The Age-Old Testimony of Spiritual Experience

When a tornado or a hurricane wreaks destruction in its path, we are overcome with the intensity and the pain caused by that storm. We frequently try to read into this event some personal retribution upon ourselves for some failing according to our moral code or ethical rules. We tend to look at events that cause us to suffer from the ego-standpoint of the individual, and certainly, the individual standpoint has its validity, but it is not the sole reality of existence. Beyond the storms, beyond the tragic events, there is a vast galaxy and beyond the galaxy a universe, and beyond the universe, yet other universes. The storms, in the context of multiple universes, are in reality minor events. Even when galaxies collide with one another, or a star goes supernova and explodes, the magnitude within the immensity of the universal creation remains small.

It is possible, in fact, a frequently mentioned occurrence, that an intense experience of suffering can lead to a breakthrough where one experiences a vast peace or state of bliss. One is transported out of the ego-standpoint to one that is free and untouched by the events of the moment. The stillness and expanse of the universe permeates and pervades the being.

The Divine is not simply aloof and separate from our life and existence, but partakes of all existence without being overwhelmed or misdirected by a sense of temporary pain and suffering or disaster from our ego-standpoint. A sense of calm inevitability arises in the rolling out of the universal creation through Time and the transitory nature of the events we call catastrophe. Outward events that we experience, no matter how intense or traumatic, cannot overwhelm the Spirit.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The Divine we know is an Infinite Being in whose infinite manifestation these things [evil and suffering] have come — it is the Divine itself that is here, behind us, pervading the manifestation, supporting the world with its oneness; it is the Divine that is in us upholding itself the burden of the fall and its dark consequence. If above It stands for ever in its perfect Light, Bliss and Peace, It is also here; its Light, Bliss and Peace are secretly here supporting all; in ourselves there is a spirit, a central presence greater than the series of surface personalities which, like the supreme Divine itself, is not overborne by the fate they endure. If we find out this Divine within us, if we know ourselves as this spirit which is of one essence and being with the Divine, that is our gate of deliverance and in it we can remain ourselves even in the midst of this world’s disharmonies, luminous, blissful and free. That much is the age-old testimony of spiritual experience.”

Sri Aurobindo,¬†Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 4 The Divine, the Gods and the Divine Force, The Divine pp. 77-82

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