New letters on yoga



The following letters were posted to Auroconf, an e-mail discussion group about Integral Yoga. To subscribe, send e-mail to Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message, type subscribe auroconf.

Walking sadhana

Some people on Auroconf send personal experiences; others prefer to keep the discussion on a more impersonal level.

Like many others, I am hesitant to post personal experiences, but I am yielding with a small experience that is not too threatening for me, just to test the waters. I am also interested in bringing the work into my own life successfully for me and for others.

For the last two years, since a debilitating illness, I have had very weak legs. I am seventy-eight and just couldn't seem to get the strength I needed for walking. Of course the outer world said, "Oh, Marge, don't expect too much; after all, look at your age."

Well, that was not acceptable to me. For a long time, I groaned every time I tried to clean a cupboard or walk in a store doing my shopping, but lately, since reading Questions and Answers for 1956­57, I have hit upon a new way. Perhaps this weakness is an invitation to strength. I have started, following a suggestion of Mother's, always to walk with the consciousness of Mother's presence. Now I am remembering the Divine in my walking and my life is a perpetual joy. I donut know whether it will strengthen me or not, but the joy of the presence is changing me in a practical way and is helping me to remember.

-- Marjorie Kass,

A language of love

Don Salmon (, who moderates an e-mail discussion group on integral psychology, often encourages others to share experiences. In the following letter, Marjorie continues her comments above, which started a brief discussion about surrender, and when to share. I think we need a new language.

I really support Don in his desire for us to share personal things, but it really is hard without the feeling of the heart and the oneness. For instance, how do we say in words that we feel we have surrendered? Anything that we put into words is already tainted with thoughts. When we are thinking, we are not surrendered. We are analyzing or judging or desiring or projecting. Only when we are just being are we surrendered.

lso, how sincere are we in our surrender? I had to face the fact months ago that I really wanted to walk as I did thirty years ago, and perhaps I was surrendering so that I could be healed. But that's not surrender. Now I am seeking to follow Mother when she says, "What you will, Lord, what you will."

So I move on, but hopefully, in the belief that there are those on this conference who will be brave and share their inmost thoughts, so that together we may grow closer and become really one.

It is a language of love that we need. And in this impersonal medium of e-mail, we need to be able to trust that the reader is listening with his/her heart also.

Only then can we really share and create this new language.

-- Marjorie Kass,

You are so right about the need to find a language of love. Without it, the most delicate feelings of the soul are difficult to express in words. They fall and wither like dry leaves before they reach the other.

I relate to what you say about surrender, the difficulty of honesty. I am lately painfully aware of the hidden, subtle bargains that live in many moments of mine. It does seem like an endless work to shine the light there to reach to some real giving up of my own expectations. I have found that often the real problem is pride, and springing from here, the many assumptions we have of "what I deserve," a certain entitlement. The Greeks called it hubris, and they knew that it was the one real transgression.

I think, though, that there can be surrender in the thinking function, which is closest to the ego -- but the thinking has to be put in service of the spirit. I believe it is what Sri Aurobindo called the surrender of the mental.

I find my ego often trying to appropriate for itself what the soul learns, when it should be serving the grail of love and its truth.

-- Alicia Torres,

I have experienced, in various athletic activities, what I felt was surrender without consciously asking or deliberately going into a state of surrender. I feel that most of us have experienced this at one time or another.

In swimming, walking, running, tennis, or in most any sport, sometimes without one's programming or aspiring for it, there comes a feeling of floating, of effortlessness, of peace and calm, when all movements are done perfectly and without strain. It can last for varying time periods, from a minute or two to several minutes.

he problem is that the moment one becomes aware that one is in this effortlessness, this flow disappears, and thinking will not bring it back.

This may not be quite a yogic surrender, but it is certainly a feeling of flow.

-- Janis Coker,

Sharing experiences

The discussion about sharing experiences continued through several letters, where its pros and cons were amplified.

There was a warning about sharing and mentalizing experiences, yet it was also noted in the same passage that the more firm and stable an experience has become, the less problematic the sharing of it was. This distinction may need to be made.

In other words, if the experience is relatively easily recallable at will, then there is perhaps far less risk in the sharing of it. This makes sense logically as well, since one of the biggest threats to the experience is the doubt that can be fostered by others. This doubt is less likely to occur and develop if one can easily recall the experience.

For example, we all share the experience of our love and devotion to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother all the time on this forum, so much so that it may not even seem as if we are sharing an experience -- but actually we are. This is an experience that is so deeply ingrained in us, so stable and secure, that it doesn't even seem like an experience, simply our natural state. Moreover, it is so natural to our normal state that it cannot be threatened or made doubtful by the comments of even the staunchest nonbeliever and mocker.

hen an experience is truly secure, the comments of others, be they negative or positive, simply bring a smile, because it is we who know and understand the experience in our hearts.

The sharing of these types of stable experiences, it would seem, is a good thing because it encourages the development or resonates with a similar experience in others. Sharing the nonstable experience is risky to both the sharer and the listener, if unwarranted doubts are allowed to creep in to either or both.

-- Ben Irvin

When we have a new spiritual experience outside the normal mind, this new experience is like a little sapling that needs much protection and further growth before it can survive in the rough environment of daily life. On the other hand, it might be helpful to note down the experience after it is over, since the very nature of a nonmental experience makes it difficult to remember -- similar to a dream. This assures us of the reality of the experience and reduces the doubts of our surface consciousness. Here the disadvantage of mentalizing is outweighed by the gains.

The real danger of mentalizing is when it is done while the experience lasts. However, once it is over, there is not much harm in noting it down.

Talking about it is another matter, since then we bring us into contact with mental and vital clouds of disbelief and misunderstanding of our listeners. Those contacts may harm our little sapling of experience.

-- Helmut Ernst,

Staying young

Auroconf members may discuss figures who are not directly a part of the Integral Yoga. This letter followed an announcement of the death of writer and anthropologist Ashley Montagu, who passed away in December 1999.

Thanks for the information on Ashley Montagu. Since you describe his book, Growing Young, I thought it interesting to mention that the book actually begins with "Communication from a Flying Saucer," which is taken from a 1969 issue of Equals One: The Journal of Auroville.

Here is an excerpt from the piece that is interesting and, I believe, worth some thought:

"The trouble with earthlings is their early adulthood. As long as they are young, they are lovable, open-hearted, tolerant, eager to learn and to collaborate. They can even be induced to play with one another. The only educational problem earth has is how to keep them young.

"For life, evolution, progress, and adaptation to new situations, [humans] are useful only as long as they keep their useful qualities. But the funny thing is that in all the educational institutions I visited, the object was to hasten maturity instead of delaying it.

"Surely your history can teach you that only the races with the longest childhood were able to remain in the cultural mainstream. The ideal should be to prolong childhood up to sixty years. Then you would be able to produce a real planetary culture ...

"Compare the growth of intelligence in human children of, let us say, seven to fourteen, with that of children of fourteen to twenty-one. Do you see the dramatic slowdown the moment maturity appears? ... And even those who go on evolving usually progress along lines already laid down at the age of ten or twelve. No new regions of mind normally open in human beings after that." -- From Equals One: The Journal of Auroville, 1969, no. 2

-- Bhuvana Nandakumar,


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