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Research, Essays, Commentaries – Inspired by the Social-Cultural-Political Thought of Sri Aurobindo (PLUS a bit of photography too!)

What is Yoga – III (Passages from the Mother’s Writings)

This is the concluding part of the series. In this part we share some passages from the Mother’s Questions and Answers series from 1929 and 1951.

Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Photo by Suhas Mehra

Photo by Suhas Mehra

Q: Will you say something to us about Yoga?

What do you want the Yoga for? To get power? To attain to peace and calm? To serve humanity? None of these motives is sufficient to show that you are meant for the Path.

The question you are to answer is this: Do you want the Yoga for the sake of the Divine? Is the Divine the supreme fact of your life, so much so that it is simply impossible for you to do without it? Do you feel that your very raison d’être is the Divine and without it there is no meaning in your existence? If so, then only can it be said that you have a call for the Path.

This is the first thing necessary—aspiration for the Divine.

~ CWM, Vol. 3. p. 1 (7 April 1929)

Q: What are the dangers of Yoga? 

Everything depends upon the spirit with which you approach it. Yoga does become dangerous if you want it for your own sake, to serve a personal end. It is not dangerous, on the contrary, it is safety and security itself, if you go to it with a sense of its sacredness, always remembering that the aim is to find the Divine. Dangers and difficulties come in when people take up Yoga not for the sake of the Divine, but because they want to acquire power and under the guise of Yoga seek to satisfy some ambition. If you cannot get rid of ambition, do not touch the thing. It is fire that burns.

~ CWM, Vol. 3, p. 4 (14 April 1929)

The Mother gave additional explanations in these words:

It is said that Yoga is the “final goal of life”, but what do you expect from this final goal? Some say it means to know oneself; that is the personal and individual aspect. If it is pushed a little farther it means to be conscious of the truth of one’s being: why are you born and what should you do?

And if it is pushed still farther, you may become conscious of your relations with other human beings; and a little farther yet, you may ask what is the role, the aim of humanity in the world? And yet again, what is the condition of the earth from the psychological standpoint? What is the universe, what is its goal, its role? In this way, you move from stage to stage and finally you see the problem in its totality.

You must see the thing, the experience behind the words. Here we speak of Yoga but elsewhere one would speak differently; some would say, “I am seeking my raison d’être”, and so on. Those who have a religious bent will say, “I want to find the divine Presence.” There are fifty ways of saying the thing but it is the thing which is important; you must feel it in your head, in your heart, everywhere. It must be concrete, living, otherwise you cannot advance. You must come out of words and get into action—get into the experience, get into life.

…..

There are countries and people who know vaguely that there is something called yoga, and they begin it with the idea that they will become superior to others, will get a greater power than others and consequently will be able to dominate others—this is the worst reason, the most selfish, that which brings the most harmful consequences.

Others who are greatly troubled, who have a very difficult life, who have worries, sorrows, many cares, say, “Oh, I shall find something that will give me peace, tranquillity, and I shall be able to get a little rest.” And they rush into Yoga thinking they are going to be quite happy and satisfied. Unfortunately, it is not altogether like that. When you begin the Yoga for reasons of this kind, you are sure to meet great difficulties on the way.

And then there is this great virtue in men’s eyes: “philanthropy”, “love of humanity”; so many people say, “I am going to do Yoga to be able to serve humanity, make the unhappy happy, organise the world in the happiest way for everybody.” I say this is not sufficient—I do not say that this is bad in itself, although I have heard an old occultist say wittily: “It won’t be so very soon that there will be no more misery in the world, because there are too many people who are happy to live on this misery.” It was a witticism but it is not altogether wrong. If there were no misery to soothe, the philanthropist would no longer have any reason for his existence —he is so satisfied with himself, he has so strong an impression that he is not selfish!

~ CWM, Vol. 4, pp. 64-67 (3 February 1951)

To read previous parts, click:             Part 1             Part 2

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About Beloo Mehra

Beloo is the author of two books, one on Indian Education, titled "ABC’s of Indian National Education" and an ebook featuring a selection of her essays, titled "The Thinking Indian." She holds several degrees in Education and Economics, has extensive teaching experience at school and university level in India and the US, and has a keen interest in the educational, social and cultural thought of Sri Aurobindo. She currently lives in Pondicherry, spends her time doing some reading, some writing, some teaching, some gardening and a whole lot of reflecting on life, living, society, politics, religion, art, literature, India, the World, and everything else under the Sun and the Moon.

4 comments on “What is Yoga – III (Passages from the Mother’s Writings)

  1. vishalbheeroo
    July 3, 2015

    Beloo. many of my questions about Yoga has been fulfilled through this amazing post. Yeah, I had this belief that Yoga makes me more calm and soothing but it’s more than that.
    Thanks a lot:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beloo Mehra
      July 4, 2015

      Yes Yoga is lot more than what we commonly understand from popular discourse. Glad to know that this series of posts has been helpful and inspiring for you. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  2. Pingback: What is Yoga – I (Passages from Sri Aurobindo’s writings) | matriwords

  3. Pingback: What is Yoga – II (Passages from Sri Aurobindo’s Writings) | matriwords

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This entry was posted on June 20, 2015 by in India, Spirituality and tagged , , .

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