Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) Born in Calcutta, he was educated in England from the age of seven. In 1893 he returned to India to join the administrative service of the Baroda State, mainly as a professor of English. In 1906 he moved to Calcutta where he became one of the leaders of India's for independence. In 1908 he was arrested and imprisoned, but he was acquitted after one year for lack of evidence. In 1010 he went to Pondicherry (India) to pursue exclusively his spiritual quest. He worked the rest of his life for the descent and manifestation of the Supramental Consciousness on earth. With this a new phase in the evolution of making has begun.
The Mother (1878-1973) Born in Pairs as Mirra Alfassa, she studied art, music and occult sciences. She was guided by spiritual experiences from a very early age. In 1914 she met Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry (India). In 1920 she went to live there permanently, joining him as hi spiritual collaborator. In 1926 she was given full charge of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Came to be called The Mother. In 1951 she expanded the work of the integration of the inner and outer life with the founding of the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, more commonly known as the Ashram school. In this school it is endeavoured to put into practice the Integral Education as envisaged by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.
So often the question has been asked: "I want to live a true spiritual life, but how do I combine this with my work?" Indeed, it is not easy to stay focused on one's spiritual aim while living an active life in society with all its demands, entertainment and distractions. It seems almost as if the society does everything to make us forget our deeper aims in life. How can one help oneself not to forget? This book could provide some answers and exercises to those who would like to purse their spiritual quest more actively in every area of their lives, leisure or work – teacher, HR-trainer, counsellor, doctor, parents of growing up children.
The content of this book is bases on the writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. Sri Aurobindo wrote thousands of letters to those who asked for his advice. In one of his letters he writes that one of the one of the aims of his Yoga is, "to live in the inner consciousness more and more while acting from it on the external life..." This implies that the deepest layers f our existence have to come to the foreground and guide every aspect of our daily life.
The Mother, for several years, answered questions orally in her session are available to us in book form and make an incredibly rich resource of thousands of pages. Besides this, Sri aurobindo in his earlier years, and The Mother from the forties onwards, have given advice that relates specifically to education, and emphasised the integral and psychic aspects of it.
If all this is available, why then still out a book like this? This book came about in answer to a need often expressed in Mirambika, an integral education school with a teachers training in New Delhi. Over the last 20 years, Mirambika's Teacher Education Centre has been training teachers in Integral Education. During these years certain questions have been asked over and over again: "what is the Psychic being?", "What does Integral Education really mean", "How to put it into practice?" Of course, the answers to these questions can be found in the works of Sri Auronindo and The Mother, but teachers of integral schools and trainee-teachers during their course have expressed frequently the wish that this information should be made available in a more easily accessible form.
In the original writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother there is a richness that can never be obtained in a simpler workbook like this. I am fully aware of the fact any compilation lifts their words out of context and takes away some of their original depth and meaning. This has been the main reason for me to hesitate so long to bring out this book. But if this book can serve as a stepping stone to these original writings its purpose would be fulfilled.
The first part of this book has been written to help all those who want to talk the first steps in integrating spirituality in every day life. It may also have something for those who are already on the path.
Par 2 of this book deals more specifically with education. Integral Education, as envisaged by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, is centre around the soul. In the ideal situation it is the psychic being of the teacher which creates a psychic learning environment for the students. Of course, finding one's psychic being is dependent on Grace one cannot demand an immediate result the moment one begins intensifying this search. It may take years, it may take more than one lifetime to find the soul. But, it is also true that one cannot implement Integral Education if one not at least started the search for the soul in oneself.
To be able to help students to discover their innermost self, teachers have to provide an environment in the classroom conducive to psychic. For this it is important to have a conscious experience of what it is like be one this ques. Living the search oneself, given the strength to start living integrally and the wisdom need for implementing Education. It helps to provide an atmosphere where students and colleagues feel invited to look within themselves and explore the deeper meaning of life.
The second part of this workbook is meant for those who want to prepare themselves in an active manner to facilitate Integral Education in the classroom. But it may be of interest also to parents and to those who guide others in their workplace. It mentions some of the signposts and landmarks of the inner journey as given by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. It offers guidelines that have been found helpful by the trainees of the Mirambika teachers training and by people who attended integral psychology workshops.
The exercises in this book are based on exercises in the Playground in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. Many of these provide a wonderful support once we are on the way. The introspective questions, worksheets and checklists have been prepared over the last twenty years in Mirambika. These worksheets and checklists are meant to help you in clarifying and strengthening your effort.
Since the educational world has not yet recognised the significance and potential of Integral Education, one of the challenges of an integral teacher is to stay focused on its true aim and not let the work be diluted too much by forces that oppose change. Many teachers have found the exercises and introspections in the book helpful to remain focused. Hopefully these exercises will also work for you. But above all, may you be guided more and more by Their Presence.
Many wonderful people, young and old, have helped to make this book possible. Without their commitment and support this book would not have obtained its final form. I owe so much to you all and feel a deep gratitude radiating to each one of you from the depth of my being.
In one of her classes at the Ashram Playground The Mother said,
"Essentially there is but one single true reason for living: it is to know oneself. We are here to learn – to learn what we are, why we are here, and hat we have to do. And if we don't know that, our life is altogether empty – for ourselves and for others."
These powerful words of The Mother say it all. But what does she really mean she says that the reason for living id "to know oneself"? Does it mean that one knows oneself when one has found out that one has a beautiful voice and likes to sing or that one dislikes mathematics? These things are knowledge about our surface nature, but the true knowledge about our self is an inner knowledge of our true eternal self. What The Mother means is that, if we really want to know ourselves and learn why we are here, we have to come in conscious contact with our soul.
Why? We gives us the ability of self-awareness – we can become aware of what is going on inside us and that. The soul is a spark of the Divine himself. It is our inmost self. Only the soul in us knows the truth and can help us to take decision that are based on truth.
Our outer being (which is made up of our mind, our emotions and personality, and our body) is meant to give expression not only to the qualities of the soul but also to the decisions made by the soul. The outer being should not be the decision taker, because it cannot see the truth. That is so because of the process of evolution. In the evolution God first created out of himself matter. But in matter his consciousness is hidden so completely that it appears to be without consciousness; it is called inconscient. Rocks belong to this most inconscient layer of the manifested creation. Since it was God's wish to reveal himself more, plants evolved. This process went on and he unveiled himself even more in the form of animals. And then man, the thinking animal was created. Though man is the highest form of evolution till now, his body, vital and mental have still a lot of the earlier ignorance of matter in them. That is why these parts of ourselves cannot take the best decisions. It is only when we learn to listen to our divine centre, our soul or psychic, that we can take decisions in harmony with our highest aim.
When we are in contact with our psychic centre we experience the world in a different way: everything becomes more beautiful, we stop making judgements, we see the deep harmony that exists in spite of outer appearances and we spread loving goodwill and harmony ourselves. We realise that it is important to make our body, vital and mind strong and pure, supple and open, so that they can express the psychic element in us as perfectly as possible, without distortions.
But one does not find the soul just like that. Usually a long preparation is necessary. To prepare ourselves for the discovery of the psychic being is a beautiful journey, but it does need effort and determination on our part. We have to make a repeated effort to start living within and to create inside ourselves an environment where the psychic can come to the front. We need determination because our mind, our vital and our body have formed habits and preferences that they will not give up easily. God does not impose himself, but is ever present and ever ready to help us. Similarly the psychic, our divine centre, does not impose itself. It has to be invited constantly. We invite it by sincerely wanting to know its truth, by becoming quiet and pure enough to hear its silent voice and by choosing to follow it.
Besides the fact that only the soul in us can know the truth and guide us, there is one more good reason to start our inner journey. "We are on earth to progress," says The Mother. This is the reason for taking birth after birth, because our psychic can only make progress here on earth, come more to the foreground and so psychisise our thoughts, feelings and actions.
Sri Aurobindo has said that in the next step of the evolution the Supramental consciousness will reign on earth. The Supra- mental consciousness is also called the Truth consciousness. To be able to be part of the Supramental creation our psychic being will have to be continuously in front. The Mother and Sri Aurobindo devoted their whole life to bring this new consciousness down in the earth atmosphere. On 29th February 1956 it came down. Years later The Mother declared that the Supramental consciousness was sufficiently established on earth to develop slowly into a New World that would be able to express this consciousness. She invited everybody who wanted to become part of this new creation to prepare themselves for it in all sincerity. Knowing this, you can understand how important it is for students who have a whole new life in front of them, that teachers are able to make them aware of the existence of the world-within-themselves and that we help them to discover and remain in contact with their psychic being. Is this not giving an added meaning and a new urgency for going on an inner quest ourselves? We can only help our students, our children well, if we ourselves have consciously begun and experienced the search for our psychic centre.
This search and discovery will give true meaning to our lives. In integral school it is the task of teachers to create an environment that helps students to find the deeper aim of their lives. When we have started ourselves to look and live within we discover a new dimension in our life that extends itself to our work and makes it more beautiful. Real integral education is to create a classroom environment where concern for the deepest, truest part in the student is consciously integrated in every aspect of the teaching learning process that we facilitate.
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