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At the Feet of The Mother

Rediscovering Yoga 3: The Seeker, the Sought and the Path

Coming back to the three main elements or consenting parties as Sri Aurobindo puts it:

 In practice three conceptions are necessary before there can be any possibility of Yoga; there must be, as it were, three consenting parties to the effort,—God, Nature and the human soul or, in more abstract language, the Transcendental, the Universal and the Individual. If the individual and Nature are left to themselves, the one is bound to the other and unable to exceed appreciably her lingering march. Something transcendent is needed, free from her and greater, which will act upon us and her, attracting us upward to Itself and securing from her by good grace or by force her consent to the individual ascension.’ [CWSA 23: 31 – 32]

The seeker is defined by the intensity and sincerity of his or her aspiration. That which is sought for the union, the Divine Source or Origin is limited by our own conceptions. What stands between the two is the whole field of Nature with a world of forces that help or hinder, assist or resist the journey. The seeker is not defined by the technique though a faithful pursuance of a given method or technique does indicate the sincerity of effort in his pursuit. But it does not indicate the purpose of his pursuit, the goal he has put before himself, the aim of his efforts. That goal, that aim and the sincerity in pursuing his aim is written in his aspiration. This is known only to the Divine in his heart or, if he is sincere, then to his own awakened consciousness. A given technique may make you an extremely skillful Archer, perhaps even the best as far as the science and art of archery goes. That is what Bhisma and Dronacharya and Karna are. Yet the crown of victory and the wisdom of the Gita is given to Arjuna. Though he too is among the best yet he has something in him that is missing in the others. Others are fighting for their kingdom of for their promise or driven by ambition to be proven the best. But what makes Arjuna special is that initially he wants to fight only for the highest Ideal and when that failed him through the insufficiency of light, he fights in obedience to Krishna and his trust in the Divine leading. Most modern movements of yoga miss upon this crucial element even as they miss upon the adhikar bheda. Moved often with a will to enroll more disciples, a spiritual ambition so to say, they forget that not all are ready for the spiritual life. Of course, fundamentally none is debarred from the Yoga yet it is equally true that not all are ready for the yoga. It is not a judgment for life but a truth of the moment. One who is not ready today can become ready tomorrow, in fact will become ready someday. But to push someone into Yoga when the soul is not yet ripe is neither good for the person nor for the movement. 

It is this knowledge of the adhikar bheda (readiness for the path) that prompted the Vedic Rishis to write in cryptic language. It is also for this reason that there is no concept of outer or forced conversion in Hindu thought. True conversion must happen as a natural need. But wherever it is forced through fear and lure, the Yoga is lost and its spirit escapes leaving an empty shell plastered with soulless mechanical rituals and blood-stained thrones where the heady wine of politics and religion mix in the chalice and destroy both. No doubt politics, like everything must awaken to its own spiritual possibilities but for that the leaders have to be genuinely and inwardly spiritual rather than merely believers in a doctrine enforced by the sword and the law. The Divine Law that the aspirant for Yoga is called upon to follow is not a rigid narrow dogma, for that would be contrary to the vastness and freedom of the Spirit. It is rather a wide and supple leading, a guidance that takes into account the entirety of things including the individual variations of nature, the stage of development, the real motive of sadhana, the past formations and present personalities, the inner complexity, the future destiny, above all God’s secret Intent working itself out in the cosmos through the individual. No book or religious injunction can provide this, least of all human interpretation of the Divine Law as revealed in ‘a sacred text’. Since very few minds are supple and vast and discerning enough to feel the true inspiration leading from Above or awakened to the promptings of the secret psychic being rising from within, the safe rule was to follow the guidance of the living Guru. In his absence the priest was supposed to substitute. But to be a priest in the true sense meant to be fully awake in the soul and be identified with it. But a priest who is simply echoing scholarly interpretation of ‘a sacred text’ or caught up in sophisticated dialectics and opinions because the eye of wisdom has not opened is, as the Upanishad puts it, like the blind leading the blind towards the abyss via the heavenly route. It is for this reason that the Gita asks the disciple to go beyond the word of the scripture, sabdabrahma ativartate. One could equally say to go behind the word and reach out to the inner truth embedded in the body of sound symbols. Sri Aurobindo affirms,

For the sadhaka of the integral Yoga it is necessary to remember that no written Shastra, however great its authority or however large its spirit, can be more than a partial expression of the eternal Knowledge. He will use, but never bind himself even by the greatest Scripture. Where the Scripture is profound, wide, catholic, it may exercise upon him an influence for the highest good and of incalculable importance. It may be associated in his experience with his awakening to crowning verities and his realisation of the highest experiences. His Yoga may be governed for a long time by one Scripture or by several successively,—if it is in the line of the great Hindu tradition, by the Gita, for example, the Upanishads, the Veda. Or it may be a good part of his development to include in its material a richly varied experience of the truths of many Scriptures and make the future opulent with all that is best in the past. But in the end he must take his station, or better still, if he can, always and from the beginning he must live in his own soul beyond the limitations of the word that he uses. The Gita itself thus declares that the Yogin in his progress must pass beyond the written Truth,— sabdabrahm ativartate—beyond all that he has heard and all that he has yet to hear,— srotavyasya srutasya ca. For he is not the sadhaka of a book or of many books; he is a sadhaka of the Infinite. [CWSA 23: 55 – 56]

This profound statement uttered from the lips of two of the greatest yogis of all times – Sri Krishna and Sri Aurobindo – is such an antidote to the quarrel and fight we see in different religions over the superiority of one scripture over the other. The true purpose of a scripture is not debating about it but in living it. Life is the mirror that reveals what we have understood about it. It is the mirror that does not lie. The worth of a man or the religion he professes does not lie in a book or many books but in his way of life, his approach towards circumstances, his understanding about himself and others, not only in terms of what one is but what one can become with or without a scripture. The greatness of man is not so much in what he is or in his systems of beliefs and ability to win in an argument and his belief systems but in what he has faith in and wills to be. It is these two psychological powers, faith and will, that determine what we can become. Where we may find ourselves presently in terms of our constitution and capacities is the result of our past but what we yet can become is the result of our faith and will in ourselves, in our destiny and in the Divine Power that moves all things. It is these two central powers that all yoga utilizes to the maximum to accelerate our evolution.

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To be spontaneous means not to think, organise, decide and make an effort to realise with the personal will.