Some of you visiting this blog are asking me what is the spiritual practice here in Auroville – a major question indeed, speaking of a place dedicated to collective evolution by means of applied spirituality, so to say.
Well, the first thing to know is that no one could answer that question for everybody here, simply because there isn’t one way imposed for everybody – and that is already saying a lot about the inner freedom given to the Aurovilians.
When the Mother founded Auroville, she didn’t even mention Sri Aurobindo or herself or the Integral Yoga in the texts she wrote down for the Foundation Ceremony on February 28th 1968, introducing the central concept and overall guiding goals for the experimental township being born. The concept and the goals are in fact the highest and vastest, but she presented everything just in very simple words anyone could understand and relate to and be touched by.
So if one feels inspired by those words and with sincere good will wants to join in the experiment, from the inner point of view that is enough, welcome.
As long as that inner attitude can be kept in oneself, one doesn’t need to worry, everything will go all right for one’s inner progress. As the Mother used to say, ‘True spirituality is simple, very simple’.
Even if one considers nevertheless the Integral Yoga taught by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as the spiritual way obviously to be followed in Auroville – which to some extent is true, because it is they who have been the inspiration and origin of Auroville, and because the Mother herself explains more deeply about that Yoga in her later messages – still that Way of Yoga also will not give the same and identical directives for everyone, as each being is unique and needs a different, individualized way of proceeding.
Must not there be though at least some essential aspect of this new, all-encompassing spiritual approach, that one could indicate as centrally needed by everyone?…
Yes, there is indeed such a central requirement for everyone, that is best obtained first, in the very interest of each individual: the contact with the deepest, inmost part of themselves: their soul-being, or ‘psychic being’ (the being of the psyche), as Sri Aurobindo and the Mother came to call it.
The original spark of the soul in us is eternal and inalterable; but as it takes on a new physical body again and again over many lifetimes on Earth, the being of that hidden soul starts growing, acquiring more strength and influence in us, every time our outer consciousness listens to the advice it gives, rather than to the clamors of our mind or our life-energy pulling us in other directions.
A time comes, in one lifetime or another, when that Soul-Being or Psychic Being in us has grown enough and is strong enough to become the constant guidance from within that we all need so badly. But for that to happen fully rather than as a mere flickering influence, our outer consciousness has to learn how to leave the surface of our personality and dive within, towards that central inner space where our Psychic Being dwells, easily and wonderfully recognizable through the warmth and incredible sweetness that emanate from that center, the more we approach it, the more irresistible, until we find our consciousness blissfully immersed into It, and time stops.
When one emerges again from there, one is changed, for ever, for one knows at last what one is.
Rather than ‘meditation’, one may call ‘concentration’ the way one arrives at this all-important result. For it is only through a ful concentration indeed within oneself, in the direction of that secret Center of our being, deep behind our physical heart but in the more subtle dimension of our total reality – which is actually part of the divine Reality.
An intense and patient determination, an intense grief or desperation, an intense cry to That for help or protection, an intense and absolute faith in That, an intense need to give oneself completely and for ever to That, all these are inner states that by their very intensity will stop the interference of our ordinary thoughts or desires, and provoke sooner or later the opening of the Inner Doors: we will find ourselves suddenly in that Secret Chamber, where the Flame of that living, eternal Being of Love will embrace us in Its arms of Tenderness and Light. Our usual ego-carapace will melt in the unbelievable sweetness of that Flame, and we will merge with our real Self again, our Soul Self, our Psychic Being.
Our outer personality will still be there when our consciousness returns to the surface, but we will not mistake it any more for our entire existence. And from that time on, if we ask our Psychic Being to have that action within us, It will gradually influence also our outer personality and give it in the end Its own characteristics of absolute sincerity in the self-giving, and of spontaneous love for everything in which the Divine Presence can already clearly be seen and felt. The Psychic Being infallibly knows, just like the compass needle infallibly indicates the North, because the Psychic Being is of the same essential nature as the all-encompassing Divine: like instantly recognizes like, and moves with joy towards it.
So obtaining that inner contact with our Psychic Being and then that progressive transformation by it, is the most urgent need for all human beings who are not satisfied anymore with ordinary life. It is not necessary to withdraw from normal life into some monastic, secluded retreat. No asceticism is needed either. A life simply of moderation in every outer need, and of progressive consecration to the Divine of everything one thinks, feels and does, is the only requirement. Outer work is helpful also to that inner work, for it is the touchstone of our real progress, particularly in our relations to others; it is easy to remain peaceful in the silence and solitude of one’s favorite corner, but to keep that quietness and inner concentration right in the middle of ordinary life is the real challenge.
It may take quite some time before the new positioning of our consciousness at the center of our being is in any way stabilized, and all our old usual reactions to everything start to change; but all the while, we are not alone on that new adventure: that Presence within us, felt more and more also everywhere else, both impersonal because it is universal, and yet so intimately personal, is the most wonderful companion we could dream of. No wonder all the mystics of the world have reveled in the many-hued bliss of that relationship with What we have the joy of calling ‘Thee’, although at the same time we perceive our own actual identity with What this ‘Thee’ is…!
If as you were reading all this your mind has stopped since long trying to make any sense of it, but another, deeper part of you is still reading avidly and somehow ‘knowing’ what I am talking about, either by inner recognition of something already experienced, or by inner longing to experience it, all is well: the Inner Reality is one of Oneness, and only the mind’s way of functioning perceives clear-cut separations where there are none, as Quantum Physics will tell you. It isn’t our mind that can understand that those separations it sees aren’t really there – unless that mind of ours looses its arrogance and admits that the knowledge it can acquire isn’t the real knowledge, that the Big Picture it believes to be there isn’t the real Big Picture.
Our mind and the rest of our outer being may take more or less time to really be transformed, but anyway from the moment we have managed to come in contact again with our Psychic Being (as most of us still were as babies) and to unite again with It, our real life will have started, and all the other changes necessary for our further evolution will inevitably take place as time passes, for it is our very Inner Motor, so to say, that will be fully on, with our Psychic Being becoming fully active…
So the one advice Sri Aurobindo and the Mother gave as the most important and most urgent to their disciples was to dedicate time as often as possible to the needed inner concentration towards their Psychic Being, deep in themselves.
And this is also why in Auroville itself, the central building that the Mother had the repeated vision of and asked us to build, is a big flattened sphere like the Earth, with in the upper part of it a vast, circular Inner Chamber, all clad in glistening white marble, empty but for some columns midway between the center and the walls, some cushions for people to sit on, and at the center a large crystal globe radiating the only light: the suffused golden light received from the sun above as a visible, concentrated ray directed day and night onto that central globe.
The total, hushed silence reigning there, and the sheer extraordinary beauty of that Inner Room in all its utter white simplicity are breath-taking, and to sit there in inner concentration on one’s Psychic Being is greatly facilitated also by the spherical shape of the space, welcoming you like a softly lit, loving maternal Womb. The entire building is called the ‘Oratory of the Divine Mother’, or ‘Matrimandir’.
It is there as a possible help, but there is no obligation of its use, no one will judge you from how many times you will go and sit there. This is not a religion: no ceremonies, no rituals, no flower or incense offerings, no collective anything there, only individual inner concentration on one’s Psychic Being, or simply sitting there in self-giving and receptivity, whenever one feels the need to. Of course one can do it anywhere else also, the only difference is that in that space the best conditions are present together to help you, and the atmosphere is particularly intense and powerful.
A lot of collective quiet events also happen in all other parts of Auroville, regularly or not, proposed and organized by whoever feels the need of such events; they are announced every week in our little internal newsletter, everyone is welcome to participate – and free not to as well.
So, each one is basically left to organize one’s inner life according to one’s individual choices, also for the work one will do as one’s personal contribution to Auroville’s collective life. Inwardly, the only thing that is expected and should be understood, is that all Aurovilians, in order to be true Aurovilians, must do their best to fulfill the following few requirements, as listed out by the Mother in June 1970:
To be a true Aurovilian
1. The first necessity is the inner discovery in order to know what one truly is behind social, moral, cultural, racial and hereditary appearances.
At the centre there is a being free, vast and knowing, who awaits our discovery and who ought to become the active centre of our being and our life in Auroville.
2. One lives in Auroville in order to be free from moral and social conventions; but this freedom must not be a new slavery to the ego, to its desireas and ambitions.
The fulfilment of one’s desires bars the way to the inner discovery which can only be achieved in the peace and transparency of perfect disinterestedness.
3. The Aurovilian should lose the sense of personal possession. For our passage in the material world, what is indispensable to our life and to our action is put at our disposal according to the place we must occupy.
The more we are consciously in contact with our inner being, the more are the exact means given to us.
4. Work, even manual work, is something indispensable for the inner discovery. If one doesn’t work, if one doesn’t put his consnsciousness into matter, the latter will never develop. To let the consciousness organize a bit of matter by means of one’s body is very good. To establish order around oneself helps to bring order within oneself.
One should organize one’s life not according to outer and artificial rules, but according to an organised inner consciousness, for if one lets life go on without subjecting it to the control of a higher consciousness, it becomes fickle and inexpressive. It is to waste one’s time in the sense that matter remains without any conscious utilization.
5. The whole earth must prepare itself for the advent of the new species, and Auroville wants to work consciously to hasten this advent.
6. Little by little it will be revealed to us what this new species must be, and meanwhile the best course is to consecrate oneself entirely to the Divine.
I hope all of the above gives a sufficient overall answer to the question which prompted the writing of this post. If further questions are put to me through the ‘comment’ button right under the title of the post, to the left, it will be my pleasure to answer them.