Archive for September 2014
Our normal human way of seeing and knowing involves interacting with the world from the standpoint of an ego-personality, forever separated, isolated and fragmented from the rest of the creation. This viewpoint sets up a conflict between “myself” and “others” as we try to survive and thrive in a world of competition where one party wins at the expense of someone or something else. We do not normally go much beyond this way of seeing and acting. Even when we recognise that the environment is shared between all the beings and creatures, we treat this as a fact for the purpose of developing some kind of compromise between the competing beings in order to “share” the resources, without going to the next step of recognising our inherent Oneness.
Sri Aurobindo contrasts this normal standpoint with the knowledge of Reality founded in spiritual Oneness: “It is the knowledge of the supreme…
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When we reflect for a moment on what the Gita is asking us to do, it becomes clear that the complete reversal of consciousness, the shifting of the standpoint from the human to the divine, and the alterations this brings about in the way of seeing and acting, is not something that can be achieved without a complete and, as Sri Aurobindo calls it, an “integral” approach. Sri Aurobindo’s teaching in fact takes up this theme and has been called “purna yoga” and “integral yoga” for this reason. It is not sufficient to change ones ideas, opinions or object of devotion. In order to accomplish a transformation of how one sees and responds to the world, virtually everything must be taken up and adjusted from the new viewpoint. No longer acting from the ego-personality, we must respond to all forms, forces and events as the Divine responds!
Sri Aurobindo discusses…
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Our vision is fixated normally on the outer world because it presents itself as intensely “real”. The material world presents us with “facts” and impinges on our senses and captures our attention completely. If we look carefully at the outer world and its forms, forces and events, we cannot apprehend a soul. We become self-conscious in what we call our mind and have the power of self-reflection and abstraction, which gives us the sense of independence, self-sufficiency and free will. Upon closer examination, however, we find that the mind, too, is a manifestation of the action of Nature, and thus, is part of the very machinery that we are observing, not a truly independent actor.
Sri Aurobindo describes this viewpoint: “In its outer appearance the truth of existence is solely what we call Nature or Prakriti, a Force that operates as the whole law and mechanism of being, creates the…
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There is a basic and widely held view that there is a status of ignorance characterized by focus on the outer forms and forces in the world, as well as a status of knowledge that arises when we turn our attention inward and upward to the spiritual truth behind our existence. This paradigm has been the underlying principle that led to the paths of renunciation of the outer life by those who sought to exchange what they recognized as ignorance for a new standpoint of knowledge based on the actual truth of existence. The Gita takes up this line of understanding, both to find areas of agreement with it, and to then go about modifying it to provide a more nuanced view that recognizes that there is an essential reality, and therefore truth, to the outer world and the outer life, albeit, not what most people consider it to be.
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Just as there are those who seek fulfillment through physical and vital satisfactions, we also find individuals whose primary focus is on what we may call “mental” fulfillments of various sorts, whether purely intellectual, or ethical, aesthetic or social. These individuals base their life-direction on developing standards and rules of conduct in the various fields, or creating philosophical systems around which they organize their understanding of the world and their action in it. The Gita is very positive and sympathetic about this stage of human development, and recognizes that the adoption and following of various dharmas is essential as the human being grows beyond total enslavement to the drives of physical satisfaction and the fulfillment of desires; however, the Gita points out that this is not the final stage of human development.
Sri Aurobindo explains: “The soul of man has to go beyond to some more absolute Dharma of man’s…
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The Gita encourages those who are able to take the path of dharmic action as well as those who can follow the austere spiritual discipline of renunciation, in its embrace of all evolutionary development of consciousness from the ultimate fragmentation of the material consciousness and the binding limitation of the ego-sense to the unlimited, universal, infinite silent divine Being that constitutes and manifests all that exists.
At the same time, the Gita makes it clear that liberation or salvation, however it is phrased, is not limited to just those who can undertake arduous disciplines of mind or spiritual one-pointed endeavor; rather, the Gita points out that these are types of focus, but the true benefit comes from the turning of the nature, to an ever-greater extent, to a total love, dedication and surrender to the Divine. The more comprehensively we can accomplish this, the faster and more complete the identification…
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When we start to address the complexity of human life, the first stage requires that we understand and accept the fundamental basis of our lives, that is, the physical and vital elements that condition our ability to live and upon which we then build up our mental and spiritual capabilities. This brings about, however, the inherent and essential conflict between our mental and spiritual aspirations and the requirements of living in the material world.
Sri Aurobindo describes the nature of this existence: “Matter and life are his actual basis, the thing from which he starts and on which he stands and whose requirement and law he has to satisfy if he would exist at all on earth and in the body. The material and vital law is a rule of survival, of struggle, of desire and possession, of self-assertion and the satisfaction of the body, the life and the ego…
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