Okay, I had planned to begin the discussion of the Christian mystics today, but I want to take a small detour. The last Buddha at the Gas Pump (Batgap) interview I watched was with Craig Holliday. And let me make a disclaimer right now. I love Batgap. I think what Rick Archer and his wife and the volunteers who help them are doing is totally awesome. However, I have to confess, there is no one he’s interviewed—more specifically, whose videos I’ve watched (I think 17 now)—that I agree with 100%. I’m usually in for the first hour/40% and then the disagreements begin to bubble up within. Not surprising, really. One of the things I strongly believe about the spiritual path is that it is a highly individual one. It would not be TRUE for everyone to have the same experience/perception. So, my disclaimer is: I listen to the Batgap videos to stimulate my own journey, but I discard everything and anything I hear that doesn’t resonate as truth with me. You should too! Hah! Like you needed me to tell you that!
Okay, one of the spiritual teachers Craig Holliday spoke about in his video was Sri Aurobindo. I had never heard of him before. However, I have never gone to a satsang (spiritual talk—unless you count going to church and sunday school when I was younger) by someone who claimed to be a spiritual teacher. So it is likely that there are many spiritual teachers I’ve never heard of. But, what I did like about Craig’s interview was his insistence that the spiritual journey is a progression. I (and probably most people) believe that. Claims of insta-AWAKENING (whether or not proceeded by years of spiritual practice) where “you’re all enlightened and done” are highly suspect. Well, come on. We all know that’s just not true! But … okay, I’m not going to harp on that today!
So. After watching Craig’s interview I did the ole internet search on Sri Aurobindo, because I wondered how much he influenced Craig’s perspective. I have to admit I was immediately intrigued. I’ve done yoga since my twenties. Not with intense devotion, mind you, but as a routine adjunct to my life. Sometimes I’m doing it everyday and sometimes I’m not doing it all, but it’s been part of my life for a long time. I’ve danced around the “spiritual aspects” of yoga. Mostly danced away from them. On the outset they appear quite complex, and then there’s all that language. I did go through a period about ten years ago when I was involved with Bikram Yoga for about three years and dove a little deeper. But that experience didn’t lead me to anywhere that resonated with me, so I dropped it.
So even though this Sri Aurobindo intrigued, and I was curious about his writings, for awhile I danced around whether or not to buy one of his books. Then I did. And I started reading it, and honestly I couldn’t put it down! Why not? Well, he says quite a few things that I totally agree with, but I’ve never really heard anyone else say before.
Whew! I thought this was going to be a short blog post!
Okay! So remember in my last post when I said that I could not be persuaded that the journey we take on this planet is an illusion? Well I couldn’t help but smile when I read this in The Integral Yoga by Sri Aurobindo:
I do not agree with the view that the world is an illusion, mithyā … If Shankara’s [another spiritual teacher] conception of the undifferentiated pure Consciousness as the Brahman [the Hindu name for the supreme God] is your view of it, then it is not the path of this yoga that you should choose.
The path he’s talking about is his “new yoga” where he calls into question some of the views of past sages. The book is very long, and I haven't read the whole thing, but so far, I haven't disagreed with any of the dogmatic views he calls into question.
And, when I read the following passage:
In my explantation of the universe I have put forward this cardinal fact of spiritual evolution as the meaning of existence here.
(in fact, his whole book is about this spiritual evolution toward Truth-Consciousness) I couldn’t help but think of this passage from The Book of Umbra in Half Faerie:
Foundation: Consciousness is the purpose of the Whole.
In this regard, two fundamental principles exist:
1. A dynamic equilibrium sustains the metaphysical energies between the mortal and enchanted worlds;
2. The Whole forever seeks the conservation of psychic energy, e.g., consciousness.
Within this framework, the purpose of mortal life is to bring the soul’s essence to fulfillment. Various qualities inherent to mortal existence challenge this purpose: a certain spiritual density (seemingly unique to mortals), a propensity to relinquish individual thought, a tendency toward mental and/or physical sloth, to name a few. A relatively small number of mortals ever achieve their destiny in a single lifetime; thus, upon death, few are released to the Unknown Beyond.
Cool! See, when I went about creating the Daughter of Light cosmology I wanted to create a realm where the spiritual journey, the evolution of consciousness, was framed beyond any current religious beliefs. But, I do passionately believe the evolution of our consciousness IS the spiritual journey and that that is the dance we are here to dance.
Sigh. I’ll get to those Christian mystics, I promise! There is some fascinating stuff there too!