Sunday, April 22, 2007

This notion of individual freedom in Sri Aurobindo’s yoga is one of the things that has appealed to me the most about it

The challenge is for each individual to somehow follow their own unique process and yet learn to harmonize with other individuals who in turn have their own paths. So, there is no set process, there are no fixed rules in this yoga — everybody has to figure out their own yoga and sadhana, with Sri Aurobindo and Mother’s inner guidance.
This notion of individual freedom in Sri Aurobindo’s yoga is one of the things that has appealed to me the most about it, and it sets it apart from ancient yogas, many of which demanded strict austerities and sometimes even almost complete obedience to a guru. This makes me cringe, but I suppose that in the case of the ancient yogas, these sorts of practices need to be put into their particular context. Conditions were much more difficult then — societies being so authoritarian — so most people were just looking for the shortest route to God.
Spirituality was an escape from the world and its ills, and as a result each yoga chose its point of departure and looked for the quickest way to transcendence. Naturally, austerities were going to be necessary for this. With the postmodern world today and the looming environmental crisis, we face a totally different situation. The age of authoritarianism — whether that of religion, government, science, or any other intellectual belief system — is coming to an end. Moreover, we now have to move beyond individual transcendence, and think about collective transformation of the individual, society, and the planet (and eventually the universe, according to Sri Aurobindo) as a whole. Posted by ned on April 21, 2007. Filed under Contemplations...
Anybody who claims they have some sort of “final message” is to be avoided at all costs. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother only considered themselves the harbingers of a new age, and moreover heralded an era where every being would be an incarnation of the Divine. So in a very real sense, there is no end to this journey of self-discovery. The revelatory impulse will never finish with any one message. Evolution continues and there is no end to it. And finally, to end this post, I’m quoting Sri Aurobindo once again:
The perfection of the integral Yoga will come when each man is able to follow his own path of Yoga, pursuing the development of his own nature in its upsurging towards that which transcends the nature. For freedom is the final law and the last consummation.Sri Aurobindo
The transformative experiences I’ve had as a result of Aurobindo and Mirra’s teachings have embodied precisely this sort of freedom. The influence or pressure to evolve that I’ve felt has come from within. The true guru will not try to “break down the ego” by means of external and mechanical measures, but rather draw out from within the student what he or she knows is already there! That is the hallmark of a teacher with an authentic spiritual presence. This presence creates an incredibly high level of self-reliance within the student because it does not involve any kind of psychological manipulation or dependency on the external personality of the guru. From this perspective I consider the tactics used by “gurus” such as Andrew Cohen to be utterly abusive and antithetical to the Aurobindoan vision of a spiritual teacher.
Reading these passages from Aurobindo and Mirra, I find myself thinking, what beautiful and powerful descriptions of what a true spiritual teacher would be like — a being who can manifest the universal while remaining fully cognizant and aware of the particularities of each individual! It is no wonder that Sri Aurobindo insists perceptively that the Supreme is not limited by the concepts of either the personal God or the impersonal Godhead, but instead includes and transcends both. Posted by ned on April 21, 2007. Filed under Contemplations.

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