Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Secret Knowledge


On a height he stood that looked towards greater heights.

Our early approaches to the Infinite

Are sunrise splendours on a marvellous verge

While lingers yet unseen the glorious sun.

                                                                        - Sri Aurobindo


( Savitri, Volume 28,  Book 1 Canto 4, Page 46)

Evolution


If mankind only caught a glimpse of what infinite enjoyments, what perfect forces, what luminous reaches of spontaneous knowledge, what wide calms of our being lie waiting for us in the tracts which our animal evolution has not yet conquered, they would leave all and never rest till they had gained these treasures.
                                                                                                                        - Sri Aurobindo

(SABCL, Vol. 17, Page 79)


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Aim of the Yoga


  The aim of the yoga is to open the consciousness  to the Divine and to live in the inner consciousness more and more while acting from it on the external life, to bring the inmost psychic into the front and by the power of the psychic to purify and change the being so that it may become ready for transformation and be in union with the Divine Knowledge, Will and Love.
                                                                                              - Sri Aurobindo

 (Letters On Yoga, Volume 23, Page 509)


Monday, March 28, 2011

Supraphysical


Subjective discovery must be pursued by a subjective method of enquiry, observation and verification; research into the supraphysical must evolve, accept and test an appropriate means and methods other than those by which one examines the constituents of physical objects and the processes of Energy in material Nature.
                 - Sri Aurobindo
(SABCL, Vol. 19, Page 650)


All can be done


All can be done if the God-touch is there.

                                       - Sri Aurobindo

(Savitri, Volume 28, Page 3)



Gossiping Familiarity with Sri Aurobindo




Anything written by a sadhak about Sri Aurobindo which brings him down to an ordinary level and admits the reader to a sort of gossiping familiarity with him is an unfaithfulness to Him and His work. Good intentions are not sufficient.
                                                                                                      - The Mother
(Collected Works of the Mother, Vol. 13, Page 27)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Leaders of the Integral Yoga


As for the Mother and myself, we have had to try all ways, follow all methods, to surmount mountains of difficulties, a far heavier burden to bear than you or anybody else in the Ashram or outside, far more difficult conditions, battles to fight, wounds to endure, ways to cleave through impenetrable morass and desert and forest, hostile masses to conquer - a work such as, I am certain, none else had to do before us.
For the Leader of the Way in a work like ours has not only to bring down and represent and embody the Divine, but to represent too the ascending element in humanity and to bear the burden of humanity to the full and experience, not in a mere play or Lila but in grim earnest, all the obstruction, difficulty, opposition, baffled and hampered and only slowly victorious labour which are possible on the Path.
But it is not necessary nor tolerable that all that should be repeated over again to the full in the experience of others.
It is because we have the complete experience that we can show a straighter and easier road to others - if they will only consent to take it.
It is because of our experience won at a tremendous price that we can urge upon you and others, "Take the psychic attitude; follow the straight sunlit path, with the Divine openly or secretly upbearing you - if secretly, he will yet show himself in good time, - do not insist on the hard hampered, roundabout and difficult journey.


- Sri Aurobindo

(SABCL, Volume 26, Page 464)


Why Sri Aurobindo Is Cool


When most of us think of Sri Aurobindo, we probably think of that famous image of him, sitting there in that throne of a chair, long white beard and hair, looking like something straight out of a Hollywood movie in which he was cast in the role of God. You can almost imagine his voice, thundering with frightening authority in perfect King James English like Robert Powell's classic rendition of Jesus of Nazareth. But take a look behind the scenes at the life of this revolutionary mystic, and you'll find yourself face-to-face with a very different sort of character. You see, the real Sri Aurobindo was no otherworldly ivory tower patriarch, calling out to the lost masses from on high. No, he was a man of action, a fiery wit, a power yogi, a spiritual renegade if there ever was one. In a word, this guy was cool. Really cool. As Michael Murphy, best-selling author, co-founder of Esalen Institute, and a former resident of Sri Aurobindo's ashram, put it: "Aurobindo is a stupendously great guy. He opened up so much. Hardly anyone has this vision that puts the two together—God and the evolving universe. Hardly anyone! Most people in Eastern philosophy take the more traditional view that's represented by Huston Smith or Ram Dass. Which is the classical mystical view that factors in evolution little if at all."

Let me translate. What Mike is saying here is that Sri Aurobindo brought a radical (not in the California sense) new vision to spiritual life that, as far as anyone can tell, no other mystic before him had done. The fact is, with the possible exception of Judaism, almost all religious and mystical traditions, East and West—even if they promote doing good works in the world, chopping wood and carrying water, or being a bodhisattva dedicated to the liberation of all beings—ultimately see the goal of spiritual practice as some kind of vertical liftoff, out of this world into either a transcendent beyond, a heaven, or a final cessation in nirvana. Sri Aurobindo had the audacity to say that this view was a mistake. A big mistake. He even had the chutzpah to say it was a mistake made by the likes of Shankara and the Buddha. To him, the goal was something much more significant. He said that if we were only willing to consciously participate in EVOLUTION, we could create a "divine life" right here on earth. No vertical liftoff. No great escape, but a ceaseless, dynamic, miraculous unfolding of ever-higher expressions of harmony and unity, here in this world.

And there's more. A lot more. Take poetry. Poetry is cool these days, right? Well, let me tell you, if Sri Aurobindo were alive, he'd take the "poetry slam" to a whole new level. He'd make the beats look like deadbeats. He'd have the rappers running back to grammar school. He published his first poem when he was twelve. His longest poem,Savitri, which took him almost thirty-five years to write, is twenty-four thousand lines long. It's his highest example of what he called "future poetry" or "overhead poetry"—poetry written from the highest planes of consciousness. And it's high all right. Good luck digesting more than a few stanzas without going into samadhi [ecstatic absorption]. Definitely not to be read while operating heavy machinery. And did I mention that Aldous Huxley, Nobel laureate Pearl S. Buck, and others independently nominated Sri Aurobindo for the Nobel Prize in Literature?

Now, being a political revolutionary is seriously cool, right? Well, how about the fact that, after reading a poem by Shelley on the French revolution at the age of eleven (that's right, eleven), Aurobindo decided that he, too, would like to devote his life "to a similar world-change" and lead his then oppressed homeland to freedom. And after finishing a star-studded academic career at Cambridge University while surviving on little more than "toast and tea," he became, by the age of thirty-four, the leading figure in the Indian independence movement. The British even labeled him the "most dangerous man" in India, and threw him in jail—solitary confinement to be precise—for the better part of a year while he was on trial for his alleged involvement in a terrorist bombing.

But guess what he did in jail. Did he get depressed? No. He meditated. Boy, did he! In fact, it was there, in a barren six-by-nine cell, that he underwent one of the most extraordinary transformations of his remarkable, if not epic, spiritual journey. After a short time, as he tells it, "I looked at the jail that secluded me from men and it was no longer by its high walls that I was imprisoned; no, it was [God] who surrounded me. I walked under the branches of the tree in front of my cell but it was not the tree, I knew it was [God], it was Sri Krishna whom I saw standing there and holding over me His shade. I looked at the bars of my cell, the very grating that did duty for a door and again I saw [God]. . . . Or I lay on the coarse blankets that were given me for a couch and felt the arms of Sri Krishna around me, the arms of my Friend and Lover." So much for solitary confinement.

And while we're on the subject of spiritual breakthroughs, let's take a look at his yoga. And, I'm not talking here about the curvaceous-blond-doing-suptavirasana-by-the-
California-seashore-at-sunset Yoga Journal calendar kind of yoga. This was yoga in the traditional sense: Seeking union with the Divine through real, disciplined, inward spiritual practice. Meditation and contemplation, as most of us would call it. Now, for Sri Aurobindo, although he was never one to slouch in the face of required effort, the yoga part seemed to come easy. In fact, the very first time he went to a teacher for guidance, he found himself thrust into a state of consciousness many never reach in an entire lifetime of practice. After simply following the instructions of this little-known yogi to reject any thoughts that tried to enter his mind, he found that "In a moment my mind became silent as a windless air on a high mountain summit and then I saw one thought and then another coming in a concrete way from outside; I flung them away before they could enter and take hold of the brain and in three days I was free."

And just so we're clear, the "freedom" that he experienced-and continued to experience from that day on—was, in his words, none other than "Nirvana," the "concrete consciousness of stillness and silence" most of us think of as the ground and goal of all true mystical pursuit:
To reach Nirvana was the first radical result of my own yoga. It threw me suddenly into a condition [in which] there was no ego, no real world . . . no One or many even, only just absolutely That, featureless, relationless, sheer, indescribable, unthinkable, absolute, yet supremely real and solely real. . . . What it brought was an inexpressible Peace, a stupendous silence, an infinity of release and freedom.
But for Sri Aurobindo, the experience did not end there. Although it was "attended at first by an overwhelming feeling and perception of the total unreality of the world," his experience eventually began to give way to the recognition of a deeper truth:
The aspect of an illusionary world gave place to one in which illusion is only a small surface phenomenon with an immense Divine Reality behind it and a supreme Divine Reality above it and an intense Divine Reality in the heart of everything that had seemed at first only a cinematic shape or shadow... Nirvana in my liberated consciousness turned out to be the beginning of my realization, a first step towards the complete thing, not the sole true attainment possible or even a culminating finale... And then it slowly grew into something not less but greater than its first self.
In these Buddhistically enlightened days in the West, Sri Aurobindo's claim that nirvana is not the end of the path may seem a little strange. After all, doesn't nirvana by its very definition mean "the end," the final cessation toward which all of our striving is headed? I mean, sure, if we'rereally selfless bodhisattvas, we might think about postponing our nirvana for a few eons. But we all know where we're going in the end, right? Cessation, release, transcendence, the Beyond.

                                                                              - Craig Hamilton

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Universal forces


All life is the play of universal forces. The individual gives a personal form to these universal forces. But he can choose whether he shall respond or not to the action of a particular force. Only most people do not really choose – they indulge the play of the forces.
                                                                                           - Sri Aurobindo

(Letters On Yoga, Volume 22, Page 318)


We are sons of God


A mutual debt binds man to the Supreme:
His nature we must put on as he put ours;
We are sons of God and must be even as he:
His human portion, we must grow divine.
Our life is a paradox with God for key.

                                    - Sri Aurobindo

(Savitri, Volume 28, Page 67)



Death


Death is but changing of our robes to wait
In wedding garments at the Eternal’s gate.
                                         - Sri Aurobindo 
  
(Collected Poems, Volume 5, Page 54) 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Humility


Whatever is your personal value or even your individual
 realisation, the first quality required in yoga is humility.  
 - The Mother

(Words Of The Mother, Volume 14, Page 160)


Sri Aurobindo's evolutionary spirituality


Sri Aurobindo was India's greatest modern philosopher-sage, flowing out of a country that is one of the most astonishing and profound geographical sources of spiritual awareness on the planet. In Sri Aurobindo we have the first grand statement of an evolutionary spirituality that is an integration of the best of ancient wisdom and the brightest of modern knowledge. Nobody combined both philosophical brilliance and a profoundly enlightened consciousness the way Sri Aurobindo did. His enlightenment informed his philosophy; his philosophy gave substance to his enlightenment; and that combination has been rarely equaled, in this or any time.
                                                                                             - Ken Wilber

Elitism


      Each (Spiritual Path, Philosophy, Religious school or Ashram etc.) feels it has the best to offer, the sole truth. This spirit leads to a kind of elitism, which is the enemy of true spirituality… I can only say that each disciple who feels and acts 'superior',  betrays Sri Aurobindo who was an universal man to the core and whose humility was held up as an example to the world by the Mother who herself was an embodiment of spontaneous Love.    
                                                                                            - M. P. Pandit

Pain




Pain is the hammer of the gods to break

A dead resistance in the mortal's heart,

His slow inertia as of living stone.

If the heart were not forced to want and weep,

His soul would have lain down content, at ease,

And never thought to exceed the human start

And never learned to climb towards the Sun.


                                             - Sri Aurobindo


("Savitri", Volume 29, P. 443)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We do not found ourselves on faith alone


We do not found ourselves on faith alone, but on a great ground of knowledge which we have been developing and testing all our lives. I think I can say that I have been testing day and night for years upon years more scrupulously than any scientist his theory or his method on the physical plane. That is why I am not alarmed by the aspect of the world around me or disconcerted by the often successful fury of the adverse Forces who increase in their rage as the Light comes nearer and nearer to the field of earth and Matter.
                                                                                               - Sri Aurobindo

                                                                                                                         
(On Himself, Volume 26, pp. 468-469)



God shall grow up


A few shall see what none yet understands;
God shall grow up while the wise men talk and sleep;
For man shall not know the coming till its hour
And belief shall be not till the work is done.
                                     - Sri Aurobindo


(Savitri, Volume 28, Book 1 Canto 4, Page 55)




Difficulties


But difficulties were made to be overcome and if the Supreme Will is there, they will be overcome.
                                                                                - Sri Aurobindo


SABCL, On Himself,  Volume 26, Page 403)



Mahasamadhi of Sri Aurobindo

video

Be faithful to your guru

                                                          


As for the disciple, I would tell him: "In all cases, be faithful to your guru whoever he is; he will lead you as far as you can go. But if you have the good fortune to have the Divine as your guru, there will be no limit to your realisation."

                                                                                              - The Mother

(Works Of The Mother, On Education, Volume12, Page 63)


Monday, March 21, 2011

This bodily appearance is not all


This bodily appearance is not all;
The form deceives; the person is a mask;
Hid deep in man celestial powers can dwell.
His fragile ship conveys through the sea of years
An incognito of the Imperishable.

                                                  - Sri Aurobindo

(Savitri, Vol. 28, Page 23)



Experiments and Achievements of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother




The more one studies Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, the more is one wonderstruck by the breathtaking sweep of their experimentation and their victorious achievements. It is impossible to present even a distant idea of the crucial significance of their realisations to the expanding horizons of knowledge and to the possibilities of evolution and mutation of the human species.
                                                                           - Kireet Joshi
                                                                          

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Parts of the Being (According to Sri Aurobindo)

Who is Sri Aurobindo ?


Once in the early years of my life in the Ashram I wrote to Sri Aurobindo, "How people calling to Shiva or Krishna or their Ishta Devata get responses from you I don’t understand," he replied, "Who is Shiva? and who is Krishna? and what is an Ishta Devata? There is only one Divine, not a thousand Divines." Myself: "It would mean that wherever a sincere heart is aspiring for the Divine, his aspiration reaches your ears." Sri Aurobindo: "Why my ears? Ears are not necessary for the purpose. You might as well say, reaches me by the post." I then protested, "No, Sir, I am satisfied with you as Sri Aurobindo pure and simple. I don’t need anybody else." He wrote back, "No objection. I only suggested that I don’t know who this Sri Aurobindo pure and simple is. If you do, I congratulate you." Since then, my relation with him had become very intimate. I gradually came to know many aspects of his personality, but never who he really was. My correspondence with him has shown that I dared to take liberties with him (which was considered unthinkable by other sadhaks). Once I wrote to him, "Cut me or beat me, Sir, but don’t forsake me." And the answer he wrote back startled me and filled me with a sudden delight and assurance beyond measure. He wrote. "Never. But beat you, a lot." This assurance has sustained and will sustain me even in my future life, if I may say so. Once I dared to ask him, "Where do you get so much sense of humour?" His cryptic reply: "raso vai sah" (verily He is Delight.) Then one day when I asked him "Why are you so soft and free as if I’m your comrade?" he gave an enigmatic answer: "Find out for yourself." When I failed to find out, he wrote, "It is not by the mind that you can find out." Till now I have failed to discover why. The enigma remains unsolved and I live with the hope that perhaps he will divulge the secret as he had divulged to Dilip the cause of his intimacy with him. But he has made me stick to him till now and perhaps forever.

But my knowledge of him has grown as far as my small human understanding can allow. And I have come to this conclusion that what he has written about Sri Krishna in fact applies to him too. In his estimation Sri Krishna had an unfathomable mind of knowledge. However, Sri Aurobindo remains an enigma to the world. 
The Mother herself has admitted that she had failed to know him though she had lived with him for more than 30 years. 
To a disciple who wished to write his biography, he remarked that his life has not been on the surface for people to see.

The vast world of knowledge he had possessed remains unparalleled. He has himself admitted to us that what he knows will remain untold even if he goes on writing for twelve years. We asked him, "Will all that knowledge remain unknown to us and posterity?" "Learn first of all what I have written," he replied with a sweet smile, and added. "I am afraid I have come perhaps before my time." Comes to mind a mighty line from one of his poems: "I have drunk the Infinite like a giant’s wine."
Only with the help of such a Wine could he have given to India and the world his four major contributions: a national awakening and fiery thirst for total independence, a new and deeper interpretation of the Vedas, the rediscovery of the Supermind, and a life-embracing system of Integral Yoga.

The question that makes us marvel with wonder is how within a short span of years he could gather so vast a knowledge, and even record it, which would need at least a hundred years. The Mother holds an answer to that enigma. She said that he had only to sit before the typewriter and knowledge would pour down like a stream from above.

And is it only knowledge? What about the beauty of expression, perfection of style and masterly composition? We remember that when his immortal book ‘The Life Divine’ had been published, the Times Literary Supplement’s front page article described Sri Aurobindo as "an author who writes with the sky for page and the constellations as his company," and as "a new kind of thinker who combines the serenity of the East and the alacrity of the West."
Romain Rolland, a great French savant, said about Sri Aurobindo, "The old leader of the Bengal revolt, who is now one of the greatest thinkers of modern India, has realized the most complete synthesis achieved up to the present between the genius of the West and of the East." He also said that Sri Aurobindo is the last of the great Rishis who holds the creative bow in his hand.

If this is about the Man of Knowledge, what about the human being he was? What has he not done for the human race? We know he sacrificed his inestimable life for the incalculable benefit of man. 
In the Mother’s revelation to Dr. Sanyal, a famous surgeon who was called to treat Sri Aurobindo, "People do not know what a tremendous sacrifice he has made for the world. About a year ago, while I was discussing things I remarked that I felt like leaving the body. He spoke out in a firm tone, ‘No, this can never be. If necessary for the transformation I might go, you will have to fulfil our yoga of supramental descent and transformation’." 
She also said, "As soon as Sri Aurobindo withdrew from his body, what he called the Mind of Light got realised in me." And his human body turned a golden colour for five days to the surprise of the public. But his immortal consciousness is ever with us guiding the destiny of the world, remaining with us in all our trials and tribulations and leading this woe-begotten race to its divine destiny for which he came to the world - a colonist from Immortality!

What shall we then think of him? That he is as God himself is? Have we got the answer to his Question "Who is Sri Aurobindo?" Or will he remain a marvellous enigma forever? 

- Nirodbaran

(Formerly published in "Jyoti" Nr. 3 (1999) - the online journal of the Sri Aurobindo Center EWCC - Los Angeles)

The Mother’s Subtle Body


    Today I would like to share with you an occult experience which was narrated to me by Jhumur-di (Shrimati Jhumur Bhattacharya, one of the most pretty and elegant sadhikas of the Ashram who is an inmate since the early 1940s; she is a teacher in Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education and a fine actress who has taken part in Sri Aurobindo’s dramas like Vasavadutta, Rodogune, Perseus the Deliverer, Vikramorvasie to name a few but above all she is extremely caring and affectionate so much so that she radiates love). I had asked her whether she had met Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in the subtle physical or not and had also enquired whether she had seen them with her eyes open. She replied in the affirmative and narrated to me the following experience.
    During the Darshan of 24th April 1995,  while Jhumur-di was standing in front of the Mother’s balcony, suddenly she saw that the Mother appeared in the balcony clad in white and she saw the March Past. Jhumur-di said that the very sight of the Mother made her forget the scorching heat of the sun and she lost the sense of hunger and thirst. In fact she forgot that the Mother was not actually present physically. She did not inform anyone about this experience and and kept it to herself. Three months later in August, when the Bulletin of Sri Aurobindo Centre of Education was published there was a photograph which clearly showed a figure dressed in white standing in the balcony. Some sceptics claimed that it was only a shadow but Jhumur-di knew that it was the Mother herself.
   I was quite intrigued when I heard this experience. I searched the August 1995 issue of the Bulletin and soon my eyes fell on the photograph that was taken on 24 April 1995. It was really the Mother! She was indeed dressed in white and was looking down at the inmates who were participating in the march-past. (Please find attached with this mail a copy of the said photograph.)
   Time and again the Mother has said that she would always be present with her children and that she will never leave them. She is indeed with us, always present to help us in our sadhana. I’m reminded of Kapali Sastry’s exclamation (when he was asked by a journalist what will be the future of the Ashram and the sadhana after the passing of Sri Aurobindo): “Passing, passing…who passed away and where?…The Master of Integral Yoga is here, as intensely and concretely as ever…Yes, those that have been looking up to him for guidance and aid in Yoga have not felt him gone, have not felt themselves orphaned, have not felt a void, though, of course, the physical pangs of separation are there…”
   We know that before the Mother left her physical frame, she was trying to coalesce her supramental body with her physical body but she was unable to do so. In M.P. Pandit’s book Mother and I there is an interesting paragraph on page 220 which runs: ‘This morning, while praying, it flashed on me that Mother might discard the physical body and assume the new body and function in it for the furtherance of the work from the subtler plane. She might get the work executed through her chosen instruments. But she would be here in that body close to the field of her work.’ This diary-note was dated 24 July 1973. In another book of his titled The Mother and Her Mission, he writes (pp. 16-17):
     ‘Then on the morning of 17th November at about nine o’clock, a particular friend of mine – he has a certain grounding in occult experience, occult knowledge, and normally when we meet we exchange notes – told me, “I have seen the Mother’s body of light.” I got interested. He said, “The new body is full of light but it is not yet dense enough to function in the earth conditions. It is there, and as I was looking at it I got the feeling that the Mother would enter this body the moment it became dense enough to stand and function in the earth atmosphere, seen or unseen. But there is no question of revival of the material body.” And he added, “Those who are capable of seeing the Mother’s halo, aura, they will be able to see that luminous body.” It confirmed what I had perceived some four months earlier; I told him as much.’
    Therefore we must note that on 17 November 1973 at 7:25 p.m. the Mother did not die; she just walked into her new, luminous body ‘without dying’, that is, there was no gap in consciousness. To quote M.P. Pandit’s words: ‘They say the cause [of the Mother's passing] was heart failure, but let me tell you the heart failure was not the cause, the heart failure was the result of her withdrawal. She had decided; the moment things were ready, she walked into that body.’ (The Mother and Her Mission, p. 17)
    So my friends, Jhumur-di’s experience corroborates the fact that the Mother is, all the time, with us and watching us and guiding us silently in our sadhana. Let’s all become a little more sincere so that she can manifest in us. Let’s all try to be her worthy children.



                                                         - Anurag Banerjee


Friday, March 18, 2011

"All life is Yoga." - Sri Aurobindo




Georges Van Vrekhem is best known for his two seminal works on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. He speaks about life as an Aurobindonian and the next step in man's spiritual evolution.
It is quite a tongue twister, but the word 'Aurobindonian' crops up frequently when Georges Van Vrekhem speaks. 'A true Aurobindonian', 'a real Aurobindonian', 'you don't have to be an Aurobindonian to evolve to Superman'… That's what he sees himself as—an Aurobindonian. Not that this limits him in any way. It seems to give him the perspective from which to view the world, and his own self. It is also the basis of his work as a writer and translator, his two original works being Beyond Man: The Life and Work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and The Mother: The Story of Her Life (both HarperCollins publications).

A Belgian, Vrekhem has spent the last 31 years of his life in India, the initial eight years at the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, and the rest in Auroville, the Mother's experimental township. He was in Delhi, India, recently to deliver lectures on 'The Present Moment in the Global Evolution' and 'Overman: The Intermediary between Man and Superman'.

Following are excerpts from an interview with Georges Van Vrekhem:

What attracted you to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother?

About 30 years ago, I came across a French book written by the Mother's disciple, Satprem, called The Adventure of Consciousness. I opened that book and read the first quotation by Sri Aurobindo: "Everything that man wants he can become because the Divine is within him." Something happened then. Strangely, I haven't been able to finish the book till today.

Then you came to India?

Oh no! Not then. At that time, I was a journalist, playwright, poet and was also managing a professional theater company. But my spiritual journey had begun.

Something seemed to be pushing me to go to Pondicherry. In a dream, I saw a stone with the imprint of a salamander and I knew this to be in the Aurobindo Ashram. The effect of this dream was so strong that even now, when I am walking in the ashram, I inadvertently look around for this stone! The salamander in the stone meant the transformation of matter, I suppose.

This was in 1964 when Eastern spirituality was not known at all in the West. It took six years for me to finally make the decision. Being a poet, I thought I could afford to be a little crazy. So I came to the Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry.

Did you get to meet the Mother?

I was told that one could write to her and meet her. But I did not know how to address her! You see, I did not want to write 'Mother' because I felt that I already had a mother. I simply wrote: "Madam, I am here." She wrote back inviting me to a 'silent meeting'.

The day came. I was asked to choose flowers. You see, the Mother had given a particular meaning to every flower and I was being judged according to the flowers I chose. And I failed in my examination! (laughs)

Why, which flowers did you choose?

I was told that I had not chosen the flower symbolizing humility!

As I entered her room, I saw the Mother sitting in a chair facing Sri Aurobindo's samadhi. I remember seeing her thin arms resting on the armrests. I came forward… and then I blanked out. The next thing I knew, she was smiling at me. That incident left a strong enough impact to make me stay on at the ashram.

What happened in the moments when you blanked out?

With hindsight, I think as I sat before her, something in me recognized her. But my mind had blacked out.

What were your subsequent meetings with the Mother like?

I saw her several times after that, and each time, I only realized afterwards what had happened. I was never able to do so in that particular moment in time.

The last time I met her was a few days before she withdrew into silence. As I bent to touch her feet, I felt something preventing me from touching them too roughly. Then her hand fell on my head.

Were all the meetings silent?

Once, she wished me on my birthday. The other time was when I had taken a ring to her. You see, you took a ring to her and she would put it on your finger. I, very naturally, extended the ring finger of my left hand. She was surprised and said: "On that finger?" Afterwards, she told her son, whom I knew rather well, that it symbolized "a mystical marriage".

You have been a poet and a playwright. What is the interface between your creative spirit and your spiritual journey? Have the two fed each other?

Not really. If you live like a writer, you look at the world differently. You look for the possibility of formulating things. Apart from writing, I have been translating the works of Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Satprem from English and French to Dutch. Basically, I didn't want to do anything creative, because I had nothing to say! In Belgium, I belonged to the Theater of the Absurd, of which, the known French playwrights Ionesco and Beckett were a part. The problem there too was—what is there actually to say?

What has been the response to your books, Beyond Man and The Mother?

There have been some controversies but it's been generally positive. I feel that if you are an Aurobindonian, you must be the most broad-minded person possible. My books are published all around the world and have been translated into various languages, including French, Spanish, Russian and German. And where are they not available? In Auroville!

One finds a lot of creative individuals being drawn to Sri Aurobindo. Why?

If you really study Sri Aurobindo's philosophy, you realize his profundity. He gives you a foot to stand on and look at the world. If you have worked out his philosophy, you can comprehend any topic under the sun.

A book I would like to write one day is The Fifth Philosopher—Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, andSri Aurobindo as the fifth one. He is almost completely unknown, which is good.

Why is it good?

Because the time has come only now to bring his thinking into the world's awareness. Whenever I am invited to give lectures, I say that I can either tell you about the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo or about the practice of it. About the philosophy, I explain the evolutionary aspect and say that the Aurobindonian vision is the most broad-minded there is. But if I am talking about the practice ofIntegral Yoga, I say that you have to be a fanatic—totally focused—otherwise it is pointless.

How has your own spiritual journey progressed? Where are you today?

I am an absolute beginner. Some of my American friends say that Sri Aurobindo died in 1950 and the Mother in 1973. So we must have progressed a lot. I tell them, you just take Sri Aurobindo's Savitri or Life Divine and compare what you are with what is written there. How can you talk of having progressed further than this yoga?

I belong to the world. I have got what is necessary for my growth. I find life immensely interesting, because I don't have to present myself in a certain way. If I want to enjoy a bottle of good beer, I will do so. I won't hide it just so you think I am a great yogi. I think my attitude is somewhat like theSufis, who have a great sense of spiritual humor. And if you don't get that, it means we are not on the same wavelength!

What is your understanding of life, and of the Self?
That's a good question! My understanding of life stems from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's belief that all life is yoga. Just by being alive, you are doing yoga.

What is the essence of Integral Yoga?

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have said that if you do yoga, you must offer your whole being. Then only might something real happen. If meditation has to happen, you will start meditating automatically. There are many ways of becoming aware, which is meditation, and I try to do this all the time. According to the Mother, the value of a person resides in his capacity of being attentive.

We are living in interesting times. Both the West and the East have accomplished something important. The West has recognized the importance of personal freedom. As long as you remain an entity in a group, such as a joint family or caste, you cannot realize your true potential. The West, because it has overcome this to a large extent, is ripe for the journey within.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the West towards Eastern spirituality.

But the Western worldview is still extremely Eurocentric. And they have no idea of the multiple avatars, of the possibilities of life. You see books like Karen Armstrong's A History of God. They always talk the same language of Christianity and Judaism. Of the East, if they know anything, it will be Buddhism . Through my books, I want to expound the vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and arrive at a universal Sanatana Dharma.

What is the next step in human evolution ?

According to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, evolution has to progress and the new must appear. The problem is that human beings think they are the end-station of evolution.

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have predicted 'Superman', a divine being. However, the jump from our present level of being to the Superman is so enormous that it would be rational to suppose that there will be a transitional stage, 'Overman' according to Sri Aurobindo, in between. The Mother said the consciousness of Overman manifested in 1969. This is dealt with in my next book, Overman, to be published soon.

Just as mental consciousness has helped us reach the present level of evolution, Supramental Consciousness will help us evolve to Superman.

What would distinguish Overman from us?

The Mother is clear that Overman would come from people like you and me who have acquired a higher consciousness. And they need not be Aurobindonians, of course!

Any evidence of Overman's existence?

Well, so many miracles have taken place. Sri Aurobindo had predicted that the world will become one. He also predicted that India will be independent, Asia will awake to her potential and Europe will unite. All this has happened because of an accelerated pace of evolution.

The general perception of the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother is that it is dense and obscure.

I would say that they are hardly understood. To understand them, you have to be an intellectual who has read a lot, who is able to assimilate and put everything together. Some of their books run into a thousand pages!

So, it is not for the common man?

All great things are done by a handful of people at the initiation of one. It is always the intellectuals who bring revolution. So maybe Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's philosophy is meant to be worked out by people like me!

What has been your experience of living in Auroville?

I have been at Auroville since 1978. The Mother knew that Auroville was a practical impossibility, a utopia when she started it. It was a great thing to happen and it is still developing, as if aided by an invisible force.

You should go there only if you get the call, and then you have to heed it, no matter where you are. This yoga is a matter of destiny, unlike other kinds of yoga, which depend on choice. The Mother has said: "If you want an adventure, please come aboard."

What was the mission of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother?

They were avatars. If you believe in reincarnation, you know there are human beings who are human for the first time, there are those who are halfway on the scale of human evolution, and then there are beings who have come to the end of the cycle. There are also those, like the Buddha, who come back to help others.

When a species has reached its ceiling in evolutionary terms, it doesn't have the power to move on to the next level by itself. At that point an avatar's intervention is needed. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were a complete male-female avatar to help in humankind's evolution to Superman.