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the awakening ray
v.16, issue 4 : jul-aug’2012
• Editorial

Chhaya S Chaudhry

6

Akanksha Verma, Manu Arya,
Stefan Stautn...
Editorial
Dear Reader
Simple questions of life have answers hard to find...
Truly so?
Theroetically, perhaps not, for ther...
“A drop of practice is better than
an ocean of theories,
advices and good resolutions.”
The Mother

5
Simple Questions of Life
Simple Questions of life
Have complex answers we find
Transgress, transform
Be free, not bound
Di...
7
Can Mind provide all answers?
a few responses from ICIS students

“The best way to understand is always to rise high enoug...
Personal anecdote
The problem that I can think of is not recent but dates to four years ago – the story of my
marriage. It...
But at the same time, I could see logic and reasoning more clearly. I finally gave my inputs and
those were greatly apprec...
with the false ego – the ego likes to find problems as they reinforce the illusion of separateness.
So for any problems th...
In Search
A simple question in life
What am I searching for?

I am searching for a meaning
I am searching for a clue
I am ...
When does Learning stop?
“To rise into the new consciousness, the first condition is to have enough modesty
of mind to be ...
from where we are and the process that never ends is learning; whether consciously or
unconsciously we learn always. We ne...
The ostrich buries its face in sand in the face of danger; the subconscient hides within its
self created prison of narrow...
Sri Aurobindo preaches gradual ascent towards higher knowledge: ‘Instead of rejecting
all to burst forth in mid-air, the s...
I reflect ...
I was asked when does one stop learning?
I say one never stops learning.

My question is what is learning?
I...
So I ask myself

what makes one slow
rather than when does one stop learning?
I feel it is our lack of consciousness
that ...
How to Choose correctly?
Arjuna’s Dilemma - in our lives*

In our day-to-day life, we invariably find ourselves contemplat...
the right path. There will be always an option
wherein you can choose what is good and what
is the most enjoyable or pleas...
I try my best to take the wise decision into action as soon as possible. This helps not
only to stop thinking about the wa...
Gratitude
One day my three year old daughter asked me about a dress she was wearing. She asked,
“Mama, who gave me this?” ...
Why is it so difficult to be Free?
A simple question in life

Why is it so difficult to be FREE ?
I ponder .......

FREEDO...
24
What is freedom
Definitely not – doing anything you want, Irrespective of surroundings ....
The freedom I am seeking is th...
The Role of Therapist in Healing
“The client’s consciousness is, of course, the centre of the therapy process. But of
equa...
Carl Jung took a different view
however. From his own vast experience he
was convinced that “only if the doctor
knows how ...
Transformation of Human Evil*

We will start by taking the definition of evil from M. Scott Peck. In his words “evil perso...
4. “while entropy is an enormous force, in its most extreme form of human evil it is
strangely ineffective as a social for...
To Act or not to Act?
Karma, Liberation & Action
WHEN DOES KARMA HAVE NO CONSEQUENCES FOR MEN?
WHY SHOULD MAN STILL WORK H...
have to apply it and manifest by and through ourselves. When one is free from the object of
enjoyment then Karma has no co...
The Descent

Mystic Absolutes
lassoed the enraptured soul...
Cadences Supreme
textured the dreamed-Delight...
A whisper Di...
Can one stay Detached in Enjoyment?
When we watch a film or a play, we often identify with the characters and experience
t...
For years I have tried to solve this mystery of un-controllable emotions.
• How one of my friends, who shed not a single t...
Can Ahimsa work in every situation?
“... there is continually a struggle between right and wrong, justice and injustice,
t...
Ahimsa to me means “winning without hurting anyone” and sometimes it also means “being
patient at your actions”. In certai...
Ahimsa : An Interfaith Perspective
The interfaith declaration entitled “Towards a Global Ethic,” produced by an assembly o...
38
Simple Question of Life - The Awakening Ray
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How does one choose between the 'good' and the 'pleasant'? Is Action the key to liberation, or is it Inaction?Can one Enjoy yet be Detached? What can transform Human Evil? Is Mind capable of Giving answers? and so on..

The Range is Vast - The reflection touch upon our daily existence - from shopping for clothes to handling issue of marriage, career, finance, and matters pertaining to inner and higher life, sadhana, living from a consciousness higher than mind.

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Simple Question of Life - The Awakening Ray

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  2. 2. the awakening ray v.16, issue 4 : jul-aug’2012 • Editorial Chhaya S Chaudhry 6 Akanksha Verma, Manu Arya, Stefan Stautner & a Student 8 • In Search (a poem) Shibani Dara 12 • When does Learning stop? Akanksha Verma, Rajesh Menon, Sergio Zenere & a Student 13 • I reflect ... EDITOR Ameeta Mehra CO-EDITOR Anuradha PRINTED & PUBLISHED BY Anuradha Agrawal OWNER Ameeta Mehra on behalf of The Gnostic Centre PRINTING PRESS Gokul Offset Private Limited D-159A, Okhla Phase 1 New Delhi-20 PLACE OF PUBLICATION The Gnostic Centre H-401 Som Vihar Apts. Sangam Marg, New Delhi-22 5 • Can Mind provide all answers? THE TEAM The Mother • Simple Questions of Life (a poem) vol.16 issue 4 4 • The Awakening Ray THE AWAKENING RAY Anuradha Seema Agrawal 17 • How to Choose correctly? Mukul Gulati, Mini Suresh Babu, Bhargavi Pukkella & a Student 19 • Gratitude Phalguni Freeman 22 • Why is it so difficult to be Free? Shibani Dara 23 • The Role of Therapist in Healing Matthew Rich, a Student & Atul Goswami 27 • To Act or not to Act? Mitesh Tank & Chhaya S Chaudhry 30 31 • Events: Jul-Aug • The Descent (a poem) The views & thoughts expressed in the articles are those of the authors and therefore the editor shall bear no responsibility for them. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry: * All quotations from Sri Aurobindo and The Mother * Material (including photographs) from the Ashram publications * The Awakening Ray image (artist: Krishnalal) Monica Gupta 32 • Can one stay Detached in Enjoyment? A Student, Sameer Sharma, & Atul Goswami 33 • Can Ahimsa work in every situation? Mini Suresh Babu, Bhargavi Pukkella & Rajalakshmi Malhotra 35 • Ahimsa: An Interfaith Perspective Dr. AK Merchant 37 Picture Credits 31 Advertisements 38 3
  3. 3. Editorial Dear Reader Simple questions of life have answers hard to find... Truly so? Theroetically, perhaps not, for there is a collective wisdom over the ages, and India, especially, is a storehouse of such wisdom. But, it is the Practice that counts. And there, one begins with small steps. It takes time to translate Wisdom into Action. This issue of The Awakening Ray shares such small and simple steps taken by professionals from diverse walks of life - as documented in their self-reflective responses in ICIS course assignments. How does one choose between the ‘good’ and the ‘pleasant’? Is Action the key to liberation, or is it Inaction? Can one Enjoy yet be Detached? What can transform Human Evil? Is Mind capable of giving answers? and so on... The range is vast - the reflections touch upon our daily existence - from shopping for clothes to handling issues of marriage, career, finance, and matters pertaining to inner and higher life, sadhana, living from a consciousness higher than mind. Discover your own life experiences woven in these... ... ✍ Anuradha 4
  4. 4. “A drop of practice is better than an ocean of theories, advices and good resolutions.” The Mother 5
  5. 5. Simple Questions of Life Simple Questions of life Have complex answers we find Transgress, transform Be free, not bound Dive deep within Raise consciousness without Don't hold, don't clasp Don't cling, don't grasp Create laughter and joy Spread peace and bliss Don't react or regret Dissolve the ego and just be Just you, just you There is all around You are infinite You are limitless Drop the web Sink into the being Don’t ask or tell Just be just be Soar into the silence Seek all that is Be infinite be free Expand and grow Be aware every moment Live life and be free Just live, just live And find your ecstasy No questions to answer No answers to give Just live, just live Expand your ecstasy ✍ Chhaya S Chaudhry 6
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  7. 7. Can Mind provide all answers? a few responses from ICIS students “The best way to understand is always to rise high enough in the consciousness to be able to unite all contradictory ideas in a harmonious synthesis.” The Mother Giving up the Egoistic stance The Mother says whenever there is a problem and you are seeking a solution or there is a disagreement, one should not remain closed up in own thoughts and opinions but open up to other’s point of view too and instead of fighting who has a better solution, a path breaking and more creative idea should be formulated which incorporates both points of view in essence. The kind of approach that fits here is “I am ok you are ok” approach crafted by Thomas A Harris. What we need is a heart big enough to realize our mistakes and learn from them, a heart big enough to feel gratitude for someone who showed us the right path. We should be able to move on from petty quarreling and the naive disagreements which are nothing but clever play of the ego. It is high time we let go of our antiquated ideas, customs, rituals and tradition which cause hatred, fear, anxiety, distrust and judgment and soak ourselves in appreciation of life and understand the interconnectedness, interdependence, unity and compassion. There is always an opportunity cost for every choice we have made ever in our life, what cost we choose to pay in return of what is an individual call. If that individual call is linked with a broader picture, a choice which incorporates the good for society, environment, other species or world as whole that would mean that we are learning to be inhabitants of this planet in true sense. The Mother’s words can be contemplated in the narrow sense in our daily lives too. The problem solving technique that we use today – the fish bone or Pareto analysis which take a number of solutions for the root cause of a problem – the need is to incorporate this attitude in our daily lives too, thinking about pros and cons of every choice, every action we take in a sense that it becomes kinesthetic in us and we always weigh them in the balance for broader good against sole personal gain. ‘Do you think the ordinary mental consciousness is able to give us a sure answer to our problems?’ - The question forms an assignment in the ICIS online course: ‘Introduction to Integral Studies’, facilitated by Dr. Monica Gupta. The students responded in different ways, alongwith reflection & application to oneself. 8
  8. 8. Personal anecdote The problem that I can think of is not recent but dates to four years ago – the story of my marriage. It is quite a Bollywood saga! Two people in love decide to get married; inform parents. On both sides after a series of initial confrontations and disagreements we get both sides to meet each other. Things go bad; ego hassles between the two sides take toll on our daily lives, at work and strain our relationship. To counter all this we decide to get married in court and inform the same to our parents. Both sides reluctantly agree, one says go ahead and do it and reception date is finalized, on the other hand other side tells us to wait and get married in their style only but at a future date. We decide to go against this and get court married. This was our solution to put an end to all the chaos that was affecting our daily lives. Today after four years the things are alright with both of us at our individual places. I am welcome at his place and vice-versa but a void that is created between the families lies there staring at us never to be covered I guess. The opportunity cost of our marriage with each other was the distance between the two families. Things are progressing but at a very slow rate; we hope that things improve but the wait is longer than expected. Looking back we can say that our reaction in haste costed the union of two families. Had we been more patient and tried to come with a creative idea to involve the essential points of both sides, things would have been at a better place. We don’t regret marrying each other, neither do our families, but yes, the process or the ‘how’ could have been better. This is what The Mother is trying to explain: to look at the full view of the problem and with a better understanding we need to rise up from our egoistic stances and must be able to look at everyone’s point of view and take it as a challenge to synthesize all and come up with a creative solution which leads to harmony and peace. - Akanksha Verma Hotel Management & HR ❅ The Mind needs to be Quiet & Receptive Ordinary mental consciousness does not have the strength or capability to perform such a task [i.e. give sure answers]. It needs to be nurtured to do this. At every step, our inconscient self needs hand-holding and guidance towards the right path. Personal anecdote I recently had to advise my supervisor on a major controversy. The issue was big and everyone was scared and confused. We had all sorts of different and contradictory suggestions from several people. I myself had different thoughts floating in my mind and I could not decide what advice to give as my advice could make or break the situation. I sat alone for five minutes, closed my eyes and tried to seek the help of what my intuition told me to do. During those five minutes I only heard my voice with all the contradictions put together. 9
  9. 9. But at the same time, I could see logic and reasoning more clearly. I finally gave my inputs and those were greatly appreciated. All contradictions are within us. They all stand united against us. When we look at them as a whole, we find our solutions. - Manu Arya Culture & Public Diplomacy, Media Relations ❅ One needs to rise to a Higher Consciousness The Ordinary mental consciousness is able to sort out smaller problems, but cannot give sure answers to all our problems, if we do not rise above this mental consciousness we will keep facing problems, keep fighting with them and never find a solution. I have faced many difficult problems recently and if I try to analyse, I have realised that only when I have risen to a higher consciousness have I found the true solutions. It has not always been easy, because ordinary consciousness always pulls you down and wants you to fight back, but it is this superior consciousness that gives us the right answers to all our problems, because it is here that we are able to unite all contradictory ideas in a harmonious synthesis and try to understand the root cause of the problem and the best solution. - Toolika Gupta Textile & Fashion Designer & Associate Professor ❅ From high up we can get a better perspective. Often I was troubled with thoughts and I did not come up with a solution. The harder I tried the less I reached a conclusion. But in a real practical way I did rise high, as a paragliding pilot, climbing a mountain and flying. And while flying the thoughts were gone, no time to trouble yourself with such thoughts and then I realized that for some problems there is not one solution, perhaps not even a solution. When I reached the ground again I was much calmer and restful and could enjoy this rare moment of insight. - Stefan Stautner Development work, Lecturer & Sociologist ❅ For simple problems such as how to physically get from one place to another the ordinary mind is capable of providing answers. For more complex problems involving personal or social issues or interaction with others the ordinary mental consciousness is usually more of a hindrance than a help. (In most cases it would have been the cause of the problem in the first place!). This is because of the identification 10
  10. 10. with the false ego – the ego likes to find problems as they reinforce the illusion of separateness. So for any problems that do arise the mind will not focus on solving the problem but rather focus on proving the “little me” to be right (as usual!). Of course if there are other people involved then they will probably also be operating from the ego-consciousness and there will be all kinds of conflict with each mental construct dueling with the other mental constructs. Personal anecdote I could describe numerous examples of difficult problems that I have dealt with at the ordinary ego-consciousness level – all of which have basically ended in tears. But I would like to mention one problem that seemed to solve itself without “little me” getting in the way. About three years ago I was basically financially independent. I had nearly all of my money invested in the financial markets. I ignored the warning signs and when the markets crashed I lost most of my money. The strange thing was that I had no strong reaction to this – no worry or fear or anger. But I did feel a kind of opening up inside and a kind of liberation in this. I proceeded to take certain steps to cut my losses and find some new income streams but these steps were taken calmly like I was operating at a higher level. I wonder if the external stress level was so high from the market crash (although I didn’t experience any internal stress) that it would have caused an overload and my consciousness just opened up a bit to the higher plane? In any case, I often tell people that losing most of my money was the best thing that ever happened to me. By working at the higher level of consciousness the problem was truly answered because I then understood that there was really no problem at all. - a Student 11
  11. 11. In Search A simple question in life What am I searching for? I am searching for a meaning I am searching for a clue I am searching for a hint I write on a blank page of paper The ink is the blood in my veins The pen is the guide of my soul The paper is my life Crumpled , folded , hidden I dare to open I dare to unfold I dare to see Sunlight eyes stare out in the forest wood Space , infinite Tempest leaves for a neighborhood No one in sight I sat lonely A very familiar gesture ancient In solitude , feeling homely Calm and patient In this vast solitude , why am I searching There is nothing here but space Tiny birds on thinly sticks are perching Staring questingly at my face Go find yourself in the mad rush of cities There the deafening noise will make you aware of your self There you will realize your crudities Here you will dissolve into a tiny breath of an elf Don’t pretend - tweets my companion from the branch All change takes place in turmoil The surface breaks only by the rumbling of an avalanche Come down from the air and return to the soil All is clear , I pick up my bag , and return to myself For in the crush of daily experiences , Will I see the true form of Thyself And understand what they call as Bliss. ✍ Shibani Dara 12
  12. 12. When does Learning stop? “To rise into the new consciousness, the first condition is to have enough modesty of mind to be convinced that all that you think you know is nothing in comparison to what yet remains to be learnt. All that you have learnt outwardly must be just a step allowing you to rise towards a higher knowledge.” * The Mother Modesty & Humility : Key to Learning The above mentioned statement reminds me of a saying by Plato: ‘The learning and knowledge that we have is, at most, but little compared to that which we are ignorant of…’ The Mother laid stress on continuous learning and emphasized on all kinds of education through the quote in context. She says that a man should never stop learning, we can learn from everything, from every second that life goes by. We spend too much energy in planning out hours and days that we forget to live the minutes and seconds and the learning they can bring. Nobody shall learn anything until it is learned with humility. There should be an inner fire to continue to know more and the mindset that I need to learn more and more. Albert Einstein had said, ‘the only thing that interferes with my learning is education’. The ego which interferes with our learning, the ‘know it all’ attitude is dangerous and hampers true evolution; we must guard against it. We need to be ready to think out of the box, think of possibilities beyond what the cognitive learning dome of the laid education has imprisoned us in. ‘Learning never exhausts the mind’ was a famous saying by Leonardo Da Vinci, which also tells us that the capabilities and capacities of our mind are far from being optimally utilized, forget about fully utilized. We must strive to learn and the will to do so should come from the bottom of our heart as otherwise everything learned shall be perilous. The time the quest of learning ends the man becomes old no matter if he is twenty or eighty. The fire in belly for the quest to know more should be an eternal flame not to be dowsed by outwardly education. One scope of learning should not be the basis of ridiculing other forms of learning. Scientific, technological and spiritual learning should be harmonious with each other, one should not demean the other as it brings negativity which is certainly not the domain of education. Integral education envisioned by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother based on the fivefold aspects – the physical, vital, mental, psychic and spiritual – also talks about modesty in learning, in fact, it terms modesty as a first condition of learning. Whatever we learn from our daily lives or through formal schools of education should act as a catalyst for further learning and not hinder in the process. We must learn to accept that there is a long way to go * The assignment in the ICIS online course: ‘Introduction to Integral Studies’, facilitated by Dr. Monica Gupta) invites students to contemplate on these words and reflect why such an attitude is necessary. 13
  13. 13. from where we are and the process that never ends is learning; whether consciously or unconsciously we learn always. We need to be humble, modest and be ready to accept other ideas and knowledge which may not necessarily concur with our mental being. We should develop a mindset which compares our learning with the tiny drop of an ocean and a path which has a long way to go. A statement by Mahatma Gandhi covers the essence of the Mother’s quote beautifully: Live as if you are going to die tomorrow Learn as if you are going to live forever The above mentioned attitude is necessary as it can be the only way we can learn to be more human and learn the meaning of evolution. We are going away and away from the ultimate aim of evolution, the dawn of truth consciousness. The Mother said, ‘all nations and continents, there is only truth or abyss’… we are surely moving towards the abyss. All nations and continents are sitting on bombs: atomic, nuclear, and biological or humans as all are boastful, proud of their weapons of mass destruction. The same energy and resources can be used to make something good for whole mankind but the environment of distrust, hatred and superiority eradicates the emergence of such thought. There erupts a cold war when one nation develops a weapon of mass destruction but no one mimics what a nation does in the name of humanity. Humanity is losing its grace in the wake of current events. The education we receive tells us to use knowledge strategically to get a good placement and thus we forget to learn the knowledge; we commercialize it for the sake of our success in the society or to climb the corporate ladder. We are afraid to share our knowledge as it might take away our unique employment advantage from us. This leads to reinvention of THE wheel over and over again thus wasting precious time and energy of numerous human minds. The need of the hour is learning without pressure, learning with whole mind, body and soul, learning with modesty and humility and to share it unconditionally to lighten the path of as many as you can as you go forward. This approach is a necessity rather than choice in today’s circumstances. - Akanksha Verma Hotel Management & HR ❅ Ascension of the Mind Fixed notions, pride, prejudice and arrogance born out of petty achievements or possessions 14 are the prison walls within which the Subconscient mind incarcerates itself due to ignorance. The winds of true knowledge rattle its cumbersome doors but instead of appreciating an opportunity to free itself, the Subconscient complains of noise; further cloistering itself into inner confines of petty past bred notions. The irony is apparent as the mind itself possesses the key with which to throw the prison gates open!
  14. 14. The ostrich buries its face in sand in the face of danger; the subconscient hides within its self created prison of narrow ideas when it feels threatened by illuminating and invigorating thoughts. It is sandwiched between the Inconscient and the Superconscient. The pull by the nether forces, the inconscient are formidable; the possibilities of sinking further appealing to the body and mind, regulated and shaped to lethargy through eons of conditioning. Evolution of man from half animal to the divine being is the inevitable desire and ultimate consequence of the forces of nature. The role of man however is as an active participant and not as a passive bystander. Our heart and mind, our very life should become conscious of this great objective and rid ourselves of the outward knowledge which is the prime factor within us resisting change, hindering the gradual 4 step ascension of mind to ultimate summit of Supermind or Divine Gnosis. Outward knowledge restricts our very vision. It views the slices and chunks of the Universal Truth but never the whole truth. This fragmentation of knowledge and vision prevent the totality of truth seeking which is pre-existent. It need not be proven by statistical means and collection of data. The Divine within us is not attainable through acquired knowledge since it is a thought; a self revelation of eternal wisdom. The supreme goal of the soul is to attain Sachchidananda, ‘existence’, ‘consciousness’, ‘bliss’. To attain the same, we have to get away from surface habits and petty tricks of our mental being resulting from our shallow knowledge. A true ‘gyani’ would be one who accepts that ‘he knows nothing’. As rightly too pointed out by the Mother, the journey from darkness towards divine light and true self realization starts with the first step of accepting your place in the lower realms of evolution towards bringing the Supreme Divine on earth. The entire journey of mind’s ascent from Subconscient to Higher Mind, Illumined Mind and Intution into Overmind and beyond, to Supermind and ultimately to Sachchidananda, is a very long process which demands patience, forbearance, resolve and discipline. - Lt. Col. Rajesh Menon Armed forces & Management ❅ Graduality & Continuity The Mother is basically right in imparting this sound advice. There is another allegory that might suit: in order to receive higher knowledge (of any sort), we should be ready to discard our preconceptions and pre-existing baggage. In other words, if we were to receive a full glass of higher knowledge, we ought to first discard the quarter of a glass of disparate knowledge we already possess, lest higher knowledge goes to waste. 15
  15. 15. Sri Aurobindo preaches gradual ascent towards higher knowledge: ‘Instead of rejecting all to burst forth in mid-air, the seeker has patiently climbed every rung of the being so well that the bottom one remains linked to the top, without any break of continuity.’ We might compare the attitude hereby prescribed with that of Hinayana or the Buddhist tradition that privileges endless soul-searching and work upon the self to the detriment of sudden enlightenment that lies at the core of Vajrayana – or Tibetan Buddhism – for example. Nothing could be truer. There are essential or spiritual statements I personally had been exposed to in the distant past. I now hold them as absolute yardstick, whereas in the past I probably either overlooked them, or thought them less worthy than they are. Truth needs time to sink in. - Sergio Zenere Self-employed; student of Eastern & Western Philosophy ❅ Search for Truth The Mother is asking us to be modest which in effect amounts to being truthful – to recognise and acknowledge that our current level of understanding is infinitesimal compared with the vastness of true Knowledge. The Mother also instructs that our externally focused knowledge, so valued by modern science, is just a small step in the evolutionary path to higher knowledge. The outer knowledge is a mere tinkering with the forms arising in the play of manifested pure consciousness but the inner higher knowledge is pure consciousness recognising itself as Reality. This attitude of modesty is necessary because without it we would be demonstrating that we believe that the ordinary human consciousness is capable of knowing all there is to know about the universe, capable of mapping and producing general theories about every aspect of reality. It would also mean that we believe there is no metaphysical reality and no evolution of consciousness, that reality is out there as we find it and we are well on our way to a scientific theory of everything. The persistence of this way of thinking will lead to the continued Ignorance in the world and the wholesale waste of life for the sake of the false ego – something that doesn’t even exist. The modesty that The Mother talks of is really a disassociation with the false ego and the truth that that liberation brings about. - a Student 16
  16. 16. I reflect ... I was asked when does one stop learning? I say one never stops learning. My question is what is learning? In my view learning brings a change in the existing pattern of thinking and behaviour and so it leads to progress. For knowingly or unknowingly whenever we come across a new situation, a new thought, a new pattern, a new form… we observe, we assimilate and something changes within us. Sometimes it is through contact and relationships, sometimes through a movie, a performance, a book; it could be any external or internal influence that we feel inspired, touched and imbibe something new and different from that exposure and we learn and have made progress. Many times we’re not even conscious outwardly but the inner consciousness has observed and made a note. And it is that which makes us move forward in life. Learning, to my mind, is a fourfold process. First is the observation & receptivity through any one or all our senses, second is the receptivity of the mind and positioning of the information received in the mind, third is its assimilation and conclusion. And lastly, its translation into practical application. I think, we’re constantly learning as we’re continuously acting but most often we do not learn as much as we can in a given situation, and definitely we also ignore its multi dimensional potential. We may pick up something from the situation which is important enough to take us forward but at the same time we might have ignored other gleams of light that were shining because we had not looked and observed deep enough. Life is full of complex situations and circumstances and it is how we deal with these that marks our level of growth and it also takes us to the next level. All depends on our readiness. Some of us are slow learners and some are fast. Some need same lessons to be repeated before they can go to the next level and for some once is enough. These people progress very fast. 17
  17. 17. So I ask myself what makes one slow rather than when does one stop learning? I feel it is our lack of consciousness that determines our scope and speed of learning. It is when we’re lazy or do not care to observe properly, or the mind is too inert to evaluate and assimilate that we lose the opportunity to learn. The moment we become closed to experiment, to try something new and different or when we continue to act from our old and narrow horizon, we’re then at that moment itself closing doors to knowledge. To learn actively we need to widen our approach, open the windows of our mind, become conscious and receptive. To make our learning dynamic, we need to come out of our stereotypical formations of thought and belief, surpass our conventions, go beyond our comfort zone and be ready to take on new challenges and face the risk with aspiration and sincerity. Here the key is also to let go of our expectations for the outcome may not always be the one desired but still something new emerges that requires fresh evaluation and assimilation which then determines the path to be followed. It is actually all about faith and humility. For we’ve to have faith in our learning and accept that we do not know all. To learn, we need to have a scientific approach. A scientist begins his experiment with faith as his basis and even if it fails, he does not lose heart but starts afresh with his unsuccessful experiment done earlier, as the starting point. There can be no room for fear or doubt or laziness for a true and dynamic learner. ✍ Seema Agrawal 18
  18. 18. How to Choose correctly? Arjuna’s Dilemma - in our lives* In our day-to-day life, we invariably find ourselves contemplating about choices. Starting from very small things such as getting up in the morning, what to wear, what to eat, where to go etc., and big decisions of life such as taking up a job in foreign countries, marriage, raising a family etc., we are constantly making choices. The intensity is no doubt incomparable with what Arjuna’s dilemma is in the Gita but this is what happens to us every time. More often than not, we ourselves are responsible for these situations as our expectations are rising day by day. For example, when I started my career, my first salary was a paltry Rs.2,500 and I used to think that when it would be Rs.15,000 then I would be happy and content. However, today when my salary is many folds, I sometimes fail to understand where all the money is going. I sometimes feel even more miserable than I used to, when I started my career. The point I am trying to put forward here is that we always try to justify our actions that are based upon our insatiable desires and self-created fears. If we become conscious of these choices and take actions based on our need and not based on our greed then most of our mental sufferings would vanish. Another thought which is somewhat related to this situation is that we unnecessarily dwell upon the possible outcomes before even initiating the actions. When we all know that life is about making choices then we should try and take action which we feel is ‘right at that particular moment’ and should not think too much about the outcome. The point of emphasis here is to decide ‘what are the right choices/actions?’ and the basis to decide is what we are trying to understand with this study of the Bhagawad Gita. - Mukul Gulati Management ❅ For any important decision in life, a human being undergoes the same confusion and crisis as that of Arjuna. The decision making is important, at the same time it is confusing to understand * The assignment in the ICIS online course: ‘Study of the Bhagawad Gita in the light of Sri Aurobindo’, facilitated by Dr. Sampada Savardekar asks the students: ‘The situation confronting Arjuna is one that has never happened to him before. Thus, he is at a loss as to how he should deal with it. Could this happen to any of us, possibly with some difference of intensity? If yes, why do you think so?’ 19
  19. 19. the right path. There will be always an option wherein you can choose what is good and what is the most enjoyable or pleasant. But the choice always makes it all the more difficult. The problem comes in different intensity depending on the personality and psychological sensitivity of the person. Finally, the decision taken or the route chosen completely depends on his choice. The right path always will be hard and difficult and it will be the route to the truth. The path of dharma can be attained only through sacrifice, devotion, love and trust. Arjuna’s trust in god could be best illustrated through certain verses of the Gita that illustrate Arjuna’s dependence and trust in God; he mentions that he is His disciple and his soul needed to surrender unto Him. If all the being approaches God in a similar way, God Himself will provide the solution to all his miseries. Such confrontations have always been there in my life, a recent one being the crisis I faced myself in leaving my job for the sake of my children. I had been a professional, generator of added income to my family. While my son and daughter needed some personal attention, I had to leave my profession for their good. The decision making was very hard and I believe I had opted for good rather than the pleasant option. - Mini Suresh Babu Quality Audit, IT, Admin ❅ Choosing between the Good (sreyas) & the Pleasant (preyas)* I have been facing many situations at every moment of my life to decide on “the good” and “the pleasant” or in other words, “the needs” and “the wants”! The wants always give you pleasure and the needs are in doing good to yourself. Honestly, I always want to spend on my wants than on my needs. Recently, I had a beautiful offer to do a course related to personality development and boosting up confidence, which is announced on concession from Rs.3000/- to Rs.1000/-. I was left with Rs.1000/- by the end of the month. I had many things to buy like a pair of decent sandals (though I have one to wear at the moment), 3 kurtas as I feel am short of clothes, a good sports water bottle and so on. . . I found it so hard to decide as I have been postponing this list since 4 months but could never make it. Every time I get a chance to buy I always had to decide on spending it on sensible things which would give me knowledge, peace and inner strength. 20
  20. 20. I try my best to take the wise decision into action as soon as possible. This helps not only to stop thinking about the wants but also see the actions turning out fruitful in my life!!! - Bhargavi Pukkella Online Vedic Mathematics teacher ❅ Even at the summit of the ordinary mental consciousness, there is no solution to the problem of the kind Arjuna was confronted with.* Arjuna’s problem is to decide between two actions with seemingly equally deplorable consequences. As Annie Besant notes: “To break family ties was a sin; to leave the people in cruel bondage was a sin; where was the right way? ... The answer is the burden of the book”. The kind of problem confronting Arjuna cannot be solved at the ordinary mental level of consciousness (even at the peak of such consciousness) because the problem itself has arisen due to the Ignorance of identification with the false ago. The false ego creates “problems” in order to continue the illusion of duality, separateness and its own apparent existence. To try to solve the problem through some action in the same realm of ordinary mental consciousness within which the problem arose amounts to the ego dealing with the ego – simply moving things around, making a noise within the confines of the limited ego-self. As Mohinim Chatterji writes in his commentary on the Gita, “no conditioned creature can cease to be conditioned by any act. It can only be changed by a new consciousness arising from a source different from the conditions which seem to limit the ego.” - a Student * Study of the Bhagawad Gita in the light of Sri Aurobindo, facilitated by Dr. Sampada Savardekar : course assignments. 21
  21. 21. Gratitude One day my three year old daughter asked me about a dress she was wearing. She asked, “Mama, who gave me this?” And I said, “Your aunt did”, and as her face lit up she said, “Thankyooooo, thank yooooo,” gratitude drooling from all over her being. (This continued for many weeks, everything she wore or played with begot the question, “Who gave me this?” or “Did so and so give me this?” followed with a ‘Thank you’ drooling with sweetness and gratitude. Each time this happened it warmed my heart and a smile would break across my face. She does not say thank you all the time right away when she receives something from someone, or when we want her to say ‘Thank you’; and although I prompt her each time, I am not miffed when the words don’t seem to make it out of her mouth. I am glad, though, that she has experienced the feeling that gratitude creates and how beautiful it is to express gratitude when she receives something. I hope that it is this feeling that will stay embedded in her for the rest of her life and when the time comes when she starts using ‘Thank you’ more frequently, it will have the rasa of her experience of gratitude. In my experience whenever I have been truly grateful I have got that warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart and I can see the same happening in the other person as well. Gratitude opens up the heart and makes our inner being smile. When we express gratitude, as we thank another, we build a bank of goodness within our own being. And as we put more and more in this bank, we can’t help but be boosted by this goodness even in trying times or when we are discouraged or feeling down. Again this reservoir of warmth and positive energy is created when gratitude is expressed with genuineness, when we really mean it; otherwise it is like asking for coconut water and getting only the shell. I once read somewhere that some people wrote down in their journal at the end of the day one or two things they were grateful for and really benefitted from the exercise. Some people choose to share their gratitude with others by writing a letter, sending a card or an e-mail. Some do it through flowers, some like to give donations, or some like to offer their services. The expression of gratitude can take many forms or can be expressed in a simple and genuine ‘Thank you’. Whatever expression it takes, it is definitely deeply fulfilling. ✍ Phalguni Freeman 22
  22. 22. Why is it so difficult to be Free? A simple question in life Why is it so difficult to be FREE ? I ponder ....... FREEDOM A concept so simple to ask of - yet an experience so complicated to realize I have 1 simple question in life ... WHY CAN’T I BE FREE ? Right from childhood we have been advised of rules, right and wrong. Boundaries in family, relations, schools, education, work, direction, paths, everything ..... 23
  23. 23. 24
  24. 24. What is freedom Definitely not – doing anything you want, Irrespective of surroundings .... The freedom I am seeking is the freedom of my soul The freedom to experience my soul The freedom to feel my soul The freedom to be free Not bound by karma Not bound by inheritance Not bound by expectations Not bound by needs and wants So simple ... To be free .... Am I ready to be free Am I ready to break out Am I fearless Am I sincere I ask my self this simple question in life What is stopping me to be free Fear Ease Justifications Insincerity An answer my soul seeks from within A resistance which stops from without A Dilemma A question ? ✍ Shibani Dara 25
  25. 25. The Role of Therapist in Healing “The client’s consciousness is, of course, the centre of the therapy process. But of equal importance is the therapist’s consciousness. For transpersonal psychotherapy is defined not merely by the theoretical framework but by the practitioner’s own deepening spiritual journey, which gives meaning and life to the framework. It is the therapist’s own actual experience of opening to the divine (whatever form or path this may take) that provides the atmosphere to support the client’s multidimensional growth.”1 ❅ Consciousness is Contagious* Positive change in the client is a result of an evolutionary shift in consciousness. This change in consciousness is brought about as a result of the client interacting with the more evolved consciousness of the counselor / psychotherapist. The reality of the matter is that consciousness in general - and psychic consciousness in particular - is contagious and so the client’s consciousness evolves as a natural result of interacting with the therapist. Obviously for this transformation to take place meaningfully it is essential that the psychotherapist concerns herself with the constant development of her own consciousness. This requires ongoing sadhana. Only when one has reached a place of wholeness is it possible to lovingly usher others into this state. - Matthew Rich Educator, Scholar, Writer, Activist ❅ In Freudian-based Psychoanalysis the therapist typically sits behind or at a distance from the client. There are many parallels between Freud’s approach and Newtonian physics, and the physical separation of the analyst from the client is in keeping with the presentation of Psychoanalysis as the science of the unconscious. In line with the positivist-objectivist paradigm Freud believed that the mind could be mapped and scientific laws induced from objectively observing the content of the subconscious through analysis of talk and dreams. 1 * 26 Brant Cortright. Psychotherapy and spirit: theory and practice in transpersonal psychotherapy. New York: Albany, 1997. Cited in ‘Indian Psychology’ course book. The students were asked to discuss ‘It is the consciousness of the therapist interacting with the consciousness of the client that brings about a positive change in the client’ as an assignment in the ICIS online course: ‘Indian Psychology’ facilitated by Dr. Suneet Varma.
  26. 26. Carl Jung took a different view however. From his own vast experience he was convinced that “only if the doctor knows how to cope with himself and his own problems will he be able to teach the patient to do the same. In any thoroughgoing analysis the whole personality of both patient and doctor is called into play. There are many cases which the doctor cannot cure without committing himself. When important matters are at stake, it makes all the difference whether the doctor sees himself as a part of the drama, or cloaks himself in his authority.” More recently M. Scott Peck has stated that “it is almost impossible for a patient to experience significant personality growth without a ‘therapeutic alliance’ with the therapist”. It is the therapist who has worked on himself, who has walked the path and confronted and overcome the typical problems of everyday life, who brings not his techniques and degrees but his expanded consciousness to the therapy session, who the client will trust and positively respond to. - a Student ❅ “Spiritual traditions speak of the importance of spiritual seeking becoming conscious. People seek the Divine unconsciously at first, but at some point the quest becomes conscious and engages the person’s intention. When being on a spiritual path becomes a conscious decision and pursuit, everything changes. Other circumstances begin to yield to the inner spirit and the Way opens up. Consciousness becomes engaged in its own transformation. The state of consciousness of the therapist has a far-reaching effect on the therapy process. Consciousness is seen as a field which influences, mutually interpenetrates, and provides a facilitating medium for the client’s inner unfolding. This is something that most religious traditions have upheld for centuries. The traditions of guru, spiritual guide or influence, support the idea that the presence of a spiritual teacher is helpful in allowing others to contact the spiritual realm. Consciousness is contagious. This is not to say [now here the transpersonal therapy would differ a little bit from the spiritual approach or the guru tradition] that the therapist is in the position of guru, merely that for a transpersonal therapist to be actively pursuing a path of spiritual awakening allows him or her to be an energetic influence as well as to empathize with and recognize the terrain that is likely to be encountered by others.”2 2 ---. 27
  27. 27. Transformation of Human Evil* We will start by taking the definition of evil from M. Scott Peck. In his words “evil person is a person who does not for some reason work towards his or her own growth and deliberately obstructs the growth of the others”. I believe that every emotion or effort towards exhibiting an emotion is contagious, so if I start loving everyone around me, everyone around me will start feeling love from their surrounding or at least start seeking the same emotion everywhere. In the same manner if I spread evil around me, everyone around me will start being cautious, start acting defensively in every situation, and may be, start harming others around them in order to protect their own selves. So if these acts or emotions are contagious, how can a therapist provide unconditional love and complete acceptance to the client who is evil? As per the author, it is incredibly difficult to stay unaffected in this kind of engagement and stay focussed with firm belief that it is a battle between love in the heart of therapist and evil in the heart of client and if the therapist lets evil emotions or intentions of the client to affect him/her, then the therapist will not be able to help the client. With this understanding the therapist has to stay focussed on helping the client with his undying love, and make its impact more powerful than the client’s evil emotions and let the client get that contagion effect of therapist’s love than the other way round. This contagious nature of love is the only tool and method which can transform the human evil, even if it is most difficult to achieve. - Atul Goswami Executive Coach (Management) ❅ Carl Jung wrote that “touching evil brings with it the grave peril of succumbing to it”. According to M. Scott Peck the opposite of love, the great impediment to spiritual growth, is laziness - the attempt to avoid legitimate suffering. Laziness is effectively the original sin, the inherent evil in all of us. Noting that mainstream psychology in general has acted “as if evil did not exist” Peck has nevertheless reached the following conclusions regarding the nature of evil: 1. “evil is real” (although people acting in an evil way are not doing so consciously with awareness); 2. “evil is laziness carried to its ultimate, extraordinary extreme”; “truly evil people ... actively ... avoid extending themselves”; 3. “the existence of evil is inevitable (at least at this stage in human evolution)”; * 28 The students were asked to discuss ‘Love & Transformation of Human Evil’ as an assignment in the ICIS online course: ‘Indian Psychology’ facilitated by Dr. Suneet Varma.
  28. 28. 4. “while entropy is an enormous force, in its most extreme form of human evil it is strangely ineffective as a social force”; a soul destroyed leads to a soul saved; one’s personal fight against evil becomes an essential part of one’s spiritual evolution. Peck defines evil as “the imposition of one’s will upon others ... in order to avoid extending one’s self for the purpose of nurturing spiritual growth”. He believes that love has the capacity to transform human evil - in fact “probably the only truly effective way to deal with evil is to transform it though love”. If the therapist is unable to feel love for the evil person and shuns them then there is no change and evil remains in the world. Instead there must be a sacrifice the therapist must willingly “absorb the evil”. For reasons which the logical mind cannot comprehend, the good is not destroyed or cancelled out in this process - the love remains. - a Student ❅ Our most natural response to the presence of evil is to recoil in disgust, but if the psychotherapist is to transform evil it is necessary that she transcends this reaction. Instead she must choose to respond to evil with love (indeed this is the only way that it can truly be transformed). This requires a willing sacrifice by the therapist on the client’s behalf. When she is willing to offer love in the face of evil her soul becomes a battleground for the transformation of evil. Evil is absorbed by love and only love is returned. When the healer is willing to sacrifice herself in this way something utterly mystical transpires and she can only but emerge victorious. - Matthew Rich Educator, Scholar, Writer, Activist ❅ “The healing of evil – scientifically or otherwise – can be accomplished only by the love of individuals. A willing sacrifice is required. The individual healer must allow his or her soul to become the battleground. He or she must sacrificially absorb the evil. Then what prevents the destruction of that soul? If one takes the evil itself into one’s heart like a spear, how can one’s goodness still survive? Even if the evil is vanquished, thereby will not the good be also? What will have been achieved beyond some meaningless trade-off? I cannot answer this in language other than mystical. I can say only that there is a mysterious alchemy whereby the victim becomes the victor. As C. S. Lewis wrote: “When a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the table would crack and death itself would start working backwards.” I do not know how this occurs, but I know that it does. I know that good people can deliberately allow themselves to be pierced by the evil of others, to be broken thereby, yet somehow not broken. To be even killed in some sense and yet still survive and not succumb. Whenever this happens, there is a slight shift in the balance of power in the world.”3 3 Peck, M. Scott. The Road Less Travelled (1978). Morgan Scott Peck (23 May 1936-25 September 2005) was an American psychiatrist and best-selling author. 29
  29. 29. To Act or not to Act? Karma, Liberation & Action WHEN DOES KARMA HAVE NO CONSEQUENCES FOR MEN? WHY SHOULD MAN STILL WORK HERE IN MANIFESTATION WHEN HE IS FULLY LIBERATED?* The freedom of men does not depend upon inaction. Rather the doing of works in this material world and a full acceptance of the term of physical life are part of its completeness. Man is also in the body for self-fulfilment by action only. Being in the body or any kind of body, it is idle to think of refraining from action or escaping the physical life. The idea that inaction in itself can be means of liberation, is part of the Ignorance which supposes the soul to be separate entity in Brahman. Action is generally shunned as it is thought that it is not consistent with the idea of freedom. It is assumed that when man is in action it has to be necessarily entangled in the desire behind the action. It should be understood, that the chain of Karma only binds the movement of Nature and not the soul which, by knowing itself, ceases even to appear to be bound by the results of its works. Thus man should still work here in manifestation as chain of Karma only binds the movement of Nature. Karma has no consequence for men only in the case when they attain this self-realization. - Mitesh Tank Working with an NGO ❅ Karmas have no consequences for men only when they go beyond the ego and material self. Man should still work here in manifestation when he is fully liberated because only then will he truly be part of manifestation as the Lord. The Lord, fully free and liberated bound himself and fell into the inconscient so it is the responsibility of man to participate fully in creation even after being fully liberated. Man has to do his duty as he has the body. For manifestation to continue, continuing to manifest is essential. We have to realize that we are Him and we * 30 This question forms an assignment in the ICIS online course: ‘The Upanishads in the light of Sri Aurobindo’, facilitated by Dr. Vladimir Yatsenko.
  30. 30. have to apply it and manifest by and through ourselves. When one is free from the object of enjoyment then Karma has no consequences on man. One should have only one attachment, that is, to fulfill the cycle of life. Karma will have no consequences if one lives with the freedom of consciousness. When one has the Lord’s consciousness one should stay and reveal the Lord. One should bring the higher consciousness on earth. Karma does not stick to man when he reaffirms: Don’t lust after anything. Don’t lust to acquire. Don’t lust after anyone’s wealth. Enjoy yourself by renunciation.1 You enjoy yourself like the Lord by being free from the object of enjoyment. The whole universe is for your enjoyment. Don’t lust after it. Don’t grab anything because it is all yours. You have the lord within who has it already. We are all representing the Lord here. We are here growing in his habitat. We should wish to live for a hundred years. We must finish the work we came to do in this manifestation. If we get attached to the world, our ego and all we have and do, we destroy the Lord within and are slayers of the soul. - Chhaya Sanjeev Chaudhury Business Professional (Enterprise management) 1 Enjoy yourself with that renounced, - thus it is said literally, tena tyaktena bunjithah; and not by renunciation, as it is interpreted by Sri Sankaracharya. (Facilitator’s comment) Events: Jul-Aug July 17, August 22 Insights into Integral View (workshop for groups of interns from VIMHANS) Facilitator: Anuradha August 15 Special meditation: Darshan day Sri Aurobindo’s birthday & India’s Indendence day August 11 New Creation of Society study group Facilitator: Ameeta Mehra Saturdays : 9am to 10am ‘Savitri’ study group Facilitator: Ameeta Mehra PICTURE CREDITS • pp.5,10,23,24,32: Shibani Dara, New Delhi, India • The Awakening Ray logo: artist: Krishnalal, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, India • The Gnostic Centre bird: artist: Neera Goyal, New Delhi, India • Back cover (The Gnostic Centre photo): Franz Fassbender, Auroville, India 31
  31. 31. The Descent Mystic Absolutes lassoed the enraptured soul... Cadences Supreme textured the dreamed-Delight... A whisper Divine dumbed the noised-world... Grace rained down- brilliant-spears hunting fiercely portions of the Being- deep-surrendered to consume and be consumed... Spirit-Life unfurled its shy tendrils compelled- Sun-drawn... Sweet Love- mystery-glanced enticed the Divine Lord to wed it mastered and complete... ✍ Monica Gupta 32
  32. 32. Can one stay Detached in Enjoyment? When we watch a film or a play, we often identify with the characters and experience their emotions and even pain. However, in real life, we might display a greater selfcontrol or detachment. Similarly, a person who is quite emotional in daily life, might stay unaffected through a film or play. In the ICIS online course ‘Paradigms of Psychological Knowledge’, facilitated by Dr. Suneet Varma, the students were asked to reflect upon how the enjoyment of aesthetic experiences can be understood on the basis of ego detachment. Their responses shed light on how one can actually train ego detachment in oneself through aesthetic experiences and apply it in real life situations. Aesthetic Experiences & Ego Detachment In a broad sense we could define “aesthetic experience” as a concentrated perception invoking a vivid experience in the perceiver. In the example of live theatre or a motion picture an audience member may authentically feel the emotions being displayed by the actors - feel the fear, romantic love, sadness, joy or whatever is being acted out at the time. In order for this to happen however the person needs to bring a high level of concentration to the experience. The audience member may even find the experience of negative feelings to be enjoyable. Also emotions may be experienced during the drama which he or she does not normally feel or display outside the theatre. What seems to be happening is a separation in the consciousness of the person between what is real (i.e. what he or she believes to be true) and the fiction of the drama. So the emotions are felt but they are moderated and not full blown. This can be seen as a kind of disengagement or ego detachment - there is limited or no identification of the person with what is happening in the drama. Concentrated perception facilitates the vivid experience of the emotions from the drama (the aesthetic experience) and the detachment of ego allows for the enjoyment of even the negative emotions thus experienced (as they are not identified with). If the protective frame or detachment mechanism has not been learned, say for example in a young child, then the child may identify with the drama and will experience the emotions evoked by the actors as being real. - a Student ❅ 33
  33. 33. For years I have tried to solve this mystery of un-controllable emotions. • How one of my friends, who shed not a single tear at her own wedding, would shed tons in a movie theater, when a similar scene was enacted! She was as mystified but could not control. Seemed to get carried away by the moment. • Sometimes while reading novels one gets so involved that we smile or shed tears depending on the matter being narrated. • I’ve seen my grandfather cry while watching ‘Ram Lila’ in our village in Punjab. In fact he would even touch the feet of actors playing Ram and Sita. Finally the mystery has been solved. ‘Ego detachment’ – where we can think and feel without really involving the self (with all its complexes and prejudices). What does this ego detachment involve? To answer we have to go right to the start of life. Our self /ego is defined by the play of natural (genetic) factors and social factors. • Crying is taught to be a sign of weakness. ‘Cry and you cry alone’. • Boys in India are constantly goaded to be strong and not to show girlie traits, like crying. My friend, who did not cry at her wedding, saw no reason to cry as she had a love marriage and marriage would not end her association with her parents. This is just an example how our ‘self ’ comes into action in direct dealing with a problem. But when we are in a theatre/play/reading a book, at times, we get caught up in the story and the play of emotions therein. One can feel the distress, joy, happiness, sadness, loss in the story, as at that time our self is not threatened (by direct dealing - nobody is watching us - of that reality). Hence we can enjoy the aesthetic experience. - Sameer Sharma Education & Administration ❅ An interesting thing here is that there is a kind of a self-distancing or an ego-distancing; almost as though there is an ego transcendence and what is even more fascinating is that though in real life we may not feel certain emotions to any significant degree, say for example – there are many who may not feel ‘love’, yet in the aesthetic situation the emotion of love is evoked in their consciousness, though in their personal life it does not figure. So what is happening? The implication of this is profound because this perspective suggests that we all have the capacity to experience these major emotional states and to go into these major emotional states. Yet, because of experiences in life the corresponding emotions in the context of our personal life history may be very specific, we may be experiencing much more of anger, bitterness, fear or sadness and some people may have more of positive emotions in their life. Many emotions are not evoked to a significant degree because there is a kind of identification. So we respond to life situations in a fixed manner. Our capacity in real life to experience emotions gets extremely delimited. There is a tendency to re-live similar experiences in our lives because of this kind of ego embeddedness. This suggests that we can consciously work at distancing ourselves from our own emotions, realising that it was a particular state of experience in a situation because of an interpretation and because of a certain kind of identification - the notion of who I am. - Atul Goswami Executive Coach (Management) 34
  34. 34. Can Ahimsa work in every situation? “... there is continually a struggle between right and wrong, justice and injustice, the force that protects and the force that violates and oppresses, and when this has once been brought to the issue of physical strife, the champion and standardbearer of the Right must not shake and tremble at the violent and terrible nature of the work he has to do; he must not… betray his cause and leave the standard of Right and Justice to trail in the dust and be trampled into mire by the bloodstained feet of the oppressor, because of a weak pity for the violent and cruel and a physical horror of the vastness of the destruction decreed. His virtue and his duty lie in battle and not in abstention from battle; it is not slaughter, but nonslaying which would here be the sin.”1 ❅ In many situations, Ahimsa – harmlessness and non violence will not be a solution. As Sri Aurobindo had discussed, action, war and revolution are required to bring in dharma in place. This however does not involve unmindful killing of numerous individuals but is required when adharma, injustice and falsehood would come in the path of truth. The same has been applied during our war of Independence. Even though Gandhiji was following the path of non-violence, it is movement in offence against injustice that led to our freedom. Dharma of course is intractable term in Hindu philosophy and the whole world is held together in righteous way due to this dharma. Ahimsa cannot work in all situations specially nowadays. Recent mission of social activist Anna Hazare against corruption is the best example of fight against Adharma. If there is no movement and fight against Adharma, it will continue as it is and path to the truth will be buried in falsehood. Same is the case with Arjuna, where Lord himself asks to fight because unless the fight occurs dharma would never win over Adharma. Even though Ahimsa is a divine quality, lord does not favour ignoble weakness of the heart, for that reason, when ahimsa is sattva guna in an individual Arjuna’s inertia can be considered as Tamas and the Updesha is nothing but awakening from the Lord himself to fight and win protecting justice and Dharma. - Mini Suresh Babu Quality Audit, IT, Admin ❅ The students were asked to reflect on Ahimsa, based on their own experiences, as an assignment in the ICIS online course: ‘Study of the Bhagawad Gita in the light of Sri Aurobindo’, facilitated by Dr. Sampada Savardekar. 1 Sri Aurobindo. Essays on the Gita ‘The Creed of the Aryan Fighter’. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram. 35
  35. 35. Ahimsa to me means “winning without hurting anyone” and sometimes it also means “being patient at your actions”. In certain situations, Ahimsa becomes vital at the beginning of any action. But not all situations can be dealt with Ahimsa. According to Sri Aurobindo… he quoted Ahimsa as “Harmlessness” which is a divine quality. My mom would always advice “the one who bears the pain/sufferer is not the weak one, in fact he/she is the strongest.” In my Graduation first year, being 19 I was a girl who would never hesitate to give it straight on face on someone being indecent at conversation. I had a couple of heated conversations with a couple of students who tried being indecent using slang language. This made it a reason for me to be bullied by all my class boys all throughout the years. They would tease saying Shorty!! everywhere, anywhere in the college. I never liked it and I always threw my frustration at my parents about this humiliation and the stupid college and always asked them to take an action. But they would always console me asking me to be strong. After 3 years of vigorous humiliation I waited with good patience but one fine day I went straight to the boys and gave them one serious warning and also to get ready for any kind of action that might take place. They understood that this time I am really serious and would burst to action; since then they stopped bothering me and also apologized to me after clearing the misunderstanding between us. Though what I gave is a simple example but three years were the worst period where I lost my confidence facing humiliation every moment. When a situation crosses its limit, one needs to revolt or rather defend themselves. - Bhargavi Pukkella Online Vedic Mathematics teacher ❅ Belonging to the Gandhian era “Ahimsa” has been a word we’ve grown up with. At that time and period it represented an ideal, a movement, a national fervour, a struggle, a patriotism, a bonding which swelled across the whole of India. Ahimsa meant non-violence Gandhi said we believed and behaved. Ahimsa meant sacrifice in life, in food and clothing, it meant sharing, it meant equality - everybody was in the same dilemma - the freedom struggle. The violence of partition marred that and ahimsa gave way to a reprehensible violence of bloodshed which stained our history books for ever. With Partition India gained freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of action and freedom to do as you will. Over the years I have watched the decay in our value system; it is no longer a struggle for freedom but a struggle to survive. “Ahimsa” is lost in the swell of humanity. The new generation has no time, no tolerance, boundaries are barb-wired with suspicion. How can Ahimsa survive? It is an obsolete word and confined in the archives of history books. To me Ahimsa has a meaning only for people who have values and I’m happy to say that most of the people from my generation have left a little of that golden charm to our children. Now it is for them to pass on the legacy. - Rajalakshmi Malhotra Home-maker 36
  36. 36. Ahimsa : An Interfaith Perspective The interfaith declaration entitled “Towards a Global Ethic,” produced by an assembly of religious and spiritual leaders from virtually every major world religion and spiritual movement at the 1993 Centenary of the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago, USA, appears to be an excellent document for addressing the topic of this article: “Can Ahimsa work in every situation?” The declaration of 1993 states: “We affirm that a common set of core values is found in the teachings of all the religions, and that these form the basis of a global ethic. There already exist ancient guidelines for human behaviour which are found in the teachings of religions of the world and which are the conditions for a sustainable world order.” “Do unto others as you wish others to do to you,” has at its core the virtue of non-violence. If our thoughts towards others are kindly and loving and peaceful there is no question why Ahimsa should not work in every situation that confronts individuals in everyday living. However, for the stability and peace in the society whether it be bilateral and multilateral relationships among the comity of nations or between communities of different ethnic, religious and linguistic groups Ahimsa will have to be cast in broader framework. It will have to be based on the principles of justice, equity and the rule of law. Hence the subsequent Parliaments of the World’s religions addressed these issues as well. At the 1999 conference held in Cape Town, South Africa, the theme document was titled: “A Call to Our Guiding Institutions.” The next one was held in Barcelona, Spain in July 2004 and it was themed: “Pathways to Peace: the Wisdom of Listening, the Power of Commitment.” The last one held in December 2009 at Melbourne, Australia, December 2009 declared its theme as: “Make a World of Difference: Hearing each other, Healing the earth”. The foundational principle of the meetings of the world’s religious and spiritual leaders from time to time suggests that much progress has been made to create common ground to promote Ahimsa and get the peoples of the world to work in harmony to save our current and succeeding generations from mutual annihilation. Decision makers are jolly well aware of the danger posed by “the rising fires of religious prejudice”, and have collectively appealed for decisive action against fanaticism and intolerance. Therefore, it is high time religious and secular leaders demonstrate their sincerity by breaking away from impulsive patterns of behavior resorting to senseless violence and open the way for society to address equally corrosive prejudices of race, gender, caste and nation. Whatever justification that exists for exercising influence in matters of conscience lies in serving the well being of humankind. At this greatest turning point in the history of civilization, the need for such service could not be clearer. Thus it is evident for humanity to move to a higher plane the thought of war will have to be overcome with a stronger thought of peace, and the thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Only then will the power of Ahimsa or Non-violence become the dominant paradigm among the peoples of the world. ✍ Dr. AK Merchant General Secretary, The Temple of Understanding-India; Chairperson, Sarvodaya International Trust-Delhi Chapter; National Trustee, Lotus Temple & Bahá’í Community of India 37
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