7. Yoga in Domestic Life
Sri Aurobindo's yoga differs essentially from the traditional yoga. One important aspect of it is His yoga includes life and does not shun it. In practice those who take to Him approach Him and His writings in the traditional sense. The Life Divine is the philosophy of His yoga. The general response to it is that it is incomprehensible. Of course, read as a philosophical treatise, it is so to the man in domestic life. Approached as a treatise, it is not unintelligible as He develops His thesis methodically. Only when we forget the earlier arguments, further reading will be puzzling. The real difficulty with His writing is not the cogency or coherence, but the amount of mental energy it consumes. Our energies are exhausted within two or three pages. Hence the difficulty. It is a natural one.
There are those who know life well. They read The Life Divine in terms of life. They try to understand the themes in the context of life. For them the Book offers no resistance. With not highly educated people, I have tried to explain various chapters of the book giving life analogies. There is no argument in the Book that cannot be explained well through an analogy from life. We live our life based on our religious faith which consists of the following:
- We are governed by karma.
- God will punish the sinner.
- Punya takes us to Moksha.
- Sin takes us to hell.
- The Good are rewarded.
- The evil are punished.
- One cannot survive by utter truthfulness.
- Rituals are life-giving exercises.
- Yoga is not for the householder.
- Money should not be sought, must be shunned.
- Work is for the ignorant.
- Whatever we are, God will protect us.
- Life is to be given up.
- Life is full of sins.
All of these are for those who live in Nature, not for those who live by the Spirit. Several of them are wrong. Some are illusory; a few are superstitious. Without trying to explain their validity, let us proceed to look at a life that can be lived according to the Spirit. Let me state the salient aspects and explain in outline what we have arrived at. In particular, we tried it in business, wrote books on it and practiced it in a small way. Those are principles FULLY applicable to domestic life, to the progressive Individual.
- Karma is avoidable entirely if one lives in the Spirit.
- A life uninhibited by karma must be able to expand endlessly.
- Problems have their solutions in-built into them.
- The outer is a reflection of the inner.
- Life, business, work, family, fortune are expanding infinitely.
- Life is full of opportunities.
- We are unconscious.
- We have to move from unconsciousness to consciousness.
- Life is not limited by death.
- We grow by giving.
- Self-giving is the basis of this life, not selfishness.
- Life grows by consciousness.
- Consciousness grows by organisation.
- The inner moves the outer.
- Man can function from the Spiritual centre more effectively than his vital or mental centre.
- One has to outgrow social, moral limitations.
- Harmony is the secret of accomplishment.
- A business can endlessly expand if it is willing to constantly upgrade its organisation.
- Life at home can be full of joy and cheer, completely free of problems.
- You can attain any level of wealth you choose.
- Body can cure itself.
- Natural forces and the social environment are under man's control.
- There is no evil, falsehood, or sin in life for those who have come out of the ego.
- Difficulties are opportunities.
- Contradictions are complements.
If all of the above are true, what does it mean for one in domestic life or business life? It means,
- In the measure one emerges out of ego, he can have a life of joy and abundance at home.
- A business can survive and grow without the interference of the government, strikes and market conditions.
- Life is one of expansive JOY, not a punishment of karma.
I would like to explain each one of the above principles in the measure space is available. Before that let me cite some experiences where these principles are involved.
When the principles were framed and published as a book in the USA, we wished to test the validity of these ideas in the field. So we approached someone who had received the "Businessman of the Year" award in India. His operations were in the neighbourhood of Rs.600 crores and a profit of Rs.26 crores. His first question was, "The government has licensed forty more companies in this field. I am not sure whether I will survive this onslaught." According to our view such a challenge met in the right spirit must lead to an expansion. He could understand our point of view, but was not encouraged by it. He permitted us to study and report. Next year his profit rose to fifty crores and sales also nearly doubled. In about ten days we studied his various departments, examined some records, interviewed several people and wrote a report of 122 recommendations.
- A company's survival does not depend on the market. It is our belief that it solely depends on its internal structure, energy and motive. Our report spoke about all that. Ten years later when his sales and profit rose ten-fold, he became the No.1 in his field in the world. With forty new entrants, some of them world leaders, it is reasonable to expect dissolution. The competition generates a serious threat. One can succumb to it or face the challenge with cheerfulness. He did so with courage. How far he followed our report we do not know. He not only survived, but grew. That fact is a confirmation of our principle.
We tried this with another small cement agent. He did follow us seriously. In the first six months his profit level rose ten-fold. The principles of cleanliness, soft speech, correct accounts, correspondence, avoiding waste are all very powerful principles. A salaried employee with Rs.7000 salary was enamoured of our idea when we told him he could raise it to Rs.70,000. Obviously it could not happen in his job. We were not free to tell him to resign his job. He was also an insurance agent. His practicing these rules showed as a spurt in his insurance work. He saw the power of our ideas, the limitation of his official and family circumstances. We could not decide on his behalf. After two or three years of observing the results in his insurance work, he resigned the job. Last month his income exceeded Rs.2 lakhs. Of course, it was for one month. Now that he believes in the ideas and saw the phenomenal results, he says he will work to make a ten-fold income permanent.
Human life is the social life organised around the main activity of production. Initially it was agriculture. All life in the society reflected agriculture. The most important festival of Tamil Nadu is Pongal. It is an agricultural festival, a harvest festival. Nowadays life is moving towards the lifestyle of America. Our schools, colleges, companies, universities, games, hotels, tastes, newspapers and festivals have taken after the American way in some measure. Birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day and all the rest are imported from USA. That is life. We are talking of a higher life, a life of Truth, a life of plenty, a life free from pain and suffering. Should this come true, our society should gradually take on itself the values of this new life. It means,
- Our entire life should shift from Form to Content.
- Birthdays, instead of being social occasions, must be spiritual occasions, an occasion when the inner Spirit is born at a higher level.
- Human relationships must be based on Self-giving instead of selfishness.
- We grow by giving, not taking.
- Our career must be Self-employment, not salaried employment.
- Games should be played for the GLORY of sports, not to win.
- Social life must be freed from rigid rules and customs.
- Mother says private property must be abolished and marriage too must be abolished.
- Religion must give way to Spirit.
These are ideals to reach the goal and therefore not easy for all to take to them directly. Out of these values issue so many parts. I can report about any number of cases and the results and explain through which value or which part of what value those results issues. Those values are,
- Prayer, which all can easily resort to
- Deep prayer, that comes out in grave situations
- Capable hard work
- Skilled employment
- Devoted service
- Pleasant behaviour
- Loyal obedience
- Disciplined obedience to obnoxious characters
- Silent will out of necessity
- Silent will out of choice
- Silent will of one who has power
- Indifference to gossip
- Dedicated service
- Accepting unacceptable characters out of duty
- Expansive opening
- Selfless service
- Tolerance of injustice
- Understanding the other man's point of view
- Willingness to change the wrong attitude
- Readiness to believe what one disapproves of
- Subtle Darsan
- Reading the sacred texts
- Ability to see the inner-outer correspondence
- Willingness to overcome habits
- Use of flowers
- Capacity to give up organisation in favour of the ideal
- Discharge of duties
- Tolerance of betrayal
The list is as long as life. We can give many examples of devotees' experiences for each of the methods listed. I have been writing them wherever the context permits. They are events illustrative of the principles and, thus, educative. Any number of them can be quoted without any context. They are their own context. What ordinary people can readily see are striking events. For ages they know that astrology, especially Nadi Josyam, is precisely correct. If they see this Force overcoming the prediction of the palmleaf horoscope, it will open many eyes.
A very honest officer, who crossed swords with a high level politician over a pretty prostitute, was falsely charged with high corruption along with thirteen others and arrest warrants were issued. During these proceedings the officer went to such an astrologer and consulted. "You were a Brahmin in the last birth and swindled your employer. You can never escape this punishment", said the astrologer. He not only escaped arrest, but was acquitted on all charges on the 14th day after he received a blessing packet.
There was a very poor village where almost everyone was a day labourer, though each owned a fraction of an acre. As that piece of land was not irrigated, cultivation there could not support his family. There was a Co-operative Society that financed the dry cultivation. As the arrears accumulated year after year, the society was closed. This was prior to the nationalization of banks. All the workers there had to walk to the nearby towns five or seven miles away in search of work. A devotee came to the village and started extensive cultivation. The population was relieved that work was locally available. The devotee's land carried the atmosphere of the Mother. Work there began to influence the lives of the workers. They began to look brighter, to give up drinking and illicit distillation. After some time, the whole village resolved to give up drinking. When the devotee working in the land was in meditation at the Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo, he saw the smell of liquor moving away from him. What happened in the village had been seen by him in the subtle plane at the Samadhi.
The devotee took efforts to bring a bank to the village to support their cultivation. The bank reluctantly agreed. That year the monsoon was copious, the crop was abundant, the whole village that had defaulted with the Cooperative Society paid back the bank loan on their own and in time. That was a prosperous year for the village, as the price of the crop rose to twice the previous maximum. Most farmers wiped out their long-standing debts. The devotee wanted them to dig borewells. There was no response. A year later the village responded and dug wells availing of bank loans. By shifting from dry cultivation to irrigated cultivation, the village entered prosperity, as their incomes rose five to ten times. About ten years later, the whole village tried a cash crop emulating the devotee. Income rose sky high, a minimum of fifty to a hundred times. The villagers were known for their extraordinary skill and industry. Modern cultivation of a cash crop yielded inconceivable dividends. Now the income was a thousand times more than their original dry cultivation ten years earlier. The poorest village in the district thus became the richest village. The new lifestyle spread to forty villages around. Their road to prosperity was achieved by several causes.
- They worked on the land of a devotee.
- It brought them indirectly in touch with the higher consciousness.
- Higher consciousness opened up higher opportunities.
- The village, en masse, decided to be honest with regard to the bank loan in spite of their past negative behaviour towards the Co-operative Society. Conscious inner effort to change towards HONESTY brings still higher opportunities.
- Dry cultivation came to be wet cultivation.
- For about a year, the farmers were unable to accept the opportunity of well irrigation.
- Poverty consciousness had to struggle to accept Prosperity consciousness. It needed an inner effort out of self-choice.
- This involved a risk of losing their land in case of failure.
- Desire to avail of the higher opportunity taking risk at this level was an inner adventure for the farmers.
- In spite of having irrigation, they could not risk the ten-fold higher investment in a cash crop, though it was seen on the land of the devotee for ten years.
- Willingness to raise the level of the risk so high, and willingness to give up a poor habit are not common. Cash crop needs ten-fold more intense work. Being diligent workers, they willingly gave that work. Results were a thousand-fold higher.
- This is not because they invoked the Spirit. They only happily accepted the help offered by the devotee who invoked the Spirit. As soon as the very first cultivation programme was a success in that village, the bank introduced it all over India and the same year all banks followed. Agricultural credit came to stay. It started with 2000 villages and Rs. 150 crores. Now every village in India enjoys bank loans and the agriculture credit stands at Rs. 20,000 crores.
- Here we see work done in Mother's consciousness spreads all over. The World Bank insisted on credit to farmers from then onwards.
Character of Prosperity
Politics is a field where a driver can become a Central Minister or a peon can rise to become a Cabinet Minister. Often we see a car driver of an industrialist becoming wealthy or a VIP in his town. Some characteristics of Prosperity:
- Prosperity is not ethical or moral at all.
- Traditionally, Robber Barons are known. They have often been rulers.
- Prosperity moves to a mighty person who is ruthless.
- Wherever there is ORGANISATION or Power, there we find people prosperous.
- It does not mean we need to accept Prosperity through whatever route it comes to us. We can choose only positive Prosperity.
- Prosperity is NOT the measure of one's success, especially in a spiritual country like India.
- There are no two opinions about the necessity of Prosperity.
- India's voice will not be heard in the comity of nations if she is a poor country. She will certainly be heard with respect if she is rich.
- Prosperity is not something to be shunned at all.Austerity is not simplicity. Austerity shuns Prosperity because they are antitheses. Domestic life does not aspire for austerity.
- It is right on any showing that Prosperity is a valid and rational goal for the householder.
- Prosperity reduces ignorance and illness.
- Prosperity, suo motto, provides security.
- Prosperity and Freedom are in direct proportion.
- Prosperity comes to those who honour the disciplines demanded by it.
- The basis of Prosperity is industry, responsibility, honesty, organisation, common sense and alertness in life.
- Desire for Prosperity without its basic requirements is wishful thinking.
- Prosperity is a better foundation of Spirituality than poverty.
- Prosperity is energy organised - not determined by its ethical character.
- Prosperity is indispensable for health, education and happiness.
- Prosperity rises as we rise in the scale of human values - from the physical to the vital, from the vital to the mental, and finally from the mental to the Spiritual.
- The greatest Prosperity issues out of Spirituality.
- Spirituality is Prosperity.
- Prosperity of any description is Spirituality.
- Prosperity requires no apologies.
- Spiritual Prosperity is everlasting, knows no diminishing.
- Wealth by itself may destroy peace of mind; Spiritual Prosperity increases mental peace.
- Spiritual Prosperity is harmonious.
- Prosperity promotes domestic peace.
- Prosperity enhances overall discipline.
- At a certain point, Prosperity begins to Self-multiply.
- No poor nation has ever led the world.
- No poor man has ever been heard or obeyed with respect.
- If any poor man leads, there will be a rich man behind him.
- India cannot become Jagat Guru without her also becoming exceedingly wealthy.
- Wealth is the Truth of Life.
- Mother Earth enjoys producing more and more; she does not like to be a barren Mother.
- The world will not unite around a poor nation with a primitive lifestyle.
- World Union demands abundance in our country.
- Supramental life can be simple or luxurious but not poor, says Sri Aurobindo.
The Divine Mother says quite often that the atmosphere is charged with higher consciousness. In revolutionary periods anything can happen. A king may lose his head. A man on the street can rise to be a general. In an evolutionary epoch the same character will be more pronounced. For a small positive effort, a great benefit accrues. For a small error, one loses everything. This is a period like that. Companies err, sometimes wantonly. They, thus lose their reputation, and earn reduced profits. See what has happened to Enron and Arthur Anderson. They were giants. For a single error, both of them have disappeared from the horizon. This is a new phenomenon.
- The devotee has all the advantages of the atmosphere of the Mother.
- On his part, he must ensure that he will never feel an attraction to evil, error, falsehood, mistake, etc.
Whether it is personal, domestic life or corporate life, a boon in the shape of a boom awaits him. It is not the man who vacillates or oscillates. The Force is an invitation to all bold, courageous men to take a leap in honest persuasion. On them, it will descend in a flood. It is descending in floods. It is the human tamas that swallows the best part of it. The few extraordinary results I have quoted are the exceptions where the man was guided to do the right thing and was helped to steer clear of the pitfalls. Mother needs Men who have self-guidance. Religions went about forcing people to conform. This Force does not compel. It offers itself to be of use. It is for Man to turn to it for evolution or at least luck.
- Luck is the medium for Social Evolution.
- A time will come when the Force may be compelling.
- Another time may come when the Force may transform Man without his cooperation, maybe without his knowledge too.
- In that case, not all men may thus be transformed. An evolutionary residue, as the monkey, may remain.
- The choice is ours.