Daily Studies Now Being Converted to Audio Podcasts on Spotify

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For those who prefer to listen rather than read the texts, who want to use their travel time to listen we have been able to use the wonder of technology to create audio podcasts for you which are published on Spotify. The podcast is now also available on Apple iTunes, Google Play and other podcast venues. We have converted a few dozen of the blog posts so far, but expect to complete many more in the coming days. You can link and bookmark the following:

Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice — Introduction

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“All life is yoga”. While many believe that yoga is a series of physical exercises, or consists of specific practices taken up as part of one’s daily life, Sri Aurobindo set forth an entirely different understanding and methodology which seeks to take up every aspect of our life and existence, to bring conscious self-aware attention to every movement, feeling, emotion and thought that we experience. As we take up this yogic practice, we begin to understand that each of the paths of yoga that have heretofore been popularized focuses on a particular aspect or side of human life. Those who take up the practice of one or another of these paths are addressing a particular need or concentration, in many cases to the exclusion of other, equally essential, aspects of human life. One of the results of this exclusive concentration can be the abandonment of the normal worldly life. Another is the pigeonholing of the practice into a small segment of one’s activities, while the normal life goes on unchanged. In both of these cases, most of our existence is left untouched and unchanged.

Why practice yoga in the first place? Sri Aurobindo describes the evolution of consciousness, the limitations of our current stage in that process, and the potentiality of the human being, with self-aware and directed action, to participate in the development and manifestation of the next phase of evolutionary development. This focused action is the practice of what he terms an “integral yoga”, meaning that it takes up all of life and every aspect of human existence. Yoga is a form of applied psychology, where certain movements of consciousness work to unravel the complex and tangled actions and reactions of life, and provide coherence in the direction of greater consciousness aligned with the larger significance of the universal manifestation. Western scientists would consider this to be a separation of “signal” from background “noise” in our lives, to accentuate and emphasize the power of the signal.

The current volume explores the philosophy and principles of the integral yoga, provides clarity for how it compares to the traditional paths of yoga, and then takes up the actual implementations for the physical, vital, emotional, mental, and psychic and spiritual aspects of our human existence. As a background, Sri Aurobindo went into an intense concentrated state of his yogic practice from the mid-1920’s through 1950. During the 1930’s a number of disciples came and joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Sri Aurobindo corresponded with them to reply to their specific inquiries and needs. While he cautioned that advice he provided to one person for a specific situation might not necessarily apply to another in a different situation, certain major thematic views emerged which have been carefully organized and compiled in the current text.

The editors note: “This compilation consists of letters by Sri Aurobindo on various aspects of his spiritual teaching and method of yogic practice. Parts 1 to 4 deal mainly with the philosophical and psychological foundations of the teaching. Parts 5 to 11 with the method of practice, and Part 12 with elements of both. Sri Aurobindo called his system the ‘Integral Yoga’ because it proposed ‘a union (yoga) in all parts of our being with the Divine and a consequent transmutation of all their now jarring elements into the harmony of a higher divine consciousness and existence.’. “

Sri Aurobindo calls us to what he terms an “adventure of consciousness”. The current text is intended to aid in our understanding and exploration of consciousness and the entire significance of our life and human development. Humanity is struggling today with the consequences, both intended and unintended, of the development and expression of the mental consciousness. The limitations of the mental view, which remains very much in service to the physical needs and vital desires of the material and life gradations of consciousness, have pushed humanity to an existential crisis, with the earth in the throes of the sixth mass extinction, and the balance of life now placed fully at risk. The solution cannot come through technology, mental ideas or the wide variety of competing ideologies that each focus on one aspect without taking it account the complexity of life and existence. It must come through the development of a new expression of consciousness, a consciousness of oneness and interconnection, that brings a new and deeper level of harmony to all existence. Sri Aurobindo holds that self-aware human beings can consciously participate in this evolutionary process, and it is the practice of the integral yoga to help bring about this solution to the current crises.

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Introduction

Sri Aurobindo’s and Related Writings on Apple iTunes for IPhone and IPad:

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Sri Aurobindo’s and Related Writings on Apple iTunes for IPhone and IPad:

We continue to add more titles to this list on an ongoing basis, so please check back regularly for additional titles.  We also supply a large number of titles for Amazon Kindle and Google Play which are listed separately.  Below find the links to the e-book versions available at this time on Apple iTunes:

By Sri Aurobindo:

Bases of Yoga                                      Bases of Yoga

 Essays on the Gita                              Essays on the Gita

 The Mother                                        The Mother

 Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol         Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol

 By The Mother:

 Commentaries on the Dhammapada  Commentaries on the Dhammapada

 By Sri M. P. Pandit:

 An Early Chapter in The Mother’s Life   Early Chapter in The Mother’s Life

 Art of Living                                        Art of Living

 Bases of Tantra Sadhana                   Bases of Tantra Sadhana

 Commentaries on Sri Aurobindo’s Thought, V. 1  Commentaries Sri Aurobindo’s Thought, V. 1

 Dhyana                                               Dhyana

 Heart of Sadhana                               Heart of Sadhana

 How Do I Proceed?                             How Do I Proceed?

 Introducing The Life Divine               Introducing The Life Divine

 Introducing Savitri                             Introducing Savitri

 Japa                                                    Japa

Kundalini Yoga                                   Kundalini Yoga

Readings in Savitri, V. 1                     Readings in Savitri, V. 1

 Readings in Savitri, V. 2                     Readings in Savitri, V. 2

 Readings in Savitri, V. 3                     Readings in Savitri, V. 3

 Readings in Savitri, V. 4                     Readings in Savitri, V. 4

 Readings in Savitri, V. 5                     Readings in Savitri, V. 5

 Readings in Savitri, V. 7                     Readings in Savitri, V. 7

 Readings in Savitri, V. 8                     Readings in Savitri, V. 8

Readings in Savitri, V. 9                     Readings in Savitri, V. 9

 Sri Aurobindo and His Yoga               Sri Aurobindo and His Yoga

 A Summary of Savitri                         A Summary of Savitri

 Talks on The Life Divine, V. 1             Talks on The Life Divine, V. 1

 Teachings of Sri Aurobindo               Teachings of Sri Aurobindo

Thoughts on the Gita                         Thoughts on the Gita

 By Santosh Krinsky:

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine, Vol. 1  Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Life Divine,V. 1

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine, Vol. 2 Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Life Divine, V. 2

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine, Vol. 3 Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Life Divine, V. 3

Readings in The Mother by Sri Aurobindo:               Readings in The Mother by Sri Aurobindo

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Rebirth and Karma:   Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Rebirth &  Karma

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita,V.1 Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita, V.1

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita, V. 2 Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita, V.2

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Synthesis of Yoga, V. 1  Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Synthesis of Yoga, V. 1

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Synthesis of Yoga, V. 2  Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Synthesis of Yoga, V. 2

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Synthesis of Yoga, V. 3  Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Synthesis of Yoga, V. 3

 By Rand Hicks:

A Savitri Dictionary                            A Savitri Dictionary

Rev. 6/11/17

Sri Aurobindo’s Writings Available as E-Books for Amazon Kindle Readers or App

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The Amazon Kindle is perhaps the most popular e-book reader in the world, and the APP works on desktop computers, laptops, android phones, tablets etc. The APP can be downloaded free from Amazon.com We are systematically making Sri Aurobindo’s writings available for the Kindle App and Readers. Here are a few of them, with more links to be provided soon:

Bhagavad Gita and Its Message Bhagavad Gita and Its Message
Dictionary of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga (compiled by M P Pandit) Dictionary of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga
Essays on the Gita Essays on the Gita
The Future Evolution of Man The Future Evolution of Man
Hidden Forces of Life (compiled by AS Dalal from writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Hidden Forces of Life
The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development
The Ideal of Human Unity The Ideal of Human Unity
Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice Integral Yoga
The Life Divine The Life Divine
Looking from Within (compiled by AS Dalal from writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Looking from Within
The Mind of Light The Mind of Light (The Supramental Manifestation on Earth)
The Mother The Mother
Our Many Selves (compiled by AS Dalal from writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Our Many Selves
Powers Within (compiled by AS Dalal from writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Powers Within
The Psychic Being (compiled by AS Dalal from writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Psychic Being
Rebirth and Karma Rebirth and Karma
Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol
Secret of the Veda Secret of the Veda
Sri Aurobindo on the Tantra (compiled by M P Pandit) Sri Aurobindo on the Tantra
The Synthesis of Yoga The Synthesis of Yoga
The Upanishads The Upanishads
Vedic Symbolism (compiled by M P Pandit) Vedic Symbolism
Yoga of Sleep and Dreams (compiled by AS Dalal from writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Yoga of Sleep and Dreams

By Sri M P Pandit:
Sri Aurobindo and His Yoga Sri Aurobindo and His Yoga
Teaching of Sri Aurobindo Teaching of Sri Aurobindo

SRI AUROBINDO’S BOOKS NOW AVAILABLE ON GOOGLE PLAY AS E-BOOKS:

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The Mother THE MOTHER
Bases of Yoga BASES OF YOGA
Essays on the Gita ESSAYS ON THE GITA
The Human Cycle: Psychology of Social Development The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development
Ideal of Human Unity IDEAL OF HUMAN UNITY
The Life Divine THE LIFE DIVINE
The Mind of Light THE MIND OF LIGHT
Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol  Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol
Sri Aurobindo on the Tantra SRI AUROBINDO ON THE TANTRA
The Synthesis of Yoga THE SYNTHESIS OF YOGA

For Android Phones, Tablets, and E-Readers

Sri Aurobindo Studies

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Sri Aurobindo’s integral yoga has enormous implications for the time we find ourselves in.  As we systematically destroy the basis of life on the planet, and wall off one another through ultimate fragmentation, we are left with the stark contrast of choosing between survival and destruction, life and death, growth or decline.  Sri Aurobindo recognizes the necessity of the individual within the context of the collectivity, universality and the transcendent consciousness of Oneness.  The individual is the nexus or hub of the evolutionary urge, but not separate from nor at the expense of the life of the cosmic whole.

We post the daily blog entries also to our facebook page:  www.facebook.com/sriaurobindoswritings

We also have a daily twitter feed on Sri Aurobindo’s studies at www.twitter.com/santoshk1

We have systematically worked our way through The Life Divine as well as The Mother , Essays on the Gita and Rebirth and Karma, The Synthesis of Yoga, The Ideal of Human Unity and The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development  The newest posts appear near the top.  If you want to start at the beginning, go to the oldest post and roll forward until you reach the final posts as of today.

Another option is to “search” for the chapter you would like to study and see all posts relating to that chapter. You may have to ask for “older posts” once you have the search results if you are looking for one of the earlier chapters.

We have separated the posts relating to each book into their own folder as an additional organisational tool.

Similarly you can use the search box to find specific concepts, terms or issues you are interested in. The results will show all posts that address those concepts or terms. You may have to click on “older posts” to find all the references here as well.

The next book we are taking up is The Upanshads by Sri Aurobindo, following a similar format to that we have utilised for The Life Divine , The Mother, Essays on the Gita and Rebirth and Karma, The Synthesis of Yoga, The Ideal of Human Unity and The Human Cycle: Psychology of Social Development.

You may also want to visit our information site for Sri Aurobindo at Sri-Aurobindo.Com

Sri Aurobindo’s major writings are published in the US by Lotus Press.

The systematic studies on this blog have also been published as self-standing books by Lotus Press and are available in both printed formats and as e-books. There are 3 volumes encompassing Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine, 2 volumes encompassing Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita, as well as 1 volume for Readings in The Mother by Sri Aurobindo, and Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Rebirth and Karma., and 4 volumes  for the Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Synthesis of Yoga as well as Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Ideal of Human Unity and Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Human Cycle, Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Future Evolution of Man.  .You can find the Readings series at Lotus Press

Many of the major writings of Sri Aurobindo are now also accessible on the Amazon Kindle Platform as well as Apple itunes, google play, kobo, and Barnes & Noble nook as well.  Kindle e-book reader program is also available for PC, Laptop, iPad, Blackberry, Android, iPhone and many other platforms from Amazon without charge. You can find the current list of titles available by going to http://www.amazon.com , go to the “kindle store” and type in “Aurobindo” New titles are being added as they can be made ready. Many of the major books are already accessible by the Kindle Reader.  You can follow a similar procedure for the other platforms we now support for Sri Aurobindo’s writings, I-tunes, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and KOBO.

Understanding the Role, Nature and Action of the Vital Mind

The vital mind is the dominant process for most people in the world today who live an external life and work toward some form of fulfillment, success, progress or development in their lives and in their relations to family, friends, community and their society. Very few, comparatively, are those who are predominantly based in the true mental process of the thinking mind or intellect. Even among those, the vital mind exerts its influence to advance the perceived life-interests of the individual and to optimize the ability to push forward, obtain the physical sustenance and comfort desired, and create opportunities for recognition, reward and gratifications of all sorts.

The vital mind is so effective as it has had a long history of activity in human life, and it is very good at convincing the mental judgment that it is acting in the best interest and not for its own gratification. Its methods are sometimes overpowering, sometimes subtle, but they are able to convince the intellect of the rightness of the action proposed through proper framing of the question placed before the individual and the manner of the response. In terms of the higher evolution, the vital mind must be seen, recognised, understood and brought under the control of the higher aspiration or it will find ways to sabotage the effort.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The thinking mind does not lead men, does not influence them the most — it is the vital propensities and the vital mind that predominate. The thinking mind with most men is, in matters of life, only an instrument of the vital.”

“There is a part of the nature which I have called the vital mind; the function of this mind is not to think and reason, to perceive, consider and find out or value things, for that is the function of the thinking mind proper, buddhi, — but to plan or dream or imagine what can be done. It makes formations for the future which the will can try to carry out if opportunity and circumstances become favourable or even it can work to make them favourable. In men of action this faculty is prominent and a leader of their nature; great men of action always have it in a very high measure. But even if one is not a man of action or practical realisation or if circumstances are not favourable or one can do only small and ordinary things, this vital mind is there. It acts in them on a small scale, or if it needs some sense of largeness, what it does very often is to plan in the void, knowing that it cannot realise its plans or else to imagine big things, stories, adventures, great doings in which oneself is the hero or the creator. What you describe as happening in you is the rush of this vital mind or imagination making its formations; its action is not peculiar to you but works pretty much in the same way in most people — but in each according to his turn of fancy, interest, favourite ideas or desires. You have to become master of its action and not to allow it to seize your mind and carry it away when and where it wants. In sadhana when the experiences begin to come, it is exceedingly important not to allow this power to do what it likes with you; for it then creates false experiences according to its nature and persuades the sadhak that these experiences are true or it builds unreal formations and persuades him that this is what he has to do. Some have been taken away by this misleading force used by powers of Falsehood who persuaded them through it that they had a great spiritual, political or social work to do in the world and led them away to disappointment and failure. It is rising in you in order that you may understand what it is and reject it.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 9, Transformation of the Nature, Transformation of the Mind, pp. 240-245

Rig Veda Samhita, Hymns to Indra from Secret of the Veda

Sri Aurobindo chose a series of hymns from the Rig Veda to quickly illustrate and support his insight to the psychological meaning of the Veda and the dual-sense of the symbols chosen by the Rishis.

It is difficult to systematically study and appreciate the Rig Veda other than through audio programs, inasmuch as considerable force of the revelation comes through in the poetic force and recitation of these verses, and thus, we have created a series of audio files which include the recitation of the Sanskrit text of the Rig Vedic hymns chosen, and the English translation provided by Sri Aurobindo. All recordings were created in 1973 at Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Commentary and Translation by Sri Aurobindo. Recitation in Sanskrit by Sri Vinayak. English recitation by Santosh Krinsky. Click on the enclosed links to go directly to each of the audio files included here. Page references to the U.S. edition of The Secret of the Veda by Sri Aurobindo, published by Lotus Press are provided for further elucidation and reading on the subject of each hymn.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “My object has been to show in as brief a compass as possible the real functions of the Vedic gods, the sense of the symbols in which their cult is expressed, the nature of the sacrifice and its goal, explaining by actual examples the secret of the Veda. I have purposely selected a few brief and easy hymns, and avoided those which have a more striking depth, subtlety and complexity of thought and image, — alike those which bear the psychological sense plainly and fully on their surface and those which by their very strangeness and profundity reveal their true character of mystic and sacred poems. It is hoped that these examples will be sufficient to show the reader who cares to study them with an open mind the real sense of this, our earliest and greatest poetry. By other translations of a more general character it will be shown that these ideas are not merely the highest thought of a few Rishis, but the pervading sense and teaching of the Rig-veda.”

Chapter 8 of the Secret of the Veda provides something of an overview to the role of Indra, and in particular translates those verses of Mandala I, Sukta 3 that are a direct invocation of Indra.

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala I, Sukta 3 Hymn to Ashwins, Indra, Vishwadevas and Saraswati pp. 78-85 and 517-519 (the translation here was taken from Chapter 8 of The Secret of the Veda. For an alternative translation, refer to pages 517-519.

Later in the Secret of the Veda, in a section titled Other Hymns, Sri Aurobindo undertakes to translate a number of additional hymns to Indra:

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala I, Sukta 5 Hymn to Indra, pp. 491-501 (includes an introduction by Sri Aurobindo from Secret of the Veda to the role of Indra)

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala I, Sukta 7 Hymn to Indra, pp.502-503

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala I, Sukta 8 Hymn to Indra pp. 504-505

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala I, Sukta 9 Hymn to Indra pp. 506-507

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala I, Sukta 10 Hymn to Indra pp. 508-510

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala I, Sukta 11 Hymn to Indra pp. 511-512

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala VIII, Sukta 54 Hymn to Indra and Vishwadevas pp. 513-514

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala X, Sukta 54 Hymn to Indra pp. 515-516

The following hymns were included by Sri Aurobindo in The Secret of the Veda, Selected Hymns:

Rig Veda Samhita Mandala I, Sukta 170 The Colloquy of Indra and Agastya, pp. 241-244

Rig Veda Samhita Mandala I, Sukta 4 Indra, Giver of Light, pp. 245-253

Rig Veda Samhita Mandala I, Sukta 171 Indra and the Thought-Forces, pp. 254-262

Sri Aurobindo, The Secret of the Veda, Hymns to Indra, pp. 241-262 and 491-521

The Need for Silence of the Thinking Mind for the Spiritual Transformation

For most people, the mind is always active with an internal commentary or dialogue running as people react to situations or try to solve various issues. As the mind is trained to undertake intellectual processes, it follows a process of logic and organisation that is used to understand and act upon things in the world. The process we call “thinking” is a step-by-step and detailed internal system that tries to work its way through what many call a “decision tree”. This process naturally focuses on a specific object, goal or problem to be solved, narrows the focus, fragments the attention to this one thing that needs to be resolved, and then creates a series of steps to move from where the mind is now to where it needs to be to find and implement a solution.

When confronted with the idea of silencing the mind, we naturally are fearful that we will either lose our ability to think and solve problems or issues; or that we will simply become dull and unable to function. At the same time, it is necessary to appreciate that the higher realms of awareness, which Sri Aurobindo calls ‘higher mind’, ‘illumined mind’, ‘overmind’ (and eventually ‘supermind’) function under an entirely different set of principles, through the presentation of a comprehensive or universal view that sees connections and inter-connections and does not narrow itself down in a single ‘train of thought’. For these to become functional it is necessary for the normal mental process to subside and stay in a status of silence, albeit, an alert, receptive silence, not a dull, distracted, dark or intoxicated state of blankness of the mind.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The thinking mind has to learn how to be entirely silent. It is only then that true knowledge can come.”

“The turmoil of mental (intellectual) activity has also to be silenced like the vital activity of desire in order that the calm and peace may be complete. Knowledge has to come but from above. In this calm the ordinary mental activities like the ordinary vital activities become surface movements with which the silent inner self is not connected. It is the liberation necessary in order that the true knowledge and the true life-activity may replace or transform the activities of the Ignorance.”

“To think and question about an experience when it is happening is the wrong thing to do; it stops it or diminishes it. Let the experience have its full play — if it is something like this ‘new life force’ or peace or Force or anything else helpful. When it is over, you can think about it — not while it is proceeding. For these experiences are spiritual and not mental and the mind has to be quiet and not interfere.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 9, Transformation of the Nature, Transformation of the Mind, pp. 240-245

The Transformation of the Mind

It is typical of the mental intelligence to believe that reading and remembering something implies that we have realised the truth of what we have read. Those who have taken the time to reflect on this make it clear that ‘reading a book about swimming’ does not mean one knows how to swim! Similarly, we read all kinds of positive statements, affirmations and ideas about how to live life effectively and to the fullest and control the vital impulses that interfere with that goal, yet time and again, we either forget or find we do not know how to actually effectuate the principles and methods we have been learning. While these things are focused on the interaction of the mind with life in the physical world, it may be noted that they equally apply to spiritual seeking. Reading books about spirituality, listening to lectures about spiritual teachings, do not, in and of themselves, represent a true transformation of the mind or the life. They may help to tune the mental concentration and create an atmosphere of receptivity, but beyond that it must be recognised that realisation is not simply holding of mental conceptions, but an actual change in the way the consciousness functions in the individual.

Sri Aurobindo has elsewhere mentioned that the spiritual consciousness represents what he terms a “reversal of consciousness” from the mental process. The mind with its linear thinking, its fixed framework and rules for processing data, and its failure to look at the whole interaction as one complete system, but rather focusing on individual elements in a fragmented manner, is exactly the opposite of the way the spiritual consciousness functions. The spiritual consciousness by its nature sees the interconnections and links and the entirety of the relationships that take place in bringing about the universal manifestation. There is a sense of unity and oneness that pervades the spiritual knowledge. Knowledge in the spiritual realm comes through powers we call intuition, inspiration, the descent of Light, the receipt of a vision, etc. Thus, the spiritual consciousness, in order to act fully and effectively in the life of the seeker, needs to have a quiet and receptive intellect in place ready to subordinate its own normal process for the needs of the spiritual consciousness in its native action.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “There is no reason why one should not receive through the thinking mind, as one receives through the vital, the emotional and the body. The thinking mind is as capable of receiving as these are, and, since it has to be transformed as well as the rest, it must be trained to receive, otherwise no transformation of it could take place.”

“It is the ordinary unenlightened activity of the intellect that is an obstacle to spiritual experience, just as the ordinary unregenerated activity of the vital or the obscure stupidly obstructive consciousness of the body is an obstacle. What the sadhak has to be specially warned against in the wrong processes of the intellect is, first, any mistaking of mental ideas and impressions or intellectual conclusions for realisation; secondly, the restless activity of the mere mind which disturbs the spontaneous accuracy of psychic and spiritual experience and gives no room for the descent of the true illuminating knowledge or else deforms it as soon as it touches or even before it fully touches the human mental plane. There are also of course the usual vices of the intellect, — its leaning towards sterile doubt instead of luminous reception and calm enlightened discrimination; its arrogance claiming to judge things that are beyond it, unknown to it, too deep for it by standards drawn from its own limited experience; its attempts to explain the supraphysical by the physical or its demand for the proof of higher and occult things by the criteria proper to Matter and mind in Matter; others also too many to enumerate here. Always it is substituting its own representations and constructions and opinions for the true knowledge. But if the intellect is surrendered, open, quiet, receptive, there is no reason why it should not be a means of reception of the Light or an aid to the experience of spiritual states and to the fullness of an inner change.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 9, Transformation of the Nature, Transformation of the Mind, pp. 240-245

The Intellect Does Not Have Direct Knowledge

The mental intellect receives impulses through the senses, organises them, and trues to determine what is true based on that. It then builds hypotheses, theories and ideation around its assortment of perceptions, memory, and experience based on various principles of symbolic logic that it has developed. The mind is a dealer in symbols, and its knowledge is therefore indirect.

In The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo describes various forms of ‘knowing’, with that of the mind being a ‘separative knowledge’. True knowledge is ‘knowledge by identity’ a direct knowing that is the basis of the seeking undertaken by those who practice yoga. These practitioners recognise that anything based on separation, fragmentation and symbolic manipulation is truly a lower formation and not a knowledge of the Divine in its full effulgence.

It is important for the mind to become aware of its limitations, to see the framework within which it operates, and to organise its actions effectively within that framework. This is a basis for ensuring that the mental consciousness knows that it cannot either fully appreciate nor judge that which falls outside its normal scope. This provides a process of receptivity for higher forms of knowledge to come into the consciousness and be accepted, without the mind interfering or diluting this knowledge through its process of fragmentation and analysis, which, while having their own proper role and place in the actions of the being in the world, are ill-suited to undertaking the spiritual quest.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “Its [the intellect’s] function is to reason from the perceptions of the mind and senses, to form conclusions and to put things in logical relation with each other. A well-trained intellect is a good preparation of the mind for greater knowledge, but it cannot itself give the yogic knowledge or know the Divine — it can only have ideas about the Divine, but having ideas is not knowledge. In the course of the sadhana intellect has to be transformed into the higher mind which is itself a passage towards the true knowledge.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 9, Transformation of the Nature, Transformation of the Mind, pp. 240-245

The Limitations of the Thinking Mind

The development of the mental consciousness has brought about enormous changes for life on earth, and as the foremost species utilizing the mental consciousness, humanity has taken the mind to limits never before considered as possible. Advances in logic, science, philosophy, psychology, mathematics, astronomy, quantum physics and many other fields, as well as technological applications of theoretical concepts, show off the powers that the mental development can manifest in life. Yet, for all of these advances, the mind also has very serious limitations and progress is obstructed as a result of these limitations. In order to advance further, the mental framework and its limitations must be overcome. The mind operates best in an analytical mode, where it can undertake systematic decomposition or fragmentation of large issues into component parts and then manipulate those parts, codifying, labeling, organising and combining and recombining. Yet this approach tends to narrow down the vision and miss the “big picture”, so to speak, which leads to false conclusions, and an enormous number of ‘unintended consequences” that result from the limits of this approach.

The pride of the mental consciousness in all its accomplishments also leads to a sense of arrogance and thus, limits the openness and potential for growth. The next stage in the evolutionary process, the development of the higher mind and eventually the supramental consciousness, embodies a new, global manner of seeing and understanding, holistically and comprehensively, that reverses the methodology of the mind and thereby overcomes its essential limitations.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “To have a developed intellect is always helpful if one can enlighten it from above and turn it to a divine use.”

“The intellect can be as great an obstacle as the vital when it chooses to prefer its own constructions to the Truth.”

“The intellect of most men is extremely imperfect, ill-trained, half-developed — therefore in most the conclusions of the intellect are hasty, ill-founded and erroneous or, if right, right more by chance than by merit or right working. The conclusions are formed without knowing the facts or the correct or sufficient data, merely by a rapid inference and the process by which it comes from the premises to the conclusions is usually illogical or faulty — the process being unsound by which the conclusion is arrived at, the conclusion is also likely to be fallacious. At the same time the intellect is usually arrogant and presumptuous, confidently asserting its imperfect conclusions as the truth and setting down as mistaken, stupid or foolish those who differ from them. Even when fully trained and developed, the intellect cannot arrive at absolute certitude or complete truth, but it can arrive at one aspect or side of it and make a reasonable or probable affirmation; but untrained, it is a quite insufficient instrument, at once hasty and peremptory and unsafe and unreliable.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 9, Transformation of the Nature, Transformation of the Mind, pp. 240-245

Spiritual Experiences and Transformation of the Nature

The vital nature is always interested in, even fixated on, the idea of having dramatic ‘spiritual experiences’. These experiences can open the eyes of the seeker to a wider reality, and can help reorient the direction of the life, sometimes in unusual or unexpected ways. There are many instances where an individual has a realisation, sometimes based on a near death experience or a vision quest of some sort, and recognises the futility of the old habits of his life and strikes out in a totally new direction. The New Testament of the Bible relates the instance of Saul on the road to Damascus and his conversion to become a dedicated disciple of Jesus. There is the example of Dannion Brinkley who was struck by lightning, was declared clinically dead and returned with a new insight and mission in life. The experience is meant to awaken the awareness not to be something that becomes a regular event! Once that re-directing process has been accomplished, in many cases, the active ‘headline’ experience recedes, and the work of taking up and addressing all the habitual processes of mind, life, body, the ego, the relation to the outer life begins. The experience is by its very nature a subjective event, not subject to proof or validation, other than that similar experiences have occurred for numerous people, throughout time and all across the world, to show that there is a reality to it. The change, the transformative effort comes as the individual takes up the challenge posed by the experience and begins to work on the human nature, its instruments, its opportunities and its limitations, and creates a process of moving from the old methods to the new ones indicated by the divine Force as it descends and takes charge of the being.

Sri Aurobindo briefly outlines 4 different methods that this change process can utilize. The individual must be prepared to move beyond the vital excitement of the major spiritual experience to carry out the day to day efforts needed to see, know, live and act from a new standpoint and new basis.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “The difficulty of the yoga is not in getting experiences or a subjective realisation of the Truth; it is in objectivising the Truth, that is in making the outer consciousness down to the material an expression of the inner Truth. So long as that is not done the attacks of the lower Nature can always intervene.”

“Experiences and descents are very good for preparation, but change of the consciousness is the thing wanted — it is the proof that the experiences and descents have had an effect. Descents of peace are good, but an increasingly stable quietude and silence of the mind is something more valuable. When that is there, then other things can come — usually one at a time, light or strength and force or knowledge or Ananda. it is not necessary to go on forever having always the same preparatory experiences — a time comes when the consciousness begins to take a new poise and another state.”

“Merely to have experiences of the higher consciousness will not change the nature. Either the higher consciousness has to make a dynamic descent into the whole being and change it; or it must establish itself in the inner being down to the inner physical so that the latter feels itself separate from the outer and is able to act freely upon it; or the psychic must come forward and change the nature; or the inner will must awake and force the nature to change. These are the four ways in which change can be brought about.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 9, Transformation of the Nature, Experiences and Transformation, pp. 239-240

Immortality in this Body is Not the Transformation Sought by the Integral Yoga

The “fountain of youth”, the elixir of immortality, attaining eternal life… these are various ways the aspiration of humanity has found expression for the conquest of death. Some who take up the integral Yoga latch on to the eventual idea of the supramental transformation leading to immortality and believe that they will become immortal in this body in this life. Sri Aurobindo, however, has made it very clear that this does not represent his view of the matter. He repeatedly focuses the attention on the immediate need for the psychic change and its ability to adapt mind, life and body to be prepared to receive and accept the supramental transformation; the consequence of potential immortality in the body is considered by him to be a minor potential future eventuality and not something that should be striven after nor expected in the practice of the yoga. He even goes further by indicating that any prolongation of life brought about by the supramental transformation is not for the purpose of ego-gratification in the normal mode of life, but to carry out the divine intention in the world that is bringing forth the next phase of evolutionary development beyond the mental level.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “To merge the consciousness in the Divine and to keep the psychic being controlling and changing all the nature and keeping it turned to the Divine till the whole being can live in the Divine is the transformation we seek. There is further the supramentalisation, but this only carries the transformation to its own highest and largest possibilities — it does not alter its essential nature.”

“Immortality is one of the possible results of supramentalisation, but it is not an obligatory result and it does not mean that there will be an eternal or indefinite prolongation of life as it is. That is what many think it will be, that they will remain what they are with all their human desires and the only difference will be that they will satisfy them endlessly; but such an immortality would not be worth having and it would not be long before people are tired of it. To live in the Divine and have the divine Consciousness is itself immortality and to be able to divinise the body also and make it a fit instrument for divine works and divine life would be its material expression only.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Supramental Transformation, pp. 229-237

Death, the Conquest of Death, and the Supramental Transformation

In his lectures on Raja Yoga, Swami Vivekananda points out clearly that chasing after powers or siddhis as they are called, is not the aim of the yoga and can be a distraction from the primary goal. They may come, but should not be sought after or made a primary determinant of the yogic process nor set as a goal of any sort. Similarly, Sri Aurobindo has emphasized that the eventual supramental transformation, while it will clearly have impacts on the physical body does not have as its goal the conquest of death or the seeking for immortality of the body. In fact, he goes on to state that such a step would be at the tail end of a long process, not something immediate that the secret could or might expect as a result of the yogic practice. In order to achieve this, not only the mind has to be illumined and the vital force enhanced, but the very cells of the body would need to become conscious, responsive and capable of adaptation far beyond where they are in today’s world.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “Death is there because the being in the body is not yet developed enough to go on growing in the same body without the need of change and the body itself is not sufficiently conscious. If the mind and vital and the body itself were more conscious and plastic, death would not be necessary.”

“As for conquest of death, it is only one of the sequelae of supramentalisation — and I am not aware that I have forsworn my views about the supramental descent. But I never said or thought that the supramental descent would automatically make everybody immortal. The supramental can only make the best conditions for anybody who can open up to it then or thereafter attaining to the supramental consciousness and its consequences. But it could not dispense with the necessity of sadhana. If it did, the logical consequence would be that the whole earth, men, dogs and worms would suddenly wake up to find themselves supramental. There would be no need of an Ashram or of yoga.”

“Why vital? What is vital is the supramental change of consciousness — conquest of death is something minor and, as I have always said, the last physical result of it, not the first result of all or the most important — a thing to be added to complete the whole, not the one thing needed and essential. To put it first is to reverse all spiritual values — it would mean that the seeker was actuated, not by any high spiritual aim but by a vital clinging to life or a selfish and timid seeking for the security of the body — such a spirit could not bring the supramental change.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Supramental Transformation, pp. 229-237

The Supramental Force and the Quest for the Conquest of Disease, Decay and Death

In his book Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda describes the ability of various yoga practitioners to extend the capacities of the body far beyond what we consider to be normal, including prolonging the life span dramatically. One example he described was of Babaji, a yogi who reportedly lived and acted in the world for hundreds of years. This example was not an isolated case, as other yogis have been reported to extend life span or cure disease. Sri Aurobindo related a tale about his brother who at one point was desperately ill. A wandering yogi chanted mantras over a glass of water and was able to cure the sick man of the fever. Sri Aurobindo related this to remark on how he came to understand the power of yoga to effect change in the world, and helped shift him from his political focus to take up the spiritual direction to which he dedicated the balance of his lifetime.

Modern science itself has seen remarkable achievements in terms of extending the normal lifespan of humanity. Just a few hundred years ago, most people in Europe died by their 40’s. Today the average life span is approximately 80 years. Advances in understanding of the needs of the body, nutrition, hygiene, basic principles of managing sewage, along with advances in vaccines, pharmaceuticals, surgery and management of diet and lifestyle all contribute to this lengthening lifespan. Theoretically, these external measures can still add numerous years to the life.

As the next evolutionary phase becomes operational, it will provide new power and knowledge to the very cells of the body to help them adjust and respond to pressures and thus, remain integrated and coherent as a unified body that can withstand far more pressure without breakdown than we can currently bear.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “The change of the consciousness is the necessary thing and without it there can be no physical siddhi. But the fullness of the supramental change is not possible, if the body remains as it is, a slave of death, disease, decay, pain, unconsciousness and all the other results of the ignorance. If these are to remain the descent of the supramental is hardly necessary — for a change of consciousness which would bring mental-spiritual union with the Divine, the overmind is sufficient, even the Higher Mind is sufficient. The supramental descent is necessary for a dynamic action of the Truth in mind, vital and body. This would imply as a final result the disappearance of the unconsciousness of the body; it would no longer be subject to decay and disease. That would mean that it would not be subject to the ordinary processes by which death comes. If a change of body had to be made, it would have to be by the will of the inhabitant. This (not an obligation to live 3000 years, for that too would be a bondage) would be the essence of physical immortality. Still, if one wanted to live 1000 years or more, then supposing one had the complete siddhi, it should not be impossible.”

“There can be no immortality of the body without supramentalisation; the potentiality is there in the yogic force and yogis can live for 200 or 300 years or more, but there can be no real principle of it without the supramental.”

“Even Science believes that one day death may be conquered by physical means and its reasonings are perfectly sound. There is no reason why the supramental Force should not do it. Forms on earth do not last (they do in other planes) because these forms are too rigid to grow expressing the progress of the spirit. If they become plastic enough to do that there is no reason why they should not last.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Supramental Transformation, pp. 229-237