8. Either do not give the name of knowledge to your beliefs only and of error, ignorance or charlatanism to the beliefs of others; or do not rail at the dogmas of the sects and their intolerance.
(Thoughts and Aphorisms: Sri Aurobindo)
All that we believe in the name of our religions or sects, we regard that as Knowledge. What others believe, we think that to be an error or a dogma. Sri Aurobindo points out to us that this is wrong. We need not or should not criticize or find fault with others’ beliefs or religious faiths. This very act of ours, the human beings, the practice of mocking at and criticizing others’ beliefs, finding fault with others’ beliefs, have led to conflicts and wars between religions.
We should ever be in search of Truth, if we want to go beyond these conflicts and beyond these beliefs. We should be directly in touch of Truth, NOT by reason and logic and rational philosophy, NOT through beliefs only, but through direct spiritual knowledge, through spiritual wisdom, though Intuition and Identity, as we have discussed earlier.
As long as we are limited in the level of mind, of reason and beliefs, we shall have to stop being dogmatic and calling others dogmatic.
However, insofar as the religions are concerned, we shall have step beyond them, NOT by criticizing them, but simply by passing ahead in the Adventure of Consciousness. Our known continents are there. But we shall have to take up Adventures to find out new continents, within our inner Consciousness. We shall have to go beyond ourselves to reach and enter the Higher Planes of Consciousness, in search of Truth, to go beyond the mental and intellectual conflict and wars.
In Sri Aurobindo’s style of expression, one can say: Religion was the helper; religion is the bar. Religion helped men, in the earlier stages, in mastering the inborn beast in him, to channelize one’s physical, vital and even mental energy, one’s life-force towards a creative and constructive aim, the aim of knowing and reaching the Ultimate Truth, the Supreme and the Source and Origin of all beings and the Universe, to surpass the Ego and selfishness and all darkness and ignorance, to be in search of the Supreme.
Sri Aurobindo has said:
“Each religion has helped mankind. Paganism increased in man the light of beauty, the largeness and height of his life, his aim at a many-sided perfection; Christianity gave him some vision of divine love and charity; Buddhism has shown him a noble way to be wiser, gentler, purer; Judaism and Islam how to be religiously faithful in action and zealously devoted to God; Hinduism has opened to him the largest and profoundest spiritual possibilities. A great thing would be done if all these God-visions could embrace and cast themselves into each other; but intellectual dogma and cult-egoism stand in the way.”
Evolution — to transcend beyond the narrow and limited religious ideas, practices and dogmas that stand against the Truth. Religions have helped us in raising ourselves beyond the animal consciousness, beyond the lower physical and vital consciousness and the limited and unenlightened consciousness of the cave-man. Religions, as we understand and practise them, the backgrounds they have with them, and the differences and battles that have originated from them, cannot lead us to the supramental manifestation and transformation. We need not stamp ourselves with the narrowness and limitations that we have given to these beliefs and creeds and dogmas that we have made of what we have termed as religions.
Sri Aurobindo has further said:
“All religions have saved a number of souls, but none yet has been able to spiritualise mankind. For that there is needed not cult and creed, but a sustained all comprehending effort at spiritual self-evolution.”
Each sect and creed and religion regard their belief to be the only Truth, whereas other beliefs are stated to be errors and dogmas. The Mother has said :
“The dogmas of sects and intolerance of religions come from the fact that sects and religions consider their beliefs alone to be knowledge, and beliefs of others to be error, ignorance and charlatanism.”
The Mother has further said:
“In a general and almost absolute way anything that shocks you in other people is the very thing you carry in yourself in a more or less veiled, more or less hidden form, though perhaps in a slightly different guise which allows you to delude yourself. And what in you seems to be inoffensive enough, becomes monstrous as soon as you see it in yourself.”
The Mother said on April 29, 1953:
“Otherwise [if people sought for the truth], there would be no religion : there would be masters and disciples, people with a higher teaching and an exceptional experience. That would be fine. But as soon as the master is gone, what happens is that the knowledge he gave is turned into a religion. Rigid dogmas are established, religious rules are born, and all you can do is bow before the Table of the Law…. Luckily for all of you [children here], you have no religion. And I hope you will never have any, because that is closing the door on progress.”
Let us see what Sri Aurobindo has further told us in this connection :
“How much stupidity and hatred men succeed in packing up decorously and labeling ‘Religion’!
The quarrels or religious sects are like the disputing of pots, which shall be alone allowed to hold the immortalizing nectar. Let them dispute, but the thing for us is to get at the nectar in whatever pot and attain immortality.”
Sri Aurobindo said in connection with the Ashram : “The Ashram is not a religious association. Those who are here come from all religions and some are of no religion. There is no creed or set of dogmas, no governing religious body; there are only the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and certain psychological practices of concentration and meditation, etc. for the enlarging of the consciousness, receptivity to the Truth, mastery over the desires, the discovery of the divine self and consciousness concealed within each human being, a higher evolution of the nature.”
He has also said: “We are not a party or a church or religion.”
Sri Aurobindo has also stated : “I may say that it is far from my purpose to propagate any religion, new or old.”
He has stated further: “Churches and creeds have, for example, stood violently in the way of philosophy and science, burned a Giordano Bruno, imprisoned a Galileo, and so generally mis-conducted themselves in this matter that philosophy and science had in self-defense to turn upon Religion and rend her to pieces in order to get a free field for their legitimate development.”
The Mother stated, in connection with Ashram:“Here we do not have religion.”
The Mother’s had answered to a question related to religion:
“Q. Sweet Mother, what is the difference between Yoga and religion?
The Mother: Ah! My child. It is as though you were asking me the difference between a dog and cat.”
The Mother had further stated on religion:
( A note to a visiting Western woman who wanted to teach in a “religious school.”)
One must not confuse a religious teaching with a spiritual teaching. Religious teaching belongs to the past and arrests progress, while spiritual teaching is the teaching of the future. It enlightens the consciousness and prepares it for the future realization.
Spiritual teaching is above religions and strives towards a total truth. It teaches us to come into direct contact with the Divine.
The Mother has said that the Age of Religions is over. With reference to Auroville, She has specifically said that “Auroville is for those who want to live a life essentially divine but who renounce all religions whether they be ancient, modern, new or future.”
Placed below the oft-quoted declaration of the Mother relating to Auroville:
Auroville and the Religions
We want the Truth.
For most men, it is what they want that they label as truth.
The Aurovillians must want the Truth whatever it may be.
Auroville is for those who want to live a life essentially divine
but who renounce all religions whether they be ancient, modern, new or future.
It is only in experience that there can be knowledge of the Truth.
No one ought to speak of the Divine unless he has had experience of the Divine.
Get experience of the Divine, and then alone will you have the right to speak of it.
The objective study of religions will be a part of
the historical study of the development of human consciousness.
Religions make up part of the history of mankind and it is in this guise
that they will be studied at Auroville - not as beliefs to which one ought
or ought not to adhere, but as part of a process in the development
of human consciousness which should lead man towards his superior realization.
Research through experience of the
A life divine
Our research will not be a search effected by mystic means. It is in life.
Whatever is true of Auroville, in The Mother’s view, is true with relation to the whole world. The same Truth of ‘No Religions’ is applicable to all sincere followers of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Whatever may be the Religions theoretically, we the human beings have made them means of difference and hatred and violent conflicts and battles, instaed of being the means of reaching the Truth.
[Published earlier in Sulekha on 11-10-2007.]