Someone asked me today why I prefer to make Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as my starting point as far as building up a map of Reality and developing my own sadhana goes. Is this not just an ad hoc, dogmatic choice on my part? Here are some reasons for this:
- The main reason is of course that I have felt the inner call to follow the integral yoga. There was nothing intellectual about this. It came from the soul. I had just reached a point where I knew that I could no longer deal with the complexities of postmodern life in a satisfactory and fulfilling way from the perspective of the finite ego. There was an inner need to discover Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Surrendering to the Presence that they represent was a choice that has done nothing but liberate me.
- In general, my rule of thumb as to which worldview to espouse has always been simple: take the most inclusive approach. This is what forced me to leave Islam and organized religion in general. As a secularist I had a much more humanized view of reality. As a student of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, I am constantly challenged to take within even those movements that seem contrary and antagonistic to me. Their approach, praxis, and theoretical framework is by far the most inclusive one that I have ever come across in my life. They challenge me to confront every single fear and attachment I have, and to be led first and foremost by universal love and not my personal preferences.
- Frankly, it’s their remarkable lack of religious or mythical distortion and cultural conditioning that is most impressive. Most religious mysticism is also limited and mixed in nature, often carrying certain dogmas and preconceived ideas. (I feel this way about Islamic mysticism a lot, but I suppose that could be my own bias also, Islam having been the religion of my childhood and adolescence.) Both Sri Aurobindo and Mirra grew up as staunch atheists, and this gives them an intellectual clarity and freedom that I haven’t seen in most other major spiritual teachers (though perhaps this is just my own lack of knowledge and exposure). Although Sri Aurobindo’s primary sources of inspiration are the Vedic scriptures, being a highly original philosopher, he frequently criticizes and deviates from those texts. What he and the Mother represent, is something beyond all the religions of the world, and moreover it incorporates the marvelous insights of secular philosophy and science as well. So there is no mythical atavism in their approach to Reality, in spite of their deep respect for many ancient spiritual traditions. Their approach is evolutionary and futuristic through and through, encouraging us to let go of the past, to appreciate the marvelous gifts accessible at every moment, and to will our spiritual destiny to gradually become the present moment by collectively aligning ourselves with the universal, Divine will.
But note that I am not attached to the external beings or personalities of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. I am only attached to the essence, the consciousness they represent. If tomorrow I find another teacher who has a vision that goes further than
(a) the synthesis of all the partial truths in every religion, in science, in skepticism, in humanism, in occultism, in traditionalism, in philosophy, and so forth;
(b) a praxis for the total transformation of the human being, and
(c) the complete transformation of the universe,
then of course I will use that teacher as my starting point. But in the meantime, the integral yoga is a complete methodology and spiritual praxis for honouring all perspectives, and moreover one that is flexible, extensible and evolving in and of itself as well, so that it can never become a mechanical “technique” (an idea Aurobindo himself would have abhorred).
Remember that the god of today can easily become the devil of tomorrow, as every single religion in the world has amply demonstrated to us. Atheism and skepticism are crucial for destroying these narrow-minded cults. Cling to the hidden essence, but stay detached from the external forms and words. That essence is only accessible through an awakened heart. Filed under Personal Journey, Contemplations.