Every time I find myself getting somewhat lost or scattered in the multiplicity of noises coming from here and there, I feel this deep need to go back to the basics, I mean the most basic fundamentals of the path I aspire to pursue. This is one of the ways I have discovered which helps me to re-gain my inner poise, to re-center myself, to re-kindle and steady that flickering flame of aspiration.
A recent journey of this kind took me to a sentence I had written in one of my notebooks. This is from my notes from a Bhagavad Gita study camp I had attended last year: “It is significant to note that the starting note of the teaching of Bhagavad Gita is surrender, and that again is its last note.”
Contemplation on this keynote of the Gita naturally led me to re-search and re-discover some more treasures. Treasures that are not only meant for merely safe-keeping somewhere in my heart and mind, but must be consciously ‘used’ throughout the journey. But given my numerous imperfections, especially with this feeling of being bogged down by the daily chaos of life, I often forget to ‘live’ out my outer life in the glorious light of these treasures. Re-discovering them, re-committing oneself to the truth and light of such gems is one way to crawl out of the mud that accumulates around and within me, I have learned.
Today, I find myself ready to share one such treasure rediscovered during this recent journey. I share it first and foremost as reminder to myself.
But I share it also with a humble hope that some of my readers who often struggle with appreciating some of the basics of Indian spiritual traditions, such as Guru, Surrender, etc. might be inspired to discover on their own the true meaning of these. Too much ignorance and too much misinterpretation has led to much confusion about these fundamental ideas and truths. And for the future of India, it is now imperative that educated Indians shed their own ignorance and begin to re-discover the truths of their own cultural and spiritual traditions.
Sri Aurobindo: Surrender is not easy. If one can surrender “unconditionally” and “sarva bhavena” – in all the parts of the becoming, as the Gita says – then there is nothing more to be done. But can a man do it? You can’t do it by merely saying, “I surrender.” It must become real; that is sadhana.
Disciple: But then would the idea of surrender to the Guru alone be sufficient?
Sri Aurobindo: What do you mean by it? Do you think it so easy to surrender? It is very difficult, it is sadhana itself.
Disciple: But supposing a man surrenders to a human Guru, would it be sufficient ?
Sri Aurobindo: What do you mean by surrender to a human being? And “sufficient” for what?
Disciple: Sufficient for attaining Perfection or God.
Sri Aurobindo: I suppose surrender to a man means surrender to the Divine in him, and whether it would be sufficient or not depends upon the man to whom he surrenders.
Disciple: Is it the same thing as surrendering to God?
Sri Aurobindo: I suppose when a man surrenders himself to another man, he surrenders to the Truth in the man. In what other sense can one understand it? He can, of course, get whatever the Guru has got if he is sincere and if he has a still greater sincerity for the search he may be even greater than his Guru.
Disciple: I now remember how Girish Chandra Ghosh, some days before his death, said that though Ramakrishna had asked him to leave the burden of his sadhana to him, yet Girish found he had not been able to transfer his burden to Ramakrishna.
Sri Aurobindo: But the idea in India is that yoga is a work of abhyasa, -constant practice. How can one man do sadhana for another? Whatever may be the idea in other yogas, in our yoga, at any rate, to leave the burden to the Guru would defeat its own aim. Each must work out his way by himself. What the Guru can do at the most is that he can put the Power; but the rejection and the transformation are to be done by the sadhaka himself. He can get the help when he needs. And when the Guru can put the Power one may not be able to hold it, or one may even spend it away uselessly. Everyone has to work out his way. (16-10-1925)
Sri Aurobindo: In this yoga, at any rate, you can’t say that “the Guru will do everything”, and leave the whole burden to him. I do not know about other yogas; but this yoga means growing conscious every moment of what is going on in oneself. One has to give consent to the higher working, rejecting the lower movement. That is the basis. The conditions for receiving the Guru’s help are the same as those for receiving the help of the Higher Power directly. Unless you consent to his working, even God does not help man. In this yoga there is that perfect liberty to the individual to make his choice. (2-3-1926)
~ Evening Talks with Sri Aurobindo, compiled by A.B.Purani
Linking this with Blog-A-Rhythm’s Wordy Wednesday: Back to Basics