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At the Feet of The Mother

Guru and the Integral Yoga (HH 184)

The word Guru is a word familiar in the yogic traditions. Though now it is used to mean various different things and is also included in the standard English dictionaries, its original meaning is someone who dispels darkness and brings Light. However the importance of Guru in spiritual practice is immense to the extent that it is generally believed that Yoga cannot be practiced without a Guru. Quite naturally then a question arises as to the Guru in the Integral Yoga. Of course the catch here is that later traditions added the adjective ‘living’ before the word Guru. While one cannot deny the importance of a living Master, it would be paradoxical to say that the Guru is dead since by definition, a Guru is someone who has realized His identity with the Eternal and hence he is no more subject to Time and the laws of death. No doubt he too withdraws from his mortal body like everyone else but unlike other human beings, he is free to remain and act upon the world from other higher domains of existence or else to merge into the Infinite after handing over the charge of his disciples to another competent Master. In any case, he does not disappear from the scene following his ‘death’ which is more of a departure from the material world and its thick veils. The question has relevance in the context of Integral Yoga since there is no question of any successor here as in typical spiritual traditions. The sadhaka of the Integral Yoga, then and now and in the future, has to open and receive and rely and trust the leading of the Divine Mother. Today we share few among many writings and conversations of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on this subject.

Words of Sri Aurobindo


….evidently sectarian walls are a mistake, an accretion, a mental limiting of the Truth which may serve a mental, but not a spiritual purpose. The Avatar, the Guru have no meaning if they do not stand for the Eternal; it is that that makes them what they are for the worshipper or the disciple. It is also a fact that nobody can give you any spiritual revelation which does not come from something in one’s own true Self, it is always the Divine who reveals himself and the Divine is within you; so He who reveals must be felt in your own heart. Your query here simply suggests that this is a truth which can be misinterpreted or misused, but so can every spiritual truth if it is taken hold of in the wrong way—and the human mind has a great penchant for taking Truth by the wrong end and arriving at falsehood. All statements about these things are, after all, mental statements and at the mercy of any mind that interprets them. There is a snag in every such statement created not by the Truth that it expresses but by the mind’s interpretation. The snag here (what you call the slip) lies not in the statement itself which is quite correct, but in the deflected sense in which it may be taken by ignorant or self-sufficient minds enamoured of their ego. Many have put forward the “own self” gospel without taking the trouble to see whether it is the true Self, have pitted the ignorance of their “own self”—in fact, their ego—against the knowledge of the Guru or made their ego or something that flattered and fostered it the Ishta Devata. The snag in the worship of Guru or Avatar is a sectarian bias which insists on the Representative or the Manifestation but loses sight of the Manifested; the snag in the emphasis on the other side is the ignoring of the need or belittling of the value of the Representative or Manifestation and the substitution not of the true Self one in all but of one’s “own self” as the guide and light. How many have done that here and lost the way through the pull of the magnified ego which is one of the great perils on the way!

CWSA 28: 480


* * *


There are three conditions for a disciple for profiting fully from his relation to a spiritual guide.

1st: He must accept him entirely and him alone without submitting himself to any contrary or second influence.

2nd: He must accept the indications given by the Guru and follow them firmly and with full faith and perseverance to the best of his own spiritual capacity.

3rd: He must make himself open and receptive to the Guru for even more than what the Guru teaches to the mind of the disciple, it is what he spiritually is, the spiritual consciousness, the knowledge, the light, the power, the Divinity in him that helps the disciple to grow by his receiving that into himself and its being used within himself for the growth of his consciousness and nature into its own divine possibility.


* * *


What the Guru can do for the sadhak depends upon the latter’s receptivity—not upon any method or rule of sadhana. Certain psychological conditions or attitudes of the consciousness tend to increase the receptivity—e.g., humility towards the Guru, devotion, obedience, trust, a certain receptive passivity to his influence. The opposite things—independence, a critical attitude, questionings—go the other way and make it necessary for the Guru to help only indirectly or behind the veil. But the main thing is a kind of psychological openness in the consciousness which comes or increases of itself with the help of the will to receive and the right attitude.


* * *


It is not usual to use the word Guru in the supramental Yoga, here everything comes from the Divine himself. But if anybody wants it he can use it for the time being.


* * *


The relation of Guru and disciple is only one of many relations which one can have with the Divine, and in this Yoga which aims at a supramental realisation, it is not usual to give it this name; rather, the Divine is regarded as the Source, the living Sun of Light and Knowledge and Consciousness and spiritual realisation and all that one receives is felt as coming from there and the whole being remoulded by the Divine Hand. This is a greater and more intimate relation than that of the human Guru and disciple, which is more of a limited mental ideal. Nevertheless, if the mind still needs the more familiar mental conception, it can be kept so long as it is needed; only do not let the soul be bound by it and do not let it limit the inflow of other relations with the Divine and larger forms of experience.


* * *


Because through it [surrender to the Guru]1 you surrender not only to the impersonal but to the personal, not only to the Divine in yourself but to the Divine outside you; you get a chance for the surpassing of ego not only by retreat into the Self where ego does not exist, but in the personal nature where it is the ruler. It is the sign of the will to complete surrender to the total Divine, samagram˙ ma¯m˙ ma¯nus.ı¯m˙ tanum a¯s´ritam. Of course it must be a genuine spiritual surrender for all this to be true.


* * *


No [surrender to the Divine and surrender to the Guru are not two different things]. In surrendering to the Guru, it is to the Divine in him that one surrenders—if it were only to a human entity it would be ineffective. But it is the consciousness of the Divine Presence that makes the Guru a real Guru, so that even if the disciple surrenders to him thinking of the human being to whom he surrenders, that Presence would still make it effective.


* * *


Yes [surrender to the formless Divine would leave parts of the being subject to the gunas and ego]—because only the static parts would be free in formlessness, the active nature would be still in the play of the gunas. Many think they are free from ego because they get the sense of the formless Existence, they do not see that the egoistic element remains in their action just as before.


* * *


All true Gurus are the same, the one Guru, because all are the one Divine. That is a fundamental and universal truth. But there is also a truth of difference; the Divine dwells in different personalities with different minds, teachings, influences so that He may lead different disciples with their special need, character, destiny by different ways to the realisation. Because all Gurus are the same Divine, it does not follow that the disciple does well if he leaves the one meant for him to follow another. Fidelity to the Guru is demanded of every disciple, according to the Indian tradition. “All are the same” is a spiritual truth, but you cannot convert it indiscriminately into action; you cannot deal with all persons in the same way because they are the one Brahman: if one did, the result pragmatically would be an awful mess. It is a rigid mental logic that makes the difficulty but in spiritual matters mental logic easily blunders; intuition, faith, a plastic spiritual reason are here the only guides.


* * *


I do not know if his Guru falls far short in any respect, but with the attitude he has taken, her deficiencies, if any, do not matter. It is not the human defects of the Guru that can stand in the way when there is the psychic opening, confidence and surrender. The Guru is the channel or the representative or the manifestation of the Divine, according to the measure of his personality or his attainment; but whatever he is, it is to the Divine that one opens in opening to him, and if something is determined by the power of the channel, more is determined by the inherent and intrinsic attitude of the receiving consciousness, an element that comes out in the surface mind as simple trust or direct unconditional self-giving, and once that is there, the essential things can be gained even from one who seems to others than the disciple an inferior spiritual source and the rest will grow up in the sadhak of itself by the Grace of the Divine, even if the human being in the Guru cannot give it.



* * *


First, about your yoga. You wish to give me the charge of your yoga and I am willing to take it, but that means to give its charge to Him who is moving by His divine Shakti [Energy], whether secretly or openly, both you and me. But you must know that the necessary result of this will be that you will have to walk in the special path which He has given to me, the path which I call the path of the Integral Yoga….

The Guru of the world who is within us then gave me complete directions for my path…

I have no faith in the customary trade of the guru. I do not wish to be a guru. If anybody wakes and manifests from within his slumbering godhead and gets the divine life – be it at my touch or at another’s – this is what I want. It is such men that will raise the country….


* * *


Influence is more important than example. Influence is not the outward authority of the Teacher over his disciple, but the power of his contact, of his presence, of the nearness of his soul to the soul of another, infusing into it, even though in silence, that which he himself is and possesses. This is the supreme sign of the Master. For the greatest Master is much less a Teacher than a Presence pouring the divine consciousness and its constituting light and power and purity and bliss into all who are receptive around him.

And it shall also be a sign of the teacher of the integral Yoga that he does not arrogate to himself Guruhood in a humanly vain and self-exalting spirit. His work, if he has one, is a trust from above, he himself a channel, a vessel or a representative. He is a man helping his brothers, a child leading children, a Light kindling other lights, an awakened Soul awakening souls, at highest a Power or Presence of the Divine calling to him other powers of the Divine….


* * *


The Truth for you is to feel the Divine in you, open to the Mother and work for the Divine till you are aware of her in all your actions. The physical presence here is not enough; there must be this consciousness of the divine presence in your heart and the divine guidance in your acts. This the psychic being can easily, swiftly, deeply feel if it is fully awake; once the psychic has felt it, it can spread to the mental and vital also.


* * *


Words of the Mother

Nobody can give you the true mantra. It’s not something that is given: it’s something that wells up from within. It must spring from within all of a sudden, spontaneously, like a profound, intense need of your being – then it has power, because it’s not something that comes from outside, it’s your very own cry…..

A mantra given by a guru is only the power to realize the experience of the discoverer of the mantra. The power is automatically there, because the sound contains the experience. I saw that once in Paris, at a time when I knew nothing of India, absolutely nothing, only the usual nonsense. I didn’t even.

May 11, 1963

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