Friday, February 29, 2008

Sri Aurobindo was systematically perfecting the body’s ability to sustain a more and more intense and continuous physical Ananda

The Yoga of Self-Perfection and the Triple Transformation, by Richard Hartz posted by Debashish on Mon 13 Aug 2007 04:06 PM PDT Permanent Link Undreamed Ecstasy

Bhukti is literally “enjoyment”. In the Yoga of self-perfection it refers, of course, to a more exalted type of enjoyment than what is usually meant by that word. Sri Aurobindo explains:

A really perfect enjoyment of existence can only come when what we enjoy is not the world in itself or for itself, but God in the world, when it is not things, but the Ananda of the spirit in things that forms the real, essential object of our enjoying and things only as form and symbol of the spirit, waves of the ocean of Ananda.[53]

It may be objected that this kind of rarefied enjoyment would not satisfy the demand of the vital being for tangible pleasures. Sri Aurobindo maintained, on the contrary, that what we call pleasure is no more than a faint and evanescent shadow of the real thing. Our half-conscious nature cannot fulfil its own seeking for enjoyment unless it undergoes a spiritual transformation:

Life... seeks for pleasure, happiness, bliss; but the infrarational forms of these things are stricken with imperfection, fragmentariness, impermanence and the impact of their opposites. Moreover infrarational life still bears some stamp of the Inconscient in an underlying insensitiveness, a dullness of fibre, a weakness of vibratory response,—it cannot attain to true happiness or bliss and what it can obtain of pleasure it cannot support for long or bear or keep any extreme intensity of these things. Only the spirit has the secret of an unmixed and abiding happiness or ecstasy, is capable of a firm tenseness of vibrant response to it, can achieve and justify a spiritual pleasure or joy of life as one form of the infinite and universal delight of being.[54]

Sri Aurobindo added this passage to the chapter entitled “The Suprarational Ultimate of Life” when he revised The Human Cycle around 1937. Almost two decades earlier he had dealt with the same question in expounding the Yoga of self-perfection. In The Synthesis of Yoga, he clarified what he meant by the “capacity for enjoyment”, bhoga-sāmarthya, that is to be developed by the Prana or vital force:

The enjoyment it will have will be in the essence a spiritual bliss, but one which takes up into itself and transforms the mental, emotional, dynamic, vital and physical joy; it must have therefore an integral capacity for these things and must not by incapacity or fatigue or inability to bear great intensities fail the spirit, mind, heart, will and body.[55]

The vital being’s capacity for enjoyment depends on a power that has to be developed in the body “to hold whatever force is brought into it by the spirit and to contain its action without spilling and wasting it or itself getting cracked”. This general “faculty of holding”, termed dhārana-śakti or dhārana-sāmarthya, is considered “the most important siddhi or perfection of the body”,[56] since it is required for a higher working of all the other parts of the being. It is especially necessary if the bhoga-sāmarthya of the life-force is to be imparted to the physical consciousness, creating there a “capacity for bliss” such as is attributed in Savitri to Aswapati at a certain stage in his ascension:

His earth, dowered with celestial competence, Harboured a power that needed now no more To cross the closed customs-line of mind and flesh And smuggle godhead into humanity. It shrank no more from the supreme demandOf an untired capacity for bliss....[57]

Many entries in the Record of Yoga show that Sri Aurobindo was systematically perfecting the body’s ability to sustain a more and more intense and continuous physical Ananda. What he ascribed to Aswapati was evidently his own experience. In cultivating such experiences, his Yoga of self-perfection seems to part company with almost all spiritual disciplines in the Indian tradition except Tantra. But in its methods it also differs widely from Tantra of either the right-hand or the left-hand path. Sri Aurobindo made his relation to Tantra clear when he affirmed that this Yoga “starts from the method of Vedanta to arrive at the aim of the Tantra.”[58] It attempts to achieve “a spiritualising and illumination of the whole physical consciousness and a divinising of the law of the body.” But “the reliance is on the power of the higher being to change the lower existence” and “a working is chosen mainly from above downward and not the opposite way”.[59]

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