Archive for August 2013
One would expect that an Avatar coming to open a new evolutionary opportunity for consciousness in the world, would impact not only his own time and localized situation on the outer plane, but also be seen as establishing a new principle or capacity that tends to generalize itself across humanity thereafter. This impact may be seen in terms of an ethical, moral or socio-political effect on humanity as well as on the spiritual possibilities and powers of consciousness on the inner plane.
There is a phenomenon known as the “hundredth monkey” phenomenon that when a new skill is learned by a monkey, and then gets generalized to a larger group (the “hundredth” monkey), it becomes universally available to all monkeys even if they are not in the small group that actually initially gained the skill. It seems that the capacity generalizes itself at the level of consciousness once it has…
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The popular stories about the Avatars of Vishnu, including the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and various Puranas focus heavily on the outward action and role of the Avatar. They emphasize the oppression laid upon the society, the people and the earth by retrogressive forces who want to dominate and control and who create untold suffering as a result of their demonic impulses and acts. The stories in fact tend to over-emphasize the evil acts and intentions of these rakshasic and asuric forces and make them seem larger than life and ready to do any unethical or even bloodthirsty act if they believe it will aid in their domination or protect them from any challenges. In all of this focus, the larger spiritual intention of the Avatar is very frequently greatly overlooked or minimized in its apparent importance. The action of the Avatar in this outer field of activity, whether primarily…
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There is an outer and an inner significance to the descent of the Avatar. The outer action is frequently described as upholding the Dharma, destroying the forces of opposition and hostility and uplifting and encouraging those who seek to live according to Dharma. Sri Aurobindo reminds us that this is only one aspect of the work of the Avatar; and further, that the concept of Dharma, often boiled down to its ethical connotation, is in reality a much more complex concept that embodies ethics, morality, duty, and spiritual action aligned with the deeper purpose of one’s existence.
“The outward action of the Avatar is described in the Gita as the restoration of the Dharma; when from age to age the Dharma fades, languishes, loses force and its opposite arises, strong and oppressive, then the Avatar comes and raises it again to power; and as then things in idea are always…
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The evolutionary development of humanity does not occur in a straight line. Generally a power of capacity is introduced, it then needs time to get integrated into the human framework and then get disseminated widely to become a general capacity of mankind. During the integration and dissemination phase, there are periods of resistance to the new line of action, and even outright strong opposition based on an attempt to preserve the status quo unchanged. The capacity for reflective thought, for instance, is seen as a threat to the segment of humanity that acts primarily on vital impulse of desire.
As long as there is an established capacity at work, it acts within a framework that circumscribes and limits its action. This limitation is not generally seen or recognized as long as we remain immersed in the characteristic action of that power or capacity. It is only when we begin to…
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Sri Aurobindo quickly outlines the Avatar’s role: “The work for which the Avatar descends has like his birth a double sense and a double form. It has an outward side of the divine force acting upon the external world in order to maintain there and to reshape the divine law by which the Godward effort of humanity is kept from decisive retrogression and instead decisively carried forward in spite of the rule of action and reaction, the rhythm of advance and relapse by which Nature proceeds. It has an inward side of the divine force of the Godward consciousness acting upon the soul of the individual and the soul of the race, so that it may receive new forms of revelation of the Divine in man and may be sustained, renewed and enriched in its power of upward self-unfolding.”
While the appearance of an Avatar corresponds with outer events that…
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Once we admit the incarnation of an Avatar, we come to the practical questions of how the physical framework, the body, life and mind of the Avatar are prepared to receive the higher force and intensity that the Avatar brings, and how the descent of the Avatar actually links up with and embodies itself into an appropriate human life.
One potential process is simply that the Avatar takes birth in a body prepared through the normal developmental process of Prakriti. As human development occurs, successively higher intensities can be sustained, leading to the ability of the Avatar to work in a body that is suited to the time within which he is undertaking his action.
Another potential would be for the Avatar to actively bring together the elements and shape the body for his future incarnation.
Sri Aurobindo weighs in on these issues while analyzing the Gita’s statements in this…
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As he concludes this chapter, Sri Aurobindo points out that while Avatarhood is not the major focus of the Gita, it nevertheless plays an essential role in the teaching being presented and in the sequence of development that is proposed. He summarizes it this: “…the very framework being the Avatar leading the vibhuti, the man who has risen to the greatest heights of mere manhood, to the divine birth and divine works.”
Of course, the true significance of the Avatar is to open a door for the next stage of evolutionary development and show the possibility, method and steps to achieve that. “No doubt, too, the inner descent of the Godhead to raise the human soul into himself is the main thing,–it is the inner Christ, Krishna or Buddha that matters.”
The manifestation of an Avatar is an opportunity for humanity to exceed its current limits and make the…
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