From Catholic Church to Sri Aurobindo Ashram (My Dad)

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Manage episode 272419618 series 2396553
By Victor Salmon. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

I’ll begin with an aside about a cat. I mention rescue cat 27705 who is a foster kitty with black and white tuxedo colouration and an incredibly sweet disposition found malnourished and abandoned on a wooden pallet that has gained 50% of its body weight in under two weeks with me. Still underweight and almost 11 pounds, this cat plays fetch, is easy to pick up, and meows at me while I’m recording these introductions. Now to the introduction.

My father like most humans is many things. He grew up Roman Catholic but commit apostasy and after travelling and soul searching decided to follow a spiritual path in an ashram in South India, the one in Puducherry specifically. If you’ve read Life of Pi, the ashram’s pool after which the protagonist is named is one in which my father has taken at least one swim.

The ashram has been accused of being cultish before, lead by two leaders, one called Aurobindo Ghose after which I derive my middle name and my sister derives part of her first name. He is known to the ashramites as Sri Aurobindo. He was “arrested in the aftermath of a number of bomb outrages linked to his organization but in a highly public trial where he faced charges of treason… could only be convicted and imprisoned for writing articles against British rule in India.” During his stay in jail, he had mystical and spiritual experiences, after which he moved to Pondicherry leaving politics for spiritual work.

The other is Mirra Alfassa, In her young adulthood she was a documented occultist, an atheist, and eventually a spiritual teacher. She married and divorced Heri Francois Morisset and Paul Antoine Richard. A full life to say the least. She also became revered as The Mother. I’ve heard stories through my father that these two leaders knew of each other before they met.

So there are two potential narratives here: there’s the skeptic’s narrative of the ashram as a cult, and the mystic’s narrative as the ashram as a teaching temple guiding those willing to take the spiritual journey to a place of awareness and consciousness, the next evolution of humanity.

The town of Auroville sprung up as a place of spiritual communism or if you prefer radical anarchism (to quote one man who met Mirra Alfassa), where anyone could meditate and advance their awareness regardless of creed, nationality, ethnicity, religion, etcetera. In Auroville is a quite amazing structure in my opinion called Matrimandir, an egg shaped structure with gold lotus-like petals arranged on the outside. I’ve had the privilege of going there and meditating inside the structure and offer my experience briefly.

All in all, I try not to have too strong an opinion about any of this. My father is my father. Whether I apply a veneer of mystic or cultist or something in between, he is who he is and that narrative is less important to me, especially if it were to damage or estrange me from him. I love my father and hope simply to offer all the facts and perspectives and leave it to you to decide the frame you wish to put on this interesting portrait.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Aurobindo

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirra_Alfassa

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matrimandir

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auroville

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