RY, Your point of view, cogently articulated, must resonate with every aspirant who aspires to go beyond the surface view of things. Rationality and spirituality are not synonymous and the latter calls for faith as the staff by which it will walk on the journey - for some time atleast - before the sunlight of experience vindicates it. If spirituality meant nothing more than rationality then all spiritual seeking is superfluous and the seekers deluded fools. But apart from the question of Avatarhood - which need not enter into our discussion - there is the question of action as it relates to a spiritual being.
Let me illustrate. Today, in our world of informational technology, a small seemingly insignificant modification in a computer program could trigger a series of changes which eventually could change the very orbit of a rover in space. The modification leading to a change in orbit would only be appreciated and understood by those adept in space-technology - to the adept signifying a whole lot more than to a computer programmer.
So it is, in my opinion, with the events and actions that pertain to a spiritual being who can by the action of his spiritual consciousness change the course of lives, countries, and even the world. To understand the significance of circumstances, actions, and events in the life of such a person must therefore necessarily require us to rise to the same consciousness or at least grow towards it. Even then a lot of it must elude us simply because it pertains to the "inner" life of an other.
In this regard, Rich’s position is well taken (his reasons albeit different), that “It would also be best” “just to ignore history” because it would be futile. History is a symbol and what that symbol signifies is something greater and deeper than a mere peddling of so-called facts. There is only one root fact anywhere and that is the Eternal One. Whatever reveals Him is a fact and whatever ignores Him is a lie even if all affirm it. Here is a letter from Sri Aurobindo which I happen to stumble upon (as I was reading a book where I discovered this; surely not accidentally) and which is very apposite to our discussion. I reproduce part of it.
"There is, it seems to me, a cardinal error in the modern insistence on the biographical and historical, that is to say, the external factuality of the Avatar, the incidents of his outward life. What matters is the spiritual Reality, the Power, the Influence that come with him or that he brought down by his action and his existence. First of all, what matters in a spiritual man's life is not what he did or what he was outside to the view of the men of his time (that is what historicity or biography comes to, does it not?) but what he was and did within; it is only that that gives any value to his outer life at all. It is the inner life that gives to the outer any power it may have and the inner life of a spiritual man is something vast and full and, at least in the great figures, so crowded and teeming with significant things that no biographer or historian could ever hope to seize it all or tell it. Whatever is significant in the outward life is so because it is symbolical of what has been realised within himself and one may go on and say that the inner life also is only significant as an expression, a living representation of the movement of the Divinity behind it.”
Brilliant, Vikas! to have given us a letter from Sri Aurobindo about the “external factuality of the Avatar”. That should settle all the matters. We know how vigorously Sri Aurobindo had defended the position of Rama as an Avatar when Dilip Roy had expressed a thousand doubts about him being a historical figure. I had brought the topic of Avatarhood in my comment apropos of Peter’s disinterest in it while yet writing a biography of Sri Aurobindo. If we go by him then all that the Mother was telling about Sri Aurobindo would amount to her telling us lies. Perhaps a rational mind will never have any hesitation in maintaining that but, luckily, rational mind is not all. It’s just a minuscule part in the totality of the instruments of knowledge which can become ours; perhaps in the largeness of such a context it is inconsequential also, to put it rhetorically just of some value worth an obol only. So let’s go for the majuscule. ~ RYD
I admire your enthusiasm in "Certainly it should settle all matters!" It's as though you had just discovered Sri Aurobindo! Would to God every moment, our response to Him were imbued with such an enthusiasm! It is contagious and perhaps fulfils in some way part of the purpose for which we are present on this blog. In His letter mark that He writes "First of all, what matters in a spiritual man's life.." thereby referring to the life of all spiritual men and not His alone - which was not on the surface for men to see. On avatarhood, Peter's disinterest can perhaps be condoned - his ashram residency notwithstanding - given that
- his Master was Himself reticent about it and even evaded the question.
- Also his book is perhaps meant to appeal to the rationalist and bring home his Master's greatness.
- There is another fact. Traditionally Avatarhood is understood to be an isolated miracle. To present and posit that point of view in today's Darwinian age would be somewhat of an anachronism. He would have to end up discussing the concept and possibility of Avatarhood.
- Lastly a rationalist would take objection - justifiably - to your "If we...go by him...would amount to Her telling us lies"! Mother was (is) a collaborator and His equal so the reference is a biased one. The judge and jury is yours and case is settled and closed! That might smack of fundamentalism!
I remember having had a conversation with an ardent disciple of Yogananda. We talked about Avatarhood. He vehemently claimed Yogananda was THE ONE. I asked him to explain. Wasn't convincing. Finally he rested his case by saying " Yogananda clearly stated it himself and his(Yogananda) statement would be a lie if he wasn't God manifest upon earth".!
Avatarhood is one of the knottiest of metaphysical questions. Vivekananda till the end struggled with it. My understanding is that much of the Avatarhood stems from a disciple/devotee's faith in his Guru. Even the Guru's use the word "God" liberally and their enthusiastic disciples take the cue to declare the Guru's avatarhood. As a result we have many masquerading as the ONE, and others awaiting their turn!. All this while the real ONE lay low and did not declare Himself, perhaps even amused by all this!
vikas says: "To understand the significance of circumstances, actions, and events in the life of such a person must therefore necessarily require us to rise to the same consciousness or atleast grow towards it."
The reason why it has become so hard for us to understand suprarational issues is becuase of lack of this understanding. Instead of making efforts to grow higher we lose all the time in analysing what is wrong and pointing out to others mistakes. where is the time to fix our own misunderstandings and fixed opinions or grow into a new conciousness devoid of the ego?
The question we need to ask is in the limited consciousness we live in is: it possible to understand all yogic matters? Obviously the answer is NO. We have to grow into a new consiousness only then we may be able to understand things we could not fathom before. Why should we challenge everybody with our limited understanding living in limited consciousness as if it were the final? I have been wondering how people come to conclusions and pass final verdicts especially about spiritual matters? The rationalist cannot rest until he comes to some conclusion and seals the case as finished with his limited understanding. Maybe the quest for truth takes a lot of patience, labor into matters invisible and incomprehensive then coming to immediate conclusions to satisfy our ego. Reply