February 12, 2009

Religious springboards - mantras, pictures, relics - as a living impulse toward Spirit

The Greyscale Between Religion and Spirituality by Rick Lipschutz
posted by Debashish on Sat 10 Jan 2009 09:46 AM PST Permanent Link

He may be coming to the yoga from a different basis - after all most of us do not usually start the Integral Yoga from all bases at once, though that too is possible and would be preferable - i.e., there may be a devotion dichotomy here that has turned into an apparent absolute conflict, which, seen from a wider, though admittedly not particularly human perspective, could simply present complementary approaches. This complementary, more inclusive understanding, if approached from a psychic or spiritual view, could even potentiate mutual growth among us all. Just a suggestion.

The “vital” also plays its crucial part in yoga, and there can be no living realization without it. Spiritual philosophy (I’m referring, again, to those four “paths” or “principal elements” the Mother was speaking about) provides a needed underpinning, in the inner mind, so that the mind will not pose as its usual self inimical to spiritual advance, but be of some humble help, in being more open and quiet and peaceful and calm. And spirituality - once we start to have experiences, even realizations, we need to work to express them in life, not sit in them or get stuck in them - that, I believe, was part of the pretext for the founding of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram where spirituality is to be realized in life, embodied. If we regard Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as avatars, are they living Avatars, or are we stuck in a religious formula, an empty shell?

I think, if we look at ourselves - as I look at myself, anyway - I see that sometimes I am using religious springboards - mantras, pictures, relics even - as a living impulse toward Spirit - but sometimes, I am not. Sometimes I’m trapped in an empty shell, wrapped up in a formula. One moment, or one month, my inner consciousness may be spiritual; the next moment, or for two months I may be religious. And as the Mother said, in the passage I quoted, to be complete this yoga requires expressing the spiritual impulsion in living actions that, in the context of the passage, she called religious!

We can also see this (this necessity of expressing our spiritual aspiration in outward actions, sometimes even in seemingly religious forms of expression) woven into “The Yoga of Divine Works” in Sri Aurobindo’s essential The Synthesis of Yoga. And it might help, even in the attempt to become integral karmayogins, if we have some foundation in our outer and inner mind in a living spiritual philosophy; because, if we do, we maybe can give a decent explanation to someone else who asks a question.

Gently, I am suggesting that it might help if more of us actually read Sri Aurobindo in an ongoing fashion and find our spiritual philosophical understanding in some kind of greater spiral inclusiveness. His writing seems to become more clear as we do, and even the attempt to read him may help in promoting some mental quiet, mental clarity through which spiritual force can come.

And perhaps, just perhaps we don’t need to make a choice - that clean mental cut that our minds often fall upon the sword of! - between “worshiping” and “becoming.” I believe the Mother did make a statement about sadhaks worshiping because they were too lazy to become. When we look at this contexted in a yoga that embraces all of life, if we admire, devote ourselves, worship, then we can do it in such a way that we do not get stuck in our worship. We can worship in such a way that we strive to become, emulate, even identify actively with the Divine or at least its representatives. Or, our work-to-become may be a way of worship for some of us. Or, if we get stuck, and the soul in us is aflame and the guidance is there, then we get unstuck and start to move again. We come to surrender ourselves to the object of worship or devotion, not as worms, but as living, evolving beings who have a soul in us that is part and portion of the Divine - of the same essence as the Saccidananda and the very Transcendent itself, and aspiring also towards Braham-actualization - and we begin to identify with the Divine in form or representation and START TO TAKE IT ON.

We take it on by “grace” because we are not doing it ourselves, but only setting up conditions that may in time allow it to happen. This seems to be the only way we can bridge that gulf, between us and the pioneers of Integral Yoga - that distressingly infinite-seeming gap - that I mentioned. And there are many starts and steps, and turnabouts and bridges, and religion and spirituality seem to intertwine; and only the Divine Grace can really extract that fiber of true spirituality, from religion or religiosity. That divine grace in this yoga is the working of the Mother, the conscious bliss-force of the Shakti. Science, Culture and Integral Yoga Previous: Explanation of my Stand wrt The Lives of Sri Aurobindo Next: The Mother's war for the Truth against all conceptions of the truth

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