A New Synthesis of Yoga as a necessity to overcome the impasse of modernity - Skype - Track 405 (29 September 2008)

Now, Sri Aurobindo has said that this insistence upon the spiritual solution is not likely to be easily accepted. 

Sri Aurobindo himself has pointed out that at first sight this insistence on a radical change of nature may seem to put off all the hope of humanity to a distant evolutionary future. Humanity is always demanding a solution and solution right now and anything that is put off for the future is considered to be a bright dream but of no practical utility. It is this important point that we need to dwell upon and I think it is already 8:15 now in my watch and maybe that I can stop here for the moment and ask if there are any comments or questions upto.. on whatever I have said so far.

Debashish, would you like to make any comment or some other friends who are listening to this would like to make a comment?

Debashish: Thank you so much Kireetji. I think I will defer and allow some.. somebody else since I've already spoken quite a big bit in the beginning. If anybody else.. I think what you have presented is very very important and powerful consideration. Particularly, this entire very very important chapter on religion and the dangers that it presents to us today as a possible sort of half-baked solution out of our rational impasse. So I will in.. sort of, you know, pass on and allow anybody who wants to ask questions to go ahead and explore this further.

Vincent Masa: Can I make a comment? 

Yes, yes, what is your name? 

Vincent Masa: Vincent Masa. 

Yes. Yes. Yes. 

Vincent Masa: I just wanted to say that I found your talk, for me, extremely Illuminating. It's.. it's just put into form a lot of what I've been., it's made it easier for me to understand and put into the context of Sri Aurobindo, what is happening in the world. And that's a.. that's a wonderful thing. Anyways, thank you very much. 

Thank you. Thank you so much.

Vincent Masa: I just wish I could put.. I just wish that.. wish that more knowledge to put that into, to draw on as as you do it and it seems so familiar in.. in Sri Aurobindo's writings. It seems so real to you.. I you have that ability, as Debashish used, to recall all that. I just would.. I just wished I can do that or at some point be able to do that myself. Thank you. 

Thank you. You know, I would like to make a short comment on what you said just now. In fact, you know, there was a very interesting question which was asked to the Mother when the works of Sri Aurobindo were being proposed to be taught in our center of education at Pondicherry. Between 1959 to 1973 we put many questions to the Mother on how to teach our students and almost every day there was some illumination coming from the Mother and one of the questions was put to her was:

How shall we teach the works of Sri Aurobindo to the students?

There were many debates around among teachers. 

(Hello. Hello. Hello. We can hear you.. I can hear you.. You can hear. All right.)

You see this was a very interesting question. Some people who were saying we should not teach Sri Aurobindo at all because who can teach Sri Aurobindo? Some other said no, no, we should at least do something about them because such a big treasure available to all of us and our center of education is dedicated to Sri Aurobindo and if Sri Aurobindo is not taught at this center, where can it be taught? In any case many people felt that our students at least should know about Sri Aurobindo and should know about Sri Aurobindo quite well and if so, how can it be done? Some people thought that only Mother should be.. should be requested to teach Sri Aurobindo's works and nobody else.

A question was put to the Mother by a teacher saying Mother as far as spiritual teaching is concerned only Mother should teach our children and other teachers in the school should teach only physics, chemistry, biology; all that is concerning the world. 

And Mother answered: that you are still making a big division between spirituality and earthly life. She said: what is not spiritual?

She went to.. she went to say that everything that is to be taught, whether it's mathematics or physics or chemistry or biology or geography or history, all that is a vibration of the Spirit. And then she dwelt on this at length and it made a tremendous impact upon the teachers of ours center of education.

Another question was just put was: Mother how shall we teach a given book of Sri Aurobindo? One teacher said shall I read one passage from Sri Aurobindo and then all sit (in) meditation on that paragraph? Or shall we not even read? but only go to the class, open the book and tell students: you read this paragraph silently and we all meditate on it? Or shall we explain what Sri Aurobindo has said?

These were alternatives put to the Mother.

And mother said that teacher should not be a screen between Sri Aurobindo and the student. That is to say, the teacher should not act as a kind of a glass, as a screen which can stop, some kind of passage that comes out of the light that comes from Sri Aurobindo, which is passing towards students. The role of the teacher, Mother said, is that the teacher gives a full background of the problem that Sri Aurobindo is dealing with in a given book, or a given passage, to which you want to refer. And that background should lead the students to the presence of a problem in all his acuteness. So the students are led to seek the solution for it. And then you should present the solution as Sri Aurobindo has given. But in presenting the solution of Sri Aurobindo care must be taken to see that the teacher does not become a screen. You may read one of the.. you may read a passage of Sri Aurobindo, you can point out whatever you want to point out. but the passage of Sri Aurobindo should come as an illumination to the students in which the solution is found by them.

In another context when this question was put to the Mother, she said, Sri Aurobindo should not be read book by book. But you should be able to take a problem and bring whatever Sri Aurobindo has written in different books on the same subject and present to the students a coordinated picture of what Sri Aurobindo has said on that subject.

Well, these are the things that Mother spoke of and in my own life I have tried to.. to follow this to the extent to which my effort could provide and that is the reason why I began to read Sri Aurobindo in a different manner and that is why some.. somewhat you might find in my exposition some reflection of what effort I have made but I must tell you that I am extremely aware of my inadequacy and I very much hesitate whenever I speak of Sri Aurobindo and I always pray to the Mother that I do not become a screen in any way and those who read.. those who are with me and reading with me Sri Aurobindo should really get directly what Sri Aurobindo has said. So you will pardon me if I am.. actually I always after doing my work on any book on Sri Aurobindo if I speak about it, I always go to Sri Aurobindo and say please pardon me. I have distorted what you wanted to say, but let it be now covered by you and you kindly clear the path and that all those who heard me today, read you directly and receive from you directly what you have to say to them.

So when you made this comment, I am.. I feel inspired to tell you my inner story to this extent.

Vincent Masa: Thank you. I think yeah, you're teaching is.. is wonderful. I personally think of myself as the student. I don't think ever of being a teacher. I just think of being a student forever. There's so much to learn from Sri Aurobindo. For so many years I just sat there at the Samadhi in the.. I mean I just didn't do anything, just sat and felt it all and it may be now, years and years later, it's starting to come out as a need to put into intellectual form to what I learned.. might get some inner place in me learned, but thank you. That was just truly wonderful to me, yeah. 

Thank you. Thank you.

Debashish: Kireetbhai.. 


Debashish: If I may, you know sort of ask a question or raise a certain sort of area of.. for illumination because this is a very vast area and I hope that even in our next meeting we can continue to deal with it to some extent but in one of my conversations with you when I was at Delhi, I recollect something you said which may have some bearing on this issue of religion and even on the issue of.. of the movement of the teaching of Sri Aurobindo and the people who follow Sri Aurobindo today. I remember you talking about a variety.. as you said man is a complex being.. and a variety of inner faculties which are necessary even for emerging into a spiritual life and you mentioned that often this religious part begins with a psychic enthusiasm and often it stays stuck at the level of a psychic enthusiasm without a sufficient amount of rational decision coming into play of becoming part of the journey. Would you like to comment on this as maybe one of the promising beginnings but something which may actually become arrested and fall into the trap of Religion?

WelI, I think I'm very happy to receive this question from you. It is true that when we discussed this question in our Delhi meeting I have always felt that there is a tendency among many of us to belittle the role of the Reason. in fact belittling the role of Reason has been a special characteristic of Religion. 

Now it is true that in the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother there is a very great emphasis in a statement: 

"Don't be too mental."

And this statement is often greatly satisfying to many people who do not want to make a mental effort. But as Mother and Sri Aurobindo have said do not make their statements as a dogma. They have said exactly the opposite also when they have said "don't be too mental" they also underlined the necessity of mental development and a very vast development of the mind. 

That statement "don't be too mental" is for people who have really developed a vast intellectuality and who becomes stuck in intellectuality and it has become a kind of an obstacle to their opening to higher faculties of consciousness. But for the people who have not yet developed the muscles of the intellect, I think Mother's message for intellectual development is very clear. 

If you read Mother's book called "On Education", there is one full chapter on the mental education. And I think in a short chapter, she has underlined the tremendous importance of mental development and she has said that mind should develop clarity, complexity, power of analysis, power of synthesis, power of concentration, and power to be silent whenever you want to be silent, and open up the mind to intuitive knowledge.

I think this is the most powerful and most concise statement on what is expected of all of us to develop. 

Mental education is very important. And as against Religion, you said that sometimes there is a danger of falling into the trap of the narrowness of Religion and that danger should be always kept in view so that we may not fall into that danger. And that is why, in fact, we should read Sri Aurobindo. And to most of us she said we should read "The Life Divine" and "The Synthesis of Yoga". And you can realise what a tremendous mental development is needed when Mother said: to be able to read "The Life Divine" you have to prepare for 10 years, as a preparation. Then you can read "The Life Divine".

So I think if you keep in mind this aspect we shall be protected from falling into this trap. And I think we all need to understand this.

There is also another point I would like to refer to and that is there is a very important chapter in "The Synthesis of Yoga" where Sri Aurobindo speaks of intuitive mind in which he describes four methods by which one can grow into the intuitive mind. And he says that all the four are to be combined. It is not as if four are optional methods. Although in your development you may use one or the other to begin with but gradually all the four methods have to be developed. 

And one of the four methods is perfection of the intellectual faculty, is itself a method of entering into intuitive mind. 

The other method of course is of silencing the mind; which is also necessary. 

The third method is the development of offering one's consciousness to the Divine. 

And the fourth method is to lift our entire consciousness and to make it fixed into Sahasrara, into the highest chakra, which is on the head of the crown of the brain. And to open it up from there. 

And all the four methods are important and in our yoga I think we need to develop all the four methods. And from that point of view, even the kind of reading a study we are doing is part of that yoga and we are trying to.. to open up through the development of intellectual faculty and also many other things which are going on at the same time, to open up to intuitive consciousness.

Is that alright? as my answer to your question?

Debashish: Yes, yes Kireetji. Thank you so much.