A voyage of returning



by Seabury Gould

The following are excerpts from an essay based on a trip to India in 1995. Seabury lived in South India during parts of 1974, '75, '79, and '80.

As a musician, I cherished the Mother's words: "The role of music consists in helping the conscious ness to rise towards spiritual heights." (Collected works of the Mother, vol. 12, pp. 242­243).

In Madras I had a wonderful extended visit with Dr. K. Subramanian, a most inspiring master of the vina (and my teacher twenty years ago). It was profound and nourishing to experience karnatic music in private intimate performances.

In Visakhapatnam, I had the great pleasure of visiting I. V. L. Sastry, an accomplished and devout musician and dedicated teacher and singer.

In Hyderabad, I visited the late Dr. Madhusudan Reddy, professor, scholar, author, and director of the Institute of Human Study, a center dedicated to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Being in that sacred atmosphere, and feeling more in touch with the force, the words of Sri Aurobindo rang true:

"It is necessary if you want to progress in your Sadhana that you should make the submission and surrender of which you speak sincere, real and possible. This cannot be as long as you mix up your desires with your spiritual aspiration . . . If you are to do this Yoga, you must have only one desire and aspiration, to receive the Spiritual Truth and manifest it in all your thoughts, feelings, actions and nature." (Sri Aurobindo, from A Practical Guide to Integral Yoga, pp.108-109).

I very much appreciate traveling, and on this trip I was reminded of some of the reasons: to experience other cultures, to have adventures and serendipity, to stand back from one's "ordinary life," to experience unfamiliar geography, exploration, spontaneity, and rushes of new imagery. But another important aspect of travel is that of pilgrimage. With an attitude of consecration and openness, one responds to the longing and the call for a pilgrimage; and how profoundly fulfilling it is when one's faith is strengthened on such a journey! As Sri Aurobindo said, "Faith is the soul's witness to something not yet manifested, achieved or realized, but which the Knower within us, even in the absence of all indications, feels to be true or supremely worth following or achieving." (Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library, (SABCL), vol. 23, pp. 572­573).

And then back in Pondicherry! The courtyard of the samadhi in the Ashram had such an ineffably beautiful and spiritual atmosphere. I stayed in the International Guest House which was comfortable, quiet, and clean. In the solitude of my room and at the samadhi, I cultivated the "consent of my soul." I was reminded that "The Mother's Force is not only above on the summit of the being. It is there with you and near you, ready to act whenever your nature will allow it. It is so with everybody here." (SABCL, vol. 25, p.139).

Returning to Auroville it was amazing to behold so many trees! It was exhilarating to see Auroville's diverse growth and progress. Each day there I visited the inner chamber of the Matrimandir, an experience which was powerful, soft, truly awesome, force-full and grace-full. It is indeed a place of silence and concentration

After reconnecting with Auroville and the ashram, I experienced a strengthening of faith and a deeper sense of consecration in my life. I am thankful to have made such a trip to India and the corresponding voyage inside myself. As Sri Aurobindo said:

"If this is all, then all is surely well;

If there is more, then all can still be well . . .

My spirit has glimpsed the glory for which it came."

(Sri Aurobindo, Savitri, Book 6, Canto 1, pp. 424, 435).


Seabury Gould is a singer, musician, composer, and storyteller living in Ojai, California. He has taught music to children of all ages, and lived in India for two years. He performs for both adults and children, and has two albums and a CD, Times and Places, of storytelling with music.


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