Archive for October 2014
We tend to take for granted the advances of modern science in the material world. We harness invisible forces and thereby have the benefit of electricity and all of the technology that is enabled by it. Similarly, we harness solar, wind, water and geothermal power to create energy. We communicate around the world instantaneously through wireless signals on the internet, mobile phones and television. We fly through the air at tremendous speed in vehicles which are heavier than air. All these things represent the harnessing by human concentration and focus of various capacities inherent in Nature. We dig out these secrets, organize the information we have gained, and then put the information to work for our needs in the outer life.
Similarly, the practice of yoga also seeks to understand and harness, not necessarily the purely material forces in the outer world, but the powers of mind, emotion and the…
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The challenge of modern society with the speed of change, the technological developments that bring about virtually instantaneous global communication and interaction, and the issues that arise as humanity tries to determine what direction to take and what its purpose for living may indeed be, has raised the question of relevance for all traditional teachings, religions and societies.
The practice of yoga, with a history going back thousands of years is also being challenged to demonstrate its relevance in the modern world, and at the same time, to adapt these practices to the circumstances and needs of modern time.
Sri Aurobindo described the situation early in the 20th century in a manner that remains fully accurate today: “We are in an age, full of the throes of travail, when all forms of thought and activity that have in themselves any strong power of utility or any secret virtue of persistence…
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In The Synthesis of Yoga Sri Aurobindo unfolds his vision of an integral (also called “purna” or “complete”) yoga embracing all the powers and activities of man. He provides an overview of the main paths of yoga, their primary methodologies and the necessity for integrating them into a complete, all-embracing and all-encompassing activity. The motto “All Life Is Yoga” is the theme of this text.
Sri Aurobindo points out that this is not intended as a fixed methodology: “The Synthesis of Yoga was not meant to give a method for all to follow. Each side of the Yoga was dealt with separately with all its possibilities, and an indication as to how they meet so that one starting from knowledge could realise Karma and Bhakti also and so with each path.” (pg. 899)
The final section begins to flesh out an integrative method which Sri Aurobindo called the “yoga…
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We have completed our review of the second series of Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita. The Bhagavad Gita, although brief in compass, is vast in scope. It addresses the human condition in a very real and direct manner, starting from the conflicting answers provided by our philosophical, ethical, moral, social and personal values to the very complex and tangled situations we face while trying to survive in the world.
Arjuna is the representative of the leading values of human existence. He has been educated in the highest principles of his time and he combines the ability to focus with utmost concentration and discipline with a sensitivity to the moral and ethical values that have formed the core of his judgments about how to respond to life.
The Gita has placed this individual in a situation where none of his past guidelines or rules of action are any longer…
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We have different parts of our being that find their fulfillment through different activities. The mind of knowledge, the will in action, the devotion of the heart are each aspects that are part of the complete human experience. While one part may take the lead in a particular individual, all three eventually need to find their fulfillment to be an integral and complete experience.
Just as there are three major aspects, there is a path of yoga that is based on the primary role of one or the other of these aspects. These paths are not in conflict with each other, but actually quite complementary. At any point in time, we may take up and focus on one of these, to meet the needs and tendencies of our nature, but eventually all three join together to yield the complete result.
For each of these paths, there is a form of…
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The yoga of love and devotion, as a major path of spiritual development, has many potential avenues of approach and methods of implementation. We see this in different traditions that emphasize different ways to show one’s dedication and love for the Divine. Some of these arise from a feeling of disappointment in the affairs of the world, some focus on the sense of surrender to a higher Being, some as a means of fulfillment of the goals and wishes that arise in life. Each of these has its value in beginning to turn the consciousness towards a recognition of the divine Being and an expression of gratitude, adoration, good will and love towards that being.
Sri Aurobindo describes this: “There is a devotion which seeks God in suffering for consolation and succour and deliverance: there is a devotion which seeks him for his gifts, for divine aid and protection and…
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The Purushottama is not simply some abstract concept separate from the life in the world that we experience. This Divine Person is the first cause, and the sustaining cause of everything that exists. There are those who argue that everything was created from Matter, somehow coming into existence through some sort of “big bang” event. They however do not reach far enough back! Where did the “big bang” come from and how did it take place? How is the universe endowed with intelligent form and relations between all the various beings, forces and forms, so that they work together as one unified existent universal action? The Gita indicates that the Purushottama, the Divine Person is the missing answer to this question!
Sri Aurobindo takes up this question: “The Supreme has manifested the world from his spiritual essence and in his own infinite existence and manifested himself too variously in the…
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