Sunday, May 7, 2017

Half baked scholars take the cake

Sadhana in Integral Yoga - Speaking Tree

Apr 21, 2017 - Integral yoga is the system of yoga worked out by Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual collaborator, the Mother. In any yoga, the seeker (sadhak or sadhika) makes an effort (sadhana) with the ultimate aim of union with the Divine, which is the goal of yoga (yuj, union). The complexity of Sri Aurobindo’s ideas challenges the intellect, and therefore it may be expected that sadhana in his yoga will be equally complex. [...]

Mixing up religion and spirituality
Yoga is a spiritual discipline, not a religious practice. Therefore, yoga sadhana does not have to include any ritualistic prayers or worship. Spirituality is essentially inner work, which gets reflected in outer life. Inner work is not visible. On the other hand, religious rituals, ceremonies and symbols are highly visible. To consider something invisible as the major part of sadhana becomes difficult to accept because of mixing up spirituality and religion.
Closing thoughts
In integral yoga, sadhana is primarily through work. The seeker is free to choose the work for which he is best suited in keeping with his unique strengths, weaknesses, and circumstances. It is the attitude to work that matters, not which work the person does. The result is that each seeker is free to carve out his or her own path. This immense freedom makes sadhana in integral yoga very simple. It is simple but not easy.

First, it is difficult because so much freedom is not easy to use. Secondly, it is difficult because while leading a worldly life, many obligations, responsibilities, social norms and temptations make it difficult to stay on the path. Finally, in integral yoga there is no clear prescription for sadhana. Integral yoga is not a pilgrimage on which many people have already gone, and therefore the routes and modes of transport are all well worked out. Integral yoga is an adventure through uncharted territory. ~by Dr. Ramesh Bijlani
Mythology is not science or history; it is not a narrative of the past but a symbolic representation of the Spirit of those times. All narrative belongs to history and it is bound to be full of glaring assumptions, unscrupulous accretions and methodical prevarications, a sort of inglorious extolling of half-knowledge and academic distinction. Such dubious, Nobel-worthy narratives by the western Indologists have only contributed to the misunderstanding of the esoteric symbolism of the vedic cycle. Indology dwells upon the abracadabra of the external symbol and takes it for the whole truth and therefore, it loses the plot, the significance of the esoteric idea which the symbol represents or rather hides well and instead, supplies its own data to fill in the void; the result is a self-adorning chimera, an awkward masquerade; the Seer of the symbol is replaced by a half-enlightened philistine armed with a pseudo-narrative to maim the spiritual and mystic tradition of the Veda.

Journal of a Yogin

Journal of a Yogin enumerates methods, approaches, paths and different practices of Yoga as found in the ancient Vedic tradition, and in the modern times perfected by the teachings of Sri Aurobindo.

Feb 17, 2017 by Raman Reddy
Even accepting the devotion and adoration with which his disciples approached him is perceived by Peter Heehs as mere adulation which could have been avoided by Sri Aurobindo. I wonder what would remain of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga, or for that matter of any Yoga, if the essential means and facilitators of spiritual union with the Divine are taken away from the seekers. [...]

But what if Hindus are not so dissatisfied with their religion because of its inherent universality and freedom to choose one’s own path? And what if many Hindus have turned to Sri Aurobindo without leaving their traditional paths and integrated his Yoga into their lives without feeling any sense of opposition? And what if traditional Yogas have also evolved and modernised themselves to suit the changing times? (I myself know a few people who are earnest followers of Sri Aurobindo and at the same time ardent devotees of Lord Venkateshwara of Tirupati.) Moreover, at the basic level of consciousness where most of us operate, the difference between traditional Yogas and Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga of transformation is mostly irrelevant in actual practice, though there is scope for considerable scholarly dispute at the intellectual level.

There is often a tendency among the exponents of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga to grandly call for universal spirituality and glibly condemn Hinduism in the same breath without taking into account the ground realities of our present life. For a condemnation of Hinduism without having anything to replace it practically except for The Life Divine or The Synthesis of Yoga of Sri Aurobindo, which you can barely comprehend or spiritually practise, ends up only in creating a spiritual vacuum. A similar kind of facile denunciation of all religions (with Hinduism listed in all caps) has also been in vogue among some of the followers of Sri Aurobindo without realising that this attitude will soon deprive them of the very Gurus they hold in such great esteem. For Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are now themselves considered among the religious figures of Hinduism, despite their own aversion to religion. After all, it is mostly the disciples who create religion for their own convenience than the Gurus who are responsible for it. An anti-Guru tirade is also considered avant garde spirituality even as you fall easy prey to the tech talk and mumbo jumbo of new-age Gurus who look more for commercial success than the honest propagation of spiritual well-being. I would certainly propose the intervention of plenty of common sense in these matters than rely upon the conclusions of half baked scholars of the above kind. [...]

What however can be admitted is that Sri Aurobindo did later go beyond any of the well-known realisations and yogic methods of Hinduism. His Integral Yoga with the ultimate goal of the supramental transformation of man can surely be considered a quantum leap in the spiritual history of the world, and not merely of India. But he still linked his Integral Yoga with the spiritual essence of Hindu traditions without always mentioning the old terms and often creating his own vocabulary to express his yogic concepts. The supramental Yoga disappears into unreachable and inconceivable heights, but the preliminary stages described in his letters to his disciples, such as the discovery of the soul (atma or chaitya purusha in traditional Yogas), or the realisation of the Self (Atman is perhaps the most frequently used term in Indian Yoga), or the concept of the Divine Power (Shakti), or the necessity of sexual transformation (brahmacharya), are all familiar notions to people in India. The fact that Sri Aurobindo does not use the words “Hindu” or “Hinduism” in The Life Divine has been triumphantly produced by Richard Hartz as additional proof of Sri Aurobindo having rejected Hinduism. But there is no dearth of references in the Life Divine to the Veda, Vedanta and the Upanishads. The very fact that every chapter in it is headed by quotations from ancient Hindu scriptures, and the very respect shown to the “Aryan forefathers”, “Vedic Rishis”, and “ancient sages” show that Sri Aurobindo took the general conceptual framework of Hindu philosophy to express his own innovative spiritual world view. [...]

As we can see, there is a remarkable similarity of his concept of higher unsectarian Hinduism (or thesanātana dharma) with the universal basis of spirituality that he founded his Integral Yoga upon. The only difference is in the connotation of the word religion, which is used in the positive sense of spirituality in the above two passages from the early period, as opposed to the negative sense it acquired later when Sri Aurobindo clearly distinguished it from spirituality. [...]

"One cardinal axiom Raman Reddy would do well to remember always is that no “interpretation is faulty” and hence maintaining an attitude of democratic respect and tolerance towards contrasting and adverse viewpoints is essential for personal growth as well as community well being. By not arrogating to himself the burden of offering the official interpretation, he can save himself from much torment and spare his readers too." [TNM]

I think Tusar should play a positive role in this affair instead of constantly arraigning those who are earnestly fighting PH’s views on Sri Aurobindo.

Therefore, the question is whether Sri Aurobindo can be presented, - as he is, - without any political slant...  and, I hope, political perplexity doesn't affect the Ashramites. [TNM55]

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