Transcription

Vol. XV No.4Summer 1989"1.n the suntl.t spac whereonis forever A.nown

Table of ContentsSeeking the Sacred In AUM - -By Jean Korstange-i---. 2"I Felt So AUMley!" Notes Fromthe All USA Meeting - - - - - - -- - - - 4By Gordon KorstangeSri Aurobindo and The Mother onThe Psychic Being - - - - - - - - - - 9Book Review by Jyoti SobelExcerpts from The Psychic Being ---".'"""13Have We Changed: Interview with. :.Jacque Swartz - - - - - - - - - i;;; 14Photo by Verne HenshallSquare Dancing at AUMBy Clifford GibsonLetters - .;.-"-.,; ,- - -.:;.--16PatronsSteve AltmanTile ArtsSan Francisco, CAAuroville International 1989 Meeting --22By Paula MurphyBloomquist & AssociatesBerkeley, CAKathleen BurtPeople - -Astrological Consultant- - - 23 Solano Beach, CACover photo by Paul LisseckCover quotation from SavitriCalifornia lnsL of lnlegral StudiesSan Francisco, CAN. & S. Datta-GuptaOrangeburg, SCThe expressed opinions of the authors are not necessarily those of Ferrara & Sobelthe Sri Aurobindo Association or the editors.West Shokan, NYCollaboraJion (ISSN 0 164-1522) is published by Sri AurobindoAssociation, Inc., P.O. Box 372, High Falls, NY 12440, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization. Copyright 1989 by Sri AurobindoAssociation, Inc. All passages from the works ofSri Aurobindo andthe Mother are copyrighted by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram unlessotherwise noted and are used here with the kind permission of theAshram. Photographs of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother appearingon these pages are also copyrighted by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.A one-year subscription is 12; airmail outside the USA and NorthAmerica is 22. All foreign subscription must be paid with a USdollar draft on a New York bank or an International Money Order.Larger contributions, all tax-deductible, are welcome for the workof the Association. In addition, contributions for Auroville and theSri Aurobindo Ashram may be made through Sri Aurobindo Association, Inc.Subscriptions should be sent to Sri Aurobindo Association, Inc.,P.O. Box 372, High Falls, NY 12440.Any editorial material should be sent to Jean Korstange, 8 UnionSt, Keene, NH 03431.Printed in the United States of America.P. & S. GhoshalFresh Meadows, NYAlice WebbBurkittsville, MDJim HurleySunnyvale, CAB.&R.ImigAV Incense/ImportsPortland, ORLarry JacobsBody Slant MarketingNewport Beach, CAA.&M.JaniTampa, FARichard & Jan SteinSan Francisco, CAAndrea Van de LooAccupressure& HydrotherapySoquel,CAMitra VanmaLa Canada. CAA. & G. Gardene-zSan Francisco, CAJay SchaeferRaphine, VABobbie VoitCrestone, COSeyril SchoebenSALCCrestone, COTom O'BrienRamsey.NJMeniam Hill CenterCambridge, MAKevin EggersIowa City, IAEssential NeedsNewton, PACarl PetersPsychosynthesis AffiliatesLos Gatos, CASteve MariolesSan Antonio, TXChitra & EdgarNeogy.TezakBrooklyn. NYMarti GilbertSpringfield, MOAnonymous2

Seeking the Sacred in AUMAUM is a sacred sound Those who christened themeeting aspired to create a sacred time for everyone inthe Yoga in this country. Sadhaks here must set asidetime for sadhana. Maybe holding the meeting on August15th would aid our awareness of the collective spiritualneed and aspiration.If participants do not want to put the time and effoninto a collective process for building our spiritual consciousness at the meeting, then we must trust the facilitators to structure a meeting that gives us time to get toknow each other, renew or build personal relationshipsand nourish the growth of our collective consciousness.Large group sessions with a talking head are not likelyto meet everyone's needs at AUM. Nor can the businessof organizations be carried out in a group where maybeonly 10% ofthose attending are active in an organization.The meeting will break into small groups where peopledo what they need to do for themselves, if it is notstructured to reflect the diversity of people attending.AUM is for everyone in North America who is interested in the Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and Mother. Itwelcomes others from Auroville, India or Europe whofeel called to dip into this cultural and yogic experience.It is a time for us to commune in the sacred.Anyone-interested in working with next year's facilitators should contact Ron Jorgensen at 2020 RooseveltAve.,Enumclaw, WA98022,(206-825-3431). Ronandothers in the Seattle area will facilitate the 1990 AUM.Readers are also welcome to express their ideas forAUM through letters to the editors. Be a pan of the wholeprocess, offer your suggestions and time to create asacred meeting.By Jean Korstange"Please do not use the sacred word AUM for the nameof this meeting.""AUM should be a time when we dedicate ourselvesto creating our sense of the sacred as a group of SriAurobindo/Mother disciples."These two statements from AUM 89 participants pointout the focus ofthis annual meeting; the need for a sacredtime to dedicate ourselves to the Yoga.If as the first quote indicates, people who attend themeeting do not experience the "sacred", then as thesecond quote indicates we need to talk more about howwe as a group can make this meeting fulfill our need forthe sacred.Most people in this country experience the collectiveYoga as a special event, i.e., darshan or a bi-monthlystudy group. People attend AUM for many reasons; to socialize, to share something of their interests as a workshop presenter, to take a vacation from the demands ofwork, family and daily life in the U.S. and to gather as acollective in the Yoga in this country.The format for structuring the meeting over the past 5years has been for a small group offacilitators to meet andbrainstorm the basic elements of AUM. Once place, dateand time are determined, a registration form is sent outthat invites people to send in a topic/workshop they wantto discuss/lead at the meeting. There have always been alot of individuals who want to present a lecture or lead adiscussion on some aspect of the Yoga.The solution for the facilitators has been to give everyone time by creating an agenda of large group meetingswith one person or a team of presenters and 3 to 4individual workshops to choose from in simultaneoussmall groups. Then at the beginning of the meeting thefacilitators struggle to change the schedule so that anyonewho did not pre-register a workshop can be accommodated, thus leaving everyone with the feeling that thereisn't enough time.If we make the next AUM a search for satisfying ourneed as a group to create the sacred, we would shape aradically different meeting. People would not be presentors. The group would gather, get to know each otherthrough introductory activities and then meet in smallgroups to discuss the topics, activities and structure thatwould best facilitate the collective realization of thesacredRon Jorgensen leadngTai Chi at AUM3Photo by Veme Henshall

"I Felt So AUM/ey!'- Notes from the All-USA Meeting”By Gordon Korstange“Sometimes I feel like a,,secret agent.“We must become sacred agentsfor the Divine!!”For most of us, our yogic life in the USA fallssomewhere in between those two statements whichseemed to pop out spontaneously the first night, July 2,of theS. A. Meeting.On the one hand, the reality that our connection to SriAurobindo and The Mother is a fragile, private thing,our secret identity, a presence that should make itselfknown to others through right action, not words. On theother hand, the urge to communicate (not proselytize)our experience of Their Yoga to the souls in the UnitedStates who, Robert McDermott told us, are thirsty for aspiritual source that satisfies.For four days we seemed to bounce back and forthwithin the framework these two extremes provided, safein the company of ourselves, no longer secret but not yetsacred.The following notes are based on written commentsby some 60 odd participants (out of over 100 whoattended) in the final circle on July 4th. They respondedto what they liked about AUM, what should be changed,and what the 1990 conference could be. Since we didn’task people to write their names, the quotations are anonymous (except for the title quote which I must attribute toToine from Auroville).“Once again being reunited with otherswho are part of the effort."“Seeing, being with, communicating with, sharingwith a wide variety of people who have or aredeveloping the same ground that I am interested in.”Reunion still provides a powerful raison d’etre formany who drove up the long dirt driveway into thePathwork Center. People who know each other from theAshram, Auroville or American organizations can pickup conversations left off a year ago, 10 years ago or lastweek’s phone call.Newcomers suddenly fiid themselves no longer alonewith a shelf of books or cradled by an intimate studygroup, but thrust among the full range of gabbing personas and observing purushas in the dining room. Theopening night introduction, in which participants pairedoff, conversed for ten minutes, then introduced eachother, broke some of the outer ice, and, at times, resonated with high purpose and drama. After that it was amatter of karmic connection who happened to be sittingnext to you or will power. Reaching out to as manypeople as possible is still a major attraction of AUM,limited only by the extent of one’s verbal burnout level.Part of the attraction, as Robert McDermott told me,is to be able to freely use the special terminology of ourgroup. Phrases like “psychic being,” words like "Savitri" and “Divine” have unique associations for peopleinvolved with Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. At AUMwe don’t have to worry about how someone will react ifwe simply say, “Mother,” not “Mira Alfassa.” At thesame time we should recognize that “in” vocabulary canbe a barrier. The next AUM should honor one person’srequest for a newcomers-to-the-Yoga workshop.“The beauty and openness of the physical spaceplenty of room for everything and everyonewith no sense of cramping or congestion.”One necessary component to the often intense personal involvement that goes on at an AUM is a naturalspace that soothes and absorbs some of our intenseenergy. Two years ago, in California, the redwoods accomplished that task. This year, in Phoenicia, NewYork, the steep, green hills and tumbling brook of thePathwork Center provided the setting: tennis, basketballand swimming in a very cold pond, universally acknowledged excellent food; a beautiful structure for meditation; long walks to spacious meeting rooms; clear, 70 degree weather and a deer grazing outside one of the lecturehalls. The only rub was the fierce bugs who left marks wewould remember well after departure.4

AUM 89 Group Photo"I would hope to see new leaders step forth,Bob McDermotts who are currently involvedwith Aurobindo . . . "'Talks by sadhaks, not instructors. . there aremany Sri Aurobindo people who know the teaching,want to discuss it, process it, dig deeper into it .""Fewer ideas, more personal sharing."This was the yearof Spiritual Life at AUM - ''Theoryand Practice," as the title stated. It sometimes seemed tobe Theory vs. Practice. From the moment Bob Minor,ProfessorofReligious Studies at the University ofKansas,author ofSri Aurobindo, The Perfect and the Good, selfstyled sympathetic outsider, told the audience that theyshould read more of the Life Divine and less of Savitri,the reactions began.On the first day, there were 15-minute talks that dealtwith sharing the teaching by professors Minor, RobertMcDermott, of Baruch College and editor of The EssentialAurobindo, and Jehangir Chubb, ofBombay University, Case Western and Temple Universities. Bob Minorspoke about a new turn to the East on American campuses, a general turning that was not necessarily spiri-tual, and about how bhakti tends to dominate most religious/spiritual groups in the United States, includingAurobindonians. Dr. Chubb recalled lllaving to alwayswrite Sri Aurobindo's name on the blackboard becauseif he did not, someone would be sure to pipe up with,"Hey, what's the name of that guy agailn?" at the end ofthe class.Robert McDermott agreed with B0tb Minor that theguru trade was over in academia. It was good, he said,that Sri Aurobindo and Mother hadn'rt become a guruphenomenon, but many people who should have come tothe teaching did not. The yoga is difficult to summarizeand didn't flower in an articulate way as somethingbeyond religion. Yet, he went on, there are souls in their20's who are open, thirsty and have hadl spiritual experiences. They also have a remarkable lack of discernmentabout affairs of the spirit, are ready to, buy and try outevery spiritual package on the market 1rhe United Statesis on a great search, and Sri Aurobindo and Mother confront its most pressing problem - owr relationship tomaterial reality.Afterwards, for over an hour, small J ups discussedthese issues and returned to the assembly with summaries of their talk. Many people had expressed the wish toassume responsibility and communicate more about theYoga, "to speak from an inner place . . to advance by5

While some welcomed the lectures and the issues theybrought up, others wondered at the academic format andthe lack of representation of women among the mainpresenters. Still others asked why there had to be"presentations" at all. They pointed to Chitra NeogyTezak' s video tape,Woman-Self, a very personal, evocative expression of her experience in America, as evidence that we don't need to rely on "experts" to hold upa yogic mirror for us.Perhaps this growing awareness of the talents andknowledge ofthe Yogic network would not have been soobvious without the "hierarchical structure" of presentation. At previous AUMs our primary focus has beenon karmic, organizational yoga, and, to a lesser extent,bhakti and meditation, with much time spent simply ongetting to know each other. What Chubb, Minor and,particularly, McDermott may have done is prod us tothink about fusing our personal Yoga with the publicYoga, the philosophy and experience of Sri Aurobindoand the Mother, in ways that can be presented to eachother and the "thirsty souls" of the United States. I thinkwe looked in the mirror and found out we aren't kidsanymore. The vision of an AUM began to surface inwhich the organization would grow naturally out of thepresentations and needs of the participants.holding out a hand to someone else." Some spoke of theneed for an voice from the United States to express theexperience of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. But forothers action communicated more than words. "Peoplenotice something about you if you're living it.""I'd like more opportunity to have individualsshare their journey - like Chitra' s film - and lessemphasis on the authority figures. Some things wecould bring with us as realized, thought-outpresentations. And make some times to create thekind of trust that allows for the personal exchangeof aspects of our inner journey.""I would change the hierarchical, patriarchal styleof the conference. The essentials/he ofthis yogais one of its powers. The essential slhe of theuniverse compels us, as we become more conscious,to represent that in our shared experiments andexperiences.""There should be more participation and leadershipby women. The men must open up space for thewomen and stop dominating the meeting."Drs. Chubb ("lntegrality and Wholeness in the Spiritual Life"), Minor ("The Place of the Guru in SriAurobindo's Yoga"), and McDermott ("The Yoga ofKarma and Rebirth") had more to say to AUMers duringthe time set aside for their lectures. Their styles rangedfrom the philosophical discourse ofDr. Chubb, concerning error as partial truth and the mind's tendency to restin certain positions, "exclusive affirmations," to BobMinor's analysis of the Yoga as now dependent on thesupermind as guru, a Yoga requiring a more difficult taskand greater discernment of surrender, to RobertMcDermott's personal reflections on karma beginningwith his awareness, after visiting Pondicherry, that SriAurobindo' s was more than academic dissertation material, a realization that started him on his own spiritualquest.Reactions to these three were as varied as the participants. On the first night, when we tried to choosebetween bhakti, karma, andjnana yoga as the strongestinfluence upon why we came to the All-ll.SA Meeting,thejnana group contained the smallest numberofpeople.L to R: Dhruva, Paula Murphy, Natasha Stepanova and Marcel ThevozPhoto by Paula Murphy6

L to R: Chitra Neogy-Tezak, June Maher & JoanTombPhoto by Paula Murpjy"Workshops on Auras, creative concentration andAfrican dance were new, valuable and enjoyable.""More advance info about workshops workshops for beginners.""Workshops that provide and encourage individualsharing of how inner experience transcribes to outer.""Focus on the group exclusively and focus on avery experiential time. Look at what we did in thesupramental review. When we push ourselves (andare pushed) past our resistance, low self-esteem,selfdoubt, we discover the more essential, radiant,light-being. What an excitement to discover andshare that in a yogic experience ofAUM."(Bill Moss); "Auras and the Integral Yoga," (ArielBrowne); "Dreams and Visions," (Wayne andEleanorLovitt); "African Dance," (Elise Gold) and "Astrologyas a Tool of Awareness," (Dhruva).These workshops and other activities, the Saturdaynight square dance, video tapes, the morning chanting,meditation and Savitri reading soon created a sense of atemporary, functioning community. "Why don't wejuststay and make an ashram," someone said, half-seriously.On July 4th evening, instead offireworks, we had thefirst performance of the Supramental Review. Two daysbefore, after forming seemingly random groups, the participants were told that each group was to choose somewords of Sri Aurobindo/Mothers , as few or many asthey liked, and devise a creative expression of thosewords, i.e., a performance. During the intervening time,each group rehearsed, or so those of us who had thoughtup this exotic idea were hoping. When Monday nightrolled around, no one knew quite what to expectWhat we got was a wonderful collage of humor,movement, whimsy, and sincerity. One group createdliving sculptures with key, yogic words like aspiration .Another group called all the audience onstage into aninterconnected, silent tableau of oneness. There wasmusic, drama and a TV commercial proclaiming that abox of ALL laundry detergent plus a Life magazinewouldEQUALacontainerofdelicious YOGURT. Whathas stayed with me, though, has been the image of mygroup reading a passage of Savitri, their faces shiningwith the wonderful seriousness and simple joy of performances in unself-conscious childhood.When the Supramental Review had run out of skits,we wouldn't believe it; too surprised and delighted at ourgroup efforts, we didn't want to go without one moreperformance."I appreciated the healing energy and all the peoplewilling to share and give of themselves."The success and number of the workshops certainlycontributed to this sense ofempowerment Simply to listsome of them gives an idea of the diversity of choicesavailable: "Tai Chi and The Mind of the Cells," (RonJorgensen); "Sri Aurobindo's Record of Yoga," (PeterHeehs); "Health and Healing in the Yoga," (MiriamBelov); "Savitri Village in Crestone, Colorado," (SeyrilSchoeben and Phillip Tabb); "Parenting in the Yoga,"1Miriam Belov & Tom O'Brien in the Supramenta1 ReviewPhoto by Goroon Korstange7

L to R: Jyoti Alexander, Mani & Sagi'There was not enough time for already establishedworking groups to interface with each other.""More openness to empowering ofpeople in groups,i.e. improving group process.""Less critical statements - looks on the sidemore unilateral support ofeach other."hours.What was achieved, fl.,nally, was support for a new SAAboard made up of members fromaround the country (see PaulaMurphy's letter in this issue formore about this meeting).Foundation for World Educationpresident Rudy Phillips made moreeffective use of time by presentinga history of the organi