Monday, April 27, 2015

Volume 3 Issue 5

The Passage You

Original Sin
(It bears mentioning that I went to the Samadhi after writing the poem an inwardly asked where to put the poem, and I heard my muse say, "to the question in Sri Aurobindo's room: are you there?")

by Donny Duke

In a sunny corner of remote earth
The bite of it all
Challenged orthodoxy.
This was in Nature’s plan.
Green-gold it moved.
This conducted harmony
Operating on discords –
Not a packaged plan,
Neither from the stars.
It brought in cities beyond the universe.
We bask in its revelry –
A riot of God
On lone isles of trust.
Wonderful it wore shoes.
Naked impulse did not light its lamp.
A renegade
It brought all to bear on noontide.
Light held its room.
“Yes,” we sing in darkness’ lair.
“We deliver anthems
Without knowing on which we rest.
It came to us unclothed,
And we saw nought but sin.”
What distance orthodoxy
From all that abounds in this place.

                                                Waiting under the canopy
                             Sri Aurobindo Ashram
                             Mother’s birthday 2015




From First From Within
A column dedicated to exploring the role of dreams, voices, and visions in the integral yoga. 

by Douglas McElheny


In this article I’d like to share a dream that featured Christian contemplative author Bernadette Roberts.  The dream is interesting for a number of reasons the first being that I was actually with Bernadette at the time.  In addition the dream offered specific guidance and had a very strong and obvious connection to an outer event.

For those who aren’t familiar with her, Bernadette is the author of a number of books that I think have value for any spiritual seeker and not just Christian contemplatives.  Her first book The Experience of No-Self is a thought provoking account of entering into and adapting to what is referred to in the integral yoga as the spiritual consciousness and her second book The Path to No-Self appears to me to be an account of what Aurobindo and the Mother called the psychic transformation or at least something kindred to it.

At the time of the dream I was actually in California attending a two and a half day retreat given by Bernadette on Christian mysticism.  While I was there I had a dream I was in an apartment with Bernadette and she wrote “Trust God” on a chalkboard.  I don’t remember on which of the two nights I had the dream but on the morning of the last day I went to the small chapel at the retreat center to sit in silence with Bernadette and the rest of the retreat attendees.  After the session was over I felt impelled to pick up the hymnal in the pocket in front of me.  Inside I found a small card that on the front had a painting of Mary holding baby Jesus who is pointing to her glowing red heart.  Below the painting was written:

O Immaculate Heart of Mary, true model of every holiness, give trust to become saints!

Then I flipped the card over and found this prayer about trustwritten on the back:

Prayer to Our Lady of Trust

Drawn by our need for your help in the many trials which engulf us, we come to your feet, O Virgin of Trust, to pour out to the heart of a mother our hopes and our failings.

Although it is our duty to strive for perfection, our mortal bodies make the path difficult, and the enemies of our souls continually attack, while everywhere we are enticed to leave the difficult way known only to a few travelers.

And all the while our suffering, our interior weakness, and temptations press to torment us.  We feel faint and sad, which means one thing:  distrust – in ourselves, in our ideal to become saints, in the means to attain it.

But your motherly look which follows us, and your Immaculate Heart which your Son points out to us open our souls to a new feeling:  confidence in your help.  We want it, O Mary; we beg you for it, O sweetest Mother.

When sin entices us, stay with us and be our strength; when mediocrity absorbs us, do not leave us; when the ascent to the perfection of the Father makes us weary, whisper a word of help, O Mary; Trust!

If we listen to this word of yours, the way will be easier, the goal closer, and our confidence more certain that we shall attain sanctity.

So repeat this word often: Trust.  Repeat it to us and to everybody. O Mary, because all people must become saints.  Amen.1

Just before lunch on that final day of the retreat Bernadette asked each of us to capture in one sentence the most important thing we felt got from the retreat and to share it with the group during the last session in the afternoon.  When it came my turn to share I said, “The need to trust God.”  After I said it I looked to Bernadette to hear her comments.  The first thing she said was, “It’s hard to do.”  She spoke a little more and I’ve forgotten most of what she said but one thing that stuck with me was that, “You have to put your foot out there, to make decisions, to take chances and understand that however it turns out that’s what God wanted for you.”

After Bernadette had finished commenting on my sentence we moved along to the next person so they could share theirs.  There was time for discussion later and I thought of sharing the dream and finding the card but an opening to do so didn’t seem to come up.  So even though there was a part of me that was chomping at the bit to talk about what had happened I didn’t try to force myselfinto the flow of the discussion; it was clear to me my main motivation was to show off to the other retreatants.   It would have been interesting though because dreams aren’t something that figure at all in Bernadette’s writings and I got the impression (admittedly perhaps wrongly) from a comment she made at the retreat that she didn’t attribute much of value to dreams.  I’ll always have to wonder what she would have thought of a dream like that paired with such an amazing outer synchronicity.

When I left the retreat to return to Florida that card with the “Prayer to Our Lady of Trust “ came with me.  It now holds a spot on the corner of my altar along with a small image of St. Jude2 that serendipitously came my way about eleven years ago.  Image wise they’re the only non-integral yoga items on my altar.

So now two years later I’m still learning how to trust God.   Bernadette’s right, it is hard to trust God, but why is that?   I mean He’s always going to act in my best interests so why not trust?  I think the answer is that while my mind can intellectually understand the idea that God will always act in my best interests, the vital in general can’t get there.   I say in general because it does have moments or spurts of trust but they don’t last.  I think the main reason for that is the vital’s afraid its needs won’t be met.  It’s also in the habit of reacting to and resisting things and this sort of trust and surrender is a passive thing and requires a poise that’s foreign to it.  There may be other factors too I don’t see clearly but the real question is how do you get the vital to change?  Can you do anything else to convince it other than just doing your sadhana as best you can and asking the Divine to work on the vital so that it can let go and turn to and trust the Divine?   It’s starting to look to me like that’s the case and you just have to have patience and faith and bear with the process, accepting that the vital is where it’s at the moment but doing your best not to let it take control and drive your thoughts and emotions.  My mental being (when it’s clear) can trust God now and I can continue trying to keep myself centered in that part of myself.   It’s easier said than done but what else can one do but bravely carry on?   I’ll end with some advice from the Mother who said:

The things we cannot realize today we shall be able to realize tomorrow.  The only necessity is to endure. 3


Notes and References
       1.  This prayer was written by a Bishop named Guglielmo Giaquita who founded the Pro Sanctit Movement in 1947. Bishop Giaquita (according to the Pro Sanctity website though Wikipedia says something else) also shares the same birthday as me, June 28th.
      2. For those who didn’t know St. Jude is regarded as the patron saint of hope and lost causes.
      3. Collected Works of the Mother Volume 14, pg 174


You Still Hold Your Breath?
(This is the 2nd essay on human unity sent anonymously around Auroville some months back. The first is in Issue 4)

 by Donny Duke

     We don’t come with an operator’s manual, in fact are born into a world where we are just different enough from the rest of Nature to entertain the thought we are not even a part of her, lording it over the other inhabitants of our planet as we do, as it seems our right to do, able as we are to make even Nature accommodate us, abandon her own plans and provide for us our daily bread and take from her as much of her as we want to build our towns and cities, though often too we stand before her in terror as do the other species, when, by whatever agency, fate, divine retribution, chance, she raises up her sun-eclipsing and star-blotting head and shows us in no uncertain terms we are not yet masters of her or even yet of ourselves, since that destroying hand is just as often our own as it is the earth’s, the wind’s, the water’s, or fire’s.  That it’s just as often our own hand that destroys us, either the nation-destroying hand of an army or the community-destroying hand of a wrongdoer, that latter more often the liar than the killer, since it’s the former that most often leads us, is what makes it so apparent we don’t as yet have much of a clue as to what we are, where we’re going, or how to get there – that we don’t have an operator’s manual.

     Oh there are countless collections of writings and teachings that claim to be such a manual, and usually we have little or no choice but to adopt one or the other as our guide, the one our family and/or our society holds to be the one, that limited choice more to do with the fact we, just like the individual members of any social animal species, define ourselves by our family and society than it does with them forcing a manual onto us.  The thing about it is, though, if you examine just about any manual (let’s call it a system), it has you put it on like one would a wardrobe of clothes, or a habit really, though it need not be religious nowadays; the proponents of science now ask the same donning.  What I mean is you adopt certain, tenants, beliefs, postulates, methods, practices, and we can continue, which may or may not involve you investigating them as to their truth-value, truth being, again, what’s actually going on here, though here up to this point has meant the outer world.  Rare to nonexistent is the system that first has you explore the inside of yourself and allows you to then build your own system based on what you found there, on your own personal inner truth.

     That would lead to utter anarchy most would say, but say there is within us not only common ground, but also a shared identity, as I proposed in my last essay, and in your inner exploration you discovered that unity, then however long it might take, or however much chaos you caused (not to say you’re not responsible for whatever harm you gave that might’ve entailed), you would eventually be able to make that unity the ruling principle of your life, and, since you are a social human animal dependent upon others for your survival, you could not but help to communicate that in both word and deed to your immediate society at the very least, and, if it does nothing else, based on the truth-value of such a communication, it would give a viable hands-on hope to your community.

    I also suggested last time, though I didn’t elaborate as I will now, that to change the world, in this case make human unity (which by its very nature entails a union with all things) as real in the outer world as it is in our inner life, you couldn’t start with ‘the world’ but would have to begin with a community or a selected group of like-minded communities, notwithstanding the existence of the World Wide Web, which is yet in its infancy and more concerned with buying and selling than bettering humanity and threatens to become more a source of population control, a means of maintaining the status quo, than revolutionizing human life.  Ideally you’d begin a pilot community mandated with such a realization, and it would have to be given such a mandate by someone who discovered that unity inside themselves, and the founding of the community was a result of communicating that realization; else it just wouldn’t work, for obvious reasons.  Auroville is such a community, composed of many smaller like-minded communities, and was founded by such a person, and so believe it or not, to have realized this somewhere upon the earth, we are halfway there.

     No matter what the current state of affairs in Auroville – the whole place could erupt in one big brawl, every single man, woman, and child coming out into the streets and just going at it tooth and nail (if you wanted to imagine the worst state of affairs) – and still it would be Auroville, the pilot community founded to realize human unity founded by someone who found that unity inside themselves.  It doesn’t matter how far you go from the ideal; the ideal is still the ideal, and any falling from it would be necessary to any realization of it, and when you’re dealing with such an ideal as human unity (how many other ideals have to be realized to realize that single one? It’s an umbrella isn’t it?) you can expect to fall from it farther than you think it’s possible to return to it, but if you understand that’s not possible, never being able to return to it, then you’re on your way.  It’s just simple arithmetic.  There has to come a point, though, where that ideal spirits every decision anyone makes anywhere in the city; I mean, when it comes to the forefront as the work your city is to do, as opposed to mere survival, a place where Mr. and Mrs. social animal human live in a large collective to make survival easier, what cities and towns are in essence anywhere on the globe.  The question is, of course, how to make such a giant leap in evolution, or really, and this is putting the problem in the pan, how do you get each individual in the city to make that leap?

     It is precisely here you need that operator’s manual, the one that doesn’t add shirts, pants, hats, belts, shoes and whatnot to your wardrobe but informs you about what your wardrobe naturally contains in terms of who and what you are, where you’re going, and how to get there.  To use another analogy, when we started this grand adventure called humanity, which I will greatly simplify for the purposes of this analogy, we were near-naked apes surrounded by raw earth, invisible wind, fresh and salt water, and wild fire when it happened naturally.  Though we didn’t have reason then and maybe not real language yet, I’ll imagine a moment we did and tell such a person that out of those basic raw materials they could light the night like unto day, glide on and under the sea, fly through the air and out into Space, hear and see instantly the people and places remote from them with just the push of a button, and you get the picture.  Would they believe me?  I could only try and convince them based on what I had seen with my own eyes, and though many would scoff at my declarations, because of the truth value of my words there would be some who would feel something inside of them agree with what I was saying, people particularly attuned to truth, that, again, what is actually going on, in this case, what inevitably will happen.

     We of this modern material era are like those near-naked apes in terms of what is possible with the raw materials of consciousness and what we have made with those materials, which is just enough to get by as self-aware half-animals on a planet rolling through Space around a burning star that will eventually burn out, which it to say next to nothing, unless you count the ability to wonder as a significant step forward in terms of realizing the potentiality of consciousness.  The proponents of science as the only system that can arrive at truth would.  Other than the millions who’ve adopted some system of truth not founded on the potentiality of consciousness itself, what’s naturally in our store to discover and develop, but founded upon a name or a book that has chosen certain elements of consciousness to the exclusion of the whole, often twisting the elements chosen just enough to take them out of the realm of actual truth, like telling that near-naked ape they could make honey out of sand and airplanes out of water, few there are who seek to discover and develop out of consciousness its potential.  The founder of Auroville was such a person.

     This is at once Auroville’s greatest asset and its main source of conflict.  When you have such a person as that as the one who set the community’s guidelines, gave it its mandate, put it on course, someone who, in terms of exploring and to a certain extent realizing the potentialities of consciousness, went so incredibly far, where exactly is the line that separates those who are exploring what’s in their own ‘wardrobe’ of consciousness and those millions who adopt a name and/or a book and limit their seeking to them?

     To continue with our near-naked ape analogy, it was her who came and told of the wonders that could be made from earth, wind, water, and fire, having herself seen these things firsthand, and the people in Auroville, not only permanent residents but its many if not most of it guests, even scores of people living in the Tamil villages inside the city, are the ones in the analogy who heard the seemingly wild declarations and felt something inside of them agree, since they are particularly attuned to respond to truth.  It was not herself she said would be made out of those basic elements, neither her words nor image; it was ships and submarines, jets and spacecraft, radio, television, and the internet, and so much more.  In Auroville it’s human unity.  That doesn’t mean her words on the subject of Auroville and what it’s to realize are unimportant.  You got to figure they’re more important than anyone else’s on the subject.  That’s only natural.  What will realize human unity, however, is not adding a single thing to what our wardrobe of consciousness naturally contains, not a name, an image, a book(s), or what have you, else you create conflict that is not the kind conducive to unity.  If it’s true human unity is the truth of us, what we are just ignorant of because we are largely or exclusively concerned with the outer world and material things, then the task is to discover it and make it a reality in the outer life as it already is in the inner.

     Now, I am a disciple of the Mother, hook, line, and sinker, and she has mastered me, and now when I stand before her in dream I blubber like a small child, unable to get over the fact I’m in her presence, and she’s allowed me, though I’ve been before her in dream off and on for the past 15 years, never feeling anything like that until relatively recently, though it would be misleading if I didn’t also mention that sometimes in such dreams she’s refused to see me, though dreams where I find myself before her or waiting to see her aren’t what I intend but what I find myself in every now and then when I become lucid in a dream, since she is my divine teacher, who I call on for help and confirmation, who my psychic being has chosen, though she’s neither my God nor the image of the divine I use for devotion; it has been her that’s taught me to use no name or image as such an object, to love God as the who behind all contacts and the mystery beyond all things, though at this point if she wanted me to fall down at her feet and wash them with my hair I would, but that’s a child’s desire, and she would have me grow up.  I go into such detail because it’s precisely here where the waters with the Mother are so muddled among us.

     Some months ago I became lucid in a dream, and almost immediately an opening appeared in the ceiling of the place I was in, showing a whole other reality above, a different firmament, wonder-splashed with colorful stars and planets and a Space not dark and void (if you’re familiar with this gateway in dream, it’s a way to go overhead; I mean your seat of consciousness).  I rose up a little off the floor but felt a heavy drag (it’s not until you’re able to get through the opening that the seat of your consciousness actually rises and no more effort on your part is required), and feeling such a drag and not feeling all that energetic, not wanting to spend the effort required to rise, I just dropped it, the attempt to rise, and the opening closed, and I went about to have some fun with the dream, do some magic, easy things like that.  I sort of flew into another room, which was a large spacious 5 star restaurant in a hotel, and on the other end of the room I could see the Mother at one of those small cooking stations among the tables dressed in cook’s whites, and so I went up to her, but as I got into her presence I started crying like a baby and couldn’t stop crying, but she didn’t pay it any mind, only told me, as she was cooking a hearty meal of beef and potatoes, and as I cried and cried, that she too had played with dreams a lot when she was younger, had even been taken over by a Hostile once, but that she learned to use such power as waking in dreams wisely, use it to go up or in.  As I walked away from her I realized she’d mastered me, and I felt resentful, but I had to admit it wasn’t all that bad, was in fact a good thing, and then I awoke in my bed.

     That dream represented for me the point I finally, definitively, subordinated my ego to something bigger than myself, what I thought I’d already done (you always do), and after that, though difficulties were by no means eliminated, a host of things became much easier, not the least of which was making human unity, which I’d been seeing in inner exploration for years, an outer reality, what is now in my hands and spilling out onto this page.  It wasn’t the Mother that did it; it was surrendering myself to something larger than myself in the truth sense of large, not something I declared based on a momentary swell of emotion that soon spent itself, not something I adopted as a belief of what I should do that I then tried to live up to.  That made truth real to me, not the dream, the ego surrendering, though as evidenced by its resentment it’s not yet an utter and total surrender, when it abdicates the throne completely, when it joins its little ring no longer.

     I saw through inner exploration the truth of the larger, saw it so much and so many times all doubt was removed that it is indeed true (though if it’s a spiritual experience, where you actually go out of the ego and in identity experience the larger, it only takes one time), and because it’s what I know not merely what I believe in, it makes no difference how far away from it I fall, coming back is always inevitable, since it works your change from the inside out, not as we normally think from the outside in, the change going on even when we go off and elsewhere, albeit then it works hidden, though our sincerity and intention play no small role in how long it takes.  Of course if we didn’t go off and elsewhere it would happen much faster, and in fact it’s the measure of our sincerity that’s the measure of our change, and it’s our constant remembered intention that is, over rites, rituals, practices, and abstinences, its quickening agent, what you eventually learn is what buys you the ticket, since, looking at change from the outer perspective, it’s what you think about that determines what you say and do, the whole air about you, and when you learn how to continually concentrate on your intention in whatever activity you do, something that becomes possible when enough inner change occurs, you have in your hand the lever of change itself, which, on the community level, something to my knowledge not yet in consideration as a possibility anywhere yet on earth because of the general ignorance of the potentiality of consciousness, is where, as I mentioned, the intention, for you human unity, spirits every decision any person who has reached the age of reason makes in the community.  Once that is accomplished, human unity is within your grasp, a pilot light that can ignite humanity.

     It can’t be understated, though, that it takes a great deal of inner change to change the outer just a little bit, whether that change be of an individual or a community, something that continually baffles us in regards to the way we actually change, concerned as we always are with pressing immediate circumstances and hence focus all of our efforts on a change in behavior first and foremost, baffled to such an extent it’s a common adage among us that ‘people don’t change’.  They do, when it’s a change in consciousness, which, by its very nature, works from the inside out, which is why beginning with inner exploration to see evidence of the larger, seeing it and allowing it to begin to work its change, as opposed to adopting some ideal of the larger and forcing your outer reality to immediately conform to it (unless your outer reality is on fire figuratively speaking and would be destroyed otherwise), would be more in line with the truth of us, how we indeed change, though that’s not to say your outer is indifferent and doesn’t do what it can to help bring that larger out into its reality, sincerity and intention being, as I said, the measure and handle of our change.

     An ideal such as human unity, when it also includes all things, has such truth-largeness, though it’s impersonal, and its teaching you in dreams and the like is more abstract than a person standing there giving you instruction.  When we are talking about bringing out into outer reality something that can at times even go against our own instinct to survive, something we as half-animals have to put first over our own preferences and pleasures, we’re talking about the hardest thing a person can do, what only love can do, what the ideal human unity is in its most basic sense.  Whether you realize that ideal with the help of the Mother or some other realized person, or just go the impersonal ideal way, if you’re in Auroville, someone called to live there, in the city of human unity, you have to learn how to love humanity, every last one of us, and that’s personal.

     What I said in the first essay I repeat now.  That unity is alive and well on the inside of us and becomes more and more apparent the more you become conscious of your experience during sleep, what amounts to inner exploration, since that experience is for most people an expedient doorway into the inner waters.  (It would also bear mentioning that if you’re a resident of Auroville, whether you’re particularly drawn to the Mother or not, you might encounter her, since she is yet the guiding force behind your community, its inner leader, but her ways are inscrutable, and she might not honor rank and might give audience to the least among you.)  If you do that exploration with the same group of people you conduct your life with, the people you think about the most, who think about you, then seeing the inner connection is so much easier, like seeing neon lights on a dark street, and from there it’s not a hop, skip, and a jump to seeing the shared identity, but if you do go deeper, always deeper, years deeper, it shows itself to you, since it’s the same thing as discovering who you indeed are.  If Auroville as a community begins this inner exploration, starting with the newborn and newcomer, with the ideal of realizing human unity as the reason to do so, not an a priori stance in that you don’t yet ‘believe it’ and need to see it firsthand before you do and thus know it as your own inner truth, your inner connection and unity with all things, you would have a hands-on approach to the ideal.  And once it’s in your hands, you see it’s already there in your heart: I love you.



Looks Like This is the Place
(a poem written for Aurovillenews.com because the site didn't post either essay on human unity, and neither did it post this poem, which I tried to put as a comment. It's not only written to that site but to all in Auroville and the ashram who did not make the essays available to be read)

Edited that title
Doin’ an unofficial guide.
You did not honor.
Everything’s gotta be secular.
A visit paper
Came out of nowhere –
Hello there.
This was in the middle of your own conversation.
Can’t let anyone else speak.
Oh boy,
I could be a killer.
You know what’s wrong with this country?
Tied to a chain
Our recital,
The one we sing human progress.
Believe it or not I sing it,
But you’ve censored me.
That is exactly what I worry,
What I want to break,
That doggone chain.
Figured out what that chain is?
Is that our kind of people?


(If you'd like to read more of my poetry and prose, my personal blog is A Collaboration With the Unknown)



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