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Sri Aurobindo Center
of Los Angeles



Perfection of the Body
May 2021
 
In the one task for which our lives were born,
To raise the world to God in deathless Light,
To bring God down to the world on earth we came,
To change the earthly life to life divine.
                                                   
  Savitri, Book XI, Canto One, page 692
The Mother learnt to play tennis at the age of eight in Paris. Over the next six decades, She had not been playing the game. When the tennis ground was acquired in Pondicherry, She wanted tennis courts built. Staring in 1948, at the young age of 70, She took up tennis and played an hour everyday, barring few exceptions, until 1962 when She was 82!
 
From the Mother and Sri Aurobindo
"... [W]hen one sees the absolutely marvellous results of this culture, when one observes the extent to which the body is capable of perfecting itself, one understands how useful this can be to the action of the psychic being which has entered into this material substance. For naturally, when it is in possession of an organised and harmonised instrument which is full of strength and suppleness and possibilities, its task is greatly facilitated."

CWMCE 28 November 1958

Few persons understand that generally they who are against this external discipline, this concentration on a material achievement like sports, are exactly the people who lack totally control over their physical being. But to realize the integral yoga of Sri Aurobindo, control of the body is one of the first indispensable steps. They who despise physical activities are people who will not be able to take a single step on the true way of integral yoga, unless they get rid of their despise first. The control of the body in all its forms is an indispensable basis.”

Questions-and-Answers-November-1956
 
“From our experience we have found that a particular system of exercises cannot be stamped as the only yogic type of exercises and we cannot definitely say that participation in those exercises only will gain health because they are yogic exercises.... Any rational system of exercises suited to one’s need and capacity will help the participant to improve in health. Moreover, it is the attitude that is more important. Any well-planned and scientifically arranged programme of exercises practised with a yogic attitude will become yogic exercises and the person practising them will draw full benefit from the point of view of physical health and moral and spiritual uplift .”

CWMCE Bulletin, April 1959 

OUR EXPLORATION

We find ourselves living in times where human endeavor and achievement is rapidly scaling new heights. There is another notable development:  in every sphere of human activity the participation of a healthy body has become indispensable, even a critical determinant. The overwhelming focus on health is unmistakable. Medical Science is today questioning the inevitability of death. We are witnessing man engaged in a concentrated Sadhana of the body. 

“The Ashram has been founded and is meant to be the cradle of the new world. The inspiration is from above, the guiding force is from above, the creative power is from above, at work for the descent of the new realisation. “
CWM, Vol 13, Page 109

Being the cradle for the humanity of the future, it had to include children to be raised integrally in the Light of Sri Aurobindo’s, that for the first time involved the body, following the descent of the Supramental Consciousness in the Physical in 1950.

To remind our readers again, The Mother spent over four hours a day in physical activities that She had set up with a strict discipline imposed for participation, something unheard of in past practices of Yoga.

This ” Sadhana of the body “ as The Mother has called it, is decidedly the most singular and unique feature of Their Yoga and one can even state that it was the sole purpose of their Descent, to set the foundation for the next species, the Supramental. Here is what The Mother states:

It is a fact that the Godhead has always taken a physical body with the intention of transforming that body and making of it a fit instrument for His manifestation upon earth. But it is a fact also that, until now, He has failed to do so and for one reason or another He had always to leave that physical body with the work of transformation unfinished.
3 October 1952 CWM, Vol 13, Page 54,55
She built The Physical Education department and spent significant part of Her day overseeing its function and programs. As She says about Her work on the body:

“The body repeats constantly and with a poignant sincerity: “What am I to demand anything whatsoever from anyone at all? Left to myself I am nothing, I know nothing, I can do nothing. Unless the truth penetrates into me and directs me, I am incapable of taking even the minutest decision and of knowing what is the best thing to do and to live even in the most insignificant circumstance. Shall I ever be capable of being transformed to the point of becoming What I ought to be and of manifesting What wants to manifest upon earth?” But why does this answer always come from the depths, from You, Lord, with an indisputable certitude: “If you cannot do it, no other body upon earth can do it.” There is but one conclusion: I shall persist in my effort, without giving in, I shall persist until death or until victory. “
8 September 1954 CWM, Vol 13, Page 56
 
ZINNIA ELEGANS: Pink

PHYSICAL ENDURANCE

"Knows neither fatigue nor exhaustion”

The Mother
With a very long tradition around the world to view the body as a prison to be freed from and the miseries of the world to be left behind, The Mother’s words can be viewed as a radical shift from the entire past human history. She said in one of the New Year’s messages of 1933:

“Let the birth of new year be the new birth of our consciousness. Leaving the past far behind us, let us run towards the luminous future.”

The Mother has a very different view of the Body and its most crucial importance in the divinization of this planet, the field of action of the Supreme. Here is what She had to say about the state of imprisonment in which the body has been kept:


“The body is a very enduring servant, it bears the stress of circumstance tamely like a beast of burden. It is the vital being that is always grumbling and uneasy. The slavery and torture to which it subjects the physical is almost incalculable. How it twists and deforms the poor body to its own fads and fancies, irrationally demanding that everything should be shaped according to its whimsicality! But the very essence of endurance is that the vital should learn to give up its capricious likes and dislikes and preserve an equanimity in the midst of the most trying conditions. When you are treated roughly by somebody or you lack something which would relieve your discomfort, you must keep up cheerfully instead of letting yourself be disturbed. Let nothing ruffle you the least bit, and whenever the vital tends to air its petty grievances with pompous exaggeration just stop to consider how very happy you are, compared to so many in this world. Reflect for a moment on what the soldiers who fought in the last war had to go through. If you had to bear such hardships you would realise the utter silliness of your dissatisfactions. And yet I do not wish you to court difficulties – what I want is simply that you should learn to endure the little insignificant troubles of your life.
Nothing great is ever accomplished without endurance. If you study the lives of great men you will see how they set themselves like flint against the weaknesses of the vital. Even today, the true meaning of our civilisation is the mastery of the physical through endurance in the vital. The spirit of sport and of adventure and the dauntless facing of odds which is evident in all fields of life are part of this ideal of endurance. In science itself, progress depends on the countless difficult tests and trials which precede achievement.”
CWM,Vol 3, Page 136
One cannot but view Her “ Sadhana of the body” as revolutionary and as moving evolution rapidly towards the establishment of the next species, conscious of the Divinity within:

"And your body, if you draw from it all the possibilities it holds, if you educate it That is why Sri Aurobindo used to repeat and has always said: You must work from both ends, not let go of one for the other. And certainly, if you want to have a divine consciousness, you must not give up spiritual aspiration; but if you want to become an integral divine being on earth, take good care not to let go of the other end, and make your body the best possible instrument.”
 
CWM, Vol 9, Page 94
 

  The pursuit of Their Integral Yoga is NOT complete without the “Sadhana of the body.”
“Even what the mind and will can do with the body in the field proper to the body and its life, in the way of physical achievement, bodily endurance, feats of prowess of all kinds, a lasting activity refusing fatigue or collapse and continuing beyond what seems at first to be possible, courage and refusal to succumb under an endless and murderous physical suffering, these and other victories of many kinds sometimes approaching or reaching the miraculous are seen in the human field and must be reckoned as a part of our concept of a total perfection. “
CWSA, Vol 16, Page 14

True to Her statement above the Mother worked on Her body till Her very last breath and Her indomitable spirit refused to "succumb under an endless and murderous physical suffering". Let us read below the incredible and poignant account of Her "bodily endurance" in Her last days shared with us by Her attendant:

"That day, the 14th, she was more or less normal. She took some food and the day passed quite well. Then at night she started telling me again to raise her shoulders, her legs and later her whole body. We did that several times. Then she said, "Make me walk." We were hesitant, but as she insisted, we lifted her up from the bed. She could not walk, staggered a little, almost collapsed. Seeing this, we put her back in bed. We saw that her face had become absolutely white and the lips blue. Then we decided that whatever she might say, we must not take her out from the bed again to walk. She took about twenty minutes to recover; she started saying, "Lift me up again, I shall walk." We refused. She asked us why we were refusing. We said, "Mother, you are in such a weak condition that it will do you harm." Then she said, "No, lift me up." We did not. She began to plead, sometimes shout. All this continued until fifteen minutes past one... she slept from 2 to 4 o'clock, but after getting up she started saying, "Pranab, lift me up and make me walk. My legs are getting paralysed; if you help me to walk again, they will become all right." But we did not listen. After the first frightening experience, we had to remain quiet. She went-on entreating till about 6 o'clock when she fell asleep.

The 17th morning passed very well... I was with her from 5 to 6:30 ... As I was leaving, Mother called me and said, "Lift me up." Again from two sides Champaklal-ji and I held her and lifted her up. Then we lowered her on the bed and I left. At that time Kumud as usual asked her if she would take a few spoons of glucose water. Mother said, "Lift me up." Kumud lifted her shoulders up. Mother wanted that her whole body be lifted. So that was done".

She receded from Her physical presence at 7:30 PM.

-----------------------------


The results of Her untiring work on the body is exemplified in the field of sports and we will provide some examples of what is being accomplished, from the very young to the very old with what The Mother called “ the use of an enlightened human will".
Martina Navratilova was born in Prague Chechkoslovia, October 18, 1956
 
She holds the records for most singles (167) and doubles titles (177) in the Open Era. Her record as No. 1 in singles (1982–86) remains the most dominant in professional tennis to date.
 
She was named the greatest tennis player from 1975-2005 By Tennis Magazine.
 She was once asked, “How do you maintain your focus, physique and sharp game even at the age of 43?"```

```She gave a humble reply, “The ball doesn’t know how old I am”. You need to stop yourself from stopping yourself. Every game in life is actually played on a 6-inch ground – the space between your two ears. We don't live in bungalows, duplexes, or flats. We live in our mind which is an unlimited area. Life is great when things are sorted and uncluttered there. Keeping the mind messy with hatred growing on the table, regrets piling up in the corner, expectations boiling in the kitchen, secrets stuffed under the carpet, and worries littered everywhere ruin this real home.```

```The key factor to performing well in life and in every arena is the ability to control the quality and quantity of your “internal dialogue”. Performance is potential minus internal interference. Live in peace, not in pieces.```
 
Martina winning a Grand Slam at the age of 50.
All education of the body should begin at birth and continue throughout life. It is never too soon to begin nor too late to continue.

CWM, Vol 12, Page 12.
101-year-old Fauja Singh , the world’s oldest marathon runner of Indian-origin, retired from competitive events as a "very happy" man as he finished his last race in Hong Kong on Sunday.

SUPER KID or Baby Bruce Lee? - 5 yr old Ryusei Imai
 

November 22, 1967
The prayer of the cells in the body
(The prayer of the body's cells)
Now that by the effect of the Grace we are slowly emerging out of
 inconscience and waking up to a conscious life, an ardent prayer
 rises in us for more light, more consciousness:
"O Supreme Lord of the Universe, 
We implore Thee, give us 
the strength and the beauty, 
the harmonious perfection
 needed to be Thy divine instruments upon earth."
Agenda Vol 8, Page 388
 
A prodigal of her rich divinity,
Her self and all she was she had lent to men,
Hoping her greater being to implant
That heaven might native grow on mortal soil.
Hard is it to persuade earth-nature’s change;
Mortality bears ill the eternal’s touch:
 
Savitri, Book 1 canto 1
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