The Formation of Sri Aurobindo’s Vision

The world is undergoing tremendous change.  “According to Sri Aurobindo’s vision, this change refers to the advance of human and cosmic evolution.  Sri Aurobindo’s personal life and philosophy of Integral Yoga attest to the fact that this transformation can only come about by man’s cooperation with the Supermind.”

Sri Aurobindo obtained a Western education during his school years, including attendance at King’s College, Cambridge, UK.  He returned to India and took up active studies of the texts, scriptures and languages of India.  He believed ardently that India had a spiritual destiny, to fulfill which, it needed its independence from Great Britain.  He was arrested, at times held in solitary confinement and tried, and he was eventually acquitted by a British judge.   He had already begun to undertake various yogic practices, and this was intensified during his time in jail   He later wrote:  “I began my Yoga in 1904 without a guru; in 1908 I received important help from a Mahratta Yogi and discovered the foundations of my sadhana; but from that time till the Mother came to India I received no spiritual help from anyone else.  My Sadhana before and afterwards was not founded upon books but upon personal experiences that crowded on me from within.  But int he jail I had the Git and the Upanishads with me, practiced the Yoga of the Gita and meditated with the help of the Upanishads, these were the only books from which I found guidance….”

The result of these experiences was that he eventually withdrew from his political activities and took up a life of spiritual practice.  While he lived in withdrawal from outer involvement in the political movements, his retirement was not an abandonment of the world, but a more intensive focus.  He recognised there was a spiritual force and action at work.  “It was this force which, as soon as he had attained to it, he used, at first only in a limited field of personal work, but afterward in a constant action upon the world forces.”

Sri Aurobindo wrote about the spiritual experiences that became formational bases for his yogic practices and teaching:  “The first he had gained while meditating with the Maharashtrian Yogi, Vishnu Bhaskar Lele, at Baroda in January, 1908; it was the realization of the silent, spaceless and timeless Brahman gained after a complete and abiding stillness of the whole consciousness and attended at first by the overwhelming feeling and perception of the total unreality of the world, though this feeling disappeared after his second realization, which was that of the cosmic consciousness and of the Divine as all beings and all that is, which happened in the Alipore Jail.  To the other two realizations, that of the supreme Reality with the static and dynamic Brahman as its two aspects and that of the higher planes of consciousness leading up to the Supermind, he was already on his way in his meditations in Alipore Jail.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, Introduction by Robert McDermott, pp. 5-9

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