Progressively Becoming Conscious

Everyone believes they are ‘conscious’. Spiritual seekers, especially, having awakened from the purely mechanical, habitual processes of the external life, certainly believe they are conscious. Those who believe in various religious traditions, by virtue of that belief, accept that they are conscious. This belief, however, does not change the facts of their lives, or the numerous areas where their lives are purely based in habit and a form of dull sleepwalking.

Sometimes an individual has an experience that shocks him out of the comfort zone of his daily beliefs, acts and perceptions. An intense spiritual experience can do that. Based on this experience, the seeker now believes that he is conscious. In some religious traditions he will understand that he has been “born again into the spirit”. However, the experience is a momentary phenomenon and generally the seeker quickly reverts to established patterns, habits and ways of seeing, thinking, acting and interacting.

It is possible also to be relatively conscious in one aspect or part of the being, while remaining unconscious in other parts of the being. The human being is a complex amalgam of physical, vital, mental and psycho-spiritual elements and they do not all progress in the same way or at the same time, or at the same speed.

The Mother was asked the question: When can one say that one is conscious?

The Mother responds: “That is always a relative question. One is never altogether unconscious and one is never completely conscious. It is a progressive state. … But a time comes when instead of doing things automatically, impelled by a consciousness and force of which one is quite unaware — a time comes when one can observe what goes on in oneself, study one’s movements, find their causes, and at the same time begin to exercise a control first over what goes on within us, then on the influence cast on us from outside which makes us act, in the beginning altogether unconsciously and almost involuntarily, but gradually more and more consciously; and the will can wake up and react. Then at that moment, the moment there is a conscious will capable of reacting, one may say, ‘I have become conscious.’ This does not mean that it is a total and perfect consciousness, it means that it is a beginning: for example, when one is able to observe all the reactions in one’s being and to have a certain control over them, to let those one approves of have play, and to control, stop, annul those one doesn’t approve of. … Besides, you must become aware within of something like a goal or a purpose or an ideal you want to realise; something other than the mere instinct which impels you to live without your knowing why or how. At that time you may say you are conscious, but it doesn’t mean you are perfectly conscious. And moreover, this perfection is so progressive that I believe nobody can say he is perfectly conscious; he is on the way to becoming perfectly conscious, but he isn’t yet.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter I Emergence from Unconsciousness, pp. 8-9

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The Subtle Higher Forces of Existence Create Our External Being and Action

When looked at from the outside, it seems that Matter came first and out of Matter arose Life and out of Life arose Mind. What is not addressed here is how material forces were able to create life and intelligence, in a seemingly random fashion. This is why some religious traditions posit that there is an external, all-powerful Being (God) who creates everything, since Matter, on its own, simply is not able to create something beyond itself. The New Testament of the Bible begins with an intriguing statement of “in the beginning was the Word”. This points to a non-material original cause of existence.

When we observe the working of human intelligence applied to any situation, we see that imagination, concept, idea, thought, and planning precede the actual creation of any material form that an individual may envision. Thus, there are many who hold that the more subtle power of thought is in fact the causative factor. If we follow this logic further, we find that there are even more subtle, and powerful, causative elements that create thought itself.

In the Taittiriya Upanishad, a seeker tries to discover the reality behind existence, as he seeks for the Eternal. His father, his teacher, tells him to seek that by which all is born, by which all live, and into which all things enter again upon death and dissolution. The seeker begins with the idea of Matter but soon finds that he cannot explain everything as resultant from Matter. He continues the process, eventually coming to Knowledge and Bliss as the true powers of creation.

Western scientists, following a similar process have delved deeply into Matter. They eventually found that Matter does not exist! It is actually a form of Energy. Further, they find that Energy is a form of Consciousness. Consciousness pervades, permeates and constitutes the universal creation.

The actual moving powers in existence are not those we observe on the surface. Just as we are misled when we believe the sun rotates around the earth, or that the earth-existence is at the center of the universe, so also we are similarly misled about what causes us to exist, to live, to act, to think and to grow.

Dr. Dalal observes: “A salient aspect of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga pertaining to the psychology of inner growth is its view of the inner and higher planes of consciousness as dynamic forces. Though hidden from the outer surface consciousness, the inner and higher parts of the being exercise on the surface parts of the being a constant influence and pressure, pushing towards the evolution and growth of consciousness. alluding to the ‘decisive part played by the higher planes [of consciousness] in the earth-evolution’, Sri Aurobindo writes: “Our development takes place very largely by their superior but hidden action upon the earth-plane. All is contained in the inconscient or the subconscient, but in potentiality; it is the action from above that helps to compel an emergence. A continuance of that action is necessary to shape and determine the progression of the mental and vital forms which our evolution takes in material nature; for these progressive movements cannot find their full momentum or sufficiently develop their implications against the resistance of an inconscient or inert and ignorant material Nature except by a constant though occult resort to higher supraphysical forces of their own character. This resort, the action of this veiled alliance, takes place principally in our subliminal being and not on the surface: it is from there that the active power of our consciousness emerges, and all that it realises it sends back constantly into the subliminal being to be stored up, developed and re-emerge in stronger forms hereafter. This interaction of our larger hidden being and our surface personality is the main secret of the rapid development that operates in man once he has passed beyond the lower stages of Mind immersed in Matter.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Introduction, pp. xiii-xiv

Comparing Current General State of Human Consciousness With More Evolved States, Part 6 Subjection to Suffering from the Dualities Versus Equanimity

The dualities, or pairs of opposites, are recognised throughout the world as a condition of life. Night and day, positive and negative, and all other dualities, can be seen in material nature, as well as in our vital and emotional existence and in our minds. Electricity flows between positive and negative poles. The pairs of opposites are seemingly inescapable in our world.

When people hear about escaping the dualities, therefore, they try to imagine endless light without darkness, happiness without sadness, pleasure without pain. They either conclude that this is an impossible task, or they try to create conditions to achieve these ends, without, however, reaching any final conclusion.

So what do the spiritual texts mean when they say we can escape the dualities? They are not describing the actuality of these opposites, but the manner in which we respond or react to them. Human nature reacts strongly to these opposites and we thus move from gladness to sadness, from joy to sorrow, from exhilaration to depression in an endless cycle. As the spiritual seeker develops and matures in his dealing with his life and nature, he begins to recognise that the solution lies not in changing the nature of the world itself with respect to these dualities, but in the response one provides to their existence. The seeker then develops a variety of strategies to determine how to experience the changes caused by the dualities, but not be overcome by them; rather, to be steady and accept them with calm, peace and equality.

Achieving a constant and steady state of equanimity, however, is not the work of a day. Spiritual practitioners may spend many years working through the various reactions and still find that something upsets them when they least expect it, perhaps the death of a loved one, or some failure in the life-arrangements they have made, and on which they were counting.

As the evolved consciousness develops and takes firm hold, these disruptions tend to occur much less frequently and with less intensity. An example from an event at Sri Aurobindo Ashram illustrates this quite well. A seeker reported that he had been living and working at the Ashram and received a birthday blessing and message from the Mother on November 17, 1973 in the morning. The message stated ‘live within, be not shaken by outward happenings.” It so happened that the seeker went into an internal state of deep abstraction that day and overnight he reported dreams that showed a tremendous darkness covering the earth, followed by a flash of blinding light. He awoke and went to his position in the Ashram early in the morning, and when he approached, he saw the entire facility lit up even though it was still dark outside, an unusual occurrence which he had never experienced before. People were everywhere. He inquired and was advised that the Mother had left her body on the evening of November 17. Somehow, the message of the prior day and the impact of the dream led him to not react. Meanwhile people began to arrive from all over the world, in tears. As they entered the Ashram to pay their respects to the Mother, they entered through a line of children from the school, holding hands to create a pathway through the Ashram. The older sadhaks were all sitting in deep meditation around the samadhi generating a force of peace. A miraculous thing occurred, that all those who came in with tears, after passing the line of children (who were radiant), came out with peace in their hearts and without further tears. Their reaction to the event was changed from that of a normal human reaction to the death of not only a loved one, but a guide, guru and mother, to that of the spiritual consciousness that pervaded the Ashram at that moment.

Dr. Dalal notes: “(f) Because of the identification with its instrumental nature, the ordinary consciousness is afflicted by the ‘pairs of contraries’ — heat and cold, pleasure and pain, attraction and repulsion, etc. — which are an inherent characteristic of physical, vital and mental nature. Ordinarily, therefore, consciousness is in a more or less constant state of disturbance and disequilibrium. Contrastingly, the higher consciousness is unmoved, fixed or steady — Sthira, to use another term of the Gita. Associated with this quality is Samata — equanimity born of an equal response to the pairs of contraries.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Introduction, pp. viii-ix

Living Within: Summary and Conclusions

Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, compliled by Dr. A.S. Dalal, is an eminently practical handbook for understanding and addressing the complexity of our psychological makeup. Modern-day civilisation creates enormous pressures for individuals, while at the same time immersing everyone in a vast array of information, misinformation, and divergent opinions which tend to confuse rather than clarify our status. It is no wonder that we see an enormous increase in psychological suffering, a lack of peace in the being, and numerous manifestations of disruptions in our minds, in our vital life energy and in our bodies which wreak havoc on our ability to function and carry out our individual destiny. We continually seek for answers and a solution to these seemingly insoluble problems. Endless therapy sessions do not seem to resolve them. The spiritual paths of the East have the ability to provide new insight and clarity to the issues that we face, and thus, we have seen an enormous upsurge in interest in these disciplines. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, with their grounding in both the developments of the West and the directions of the East, have created a synthesis that provides a flexible, responsive and intuitive response to the challenges of our time.

Arden Mahlberg, from the Midwestern Psychological Services, Madison, Wisconsin notes the following: “Western psychotherapy and personal growth process has gained considerably from the experience acquired within Eastern traditions. Living Within makes it apparent that there is a great deal more to learn that is of both practical and theoretical value. Dr. A.S. Dalal has lived and worked in both the world of Western mental health and the world of Eastern spiritual discipline. He draws on the deep insights of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother to locate the origins and solutions to ordinary problems in living as well as in psychopathology. The key lies in understanding that the levels of consciousness in which we ordinarily live are fraught with psychological disturbances. As a result, we experience recurrent conflict, anxiety, anger, fear and depression. Living Within not only shows the way for overcoming such disturbances radically, but also provides practical guidance and exercises for achieving positive mental health and psychological growth.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth

Attaining Peace in the Being

A central key to attaining peace lies in achieving the poise of non-attachment. Non-attachment is sometimes confused with avoidance of action, or some kind of renunciation. But non-attachment can develop even among those who are active in the world. King Janaka was known as being non-attached while still ruling a kingdom and living amidst the luxuries that were part of his position. Buddha achieved non-attachment through overcoming the force of desire. Non-attachment is an underlying basis for refocusing the concentration of the being on the Eternal. Energy flows where it is directed. If we are attached to the life in the world, then our entire focus goes towards achieving what is considered to be success in the world, whether through development of family, wealth, fame, or other emoluments. When we determine to refocus the energy towards the Divine, or towards the principle of peace, then we set up an energetic relationship with those objects and thus can achieve the result of that concentration. That is once again the principle of samyama in action.

The question was posed: “How can we establish a settled peace and silence in the mind?”

The Mother responds: “First of all, you must want it. … And then you must try and must persevere, continue trying. What I have just told you is a very good means. Yet there are others also. You sit quietly, to begin with; and then, instead of thinking of fifty things, you begin saying to yourself, ‘Peace, peace, peace, peace, peace, calm, peace!’ You imagine peace and calm. You aspire, ask that it may come: ‘Peace, peace, calm.’ And then, when something comes and touches you and acts, say quietly, like this, ‘Peace, peace, peace.’ Do not look at the thoughts, do not listen to the thoughts, you understand. You must not pay attention to everything that comes. You know, when someone bothers you a great deal and you want to get rid of him, you don’t listen to him, do you? Good! You turn your head away (gesture) and think of something else. Well, you must do that: when thoughts come, you must not look at them, must not listen to them, must not pay any attention at all, you must behave as though they did not exist, you see! And then, repeat all the time like a kind of — how shall I put it? — as an idiot does, who repeats the same thing always. Well, you must do the same thing; you must repeat, ‘Peace, peace, peace.’ So you try this for a few minutes and then do what you have to do; and then, another time, you begin again; sit down again and then try. Do this on getting up in the morning, do this in the evening when going to bed. You can do this… look, if you want to digest your food properly, you can do this for a few minutes before eating. You can’t imagine how much this helps your digestion! Before beginning to eat you sit quietly for a while and say, ‘Peace, peace, peace!’ and everything becomes calm. It seems as though all the noises were going far, far, far away (Mother stretches out her arms on both sides) and then you must continue; and there comes a time when you no longer need to sit down, and no matter what you are doing, no matter what you are saying, it is always ‘Peace, peace, peace.’ Everything remains here, like this, it does not enter (gesture in front of the forehead), it remains like this. And then one is always in a perfect peace… after some years.”

“But at the beginning, a very small beginning, two or three minutes, it is very simple. For something complicated you must make an effort, and when one makes an effort, one is not quiet. It is difficult to make an effort while remaining quiet. Very simple, very simple, you must be very simple in these things. It is as though you were learning how to call a friend: by dint of being called he comes. Well, make peace and calm your friends and call them: ‘Come, peace, peace, peace, peace, come!’ “

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Exercises for Growth and Mastery, Establishing Peace in the Mind, pp. 161-162

The Attempt to Develop Tolerance and Understanding to Avoid Quarrelling

When one begins to consider how the faults we find in others are those to which we ourselves are susceptible, and that we see them through the focus and affinity that we have to them, as the synchronicity of the universe brings forward to us those very things that we are naturally attracting, it becomes clear that these events become an opportunity for inner work to change oneself. By doing this, we overcome the urge to castigate others or upbraid them for the very behaviour that we ourselves remain capable of doing. This is the basis of serious progress in the individual sadhana and helps to focus and control the energy in such a way that it works towards growth and development rather than being wasted in useless negativity.

The Mother writes: “Try to experience this; it will greatly help you to change yourselves. At the same time it will bring a sunny tolerance to your relationships with others, the goodwill which comes from understanding, and it will very often put an end to these completely useless quarrels.”

“One can live without quarrelling. It seems strange to say this because as things are, it would seem, on the contrary, that life is made for quarrelling in the sense that the main occupation of people who are together is to quarrel, overtly or covertly. You do not always come to words, you do not always come to blows — fortunately — but you are in a state of perpetual irritation within because you do not find around you the perfection that you would yourself wish to realise, and which you find rather difficult to realise — but you find it entirely natural that others should realise it.”

” ‘How can they be like that?…’ You forget how difficult you find it in yourself not to be ‘like that’! … Try, you will see. … Look upon everything with a benevolent smile. Take all the things which irritate you as a lesson for yourself and your life will be more peaceful and more effective as well, for a great percentage of your energy certainly goes to waste in the irritation you feel when you do not find in others the perfection that you would like to realise in yourself.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Exercises for Growth and Mastery, Using Life as a Mirror, pp. 158-161

Separating the Shadow from the Light in One’s Being

When we look around and see the challenges facing us on the planet, our first impulse is generally to try to find some kind of “fix” to the situation. This generally takes the form of suggesting that our current economic or political system or model is defective, deficient or broken, and thus, we need to either update it or switch to a different one. In some cases, those who have adopted a particular religious conviction believe that by making everyone else believe as they do will cure things. Thus, there may enter a missionary element to ‘convert’ others. Some believe that there are simply bad actors out in the world and they need to be controlled or eliminated. Thus we have a retributive penal system or the use of heavy-handed policing, or, on the international level, the use of warfare to advance one’s prescription for change needed in the world. Some believe that education, or ‘re-education’ will solve the problem. At the end of the day, we eventually see that none of these solutions has actually succeeded. Then we look at whether we can escape the planet and begin interplanetary colonization, with the idea that we can solve our problems by simply leaving them behind.

What is not recognised, generally, is that the problems we identify outside ourselves are reflections of our own basic human nature and that all the outer changes of form, whether of political institutions, economic models or religious preferences, will accomplish nothing without an inner change that recognises and changes the basics of what we call ‘human nature’, which is a bundle of habits, conventions and preconceived ideas that we believe are fixed and immutable.

When we turn our attention from ‘outer space’ to ‘inner space’ we begin to recognise that we carry all the problems of humanity within ourselves. The capacity for greed, the feelings of desire or lust, the drive toward anger, rage and hatred — these all remain latent within each individual, waiting only for an opportunity to break forth and manifest.

Despite the refrain that human nature cannot be changed, there is evidence to the contrary. Techniques have been developed to break addictions or habits. There are innumerable examples of individuals who have made extraordinary changes in their ways of seeing and acting and the actions they undertake in their lives. We describe the ‘butterfly effect’ that shows that even small changes can have repercussions and effects far beyond the ostensible initial action, and we have documented what is called the ‘hundredth monkey’ phenomenon that shows that a new capacity, skill or power becomes available to a wider population when a specific threshold of knowing individuals has been reached.

If we begin to apply this information synergistically, we find that the exploration of inner space, the development of the standpoint of the witness of one’s own nature, and then the subsequent implementation of systematic changes not only can change our own nature, but has its natural consequences in the world. And in the development of new forms and powers of human nature, who is to say which individual is the “hundredth monkey” in humanity’s transformation?

The Mother notes: “And this is something — an experience that one can have daily, or almost… when one has those movements of great enthusiasm, great aspiration, when one suddenly becomes conscious of the divine goal, the urge towards the Divine, the desire to take part in the divine work, when one comes out of oneself in a great joy and great force… and then, a few hours later, one is miserable for a tiny little thing; one indulges in so petty, so narrow, so commonplace a self-interestedness, has such a dull desire… and all the rest has evaporated as if it did not exist. One is quite accustomed to contradictions; one doesn’t pay attention to this and that is why all these things live comfortably together as neighbors. One must first discover them and prevent them from intermingling in one’s consciousness: decide between them, separate the shadow from the light. Later one can get rid of the shadow.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Exercises for Growth and Mastery, Becoming Aware of the Shadow, pp. 139-143

The Parable of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote what is one of the classics in Western literature, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The tale is one of a scientist who experiments with potions, one of which releases the dark side of his being, the suppressed inhibitions and dark urges of murder, lust, etc., while when he returns to the state of the enlightened good doctor, he displays an educated, cultured and dedicated individual. These two aspects reside side by side within him and while, in this story, a potion is needed to trigger the changes, it is clear that this is a parable of human nature that responds to input, provocations or events that trigger the response of the deepest and darkest parts of human nature from time to time.

The author was deeply interested in exploring the mixed energies of dark and light forces in each individual and this was his way to objectify what he observed was taking place internally.

The Mother takes up this theme and, from the perspective of the yogic practitioner, suggests ways to adjust this balance, or even, remove the dark shadows, not just through suppression where they can spring forth at the first opportunity, but through complete removal or transformation of the drive that manifests in these forms.

The Mother observes: “This is the dark side. And so, the moment one sees it, if one looks at it and doesn’t say, ‘It is I’, if one says, ‘No, it is my shadow, it is the being I must throw out of myself’, one puts on it the light of the other part, one tries to bring them face to face; and with the knowledge and light of the other, one doesn’t try so much to convince — because that is very difficult — but one compels it to remain quiet… first to stand farther away, then one flings it very far away so that it can no longer return — putting a great light on it. There are instances in which it is possible to change, but this is very rare. There are instances in which one can put upon this being — or this shadow — put upon it such an intense light that it transforms it, and it changes into what is the truth of your being.”

“But this is a rare thing…. It can be done, but it is rare. Usually, the best thing is to say, ‘No, this is not I! I don’t want it! I have nothing to do with this movement, it doesn’t exist for me, it is something contrary to my nature!’ And so, by dint of insisting and driving it away, finally one separates oneself from it.”

“But one must first be clear and sincere enough to see the conflict within oneself. Usually one doesn’t pay any attention to these things. One goes from one extreme to the other. You see, you can say, to put it in very simple words: one day I am good, the next day I am bad. And this seems quite natural…. Or even, sometimes for one hour you are good and the next hour you are wicked; or else, sometimes the whole day through one is good and suddenly one becomes wicked, for a minute very wicked, all the more wicked as one was good! Only, one doesn’t observe it, thoughts cross one’s mind, violent, bad, hateful things, like that… Usually one pays no attention to it. But this is what must be caught! As soon as it manifests, you must catch it like this (Mother makes a movement) with a very firm grip, and then hold it, hold it up to the light and say, ‘No! I don’t want you! I — don’t — want — you! I have nothing to do with this! You are going to get out of here, and you won’t return!”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Exercises for Growth and Mastery, Becoming Aware of the Shadow, pp. 139-143

Spiritual Realisation Through Concentration in the Heart Centre

Sri Aurobindo distinguishes between a “mental seeking” and a “living spiritual experience”. While those who are intellectually-minded frequently confuse ‘knowing’ with “KNOWING”, there is actually a clear distinction between the ability to read, hear, memorize and repeat back a teaching, which occurs in the mind. There is a famous proverb that one can read all the books about swimming and ‘know’ how to swim intellectually, but that does not mean one will actually be able to swim when thrown into the water.

A story from the Mahabharata illustrates this clearly. When the famous teacher Dronacharya was educating the princes of the kingdom, he one day stated that the lesson of the day was ‘not to become angry’. The first 104 princes (100 Kauravas and 4 of the Pandavas) said they understood the lesson, but the eldest, the future king/emperor Yudhisthira demurred and said he had not yet understood. This went on for several days until final a frustrated Dronacharya struck Yudhishthira. Note that striking the future king was considered to be punished by death! At that moment, however, Yudhisthira indicated he had now understood the lesson! For him it was not just an intellectual exercise. He needed the opportunity to put the lesson into practice and make it a living spiritual experience active in his being.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “You have asked what is the discipline to be followed in order to convert the mental seeking into a living spiritual experience. The first necessity is the practice of concentration of your consciousness within yourself. The ordinary human mind has an activity on the surface which veils the real Self. But there is another, a hidden consciousness within behind the surface one in which we can become aware of the real Self and of a larger deeper truth of nature, can realise the Self and liberate and transform the nature. To quiet the surface mind and begin to live within is the object of this concentration. Of this true consciousness other than the superficial there are two main centres, one in the heart (not the physical heart, but the cardiac centre in the middle of the chest), one in the head. The concentration in the heart opens within and by following this inward opening and going deep one becomes aware of the soul or psychic being, the divine element in the individual. This being unveiled begins to come forward, to govern the nature, to turn it and all its movements towards the Truth, towards the Divine, and to call down into it all that is above. It brings the consciousness of the Presence, the dedication of the being to the Highest and invites the descent into our nature of a greater Force and Consciousness which is waiting above us. To concentrate in the heart centre with the offering of oneself to the Divine and the aspiration for this inward opening and for the Presence in the heart is the first way and, if it can be done, the natural beginning; for its result once obtained makes the spiritual path far more easy and safe than if one begins the other way.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Exercises for Growth and Mastery, Awakening the Inner Consciousness, pp. 134-138

Suggestions For Optimizing the Benefit of this Blog for Your Study of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga

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The Sri Aurobindo Studies daily blog is sponsored by the Institute for Wholistic Education with a unique, self-directed and systematic study of Sri Aurobindo’s major works.  For the last 13 years, we have focused on page by page review, directed headline, commentary and citations from Sri Aurobindo’s and The Mother’s writings.  A new post is generated just about daily.  The current book under review is a compilation titled Living Within: the Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, put together by Dr. A.S. Dalal and featuring citations from both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.  You are welcome to join us at https://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com

GENERAL ADVICE TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR PARTICIPATION:   We took up the daily ‘page by page’ review of the writings of Sri Aurobindo with the idea that it would provide both a comprehensive understanding of Sri Aurobindo’s work, as well as a new depth of understanding.  We have found that covering approximately one page per day, and reflecting on the subject and the citations, has enormous benefits so we encourage you to take your time, work at your own pace, and not try to rush through the process.  There is no benefit to speed.  It is much more important to let the writing sink in and begin over time to transform the view and the interpretation we have in all areas of life.   The effect is cumulative and the further one goes, the deeper the understanding becomes.  This is not so much an intellectual exercise and there is no need to strain the thought process.  Let the concepts simply be absorbed and sink in and begin to address the way all life and action is understood. 

You may also find that you prefer a different approach, such as taking up a particular idea or concept that intrigues you, and using the search box to identify all references and follow them through day by day.  We recommend a “free progress” form of learning.  It is not about ‘information’ but about widening, opening and deepening the understanding within your own being.

The resource at this blog link gives you an enormous capability to direct your own study according to your own interest and at your own pace.  We have the following resources available which you can tap into from the home page:

ARCHIVE OF PRIOR POSTS ORGANIZED BY BOOK:

Essays on the Gita

Future Evolution of Man

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

Living Within (the current book)

Mind of Light

Rebirth and Karma

Secret of the Veda and Hymns to the Mystic Fire (includes Vedic hymns chanting and translations and commentary)

The Human Cycle: the Psychology of Social Development

The Ideal of Human Unity

The Life Divine

The Mother

The Synthesis of Yoga

The Upanishads

Upon completion of the current title Living Within, we expect to take up another compilation by Dr. A.S. Dalal titled Growing Within as the next subject.

The page by page review of each of these books follows in date order and provides a citation reference to the chapter and page of the book from which the citations and commentaries are drawn.

ARCHIVE OF PRIOR POSTS IN DATE SEQUENCE:

The archive is organized by month from August 2009 through the current month.  Within each month the relevant articles appear in date sequence order.  The first book taken up was The Life Divine, so study of that text will start with the August 2009 posts.

SEARCH BLOCK:

There is also a search feature which is very useful when you would like to find all references to a particular term or concept across all the books that have been covered.  For instance, if you want to find references to ‘rebirth’ or ‘supermind’ or ‘divine life’ simply type the relevant words into the search box and you will have immediate access to all posts with that reference.

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There is also a link to a daily podcast which began in the winter/spring of 2021.  The podcast converts the daily posts from that time forward into audio files for those who prefer to listen rather than read the posts.

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DAILY POST REMINDERS:  if you choose to “follow” this blog directly at https://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com  (go to Reader  link near top left of home page, do a search in the box for Sri Aurobindo Studies and then click on the “follow” button) you will get a reminder follow up when the daily post goes “live”.

ACCESS TO THE BOOKS:

The print editions of the books are available world-wide through various agencies or centers including S.A.B.D.A. from Puducherry.  The USA editions are published by Lotus Press through arrangement with the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Copyright Department.   You can find all the USA print editions at www.lotuspress.com   Most of these titles are now also available for download as e-books through either Amazon kindle, Apple itunes, or Google play.  Some of the links to the e-books are on the home page of the daily blog.  All of the current e-book links can be found at the respective title at www.lotuspress.com    Also, as each book was completed in the blog, a print and e-book edition of all relevant blog posts has been published by Lotus Press under the general umbrella of Readings in …. (and the appropriate title of Sri Aurobindo).  This may provide another convenient way to access the systematic study on your own.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT SRI AUROBINDO:

You may wish to visit www.sri-aurobindo.com  to get more information about the work of Sri Aurobindo as well as annotations on many of his books

QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS:

The purpose of the blog is to engage the reader in the deeper sense of Sri Aurobindo’s writings, to explore the depths and breadths of the ground he covered, and to make the books highly accessible to the reader.  We therefore encourage engagement and are happy to have participants make relevant comments to the post when they have something to add or respond to; and to bring forward questions so that we may try to assist in guiding you to the appropriate references or direction to have those questions answered.

THE BLOG EDITOR:

My name is Santosh Krinsky and I have been actively studying Sri Aurobindo’s work since I was handed a copy of The Life Divine back in 1971.  I resided at Sri Aurobindo Ashram from mid 1973 through early 1974 and have been continuously involved with this work since that time.  I also act as the editor-in-chief at Lotus Press, the USA publisher of the writings of Sri Aurobindo.  I reside at this time in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA with my wife Karuna and we welcome visitors who are interested to join us for meditation, or one on one sessions.   We also maintain a library for the use of friends and devotees.   We manage the Institute for Wholistic Education, a 501©3 tax exempt organization under the local name Sri Aurobindo Center of Honolulu, Hawaii.

From time to time I have done extensive interviews with organizations such as SelfGrowth.com and Cultural Integration Fellowship.  These video interviews have been recorded and are also available as follows: 

Cultural integration Fellowship:  https://www.facebook.com/LotusPress/videos/1493420001101922  Solving the Existential Crisis of Humanity Through the Evolution of Consciousness with Some Practical Examples (Auroville)

Selfgrowth.com interviews:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxUFpCPprR4&t=1s  Solving the Existential Crisis of Humanity Through the Evolution of Consciousness

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqCNWy9kGpI   Practical Applications for Solving the Existential Crisis of Humanity (with focus on the project of Auroville)

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS:

We hope you will enjoy this process and look forward to the daily study.  The posts are relatively short in length in order to fit into just about any schedule.  We find this is best taken up either early in the day before the daily activities carry us away, or in the evening when work is done and there is some opportunity for quiet time and reflection.  Thank you for joining this program and please don’t hesitate to let us know if we may be of further service in some way during this process.  You will note that the blog is already 13 years in process, so you can make of this part of a lifelong pursuit if you so choose, as we ourselves have undertaken to do.  Personally, I find this method of approach far more beneficial than simply trying to read through any of the books in a normal somewhat hurried manner the way things are done in university courses.  Take your time, reflect, and let this be a light-filled and uplifting part of your day.  The benefit is not in the quantity of the reading and study, but in the quality and the impact it has in your life….