Monday, November 16, 2009

WHAT SRI AUROBINDO MEANS TO ME


Once the Mother said that the root cause for anything is the whole universe at the given moment. The reasons given by a person for his being at a given place doing a given thing rather than at another place doing another thing, are merely a presentation of material that permits itself to be converted into the currency of words and logic valid for the time and place.
I have been a physician and then a psychiatrist. By temperament and necessity my work has led me to look into the mechanics and dynamics of human behaviour as a whole.
The purely mechanist model of the human body adopted by medical practice, treating it as an object, a test-tube for pills to be put in or as a robot to repair by cutting off or by implanting new parts, seemed unsatisfactory to me. The body and the I are one dialectic unit not laboratory-produced by man or by a committee of many expert men.
The little of scriptures I had read like the Gita or the Dhammapada indicated to me, provoked in me many questions but did not offer practical interactional guidance. The role of the physical body was not delineated with sufficient cogency to enable me to use them as practical guidance in day to day work with 'bodies'. Why the body at all, has been left vague. Explicitly or implicitly they left me with the impression that the body is a burdensome appendage to be got rid off, a caprice of nature or a play of gods. When the answer to this important question, "Why the body at all", is left nebulous, then why the plethora of austerities and injunctions to which it is required to submit itself. Interpretative authority rather than personal inquiry rules the day and isms mushroom up. The problem of human health is intimately tied up with the goals of human life in the individual or the collective. At all times, perhaps, but most markedly today man seeks an answer to the question of why the body, and also a satisfactory working model of body-self interaction, at least sufficient enough to interest him further in the inquiry. Both practical religion and practical science have failed to satisfy me and my work concerned with living bodies.

Sri Aurobindo's work gave me a perspective of the whole problem of the body and its interactions with the self. This was not just a theoretical verbal dissertation. The life and teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother gifted a whole range of practical guidance to enable an interested worker to pursue the inquiry with increasing confidence. Anyone, especially a physician, must constantly explore within himself, in the course of day to day life, this body-self interaction in order to have any influence on the total health of the persons that come to him. This is or ought to be the first step.
I resigned from my post as head of a teaching and research institution of mental health and the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram graciously accepted me into the Ashram.
The attitude adopted by me to the best of my ability was that of a professional student of self-change, changing oneself into a more effective and harmonious instrument of health. Aspiration and effort and sincerity towards changing oneself to a better model, to me, is the key note of the Mother's teaching, or at least the key note I had chosen. The factors and forces and parts and functions involved in this self-change are indeed many, but the first requirement seemed to me to be a person who says, "I am dissatisfied with myself; I desperately want and need to change myself", and a person who remembers that he said so, and a person who does not forget he said so.
While changing oneself has been recognised by many spiritual organisations, they are overlaid in practice by philanthropical occupations to such an extent that one can hardly be blamed if the suspicion is there that their main occupation is to change others in the name of helping or saving them from themselves.
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in their own bodily lifetime explored the paths and the powers needed for transformation of the human frame to enable it to express a new type of behaviour on this earth, here. I cannot pretend to grasp all that they have seen or said, but for my work it is sufficient to say that they have left a mass of practical guidance enough to occupy me many lifetimes. Understanding to me does not come from books, but only from my body actually doing what it wants to learn.

I have learnt, thanks to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, that trying to change myself and the intricate mechanism therein is the most effective way of meeting the multitude of vicissitudes that assail it from every direction. To the degree this is done, to that degree the external environment effectively changes. The human society is a complexly interconnected collective nervous system. Each one acts as a reflector for the other. The present social chaos is the result of the laser-like effect of the disturbance in each single person reflected million, trillion fold from each person directly and through the mass media. If one single person, instead of passively reflecting the chaos and disturbance he receives, were to transform what is received within himself, and then only release it, the results might be better for society, but it, certainly, is good for personal health as this action protects the personal body from destructive wear and tear. The proverbial no-see evil, no-hear evil, no-speak evil monkeys of religion will need a whole welfare institution for the deaf, dumb and blind in this wicked world. The Mother said that the reception of all vibrations and their inner transformation and subsequent transmission was the task for which Sri Aurobindo came on earth and to tell others how to do it. To the interested apprentice who wants to know how and what, the answer is seriously to go practically into their guidance as best one can . Mere reading helps to improve one's glossary and gives an illusion of understanding which is unfortunate but usual.
This particular angle to the vibrations of interaction has been of great help to me in my health work.
With regard to total bodily health, the concepts of paying attention and/or directing harmonious consciousness to the various parts of the body in great detail; of the need for setting ever higher goals of performance for body and mind to bring out the best in them have been most helpful. It was not the concepts as such but the extremely practical clues and pointers they have delineated that are of great help to the interested student of human evolution.
For someone like me who has chosen to study, to learn the processes of human behaviour, taking myself as the first sample, to study in depth this sample, the Ashram has been the very life-breath. It appears to be a selfish occupation, but I now see more and more clearly that if concern for the correction of one's own instrument is not there, all its so-called efforts at helping others can lead to disasters. This does not mean sitting in a dark cave in a forest and meditating on self-transformation. It is in the very middle of life that transformation is to be progressively achieved. All that is asked is to learn to keep your attention on your own dash-board while piloting your vehicle called the body.

Meticulous personal experiment is necessary. The apprentice interested in learning has to methodically involve his body in perfecting its parts, powers and functions. The methods may vary, but the need for the same degree of precision and dedication displayed by a scientist trying to manipulate or modify a complex computer is underlined. Sri Aurobindo's work on fasting in its bodily economy; the Mother's meticulous work trying to establish the relation between the flowers of blessing and duration of effects, and many more examples and statements can be found in numbers sufficient to underline the importance they attached to the scientific experimental approach for an intelligent man engaged in conscious evolution of himself as an effective instrument. As long as the personal 'I' remains, the need for this process of accurate observation, experiment and experience in mutually enriching spirals seems necessary. If the need for learning the skills of piloting one's own body is desperately felt in the interests of personal and public safety, it is easy to see that most of us give to the learning of these skills for this most complex machine on earth called our body, not even a fraction of the time given to the learning of the driving of a car. If this need for personal practical involvement is not felt the pages of the Vishuddhi Marga of Buddhist teaching and Sri Aurobindo's Synthesis of Yoga might not be of much help to the serious apprentice.
The present state of the world is very much like that of a number of drunken drivers devising rules of the road for safe driving.
The Ashram and its residents provide a lively dedicated and challenging milieu in which one is exposed to a rich variety of material and interpersonal interactions loosely enmeshed in bewildering bonds of love, freedom, authority and discipline all emerging from the one thread that holds all to the teachers and the goal set by them.
Following strictly the instruction of the Mother not to speak of matters beyond my knowledge I have refrained from trying to speak of esoteric knowledge beyond my understanding.
For me, Sri Aurobindo Ashram has been the most satisfying university where I have learnt and continue to learn the science and profession of human health in its evolutionary totality, I am grateful to my teachers for having made me see that a health-worker who is not constantly engaged in progressively transforming himself into a more and more healthy and harmonious human being is of dubious if not decisively dangerous effects.
This article does not fully convey all that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother mean to me. It is outside any consensually shareable experience. I shall not undertake a futile exercise in communicating the incommunicable.

AUM



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