A New Consciousness, a higher spiritual consciousness, is emerging out of the heavy drowse of earth-nature. The emergence is slow and often painful but steadily it is setting its feet upon earth and growing in the hearts and minds of men. The increasing thirst for the spiritual, the attempt towards reconciliation of the spiritual and the material views of life, the turn towards holism, the cry for unity, harmony, freedom from the past are all indicative of the coming Age. At the same time we are witnessing the mounting resistance to this new emergence. Many are the forms that this resistance takes, some familiar, others are novel and deceptive masquerades that ride on the wave of this ‘New Age’ but only to advertise and aggrandise the old posing as guiding lights to the future while all the time polishing the old lamps and passing them off as the new. These misleading lights are often a greater danger than the darkness that is brutal and nude.
Nevertheless the New emergence has to reckon with this and is bound to eventually emerge victorious over all obstacles to its delivery out of the womb of darkness that has so far held our earth with few moons and stars to guide us in the course of its difficult evolution. But now is the Age of the Sun, the complete Truth and so too is the night much more deep and complete. It is indeed the hour when all the lamps that have so far led human thought seem to be blown out of sight or else covered by some dark mysterious veil of an Asuric Maya. We are perhaps witnessing a last decisive battle between Martanda, the lost sun of the Vedas, the eighth son of Aditi that She cast into the womb of Night, whose eventual emergence through a fierce battle has been foreseen by the Vedic rishis. It is the battle between Indra, the luminous Divine Mind and Vritra, the great Python that divides the waters of life, surrounding the earth and holding it captive in its dark coils. It is important therefore that the work to usher in this New Age is undertaken on two fronts. On the one side, and the more important one, one has to become a vessel, a channel, a vehicle for the release of fresh currents and streams of constructive Idea-forces descending from Above seeking to find suitable receptacles for its purposes. On the other hand it is also necessary to keep a vigil against the forces that seek to prolong the reign of the old, sometimes under a new and more acceptable garb.
Interestingly the threat comes from both Science and Religion, once sworn enemies that are now learning to accept each other more gracefully, assigning to each its own province. This of course is the better side, for the coming together of Science and Religion, a mutual respect for each other’s domain, will in the end help each other grow towards a greater understanding and thereby enrich each other by their mutual contact. Science can help Religion by clearing some of the obscurantist and superstitious formulas, hard, encrusted and narrow, rigid beliefs now fossilised into forms, enduring through the force of habit and power of persistence. Religion can help Science disabuse itself of its cold and stony stare at creation, bring in a new humanism even while it takes a look at ‘hard’ facts, rediscover the heart and ways to find its soul without losing sight of the ground conditions upon earth. But there is a dark side to both and it is this that poses a danger to the greater emergence.
There is a purely Material monism that reduces or at least tries to reduce everything to dust and mire in the name of objectivity. Such a Science denies the purely subjective and sees everything as a process of a mechanical Material energy, a dance of atoms whirling in the void. In chemistry it seeks the source of life and reduces mind and spirit to a brilliant but absurd babble of neurons firing in the groves of our brain. Instead of ennobling the human spirit and raising all to the highest common factor of the Spirit, it reduces everything to the least common denominator of Matter. Such a rash and hasty Science often declares that everything spiritual is simply a mumbo-jumbo, often without even examining a phenomenon. Even when evidence is offered it simply brushes it aside or explains it away. To accept the spiritual may well turn out to be the death knell of a strictly material paradigm that refuses to look beyond its three dimensional walls or conceive of anything that may transcend and escape the present limits of our physical senses. The latter of course is no more recognised as evidence enough, thanks to the new tools that look beyond the capacity of our eyes and ears. Yet there is still the heavy servitude to the limits imposed by our thinking mind and the stuff of brain. Few even consider the possibility that there may be means of knowing and thinking beyond the limits of the human mind, though here too there is an increasing opening in some quarters if not yet in the mainstream academia. Nevertheless, the foundations of a strictly materialistic paradigm are shaking right below our feet and this much we have begun to sense, that we stand upon unsure grounds if we stand on matter alone!
But the refusal of Science is less serious since by its very nature Science is a search for truth and one day or the other it will be led past its all-too-material preoccupations. A more dangerous vitriolic comes from certain political quarters that make this gospel of blind materialism not just an object of study but as a way of life and political philosophy itself. Fanatically intolerant of anything spiritual these political philosophies advance the most dangerous gospel, that man is merely an animal and his sole preoccupation is or should be with satisfying his animal appetites and fulfilling his biological drives. These too form a range from the violent groups whose sole business is to destroy and kill whatever opposes them to lesser versions of philosophies that concern themselves mainly or only with man’s physical needs and place them as the sole concern of the human race. Cutting away all the rest as unimportant or even dangerous and harmful they advance the hypothesis that ‘man lives by bread alone’. When the two come together, they form a formidable ally in swaying the minds and hearts of humanity. Science with its impressive inventions captures the mind whereas politics with its promises of money and material prosperity captures the heart and the vital will in man that is often much more eager for success and a quick success than truth and light.
Adding to the general confusion are religious groups that often strive for supremacy over each other and give the image of nothing better than an ambitious Corporate sector undertaking whose sole business is to promote his company over others through neatly packaged advertisement and propaganda. Then there is a religion that fixes itself into a rigid and unalterable form insisting upon a common code and a singular name or type of god while denying Him the right to exist and express Himself in infinite ways. It binds the One Infinite in a single name and form thus cutting of the varieties of approaches that men have used to link this creation with its Source through the ages. Such a religion not only believes in the exclusivity of its approach but also in the exclusivity of its god who is often regarded as the property of a certain creed and belief in him a ticket to be encashed at the gates of heaven or exchanged for earthly and unearthly rewards. Such an approach is not only found in some of the older established religions but has also crept into some of the modern sects that believe in the superiority if not exclusivity of their founder and often look down upon other paths. Their methods of conversion are also more novel than the fear and reward policy used by the older religions. They use the logic of numbers and the power of media presentation to further their case.
No doubt false gods exist and there are masquerades of truth that wear a pleasant mask but to brand anything and everything that is different in belief and practice as wrong and bad or evil is eventually to do a dis-service to the truth and faith that one is following oneself. At the end of the day, God does not count numbers enrolled in a certain sect nor does the truth of a doctrine depend upon its fan-following. What matters is the genuineness of the seeking and these are always few, often very few in any sect or movement. These, who may be considered the true children of God, understand that diversity of approaches to God is much more important for ultimate salvation of mankind and the brining down of the Kingdom of Heaven than the tenets or dogmas of religions and its strict adherence.
A strictly materialistic science with its presumptuous belief in Matter and a blind and violent political philosophy that refuses to see anything else in man other than his body, or a religion sitting on the throne of blood with an intolerant ideology are not the only opponents of a spiritual emergence. The worst and the most crafty attack comes from within the field of the spiritual sowing itself. For there are always bad fruits in good baskets and in this world good is often mixed with evil and even walks apace for quite a distance. Just as there are good physicians who are well qualified and experts in their field, just as there are also great physicians who are not just qualified but have in addition something extra and special, the touch of a genius or the touch of empathy that makes them different from the rest, so also there are gurus and gurus and not all are the same. But also, - and here comes the difficulty of the common man, just as there are genuine physicians and quacks and fake degree holders there are also true gurus and those who capitalise on the garb of an ascetic or else deceive with ‘wisdom’ and ensnare with lure of ‘power’. Finally there are the populist ‘gurus’ who play to the galleries and thrive on propaganda by faithful disciples who have been caught unawares in their net. The truly spiritually inclined sense it soon enough and escape, so do the genuine seekers. But there is a whole lot of humanity attracted to the spiritual market for capital gains and other such earthly and sometimes unearthly benefits without having to labour for it. The guru becomes for these a justification for their laziness. But this is not a real problem since if the guru is genuine and a realised one then he will do whatever is necessary to pull the disciple out of this self-secure complacency and make him do the hard homework, (even while supporting him from behind through His Grace) without which one is not yet ready for the bounty of Heaven. But when the blind is led by the blind and the greedy meets the greedy, then quite naturally both land in a ditch. True, sometimes the ditch is full of artificial lights and imitation jewellery and the duo or at any rate the disciple is not able to make out the true from the false but the damage is nevertheless done and sometimes it takes more than a lifetime to recover.
Having said that, it is important to understand the phenomenon of the spiritual emergence disinvested of the outer forms in which we seek to find it and looking at the outside miss the inside and the core essential. The time is fast approaching when the spiritual thirst is going to become a predominant need of large sections of humanity and it is therefore all the more important the subject be clearly understood and rightly represented to the mind of humanity. Of course this will not guarantee any immunity against well-motivated attacks for some of them come from ill-will rather than ignorance. And while one can work to remove ignorance, there is very little one can do to eradicate ill-will and what is worse even a perverse will whose sole object is to deny and stifle the growth of Truth, to intercept and rob or destroy the caravan of Light, those who hate the Peace and Wisdom and Harmony and Bliss that the spiritual man naturally commands and can impart to others. These can be left aside for a moment.
In fact there is not one but varieties and categories of spiritual emergence creating a whole world of diversity in its own right. The spiritual man is not a uniform type, a dress-alike, speak-alike or even a look-alike who is busy giving some cliché of advices to the masses. He may be as the Gita insists, a man of action engaged in the thick of the battle or someone ruling a kingdom like Janaka and Krishna. The more recent tendency to identify the spiritual through a certain garb of the ascetic and a meagre living has done a dis-service to the spiritual cause. True, the spiritual man can live as the barest of the bare anchorite if need be or circumstances so demand but he is not bound to the anchorite’s robe nor attached to his detachment that must be displayed to the public to fit into the image of a holy man. Besides, there are levels and degrees of Realisation even among those who seem to have arrived at some definite experience. It is a mistake to presume that spiritual realisation is an all-or-none phenomenon. That may be so only in its essential finality but there are many steps and stages in our ascent and each brings its own riches to the seeker. Even the first few steps into the realm of the Vast and the Unknown can carry one so much ahead of our normal humanity that an average man may well take it as the highest. The little sparrow may seem like a marvel for the worm and the caterpillar but it is nothing compared to an Eagle or the Swan. But the issue is even more complicated than this straight and linear staging for otherwise it may not be so difficult to find some common markers for describing or rather defining the stage of our spiritual growth. The other fact one has to reckon with is that spiritual growth is many-sided and there are many sides and many mansions to the House of the Spirit, not just many steps and stairs. Each room of his many-tiered Mansion carries its own beauty and splendour, each has its riches to offer to the thirsty soul and it is even hard to compare the different rooms. Can one really compare rubies and sapphires and say this is better than the other? What we need to know however is the distinction between the real gem and the artificial one for that has a practical bearing. Of course here too there is always a possibility that one may wear the fake one all one’s life with the faith that it is real and none may be able to detect it either, since our confidence and joy add to the value and compensate for the lesser price. Still the difference remains and if we were to exchange the gem for a price then we shall find ourselves badly stranded and cheated.
Modern psychology is far from understanding it since most psychologists study it as an objective phenomenon and they have no first hand direct experience of the spiritual consciousness. Those who have either do not care to come down into the mental sphere with its mazes of explanations and theories or else do not have the adequate mental sophistication to do so. It is here that one understands the immense service that Sri Aurobindo has done to the emergent divinity in Man by giving us the first-hand account of the spiritual phenomenon in all its details and aspects and in terms that are comprehensible to the modern mind. Since we can draw only from our own limited experience and judge things from that, a common enough mistake it to confuse the spiritual man with someone who is gentle in manners, docile, preferably vegetarian. He is further imaged as someone wearing an orange or a white robe, well-versed with the scriptures and is impressive in his speech and style. He does not have any property in his name and has neither children nor a wife. This image is somehow projected also by the media though it is so much contrary to what we read in the ancient lore during the golden spiritual age, the Satya Yuga as it is called. Far from being a world-shunning monk, the ancient Rishis deeply engaged themselves in the world; some were spiritual guides to kings, others teachers and educationists or even scientists and physicians. Even the art and science of weaponry was not exempt from the purview of the Rishi. Rishi Agastya is known to have given celestial weapons to Rama in his battle against Ravana. The modern image of a Rishi is unfortunately the creation of a post-Buddhist period further strengthened by Shankara’s one-sided understanding of the Vedas. No doubt a spiritual man loves solitude and is free from possessions but this solitude that he dwells in and this non-attachment and freedom is largely inner. He is in solitude even in a crowd and he is free from possessions even when he is surrounded with opulence and luxury.
What then are the defining qualities, if there be any, that may be considered the hallmark of a spiritual man, his distinguishing features, so to say? Again it is not an easy task. For the marks are inward and only the spiritually alive can recognise the spiritually awakened. For one, the spiritual man need not necessarily conform to the norms of conduct of our ordinary humanity. He indeed lives in a large, and if one may say so even a dangerous inner freedom. He may acquiesce in deeds that are dreaded by common minds or chose to be in the company of those whom common hearts find repulsive. His ‘anger’ may be a grace and his silence may communicate more than his words. He may veil himself under the mask of an ugly appearance or hide the deep profound Wisdom that he has acquired with much labour in words that sound too commonplace. His outer actions may be like a child, balavata, or like a madman, unmattavata, sometimes even like a ghoul, pisacavata or even jadavata or inert. The reason for this is simply an inability of our present human nature to bear the intensity and force of the Light and power of Truth that he has witnessed, unless of course if he were to take the path of a Supramental transformation of nature as shown by Sri Aurobindo. For it is only in this path that the nature too has to share in the Divine Perfection. One has to find here a new and higher poise, a greater balance, inner and outer, even as one loses the old balance and way of life. But not all are called to this high and difficult change. Nevertheless, the important thing to understand is that spiritual experiences and realisations stand in their own right even if they seem to make no visible dent in our outer behaviour and manners.
Nor should one confuse the spiritual with the moral or the religious. The moral man is a high type of humanity, and one that is much needed and can be ill-spared in our evolutionary ladder, the religious is now a fast dwindling species and so are the philosophers, all flattened out with the man of science and industry or the political ideologue. Nevertheless, neither the philosophical nor the religious man represents the spiritual type, even though they may be high steps towards it. This does not mean there are no signs of a spiritual man. But they are inner and they vary with the line of spiritual self-development one has pursued. It is this stamp that he carries upon his inner consciousness that makes the spiritual man a phenomenon apart and not his outer mannerisms and common civilizational norms. Outwardly the butterfly has wings and looks beautiful and can fly; it is even gentle and mild in its appetites. The lion is neither gentle nor can he fly, he devours his prey with swift natural ease when hungry and often evokes dread in common hearts. That does not make him lesser than the butterfly that has just outgrown its insect phase. If anything he is even far greater in the evolutionary hierarchy. Spirituality too is a state of evolution greater than the average man, greater even than the man of genius and brilliant intellect or the successful entrepreneur. He is, we may say, a different species altogether. If all this is confusing let us see some of the markers described in spiritual literature of a spiritual man. One of the best books for this search is the Gita and one that is more or less universally accepted. What does the Gita have to say about a spiritual man, how does one distinguish the spiritual man from the ordinary one? The Gita describes a number of signs of some of the major lines of spiritual advance and the inner change that accompanies such a person. Of course the focus of the Gita is on the three major types of spiritual persons, – the karma-yogi, the bhakta and the jnani. Besides these three types it also describes natures that are ready and fit for the spiritual life. Differences apart, the common elements in each is a fundamental Equanimity, an equality to the touches of physical nature and the changes in our physical environment, equality in vital responses to the touches of grief and joy, praise and blame, fortune and misfortune, equality also in the mind and its workings and understanding towards people, events, circumstances. He is above the dualities so to say. This does not mean indifference but a true and right value upon things based on a vision that is not moved by either an egoistic attachment or personal preference and desire. He is in a settled poise of Peace and carries around him an atmosphere of calm and joy, it emanates from his very personage. His knowledge and wisdom are not scriptural but intuitive and experiential. He has at his disposal as it were a vast ocean of knowledge to which he can attune at will and receive what he needs to know at a given point of time. This intuition may be fallible in the beginning but sooner or later it gets perfected and is testified with repeated experience. This knowledge above all is an essential knowledge not a scientific store house or an encyclopaedia of facts and figures. He knows what science and philosophy miss and cannot see, the hidden aspects and forces of existence and their working and can therefore arrive at quite surprising practical results in ways that may well surprise the normal man who has not these means at his disposal. This however should not be confused with the common and grotesque need for miracles in the average man who holds this as the one sure sign of spirituality. The spiritual man does not deal in the business of miracles though his whole life is itself a miracle. His task is not to dazzle or stupefy the mind but to awaken it to the inner Light. His task is not to impress the disciple by some supernatural feats but to open an inner door in him through which the disciple can enter and find the hidden Source of All-power and All-bliss. Miracles may happen in his presence or by his Grace but he does not make a business out of it to expand his spiritual empire or sell his brand of spiritual technique as a product competing with other products. A Guru who is ambitious and eager to get disciples and thrives upon numbers is surely a misleading light. But unfortunately men are still too crude and the spiritual impulse still a nascent one and man worships so that God may be his slave and fulfil his endless desires for this or that object. Few seek a true spiritual awakening and are ready to pay the price for the great inner freedom from Ignorance that spirituality promises and holds as hope before man as an ideal of the race.
This indeed is the true worth and intrinsic value of spiritual living and the real work of a spiritual man or an institution dedicated to the spiritual work. Philanthropy, humanitarianism, free education and free hospitals are not spiritual works for even an unspiritual man can very well do it, perhaps even better. The real spiritual work, if there is any, is to awaken and enlighten, to set humanity on the path of the Right and the Light, to free it of its limited vision and egoistic blindness, to give him the means and the strength for liberation from the desire-self that is the cause of our chief disturbance and struggle and suffering and pain and replace in its place a submission to the higher Will so that man may lead his life in accordance with the great cosmic rhythms set for his evolution, the path of dharma, not in any limited religious sense but in its largest and deepest meaning. For dharma in its original sense encompasses all of life. It is the secret support of all things and helps maintain the cosmic order and the upwards march of creation. It has very little to do with outer rituals and observances such as maunam and tarpan. It is an inner state of silence, a depth that is pregnant with the golden speech of the gods, an inner state of offering that brings freedom and felicity, love and unity with the whole of creation and not merely some human beings and followers of the same sect.
But since the spiritual emergence is not just an individual freak phenomenon it has its collective side as well represented in the Ashramas. An ashrama, as the name itself suggests is the place for the practice of dharma, a place of labour (shrama) but of another kind than one finds elsewhere in the world. It is a place where men learn to live a life in accordance with the Divine Will, in submission and obedience to It and not as we live today, a life at the mercy of every gust of desire, pushed by the ego in one direction and the restless mind and the dis-satisfied life impulse in another. One needs a place for this as the overall present conditions of the world are generally not conducive to living this ideal in a collective way, individual examples (and there always are such examples) apart. In other words an ashrama is a space for the practice of spiritual life, especially when the outer conditions of the world do not support it. Thus for example in striking contrast to the way the world functions with money as the centre and ego as the lord and the fuel of desire and ambition as the driving force, an Ashram has at its centre the spiritual ideal, the highest dharma that the earth can embody. Its Lord is none else but the Divine Master who is hid within man and the world but who, in the persona of the Guru, the spiritual Master to whom each individual ego has to learn to surrender and thereby grow and evolve beyond the frame of the egoistic life and its transient stress and error prone individuality. The Ashram is run on the fuel of faith and consecrated service to the Divine. Through this an individual ego is first trained to disabuse itself of this fundamental falsehood that regards each thing as a separate existence meant only for our pleasure and to serve our petty demands. This training done, the individual soul flowers out of its chrysalis and the animal-man gradually begins to change into man-divine. Depending upon the path, an ashrama life is meant to support this spiritual journey. Thus, for example, if one is following the path of Rajayoga meditation, one needs time and energy to devote oneself to the practice. In outer life, one hardly has either. Whatever one has is sapped out in merely maintaining the framework of outer life. Very little is left for inner and deeper pursuits, for serious contemplation, for training the consciousness to go within. An Ashrama meant for facilitating this path will provide for an aspirant’s needs and leave him time and space to concentrate for his goal. Similarly for other paths, say the way of Bhakti or even the way of Karma. For if one has to do everything inwardly dedicated to the Divine and not for any egoistic selfish motives and yet do it well, then one needs another kind of set-up and not one that focuses only on speed and making quick money by cunning or by deceit.
Most ashramas adopt a multiple approach. Thus, the disciples are encouraged, the time given and the techniques taught and reinforced for contemplation and meditation. By surrendering to the Master, through obeying him and subordinating their personal will to his will, the disciples are gradually trained to get rid of the ego-self and exchange in return the true Self, the soul of divine love. By serving the Master for no other reward except the joy of service, they naturally learn to live a life free from the stress of desire, calm and joyous and free. Besides by relating with everyone and everything through the Master one learns to relate with the world and its ever confusing multiplicity with the spontaneity of a divine simplicity. The relationships are no more based upon a mutual satisfaction of each one’s desires or family ties or preferences of caste, creed, race or colour or even nationality and language or custom and tradition. The diverse group is organised around the Divine centre who becomes the one common tie and link between each member. And since the Master is taken as the Divine, one learns with time to relate and harmonise with the whole world of things and objects and living beings through the Divine Centre and not, as we do now through the separate ego that naturally leans upon this or that outward appearance. An ashrama in this sense is like a school for the soul. It is not a collective ego but a common training ground for the spiritual evolution. Like a school, the persons are in different stages of their inner evolution and the Master deals with each one according to his need and requirement. But it is a school with a difference. Unlike the ordinary school that gives you theoretical knowledge of life, the Ashrama is a practical training ground for another kind of knowledge, for our spiritual and higher life. The ordinary life is centred around the body and desires. Schools too equip a person to satisfy these in the swiftest and best possible ways. But the school of the spiritual kind teaches us instead to subordinate the desire-self and educates members to be the instruments of the Soul, of the Divine Presence within and not the rulers of our being. An ashrama in this sense is a human resource laboratory in which human beings work or are worked upon to evolve the spiritual element and the spiritual type out of them. Unlike popular conceptions, an Ashram is not a place for escapists or lotus eating dreamers but a place of real hard work, within and without. It is neither a retreat nor a refuge from the stress and strain of ordinary life but a highest kind of effort, the kind of which not everyone can or are even called upon to undertake, just as not everyone is called upon to be a physician or a philosopher. And herein lies the true contribution of such spiritual men and institutions. They are not places of social service or philanthropy or another kind of social service but if we like, places of charity of the soul, of the gifts of wisdom and peace.
The Ashramas exist by the power of the original Master or the lineage that comes after him. The Master first creates a psycho-spiritual space or a force-field of spiritual energies generated by his tapasya. Next, he naturally draws around him seekers of Light, men thirsty for the nectar of higher wisdom. As a result of these two slowly a structure of outer life begins to develop and come into being with houses and buildings and other services that are needed for the support of the outer life and for the growth of the evolving soul. In ordinary life, the buildings come first, the ideal develops later and sometimes never at all and men come and go and with them the institution keeps changing and expanding. In an Ashrama the process is reversed. The Guru who embodies a higher Consciousness comes first and creates an inner Space or field for our suffering humanity to breath. Men come and go but they evolve according to the path shown by the Master who is far ahead and above the ordinary human nature. The Master, the Force-field he has created, the path shown by him remains the constant factor so long as the guru wants it. Even after he departs physically the force-field may remain for a very long time. If watered by a living guru or a lineage this field may last for many a generation to follow. Or when there is no living guru it may remain because the Master may have chosen to leave behind a silent occult Influence to nurture and nourish all who come there to breath and rest. Those who come with faith continue to receive the help and move along the lines determined by the Master while he was in the physical body. Or else the Master may actually continue to live and move in the atmosphere in his subtle body and as long as he wants since he is free and beyond the norms and bounds of birth and death. His Unseen hands continue to shape and evolve the place and direct and guide and reveal himself to those who are ready and sincere for his self-disclosure. These are facts of inner experience that are often forgotten when we try to evaluate the worth and value of such places by our outward looking sense-bound intellect. For neither the Master nor the path and the institution that he has brought into being are merely physical realities. The physical form is simply a scaffolding for his work of awakening the spiritual impulse and lead men along the path he has come to show. Even long after the Master has seemingly gone or withdrawn beyond the limits of our eyes, he continues to act and the disciples continue to receive help and succour on their inner journey. If he were not capable of doing it, then he would not be fit for being a Master but like us someone bound by his physicality. So also the path he has shown continues to remain open, even when it is covered by the thorns of human nature and coloured by religions and painted with philosophies, the soul that is genuinely seeking continues to find it and walks upon it and arrives where it is meant to lead.
That is why one must treat such places with the utmost respect. For if these are gone then there is very little left worth preserving in humanity. These places and such Masters are spearheads of human evolution, even when they fail or fall one must not forget that they dared the difficult and dangerous climb and if for that alone their efforts are laudable and not to be dismissed or despised just because they fell from a peak or failed to reach it in one life-time. Well, they at least attempted it and thereby kept open the possibility and even left a beaten track for some distance at least for others to climb and succeed where they failed. Even failures on this path of man’s spiritual attempt is better than success in the ordinary life of ignorance where one keeps perpetuating an endless cycle of rise and fall within a small and narrow circle and frame of human experience. After all in any high endeavour it is the many approximations that justify the effort and prepare the final leap of success. What we need to understand is that the spiritual evolution of man is not yet over. The last book on the experience of the Infinite is not yet written and perhaps it cannot be written as much as seen and known and experienced. Through a long struggle and painful labour Nature is preparing man for this definitive leap of which all our science and art and thought and idea are crude beginnings and all that we feel and will and do are merely shadows and symbols. That is how one needs to look at these places of which India has always been the sacred guardian and custodian since nowhere else has this extreme experiment of the inner journey been launched in such a diverse and manifold way. Sankhya, Vedanta, Darshana, Mimansa, Yoga, Tantra, the many forms of worship and cults and methods and symbols are all a witness to this rich and many-sided attempt of humanity to explore the higher and deeper dimensions. The Ashramas are such laboratories of the Spirit where such explorations take place in a safe and controlled environment. The Gurus and Masters are the scientists of the Spirit who are engaged in this most revolutionary research. They give to the world their findings and their best flowers and finest among men step out and enter the world arena to bring Light and Truth and show the ways of Peace and lasting Joy for all. In return the society gives what it can, material support, means for its sustenance in return for the spiritual gifts. It is not a bad bargain of exchanging material wealth for a spiritual one. Attacks on such institutions and Masters have to be seen in this light as well. It may well be an attempt to stifle the spiritual evolution, at least to delay it. While the charlatans need to be exposed and must be exposed there is need for a much greater sensitivity while dealing with this kind of an expose. The mud and filth has to be cleaned but we must be careful that we do not throw out the baby with the bath-water.
Of course, in the last analysis one thing is true and truer than one plus one is two; it is this that the spiritual evolution is going to be. It is logical and inevitable and man cannot by his very nature live long with his faith in material reality alone. Either he will end up destroying himself or collapse frustrated as an aborted attempt at evolution. In that case Nature may find some other species to fulfil its evolutionary impulse, on land or in water, it does not essentially matter. Evolution will find its way. But that it may be a smooth and less disastrous process there is needed a greater collective responsibility, a recognition and a willingness to examine and admit the role of the spirit in the betterment of the human race and not just in a few fortunate individuals or some faithful followers. A deeper engagement and a serious study at different levels is a much more positive way to remove the charlatans from the field and preserve the truth within the husk than this kind of cheap sensationalism. People are misled not so much by the misleading demons masquerading as angels as much as they are misled by their own faith, its inadequacy and insufficiency. So long as our faith is small we will find only such masters who will fit the smallness of our quest. It is only when the spiritual thirst is genuine and true and not just a euphemism for some kind of a temporary diversion or past-time pleasure that we shall have quite naturally, in response to our inner need, men and institutions that will embody the power and wisdom of the Spirit as in the days of old. Then, once again, there shall flow in the land of Bharata, the song of the Upanishadas in the very veins of the people and the inner Veda be given to man. Atheism shall vanish blasted with knowledge and Peace and Harmony return supported by the strong arms of Truth and Love.
Author: Dr. Alok Pandey has been working in the field of psychiatry with a spiritual approach for more than 15 years. He has developed a working concept of integral health and integral psychology which he is using in his life and practice. He is one of the founders of SAIIIHR.