To be Capable of Stillness – Sri Aurobindo

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“To be capable of silence, stillness, illuminated passivity is to be fit for immortality —amr.tatv ¯aya kalpate.

It is to be dh¯ıra, the ideal of our ancient civilisation, which does not mean to be tamasic, inert and a block. The inaction of the tamasic man is a stumbling-block to the energies around him, the inaction of the Yogin creates, preserves and destroys; his action is dynamic with the direct, stupendous driving-power of great natural forces. It is a stillness within often covered by a ripple of talk and activity without,—the oceanwith its lively surface of waves. But even as men do not see the reality of God’s workings from the superficial noise of the world and its passing events, for they are hidden beneath that cover, so also shall they fail to understand the action of the Yogin, for he is different within from what he is outside.

The strength of noise and activity is, doubtless, great,—did not the walls of Jericho fall by the force of noise? But infinite is the strength of the stillness and the silence, in which great forces prepare for action.”

- Sri Aurobindo, Essays in Philosophy and Yoga p s9

Mystic Emotion – Albert Einstein

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“The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science. Anyone to whom this feeling is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man. To know that what is impenetrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties – this knowledge, this feeling … that is the core of the true religious sentiment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself among profoundly religious men.”

— Albert Einstein

Mother Teresa

Recently I came across a book written about Mother Teresa, entitled, A Simple Path. The book was compiled by Lucinda Vardey, in 1995. It shares with the reader stories about the work done by the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity Order, under the then direction of Mother Teresa. It contains several prayers which I felt are worth sharing. The first one which is really a poem, is apparently displayed on a sign on the wall of a children’s home in Calcutta, it reads:

Take time to think
Take time to pray
Take time to laugh

It is the source of power
It is the greatest power on earth
It is the music of the soul

Take time to play
Take time to love and be loved
Take time to give

It is the secret of perpetual youth
It is God’s given privilege
It is too short a day to be selfish

Take time to read
Take time to be friendly
Take time to work

It is the fountain of wisdom
It is the road to happiness
It is the price of success
Take time to do charity
It is the key to Heaven.

This poem contains a fairly simple message, always try to remain childlike. Laugh, play, give and be friendly. Try to live more from the heart and less in the mind. Yet it also demands something of us. Take the time (or make the time!) to do these things. Some of them, such as laughing and being friendly, are pretty easy for most of us, but what about prayer? How many of us make the time to consciously pray for the betterment of others, for peace in the world, for love and friendship to be the norm in our communities? Some studies have apparently proven real positive results of prayer. For example in the area of health, praying for a loved one has been shown to increase the rate of recovery from some serious illnesses. Even without any thought of personal gain, selfless prayer probably does makes us happier, and is an easy way for us to do something positive.

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What is Happiness?

The happiest man in God’s creation.

Make yourself known to humanity:
Its dark jealousy will make you unhappy.
Make yourself known to yourself:
You will unquestionably be
The happiest man in God’s entire creation.

Sri Chinmoy [1]

It might be interesting to have a look at the philosophical development of happiness in a historical context. A good place to begin a search for happiness might not be in Europe during the middle ages where life must have been pretty hard for most people, with seemingly constant wars, the threat of disease, hunger and religious superstitions all rife. Especially it would seem for women. (Please don’t burn that witch, before she cooks me my dinner) For many the idea of dying and going to a beautiful heaven was all that was worth living for! The Renaissance began a new chapter in western history and the development of perhaps a new meaning of happiness.

Take for instance Francis Hutcheson, who was born in 1694 in Ireland, to Scottish parents and later moved back to Glasgow. He is generally regarded as the founding father of the Scottish Enlightenment. He believed that man universally carried within himself the means to learn how to be virtuous and helpful to others. Men served others not because they had no choice in it, if they wanted to get along with others, but because they realized they actually enjoyed doing it. (By the way, women still really had no choice in it!) He believed that helping others suffused us with a sense of well-being and pleasure. Being good meant doing good to others. Virtue (and to some extent the ten commandments!) required it, but our feelings confirmed it.

The link between feelings and happiness was important. Man was born to make other’s lives more pleasant, and to be wicked or vicious was to be miserable and unhappy. A delight in the good of others becomes the basis of our sense of right and wrong. We decided that what helps and pleases a person, is good, because it gives us pleasure. What injures him is bad, because it causes us pain. Men begin to realize that the happiness of others is also their own happiness. Some vulgar people assumed, mistakenly, that happiness meant the gratification of the physical desires: food, drink, and sex. But for Hutcheson the highest form of happiness was making others happy. The desire to be moral and virtuous, to treat others with kindness, and the desire to be free were universal, and human beings wanted them because it made them happy.
Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence in 1776 enshrined these same ideals in writing for the American people. Jefferson believed that happiness was the aim of life, and that virtue was the foundation of happiness. He wrote that, all men are endowed by their creator with inherent and inalienable rights; among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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The Greater Plan.

On 12 September 1939, Sri Aurobindo wrote the following sonnet;

THE GREATER PLAN

I am held no more by life’s alluring cry,
Her joy and grief, her charm, her laughter’s lute.
Hushed are the magic moments of the flute,
And form and colour and brief ecstacy.
I would hear, in my spirit’s wideness solitary
The Voice that speaks when mortal lips are mute:
I seek the wonder of things absolute
Born from the silence of Eternity.

There is a need within the soul of man
The splendours of the surface never sate;
For life and mind and their glory and debate
Are the slow prelude of a vaster theme,
A sketch confused of a supernal plan,
A preface to the epic of the Supreme.

- Sri Aurobindo

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