August 09, 2006

External aids to help one’s aspiration

A grassroots spirituality Interview by Carel and Bindu
The tendency to turn Sri Aurobindo’s teaching into a cult seems to be prevalent everywhere. Many quote the words of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, often out of context and to suit their own purposes. Is there a danger that by doing this we will turn the Integral Yoga into yet another a religion?

Dr. Ananda Reddy: I once asked Champaklal why Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy was being subjected to this sort of religiosity, and he answered that it was a passing phase and that Sri Aurobindo’s thought and consciousness are too universal to be turned into a religion. It is true that many people are getting into the trap of “Mother said”. In fact this is a passive complacency, it is not the right attitude. It is a metaphysical truth that what we call “the Mother’s Force” is at work in this world. But if there is sunlight outside, I still must open my window to let it in. Quoting Mother and Sri Aurobindo does not imply that you let that force into your life — and perhaps, many who quote do not.
Quoting is often a sign of a beginners’ aspiration. When one is a newcomer to this yoga, one needs external symbols to hold onto one’s faith. It is like putting a fence around a young plant to protect it. Quoting Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, offering incense or flowers at their Samadhi, paying homage to their pictures are necessary external aids to help one’s aspiration. They are like ladders that help us to climb up. To embark on a spiritual life requires a great amount of courage. The human mind is often not ready to give up its religious attitude — and that is the reason why many who have accepted Sri Aurobindo and The Mother continue to worship different godheads and gurus.
There is a certain amount of human inertia that prevents people from exploring the spiritual life on the basis of their inner faith alone. But if one learns to consciously use the external forms, even the adoration of the gods, as a “ladder,” then one comes to a stage where one feel the Presence within and the outside help is no longer needed. When one is up, one no longer needs the ladder.

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