinity which marks the consummation of the enlarging self in the communal idea. The next enlargement is to the self in the nation. The evolution of the nation is the growth which is most important now to humanity, because human selfishness, family selfishness, class selfishness having still deep roots in the past must learn to efface themselves in the larger national self in order that the God in humanity may grow. Therefore it is that Nationalism is the dharma of the age, and God reveals himself to us in our common Mother…. There is a yet higher fulfillment for which only a few individuals have shown themselves ready, the enlargement of the self to include all humanity. A step forward has been taken in this direction by the self-immolation of a few to humanitarian ideals, but to sacrifice the interests of the nation to the larger interest of humanity is an act of which humanity in the mass is not yet capable. God prepares, but He does not hasten the ripening of the fruit before its season. — Nationalism as a step in the enlargement of human consciousness, 24 July, 1909 “Spirituality is India’s only politics, the fulfillment of the Sanatan Dharma its only Swaraj. I have no doubt we shall have to go through our Parliamentary period in order to get rid of the notion of Western democracy by seeing in practice how helpless it is to make nations blessed.” “We have to create strength where it did not exist before; we have to change our natures, and become new men with new hearts, to be born again … We need a nucleus of men in whom the Shakti is developed to its uttermost extent, in whom it fills every corner of the personality and overflows to fertilise the earth. These, having the fire of Bhawani in their hearts and brains, will go forth and carry the flame to every nook and cranny of our land. “Everyone has in him something divine, something his own, a chance of perfection and strength in however small a sphere which God offers him to take or refuse. The task is to find it, develop it & use it. The chief aim of education should be to help the growing soul to draw out that in itself which is best and make it perfect for a noble use. “Man is a transitional being. He is not final. The step from man to superman is the next approaching achievement in the earth evolution. It is inevitable because it is at once the intention of the inner spirit and the logic of nature’s process. “The ascent to the divine Life is the human journey, the Work of works, the acceptable Sacrifice. This alone is man’s real business in the world and the justification of his existence, without which he would only be an insect crawling among the ephemeral insects on a spec of surface mud and water which has managed to form itself amid the appalling immensities of the physical universe. “The one aim of [my] yoga is an inner self-development by which each one who follows it can in time discover the One Self in all and evolve a higher consciousness than the mental, a spiritual and supramental consciousness which will transform and divinize human nature. The descending triangle represents Sat-Chit-Ananda. The ascending triangle represents the aspiring answer from matter under the form of life, light and love. The junction of both — the central square — is the perfect manifestation having at its centre the Avatar of the Supreme — the lotus. The water — inside the square — represents the multiplicity, the creation. Signed: The Mother
Once in the early years of my life in the Ashram I wrote to Sri Aurobindo, “How people calling to Shiva or Krishna or their Ishta Devata get responses from you I don’t understand,” he replied, “Who is Shiva? and who is Krishna? and what is an Ishta Devata? There is only one Divine, not a thousand Divines.” Myself: “It would mean that wherever a sincere heart is aspiring for the Divine, his aspiration reaches your ears.” Sri Aurobindo: “Why my ears? Ears are not necessary for the purpose. You might as well say, reaches me by the post.” I then protested, “No, Sir, I am satisfied with you as Sri Aurobindo pure and simple. I don’t need anybody else.” He wrote back, “No objection. I only suggested that I don’t know who this Sri Aurobindo pure and simple is. If you do, I congratulate you.” Since then, my relation with him had become very intimate. I gradually came to know many aspects of his personality, but never who he really was. My correspondence with him has shown that I dared to take liberties with him (which was considered unthinkable by other sadhaks). Once I wrote to him, “Cut me or beat me, Sir, but don’t forsake me.” And the answer he wrote back startled me and filled me with a sudden delight and assurance beyond measure. He wrote. “Never. But beat you, a lot.” This assurance has sustained and will sustain me even in my future life, if I may say so. Once I dared to ask him, “Where do you get so much sense of humour?” His cryptic reply: “raso vai sah” (verily He is Delight.) Then one day when I asked him “Why are you so soft and free as if I’m your comrade?” he gave an enigmatic answer: “Find out for yourself.” When I failed to find out, he wrote, “It is not by the mind that you can find out.” Till now I have failed to discover why. The enigma remains unsolved and I live with the hope that perhaps he will divulge the secret as he had divulged to Dilip the cause of his intimacy with him. But he has made me stick to him till now and perhaps forever. But my knowledge of him has grown as far as my small human understanding can allow. And I have come to this conclusion that what he has written about Sri Krishna in fact applies to him too. In his estimation Sri Krishna had an unfathomable mind of knowledge. However, Sri Aurobindo remains an enigma to the world. The Mother herself has admitted that she had failed to know him though she had lived with him for more than 30 years. To a disciple who wished to write his biography, he remarked that his life has not been on the surface for people to see. The vast world of knowledge he had possessed remains unparalleled. He has himself admitted to us that what he knows will remain untold even if he goes on writing for twelve years. We asked him, “Will all that knowledge remain unknown to us and posterity?” “Learn first of all what I have written,” he replied with a sweet smile, and added. “I am afraid I have come perhaps before my time.” Comes to mind a mighty line from one of his poems: “I have drunk the Infinite like a giant’s wine.” Only with the help of such a Wine could he have given to India and the world his four major contributions: a national awakening and fiery thirst for total independence, a new and deeper interpretation of the Vedas, the rediscovery of the Supermind, and a life-embracing system of Integral Yoga. The question that makes us marvel with wonder is how within a short span of years he could gather so vast a knowledge, and even record it, which would need at least a hundred years. The Mother holds an answer to that enigma. She said that he had only to sit before the typewriter and knowledge would pour down like a stream from above. And is it only knowledge? What about the beauty of expression, perfection of style and masterly composition? We remember that when his immortal book ‘The Life Divine’ had been published, the Times Literary Supplement’s front page article described Sri Aurobindo as “an author who writes with the sky for page and the constellations as his company,” and as “a new kind of thinker who combines the serenity of the East and the alacrity of the West.” Romain Rolland, a great French savant, said about Sri Aurobindo, “The old leader of the Bengal revolt, who is now one of the greatest thinkers of modern India, has realized the most complete synthesis achieved up to the present between the genius of the West and of the East.” He also said that Sri Aurobindo is the last of the great Rishis who holds the creative bow in his hand. If this is about the Man of Knowledge, what about the human being he was? What has he not done for the human race? We know he sacrificed his inestimable life for the incalculable benefit of man. In the Mother’s revelation to Dr. Sanyal, a famous surgeon who was called to treat Sri Aurobindo, “People do not know what a tremendous sacrifice he has made for the world. About a year ago, while I was discussing things I remarked that I felt like leaving the body. He spoke out in a firm tone, ‘No, this can never be. If necessary for the transformation I might go, you will have to fulfil our yoga of supramental descent and transformation’.” She also said, “As soon as Sri Aurobindo withdrew from his body, what he called the Mind of Light got realised in me.” And his human body turned a golden colour for five days to the surprise of the public. But his immortal consciousness is ever with us guiding the destiny of the world, remaining with us in all our trials and tribulations and leading this woe-begotten race to its divine destiny for which he came to the world – a colonist from Immortality! What shall we then think of him? That he is as God himself is? Have we got the answer to his Question “Who is Sri Aurobindo?” Or will he remain a marvellous enigma forever? Our deep gratitude to Nirodbaran, fondly known amongst his students and followers as Nirod-da.
Pencil drawing of Sri Aurobindo by The Mother, 1935 A day will dawn when people of all classes in my country will band together as one living mass at the sacred altar of the World-Mother, represented here by our Motherland and face the rest of [the] world with heads held high. ( Sri Aurobindo ) Rarely in the history of nations has a single person’s spiritual influence shaped so profoundly a nation’s destiny as Sri Aurobindo’s has shaped India’s. Yet, this is not a widely known or understood fact as the modern Indian mind has lost its connection with the spiritual dimension of life. This is somewhat ironical because the Indian civilization has been influenced and shaped through millennia by some of the greatest spiritual seers ever to have walked the earth. Before Sri Aurobindo, and in recent history, the redoubtable Swami Vivekananda caused seismic shifts in Indian civilization by his enormous spiritual force. Indians are no strangers to spiritual and Yogic phenomena. Some of the greatest influencers and architects of Indian civilization and culture have been the Rishis and the Yogis, the great preceptors of the Sanatan Dharma. It is because of this that the Indian civilization has always been nurtured by the perennial streams of living Dharma. Dharma has thrived in India and grown in power because of these legendary seers and prophets. Most of these seers lived and worked in complete seclusion and anonymity, influencing a million lives and events from their mountain caves or forest ashrams. Sri Aurobindo was amongst the last great Maharishis of the Sanatan Dharma who occultly influenced and shaped India’s destiny from his seclusion in Pondicherry. His life and his Yoga were not for all to see or know. What he himself revealed to disciples of his Yoga was only the tip of a massive iceberg. What he did for humanity, and what he did for India, will take several centuries to unfold, for the results of a Yogic mission such as his become embedded in the very fabric of universal time and evolution. Yet, Sri Aurobindo remains a peripheral, somewhat mythical, figure of Indian history for most educated Indians. This has been the unutterable tragedy of modern India — the educated Indian has been alienated from his own dharma through several generations, first by our erstwhile British rulers and then by our own thought leaders, since 1947, hell-bent on transforming Indian polity and society to western secularism, liberalism and socialism. As a consequence, generations of Indians have grown up floundering, rootless and groundless, with little or no knowledge of their own heritage or destiny. Most young Indians do not learn much of Sri Aurobindo from their history books. The most that they are taught is that he was a political revolutionary who quit politics and retired to Pondicherry to do Yoga. But then, they are not given any further knowledge of India’s vast Yogic tradition or of the rich national politics of those times either. They have no idea of why Sri Aurobindo left politics and what he did after leaving politics. The history of Indian nationalism, within years of Sri Aurobindo’s retirement, became overshadowed by Gandhi, and most other luminaries of the freedom struggle were reduced to footnotes. Few amongst us would know that Sri Aurobindo was the first political leader to proclaim that India was not merely a landmass but a living consciousness, a Divine Shakti, that needs to be awakened. Sri Aurobindo was indeed the great purohit, the High Priest, who lit the sacrificial fires of the great Yajna for India’s freedom; he was the first to invoke India as Shakti, as the divine Bhawani Bharati — What is our mother-country? It is not a piece of earth, nor a figure of speech, nor a fiction of the mind. It is a mighty Shakti, composed of the Shaktis of all the millions of units that make up the nation, just as Bhawani Mahisha Mardini sprang into being from the Shakti of all the millions of gods assembled in one mass of force and welded into unity. The Shakti we call India, Bhawani Bharati, is the living unity of the Shaktis of three hundred million people…. Sri Aurobindo’s own deeper Yoga began with his quest for spiritual power that he could place at the service of his motherland. For Sri Aurobindo, the fight for India’s freedom was spiritual first and then political, for political freedom would mean little without spiritual freedom. Only as a spiritually free nation would India be able to fulfill her destined role as jagat-guru amongst the nations of the world. This was Sri Aurobindo’s dream for India, and this was the seed of future greatness that was planted in the very bosom of India, the truth that India had borne in her soul since the beginning of her ancient civilization. India’s freedom as a nation and a civilization was thus inevitable in the divine scheme of things, but what still had to be worked out was the way, the process, the details of the Mahayajna. Sri Aurobindo, as the great devas and maharishis of old, spoke of India’s future from the highest planes of truth-consciousness: India cannot perish, our race cannot become extinct, because among all the divisions of mankind it is to India that is reserved the highest and the most splendid destiny, the most essential to the future of the human race. It is she who must send forth from herself the future religion of the entire world, the Eternal Religion which is to harmonize all religion, science and philosophies and make mankind one soul. This future religion of the entire world that Sri Aurobindo reveals is the religion born of Man’s timeless spiritual quest for Truth, Unity and Perfection, the religion of the soul, that which will unify and harmonize all humanity, synthesize all civilizations and cultures and lead the human species to a higher consciousness. In other words, the eternal religion India has to bring to the world will be the religion of an integral Yoga, a religion that will finally bridge the chasm between life and spirituality, matter and spirit, body and soul. It is for this ultimate purpose of world transformation that India has birthed, and nurtured through millennia, the Sanatan Dharma; and it is for this that Sri Aurobindo himself embodied the Sanatan Dharma and brought it into the collective consciousness of Indians in those formative years of India’s nationhood and established the Sanatan Dharma as the true basis and framework for a pan-Indian spiritual nationalism. Or dharmic nationalism, if you will. Let us recall those profound and mighty words from his Uttarpara speech: I say that it is the Sanatan Dharma which for us is nationalism. This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatan Dharma, with it, it moves and with it, it grows. When the Sanatan Dharma declines, then the nation declines, and if the Sanatan Dharma were capable of perishing, with the Sanatan Dharma it would perish. The Sanatan Dharma, that is nationalism. Sri Aurobindo, thus, was the first prophet of spiritual or dharmic nationalism. He, by his work, his speeches and writings, and his own active leadership spiritualized Indian nationalism and politics; and in doing so, he also paved the way for dharmic politics and economics in India, the old concept of Ram Rajya, the kingdom of God on earth. The culmination of political governance will have to be in a Ram Rajya of the future, and the culmination of economics and business will have to be a dharmic or spiritual blend of capitalism and communism, purified of the distortions of the unregenerate human nature driven by egoistic fear and greed. This is yet another aspect of Sri Aurobindo’s creative vision for India and the world. It must be remembered that spiritual nationalism is not the same as the self-limiting, self-aggrandizing exclusivist nationalism the world is used to; being spiritual, this form of nationalism will be an expression of a nation’s soul, its spiritual and civilizational essence, and will necessarily be in harmony with all other nationalistic expressions and aspirations, even as various notes of music blend to create symphony. As Sri Aurobindo would say, harmony is the law of spiritual life. Sri Aurobindo saw clearly that India, of all nations in the world, with her enormous cultural heritage and spiritual and Yogic knowledge, would be the best equipped to lead this change to a new and more conscious world order. But spiritual nationalism must be founded on spiritual consciousness, for it cannot be an intellectual ideal or a mere philosophical system. The individual, therefore, must first find in himself or herself the spiritual consciousness and truth, and then make that the basis for a wider social and national life. In other words, the framework and basis for the individual, the society and the nation will have to become increasingly dharmic, spiritual. And therefore, Sri Aurobindo’s insistence on spiritual freedom and truth consciousness as the foundation for social and national existence. How many amongst us today realize the enormous significance of spirituality and dharma in our daily lives and action? Spirituality, once the vital life-force of Indian civilization, has now shrunk to facile new age practices and the psychobabble of self-proclaimed and self-marketed gurus, or worse, has been reduced to practices and mindless rituals of the pandit. In our social and national life, spirituality has all but disappeared. From the high ideals of dharmic politics and governance that Sri Aurobindo held in his vision for a future India, we have been reduced to intractable systemic corruption that has sapped the lifeblood of our nation. A return to some semblance of Dharma in the nation’s political life has just started, but there is still a long way to go. It is now, in these circumstances raging around us, that we need to return to Sri Aurobindo’s Truth and Light. Each of us needs to do this, for each of us individually will add to the gathering force of the Truth. Small waves make a tsunami. Again, in Sri Aurobindo’s words: India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human peoples… [T]hat which must seek now to awake is…still the ancient immemorable Shakti recovering her deepest self, lifting her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and a vaster form of her Dharma. In a very real sense, Sri Aurobindo is the custodian of India’s eternal Dharma; he, more than anyone else, saw how absolutely indispensable was India’s Dharma to India’s future and proclaimed the urgent necessity to recover and rejuvenate India’s Dharma. But, in an ironical twist of fate, even as Sri Aurobindo labored to awaken the nation’s Shakti, the then political leaders of our nation and the arbiters of her destiny were turning away from the Dharma and vigorously replacing it with newfangled notions of social justice, economic equality and political sophistication, overlooking the simple fact that without a Dharmic base and framework, no political, economic or social edifice would stand for too long. Unbeknownst to most Indians of that time, our national leaders were steering India away from her essential Indianness towards westernized universalism. Far from awakening the Shakti within, the common Indian, the aam aadmi, has slipped into an enervating materialism while the intelligentsia, the buddhijeevi, has turned to half-baked ideals of secular socialism. Instead of turning to Dharma, India has turned to dharma-nirapekhsata. Dharma-nirapekhsata is the Hindi word commonly used for secularism. The word ‘nirapeksha’ in its truest sense implies disregard, indifference, independence. It is a beautiful word when used in its Yogic or spiritual sense, but when used with Dharma (to denote the western concept of secularism), it turns on its head. Once again, as we enter the 74th year of our life as a free nation, there are visible the first definitive signs of a return to the true dharma of India and a definite rejection of the western idea of secularism. But here too, we have a long way to go and must turn more consciously and resolutely to Sri Aurobindo’s Truth, for in his Truth alone we will recover the key to balance and harmony. But turning to Sri Aurobindo’s Truth is not always easy or even possible. The old falsehoods will inevitably stand in the way. As it has happened before, in more critical times. In 1942, five years before Independence, the British government had sent the famous Cripps Proposal to the then Indian leadership under Gandhi. Had this proposal been accepted, it would have paved the way for Indian independence without partition. Sri Aurobindo, still very much in inner touch with all political developments in India and the world, had seen that possibility immediately and had publicly expressed his support for the Cripps proposal. He had sent his emissaries to Gandhi and other leaders to persuade them to accept the proposal. But Gandhi refused, purportedly with the comment that Yogis should have nothing to do with politics. This, from a leader who claimed to be a follower of the Sanatan Dharma; and this, in a country that traditionally honors and respects the counsel of its seers and prophets! However, India missed a historical chance when her leaders did not pay heed to the words of the Jagat Guru, and hurtled headlong towards disaster, a blunder for which each successive generation of Indians has paid an exacting price. It is worth recalling Sri Aurobindo’s words from the message he broadcast to the nation on 15th August 1947 — For if it [the partition] lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled: civil strife may remain always possible, possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest. India’s internal development and prosperity may be impeded, her position among the nations weakened, her destiny impaired or even frustrated. This must not be; the partition must go. Contemporary India continues to live through the malaise of economic reservations, minority appeasement, communalism and corruption, all of which could have been avoided had India’s leadership aligned itself to the true Dharma when it mattered most. However, all nations, like individuals, have a certain karma that even the Divine cannot alter. But we can learn and grow more conscious. As Sri Aurobindo says, by our stumbling the world is perfected. So we need to grow conscious not only of our strengths but also of our frailties, not only of our high destiny but also of all the forces ranged against us, determined to thwart that destiny. The resistance to a dharmic India is still strong and adamant. Much more needs to be done if India has to awaken to her truth. Indians, or at least those who carry India in their hearts and minds, must turn to the highest truth, the highest dharma, that they can access. And that which they can access, with only a little labor of love, is the Truth that Sri Aurobindo embodies and represents. Sri Aurobindo needs to be read, researched, discussed, debated, understood and applied widely, across the country. Sri Aurobindo’s vast vision and work has still not found place in Indian public or academic discourse, even decades after independence. Our schools and universities hardly touch Sri Aurobindo at any depth. Only a superficial and cursory mention is made of him as the freedom fighter who renounced political life. Hardly anything beyond that. Few students of Indian history today know of Sri Aurobindo as the prophet of Indian nationalism, as the first radical revolutionary in India’s struggle for freedom, as a poet and writer of rare eminence, as a Mahayogi and Maharishi of Indian spirituality. This is a historical anomaly that needs to be vigorously corrected. We need to learn and understand deeply how Sri Aurobindo, from the 1870s to 1950, right through the critical formative years of India, shaped India’s destiny by his Yogic force and will. This may be difficult to grasp for most, but we owe ourselves this knowledge and understanding. Sri Aurobindo is India’s inestimable heritage and he must be presented to the educated Indian and to the Indian youth objectively, rationally, cogently. Let us recall Sri Aurobindo’s message to the Indian youth — Our first necessity, if India is to survive and do her appointed work in the world, is that the youth of India should learn to think, – to think on all subjects, to think independently, fruitfully, going to the heart of things, not stopped by their surface, free of prejudgments, shearing sophism and prejudice asunder as with a sharp sword, smiting down obscurantism of all kinds as with the mace of Bhima… These are not mere words, this is an invocation of yuvashakti, the power of the young, and not just the young in age but the young in mind and spirit. To understand and live Sri Aurobindo’s Truth, we need to be clear as crystal in the mind and strong as lion in the heart, and ageless in spirit; we need to make of ourselves the true hero-warriors of the Divine Shakti. In the words of the Mother, Sri Aurobindo’s divine collaborator in his Work and Yoga — Sri Aurobindo always loved deeply his Motherland. But he wished her to be great, noble, pure and worthy of her big mission in the world. He refused to let her sink to the sordid and vulgar level of blind self-interests and ignorant prejudices. This is why, in full conformity to his will, we lift high the standard of truth, progress and transformation of mankind, without caring for those who, through ignorance, stupidity, envy or bad will, seek to soil it and drag it down into the mud. We carry it very high so that all who have a soul may see it and gather round it. It was obviously no coincidence that India’s independence day fell on Sri Aurobindo’s birthday, the 15th of August. In his message to the nation on 15th August, Sri Aurobindo had said: August 15th, 1947 is the birthday of free India. It marks for her the end of an old era, the beginning of a new age. But we can also make it by our life and acts as a free nation an important date in a new age opening for the whole world, for the political, social, cultural and spiritual future of humanity. August 15th is my own birthday and it is naturally gratifying to me that it should have assumed this vast significance. I take this coincidence, not as a fortuitous accident, but as the sanction and seal of the Divine Force that guides my steps on the work with which I began life, the beginning of its full fruition. Indeed, on this day I can watch almost all the world-movements which I hoped to see fulfilled in my lifetime, though then they looked like impracticable dreams, arriving at fruition or on their way to achievement. In all these movements free India may well play a large part and take a leading position. Let us remember that though Sri Aurobindo struggled all his life for India and India’s highest and widest freedom, he was not limited in his vision and will to India alone. For him India was the starting point of a human transformation, the hub of a universal evolution of consciousness. I have always held and said that India was rising, not to serve her own material interest only, to achieve expansion, greatness, power and prosperity,.. though these too she must not neglect.., and certainly not like others to acquire domination of other peoples, but to live also for God and the world as a helper and a leader of the whole human race, he had said in his message to the nation. To limit Sri Aurobindo to India alone would be a disservice to his work and his legacy. Sri Aurobindo labored for all humanity; all that he attempted and attained was for all humanity and for the Divine in humanity. If there is one who can be said to belong to the world, it is Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo’s Truth is the future of the human species, it is the path to the true Kingdom of God on earth, it is the Truth of the Divine still to be realized in the mind, life and body of earth. Sri Aurobindo opened for us life’s highest possibility and hope. Even the briefest glimpse of his Truth can uplift the spirit and mind in a trice to the highest. The world needs such a vision and an inspiration, and desperately so; and India, most of all. सत्यं श्री अरविन्दस्य आविर्भवतु पृथिव्याम् ॥May Sri Aurobindo’s Truth manifest upon earth
There are moments when the Spirit moves among men and the breath of the Lord is abroad upon the waters of our being; there are others when it retires and men are left to act in the strength or the weakness of their own egoism. The first are periods when even a little effort produces great results and changes destiny; the second are spaces of time when much labour goes to the making of a little result. It is true that the latter may prepare the former, may be the little smoke of sacrifice going up to heaven which calls down the rain of God’s bounty. Unhappy is the man or the nation which, when the divine moment arrives, is found sleeping or unprepared to use it, because the lamp has not been kept trimmed for the welcome and the ears are sealed to the call. But thrice woe to them who are strong and ready, yet waste the force or misuse the moment; for them is irreparable loss or a great destruction. In the hour of God cleanse thy soul of all self-deceit and hypocrisy and vain self-flattering that thou mayst look straight into thy spirit and hear that which summons it. All insincerity of nature, once thy defence against the eye of the Master and the light of the ideal, becomes now a gap in thy armour and invites the blow. Even if thou conquer for the moment, it is the worse for thee, for the blow shall come afterwards and cast thee down in the midst of thy triumph. But being pure cast aside all fear; for the hour is often terrible, a fire and a whirlwind and a tempest, a treading of the winepress of the wrath of God; but he who can stand up in it on the truth of his purpose is he who shall stand; even though he fall, he shall rise again, even though he seem to pass on the wings of the wind, he shall return. Nor let worldly prudence whisper too closely in thy ear; for it is the hour of the unexpected, the incalculable, the immeasurable. Mete not the power of the Breath by thy petty instruments, but trust and go forward. But most keep thy soul clear, even if for a while, of the clamour of the ego. Then shall a fire march before thee in the night and the storm be thy helper and thy flag shall wave on the highest height of the greatness that was to be conquered. These are words from The Hour of God written by Sri Aurobindo. This is Sri Aurobindo’s clarion call to another dharmayuddha, the one that must be fought and won within, as the dharmayuddha of old was fought and won within, long before adharma was conquered on the battlefield without. A dharmayuddha is a battle for the soul. This is what makes it infinitely more critical than the outer battles for wealth or territory. The future of civilization on earth will be determined by who conquers the spiritual space – the devas or the asuras. The devas are the forces of Light, the asuras are those who deny the Light. Dharma is the establishment of the Light of the highest Truth. In an earlier spiritual epoch, when the last dharmayuddha was fought, this Light was Sri Krishna’s, for Sri Krishna embodied that highest Truth and its Force. Today, in the twenty-first century, it is Sri Aurobindo who embodies this highest Truth and Force. It is Sri Aurobindo’s Truth and Light that must be brought down into the soul, and established in the battlefield which is civilization itself. These are not abstractions: these are hard realities that every one of us is confronting in our day to day lives, across the world. There are many who are calling this a civilizational battle, a battle of narratives, and it may very well be so. The details change with the spirit or dharma of the age. But the fundamentals remain the same. And they have remained the same since the first great devas fought the first great asuras, equal in strength and force and will, in that primeval mystical event we call the great churning. Such a churning, intense and profound, is happening today as well. If one is even a bit open to the play of forces in this universe, one will feel the vast swells of this churning, like an ocean right beneath one’s surface consciousness. And it is everywhere, raging in everyone, only the intensity of consciousness varies. If this dharmayuddha has to be won again, if we are to ascend to our next evolutionary plane, we must ask for a higher intervention, a higher and more potent Truth-Force. We need to invoke, as consciously as we can, the Light and Force of the highest Truth that we can access. This Truth was brought down for us, through a lifetime’s intense tapasya, by the Maharishi of this spiritual age, Sri Aurobindo. Many know him inwardly as the avatar of the new age; many know him intimately as the Jagat Guru; many know of him as the great Yogi and Sage of Pondicherry. It does not matter how one knows him, or of him: what matters is the fact that there is such a vast Presence of the Divine amongst us, guiding and aiding all those who are sincerely open to the truth of the future, and carrying forth those who give themselves willingly to the Truth that he represents and embodies, what he calls the Supramental Truth. This is the time to invoke the Supramental Truth for earth and humanity, for it is this Truth that will be our armor and our great astra in our battle for the eternal dharma. This is the Truth that we need to invoke. Sri Aurobindo’s Truth. In invoking Sri Aurobindo’s Truth, we will invoke the Force and Light at multiple levels simultaneously: the inner psychic, the higher spiritual, the all-comprehensive supramental, and the all-transcending, integral Sachchidananda where all consciousness, and all existences and universes merge into a single stream of eternal Light and Bliss. Let us remember that this invocation does not need mental knowledge. We do not need to know in order to invoke. Invocation itself brings the knowledge. No embodied consciousness, anyway, can know Sri Aurobindo’s Truth. But we can, using our deeper power and faculty of psychic intuition, invoke Sri Aurobindo’s Truth, without needing to mentally know or understand. Invocation is the deep secret of all mysticism and religion: nothing can exceed the power and effectivity of invocation. To invoke is to give oneself to what one invokes. The truly effective invocation is when the one who invokes becomes the invocation. Our Rishis of old knew that. Thus, they became flames of invocation themselves, beings of Agni, and plunged into the very forces of the dark and the obscure. The Vedic Rishis used the power of Yajna to invoke the great Gods, the Devas, the embodiments of Light and Truth. All invocations of the Divine needed the concentrated power of the Yajna. Indeed, the Yajna is the key to all higher realizations. In this day and age, Yajna has lost its truth and power and has become an external ritual without much inner significance. Therefore, the Yajna has to be restored to its original Vedic significance. To invoke the higher Truth and Shakti, we must resort to Yajna, for that remains the most effective and efficient tool. To undertake Yajna, we must first stand as the Yajman, the initiator of the Yajna, and the one who must preside over the Yajna. To stand as the Yajman, only one condition needs to be fulfilled: sacrifice of the personal. As the yajman, one has to take the stride from the personal to the terrestrial. The yajman cannot be an individual: she or he must be representative of the collective, the samuha, one who stands for earth and represents the race. The Yajna demands the absolute and utter sacrifice of the personal consciousness in the Vast of Brahman. This is the deep import of the mantra Om Svaha…To Thee I give and give utterly… not as myself, a small and limited personality, but as the vast, the terrestrial, the one who stands for human consciousness itself. All that is petty and limited in me, I offer to the Vast… Om Svaha… This Yajna for Sri Aurobindo’s Truth must be terrestrial, for Sri Aurobindo’s Truth is of the brihat, the divine Vast. Sri Aurobindo’s own Yoga was for the Divine and for the earth, not for himself. He paved the way for those who would follow as the forerunners of the Luminous Future. Thus, our own Yajna must be impersonal, terrestrial, cosmic. Any trace of self-interest or expectation of personal gain, material or spiritual, would be an asuddhi and would instantly corrupt the Yajna and turn the fires downward, into patala instead of svarga. Patala, as we would know, is the domain of the asura, where all darkness rests self-gathered. By sacrificing one’s personal self, the greatest and most difficult of all sacrifices, one recovers from the ancient sleep of the unconscious and awakes to the luminous, the true, the eternal. This is the essential condition for the invocation of Truth and Light. He who must invoke the Light must first be awake to the Light. Thus the yajman, as representative of the tribe or the race, presides over the Yajna and lights the sacrificial fire to the resounding sounds of the old Vedic hymn… May all this go to Thee, for all this we offer to Thee…nothing of all this, neither the Sacrifice, nor the oblations, nor even the fruits of the Sacrifice, belong to us… idam na mama… nothing of this is mine, nothing of this is mine… The Yajna is a self-giving and self-emptying. All must be offered and nothing kept back. With each offering, the yajman must affirm that he or she gives utterly of himself or herself — Om Svaha. Then, indeed, the yajman is no longer an external agent presiding over the Yajna but has himself become the sacrifice and the priest who offers the sacrifice; his own physical body has become the havan-kund, the sacrificial pit, the core of the Yajna, and his own inner movements have become the various oblations to Agni, the undying Shakti of the Divine. And each time one offers oneself to the Divine, one receives a portion of the Divine: this is the ancient law, and the beauty of the Yajna. Ishvara or the Self seated within, our inmost Narayan, receives the offering, sanctifies it by His touch, and returns it to our consciousness, made whole and holy. This loop of giving and receiving between the yajman without and Narayan within is the sacred process of the Yajna, and it is only by Narayan’s sanctification and blessings that the Yajna proceeds from one stage to the next. As one gives of one’s mind and will, one’s desires and actions, one receives into oneself a little of the Divine Light, for, by the occult laws of the Yajna, what one gives is returned sanctified, as Light and Substance of the devas. And thus, the devas descend, bit by bit, sacrifice by sacrifice, into our human terrestrial substance. Understanding something of all this, we understand a little bit of the profound mystery of Sri Aurobindo’s Truth and Light. At least, a first ray of understanding descends into the mind and heart. सत्यं श्री अरविन्दस्य आविर्भवतु पृथिव्याम् May Sri Aurobindo’s Truth manifest upon earth And may this understanding and knowledge spread in all directions, be scattered with the winds and waters, and reach all those who thirst for the divine Truth and Light… may such be our prayer and our aspiration.. Om Svaha. 12th February, 2021
August 15th will be celebrated the world over as Sri Aurobindo’s 150th birth anniversary Sri Aurobindo is perhaps the greatest philosopher that India has produced since Ramanujacharya. And when I use the term philosopher, I mean by that term a seer, thinker, or metaphysician who has a systemic view of the world and is able to organize his perceptions and give us a coherent, consistent, comprehensive paradigm of the world. Or at least an approach to resolving the questions of human existence, the mystery of the world, and how a man may approach the challenges of life and existence. He is a genius at the same level as Sri Krishna since he too integrated the various and often seemingly contradictory darshanas extant at their times into a unified metaphysics and vision in a manner that revitalized each darshana and contextualized them within a larger Vedantic understanding. Just like Sri Krishna integrated Vaishnava Bhakti traditions with Sankhya, Yoga, and Vedanta in an overarching vision, Sri Aurobindo too synthesized Tantra, Sankhya, Bhakti, Jnana, and Karma Yoga in a wider understanding of Vedanta. In addition, Sri Aurobindo also unified the Western philosophies in the Eastern darshana, including those of Nietzsche and Evolution, pre-Socratic thinkers, and Plato. He took the latest developments in Western thought and put them in perspective in a larger Indic frame of reference. He also created a program for national revitalization and brought India’s darshana back to its own people that they had forgotten under the centuries of foreign rule and subjugation. A true understanding of Vedas and Upanishads based on his own spiritual experiences and investigations, linguistic research, and insights was brought to a people who had forgotten their own svadharma and had become slaves not only outwardly but also inwardly. This intellectual, cultural, and spiritual freedom that he aspired for his people created the svarajya movement in the early 20th century in India at a time when it was considered an impossibility and a delusion. He gave an integral interpretation and expostulation of Vedanta as a synoptic vision for all humankind, rejecting Mayavada as an aberrant understanding of Vedanta and returned to the life-affirming worldview of the Vedas, Upanishads and the Gita. One may say that he brought Adi Sankaracharya and Ramanujacharya, the Buddha, and Sri Krishna, together in what may be considered a purna Vedanta. He integrated spirituality with philosophy, arts, and literature, culture and education, nationalism, and politics in a consistent approach that was not parochial or chauvinistic. He articulated Indian darshana to the West in the tradition of Swami Vivekananda with an even greater dialectic and rigor and helped trigger the Indian renaissance that was already in the making with the advent of great writers and poets such as Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Michael Madhusudan Dutta, and Rabindranath Tagore. He made philosophy alive and dynamic, resonant with the rhythms of classical prose, and was able to bring elements of his philosophy into his poetic oeuvre, an effort as vast and overwhelming as his voluminous prose. Sri Aurobindo redefined philosophy by bringing in elements of seerhood and darshana of the Indian civilization. And he redefined Indian darshana by bringing in elements of Western thought that gave it additional vigor and suppleness. It is my submission that Sri Aurobindo wrote not just for his age but for the future generations and quite aptly may be considered a philosopher of the future and human teleology. He is one of the unique philosophers in Eastern or Western traditions. While being a darshanik in the traditional Indic mold, one who is a beholder and a revealer of truth, he is also an anti-philosopher. While creating one of the most elaborate and comprehensive philosophies of all time, he is also able to constantly step out of it, as it were, and transcend it at each consideration. This gives him unique freedom to integrate diverse and even seemingly contradictory visions into a harmonious coherent whole that is bolder, truer, and wider than traditional reductionistic metaphysics. The Indian approach to philosophy is darshana, which means to see. At a very fundamental level, darshana is not philosophy at all, at least the way it is understood in the Western tradition. Philosophy means love of knowledge and usually implies an analytical approach to problems and is mental. Darshana, on the other hand, requires a radical psychological and cognitive refinement and personal evolution from the seeker of truth that is a lifetime journey of exploration and liberation. Thus, philosophy remains abstract, speculative, and always apart from real-life experience while darshana is transformative and eternally free of thought. All Indian philosophies are, in essence, transcendental, in the sense that the philosophy constantly transcends the framework or paradigm it uses to elaborate and structure its contents. The Sankhya philosophy describes the Purusha principle as pure consciousness that is eternally free of any movement, identification, or features. And this arrival to the concept of Purusha was not mental speculation but a verifiable universal experience as discovered by the ancient Indian rishis and darshaniks. Even as Sankhya was modified variously by the later developments of Indic ‘thought,’ the foundation upon which it was based, the direct experience of pure consciousness, remained as the basis of all future excursions and philosophies. Thus, awareness that is growing more and more untrammeled of all names and forms is a requisite, and the true darshanik constantly returns and eventually establishes himself in its sthanu or stability. We see this principle of consciousness as the bedrock of Vedanta, Buddhistic metaphysics, Jainism, Yoga and even the fundamental understanding of Vaishnavism or Shaivism, Karma Yoga, or Bhakti Yoga, and no true approach to Indic philosophy is possible without this key insight. Great as Greek philosophies are, they never base themselves entirely on Chitta or consciousness, and this difference continues through the long history of developments in Western and Eastern philosophies. What makes Sri Aurobindo truly unique even among Eastern philosophers is his avowed rejection of all mentalism and abstractions. His entire system is based upon what he saw and lived, was and became, and beheld in his awareness as the shining reality behind all creation. He is a true rishi who reveals what he sees or hears or sees-hears. And his means of beholding the truth are supra-intellectual, intuitive, synthetic, and experiential. In a famous letter to D.K. Roy, he protested that he was not a thinker or philosopher, ‘And philosophy! Let me tell you in confidence that I never, never, never was a philosopher – although I have written philosophy which is another story altogether. I knew precious little about philosophy before I did the Yoga and came to Pondicherry – I was a poet and a politician, not a philosopher! How I managed to do it? First, because Richard proposed to me to cooperate in a philosophical review – and as my theory was that a Yogi ought to be able to turn his hand to anything, I could not very well refuse: and then he had to go to the War and left me in the lurch with 64 pages a month of philosophy all to write by my lonely self. Secondly, I had only to write down in terms of the intellect all that I had observed and come to know in practicing Yoga daily and the philosophy was there, automatically. But that is not being a philosopher!’ What kind of a philosopher is this who translated the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Gita, discussed metaphysics over more than a thousand pages in The Life Divine, resolved the inconsistencies or difficulties of some of the greatest darshaniks of all time, such as Adi Sankaracharya and the Buddha even as he synthesized them into a larger framework, who created one of the greatest systems of metaphysics in the history of humankind, who insisted that he is not a philosopher at all! And this is what makes Sri Aurobindo stand out as a philosopher and a non-philosopher. As a philosopher, he always stands outside his philosophy. As a non-philosopher, he creates an elaborate systematic, methodical consistent edifice that is at once towering and breathtaking in scope and significance. And in this, as mentioned earlier, the only visionary genius that I can compare him with in the entire history of India is Sri Krishna, who brought about a grand synthesis of diverse streams of thought in the Gita. Sri Aurobindo took a similar approach of synthesis based on his vision and built on Sri Krishna’s darshana and brought in a Greek spirit of deep questioning and almost Socratic discourse in his discussion along with the radical breakthroughs of higher tantra in his elaborate all-embracing orchestral harmony. And this is his uniqueness. Even as one of the greatest integrators of philosophy, Sri Aurobindo is always free of philosophy, like Sri Krishna. Perhaps this is also because he was a poet and knew that reality can always be seen and described in other ways that are not restricted by intellectualism and logic. But as a poet, he was not a bard in the ordinary sense of the word, one who deals with emotions and rhythms of verse. He was a poet in the ancient Indic tradition of the kavi, one who can see through and beyond and can reveal and share in his sound- harmonies the weight of the realization and can transmit his experience to the listener or reader. To be inside the metaphysical system and yet be outside is a feat very few Western philosophers have been able to accomplish. Perhaps, Parmenides and Heraclitus, Plato and Plotinus were able to pull it off, but not with such an elaborate detailed system. Perhaps Wittgenstein, who demolished his earlier approach to philosophy as developed in The Tractatus, and moved on to the word-plays that philosophers indulge in but there is a crucial difference. Sri Aurobindo builds and constructs even as he liberates in a vast holistic vision. Wittgenstein bulldozes, decimates, and nuclearizes and leaves nothing in his wake. Sri Aurobindo is also not just philosophy. Following the ancient Indian ideal, he does not separate philosophy from psychology, literature from politics, individual salvation or mukti from the evolution of the society and the communities, and the secular from the religious. He connects them all in an effortless manner and does not exclude anything of significance or value in life from his consideration. He is the most catholic of philosophers, including even the rejections of the materialists and the realists, the agnostics, and the atheists, in his consideration of all human divagations. For he is a true Vedanti, who lives the ancient tenet of sarvam brahma, all this is the Brahman. And once you accept the truth of every manifestation, every aspect of life, how would you reject or exclude its essence or reality in your paradigm? Sri Aurobindo stayed consistent and allowed each aspect or order of life to find its place in his comprehensive vision. Thus, Sri Aurobindo is a true pragmatic philosopher in that he believed in applying his knowledge and accom- plishments to practical purposes like liberating his country from the yoke of foreign rule or charting a course for future human evolution. And yet, he is also a transcendentalist and an idealist. He is the greatest interpreter of ancient systems and is thoroughly modern in his classical approach. He is a philosopher of linguistics, whose discoveries are only now being discovered, while also a philosopher of Literature and Languages who elaborated on the historical development of English verse from a spiritual evolutionary perspective. He is an aphorist in the tradition of Heraclitus and Bhartrihari, who reveals his philosophy in concise, sometimes playful, sometimes profound apothegms. Mind is always subservient to his vision, and his precepts can hold an entire universe in a few lines, like Vedantic Mahavakyas or sutras. He is a Vedantic evolutionist who transformed Charles Darwin and Henri Bergson into a deeper explanation of the course of earth’s history. He is a Vedantic Neoplatonist who makes Plato and Plotinus understandable and, dare I say, more profound in his elucidation. He is methodical like Patanjali, intuitive like Sri Ramakrishna, advaitic like Swami Vivekananda, and a Shakta in the highest lights of ancient tantra. He is able to hold polar opposites in a singular view and assimilate them in one sentence. He may be compared to the best philosophers in the East and the West, and instead of being contextualized by them, he contextualizes them since he is always higher, deeper, and wider. His insights can resolve the contradictions and dualisms in Abrahamic theology and the Western worldview. He is a futurist, and a systemic thinker whose message is sure to rever- berate down the ages till the last man stands on earth or till humanity raises itself beyond its present imprisonment and discovers itself as the harbinger of a new leap in its evolution.
[The Satyameva Dialogues consists of a series of recorded and transcribed conversations between Shri Manu and Acharya Nirankar. Acharya Nirankar is a practitioner and teacher of Vedanta; Shri Manu likes to regard himself as a seeker of Truth, and studies Vedanta. These conversations are spread over many months, reflecting many moods and thoughts. We have tried to retain, as far as editorially possible, the original bhava and flavor of the conversations as originally recorded. — Editors.] Dialogue 1: Na kinchidapi chintayet M: Perhaps the best point to start our explorations into dharma would be with the Bhagavad Gita, arguably one of the most widely read religious texts in Bharat. The Gita, as we know, is considered an upanishad of the Vedantic tradition — the Gitopnaishad. It is generally regarded as the Word of God. AN: The word of God? Yes, in a manner of speaking. It is the directly revealed knowledge, vijnana. You may say “word of God” to make it easier for the ordinary person to grasp, but it’s vijnana or the supreme knowledge descending into the enlightened buddhi. Sri Krishna and Arjuna, Mahabharat and the battlefield of Kurukshetra, are interwoven contexts to give a historical background to the vijnana. M: When you say ‘supreme’, Acharyaji, do you mean the highest, the perfect? AN: I mean truth descending from the supreme source that is Sri Krishna, in response to Arjuna’s inner state, the existential conflict and angst that really marks the beginning of the dharmayuddha. This too is a context, a psychological setting. M: But the knowledge of the Gita is not specific to its historical context, is it? It goes far beyond its historical setting, reaching out into the psyche of the ages to come. AN: The Gita is a mantra of the eternal Yoga that Sri Krishna imparts, through the instrumentality of the noble Arjuna, to the whole of humanity, through all space and time. In that sense, the revelations of the Gita are timeless and universal, sanatan. The knowledge of the Gita, the supreme secret, rahasyam uttamam, was not imparted to Arjuna alone. As the great Teacher himself declares— This imperishable Yoga I gave to Vivasvan, the Sun-God, Vivasvan gave it to Manu, the father of men, Manu gave it to Ikshvaku, head of the Solar line. Whatever be the profounder meaning of this verse, it indicates one thing very clearly — the Gita’s knowledge does not begin with Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra nor does it end with Arjuna’s enlightenment and his going into the great battle. M: This is a very mystical verse…it is not easy to grasp its real significance. Going by Sri Krishna’s words, it begins before human civilization, with the Sun-God receiving it from Sri Krishna, perhaps, at the dawn of cosmic Time. So, obviously, the teachings of the Gita is not specific to an age or an event. AN: The teachings of the Gita are sanatan — eternal and universal. This is sanatan dharma, Sir. M: Yes, I understand. The Gita, I’m aware, is one of the foundational pillars of the sanatan dharma. AN: Yes; it is so. There are four such foundational pillars of sanatan dharma — the knowledge and realization of the Vedas, the Yogas, the Upanishads, and the Gita, the rahasyam uttamam. Whosoever shall embody this fourfold knowledge shall be known as the true keeper and votary of sanatan dharma. M: And this ‘knowledge’ is obviously not intellectual knowledge, gathering of information and recitation? AN: No, this is supramental knowledge, vijnana — knowledge by identity, self-becoming of truth. M: But one always begins with intellectual knowledge… AN: So, when you say ‘intellectual knowledge’, what exactly do you mean? We learn physics, for instance, intellectually, by using the intellect and the methods of the intellect. But when it comes to adhyatma jnana, knowledge of the self or spirit, we need to go beyond the intellect and its methods and activities. The intellect can serve, at best, a very limited purpose in adhyatma jnana. One has to open oneself to intuitive perception, spiritual experience, self-realization. It’s a different order of jnana altogether. M: Is there some way to get past the whole intellectual machinery, Acharyaji, and open oneself directly to adhyatma jnana? AN: First of all we need to understand that adhyatma jnana is not the ordinary ‘jnana’ the buddhi gets by reading, analyzing and reciting. The domain of intellectual knowledge, the ordinary jnana, always lies outside of oneself, dependent on external sources. One can gather intellectual knowledge by reading about the sun but one can never get to the direct perception or experience of the sun by reading about it. You can go on reading and talking about honey, but you will never know it till you taste it. And once you taste it, you will no longer need to read or talk about it. M: I understand that! AN: Now when you taste the honey, you know it, don’t you? You get the immediate and direct knowledge of it, right? That is akin to adhyatma jnana, spiritual knowledge. You know the honey because you have experienced it. But that too is a stage. Finally, you become the honey. When you become the honey, you know it because you are it. It’s not even taste, then. Taste is still a duality. It is knowledge by identity, by self-becoming. That is akin to vijnana or supramental knowledge. M: So, Acharyaji, how does one like me get to, at least, the taste of the honey? I don’t wish to read or talk about it. AN: We all have desires… the first thing to do is to turn all our desires to the one single, all-consuming desire for Krishna. Desire Sri Krishna alone, nothing and none else. As Sri Aurobindo wrote in one of his aphorisms — Turn all things to honey; this is the law of divine living. Take ‘honey’ to be Sri Krishna, and you have the master formula. M: At once so simple and so difficult. We all have so many distractions and preoccupations of the mind and heart! AN: And these ‘distractions’ and ‘preoccupations’ keep us in a perpetually disturbed state, a state of inner disequilibrium. Asamata. Desires, preferences, self-will, needs…these are the causes of asamata. All this must be turned to just one desire, one will, one preoccupation — Sri Krishna and Sri Krishna alone. That is yoga. Gather all of your being and consciousness in the inmost heart, and then offer all to Sri Krishna, keeping nothing back, however radiant or noble, or however dark or evil. Give all of your being and consciousness, down to the tiniest vibration, down to the last cell of your body. That is yoga. M: Samatvam yog uchhayate? AN: Yes, indeed. When all of your being and consciousness, everything in you that moves outward, is self-gathered and concentrated on Sri Krishna, you attain the condition of samata which itself is yoga. There is much more to it, of course, but this is all you need to get to the ‘taste of the honey’. M: So, if I’m getting this right — this would mean that I remain inwardly absorbed, or concentrated, on Sri Krishna all the time, my whole being, my entire consciousness? AN: Yes, that is a condition of the Gita’s yoga. M: So, then, how do I remain active in the world? I have things to do — job, family, society etc. how do I remain active in samsara and immersed in Sri Krishna at the same time? AN: When you’re in love, doesn’t that happen effortlessly? You remain active in the world but inwardly you are immersed in the thoughts of the one you love. So you just have to learn to be in love with the divine all the time. That too is yoga of the Gita. To be always and entirely in love with Sri Krishna. M: Sarva dharman parityajya mamekam sharanam vraja…This seems to me the perfect condition of one’s love for Sri Krishna. Give up all dharmas for Sri Krishna…like Radha. AN: This sloka really sums up the yoga of the Gita, it is the supreme secret. If only we can give up all dharmas — all that holds us, binds us, makes us what we are — for the sake of the divine beloved, for Sri Krishna, and give ourselves entirely to him — for that is what mamekam sharanam vraja means — then we would need nothing more: all would be attained in a trice, no yoga, no tapasya! M: This then is the master formula, Acharyaji? AN: It is the supreme secret, the rahasya, that the Gita reveals. All this that we are, and experience, this whole manifest universe is Sri Krishna alone: sarvam vasudevah iti. Sri Krishna is the friend, the support, the guide and philosopher, the teacher and the indwelling Guru, the divine beloved, the supreme Self, the alpha and the omega, the beginning, the middle and the end… Once this is known, all is known. But this does not come easy… the delusion of the ego is deep and persistent. Very rare are the great souls who know that Vasudeva is all that exists and there is none other — vasudevah sarvam iti, sah mahatma sudurlabhah. M: How then is the the delusion of the ego to be conquered, Acharyaji? AN: The ego, the sense of separative identity, is not a real thing, it is mithya — a thing that does not really exist but appears to exist. Pure delusion. And the only way out of delusion is the seeing of truth. That is the whole function of the Gita — to bring us to the truth, not through reasoning or philosophy but through direct inner experience and realization. This is the beauty and power of the Gita’s yoga. M: So there is nothing to be conquered, really? Only the seeing of the truth? For the moment one perceives the truth, all falsehood and ignorance disappear. AN: Precisely. And the more you reflect or meditate on the Gita, the more you begin to see, intuit, understand. You grow into Krishna’s consciousness, he himself leads you, guides you, supports you. Each step you take towards him, he takes two towards you. M: Are there any conditions to be fulfilled for all this, Acharyaji? Like suddhi that the yogis talk about. AN: Suddhi? Yes, suddhi — but then suddhi is to be understood in the right way. M: Is it not self purification? AN: The only condition, really, is sraddha. M: Faith? AN: Sraddha is a fundamental spiritual quality in Hindu Dharma: without sraddha, no realization is possible; with sraddha, no realization is impossible. Sraddha is not merely psychological faith but intuitive faith, faith born of inner knowing. M: The word itself, in common usage, means faith or trust. AN: Not common usage here. You will have to reflect on the word itself. The inner meaning of the word is in the word itself. Sraddha consists of two root sounds — srat and dha. Srat, as used in some of the Rigvedic hymns, means truth and dha is the same root sound in words like dharma, dharan etc. and means to hold. So sraddha is that which holds, or bears, in itself the truth, and brings that truth to realization. As Krishna says in the Gita, sraddha mayo yam purusho yo yachchhraddhah sa eva sah. M: Whatever one’s faith is, that is what one becomes? AN: Yes, indeed; self-becoming of that which you hold to be your highest aspiration, your deepest faith, your sraddha. M: I understand. So sraddha is the first condition? AN: An essential condition: there is no numerical order here. M: How does one develop this sraddha, Acharyaji? AN: But sraddha in whom, or what? Don’t we need to establish that first? M: Yes, of course. AN: So, sraddha first in yourself — atma-sraddha: the living and burning faith that you are meant for the divine, that you will realize the divine in this very lifetime. You have to have that atma-sraddha, without that, you will not move very far, you will be assailed by self-doubt and anxiety all the way. M: But isn’t that a given, Acharyaji? Without the faith that I am meant for the path, why will I ever take to the path? AN: You will be surprised, Sir, to see how few have that faith in their own spiritual destiny. It is an old conditioning, we are made to believe that we are sinful, impure, petty and the Divine is far away, inaccessible to most, too high, too vast. M: That’s an Abrahamic idea… AN: Many Hindus believe that firmly. Even many pundits. Mortals are not worthy of the Divine. That’s it. Unless you go to a guru, or become an ascetic, or do penance, or offer ceremonial sacrifices to some god or goddess. All these are childish notions. M: Vedanta tells us that we are divine, that we are that Brahman, tat twam asi. AN: What good use is the Vedanta or its revelations if we do not believe in our own spiritual potential? Look into yourself, Sir; dive deep into your own consciousness, be a fervent explorer, do not rest till you have touched your own divinity, even a brief spark of it, in your depths. Then Vedanta makes sense. Or else, it is all noise of the intellectual mind. M: So, sraddha in one’s own spiritual potential comes from a mental notion or belief, or do we wait till we have touched that inner spark? AN: It comes from the heart, Sir. The inmost heart. You intuit it, you just know it. You cannot rationalize or explain it, you just know it. That is intuition. You have to have that intuitive knowledge of your deepest destiny, your adhyatmik uddeshya.  M: And if it’s not there? AN: What is not there? The destiny, the uddeshya, or its intuition? The destiny is there: it is what we are all destined for. It is the very purpose of existence: to find, realize, become the divine. The intuitive knowledge of it may not be there, in the conscious buddhi. It is there, in the psychic, but it may not be there in the conscious buddhi. M: How to bring it then to the conscious buddhi? How to draw it out of the psychic? AN: It is like love. It is there in everyone, but dormant, veiled by the ego. When you meet the right person, the right object, that veiled or dormant love erupts, comes to the surface, whether you like it or not, whether you can handle it or not. M: I am a bit lost here. If it is there, you progress in the sadhana, all the other things become possible. If it is not there, you can’t do much, you remain lost your mental mazes. But there is nothing you can do to get it. It comes on its own. Have I got all that right? AN: Yes, more or less. It comes by the Lord’s Grace. The divine Grace. None can begin the spiritual journey without that. The fact that you are here, talking to me, wanting to understand the Gita, wanting to live that spiritual or yogic life, is because the divine Grace has already touched you, awakened you. So all these questions about having or not having that faith in your destiny is irrelevant. It’s already there, and it has brought you here. The question is, how completely are you going to accept that faith, that inner knowing? M: Yes, I can see that. I can now see two essential conditions: the divine Grace and atma-sraddha. AN: Divine Grace cannot be spoken of as a condition. You cannot attain divine Grace, you cannot do anything to get the divine Grace. It comes to you. Don’t ask me how or why. I don’t know. I don’t think anyone, except the Divine, knows. But yes, atma-sraddha is a fundamental condition. But along with atma-sraddha, one needs sraddha in the object and purpose of one’s sadhana — the Divine itself. For the object of all our sadhana is the Divine, and without an active and fervent sraddha in the Divine, how does one do any sadhana at all for the Divine? M: Is there anything we can do to develop such sraddha in the Divine? We’ve all heard and read that the Divine exists, but how many of us have had the experience? AN: Therefore, the scriptures; therefore, the Bhagavad Gita. When you read the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, you learn to think and feel differently, a deeper or a higher reasoning grows in you. Your perspective widens, you begin to see and feel and understand more. This is how sraddha begins to develops. Mind you, you still do not have the experience, the anubhava, but at least you now have a certain inner knowing which becomes your sraddha. Remember that the true sraddha is your inner knowing. Faith is a word we give to this inner knowing but all true faith is foreknowledge. Or eternal remembrance. M: Is this swadhyaya of the scriptures? AN: Yes: for swadhyaya means two things — studying by oneself and studying oneself. It is by staying the scriptures that one learns of the nature of reality, and it is by studying and understanding oneself that one experiences the reality. M: For the self is portion of the one reality? AN: The self is the reality, the part is the whole. As our Vedantins declare, a drop of the ocean is the ocean. How do you break up the reality, which is infinite and indivisible, into parts? Purnamada purnamidam, purnat purnam udachyate… Purna may be translated as whole, complete or perfect and stands for the Divine for the Divine alone is whole and perfect. Thus, that (purnam adah) which we experience as cosmos, the outer universe, is the whole, the Divine; and this (purnam idam), the inner worlds, the self, the entire subjective experience, is also the whole, the Divine; from that whole, this whole arises, or, from that one Divine, this manifest universe, and all existences, arise (udachayte).  M: There is a mathematical expression of this as well — infinity plus X equals infinity, and infinity minus X equals infinity. AN: Indeed; our sages were amongst the first to intuit this relationship between that, the outer, and this, the inner. M: This is wonderful! I can see how this understanding can develop into deep sraddha. If all this, and all that, is the one Divine, and if I am indivisibly one with that Divine, then the fulfillment of my sadhana is inevitable, nothing or none can prevent an eventual fulfillment of my aspiration. For behind every aspiration and effort of mine is Sri Krishna himself. And is this not what he himself tells Arjuna? AN: That indeed is the leitmotif of the Bhagavad Gita — that all is Sri Krishna, inside and outside, far and near, in all the terms of our existence on earth, in all the movements of our being, in all our works, in the gunas of nature, in that which transcends nature, in all name and form… once you truly understand this of Sri Krishna, the Divine, once you comprehend his omnipresence, his totality, then all doubt, anxiety, fear, desire, pettiness, everything falls off and you become his devotee in heart, mind and body, an integral sadhak of his universal Yoga. This is the true basis of sraddha, sraddha that is not just faith but an inner knowing, an inner certainty, the knowing of the soul. It is with such sraddha that one can go higher and deeper in the yoga of the Gita. M: So, can I then say that atma-sraddha and sraddha in Sri Krishna are the fundamental conditions to practice the Gita’s sadhana? AN: Yes, it’s simple. If the the object of the sadhana is to realize the Divine, unite with the Divine in one’s being and consciousness, then the Divine, to say the least, has to be a real thing for us, not an ideal or a notion. Sri Krishna is real and can be realized — is that not the whole basis of the sadhana? M: Yes, agreed. But I have a problem here: as long as I have not realized Sri Krishna within myself, how can he be real to me? Will Sri Krishna, or the Divine, not be a mere notion or an ideal for me till then? Seems a bit of Catch-22 situation to me! AN: I understand the difficulty. To do sadhana for the Divine, I must know the Divine to be real, but till I make a certain progress in the sadhana, I will not know the Divine to be real. M: Exactly, Acharyaji. AN: So what is the way out of this conundrum? M: You tell me. AN: I tell you? (Acharyaji laughs) M: I mean, how does it work? Is it completely on faith then, till you get the knowledge? And getting the knowledge may take years! AN: See, the knowledge is inside you already. There is no knowledge to be got from the outside. You just have to get to that inner knowledge, that supremely secret spiritual knowledge, paramam guhyam adhyatma jnana, hidden in the folds of your inmost being, your psychic center. M: But how, Acharyaji? How to get to that knowledge which is so completely hidden, guhyam? AN: By diving deep into one’s one consciousness. M: Again, Acharyaji, how? What does this diving deep exactly mean? AN: Still your ever-active and reactive surface mind, cease utterly from all thought. Let your mind and heart fall silent. The deeper the silence, the deeper the dive…na kinchidapi chintayet! Having fixed the mind in Sri Krishna, one should not think of anything at all. M: How does one fix the mind in Sri Krishna when one has not yet realized Sri Krishna? AN: Fix the mind in the thought of Sri Krishna; let Sri Krishna be your one and only thought. Fix the mind in the aspiration and desire for Sri Krishna, let Sri Krishna be your sole desire and preoccupation. Can you do that? M: Yes, absolutely. AN: Do that then. Fixing your mind in a silent and unbroken aspiration for Sri Krishna, fixing your mind in that one thought of Sri Krishna, think of nothing else, nothing at all. This is the meaning of the sloka — atmasansthanam manah kritva na kinchidapi chintayet: the atma, the Self, is Krishna. Know that, and be free of all delusion this very instant, Sir! [To be continued in future editions]
Last time we looked at Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus and the destruction that ripped through Europe in the 1940s. Europe was rebuilt over the following decades and the American empire rose to dominate the world. But the destruction and nihilism that Mann described in his novel didn’t go away. The spiritual sickness is still with us. So who, or what, is Faust in the 21st century? There are many modern stories and films that feature a Faustian bargain or deal with the devil, but none carry the power of the original Faust myth. Some examples include obvious ones like The Devil’s Advocate, Angel Heart, the comedy Bedazzled, and Ghost Rider who acts as a bounty hunter on behalf of Mephistopheles. And the less obvious ones like The Box, Limitless, and The Prestige, or films about compromised characters like Michael Clayton. These stories don’t seem to touch us anymore. We watch a character sell their soul on screen and think it doesn’t apply to us – it’s just entertainment. Nobody believes in anything anymore and our souls are mostly consumed by consuming. This decline in the culture was a central theme in Mann’s Faust, in which the devil mentions Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West, published at the end of the first world war. Spengler divided history into different cultural epochs and was heavily influenced by Faust, saying he owed the philosophy of the book to Goethe. Faust is a specifically Western myth and Joseph Campbell says it reflects European man with his “yearning, striving, creative spirit.” This spirit is also afflicted with a tendency for colonialist imperial ambitions and a will to power that has spread itself around the world. In Goethe’s Faust, he was still striving towards the divine. But by the 20th century, God was dead or effectively ignored as irrelevant, especially in secular Europe. So it’s no surprise that Spengler named Western civilisation as Faustian. A Faustian culture is one that sacrifices spiritual values for worldly knowledge, power and material gain. The Faustian culture focuses on infinity and limitless knowledge, while the Apollonian classical culture focuses on the present, as Rollo May explains in The Cry for Myth: “the Apollonian stands for cultures characterised by reason, harmony, balance and justice. The symbol for Apollonianism is the circle. The symbol for Faustianism, on the contrary, is the straight line, always moving ahead in progress…” But our progress only applies to technical and material things. We don’t apply it to the spiritual and aesthetic realms – religion, philosophy, art and literature – which thrive in the Apollonian culture. The Faustian culture is also more extroverted and focused on competition and materialism. This has created a destructive form of progress as it undermines all the best values of the ‘West’. Rollo May asks: “Will our ending be self-chosen destruction like Marlow’s Faust? Or will we experience some deus ex machina, like Goethe’s Faust, and be given the chance to repent before the fatal bell tolls at midnight?” Or are we like Mann’s Faust, cynical and nihilistic and given over to unconscious despair which we act out by destroying everything good? We’ve gone from wanting to be God like Marlowe’s Faust, to wanting God-like power like Goethe’s Faust, to the denial of God and transcendence like Mann’s Faust. What’s next? To deny humanity and life itself? In Religion and the Rebel, Colin Wilson says that Spengler: “prophesises an age of complete scepticism, which will be the last stage of Western civilisation.” It appears we have arrived. weak men abound The root of the problem can be found within the ‘Western’ psyche, which has split itself in two and declared war against nature and itself – Hobbes’ “war of all against all.” We divided science and art, the head and the heart, with terrible consequences. It’s this division that Goethe explores in Faust, as Colin Wilson explains: “At the beginning of the poem, Faust stands precisely where the modern world stands. He has followed the scientific method to its limit – studied philosophy, medicine, law, and now, he admits, he ‘stands no wiser than before.’ … His knowledge is vanity and futility. It makes him cleverer, but no wiser. His only way to escape is to summon up the devil, and ally himself with him, although he knows the devil is stupider than he is.” This is an example of the ego doubling down and refusing to admit its limitations. Fast forward to the 21st century and the scientific method is regularly thrown out in exchange for enough money, prestige or power. This kind of stupidity leaves us wide open to exploitation, as Wilson continues: “Here is modern man – for all his scientific knowledge, as stupid as his forefathers, and turning to all kinds of political charlatans for leadership – wanting only to be possessed, possessed by anything, by the latest politician or the latest crooner or film star – anything to escape his own futility and emptiness.” You can see this in our hysterical reaction to almost everything over the last few years. The latest wheeze in science is the use of computer models of reality that are riddled with biases and unconscious assumptions. These models are proved wrong time and again, and yet we keep using them to justify our hysteria – as if we can force reality to conform to our models. The arrogance is stunning. The assumption that every problem can be fixed with a rational solution, with enough data; that we can solve the problem of being human, conquer death and disease, and become gods! There are many modern Fausts who think like this, for example: Jeff Bezos hires top scientist to defeat death! And then there’s the transhumanist maniacs, like Yuval Noah Harari, who believe that humanity should be erased because it’s just a story we tell about ourselves. He believes that any meaning we attach to our lives is a delusion and he bastardises Buddhism to prove it. In an interview, he said: “Humans are now hackable animals. The whole idea that humans have this ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’, and nobody knows what’s happening inside them, and they have free will – that’s over.” Harari is wedded to scientism and reductionist materialism and believes that the future of humanity is to become one with machines. We’ll ‘upgrade’ ourselves until we turn into gods and then humanity will be no more. However, his grasp on history and truth is tenuous – read this from Morten Tolboll. the delusion is strong with this one! This kind of ideological thinking is dangerous as well as stupid. When you believe that you’re rational and that history only goes in one direction you can justify unspeakable acts of evil in the name of the greater good. Whatever you do, it’s not evil because evil doesn’t exist – it’s just a story – therefore you can do what thou wilt. The delusions of scientism arise from our belief in a machine universe devoid of meaning. And this belief is rooted in fear and/or hatred of life (and death, because death is part of life). It also creates an obsession with technology and the mechanical. In The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, Erich Fromm discusses the nature of malignant aggression, which includes “the passion to destroy life and the attraction to all that is dead, decaying, and purely mechanical.” This can be expressed as necrophilia, the love of death and machines, which: “threatens to become the secret principle of a society in which the conquest of nature by the machine constitutes the very meaning of progress, and where the living person becomes an appendix to the machine.” Necrophilia isn’t only a sexual perversion, but includes the worship of speed and the machine, the glorification of war, hatred of women, the destruction of culture, and seeing things like cars and planes as living forces. We could also add the preference for computer models of reality over reality itself. This has become the philosophy of the ‘West’ – if we can call it philosophy, as there’s not much love of wisdom to be found. Goethe described it like this: “The Godhead is effective in the living and not in the dead, in the becoming and the changing, not in the become and set-fast; and therefore, accordingly, reason (Vernunft) is concerned only to strive toward the divine through the becoming and the living, and the understanding (Verstand) only to make use of the become and set-fast.” The ‘West’ no longer seems interested in the living and becoming, but only in what it can nail down and hold on to – the set-fast. The set-fast is the world of Mephistopheles: the fixed, empirical machine world of facts and logic. Colin Wilson in Religion and the Rebel again: “All things are discovered by intuition, as the lives of the great mathematicians and scientists prove again and again. Logic plods after intuition, and verifies discoveries in its own pedestrian way. Logic is a mere servant of the imagination. To exalt it – as modern thinkers tend to – is to invite spiritual anarchy.” Anarchy used here in the sense of chaos or disorder. He continues: “Most Western philosophers have been spiritual cripples. The West has exalted the reasoning power above all other faculties, and the scientists and doctors can get away with anything. And yet we know that a man can have an extraordinary reasoning power, and yet still be a fool.” Our rational mind has got as far as it can in its understanding of the world because it’s locked inside a box of its own making. The box is reinforced by postmodernism which locks us into a self-referential loop that denies objective truth, rooted in a denial of transcendence, like Mann’s Faust. Ironically, the denial of objective reality is deeply unscientific and irrational. Everything that we don’t like or can’t explain using science has been stuffed into the subconscious from where it causes havoc from our shadow. The collective unconscious is now bursting with trauma and pain and fear and denial of death. We desperately need to break out of the box or we’ll go mad and destroy ourselves. Our obsession with technology makes this situation worse. Perhaps technology has become our Mephistopheles, sitting on our shoulder, leading us up the garden path and off a cliff. But there’s a twist. As with Mann’s Faust, it may be that the devil is a figment of our own imagination and a product of our shadow. Algorithms and machine learning act as feedback loops that reflect our own beliefs and behaviour back to us. Social media could be a useful tool for shadow work, if we grow up: For Mann, the flaw in the culture was the trivialisation of art, i.e. the loss or devaluing of the soul. We all lose part of our soul when we’re born into a system that conditions us to hate ourselves and life. We’re all Faust now, and like Faust, we have access to almost unlimited knowledge and yet we’re bored out of our tiny minds – anaesthetised. We blame the technology when things don’t go the way we imagined they should. But we were the ones who created the technology. We blamed God because we couldn’t understand him. So we killed him to hide from our failure. In Beyond the Occult, Colin Wilson says we shouldn’t blame God for the problems of human existence. The real problem is in the limitations of our senses which prevent us from seeing reality as it is. Plato explained this problem in his cave allegory, and William Blake understood, saying: “Man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through the narrow chinks of his cavern.” Even Goethe’s Faust says: “The spirit world is not closed: Your senses are: your heart is dead!” Some feel trapped in this narrow prison – the gnostic view – but this prison is self-created. That means it can be uncreated. You can free yourself from the wheel of rebirth and suffering, but it takes effort. You can’t just make a deal with the devil for an easy life, like the miller in the Handless Maiden tale. The trick to overcoming the negation of Mephistopheles and his lies is to see God in all things, like a mystic. Open your senses and your heart to life, and say YES! 02/05/2022 Jessica Davidson — This article is reprinted from Jessica Davidson’s website under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. No alterations have been made in the content except for the removal of images. Ed. Originally published here
In a world where everyone is using “smart” technology, just how smart is that? It’s time to reduce the negative effects of technology and make safer, and smarter choices — putting your life and health first. We live in a world inundated with smart technology. Smart devices such as cell phones, Kindles, laptops, iPads, Alexa, not-so-smart watches, Fitbits, and other AI servants surround us daily. These devices also include things like security alarms, baby monitors, wireless internet routers, smart appliances, smart doorbells, smoke alarms and a variety of other “home helper” devices. All of these devices are using radio frequencies that emit radiation at levels that can can cause disturbances in biological systems – human, animal, insect, fish, and plant. WiFi and bluetooth devices are constantly two-way signaling when turned on, moving through our biological pathways and frequencies. What is WiFi? WiFi is not exactly what you may think. It is not an acronym for wireless fidelity, but the idea did come from “hi fidelity” or “hi-fi.” Remember this? Sound quality was what everyone wanted — and so it happened. WiFi is a marketing term created by a wireless alliance network that considered this term easier for the public to digest than “ieee802.11b direct sequence.” This is a standard by which all devices are communicating with each other. In other words, wi-fi is referring to the interoperability of things. Every appliance that you own, or work with, that is not corded and is working via “wi-fi” and this means radiation emissions from them are coming through all biological systems. Cell towers, those large unsightly structures, are totaling more than 310,000 thousand and the numbers rise every year to serve over 300 million cell phone in this country. They have receiving and transforming capacities in their structures perched on the tall poles or stands. Often they are camouflaged to look like trees, crosses, or other structures to hide their unsightly appearance. Covering four major carriers — AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint — these towers can cover up to 45 miles of transmission to devices. And, you can see at least one every half to one mile in larger cities. Towers are even being placed on ocean floors! 5G Technology and Beyond 5G, the carriers newest hi-speed technology, is untested by the FCC or telecom for safety in biological systems, however it is still present in most cellphones in the US today. It emits frequencies in the realm of 10-20 gigahertz, or 10 to 20 billion cycles per second speeds. 5G requires dense infrastructure in order to work as the industry would like. This means millions of small cells will need to be installed near homes and businesses for the connections to be intensified. To compare the speeds and frequencies by generation, consider this: 1G = 2.4 kilohertz (this was audio only, at 2.40000 cycles per second) in the 1980’s2G = 50 kilohertz (which brouhg us calls, texts, SMS, and messaging) in 19912.75-3G = 384 kilohertz (this meant faster broadband) in 19984G = 100 megahertz up to 1 gigahertz (fast, HD, videos, gaming, conferencing) in 20085G = Up to 20 gigaherz and rising as big tech increases to 6G and beyond Keep in mind, in 2011 cell phone technology was designated as a Class 2B Carginogen, which means that is could possibly cause cancer. Wired technology is just simply safer. Unlike wireless devices, there is virtually no radiation coming from a wired tech device. Consider using wired phones and ethernet cables for the safest environment. Your life and the rest of the world around us matters! The first step to taking back your life and health is recognition of the issue. Knowing that this is serious and is affecting your life, it is time to change how you approach wireless technology and your phone habits. Cell Phone Addiction Addictions are often associated with things such as illegal substances, food, gambling, etc. Currently there is no medical disorder listing for “cell phone addiction,” however research shows the 10 to 20 percent of the general population reports feeling addicted to, or at least lost without, their cell phones. In fact nomophobia is the colloquial for smartphone addiction and means the “fear of not having your phone.” And, textaphrenia is the “fear of not being able to send or receive texts.” A report released in October 2019 by the nonprofit organization Common Sense Media found that 8- to 12-year-olds in the United States now use screens for entertainment for an average of 4 hours, 44 minutes a day, and 13- to 18-year-olds are on screens for an average of 7 hours, 22 minutes each day (The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens, 2019). These numbers don’t count time using screens for schoolwork or homework. You may have a cell phone problem if you: Use phone most of your day outside of work or homeHave significant distress as a result of non-use of your phoneHave unsuccessfully tried to limit your use or refuse to limit your use of your phoneHave “phantom vibrations” — feel your phone ringing, even if it is not truly ringingNeglect your personal relationships due to constant use of your phoneContinue use your phone despite ill effects on your health Cell phone addiction can lead to things such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, social isolation and withdrawal, loss of relationships, insomnia, and motor vehicle accidents. Medical conditions such as cardiac rhythm issues, hypertension, coagulation or clotting, hormone disruptions, neurological problems, and cancer can occur. Breaking a Phone Habit The first step to taking back your life and health is recognition of the issue. Knowing that this is serious and is affecting your life, it is time to change how you approach wireless technology and your phone habits. Some important moves to help reduce exposure to dangerous radioactive elements and to addictive tendencies include: Keeping your distance — it makes a differenceKnowing to turn off your phone or put in airplane mode, with WiFi and bluetooth turned off as wellTurning of wifi and routers when not is use and at nightLimiting your use of devices to an absolute need onlyDon’t use your phone near your head — use the speaker or hands-free optionsAvoid phone use in bedrooms and for a few hours before sleepDo not put wireless devices into children’s handsTry to use wired devices and ethernet cables when at all possibleAvoid use in cars, elevators, or other enclosed “metal” placesObtain an EMF meter to check the amount of radiation that you are exposed toResearch all mitigation tools like pendants, bracelets, crystals, stones to wear or have in your home or workplaceAvoid living anywhere near a cell towerMake a concerted effort to be closer to natural surroundings such as water, woods, and open spacesEngage your kids in more activities that eliminate cell phone useStop paying for the phones and let your kids know that they will need to pay their wayHave device-free mealtimes — no phones at allStop the phone use at home and especially in evenings; turn off in evening and encourage reading books and/or other activitiesCheck a website called Environmental Health Trust (environmentalhealthtrust.org) for most information that is truthful, scientific, and up-to-date It’s imperative that you start connecting back to real living and interacting with people, animals, plants, and nature in general. This is all critical for a life of robust health and fulfillment. If you or a loved on or friend may be in need of help. it is worth taking time to obtain this from a qualified provider of care. This may include: A naturopathic physician who recognizes and can assist/guide you for ameliorationA holistic care center with behavioral/mental health providersA wellness coach to assist in planning lifestyle Community Wide Changes What is happening around us daily is affecting us all. This is a planet that was once free of artificial intelligence, and now it id enveloped by it. If you want to be a part of the salvation of the planet, you can’t hide behind the doors. Make a commitment to help your neighborhood and surrounding areas. Talk to your HOA committees and let them know this is a concern. Resources include Environmental Health Trust, a non-profit organization founded by Dr. Devra Davis, PhD, MPH, who has collaborated with other non-profits to help spread the science and alert people globally on the dangers inherent and rampant in the realm of wireless technology. Help yourself and your world today! References and Recommended Reading 1. EMF Practical Guide: The Simple Science of Protecting Yourself, Healing Chronic Inflammation, and Living a Naturally Healthy Life in our Toxic Electromagnetic World, by Lloyd Burrell 2. Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, by Dr. Devra Davis, PhD, MPH Dr. Maria Scunziano-Singh is a board-certified physician with a medical degree from New York Medical College who also holds a diploma from Clayton College of Natural Health as a naturopathic medical doctor. For over 20 years in practice, her passion of bringing health to others through her practice at Access Healthcare Physicians has been expanded to Naturopathic Medicine at the newly opened WellCome OM Integral Healing & Education Center in Spring Hill, Florida.
The condition of the vritti, or the particular modification of the mind in respect of objects, is the condition of our life. Whatever the vrittis are, that we are. We are almost inseparable from the situations through which our mind passes because life is experience, and experience is associated so intimately with the stages and states of our mind that, we may say, mind is life and life is mind. If this is the fact, the mind is, again, inseparable from its constituents, and these constituents of the mind are known as the vrittis. Thus, by a gradual reduction to the minimum of the processes involved in our life as a whole, we conclude that the modifications of the mind are an explanation of everything. Now, what are these modifications? As we studied earlier, they are certain transformations which the mind undergoes on account of stimuli which it receives from outside. The term ‘object’ that we use here in yoga psychology has a peculiar significance that is slightly different from the commonsense definition of it. In this psychology of yoga, the object before the mind or before the psyche is not necessarily something physical outside, but it is any kind of form that is presented to the mind. The object is better put as ‘form’ rather than any kind of concrete substance. The shape presented before the mental operation is its object. Thus, the object of the mind may be external or it can be purely internal. A concept also is an object. Just as when a physical object is perceived it casts the mind into the mould of that particular form of the object, in the same way, when a thought arises in the mind, the mind gets cast into the mould of even that concept. So the vritti of the mind studied in yoga is that modification of the mind into which it is cast by either an external perception of a physical object or by purely the rise of a concept within itself. We will not go into the question of how concepts arise in the mind, as that is not our subject today. Suffice it to say that whenever an idea, concept or notion arises in the mind, that becomes an object for the mind. The mind temporarily is cast into the formation or the mould of that concept, and there is a vritti even in internal perception. Even if we close all our sensory avenues, shut our eyes and plug our ears and have no sensations outside, there can be an object for the mind, which is samsara or existence binding us to temporal life even if our senses are not operating. Hence, the yoga psychology tells us that the study of the mind is a more difficult task than merely an analysis of sensory perception. Though it is true that the mind depends upon the senses for its knowledge, it does not always depend on sensory activity for undergoing any transformation into a vritti. It is not true that the vritti of the mind takes place only when there is sensory perception. Even a mere thought can cause a vritti. Concisely speaking, a vritti is any kind of modification of the mind into a particular form. What is a form? The form which we call an object for the purpose of our study here is a location of consciousness. It is the tethering of our thoughts into a particular spot, the fixing of our attention on a particular notion in terms of space and time. The form is inseparable from the space-time concept. As a matter of fact, there is no form without space-time, and the very idea of the operation of a limiting adjunct such as space-time is the determining factor of any form. The mind cannot escape transforming itself into vrittis under any circumstance. Even if there be no physical objects, it will be in samsara; it will be in a process of vritti. Therefore, the study of yoga is a very deep-rooted subject which is not merely a theoretical formation of ideas concerning the outer structure of objects, but is primarily a study of the inner structure of the mind. We may wonder why yoga is so concerned with the mind rather than with objects, while the world is such a vast reservoir of physical objects. The philosophy of yoga itself is the explanation, through which we have passed sometime back. It is not the objects of the world that are our concern. This is the great dictum of Yoga, Sankhya and Vedanta. We are not to concern ourselves with the things of the world so much as what happens inside us. Our experiences are our concern, not the objects outside. The objects are merely agents in creating a stimulus in our mind, but what sort of stimulus will be created within us depends upon our makeup. This means that the manner in which we react to the presence of an object outside is our concern, and this not entirely dependent on the nature of things. Things stimulate the mind, it is true, and create a vritti in the mind, but what sort of formation or vritti is created in the mind depends upon the stage of evolution of the mind. A particular word that is uttered, a single sentence that is spoken may create different senses and emotions in different people’s minds according to the way in which they understand them and the meaning that it conveys to them. The meaning that the objects convey to the mind is thus the factor that determines the character of the formation of the mind into the vritti. What meaning does the world convey to our mind? We now very subtly come from objects to forms, from forms to space-time concepts, and from there to the meaning that the things have for our mind. What is the meaning that we read into things in general when we observe things? That meaning is our form, that is our object, and that is the cause of the vritti. So whatever be the meaning that we read into things in general, that would be our experience, that would be our psychological world, and that would be the subject of yoga. We are happy or unhappy, as the case may be, in accordance with the nature of the reactions the mind sets up in respect of the meaning it reads in the objects of the world. This is why everyone cannot be in the same state of mind, even though a single object may be presented before them. If one uniform object is placed before an audience of a hundred people, it will set up different types of reactions from different minds, so we cannot say that the object as such is wholly the cause of pleasure or pain. Much depends upon the reading of the mind in respect of that object based upon various factors, both of which constitute the mind itself. Thus, the practice of meditation is a study of the relationship of the mind to objects. The study of yoga is not the study of objects, though it began with a study of the structure of things. From this study of the structure of objects in general in the world we came to the study of the mind, and we found that the study of the mind is inseparable from the character or the nature of the relationship that it has with objects. We have thus a threefold nexus of the object, the mind, and its relationship with the object, which is called the granthi in yoga parlance. We have so many granthis or knots in our psychological setup, called Brahma-granthi, Vishnu-granthi, Rudra-granthi, etc. These granthis, or knots, are nothing but the ties into which the mind gets involved in respect of the formation, or vrittis, generated within it. Therefore, yoga psychology is a very complicated subject, and a study of it is a study of everything, for the matter of that, externally as well as internally. Now we come to a very important phase in meditation. You have to recall what you have heard last time, because I am only continuing the subject from where we left earlier; otherwise, it will look entirely new to you. The particular phase of meditation which is so important to the student of yoga is expressed in a very pithy aphorism of yoga: kṣīṇavṛtteḥ abhijātasya iva maṇeḥ grahītṛ grahaṇa grāhyeṣu tatstha tadañjanatā samāpattiḥ (Y.S. 1.41). This is one sutra, or aphorism, which describes the condition of a very high state of meditation. It has a world of meaning in it though the aphorism is so short. All aphorisms are short, no doubt, but they convey a depth of meaning. What happens to the mind when it enters into a deep state of meditation is what is told to us in this sutra, in this aphorism. The literal translation of this aphorism would be: When the mind becomes transparent due to the reduction of the vrittis or transformations of the mind in meditation, the nature of its object gets reflected through it and the character of the object gets so absorbed into the transparent structure of the mind that the mind and the object become inseparable, as the colour of an object brought near a pure crystal gets absorbed into the crystal itself and the colour and the crystal become indistinguishable. This would be the meaning of this aphorism. In the earlier stages of meditation we have to struggle hard to fix our attention on a particular chosen object because the object always remains outside the mind. It will not enter into the mind in any manner whatsoever. Neither will the mind agree to get identified with the object, nor will the object be amenable to this attempt on the part of the meditator. The object and the mind always remain isolated and cut off in every respect, so that the initial stages of meditation consist of struggle and intense effort on the part of the meditator to identify the characters of mind and object. But the state described here is a little different one, and much higher. The difference – or rather, to put it more plainly, the physical separation of the object from the mind in ordinary perception – is due to the fact that the mind has vrittis which are not wholly transparent but are disturbing and also inert, torpid, tamasic. The vrittis are of three kinds: sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. The modification of the mind is, therefore, of a threefold character: it can be transparent, which is called sattvic; it can be distracting, which is called rajasic; or it may be stagnant, which is called tamasic. The vritti that is tamasic is incapable of any action. The mind stands stupid, as it were, knowing nothing, in the state of tamas. It gets confounded, bewildered, and knows not what to do. That condition is the tamas vritti of the mind, which is wholly unsuited for meditation because when the mind is confounded and stands in a state of ignorance, it cannot act. Tamasic vrittis are unsuited for meditation. Nor are the rajasic vrittis wholly conducive because they are distracting, pulling the mind in different directions. When we try to fix the mind in one direction, it is pulled in another direction. This is what we call the rajasic vritti. That particular form of vritti which is conducive to meditation is the sattvic one, which stands still and yet is not confounded or ignorant. It is this sattvic vritti, wherein the rajasic and the tamasic vrittis are reduced to the minimum, though not wholly abolished, does the object get reflected properly. In muddy and shaky water, the sun is not properly reflected. If the water is wholly muddy there will be no reflection at all; this can be compared to the tamasic condition. If the water is shaking too much, we cannot see the sun properly; this is rajasic. But if the water is clear and still, we will see the reflection properly. This is sattvic. Now in this sutra we are told that in an advanced state of concentration of mind the vrittis stand harmonised among themselves; they do not war with one another, and it is in the harmony of the vrittis that there is the possibility of the nature of the object getting reflected. We have to remember that the object, as far as the mind is concerned, that it is actually the form of the object cast into the mind as a picture rather than the existence of the physical object outside. The form of the object so gets absorbed into the vritti that the vritti is the form and the form is the vritti. Here a very indescribable state of satisfaction arises in the mind. When the object stands in unison with the mind, we feel satisfaction inside. This is the satisfaction, this is the joy, this is the ananda or the bliss spoken of in meditation. We are unhappy when our desired object is outside us, when there is bereavement from the object, when the object refuses to come into our possession and be enjoyed by us, or when the object is wholly alien to our nature. Happiness is the union of the object with the subject. Where the two are separate, there is pain; where they are one, there is joy. This state of union does not come quickly. There are various stages through which we have to pass, and we can mention at least three of them. The first stage is isolation, separation, distinction; the second stage is harmony and equilibrium, and the third stage is actual merger or unity. The state of isolation is what we experience ordinarily. Every object is outside us. We have nothing to do with them, and they cannot be said to be our property. We do not possess objects, because they are already outside us. Inasmuch as the objects are outside us, we can lose them at any time, and so we are in a state of insecurity and unhappiness. No one can be happy in the world as long as the objects are outside the mind, and there is no knowing as to what the objects will do to the person, or what will happen. Any catastrophe can break out at any moment. But when things stand in harmony or mutual agreement, there is what we call a good government of things. There is no insecurity or fear because everything is in unison, in harmony. We mutually cooperate with one another and work for a common cause. This is a good society, a good administration. Then we are secure and happy. But there is a higher stage where we need not simply cooperate as if we are different persons. We stand united as a single person. This is humanly impossible to conceive, but this is what yoga achieves. So in this condition of the meditative process, the isolation of the object from the mind ceases, is put an end to, and the relationship of the mind to the object is enhanced in its intensity. There is a very intense consciousness of the object on account of not merely the proximity of the object to the mind but also the qualitative enhancement of the perception. The nature of our knowledge of objects is ordinarily superficial. We do not have a thorough insight into anything in the world. The study of the subjects to which we are introduced in our educational institutions is a gathering up of information about things; it is not really a knowledge of things. That is why with all our knowledge and education we remain unhappy. An educated person need not necessarily be a happy person because happiness is quite different from education and the knowledge that we have of things. This is unfortunate. So we do not have a real knowledge. Though it is said that knowledge is happiness and knowledge is power, we see the reverse is the case. The knowledge that we have does not give us any power, nor are we happy about it. We are miserable with all our qualifications. The reason is that we do not have real knowledge. We have only information of the outer form of things rather than an insight into their real nature. When the object stands outside our ken of perception, we have a life of struggle, hardship, sweating, and insecurity. When there is a proximity of the object to the perceiving subject, namely, the mind, there is a sense of security. “Oh, the thing that I want is coming near me and there is a chance of my getting it.” The harmony between the mind and the object is, therefore, the cause of the sense of security and the freedom from fear and unhappiness. The nature of the object and the nature of the mind contradict each other in the initial stages. They do not agree at first, but later they become similar. They run parallelly like two persons walking together thinking the same thought. This can be given as a sort of example – not two persons walking together fighting with each other, but thinking the same thought and agreeing with each other in every respect. This is parallel movement of thought and objects. But the third condition, as I said, is humanly inconceivable. It does not take place in ordinary life. It takes place only in supernormal perception. That is the achievement of yoga, the union of the object with the subject. The sutra here cited does not necessarily speak of the union, but of such an intense absorption of oneself with the other that the two remain indistinguishable for practical purposes, like the crystal and the colour of the object brought near it. It is here that the mind has an insight into the nature of the object. This is what they call intuition or direct knowledge, immediate apprehension, and entering of the mind into the object rather than a study of the object by the mind. The mind does not study the object. It enters into the object and partakes of the nature of the object. This is the condition of the mind described in this sutra: kṣīṇavṛtteḥ abhijātasye iva maṇeḥ grahītṛ grahaṇa grāhyeṣu tatstha tadañjanatā samāpattiḥ. Samapatti means the achievement which comes to one in yoga. There grahita, grahana, grahsya, the three terms used here indicating the perceiver, the perceived and the process of perception, come together so that we do not know who is the perceiver, which is the perceived, and where the perceptional process lies. It is like having three connected water tanks on a common level: the water moves from one tank to another because they are on the same level, and we cannot know to or from where the water is actually moving. There is no up and down here, no irreconcilability between the mind and the object. The character of the object has become the character of the mind, and vice versa, so we do not know which is the thinker, which is the thought-of object, and which is the process of thinking. This is the penultimate state of yogic achievement. The mind becomes absolutely calm, undisturbed by the thought of any object. The mind need not think of any object here because it has become the object, assumed the form of the object. That which we wanted has already come to us, so we need not worry about it anymore. We do not worry about an object which is already in our possession, but we are disturbed by that which is outside us and which we would like to have. When the mind assumes this condition and reaches this state of the capacity to absorb the nature of the object into itself, it is endowed with a specific type of power. It is not that it can merely assume the form of any particular object; it can enter into the nature of any object so that it can become omniscient, knowing all things. Though there are millions of objects in the world, their essential structure is the same. Human nature is the same wherever we go. If we study one human being thoroughly, we have studied all human beings. If we know that one grain of rice in a vessel of boiling water is cooked, we know that every grain is cooked. We need not squeeze every grain to know that it is cooked. So the study of one object thoroughly, to the very root, is the study of the whole universe. Therefore, the mastery that the mind acquires or achieves over one object, thoroughly, root and branch, is actually the mastery that it acquires of the whole world. By concentration on a single object, the mind can master the structure of every object in the world because all objects are constituted of the same pattern and, ultimately, of the same substance. The variety we see in the world is a false variety; it is not true. It is like the many kinds of shirts that we have in the shops, all made of the same cotton fibre. Whatever be the colour or the shape or the size or the pattern of the cloth or the shirting, it is all cotton fibre ultimately. We know that very well. So the variety is only a superficial variety; it is not essential. Likewise, the very manifold objects of the world are only an outward variety that is presented before the senses. When we go deeper into their structure we will find they are uniform. So the mind has entered into the object, not merely an object – the object as such in its essential characterisation. Yogic meditation is, thus, an entry into the nature of the object. Ultimately there is only one object before the mind. The whole universe is a single object. The universe is not a variety of different patterns before the mind, but a single object confronting the mind, arousing in itself various kinds of vrittis. Now, the variety of vrittis that arise in the mind is due to the variety of forms that the mind perceives, which is another aspect of the matter. We are unable to recognise the common background of the various objects of the world. We are disturbed by different persons and things because of the difference that we see through the senses and which the mind accepts. If we are to recognise the common basis of these various forms, we would not be disturbed in a variegated fashion. Different things will not disturb us in different ways. The vrittis are manifold in the beginning because of the inability of the mind to see the background of the various forms. It sees variety. ‘A’ is different from ‘B’, ‘B’ is different from ‘C’, and so on; therefore, if ‘A, B, C, D, E’ all are to come and disturb the mind, varieties of emotions and vrittis will arise in the mind. There will be a medley of confusion in thought. So the man of the world is misery incarnate merely because of the fact he finds himself in a world of various different sources of distraction because he has not yet gone into the depth of things. In the higher form of meditation where this variety is boiled down to a harmony, as I mentioned, the mind is more secure and happy. But when it finds that the object before it is only one, the whole prakriti or the whole universe, it has one vritti before it. In deeper forms of meditation we have only one object, not because we have chosen one object out of many but because there is really only one object, so the question of choosing one from the many does not arise. Then there will be a single vritti in the mind. That single vritti is that of the single object. This is a state which cannot ordinarily be reached by people. I cannot say that any one of us is in this condition of meditation. This is only an ideal that is placed before us which we have to reach, and which will be the solution of all our problems. We are still in a stage of conflict between the mind and the object. The character of the object is different from the character of the mind, and therefore, every day we have to struggle with our mind so that it may fix its attention on the object. This state of insight is very far from us, but that is the goal to which we are heading. Without reaching this state, our questions will not finally be answered and our goal cannot be said to have been achieved. Now I am coming to a single object, not many objects, which is the world taken as a whole. The more we approach an object, the more we approximate our nature to that of the object; the greater is our proximity to the object, the greater is the energy that we receive from the object. The weakness of our personality is due to a conflict between mind and object – as psychologists would tell us, the conflict with reality. The conflict or the irreconcilability of the mind with the object is the cause of the daily struggle of life, and this struggle weakens our psychological system. We need not actually fight with hands and feet in order to have this struggle. We may be sitting quietly in our room and yet we may be struggling in our thoughts to reconcile ourselves to the atmosphere outside. It is the difficulty involved in this irreconcilability of ourselves with the world outside that is the cause of the trouble and the depletion of energy, the weakness of our system and our unhappiness in general. The yoga psychology, as I mentioned, is far more general than the usual themes of our psychological systems. The thought of an object is a conflict, according to yoga. The conflict is not merely the friction that physically takes place between two persons and things, but it is a disturbance caused in the mind by the presence of an object in front. As the radar system can get disturbed by the proximity of an object coming near it though the object may not dash upon the radar, the mind gets disturbed by the presence of the object, by the consciousness of the object, even if the object is far away physically. The conflict between the mind and the object, therefore, is a state of consciousness. The consciousness of an object is the opposite of the yoga consciousness. In yoga, there is no consciousness of an object, but consciousness as the object. The presence of the object, therefore, is the reason for the disturbance of the mind and the cause of conflict. The object should cease to be an alien or a foreign element to the consciousness. This is the final objective of yoga meditation. The moment we become aware of an object outside us, we have started the battle. The war starts in our mind, in our consciousness, as soon as we become aware of a world outside. From the moment we get up in the morning till we go to sleep at night, we are in a state of warfare with the world from the point of view of yoga psychology. We cannot be happy for a single moment of the day, however much we may struggle. As long as the army is there arrayed in front of us, we cannot be happy. Either the army has to vanish, or we have to make peace with it. If they are up in arms in front of us, how can we be happy? The philosophy behind the psychology of yoga, which we have studied previously, will tell us how the unity of the object with the perceiving consciousness becomes the source of perfection, power and happiness. The universe is ultimately not bifurcated into the subject and the object. The world has no inside and outside. It has no within and without. It has no seer and seen. From the point of view of the universe taken as a whole, there is no such thing as a seer isolated from the seen. Which is the seer and which is the seen in the world? From the point of view of a particular unit of individuality, there can be the seer from its own point of view and the seen from the other’s point of view. But here we study reality, not mere individuality. Nature, the universe, prakriti, has no distinction of drasta and drishya, seer and seen. Thus, the difference that we create in our perception as the seer and the seen is false, and because of the false state of consciousness in which we are, we live an unnatural kind of life. Nature does not help us. The perfection that is in nature is outside us. Perfection is unity, harmony, whereas imperfection is conflict, isolation, separation. We are talking in a different style and a new kind of language altogether when we speak of psychology of yoga. We are not speaking the ordinary tongue or the usual grammar of our language. These terms, these ideas, these concepts and this subject is entirely novel and has a new connotation altogether. The nature of the object, the nature of perception, and the nature of the subject may all be grammatically intelligible to us, but their connotation is much deeper than the dictionary meaning. So in yoga meditation we are rising into a wider expanse of our consciousness. The location of an object to a pinpointed spot in space and time is the cause of the limitation of consciousness. We remain limited to a particular form of an object on account of our assumption that the object is only in one place, so we have no knowledge of other things. We have this attitude in respect of our own body also. Our consciousness is lodged in this body, and we are under the notion that it is inside the body and there is nothing outside. That is why we are so fond of this body, limiting our reality to the body alone while regarding everything else as auxiliary to the satisfactions of our body. But consciousness cannot be so limited. By nature, consciousness is unlimited, and to limit it to the body or to any particular object is to introduce a kind of unnaturalness to it. This is called vritti. The limitation of consciousness to a particular form, either of an object outside or of one’s own body, is to make the mind assume a form, or a vritti. When the vritti diminishes in content and number, the limitation of consciousness is also slowly lifted up, and vice versa. When we delimit consciousness by the study of the nature of the form that has caused the vritti in a greater profundity, the limitation is slowly lifted up and consciousness assumes a gradually widening expanse; then, in the higher forms of meditation, there is only one object, which is the universe, and consciousness becomes all pervading. The consciousness is limited to that extent, as is the nature of the object. When the object is expanded, lifted above the smaller limitations of isolated things, consciousness also gets equally expanded so that the wider is the object, the wider also is the consciousness, and in the widest form of the object, which is the universe or prakriti taken in its completeness, consciousness becomes sarvato mukha, all-formed, all-faced, omniscient. This is the state described in this sutra cited just now: kṣīṇavṛtteḥ abhijātasye iva maṇeḥ grahītṛ grahaṇa grāhyeṣu tatstha tadañjanatā samāpattiḥ. Here, in this condition, all seeds of suffering get dried up. We will not anymore be suffering in this world. We will always be happy under every circumstance because all circumstances cease to be alien features to the mind. They become absorbed into the mind so that the mind knows how to handle them, whatever they be. This is mastery over things. The mind becomes happy because of the mastery it acquires over things in general. It becomes a master of everything, every situation, every object. It can handle anything with ease because here the object does not remain outside the mind. The seeds or samskaras of pain and suffering cease to be. There is thus an indescribable joy. It is not the joy of introversion or isolation of the mind like the artificial joy that we may feel inside our house when we are free from the teeth of a tiger in a jungle. If we are pursued by a tiger, we may run gasping into our house and feel happy because we are safe, but this is not the sort of happiness that yoga bestows upon us. The tiger is still in the jungle and if we go there, it will attack us again. But here the tiger has gone. It has become our own friend. So there is a difference between two kinds of happiness. Escape from the enemy is one kind of happiness, but the enemy becoming our own friend is a different kind of happiness. It is larger and more permanent. So in yoga happiness, yoga delight, we are not escaping from an enemy. It is not introversion of the mind from reality, but the absorption of reality into the mind so that there is no further cause of unhappiness, no more attack from outside factors. Wonderful is this condition. This state of affairs, this condition of concentration of mind does not always come to us. It comes very rarely, we do not know how. Some say it is by the grace of God. Some say it is by the fructification of our previous karmas. Sometimes is looks like a miracle. Whatever it is, our thoughts are feeble when they confront this problem. A wonder takes place. All this is a wonder, finally. We do not know what it is and how it is. As the Upanishads and the Gita tell us: āścaryavat paśyati kaścid enam (BG 2.29). We have to look on it as a miracle. Our whole life is a miracle. It is not a mathematical equation or a logical deduction. In this condition we are in a state of blessedness on account of the unification of the objective nature with the subjective, and consciousness tending towards the universal. The three stages of the mind are sarvarthata, ekagrata and ekatva. Sarvarthata is multi-faced activity of the mind in a state of distraction. Ekagrata is the state of mind where it stands in unison with the object, and ekatva is merger into the object. All that is the power of the cosmos enters the consciousness here. Purusha and prakriti become one. The world and consciousness do not anymore stand separate. The resources and the strengths that we have in nature become a part of consciousness, and consciousness becomes powerful, endowed with all the resources of nature. Bodily and psychologically we become stronger. While yoga gives us this grand description of the goal, it also gives us a caution and a warning: Do not think that this is easy of attainment. A very humorous but pertinent analogy of Gaurapada, the great Grand-guru of Acharya Sankara, says, “Hard is this control of the mind like the emptying of the ocean with a blade of grass.” How can you empty the ocean with a blade of grass? How many years will it take? Some such difficulty is this difficulty in controlling the mind. Do not think that it is your mind and, therefore, you can do anything with it. Rather, you belong to it instead of its belonging to you. It will make you dance to its tune. Yoga states come and go, and therefore, you have to practise meditation every day. You should not miss even one day. If a single day is missed, the thread of concentration breaks, and to bring it again to that state is very difficult. The sutra of the yoga system also gives us another advice in this connection, that not only do we have to practise yoga incessantly for a long period, but also with great love, ardour, affection and longing for it. We must long for yoga as we love our own child. As a mother loves her child or the child loves its mother, we have to love yoga. It should be impossible for us to live without it. That longing is the precondition of success in yoga. If we weep for it and cry for it and cannot live without it, it will come because mumukshutva, or spiritual longing, is regarded ultimately as the final condition of success in yoga. While we may have all qualifications, such as the intellectual, the ethical and even the moral to some extent, if this yearning for it is not there, our heart is tending in some other direction, then success will not come. Thus, we are given a practical suggestion and a hint from all aspects of the matter as to how we can deal with our environment, which is our object in yoga, how the conflict with it can cease and become a cooperation or a harmony, and how this harmony can deepen itself further and become a unification, a veritable insight into the nature of things. This is what is usually called the state of samadhi, which means equilibrium of consciousness. When the nature of the object and that of consciousness stand in a state of equilibrium, it is samadhi. When they are opposed to each other, it is perception. That is the difference. They must have a state of harmony with each other and become one with each other. This is the state of cosmic experience where we do not live anymore as an individual or a human being. We are no more a person, and we will want nothing. The question of want does not arise. The word itself becomes meaningless there. This is the state of being, satta, of consciousness in a state of deep meditation of yoga. [With deep gratitude to Swamiji] Read original here