Teachers' Training - To Know Oneself and to Control Oneself

To Know Oneself and to Control Oneself

Programme of research to prepare books on the theme

To Know Oneself and to Control Oneself

(First note dictated by Kireet Joshi for the book on Vital Education)

We are planning four books. All these books will be of the same character as The Aim of Life and The Good Teacher and The Good Pupil. This means that they will consist of compilations of select writings of eminent authors, and the researchers will prepare the introductions and notes. Each book will have one broad theme, and select writings will largely be in the form of stories, anecdotes, dialogues, epistles, biographies and essays. Essays will be as few as possible, and there will be a special effort to avoid pedantic expositions. Each book will also have illustrations, paintings, photographs, diagrams and graphic representations.

The theme of self-knowledge and self-control will be the all-pervading theme for all the four books. The audience that we are envisaging will consists of teachers, who may like to use the material of these books for themselves primarily, but also for their students, with the necessary adaptations as and when required.

We shall divide the theme of self-knowledge and self-control into four sub-themes, that is, self-knowledge and self-control in respect of (1) physical education, (2) vital education, (3) mental education and (4) psychic, spiritual and supramental education. We shall follow what Sri Aurobindo and The Mother have written on these subjects in their books, particularly in: On Education, The Four Austerities and the Four Liberations, and The Synthesis of Yoga.

We shall aim at illustrating those qualities which are required to be developed in each domain of being in order to achieve self-control, self-mastery, self-knowledge and self-perfection. Let us illustrate this with reference to vital education.

The domain of vital education has rarely been recognised. The psychology of the vital being has not received due attention, and as a result there is a good deal of confusion as to what ought to be applied in order to refine, subtilise, and control the vital drives and energies in the personality so as to bring about the possible excellence of the vital being.

But if our aim is to present some adequate idea of self-knowledge and self-control, it is necessary to:

To Know Oneself and to Control Oneself

To Know Oneself and to Control Oneself
  • describe the ordinary vital being and its relationship with the physical being and the mental being as also with higher and deeper realities and powers of the being;
  • indicate how unbridled and uncontrolled forces of the vital being create disorder, disharmony and even tragedies in our life;
  • clarify the normal methods which have been employed, either of indulgence or of asceticism, to deal with the vital powers and energies, and how these methods are not only inadequate but even injurious;
  • show how the vital drives even in developed personalities, such as in Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet and others tend to confuse the personality and lead to actions which end in tragedies;
  • illustrate how the right methods, such as those of love, illumination and self-sacrifice can bring about the right balance, control and refinement in the vital energies; and
  • indicate how a rightly trained vital being can be a great instrument in the discovery of the inmost soul and in manifesting higher and diviner powers in physical life.

The title of the proposed book could be: Battle of Life and Harmony, Illumination and Heroism of the Vital Being.

The following list gives some examples of personalities, who were predominantly vital and whose study can possibly illustrate many of the points mentioned above. There are also the names of some great writers in whose works good stories or appropriate extracts may be found. The list also presents a few themes which might supplement the study in question. (The notations in italics are added oral comments by K.)

  1. Hanuman (vital being fully surrendered to the Divine)
  2. Bhisma
  3. Arjuna and the Kurukshetra
  4. Amenhotep (Mother's son in a past birth)
  5. Ashoka
  6. Augustus Caesar
  7. Vikramaditya
  8. Kalidasa
  9. Charlemagne
  10. Harsha
  11. Joan of Arc (vital being touched by superior light) Michael Angelo (to give place to art)
  12. Akbar,
  13. Pratap (nephew of Mirabai) (the battle between Akbar and Pratap is famous in Indian History)
  14. Bhamashah (great merchant)
  15. Tansen (greatest musician of India in the court of Akbar)

Elizabeth I (Mother in past life)

To Know Oneself and to Control Oneself

To Know Oneself and to Control Oneself
  1. Shahjehan, Mumtaz and Taj Mahal (...the eternal dream of a love that survives death...) (the love between Sh. and Mumtaz is remarkable:
    we should find a good story)
  2. Sri Chaitanya
  3. Rama ("all his problems are problems of life")
  4. Story of Vashista and Vishvamitra (story of forgiveness (to be found in the Collected Works of Nolini Kanta Gupta)
  5. Baji Prabhu (from a poem by Sri Aurobindo)
  6. Danton (victory over death. We should find a good account - Will Durant)
  7. Napoleon (vital being with many intellectual powers)
  8. Murat (Mother has said: at the moment of victory She incarnated in him)
  9. Catherine the Great (Mother in past life)
  10. Queen of Jhansi (ref. Weer Savakar War of Independance)
  11. Lenin (Mother : "il etait un cerveau..."- find an account bringing out the tremendous powers of his brain)
  12. Garibaldi (see Sri Aurobindo: Conversations of the Dead)
  13. Shakespeare, the poet of the Vital (see comments by Sri Aurobindo) (great vital types: King Lear, Othello, Macbeth, Hamlet)
  14. Tolstoy (see his stories)
  15. Sharad Chandra (The Compliant Prodigal - to be inevitably included)
  16. Milton
  17. Oscar Wilde (stories such as The Remarkable Rocket (mind at the service of vital desire), The Selfish Giant (how brute vital force is transformed), The Happy Prince (example of influence of psychic being), The Devoted Friend)
  18. Shelley
  19. William James (Varieties of Religious Experiences)
  20. Rimbaud (poet of illumination)
  21. Rabindra Nath Tagore (Accounts of the coming of inspiration of Tagore's own description)
  22. Ramayana stories
  23. Mahabharata stories
  24. Odyssey, Iliad (great epics of world history: vital man conquers impulses)
  25. Perseus the Deliverer
  26. The middle path of the Buddha
  27. Description of the "Vital man" in Sri Aurobindo
  28. Conquest of the Rakshasa
  29. The Aryan Fighter
  30. Japan and cult of Beauty (Mother in Japan, etc.)
  31. Greek sculptors (study of vital being thru sculpture — see Will Durant)
  32. Tales of All Times (make a selection)
  33. Story of Florence Nightingale (example of devotion)
  34. Biographies of poets, musicians, artists

Heroism of the martyrs of the Indian struggle for the freedom of India Upheavals of the 20th century and the Ideal of Human Unity

Stories of overwhelming experiences, of pure love, of self-sacrifice, of self- giving, of heroism, of courage, of perseverance, of friendship, of loyal service, of generosity, of gratitude, of perception of beauty (including capacity to see beauty in the ugly, like in The Hunchback of Notre Dame), stories to overcome weaknesses, stories of conversion (we use "conversion" in the sense of a remarkable change).

To be remembered: We want only those stories with examples of refinement and transformation of the vital being.

To Know Oneself and to Control Oneself

To Know Oneself and to Control Oneself

This list is only tentative and many other ideas may come. It is also quite possible that the literature connected with the selected personalities which is readily available may not be very helpful in fulfilling the goal we have in view; but still that literature may give us a good deal of material on which we can work further to suit our needs.

We should keep in mind what Sri Aurobindo and The mother have said in respect of vital personality, vital education, and vital perfection. The important point to be borne in mind is that in the ordinary system of thought and practice, the training of the vital being tends to kill the vital élan, whereas the right training of the vital being should contribute to the transformation of the vital powers.

The vital being consists of impulses, desires, ambitions, deep-seated attractions and repulsions, emotions, will power, and activities of relationship, acquisition, possession, battle, victory and enjoyment. Love and power are the most dominant themes of vital activities. The Mother has spoken of Tapasya of love and Tapasysa of power in great details in her book The Four Austerities and the Four Liberations, and our attempt will be to study carefully all that Mother has said on these two subjects, so that we may rightly be guided in our task of preparing the proposed book.

It will be noticed that the dominant theme in the above list is that of search for heroism. The personalities and themes in question will give an ample opportunity to bring about the nature of instincts, impulses, desires, motives, intentions and will. They will also illustrate a number of feelings and emotions and activities and enterprises of dynamism, sensitivity and energetic action. There will be also illustrations of sense development, aesthetics, arts of various kinds. They will also illustrate the qualities of heroism, courage, endurance, persistence, perseverance, etc.

In this book, our attempt will not be to describe life as it is. We will describe life in the process of love, purification, self-giving, illumination and heroism.

In preparing the book, we may therefore look for stories of pure love, self-sacrifice, friendship, loyalty, service, generosity and nobility. We can have also stories of struggle to overcome weaknesses and stories of sudden or gradual changes, such as what we find in the life of Ashoka. Special reference may be made to Will Durant's books.

To Know Oneself and to Control Oneself

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