Sri Aurobindo - Fall Into Grace
by Hashim Futehally
I am a seeker of truth and have been for most of my life. Though born into a Muslim family, I have also embraced, at different parts of my life, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Sufism, and ultimately, what I would call, Universalism. During the many years I lived in the USA, I became interested in the spiritual practices of Native Americans, and have also been an active member of the New Age culture.
I lived in Mount Shasta, a thriving New Age centre, as part of a commune of seekers for many years. I participated in innumerable workshops and conducted many as well, including ‘enlightenment intensives’, workshops on communicating with nature, building the ‘lightbody’, and various healing practices.
I feel that the New Age has a place for every aspect of life, and must in turn touch every aspect of our lives, including politics, technology,education, spirituality, health, and our relationship with the environment.
Currently I am interested in Sri Aurobindo’s teachings of Integral Yoga, and his vision of man entering into a new phase of evolution. I believe that we stand on the threshold of a new species of humanity on a higher dimensional Earth.
I am now in the process of moving to Auroville, in south India, the community founded by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, where I have been invited to help develop an Integral Counselling centre, using my background in healing, psychology, spirituality and environmental studies.
Where do I begin? A big awakening took place for me in 1975 during my student days at the International School in Kodaikanal. I had always been a nature-lover, which is not surprising because my family has included many naturalists, including my grand-uncle, late Salim Ali, the well-known ornithologist.
My love for nature really flowered in the beautiful jungles of Kodaikanal, which I was fond of exploring with like-minded friends. One favourite hike was to Gundar Falls, a breathtaking 1,500 feet drop into unexplored gorges below. One particular weekend, I’d gone there with several friends, including my German classmate Ulmar. With the rest of our group somewhat upstream, the two of us suddenly decided to try and climb down the waterfall. We had climbed several hundred feet, racing each other down in exhilarating freedom, when my friend slipped. In numb horror I watched him fall, and the next thing I knew, I was falling myself.
I remember the sheer terror of those first moments, frantically trying to hold on to shrubs and grasses, knowing there was nothing I could do to stop myself. Strangely, once I realised I was helpless, I found myself surrendering, and entered into a deep state of peace.
The next thing I knew we were both standing in a little pool of knee deep water, surrounded by rocks on all sides, on a little ledge jutting out of the sheer rock. We had fallen 200 feet and survived. How we avoided hitting any of the rocks or falling on each other, I will never know. We had survived. That’s all I knew. We had experienced a miracle!
The long freezing night and our subsequent rescue is another story, but having dramatically escaped death that day, I realised there was a spiritual destiny I had to find and fulfil. It was the beginning of a long quest that still continues.
For many years I travelled all over India, visiting ashrams, sacred sites and gurus. My most memorable period was at Shantivanam, the ashram in south India of the well-known Benedictine writer and mystic, Bede Griffiths. It was a most stimulating place, because he welcomed people from all disciplines, from metaphysics to science, and sparked off my lifelong fascination with integrating all aspects of knowledge into one whole.
I almost became a monk like Griffiths. But around that time I was invited to the US to study at a Mennonite college. The Mennonites are a small sect of Christians who are committed to peace-making and social justice. The curriculum was oriented around this philosophy and offered majors in peace and environmental studies, which I pursued. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr became my heroes.
Around this time, I also became ascinated by Native American tribal traditions. Their spirituality is rooted in an interconnection with nature and the Earth. As a nature-lover, I found that deeply attractive.
I participated in many of their rituals, including the Sweat Lodge, where a number of people gather around a hut that is covered from the outside with blankets and has a hot sauna inside. As sweat streams from our pores, the medicine man starts off the singing and praying. The first round of prayers would be for oneself, then for the immediate family and the tribe and finally for the whole world. Many times one felt the presence of spirits.
Today, sweat lodges are popular among many who have adopted the Native American ritual as part of their connection with Mother Earth.
The pipe ceremony is also similar. Here you invoke the spirit of the tobacco. Their respect for the Earth, and for all life, is very strong. Most tribes never engaged in warfare until the coming of the white man. I learnt a deep respect and communion with nature from them.
After college, I moved to California where I did a Master’s programme in Transpersonal Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. The Institute was founded by Haridas Chaudhuri, a disciple of Sri Aurobindo, and the programme included East-West psychologies, parapsychology, counselling skills, and the study of consciousness. Visiting lecturers included Ken Wilber and Stanislav Grof.
Transpersonal psychology goes beyond Freud, Jung and Maslow, beyond the personal self and into the vast unexplored terrain of the soul and cosmos. Around this time, I also deeply immersed myself in studying and practising many forms of bodywork, breath-work, and alternative healing.
Towards the end of my programme, I took six months off and went to Hawaii. There followed a love affair with the islands, and I went back again and again to some of the most magical and enchanting experiences of my life. Part of the joy of Hawaii was the beautiful clear oceans, and being able to swim with wild spinner dolphins. I’ll never forget the day when four dolphin elders swam nose to nose with me for an hour, welcoming me into their pod. I felt a joy I had never known before, as if I had finally come home.
Those were beautiful days. When I went into the sea and they were not there, I only had to call them silently in my mind and they would come. They taught me to live in the moment, and to embrace all of life, not through my human lenses but from my essence. I was also taught valuable lessons in detachment. On days when I felt that I couldn’t bear it if they did not come, they didn’t show up.
I loved them as if they were my own family. There was a period in my life when I could relate to them better than I could with humans. When I came up on shore after swimming with them, it often felt strange to have human thoughts.
With them, I was neither human nor dolphin, just pure being, mind free of all thought. Dolphins have an incredibly high consciousness. They are much more multi-dimensionally aware than we are.
One day, while snorkelling, I looked down and saw an enormous humpback whale and her baby, barely ten feet below me. My first thought was that if she flipped, I would have the ride of my life. But she did not flip. As a matter of fact, she did not move. She just stayed motionless for 45 minutes, not even coming up for air.
I lay still where I was, and I felt an enormous communication happening. My heart was opening up so wide that I could feel her linking my consciousness with hers, which was wide enough to encompass the whole world. I experienced a sense of oneness, and felt like the entire planet was inside me.
That experience stimulated my desire to further communicate with whales, dolphins, nature spirits, and inter-dimensional masters and guides.
I was in Colorado when the events of 9-11 took place. The whole world changed in that instant. I believe it was a planetary initiation as we have never experienced before—an invitation to step into another level of maturity.
Even as the old order of consciousness tries to desperately hold on to the illusions of power and control fed by the global bankers and oil monopolies, a new order of consciousness is quietly birthing itself. A new hope is rising.
Shortly after it happened, I channelled a message from Mahavatar Babaji where he spoke of this time being a convergence of many cycles. He spoke of a new ‘world soul’ being created in our midst, and that the time of our birthing was at hand. “If you could see these times from the perspective of the Age that follows,” he said, “you would truly be dancing in the streets in profound grati tude for the openings that lie before you!”
I had been studying time cycles, prophecies, and ancient calendar systems. All these traditions, including the Mayan, Hopi, Vedic, Egyptian, and early Christian, have been predicting something significant around this time, as have many modern day prophets, futurists, mystics, and scientists.
Today we are experiencing unprecedented ecological collapse and political and economic crises, but could there be something better arising? My experience with the whales taught me that our individual personality is a small part of who we are; the rest is connected with the planetary and cosmic soul.
By accessing this knowledge, and working with the energy fields of Mother Earth, we can repair the damage and build something altogether new and different. From plunderers of the earth we become its caretakers and guardians. As we heal individually, we heal the earth as well, and as we heal the earth, we heal the collective.
Spirituality is not about transcending our human problems anymore, but about transforming the earth itself. Heaven is to be experienced right here as a new frequency of consciousness slips into our current experience of ‘reality’.
I see our individual spiritual journeys in tandem with our journey as a species. We are entering a brand-new place. Sri Aurobindo referred to it as the “descent of supramental consciousness”.
A new species is being created in our midst. Everything we have ever been in the past is making way for a powerful new vision of our future. It is vast beyond anything we can conceive of with our minds, vast beyond the scientific, religious, political and cultural paradigms that have only brought us to the brink of extinction.
It is time for us now to move beyond the limitations of our robotic lives into a brave new spirituality that acknowledges who we are as planetary and cosmic citizens, unifying body and spirit, earth and heaven, human and divine. It is time now to step through the doorway where time meets eternity in the fullness of being!
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