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At the Feet of The Mother

Beyond Credal Religions (2) Transformation of the Religious Impulse

The Age of Religions is over does not mean that God is dead or done away with. God is too near, too intimate, too real to the truth of our being and of creation to be dismissed. To dismiss God, the Source and Origin is to dismiss ourselves and the creation. We may deny God, which is itself a kind of covert acceptance but we cannot dismiss Him. We may not understand God and therefore be a disbeliever but sooner or later God hunts us out from every hiding lair, raised us up from the grave and gives us a new life and a new understanding. This is the New Birth that Religion awaits, a new birth into the Spirit, a new birth of God in the consciousness of man, shedding His attire of ritual and religion that is still a distance and assuming the spiritual robe that truly befits Him.

Yes the Age of Religions is over and the Age of Spirituality has begun. Religion has kept the sense of divinity alive in us and even provided us with certain tools to enter into relationship with God. But this sense of divinity though beautiful in its pristine purity of the spiritual experience that gave birth to Religions is yet too limited in its scope and applications. God is too wide to be limited by any dogma or creed. He is too vast, in fact infinite and cannot be tied forever with the noose of conceptions and metaphysical thought and spiritual philosophy. No doubt these things have helped mankind formulate God’s Existence to the limited mind but He has always escaped from all our conceptions and even the widest and highest formulas and thought structures and systems we may construct always fall short of describing His ineffable Reality and incomprehensible Totality. The history of our spiritual evolution is witness to the fact that each time a religion brought in a conception and an approach to God a new religion sprang up to overpass it. The law of Moses with its emphasis on moral righteousness is replaced by the law of Christ showing the way of Compassion and forgiveness, charity and love. The force of Islam travels with its sword and fear of God all the way through desert and mountain passes to India and meets the God-lover transforming it into Sufism. The Vedic mystics built elaborate metaphysical systems born of a wide range of spiritual experiences and a Buddha arises from the same rich and spiritually fertile soil and demolishes every construct to soar towards Nirvana. And when countless mystics reaffirm the road to Moksha and Nirvana, we see the advent of Sri Aurobindo who goes beyond Nirvana and Moksha and affirms the Divine Personality of Sri Krishna bringing a new synthesis and integration of World and God, Nature and Soul.

As the Age of Religions is coming to a close, God is coming closer to us and in a much more complete way. While mankind is moving away from temple, churches, gurudwaras and mosques he is making an effort to discover the one neglected temple of God which his heart is meant to be. The clergy and the priest is being replaced by the voice of his inner self that he gives much more importance in this newly arisen subjective age. The outer mechanical rituals are giving way to turning life and action into a means of worship of the Unseen Godhead. It is a new spiritual Age that is dawning upon mankind before which the previous dawns that had touched the earth and opened the doors of the heart to the religious impulse and the mind to spiritual thought. After the first rush was over the night came and the light withdrew leaving behind the empty shell of a once living body of truth. For a while mankind has tried to keep the dead shell alive while the pearl was lost but now the Time -Spirit has broken the shell itself and seeks to give a new and better body more suited to the expanding soul of man. Sri Aurobindo pointing to the advent of the spiritual age reveals it’s few early signs:

‘The aim of a spiritual age of mankind must indeed be one with the essential aim of subjective religions, a new birth, a new consciousness, an upward evolution of the human being, a descent of the spirit into our members, a spiritual reorganisation of our life; but if it limits itself by the old familiar apparatus and the imperfect means of a religious movement, it is likely to register another failure. A religious movement brings usually a wave of spiritual excitement and aspiration that communicates itself to a large number of individuals and there is as a result a temporary uplifting and an effective formation, partly spiritual, partly ethical, partly dogmatic in its nature. But the wave after a generation or two or at most a few generations begins to subside; the formation remains. If there has been a very powerful movement with a great spiritual personality as its source, it may leave behind a central influence and an inner discipline which may well be the starting-point of fresh waves; but these will be constantly less powerful and enduring in proportion as the movement gets farther and farther away from its source. For meanwhile in order to bind together the faithful and at the same time to mark them off from the unregenerated outer world, there will have grown up a religious order, a Church, a hierarchy, a fixed and unprogressive type of ethical living, a set of crystallised dogmas, ostentatious ceremonials, sanctified superstitions, an elaborate machinery for the salvation of mankind. As a result spirituality is increasingly subordinated to intellectual belief, to outward forms of conduct and to external ritual, the higher to the lower motives, the one thing essential to aids and instruments and accidents. The first spontaneous and potent attempt to convert the whole life into spiritual living yields up its place to a set system of belief and ethics touched by spiritual emotion; but finally even that saving element is dominated by the outward machinery, the sheltering structure becomes a tomb. The Church takes the place of the spirit and a formal subscription to its creed, rituals and order is the thing universally demanded; spiritual living is only practised by the few within the limits prescribed by their fixed creed and order. The majority neglect even that narrow effort and are contented to replace by a careful or negligent piety the call to a deeper life. In the end it is found that the spirit in the religion has become a thin stream choked by sands; at the most brief occasional floodings of its dry bed of conventions still prevent it from becoming a memory in the dead chapters of Time…..

Therefore while many new spiritual waves with their strong special motives and disciplines must necessarily be the forerunners of a spiritual age, yet their claims must be subordinated in the general mind of the race and of its spiritual leaders to the recognition that all motives and disciplines are valid and yet none entirely valid since they are means and not the one thing to be done. The one thing essential must take precedence, the conversion of the whole life of the human being to the lead of the spirit. The ascent of man into heaven is not the key, but rather his ascent here into the spirit and the descent also of the spirit into his normal humanity and the transformation of this earthly nature. For that and not some post mortem salvation is the real new birth for which humanity waits as the crowning movement of its long obscure and painful course.

Therefore the individuals who will most help the future of humanity in the new age will be those who will recognise a spiritual evolution as the destiny and therefore the great need of the human being.” [CWSA 25: 263-265]

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