The Old and the New Spirituality (HH 270)


Sri Aurobindo has given a new yoga for the world and man. It is a yoga that integrates life by transforming it into a divine image. Today we share some thoughts of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo on the subject taking up Her New Year message of 1970 as a base.


Words of the Mother

This is the message for the New Year [1970]: “The world is preparing for a big change. Will you help?”

Later, Mother commented on this message thus: “That big change is the emergence upon earth of a new race which will be to man what man is to the animal. The consciousness of that new race is already at work on the earth to enlighten all those who are capable of receiving and listening to it.”

***

The step forward humanity must take IMMEDIATELY is a definitive cure of exclusivism. That’s what is, in action, not only the symbol but also the effect of division and separation. They all say, “This and not that” – no, this AND that, and this too and that too, and everything at the same time. To be supple enough and wide enough for everything to be together. That’s what I keep knocking myself against at present, in EVERY field – every field…. In the body too. The body is used to, “This and not that; this OR that, this or that …” – No, no, no: this AND that.

And of course, the great Division: life and death – there you are. Everything is the effect of that. Well (words are stupid but …), overlife is life and death together.

Why call it “overlife”?! We are always tempted to lean to one side: light and darkness (“darkness,” well …).

Ah, we’re quite small. One feels so small.

***

You know, now, when I am put in contact with all the things I said in the past (yet I did my best) … I so much feel it’s like words of ignorance – all of them based on choice and opposition: this and not that, this and not that, you approve and disapprove…. That’s it. And now it looks so stupid! And so narrow – so narrow. What’s admired in people who have been regarded as saints (saints, especially saints) is refusal: refusal of almost everything, except of God (Mother holds a single finger erect heavenward). And everything, from the highest thing – one’s approach to the Divine – from that down to the most material – the body’s functions – everything from top to bottom is just the same stupidity: this but not that; this but not that; this in contradiction to that; this in opposition to that…. All morality, all social rules, the whole material organization of the world is based on division. And it seems more and more evident that that will be the FIRST thing – the first – which the higher being (which Sri Aurobindo called the “supramental being”), the first thing that being will want to abolish.

Now I understand why he said “supramental”; instead of saying “superman” he said “supramental” because superman is … Whereas for that being, the very basis of his existence is different; instead of being based on division, it’s based on union. Man talks a lot about union, but he doesn’t have the least idea what it is.

 

Words of Sri Aurobindo

This was the defect of the old yoga – the mind and the Spirit it knew, and it was satisfied with the experience of the Spirit in the mind. But the mind can grasp only the divided and partial; it cannot wholly seize the infinite and indivisible. The mind’s means to reach the infinite are Sannyasa [Renunciation], Moksha [Liberation] and Nirvana, and it has no others. One man or another may indeed attain this featureless Moksha, but what is the gain? The Brahman, the Self, God are ever present. What God wants in man is to embody Himself here in the individual and in the community, to realize God in life. The old way of yoga failed to bring about the harmony or unity of Spirit and life: it instead dismissed the world as Maya [Illusion] or a transient Play. The result has been loss of life-power and the degeneration of India. As was said in the Gita, “These peoples would perish if I did not do works” – these peoples of India have truly gone down to ruin. A few sannyasins and bairagis [renunciants] to be saintly and perfect and liberated, a few bhaktas [lovers of God] to dance in a mad ecstasy of love and sweet emotion and Ananda [Bliss], and a whole race to become lifeless, void of intelligence, sunk in deep tamas [inertia] – is this the effect of true spirituality? No, we must first attain all the partial experiences possible on the mental level and flood the mind with spiritual delight and illumine it with spiritual light, but afterwards we must rise above. If we cannot rise above, to the supramental level, that is, it is hardly possible to know the world’s final secret and the problem it raises remains unsolved. There, the ignorance which creates a duality of opposition between the Spirit and Matter, between truth of spirit and truth of life, disappears. There one need no longer call the world Maya. The world is the eternal Play of God, the eternal manifestation of the Self. Then it becomes possible to fully know and fully realize God – to do what is said in the Gita, “To know Me integrally.”…

Those who have been following my course had kept many of the old samskaras; some of them have dropped away, but others still remain. There was the samskara of Sannyasa, even the wish to create an Aravinda Math [Sri Aurobindo monastery]. Now the intellect has recognized that Sannyasa is not what is wanted, but the stamp of the old idea has not yet been effaced from the prana [breath, life energy]. And so there was next this talk of remaining in the midst of the world, as a man of worldly activities and yet a man of renunciation. The necessity of renouncing desire has been understood, but the harmony of renunciation of desire with enjoyment of Ananda has not been rightly seized by the mind.

***

What I am aiming at is not a society like the present rooted in division. What I have in view is a Samgha [community] founded in the spirit and in the image of its oneness. It is with this idea that the name Deva Samgha has been given – the commune of those who want the divine life is the Deva Samgha. Such a Samgha will have to be established in one place at first and then spread all over the country. But if any shadow of egoism falls over this endeavor, then the Samgha will change into a sect. The idea may very naturally creep in that such and such a body is the one true Samgha of the future, the one and only centre, that all else must be its circumference, and that those outside its limits are not of the fold or even if they are, have gone astray, because they think differently.

You may say, what need is there of a Samgha? Let me be free and live in every vessel; let all become one without form and let whatever must be happen in the midst of that vast formlessness. There is a truth there, but only one side of the truth. Our business is not with the formless Spirit alone; we have also to direct the movement of life. And there can be no effective movement of life without form. It is the Formless that has taken form and that assumption of name and form is not a caprice of Maya. Form is there because it is indispensable. We do not want to rule out any activity of the world as beyond our province. Politics, industry, society, poetry, literature, art will all remain, but we must give them a new soul and a new form.

We can mix with all, but in order to draw all into the true path’ keeping intact the spirit and form of our ideal. If we do not do that we shall lose our direction and the real work will not be done. If we remain individually everywhere, something will be done indeed; but if we remain everywhere as parts of a Samgha, a hundred times more will be done. As yet that time has not come. If we try to give a form hastily, it may not be the exact thing we want. The Samgha will at first be in unconcentrated form. Those who have the ideal will be united but work in different places. Afterwards, they will form something like a spiritual commune and make a compact Samgha. They will then give all their work a shape according to the demand of the spirit and the need of the age – not a bound and rigid form, not an achalayatana[[A prison; a place where everything is regimented down to the last detail. ]], but a free form which will spread out like the sea, mould itself into many waves and surround a thing here, overflood a thing there and finally take all into itself. As we go on doing this there will be established a spiritual community. This is my present idea. As yet it has not been fully developed. All is in God’s hands; whatever He makes us do, that we shall do.

To look upon the body as a corpse is a sign of Sannyasa, of the path of Nirvana. You cannot be of the world with this idea. You must have delight in all things – in the Spirit as well as in the body. The body has consciousness, it is God’s form. When you see God in everything that is in the world, when you have this vision that all this is Brahman, Sarvamidam Brahma, that Vasudeva is all this – Vasudevah sarvamiti – then you have the universal delight. The flow of that delight precipitates and courses even through the body. When you are in such a state, full of the spiritual consciousness, you can lead a married life, a life in the world. In all your works you find the expression of God’s delight. So far I have been transforming all the objects and perceptions of the mind and the senses into delight on the mental level. Now they are taking the form of the supramental delight. In this condition is the perfect vision and perception of Sachchidananda.

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