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At the Feet of The Mother

Rediscovering Yoga 4: The Universal Path

The Yoga that we practise is not for ourselves alone, but for the Divine; its aim is to work out the will of the Divine in the world, to effect a spiritual transformation and to bring down a divine nature and a divine life into the mental, vital and physical nature and life of humanity. Its object is not personal Mukti, although Mukti is a necessary condition of the yoga, but the liberation and transformation of the human being. It is not personal Ananda, but the bringing down of the divine Ananda—Christ’s kingdom of heaven, our Satyayuga—upon the earth. Of moksa we have no personal need; for the soul is nityamukta and bondage is an illusion. We play at being bound, we are not really bound. We can be free when God wills; for he, our supreme Self, is the master of the game, and without his grace and permission no soul can leave the game. It is often God’s will in us to take through the mind the bhoga of ignorance, of the dualities, of joy and grief, of pleasure and pain, of virtue and sin, of enjoyment and renunciation: for long ages, in many countries, he never even thinks of the yoga but plays out this play century after century without wearying of it. There is nothing evil in this, nothing which we need condemn or from which we need shrink,—it is God’s play. The wise man is he who recognises this truth and knowing his freedom, yet plays out God’s play, waiting for his command to change the methods of the game….


The first process of the yoga is to make the sankalpa of atmasamarpana. Put yourself with all your heart and all your strength into God’s hands. Make no conditions, ask for nothing, not even for siddhi in the yoga, for nothing at all except that in you and through you his will may be directly performed. To those who demand from him, God gives what they demand, but to those who give themselves and demand nothing, he gives everything that they might otherwise have asked or needed and in addition he gives himself and the spontaneous boons of his love.


The next process is to stand aside and watch the working of the divine power in yourself. This working is often attended with disturbance and trouble in the system, therefore faith is necessary, though perfect faith is not always possible at once; for whatever impurity is in you, harboured openly or secretly lurking, is likely to rise at first and be repeated so long as it is not exhaustively swept out, and doubt in this age is an almost universal impurity. But even when doubt assails, stand by and wait for it to pass, availing yourself if possible of the satsanga of those who are already advanced on the path, but when that is absent, still holding fast to the principle of the yoga, self-surrender. When distressed within or assailed from without, remember the words of the Gita .… [CWSA 13: 71]


This does not mean following one’s whims and fancies, for no sadhana can mean that, but to discover and discern the illumining fire within the word rather than be caught up in analysing its outer body. Priesthood in this sense is a sacerdocy but now it has become largely a matter of appointment for political and other vested interests that has further led to the downfall of organised religions that die burdened with the volumes of interpretations, especially when they are tainted with political ambitions. Interpretations as such is philosophical or practical rendering of spiritual truths and unless the interpreter has glimpsed something of the Glory of the Spirit it is bound to take more and more a dead academic intellectual form rather than the power of the living Word. At best it can be a preparation for the mind and the intellect. At worst it can be a prison fastened with bars of rigid dogma. That is why we see the Mother and Sri Aurobindo cautioning us against the tendency to quote them. Often out of context and without sufficient background in the totality of Their Writings or the actual journey of Yoga these powerful luminous words can easily change into misquotes even where the reproduction of the phrase is accurate. The Scripture is no doubt a great help on the path and few if any can dispense with it. It is the living Word-body of the Master and its value and power can never be overstated. But to truly derive the utmost benefit from it there is a need to delve deep into its meaning that far exceeds the dictionary usage of the term. Above all it must be put into practice. To add to it, especially with reference to the writings of Sri Aurobindo, the Mother adviced that to know what he is revealing to us we must everything that he has said on a given subject. The same applies to the Mother’s works as well.


The second aspect, in terms of recognition by the seeker is the Divine with whom the disciple seeks to become one. The truer truth hidden at first and often for a long time from the disciple is that He whom he seeks is in fact  calling him. It is the Divine who calls the soul when it is ready to heed but in the disciple this call is felt as an aspiration or an irresistible attraction towards the Divine in one or several of His aspects. The choice of the aspect towards which the disciple is drawn depends partly on his past evolution and partly on the ultimate destiny of the soul. The Divine is Infinite but human consciousness dwells in the sense of the finite. It cannot at once conceive of the infinity of God and needs limited aspects through which it is drawn towards the ONE. It is this profound understanding that we see displayed in the Sanatan Dharma which accepts and caters for a wide variety of approaches to the Divine. Each aspect is often represented by a god through whom the seeker can climb to the One. For what else are the gods but the many aspects of the One Divine. Each is unique in a certain sense and enjoys a certain degree of freedom in his action which yet derives its Knowledge and Power from the One Infinite. Yet the seeker may remain tied to the charm and glory and greatness of one or another aspect for long. To prevent this possibility of getting held back or held within the ambit of a god originally meant to climb through the stairway of the gods to the One Supreme, the Sanatan Dharma placed the Guru above all. We are well aware of the Guru strotra that explicitly states that one has to see all the gods and even the Supreme Parabrahman in the Guru. While in the Integral Yoga the relation of the disciple with the Mother and Sri Aurobindo is not confined to the traditional Guru and Shishya, yet Sri Aurobindo agrees with the importance given to the Guru in the practice of Yoga. However it is equally important to understand that not all are Gurus regardless of self-proclaim and not all Gurus are the same though they all come from the same Source. Each represents some aspect or the other of the Divine. There are Gurus who point the way but do not walk with us. There are others who intervene from time to time keeping a watch as we go along as a cowherds man keeps a watch over his cattle even while leaving them free to graze in the open ground. Some do not take any responsibility beyond showing the way and giving a teaching. Others take the responsibility and the burden of the disciple, holds him through all his struggles and stumbles and ensures that he reaches. Each shows us a facet of the Divine, each points towards a door to the Beyond.  


The important thing to realise is that though the Divine is infinite, Yogis seldom experience the Divine in His totality, samagram mam. Our experience of the Divine is limited by our faith and natural predilection towards one of the other aspect of the Divine. The aspect of the Divine we meet depends also on our approach. The seeker after knowledge approaching through his mind often finds himself in a vast Impersonal peace of Immobility where knowledge rests in blissful Light. The sadhak who enters through the doors of devotion and love finds his lover waiting for him and even ready to carry him safe in arms of Love and Delight. The worker and servant of God finds the Divine Master who rules over all creatures by His sovereign Will. Each emphasises his own approach and way thereby leading to cults and groups and sects each of which narrows down to one approach in which the Guru has specialised. This may be fine with those looking for a door of escape but it is certainly not for the one engaged in the Yoga of transformation. The seeker on the path of an integral yoga is called upon to discover the Divine everywhere and in everything. Not only is he to discover but also to express, to eventually manifest the Divine in each and every activity. Surely the first contact with the Divine may be conditioned by our unique constitution, faith and approach. That is why we see that there are differences even among those who have realised the Divine in one aspect of the other. There are common elements of the life changing experience, a reversal of consciousness which completely changes our way of looking, understanding and responding to life. The contact with the Divine in any of His many aspects invariably brings a deep inner peace and a state of felicity. It is often accompanied by an opening to the doors of knowledge that transcend our ordinary reason. One is freed from the false identification of the ego-individuality and the temporary personality built by nature for one brief life. A luminous vastness, a stable permanent is felt behind the flux and flow of nature. But there are also unique aspects of relationship with the Divine. After all the world was not created for sameness. Unity in diversity and not unity in uniformity is the purpose of existence. 


It is here that there is a great need of caution. When we force or impose one aspect of the Divine either as the highest or worse still as the only exclusive truth of the Divine then we open the doors to fanaticism and bigotry. Even with regard to the Guru in whom the ancient traditions demand absolute fidelity should not be turned into a war of sects and cults to prove one’s Master as the highest or the only one. It is this narrowness which turns a great truth into dangerous falsehood. The great truth is that one must see the Supreme in one’s Master and be faithful and surrendered to him. The dangerous falsehood is to want all others to believe that your Master is the sole Representative of God and the one and only human image of the Supreme. The revelation of the Supreme in a human form is an inner truth which can easily turn into falsehood by misapplying this into a doctrine to be imposed formally and through outer means. It is what turns spiritual teaching into a formal organised Religion that traps the human soul into fixed belief systems from which an escape in one life is often difficult. 

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