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Mind-energy: Lectures and Essays (1920) by Henri Bergson

Mind-Energy
Lectures and Essays

In these essays, Bergson writes, concerning the idea of parallelism between mind and body:

“Consciousness tells no more than what is going on in the brain, it only tells it in a different language.”  There can be no doubt that the origin of this thesis is entirely metaphysical. It comes to us in a direct line from the Cartesian philosophy of the seventeenth century. …I believe that the facts, examined without prejudice and without the bias towards a mathematical mechanism, suggest a more subtle hypothesis concerning the correspondence between the psychic (ie., mental) and the cerebral state. The latter only express the action which is prefigured in the former. …for to the same cerebral state there may equally well correspond many different psychic facts” (p. 144).

In his characteristically clear and precise manner Bergson pursues in these essays the elusive problem of the mind-body relationship which is once again at the forefront of both the science and the philosophy of consciousness today. The solution that he suggests is that these are two different approaches to the understanding of reality, each describing an aspect of that reality – one material and the other spiritual. Science tries to grasp the reality by means of physical observation and measurement; the philosophical approach tries to grasp reality by means of intuition and ideation. To fail to make the distinction necessarily leads to contradiction and error.

Bergson published these essays in 1919, more than 20 years after Matter and Memory (1896) and Creative Evolution (1907), at a time when his reputation as the leading philosopher of the day had spread throughout both the physical and the spiritual world. He was president of the Academie des science (France) and the Society for Psychical Research (UK), representing the two approaches to knowledge. And he had lectured at Oxford (UK) and Columbia (USA) universities. He was fluent in English and had decided as a young university student to become a citizen of France rather than of England.

The fact that Bergson’s work is currently enjoying a revival in both science and philosophy, due to the widespread interest in the study of  “consciousness”, along with the concurrence and convergence of his philosophy with that of Sri Aurobindo, suggests that these essays may be important to the understanding of both of these philosophers of Intuition and Consciousness, as well as to better understanding the relevance of their thought in the world today.

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Lyrical Poems of Sri Aurobindo

Lyrical Poems of Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo once wrote that he wanted his short poems published in two separate books, one of sonnets and one of “(mainly) lyrical poems”.

This book contains all of Sri Aurobindo’s short poems, other than sonnets, composed between 1930 and 1950, with the exception of poems written solely as metrical experiments, nonsense poems written as parodies of surrealist verse, and incomplete or fragmentary poems. Most of the poems included are “lyrical” in the technical sense: they are short and express the writer’s personal thoughts and feelings. Unlike most other examples of the genre, however, their lyricism is spiritual and psychic. Along with the later sonnets and the epic Savitri, they represent Sri Aurobindo’s highest achievement in spiritual or yogic poetry.

Twenty-eight of the forty-two poems in this book were published by Sri Aurobindo during his lifetime in the following volumes: Six Poems (1934), Poems (1941), On Quantitative Metre (1942), and Poems Past and Present (1946). The other fourteen poems are taken from his manuscripts from the same period. Most of them were revised more than once, but some exist only in a single handwritten draft.


Book Details

Author: Sri Aurobindo

Print Length: 83 pages

Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Book format: PDF, ePub, Kindle

Language: English Read more

Thoughts from Sri Aurobindo (Compiled by Kishor Gandhi)

Thoughts from Sri Aurobindo

These passages extracted from Sri Aurobindo’s works are intended to serve as significant pointers to the inestimable value of his views for a true understanding of the important issues in the life and thought of the individual and the society. It is hoped that they will awaken the interest of the intelligent reader and will induce him to seek fuller illumination by drawing him to the original works themselves which contain immeasurably more than these few extracts can offer.


Book Details

Author: Sri Aurobindo

Print Length: 47 pages

Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Book format: PDF, ePub, Kindle

Language: English Read more

The English of Savitri Volume 6

The English of Savitri
volume 6

This is the sixth volume of the English of Savitri series, based on transcripts of classes led by the author at Savitri Bhavan, in this case from 23 June to 29 December 2016. The transcripts have been carefully revised and edited for conciseness and clarity, while aiming to preserve the informal atmosphere of the course. This volume contains detailed explanations of the texts of the two closing Books of Sri Aurobindo’s epic: Book Eleven – The Book of Everlasting Day and Book Twelve – Epilogue: The Return to Earth. Each sentence is examined closely and explanations are given about vocabulary, sentence structure and imagery. The aim is to assist a deeper understanding and appreciation of the poem which the Mother has characterised as ‘the supreme revelation of Sri Au robin do’s vision’.

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Bengali Writings by Sri Aurobindo (translated into English)

Bengali Writings

Most of the pieces in Bengali were written by Sri Aurobindo in 1909 and 1910 for Dharma, a Calcutta weekly he edited at that time; the material consists chiefly of brief political, social and cultural works. His reminiscences of detention in Alipore Jail for one year (“Tales of Prison Life”) are also included. There is also some correspondence with Bengali disciples living in his ashram.


Book Details

Author: Sri Aurobindo

Print Length: 448 pages

Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Book format: PDF, ePub, Kindle

Language: English Read more

Auroville: Sun-Word Rising by Savitra

Auroville: Sun-Word Rising

A Trust for the Earth

Few people today — even those who presently live in Auroville or serve on AVI Boards — know the actual history of Auroville’s emergence. And unfortunately, records of that unique era have largely been lost in time. Auroville: Sun-Word Rising, originally published by the Community of Auroville in 1980, was an honest attempt to chronicle that AV timeline when the Mother was still physically present as well as the period which followed Her passing. Based on extensive notes and documentation, the book strives to tell a truer story that needed to be told despite those who wished to silence it. For it fills in the missing links that can help us understand how Auroville arrived at where it is today. After all, if we don’t know our past, how can we understand our present, heal past wounds, cocreate a truer future?

The opening passages of this 3-Part work begin in America, tracking the author’s personal quest through the 1960s that eventually led him to the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother… Which in turn led him to London where he began his odyssey, hitchhiking to India to meet the Mother. That meeting led him to stay on in India. And soon after, the Mother accepted him into the Ashram, then into Auroville where he joined that first wave of pioneers scattered like seeds on a barren red-clay plateau. Part 2 transitions through a tale of two Aurovilles: The Auroville rising forth under the Mother’s nurturing Presence. And the Auroville labouring to carry on its mission through the grief of Her passing and the unforeseen crises and conflicts that would follow Her passing.

For indeed, despite the obstacles and oppositions which that fledgling AV Community faced, it courageously laboured on, bringing new life to that arid plateau, establishing settlements, schools, farms and the beginning of a reforestation programme that would eventually transform a dying landscape into lush tropical forests. It would also evolve a home-grown decision-making process that would be severely challenged by outside forces following the Mother’s passing (as Parts 2 and 3 document). Those challenges would eventually lead to a Government intervention in 1980, followed by a Supreme Court Case and the eventual Auroville Foundation Act passed by Parliament in 1988. In this light, perhaps Auroville’s first decade reflects a microcosm of the pressing evolutionary challenges our species and planet face today.


Book Details

Author: Savitra
Print Length: 300 pages
Publisher: The Community of Auroville
Original source: Auroville Archives
Contributors: Gilles Guigan, Krishna V.
Book format: PDF, ePub, Kindle
Language: English


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Sonnets of Sri Aurobindo

Sonnets of Sri Aurobindo

This book contains all of Sri Aurobindo’s sonnets-the seventy-four sonnets written in Pondicherry between the early 1930s and late 1940s and fourteen early sonnets written around the turn of the century. Only eight were published during his lifetime. Notes on the texts provide information on the number of extant manuscript versions of each sonnet.


Book Details

Author: Sri Aurobindo

Print Length: 101 pages

Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Book format: PDF, ePub, Kindle

Language: English Read more

Evening Talks With Sri Aurobindo (Recorded By A. B. Purani)

Evening Talks With Sri Aurobindo

Recorded By A. B. Purani

Evening Talks is A.B. Purani’s record of informal conversations between Sri Aurobindo and his disciples during two periods: 1923–1926, when the talks were held on the verandahs of the houses in which Sri Aurobindo stayed, and 1938–1943, when they took place in Sri Aurobindo’s room. The talks cover a wide range of topics—yoga, philosophy, art, poetry, psychology, science, and contemporary history, notably India’s struggle for independence and the Second World War. They reveal something of the versatile nature of Sri Aurobindo’s personality and his wide-ranging, profound knowledge of life as well as a glimpse of the heights of spiritual consciousness he embodied and through which he acted on both world events and on the natures of those drawn to his yoga.


Book Details

Author: Sri Aurobindo

Print Length: 836 pages

Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Book format: PDF, ePub, Kindle

Language: English Read more

Preparing for the Miraculous by Georges Van Vrekhem

Preparing for the Miraculous

Preparing for the Miraculous is a series of ten talks given by Georges Van Vrekhem in Auroville in 2010 covering a wide range of subjects, examined from the Aurobindonian viewpoint. The book explores timeless questions in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s evolutionary concept and casts a refreshing new look on issues that have been the lasting preoccupation of seekers throughout the ages. In these talks, Georges discusses such questions as:

  • What is the meaning of our existence in the cosmic scheme?
  • Is there a divine purpose in life or is it merely the mechanical playing-out of competing “greedy genes”?
  • Do we live in a blind universe aimlessly running its course from Big Bang to Big Crunch or is there a higher purpose in evolution?
  • If there is a conscious guiding intent, why does it allow evil to exist?
  • How do we transcend the limits of a blind “scientism” locking itself out of a vaster understanding by refusing to admit the existence of any factors outside of its self-imposed limits of “scientific” verifiability? Can these questions be tackled without landing in the other extreme of religious dogma?
  • Is our planet Earth special in the universe?
  • Do we human beings have a special role in evolution?

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Letters on Yoga (New CWSA Edition)

Letters on Yoga

Volume 1-4

Sri Aurobindo’s Letters on Yoga (New CWSA Edition) Four volumes of letters on the integral yoga, other spiritual paths, the problems of spiritual life, and related subjects. In these letters, Sri Aurobindo explains the foundations of his integral yoga, its fundamentals, its characteristic experiences and realisations, and its method of practice. He also discusses other spiritual paths and the difficulties of spiritual life. Related subjects include the place of human relationships in yoga; sadhana through meditation, work and devotion; reason, science, religion, morality, idealism and yoga; spiritual and occult knowledge; occult forces, beings and powers; destiny, karma, rebirth and survival. Sri Aurobindo wrote most of these letters in the 1930s to disciples living in his ashram.

Letters of Sri Aurobindo was first compiled and published in four series from 1947 to 1951. The First, Second and Fourth Series contained letters on yoga, the Third letters on poetry and literature. Prior to that, small collections of letters were published in The Riddle of This World (1933), Lights on Yoga (1935), Bases of Yoga (1936) and More Lights on Yoga (1948). Some letters were also published periodically in various Ashram journals: Sri Aurobindo Circle, Sri Aurobindo Mandir, The Advent and Mother India.

The First and Second Series of Letters of Sri Aurobindo were reissued in 1950 and 1954 respectively.

In 1958 all the above letters, excepting those on poetry and literature in the Third Series, were published again, along with additional material as Volumes VI and VII of the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education Series in two volumes. Volume One was reissued in 1969 with further additions.

In 1970 Letters on Yoga was published as volumes 22, 23 and 24 of the Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library. This edition contained a large number of letters not included in the two volumes of the Centre of Education edition. It was reprinted several times.

In 1997, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram began to publish the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo in a uniform library edition of 37 volumes. A considerable number of new letters has are being published for the first time in the new CWSA edition.


Book Details

Author: Sri Aurobindo

Print Length: 2420 pages

Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Book format: PDF, ePub, Kindle

Language: English Read more