Sexuality is such an important topic in today’s confused world, I want to present as best as I can Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s view about it on this Research Blog of mine, for two main reasons:
1- their Yoga of Evolution and Transformation, which they called the ‘Integral Yoga’, probably constitutes the most advanced process presently available in that evolutive direction, and
2- the overall inspiration for Auroville too came from them.
After founding in 1968 the township to be, the Mother (who was already 95) gave the guidance for it from the Ashram in Pondicherry until her death in 1973.
She gave practical advice on many daily life topics, including advice for the many couples and families that would also live there, this new place being meant to be a real township, not an Ashram for aspiring Yogis only.
My presentation will definitely include in particular Mother’s text on ‘No Marriage in Auroville’, in this first part, and in the second part to come, Sri Aurobindo’s relevant lines from his vast poem, ‘Savitri’.
With these two posts, the special research I have done about this topic will be out and available, which I feel is needed now, especially as some other spiritually inclined bloggers from elsewhere on WordPress have already written something a few weeks back which I commented upon, and I want now to provide a wider base of common understanding to our online conversation.
The overall perspective we must take for looking at this question of the proper sexual behavior is much wider than usual and includes the immense evolutive process we are all part of as spiritual beings who deliberately incarnate again and again on this planet Earth. From that perspective we can see that what must be understood first of all are the following two facts:
1- our entire present situation at this point in terrestrial evolution is only temporary, a passing phase that we could call ‘the human way of being’; and
2- our present way of understanding and doing things, including sexual activity, will gradually change as our evolution goes on to ‘the suprahuman way of being’, in which our bodies too will have become different and will have acquired the capacity to enjoy each other physically in a different way not needing an actual physical contact. All this will by then be just as natural and spontaneous to us as it is now for us to act as ‘normal human beings’ do.
It is only when it is done just out of gross physical and vital desire as is too often the case, that it becomes degrading for the inner being and for the spiritual evolution of the person – all the more of course when one person imposes the sexual act to another non consenting adult, or a child. Such criminal acts of violence out of wrong and perverted uses of sexuality are one of the most terrible but exploding problems our contemporary societies have now to face.
One root cause of that problem is the extreme behavior of allowing the sexual impulse, without any respect for others and without any self-control either, to express itself reduced to its most animalistic (or worse) form.
The other root-cause is actually the other extreme: an excessive and rigid discipline, a more or less total abstinence from sexuality, which then will some day break out of control when least expected.
The abstinence is usually on moralistic or religious grounds, being either self-imposed by the individual who holds those beliefs, or imposed by the society on the individual, often through the most coercitive measures, such as the death penalty, sometimes inflicted in a purposely very cruel manner.
In the antiquated patriarchal societies still existing in numerous countries and cultures on this planet, it is usually the women only who have to obey those excessive rules or become the victims of those horrible punishments. The men most of the times can do whatever they want with more or less total irresponsibility and impunity.
Even when the official laws finally evolve towards more equality between the genders, and more leniency for both as long as the sexual offences committed are between consenting adults, the more archaic patterns most often remain the stronger, and the old punishments are still meted out to the offenders, especially the women of course, by the men who still think it is their sacred right and even duty to do so.
In the groupings that, like the Mormons, follow a religion that rules the whole way of life in those special, very closed societies, there are often quite precise and rigid regulations as to marriage and sexual behavior in general, polygamy for the men (but not for the women) being one of the most controversial rules in the eyes of the outsiders.
The situation of gays and lesbians, which too often used to be nightmarish, especially in our Western societies during the most recent centuries, is somewhat gradually improving at last, as people become more tolerant of other people’s sexual inclinations, and also as old or new religious pronouncements about them aren’t anymore considered the absolute Truth.
For more and more people who are aware by now that we all live many lifetimes, ‘homosexuality,’ as I said in my previous post, ‘is not shocking nor even surprising, as it is seen for what it is: simply the carry-over from a lifetime (sometimes more) in a male body to one in a female body, or vice-versa, for the experience of both sexes is necessary for the full and balanced development of each soul, each being’.
The overall tendency in the West, and copied elsewhere, especially among the youth not yet forced into the corporate adult world, is to have a less different dress code and hair cut code than used to be between boys and girls. This too is a sign of the times, and of the irresistible evolutive influence pulling us away from the exaggerated importance given to the gender before, and taking us towards a future when it will have almost no importance, every person being perceived simply as a human being, in whom both the feminine and the masculine qualities will be present and developed in a balanced, integrated manner.
But those clear progresses are few and far between, alas: from this rapid overview of sexual behavior as it is presently happening all over the planet, one can see that nearly everywhere the social and religious laws in power tend to make any deviation downright dangerous if not deadly. Everywhere, even the allowed sexual activities are made much more complicated than they could be if none of those laws were there, and if the sincerity of the love between the two persons involved was the only factor that really mattered.
This would be the simplest and truest solution, but how and where could it possibly start to be applied with some chance of success?…
The situation about this socially terribly unhealthy aspect of our life is very slow to change in our usual societies, some new place would be needed to start this new way of dealing with it.
In the early 1900s, both young Mira Alfassa in Paris and young Aurobindo Ghose in Calcutta weren’t interested in marriage but had both to get married anyway, as required at the time in both their respective societies. Their strong inclination towards spirituality was already there, and the experience of married life didn’t change their choice of spiritual life as what they truly wanted. When they met in 1913 in Pondicherry, it was two conscious spiritual beings who met, for whom since long sexuality had no relevance any more. They recognized each other inwardly as being two complementary aspects of the same consciousness, and as sharing the same evolutive task for the Earth, so their inner and outer collaboration started at once, with around them just the handful of first disciples who in 1910 had followed Sri Aurobindo in his spiritual exile. More added themselves later, from Bengal again or from Pondy’s area, but the official creation of an Ashram became necessary only in 1926, when the number of devotees (who had flocked around them even more after WWI was over and the Mother came back in 1920) grew too great and something had to be done to take care of all those people, inwardly and outwardly.
The Ashram was of course meant only for deeply dedicated seekers of a higher consciousness, and for them sex would obviously not be a normal part of life any longer, so the question didn’t arise there. The children in the Ashram’s school came only from Indian families elsewhere who wanted their children to be educated in that very special school. But when in 1968 it became possible to start Auroville, then some clarification was soon needed as to what the accepted sexual behavior would be in that new kind of society, meant to show the example of a spiritualized way of life, but without being an ashram or a monastery as usual.
Aware that here was the ideal opportunity to bring about real change into an area of human life that urgently needed to be at last lived with what I would call the simplicity, the spontaneity and the self-control that only true love can give, the Mother felt it was better not to have any social, legal or religious rule about personal relationships and couple or family life in Auroville. She explained:
‘Of course the whole idea of marriage is amusing because I consider the thing childish.
You know, in Auroville there will be no marriages. If a man and a woman love each other and want to live together they may do so without any ceremony. If they want to separate they can also do so freely. Why should people be compelled to stay together when they have ceased to love each other?
A lot of crimes would be prevented if people were free in this respect.They would not have to hide things from one another or even commit crimes to be separated. Of course, if they truly love each other they will continue to live together always, naturally, without being forced to do so by any law. This is why this ceremony and ritual of marriage is so childish.
Children born in Auroville will have no family name. They will have just the first name.’
The Mother suggested that the following letter of hers about marriage be published with the statement above:
‘To unite your physical lives, your material interests, to become partners in order to face together the difficulties and successes, the defeats and victories of life – that is the very foundation of marriage, but you already know that it is not enough.
To be united in your sensations, to have the same aesthetic tastes and enjoyments, to be moved in common by the same things, one through the other and one through the other – that is good, that is necessary, but it is not enough.
To be one in your deeper feelings, to keep a mutual affection and tenderness that never vary in spite of the blows of life and can withstand any weariness and irritation and disappointment, to be always and on every occasion happy, extremely happy to be together, to find in every circumstance tranquility, peace and joy in each other – that is good, that is very good, that is indispensable, but it is not enough.
To unite your minds, to harmonize your thoughts and make them complementary, to share your intellectual preoccupations and discoveries, in short, to make your sphere of mental activity identical through a widening and enrichment acquired by both at once – that is good, that is very good, that is absolutely necessary, but it is not enough.
Beyond all that, in the depths, at the centre, at the summit of the being, there is a Supreme Truth of being, an Eternal Light, independent of all the circumstances of birth, country, environment, education; That is the origin, cause and master of our spiritual development; it is That which gives a permanent direction to our lives; it is That which determines our destinies; it is in the consciousness of That that you must unite. To be one in aspiration and ascension, to move forward at the same pace on the same spiritual path, that is the secret of a lasting union.’
It has not always been easy for us the Aurovilians to use wisely this freedom that was thus given to us, and there has been one time in the early years when the Mother expressed her strong disappointment and disagreement about some people behaving ‘like cats and dogs’, but since then this new way of life has become quite normal to most of us, and doesn’t lead us to excesses any more – one of the discrete but very real and immensely important progresses quietly accomplished and established in Auroville for humanity as a whole.
We ourselves don’t give much thought to this situation, by now it is kind of natural to us who live here. Still, the very fact that most of the couple life and family life here happens between people who deliberately and as per the Mother’s wish are not married, can be in itself extremely shocking for let’s say the average or even quite educated visitor who happens to discover that fact (we sure don’t publicize it) – especially if the person doesn’t come from the West where unmarried couples are more common and better accepted socially.
It is particularly mind-blowing for the spiritually oriented visitors, used on the contrary to the stringent rules of ashrams and monasteries, for this is also what they will expect in Auroville – or at least as much marriage in any form as in ordinary societies. To hear that it is not so, and on top of it that it is the Mother herself who has recommended this ‘No marriage’ way of life, can be totally flabbergasting and perplexing for them, so strong is in their consciousness the usual association of unmarried love with sin.
There is probably yet a long way to go for this aspect of life in Auroville to be adopted elsewhere!…