Experience and Individualism

Stokes had no remorse over his decision, “I have never for a moment regretted this step of mind, for I am convinced that our supreme duty is to be true to the guiding of the light within, and that no inspiration founded upon misapprehension can be of great lasting value.  As long as the Brotherhood was a true expression of my inner spiritual life, that life would be a real inspiration to others; when the inner spiritual outlook had so changed that such a life was no longer a true expression of it, it would have been mere hypocrisy to have continued to live it.”[Stokes to Agnes, personal notes of 1921] (Sharma, 1999)1

Living according to inner light is another sophisticated term for living a life based on experience.  Although an individual may be correct, and even have the right to lead such a life, she cannot easily desert the idealism which helped her to reach that inner light or experience.  Above all, anyone who tries to live a life based only on the guidance of such inner light will soon run out of the oil to supply the inner lamp to burn.  Others who, up until this point, have helped and cooperated with the same ideal will carry their life according to their own ideals and convictions; this group may not have the same ‘inner light’ or ‘experience’, thus failing to advance her cause.  Finally, the individual who tries to live a life based on ‘inner light’ or ‘experience’ will become exhausted.  Her energy, vision, enthusiasm and even experience will run dry and, in despair, she will give up her hope of leading a life according to inner light.  Survival will force her to carry on with this life without any inner light.  She will soon retreat into herself with much frustration—sometimes even blaming herself or others.

While a place for inner light and experience should be given in every idealogy or group life/vision, obedience to the common vision and ideal is compulsory.  Giving concession on methods and showing charity to all kinds of thoughts and ideas—not distorting the core value and ideal—will help every individual in the group and will also foster a movement where individual group members complement each other in their strengths, correct each other in their weakness, and give clear guidance to one another and the next generation to pick up that vision.  Otherwise, every kind of individualism in the name of ‘inner light’ or ‘experience’ will help none, except that individual becomes rebellious and controversial for some time and finally disappears into the thin air of her own inner experience.

Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam, June 30, 2011

 

 

 

  1. Sharma, Asha.  (1999).  An American in Khadi: The Definitive Biography of Satyanand Stokes.  (p94).  Delhi: Penguin.