It is the Divine Presence that gives value to life. This Presence is the source of all peace, all joy, all security. Find this presence in yourself and all your difficulties will disappear.
— The Mother
It is the Divine Presence that gives value to life. This Presence is the source of all peace, all joy, all security. Find this presence in yourself and all your difficulties will disappear.
— The Mother
What is the most useful idea to spread and what is the best example to set?
The question can be considered in two ways, a very general one applicable to the whole earth, and another specific one which concerns our present social environment.
From the general point of view, it seems to me that the most useful idea to spread is twofold:
1) Man carries within himself perfect power, perfect wisdom and perfect knowledge, and if he wants to possess them, he must discover them in the depth of his being, by introspection and concentration.
2) These divine qualities are identical at the centre, at the heart of all beings; this implies the essential unity of all, and all the consequences of solidarity and fraternity that follow from it.
The best example to give would be the unalloyed serenity and immutably peaceful happiness which belong to one who knows how to live integrally this thought of the One God in all.
From the point of view of our present environment, here is the idea which, it seems to me, it is most useful to spread:
True progressive evolution, an evolution which can lead man to his rightful happiness, does not lie in any external means, material improvement or social change. Only a deep and inner process of individual self-perfection can make for real progress and completely transform the present state of things, and change suffering and misery into a serene and lasting contentment.
Consequently, the best example is one that shows the first stage of individual self-perfection which makes possible all the rest, the first victory to be won over the egoistic personality: disinterestedness.
At a time when all rush upon money as the means to satisfy their innumerable cravings, one who remains indifferent to wealth and acts, not for the sake of gain, but solely to follow a disinterested ideal, is probably setting the example which is most useful at present.
Listen, I don’t think there is a single instance in which one does not find within oneself something very clear, but you must sincerely want to know – we always come back to the same thing – you must sincerely want it. The first condition is not to begin thinking about the subject and building all sorts of ideas: opposing ideas, possibilities, and entering into a formidable mental activity. First of all, you must put the problem as though you were putting it to someone else, then keep silent, remain like that, immobile. And then, after a little while you will see that at least three different things may happen, sometimes more. Take the case of an intellectual, one who acts in accordance with the indications of his head. He has put the problem and he waits. Well, if he is indeed attentive, he will notice that there is (the chronological order is not absolute, it may come in a different order) at first (what is most prominent in an intellectual) a certain idea: “If I do that in this way, it will be all right; it must be like that”, that is to say, a mental construction. A second thing which is a kind of impulse: “That will have to be done. That is good, it must be done.” Then a third which does not make any noise at all, does not try to impose itself on the others, but has the tranquillity of a certitude – not very active, not giving a shock, not pushing to action, but something that knows and is very quiet, very still. This will not contradict the others, will not come and say, “No, that’s wrong”; it says simply, “See, it is like this”, that’s all, and then it does not insist. The majority of men are not silent enough or attentive enough to be aware of it, for it makes no noise. But I assure you it is there in everybody and if one is truly sincere and succeeds in being truly quiet, one will become aware of it. The thinking part begins to argue, “But after all, this thing will have this consequence and that thing will have that consequence, and if one does this… “ and this, and that… and its noise begins again. The other (the vital) will say, “Yes, it must be done like that, it must be done, you don’t understand, it must, it is indispensable.” There! Then you will know. And according to your nature you will choose either the vital impulse or the mental leading, but very seldom do you say quite calmly, “Good, it is this I am going to do, whatever happens”, and even if you don’t like it very much. But it is always there. I am sure that it is there even in the murderer before he kills, you understand, but his outer being makes such a lot of noise that it never even occurs to him to listen. But it is always there, always there. In every circumstance, there is in the depth of every being, just this little (one can’t call it “voice”, for it makes no sound) this little indication of the divine Grace, and sometimes to obey it requires a tremendous effort, for all the rest of the being opposes it violently, one part with the conviction that what it thinks is true, another with all the power, the strength of its desire. But don’t tell me that one can’t know, for that is not true. One can know. But one does not always know what is necessary, and sometimes, if one knows what is to be done, well, one finds some excuse or other for not doing it. One tells oneself, “Oh! I am not so sure, after all, of this inner indication; it does not assert itself with sufficient force for me to trust it.” But if you were quite indifferent, that is, if you had no desire, either mental or vital or physical desire, you would know with certainty that it is that which must be done and nothing else. What comes and gets in the way is preference – preferences and desires. Every day one may have hundreds and hundreds of examples. When people begin to say, “Truly I don’t know what to do”, it always means that they have a preference. But as here in the Ashram they know there is something else and as at times they have been a little attentive, they have a vague sensation that it is not quite that: “It is not quite that, I don’t feel quite at ease.” Besides, you were saying a while ago that it is the result which gives you the indication; it has even been said (it has been written in books) that one judges the divine Will by the results! All that succeeds has been willed by the Divine; all that doesn’t, well, He has not willed it! This is yet again one of those stupidities big as a mountain. It is a mental simplification of the problem, which is quite comic. That’s not it. If one can have an indication (in proportion to one’s sincerity), it is uneasiness, a little uneasiness – not a great uneasiness, just a little uneasiness.
Lord, this morning Thou hast given me the assurance that Thou wouldst stay with us until Thy work is achieved, not only as a consciousness which guides and illumines but also as a dynamic Presence in action. In unmistakable terms Thou hast promised that all of Thyself would remain here and not leave the earth atmosphere until earth is transformed. Grant that we may be worthy of this marvellous Presence and that henceforth everything in us be concentrated on the one will to be more and more perfectly consecrated to the fulfilment of Thy sublime Work.
7 December 1950
The lack of receptivity of the earth and men is mostly responsible for the decision Sri Aurobindo has taken regarding his body. But one thing is certain: what has happened on the physical plane affects in no way the truth of his teaching. All that he has said is perfectly true and remains so. Time and the course of events will prove it abundantly.
8 December 1950
To Thee who hast been the material envelope of our Master, to Thee our infinite gratitude. Before Thee who hast done so much for us, who hast worked, struggled, suffered, hoped, endured so much, before Thee who hast willed all, attempted all, prepared, achieved all for us, before Thee we bow down and implore that we may never forget, even for a moment, all we owe to Thee.
9 December 1950
To grieve is an insult to Sri Aurobindo who is here with us, conscious and alive.
14 December 1950
We must not be bewildered by appearances. Sri Aurobindo has not left us. Sri Aurobindo is here, as living and as present as ever and it is left to us to realise his work with all the sincerity, eagerness and concentration necessary.
15 December 1950
I was painfully shocked when I heard the translation of the leaflet you are distributing here in the Ashram. I never imagined you could have such a complete lack of understanding, respect and devotion for our Lord who has sacrificed Himself totally for us. Sri Aurobindo was not crippled; a few hours before he left his body he rose from his bed and sat for a long time in his armchair, speaking freely to all those around him. Sri Aurobindo was not compelled to leave his body, he chose to do so for reasons so sublime that they are beyond the reach of human mentality.
And when one cannot understand, the only thing to do is to keep a respectful silence.
26 December 1950
We stand in the Presence of Him who has sacrificed his physical life in order to help more fully his work of transformation. He is always with us, aware of what we are doing, of all our thoughts, of all our feelings and all our actions.
18 January 1951
Sri Aurobindo has given up his body in an act of supreme unselfishness, renouncing the realisation in his own body to hasten the hour of the collective realisation. Surely if the earth were more responsive, this would not have been necessary.
12 April 1953
Man carries within himself perfect power, perfect wisdom and perfect knowledge, and if he wants to possess them, he must discover them in the depth of his being, by introspection and concentration. These divine qualities are identical at the centre, at the heart of all beings; this implies the essential unity of all, and all the consequences of solidarity and fraternity that follow from it.
How can our thoughts be created by the forces of the universal mind ?
Because the forces of the universal mind enter into our head; we are in a bath of forces and we are not aware of it ! We are not like something shut up in a bag which is independent of everything else—all forces, vibrations and movements enter into us, pass through us. We have therefore some mental force in suspense, at our disposal, that is to say, which can be used by the formative or creative mental power; these are as it were free forces. As soon as some thought coming from outside or some force or some movement enters into our consciousness, we give it a concrete form, a logical appearance and all kinds of precision; but in fact the force belongs to a domain of which we are hardly conscious. But it is not a special fact happening from time to time, it is something constant. If there is a current of force that passes, with a particular thought-formation, you see it passing from one to another and in each one it forms a kind of centre of light or force in affinity with what is manifested; and the result is what we call “our” thought.
But our thought is something which does not exist so to say. It can be our thought only if instead of being a public place, as we are generally in our natural state, (a public place where all forces pass—come, go, enter, depart, push each other and even quarrel), we are a consciousness concentrated, turned upward in an aspiration, and open, beyond the limits of the human mind, to something higher; then, when you are thus open, that brings down something higher through all the successive layers of the being; and this something comes in contact with our conscious brain and there takes a form which is no more the creation of a universal force nor that of a personal mind stronger than ours, but the direct expression and creation of a light that is above us and that can be a light of the first order if our aspiration and opening would allow it. It is the only case when you can say that the thought is our thought. Otherwise, all the rest is a recording of things that pass; we note down, we clothe with words a force which is altogether a universal and collective force, which enters, comes out, moves, passes from one to another as it likes.
But how is the thought formed in the universal mind ?
Ideas have a higher origin than the mind. There is a region of the mind higher than the ordinary mind, in which there are ideas, ideas that are typal, ideas truly prototypes; these ideas then come down and put on a mental substance. According to the quality of one who receives, they either keep their own virtue, their original nature or they get deformed, they are coloured, transformed in the individual consciousness. But the idea goes much beyond the mind; it is of a much higher origin; and yet whether it is the universal mind or the human mind, the working is the same; the individual movement is only representative of the universal movement. The scale is different, but the phenomenon is the same. Of course, they are no more thoughts as we conceive thoughts; they are universal principles, (but it is the same thing) universal principles on which universes are built.
The universe, after all, is only one person, only one individuality in the midst of the eternal Creation. Each universe is a person, which is formed, which lives and which is dissolved and another is formed—it is the same thing. For us the person means the human individual and from the universal point of view, the person is the universal individual; it is a universe in the midst of all universes.
The Mother in her correspondence with a disciple answers an age-old question: Just as the Divine grants prosperity to people when they ask and pray for it, why does it not similarly bestow the the experience of the Truth to aspirants when they ask for it?. Her answer follows.
You say that the Lord gives to people prosperity, children and happiness whenever they ask for it — Quite true, but these things belong to the physical consciousness and need no preparation to be received; they (people) can have these things with remaining just as they are, while you are asking for the greatest thing of all, the most difficult, the Truth — and to receive the Truth one must be prepared for It, capable of seeing and feeling it — and this demands a big preparation. In fact, the Truth is always with us. And if we do not see It and feel It, it is because we are not capable of seeing and feeling It—This is the reason of the delay. The Lord answers at once all sincere prayer, but we are not aware of His answer.
Behind the weakest weakness there is the supreme Strength, the Lord’s Force.
April 2, 1963
– The Mother
It is true that the guru himself is subject to the same rule of silence with regard to what concerns him personally. In Nature everything is in movement; thus, whatever does not move forward is bound to fall back. The guru must progress even as his disciples do, although his progress may not be on the same plane. And for him too, to speak about his experiences is not favourable: the greater part of the dynamic force for progress contained in the experience evaporates if it is put into words. But on the other hand, by explaining his experiences to his disciples, he greatly helps their understanding and consequently their progress. It is for him in his wisdom to know to what extent he can and ought to sacrifice the one to the other. It goes without saying that no boasting or vainglory should enter into his account, for the slightest vanity would make him no longer a guru but an imposter.
As for the disciple, I would tell him: “In all cases, be faithful to your guru whoever he is; he will lead you as far as you can go. But if you have the good fortune to have the Divine as your guru, there will be no limit to your realisation.”
Nevertheless, even the Divine, when incarnate on earth, is subject to the same law of progress. His instrument of manifestation, the physical being he has assumed, should be in a constant state of progress, and the law of his personal self-expression is in a way linked to the general law of earthly progress. Thus even the embodied god cannot be perfect on earth until men are ready to understand and accept perfection. That day will come when everything that is now done out of a sense of duty towards the Divine will be done out of love for Him. Progress will be a joy instead of being an effort and often even a struggle. Or, more exactly, progress will be made in joy, with the full adherence of the whole being, instead of by coercing the resistance of the ego, which entails great effort and sometimes even great suffering.
In conclusion, I would say this: if you want your speech to express the truth and thus acquire the power of the Word, never think out beforehand what you want to say, do not decide what is a good or bad thing to say, do not calculate the effect of what you are going to say. Be silent in mind and remain unwavering in the true attitude of constant aspiration towards the All-Wisdom, the All-Knowledge, the All-Consciousness. Then, if your aspiration is sincere, if it is not a veil for your ambition to do well and to succeed, if it is pure, spontaneous and integral, you will then be able to speak very simply, to say the words that ought to be said, neither more nor less, and they will have a creative power.
Bulletin, April 1953
There are also all the words that are uttered to express ideas, opinions, the results of reflection or study. Here we are in an intellectual domain and we might think that in this domain men are more reasonable, more self-controlled, and that the practice of rigorous austerity is less indispensable. It is nothing of the kind, however, for even here, into this abode of ideas and knowledge, man has brought the violence of his convictions, the intolerance of his sectarianism, the passion of his preferences. Thus, here too, one must resort to mental austerity and carefully avoid any exchange of ideas that leads to controversies which are all too often bitter and nearly always unnecessary, or any clash of opinion which ends in heated discussions and even quarrels, which are always the result of some mental narrowness that can easily be cured when one rises high enough in the mental domain.
For sectarianism becomes impossible when one knows that any formulated thought is only one way of saying something which eludes all expression. Every idea contains a little of the truth or one aspect of the truth. But no idea is absolutely true in itself.
This sense of the relativity of things is a powerful help in keeping one’s balance and preserving a serene moderation in one’s speech. I once heard an old occultist of some wisdom say, “Nothing is essentially bad; there are only things which are not in their place. Put each thing in its true place and you will have a harmonious world.”
And yet, from the point of view of action, the value of an idea is in proportion to its pragmatic power. It is true that this power varies a great deal according to the individual on whom it acts. An idea that has great impelling force in one individual may have none whatsoever in another. But the power itself is contagious. Certain ideas are capable of transforming the world. They are the ones that ought to be expressed; they are the ruling stars in the firmament of the spirit that will guide the earth towards its supreme realisation.
Lastly, we have all the words that are spoken for the purpose of teaching. This category ranges from the kindergarten to the university course, not forgetting all the artistic and literary creations of mankind that seek to entertain or instruct. In this domain, everything depends on the worth of the creation, and the subject is too vast to be dealt with here. It is a fact that concern about education is very much in vogue at present and praiseworthy attempts are being made to make use of new scientific discoveries in the service of education. But even in this matter, austerity is demanded from the aspirant towards truth.
It is generally admitted that in the process of education a certain kind of lighter, more frivolous, more entertaining productions are necessary to reduce the strain of effort and give some relaxation to the children and even to adults. From a certain point of view, this is true; but unfortunately this concession has served as an excuse to justify a whole category of things which are nothing but the efflorescence of all that is vulgar, crude and base in human nature. Its coarsest instincts, its most depraved taste find in this concession a good excuse to display and impose themselves as an inevitable necessity. They are nothing of the kind, however; one can relax without being dissolute, take rest without being vulgar, enjoy oneself without allowing the grosser elements in the nature to rise to the surface. But from the point of view of austerity, these needs themselves change their nature; relaxation is transformed into inner silence, rest into contemplation and enjoyment into bliss.
This generally recognised need for entertainment, slackening of effort and more or less long and total forgetfulness of the aim of life and the purpose of existence should not be considered as something altogether natural and indispensable, but as a weakness to which one yields because of lack of intensity in the aspiration, because of instability in the will, because of ignorance, unconsciousness and sloth. Do not justify these movements and you will soon realise that they are unnecessary; there will even come a time when they become repugnant and unacceptable to you. Then the greater part of human creation, which is ostensibly entertaining but in reality debasing, will lose its support and cease to be encouraged.
However, one should not think that the value of spoken words depends on the nature of the subject of conversation. One can talk idly on spiritual matters just as much as on any other, and this kind of idle talk may well be one of the most dangerous. For example, the neophyte is always very eager to share with others the little he has learnt. But as he advances on the path, he becomes more and more aware that he does not know very much and that before trying to instruct others, he must be very sure of the value of what he knows, until he finally becomes wise and realises that many hours of silent concentration are needed to be able to speak usefully for a few minutes. Moreover, where inner life and spiritual effort are concerned, the use of speech should be subjected to a still more stringent rule and nothing should be said unless it is absolutely indispensable.
It is a well-known fact that one must never speak of one’s spiritual experiences if one does not want to see vanishing in a flash the energy accumulated in the experience, which was meant to hasten one’s progress. The only exception which can be made to the rule is with regard to one’s guru, when one wants to receive some explanation or teaching from him concerning the content and meaning of one’s experience. Indeed, one can speak about these things without danger only to one’s guru, for only the guru is able by his knowledge to use the elements of the experience for your own good, as steps towards new ascents.
To be continued.
In the physical domain, we have all the words that are spoken for material reasons. They are by far the most numerous and most probably also the most useful in ordinary life.
A constant babble of words seems to be the indispensable accompaniment to daily work. And yet as soon as one makes an effort to reduce the noise to a minimum, one realises that many things are done better and faster in silence and that this helps to maintain one’s inner peace and concentration.
If you are not alone and live with others, cultivate the habit of not externalising yourself constantly by speaking aloud, and you will notice that little by little an inner understanding is established between yourself and others; you will then be able to communicate among yourselves with a minimum of words or even without any words at all. This outer silence is most favourable to inner peace, and with goodwill and a steadfast aspiration, you will be able to create a harmonious atmosphere which is very conducive to progress.
In social life, in addition to the words that concern material life and occupations, there will be those that express sensations, feelings and emotions. Here the habit of outer silence proves of valuable help. For when one is assailed by a wave of sensations or feelings, this habitual silence gives you time to reflect and, if necessary, to regain possession of yourself before projecting the sensation or feeling in words. How many quarrels can be avoided in this way; how many times one will be saved from one of those psychological catastrophes which are only too often the result of uncontrolled speech.
Without going to this extreme, one should always control the words one speaks and never allow one’s tongue to be prompted by a movement of anger, violence or temper. It is not only the quarrel that is bad in its results, but the fact of allowing one’s tongue to be used to project bad vibrations into the atmosphere; for nothing is more contagious than the vibrations of sound, and by giving these movements a chance to express themselves, one perpetuates them in oneself and in others.
Among the most undesirable kinds of idle talk must also be included everything that is said about others.
Unless you are responsible for certain people, as a guardian, a teacher or a departmental head, what others do or do not do is no concern of yours and you must refrain from talking about them, from giving your opinion about them and what they do, and from repeating what others may think or say about them.
It may happen that the very nature of your occupation makes it your duty to report what is taking place in a particular department, undertaking or communal work. But then the report should be confined to the work alone and not touch upon private matters. And as an absolute rule, it must be wholly objective. You should not allow any personal reaction, any preference, any like or dislike to creep in. And above all, never introduce your own petty personal grudges into the work that is assigned to you.
In all cases and as a general rule, the less one speaks of others, even to praise them, the better. It is already so difficult to know exactly what is happening in oneself – how can one know with certainty what is happening in others ? So you must totally abstain from pronouncing upon anybody one of those final judgments which cannot but be foolish if not spiteful.
When a thought is expressed in speech, the vibration of the sound has a considerable power to bring the most material substance into contact with the thought, thus giving it a concrete and effective reality. That is why one must never speak ill of people or things or say things which go against the progress of the divine realisation in the world. This is an absolute general rule. And yet it has one exception. You should not criticise anything unless at the same time you have the conscious power and active will to dissolve or transform the movements or things you criticise. For this conscious power and active will have the capacity of infusing Matter with the possibility to react and refuse the bad vibration and ultimately to correct it so that it becomes impossible for it to go on expressing itself on the physical plane.
To be continued.