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A response to the “Aspirant”

June 19, 2012
An annotated response to the “Aspirant“:
A brief introduction:
The Aspirant makes long-winded arguments about Democracy, Politics, the Raison d’Etre of the Ashram, etc., etc., in a desperate attempt to justify his personal opinion and preference that:
“There should be a possibility that if most Ashramites feel that a person is unsuitable to be a Trustee, he can be removed.”
This is the crux of the Aspirant’s presentation and all that matters to him.
His entire “raison d’etre” is to decide who should run the Ashram. But the Aspirant is faced with a dilemma, and therefore has to resort to long-winded, incongruous and contradicting arguments. Because as an Ashramite, his raison d’etre should be to pursue his sadhana and spiritual growth which is completely independent of who the Trustees of the Ashram are.
Moreover, and to the Aspirant’s detriment, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have never suggested or encouraged that Ashramites should be preoccupied with who the Trustees of Their Ashram are. On the contrary, the kind of politicking this is displayed by the Aspirant is not only discouraged in a spiritual institution such as the Ashram, but it has been treated as something undesirable, inconsistent, even detrimental and therefore to be avoided in a spiritual institution such as the Ashram.
The Aspirant should make up his mind. Either he falls in line with the codes of conduct of the Ashram – which is after all a spiritual institution in which politics has no place at all – or he graciously leaves in search of greener pastures where he can practice his brand of pseudo-spiritual and political activities.
Annotated responses:
Text quoted from the “Aspirant” is in italics font.
Our annotated response is in bold font text.
Most of us Ashramites are averse to politics and rightly so, considering the way it has been and is expected to be till there is a quantum leap in the social consciousness of man.
Wrong! Unlike the Aspirant, most Ashramites are not interested in politics, because politics is not the purpose of their life in the Ashram.  Politics being discouraged in the Ashram, the question of being averse or in favor of politics, does not even arise. Most Ashramites maintain the discipline of distancing themselves from politicking, which is something that the Aspirant is incapable of.
Whenever there is any talk of dissatisfaction with the way things are organized now, or of any aspiration for a better organizational structure, the typical Ashramite shrinks from it, considering it as politics.
Unlike the Aspirant, the typical Ashramite who is not interested in petty politicking, does not waste his time focusing time and energy on his personal dissatisfaction with the way things are organized. The typical Ashramite is more concerned with organizing his spiritual life rather than blaming others for his personal dissatisfactions.
There may be a justification for suggesting a better organization of the Ashram.
There may be many things in the Ashram, this world and this life that can do with a better organization, but as an Ashramite there is certainly an even greater justification to leave matters  pertaining to the organization of the Ashram to those who have received such a responsibility, such as the trustees of the Ashram. The Aspirant’s over-eagerness to interfere with the responsibility of the Trustees, is suspect and betrays personal ambitions.
The justification may arise from the following factors:
a) The current system encourages the misconception that the more powerful a position one occupies the higher or better his service to the Ashram is. This has led to a lot of busy-bodies trying to widen their sphere of influence as much as possible. (In the past it did work, as in the case of the physician who felt definitely justified in providing much better care to those who are considered powerful, thereby eventually becoming a Trustee, so that he can provide the “highest level” of service. But now that all the power has come to be concentrated in one multi-headed one, the last few Trustees were carefully chosen to guarantee that there are no dissenting voices.) Some of the current aspiring busy­-bodies are given more and more power in spite of their unscrupulous activities because they are the utility men for the authorities. Their enthusiasm towards work obviously lies in their seeking to enlarge their power base.
It is evident that the Aspirant is more concerned about who occupies powerful positions rather than being concerned with how he himself can be of service to the Ashram. 
b) The total lack of transparency: Even in mundane organizations, the administrators have realized that transparency earns the trust and better co-operation from the group. But here transparency is present only in the exceptional case where the authorities feel clean and confident.
The Aspirant talks about transparency when he himself hides behind the opaque cloak of an anonymous identity. What hypocrisy and double-standards! 
c) Blatant partiality of all kinds: It may take the form of a bias in favour of those who are in one’s own power-circle, those who are financially well-off, those who have been in some high position outside and come here for their retired life, those of the same language, and those who are aggressive and liable to be a nuisance. Surprising, but true, just being able to speak good English sometimes helps. People in the powerful ones’ own circle always find it easier to get what they want even if it is a luxury, while those outside it may not get even their justified needs fulfilled. If an individual needs expensive medical treatment outside, it does not depend on the medical merit of the case, but on these other factors. Even long-term admissions in our own Nursing Home are not usually decided on medical merits. High level corruptions are overlooked while action is taken against some petty misdeeds. The same goes in case of allotment of better accommodations and change of departments, in insistence on or overlooking of the ‘8 hours-work-rule’, in taking ‘disciplinary actions’ against  Ashramites, in providing minor sops like the use of Ashram vehicles and in almost everything that needs the discretion of the authorities.
The anonymous Aspirant who not only sounds and writes like Dr. Alok Pandey, but who is also complaining about how things are run in his “own Nursing Home” is making allegations of “high level corruptions” without substantiating his claims. Instead of making generalized statements meant to tarnish the Trustees’ reputation, why doesn’t the Aspirant give specific instances of corruption? Let him blow the whistle and produce evidence  instead of making baseless allegations which are only designed to sully the reputation of the Trustees. 
d) The tendency towards too much centralization in most matters: This was exactly what we all wanted when the Mother was the centre. But now when normal, ego-bound individuals are the authorities, the policy of centralization should be minimal, but in fact it is getting more rigorous than in the past.
There is already a high degree of decentralization in the manner in which the Ashram is run. The Aspirant is complaining just for the sake of complaining. 
Perhaps the whole issue of Peter’s book has come about to highlight the declining values here which many of us have been gradually getting accustomed to and even beginning to accept slothfully, avoiding the inconvenience and work that it would take to at least express to the Trustees our aspirations for better administrative policies from them.

If the Aspirant feels that the values in the Ashram have declined, it is because Ashramites like himself have lowered the values in this Ashram. Instead of of focussing on their inner spiritual growth, Ashramites like the Aspirant are more interested in the politics of administrative policies. 

While no one can judge how sincere or advanced one is in his Sadhana or how open one is to the Mother, one can see when there is a great deterioration in values.
We can clearly see that the deterioration of values originates from people such as the Aspirant who are more preoccupied with finding faults elsewhere, except in themselves.   
There should be a possibility that if most Ashramites feel that a person is unsuitable to be a Trustee, he can be removed.
How simple! The Aspirant is suggesting that the only occupation of Ashramites will be to play musical chairs with the Trustees. Whenever a person feels that a Trustee is unsuitable, remove him and get another Trustee. Sadhana and spiritual life can take a back seat as the main preoccupation of sadhaks will be that of choosing the right Trustee every day. 
Likewise, if some of us feel that an Ashramite like the Aspirant is unsuitable to be an Ashramite, we should be able to remove him and  ask him to leave 
The Trustees need not be brilliant, smart, intellectual, dynamic persons. They need not even be good administrators. They just need to be sincere to the values shown to us by the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. The brains and ability for administration are far less important and can be provided by people who are employed or chosen to assist them.
It is to be understood that the Aspirant will decide who is sincere to the values shown by the Mother and Sri Aurobindo because according to him, he is the only true and sincere Aspirant.
Politics is undesirable, true. But among human beings not yet ‘supramentalised’ and not even ego-free yet, democracy is desirable. There is a progress towards democracy all over the world. We definitely did not want democracy when the Mother was directly running the Ashram and She had the total, egoless, Divine power. But that does not mean that the same should be the case now. Circumstances are very different and the organization needs to be different too. We need not be afraid of change. It is possible to have democracy without politics. It is easily possible if the current authorities decide in its favour, and it is possible with some difficulty if they don’t co-operate.
The Aspirant should study history to realize that Democracy is not a new discovery and was practiced by ancient civilizations thousands of years ago. The Aspirant also ignores that the Mother knew about democracy and its limitations. If She chose to exclude a democratic and political process in the Ashram She had Her good reasons for it, which the Aspirant evidently wishes to ignore in order to supersede Her mandate. 
In a spiritual organization, the ideal is that the top organizers are people who did not try to or care about being the leaders but happen to do it because the karma has come to them. True, some of the current Trustees did get the post handed to them without trying, but as pointed out, they were chosen for their special quality of being a ‘yes-man’ to the top one.
In a spiritual organization such as our Ashram, Aspirants are not concerned about the trustees as they aspire for larger goals and let Karma do the rest with detachment and equanimity.  But pseudo-Aspirants who join spiritual organization for other personal motives (such as using the Ashram as a convenient launch pad for lecture tours) are always more concerned about pointing fingers at others and playing petty politics.
So how can one find such individuals who may be better instruments in providing the right values? We believe that, whatever may be the defects of the Ashramites, even though most of them are not sadhaks, most of them are devotees of the Mother and open to the Mother at least to some extent. If this assumption were not true, there is no raison d’etre for this Ashram. If the assumption is true, then a collective will of the Ashram, exercised in a serious matter, cannot go totally astray. In fact, as a collective will they are less likely to commit blunders than as individuals. If democracy can be suitable anywhere, the Ashram surely deserves to benefit from it. Most of the Ashramites are at least a little conscious and know at least to some extent their fellow-Ashramites.
The Aspirant reveals that he is more inclined towards Politics rather than Spirituality as his principal preoccupation is in the placement of people within the organization. The Aspirant is unfit to be in this Ashram and finds himself in the wrong place.

There can be democracy without politics. Politics arises when there is a person or a group that strives to get a position, even with the avowed intention of serving the community. There are monasteries, where the inmates select the administrators from among themselves by a secret ballot, but where there are no candidates. Each individual may indicate a few names – in order of preference. No candidates, no canvassing, no politics. Canvassing with candidates is likely to lead to unnecessary divisions and animosities. And in any case we want individuals who did not scheme for or desire or care about the position, but it was just given to them as a part of their service.
The Aspirant contradicts himself when he says that “there can be democracy without politics.” Either the Aspirant does not know the meaning of Democracy or that of Politics.
It may happen that the top ones who are selected cannot be persuaded to take up the responsibility, but those among the top who are willing, can do so. We know how the Master and the Mother put persons into work that was new to them or even apparently totally unsuitable for them, but how the individuals did justice to their given work with the Divine guidance.
The Aspirant continues to indulge in Politics and more contradictory nonsense that doesn’t deserve a response.
Other modalities such as how the ballot will be done, how many will be selected, how long the tenure will be, how the replacement or rotation will take place, etc. can be worked out. In this period of change, the front-liners must ensure that the movement is not sullied by those with a private agenda, personal grudges, those with on-going disputes with the authorities arising out of personal reasons, etc. Let the movement be kept pure, at least in its active front, even if that would mean a diminished number.
And even more politics and even more nonsense…
The typical Ashramite needs to be reassured that there is no personal agenda, that there can be democracy without politics, that one need not be afraid of change, and that the elected ones need not be dynamic busy-bodies or intellectuals or good administrators. It would take a while to convince the typical Ashramite in these matters, but it must be done before his choices are asked for. Only after such a preparation, an initial ballot may be taken to find out if the majority of Ashramites want a change. Later the specific modalities may be worked out.
And still more politics and even greater nonsense…
One glaring problem in such a situation would be, especially in the beginning of the change, that a group, perhaps the one already entrenched, may gang up (as if they have unofficially put up a candidate), in which case they are sure to be elected. Some means must be found, at least as a temporary measure, whereby this can be prevented. (As a temporary necessity, candidates may be necessary in the initial stages. After informing the Ashramites that this would be an initial necessity on the way towards a ballot without candidates and canvassing, the exercise may be undertaken.) Or one may be able to arrive at some method by which candidacy can be avoided even from the beginning. There need be no fear. If there is a sincere aspiration in most of us, the Mother will guide us. And even if there is faltering in the initial steps, there will be a guidance towards the right organization through the faltering steps.
… and finally the end of the Aspirant’s nonsense!
Let us pray to the Mother for guidance.
We have been praying to the Mother for Her guidance all along so that people such as the Aspirant leave this wonderful Ashram alone, and let it run the way the Mother Herself set it up. We Trust the Mother and do not need self-appointed Aspirants to try to correct the system that was setup by the Mother which has worked for more than 5 decades and will work for as long, if not longer, if Politicians and Power Hungry Aspirants do not mess it up.
Our only suggestion and prayer is to ask the Aspirant to leave the Ashram alone and in peace. If the Aspirant is so enamored by Politics and Democracy, he should then setup his own organization where he can practice all his experiments with “Democracy Sans Politics.” 
By Aspirant S.
By: – Well-wishers of Sri Aurobindo Ashram – 

From → Uncategorized

  1. Perspirant permalink

    Every once in a while a self-appointed “visionary” will try to make the Ashram his home. At first he will appear to blend in perfectly: carry a modest shoulder bag, wear a typical pair of shorts, offer his services generously, etc. Then, once he believes that he is well-settled and entrenched he starts offering his advice. And soon enough, he starts to complain about issues pertaining to administration, governance, decision-making, etc. Such “Aspirants” have a short life span in the Ashram because they aspire for things that the Ashram cannot offer to them. And before they even know it, they find themselves out of the Ashram. Let’s wait and watch what happens to this Aspirant.

  2. this aspirant is a true yogi the Trustees is not sincer and he does not understand what the aspirant wants to say

  3. seema permalink

    if the Aspirant is not entitled to decide who his trustees should be then how are you entitled to decide who should the Trustees be?
    true that the Ashram is an institution for the pursuit of the spirit, but spiritual institutions do not exist in thin air, they are not governed by principles of chaos, Spiritual institutions like any other organisations must run on principles and need to be managed properly. if he individuals who are entrusted with the management of the institution act in a manner that amounts to oppression and mismanagement one cannot expect an aspirant to look the other way simply because he has joined the ashram in response to his inner call. he being a part and parcel of the institution must voice his dissatisfaction.

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