The Mother's treasures
There should be two parallel movements in the evolution of an individual; and it is because he generally neglects one or the other of these movements in order to concentrate on one alone, that his progress is so halting and so unbalanced.
There should be two parallel movements in the evolution of an individual; and it is because he generally neglects one or the other of these movements in order to concentrate on one alone, that his progress is so halting and so unbalanced.
One of these movements is to become conscious of all the constituent elements of the being, material and sensory as well as intellectual and spiritual; we must become acquainted with the mechanism of the life within us, with all its tendencies, qualities, faculties and varied activities, very impartially, that is, without any preconceived idea of good or evil, without any absolute or arbitrary judgment (for our judgments are inevitably lacking in clear-sightedness) about what should subsist and what should disappear, what should be encouraged and what should be suppressed. Our vision of what we are must be objective, without bias, if we want it to be sincere and integral: we are faced with a universe which we must explore down to its smallest details, know in its most obscure and infinitesimal elements, with a scientific attitude of perfect mental impersonality, that is, without any a priori judgments.
Whatever we may think, this work of observation, analysis and introspection is never completed. At all events, as long as we are on earth in a physical body, we should always study the immensely complex being that we are, so that no element may elude our knowledge and therefore our control: for we can only master what we know and command what we have mastered.
This brings us to the second movement which should exist parallel to and simultaneous with the first. It is the consecration, the constant and constantly repeated surrender of all the elements subject to our control to the Supreme and Divine Law.
Each element that has become conscious of itself, each tendency, each faculty, must surrender to the Sovereign Guidance of the Eternal Essence of Being, with the simple trust of a child; She will order, classify and utilise all these elements in the right way; She and She alone can separate what can be used from what cannot, what must be encouraged from what must be eliminated; and, no doubt, as before Her all is of equal value, all can be used, since by Her all is transformed, illumined, transfigured: all that becomes conscious of Her and gives itself to Her becomes Herself and thus escapes all notions of good and evil, which are purely external and human.
One of these movements, one of these attitudes without the other is incomplete and one-sided. To consecrate our being in one block to the Supreme Essence is not enough: all the elements that we do not know and have not mastered elude this consecration and therefore follow their own law instead of conforming to the Eternal Law, and become the source of every disturbance, every unexpected revolt in one who had yet thought himself to be entirely a servant of The Law. But he was forgetful of all the unknown nooks in his being which also have a claim to life and activity and which are manifested in their turn, but in an activity that is disorderly and disharmonious relative to the being as a whole, since they elude the central will.
On the other hand, to become conscious of ourselves in our smallest details is vain and sterile, even dangerous, if it is not done for the sake of order, so that the Divine Essence can be made the Omnipotent ruler of all these elements, if we do not secure their unreserved surrender to Her supreme guidance, to The Sovereign Law.
Only in the balanced union of these two attitudes can one truly, integrally, call oneself a Servant of the Eternal.
The Mother, MCW-02, pp. 132-133
with thanks to M.S. Srinivasan for the selection
The human individual is a very complex being: ... one can acquire a quality at its purest ... by fighting against and overcoming all that weakens and contradicts it...
The human individual is a very complex being: he is composed of innumerable elements, each one of which is an independent entity and has almost a personality. Not only so, the most contradictory elements are housed together. If there is a particular quality or capacity present, the very opposite of it, annulling it, as it were, will also be found along with it and embracing it. I have seen a man brave, courageous, heroic to the extreme, flinching from no danger, facing unperturbed the utmost peril, truly the bravest of the brave; and yet I have seen the same man cowering in abject terror, like the last of poltroons, in the presence of certain circumstances. I have seen a most generous man giving things away largely, freely, not counting any expenditure or sacrifice, without the least care or reservation; the same person I have also found to be the vilest of misers with respect to certain other considerations. Again, I have seen the most intelligent person, with a clear mind, full of light and understanding, easily comprehending the logic and implication of a topic; and yet I have seen him betraying the utmost stupidity of which even an ordinary man without education or intelligence would be incapable. These are not theoretical examples: I have come across such persons actually in life.
The complexity arises not only in extension but also in depth. Man does not live on a single plane but on many planes at the same time. There is a scale of gradation in human consciousness: the higher one rises in the scale the greater the number of elements or personalities that one possesses. Whether one lives mostly or mainly on the physical or vital or mental plane or on any particular section of these planes or on the planes above and beyond them, there will be, accordingly, differences in the constitution or psycho-physical make-up of the individual personality. The higher one stands, the richer the personality, because it lives not only on its own normal level but also on all the levels that are below it and which it has transcended. The complete or integral man, some occultists say, possesses three hundred and sixty-five personalities; indeed it may be much more. The Vedas speak of the three and thirty-three and thirty-three hundred and thirty-three thousand gods that may be housed in the human vehicle—the basic three being evidently the triple status or world of Body, Life and Mind.
What is the meaning of this self-contradiction, this division in man? To understand that, we must know and remember that each person represents a certain quality or capacity, a particular achievement to be embodied. How best can it be done? What is the way by which one can acquire a quality at its purest, highest and most perfect? It is by setting an opposition to it. That is how a power is increased and strengthened—by fighting against and overcoming all that weakens and contradicts it. The deficiencies with respect to a particular quality show you where you have to mend and reinforce it and in what way to improve it in order to make it perfectly perfect. It is the hammer that beats the weak and soft iron to transform it into hard steel. The preliminary discord is useful and needs to be utilised for a higher harmony. This is the secret of self-conflict in man. You are weakest precisely in that element which is destined to be your greatest asset.
Each man has then a mission to fulfil, a role to play in the universe, a part he has been given to learn and take up in the cosmic Purpose, a part which he alone is capable of executing and none other. This he has to learn and acquire through life-experiences, that is to say, not in one life but in life after life. In fact, that is the meaning of the chain of lives that the individual has to pass through, namely, to acquire experiences and to gather from them the thread—the skein of qualities and attributes, powers and capacities—for the pattern of life he has to weave. Now, the inmost being, the true personality, the central consciousness of the evolving individual is his psychic being. It is, as it were, a very tiny spark of light lying in normal people far behind the life-experiences. In grown-up souls this psychic consciousness has an increased light—increased in intensity, volume and richness. Thus there are old souls and new souls. Old and ancient are those that have reached or are about to reach the fullness of perfection; they have passed through a long history of innumerable lives and developed the most complex and yet the most integrated personality. New souls are those that have just emerged or are now emerging out of the mere physico-vital existence; they are like simple organisms, made of fewer constituents related mostly to the bodily life, with just a modicum of the mental. It is the soul, however, that grows with experiences and it is the soul that builds and enriches the personality. Whatever portion of the outer life, whatever element in the mind or vital or body succeeds in coming into contact with the psychic consciousness—that is to say, is able to come under its influence—is taken up and lodged there: it remains in the psychic being as its living memory and permanent possession. It is such elements that form the basis, the groundwork upon which the structure of the integral and true personality is raised.
The first thing to do then is to find out what it is that you are meant to realise, what is the role you have to play, your particular mission, and the capacity or quality you have to express. You have to discover that and also the thing or things that oppose and do not allow it to flower or come to full manifestation. In other words, you have to know yourself, recognise your soul or psychic being.
For that you must be absolutely sincere and impartial. You must observe yourself as if you were observing and criticising a third person. You must not start with an idea that this is your life's mission, this is your particular capacity, this you are to do or that you are to do, in this lies your talent or genius, etc. That will carry you away from the right track. It is not the liking or disliking of your external being, your mental or vital or physical choice that determines the true line of your growth. Nor should you take up the opposite attitude and say, "I am good for nothing in this matter, I am useless in that one; it is not for me." Neither vanity and arrogance nor self-depreciation and false modesty should move you. As I said, you must be absolutely impartial and unconcerned. You should be like a mirror that reflects the truth and does not judge.
If you are able to keep such an attitude, if you have this repose and quiet trust in your being and wait for what may be revealed to you, then something like this happens: you are, as it were, in a wood, dark and noiseless; you see in front of you merely a sheet of water, dark and still, hardly visible—a bit of a pond imbedded in the obscurity; and slowly upon it a moonbeam is cast and in the cool dim light emerges the calm liquid surface. That is how your secret truth of being will appear and present itself to you at your first contact with it: there you will see gradually reflected the true qualities of your being, the traits of your divine personality, what you really are and what you are meant to be.
One who has thus known himself and possessed himself conquering all opposition within himself, has by that very fact extended himself and his conquest, making it easier for others to make the same or a similar conquest. These are the pioneers or the elite who by a victorious campaign within themselves help others towards their victory.
—The Mother, MCW, Vol. 15, pp. 334-37
[T]]hey did not seem to attach importance to anything other than the capacity to remain in conscious contact with the higher Force. It was ... “a longing” for this contact with the divine Force, the Force of Harmony, the Force of Truth, the Force of Love.
[B]odies appear to me simply as conglomerates and so long as there is a will behind to keep them together for some reason or other, they remain together.... In the last few days, yesterday or the day before, there was this experience: a kind of consciousness wholly decentralised (I am speaking always of the physical consciousness, not of the higher consciousness at all), a decentralised consciousness which happened to be here, there, there, in this body, in that body (in what people call “this person” and “that person”, but this notion does not exist very much any more), then there was a kind of intervention of a universal consciousness with regard to the cells, as though it asked those cells for what reason they wanted to keep this combination, if one can call it so, or that conglomerate. Indeed, they were made to understand or feel the difficulties coming from the number of years, the wear and tear, the external difficulties, in sum, all the deterioration caused by friction and usage—but that seemed to them quite unimportant. The answer was rather interesting in the sense that they did not seem to attach importance to anything other than the capacity to remain in conscious contact with the higher Force. It was like an aspiration (not formulated in words, naturally), what is called in English “a yearning”, “a longing” for this contact with the divine Force, the Force of Harmony, the Force of Truth, the Force of Love. And it is because of that that they appreciate the present combination.
It is altogether another point of view.
I express it with the words of the mind, for there is no other way, but it was in the domain of sensation rather than any other thing. And it was very clear—it was very clear and very continuous, there were no fluctuations. At that moment, this universal consciousness intervened, saying, “There!—the obstacles”, and these obstacles were clearly seen (this kind of pessimism of the mind—a formless mind which is about to be born and organise itself in the cells), but the cells themselves cared nothing for it; it appeared to them as a kind of disease (the word deforms, but they had the impression as of an accident or an inevitable disease or something which did not form a normal part of their development and which was imposed upon them). Then, at that moment, there was born a kind of lower power to act upon these things (this physical mind); that has given a material power to separate itself from that and reject it. And it is after that that there was this turning of which I spoke just now, the turning in the circumstances as a whole, as if truly something decisive had happened. There was as though a confident joy: “Ah! We are free from this nightmare.”
And at the same time, a relief—a physical relief, as though the air was easier to breathe—yes, a little as though one was closed in a shell—a suffocating shell—and that... in any case an opening has been made within. And you breathe. I do not know if it is more than that, but it is as though a fissure was made, an opening, and you breathe.
And it was an altogether material, cellular action.
But as you descend into that domain, the domain of the cells, even of the very constitution of the cells, how it seems less heavy! This sort of heaviness of Matter disappears—it begins again to be fluid, vibrant. This would tend to prove that the heaviness, thickness, inertia, immobility, is something added, it is not a quality essential to... it is the false Matter, that which we think and feel, but not Matter itself, as it is. This was clearly felt.
The best one can do is not to take sides, not to have preconceived ideas or principles. Oh! The moral principles, the set rules of conduct, what one must do and what one must not and the preconceived ideas from the moral point of view, from the point of view of progress, and all the social and mental conventions... no worse obstacle than that. There are people, I know people who have lost decades in surmounting one such mental construction!... If one can be like that, open—truly open in a simplicity, well, the simplicity that knows that it is ignorant—like that (gesture upward, of self-abandon), ready to receive whatever comes. Then something can happen.
And naturally, the thirst for progress, the thirst for knowledge, the thirst for transformation and, above all, the thirst for Love and Truth—if one keeps that, one goes quicker. Truly a thirst, a need, a need.
All the rest has no importance; it is that one has need of.
To cling to something one believes that one knows, to cling to something that one feels, to cling to something that one loves, to cling to one’s habits, to cling to one’s so-called needs, to cling to the world as it is, it is that which binds you. You must undo all that, one thing after another. Undo all the ties. And it has been said thousands of times and people continue to do the same thing.... Even they who are most eloquent and preach that to others, do c-l-i-n-g—they cling to their way of seeing, their way of feeling, their habit of progress, which seems for them the only one.
No more bonds—free, free. Always ready to change everything, except one thing: to aspire, this thirst.
I understand well, there are people who do not like the idea of a “Divine”, because immediately it gets mixed up with all those European or Occidental conceptions (which are horrible) and then that complicates their life somewhat—but you are not in need of that!—the “Something” one is in need of, the Love one is in need of, the Truth one is in need of, the supreme Perfection one is in need of—and that is all. The formulas... the fewer formulas there are the better. But that: a need, which the Thing alone can satisfy—nothing else, no half-measure, only that. And then, you go!... Your way will be your way, that has no importance—whatever the way, it does not matter, it does not matter; even the extravagances of the modern American youth can be a way; that has no importance.
As Sri Aurobindo says: “If you cannot make God love you, make Him fight you. If He will not give you the embrace of the lover, compel Him to give you the embrace of the wrestler.”(Thoughts and Aphorisms, CWSA-12, p. 482) For He is sure to conquer you.
MCW-11, p.1-7. Notes on the Way, 7 October 1964
[W]hen this reversal of consciousness takes place, once this is established, it is over; you no longer go back, you do not ever return to what you were before.
[W]hen this reversal of consciousness takes place, whether in the mind or a part of the mind, whether in the vital or a part of the vital, or even in the physical consciousness itself and in the body-consciousness, once this is established, it is over; you no longer go back, you do not ever return to what you were before.
It is usually the first contact with the psychic being which brings this experience, but it is only partial, only that part of the consciousness--or of the activity in any part of the being--that part of the consciousness which is united with the psychic has the experience. And so, at the moment of that experience, the position of that part of the consciousness, in relation to the other parts and to the world, is completely reversed, it is different. And that is never undone. And if you have the will or take care or are able to put into contact with this part all the problems of your life and all the activities of your being, all the elements of your consciousness, then they begin to be organised in such a way that your being becomes one unity--a single multiplicity, a multiple unity--complex, but organised and centralised around a fixed point, so well that the central will or central consciousness or central truth has the power to govern all the parts, for they are all in order, organised around this central Presence.
It seems to me impossible to escape from this necessity if one wants to be and is to be a conscious instrument of the divine [new p. 174][old p. 175]Force. You may be moved, pushed into action and used as unconscious instruments by the divine Force, if you have a minimum of goodwill and sincerity. But to become a conscious instrument, capable of identification and conscious, willed movements, you must have this inner organisation; otherwise you will always be running into a chaos somewhere, a confusion somewhere or an obscurity, an unconsciousness somewhere. And naturally your action, even though guided exclusively by the Divine, will not have the perfection of expression it has when one has acquired a conscious organisation around this divine Centre.
It is an assiduous task, which may be done at any time and under any circumstances, for you carry within yourself all the elements of the problem. You don't need anything from outside, no outer aid to do this work. But it requires great perseverance, a sort of tenacity, for very often it happens that there are bad "creases" in the being, habits--which come from all sorts of causes, which may come from atavistic malformation or also from education or from the environment you have lived in or from many other causes. And these bad creases you try to smooth out, but they wrinkle up again. And then you must begin the work over again, often, many, many, many a time, without getting discouraged, before the final result is obtained. But nothing and nobody can prevent you from doing it, nor any circumstance. For you carry within yourself the problem and the solution.
And to tell the truth, the most common malady humanity suffers from is boredom. Most of the stupidities men commit come from an attempt to escape boredom. Well, I say for certain that no outer means are any good, and that boredom pursues you and will pursue you no matter what you try to escape from it; but that this way, that is, beginning this work of organising [old p. 176]your being and all its movements and all its elements around the central [new p. 175]Consciousness and Presence, this is the surest and most complete cure, and the most comforting, for all possible boredom. It gives life a tremendous interest. And an extraordinary diversity. You no longer have the time to get bored.
Only, one must persevere.
And what adds to the interest of the thing is that this kind of work, this harmonisation and organisation of the being around the divine Centre can only be done in a physical body and on earth. That is truly the essential and original reason for physical life. For, as soon as you are no longer in a physical body, you can no longer do it at all.
And what is still more remarkable is that only human beings can do it, for only human beings have at their centre the divine Presence in the psychic being. For example, this work of self-development and organisation and becoming aware of all the elements is not within the reach of the beings of the vital and mental planes, nor even of the beings who are usually called "gods"; and when they want to do it, when they really want to organise themselves and become completely conscious, they have to take a body.
And yet, human beings come into a physical body without knowing why, most of them go through life without knowing why, they leave their body without knowing why, and they have to begin the same thing all over again, indefinitely, until one day, someone comes along and tells them, "Be careful! you know, there is a purpose to this. You are here for this work, don't miss your opportunity!"
And how many years are wasted. [new p. 176][old p. 177]
Collected Works of The Mother, Second Edition, Volume 8, pp. 173-175
If mankind only caught a glimpse of what infinite enjoyments, what perfect forces, what luminous reaches of spontaneous knowledge, what wide calms of our being lie waiting for us in the tracts which our animal evolution has not yet conquered, they would leave all and never rest till they had gained these treasures....
If mankind only caught a glimpse of what infinite enjoyments, what perfect forces, what luminous reaches of spontaneous knowledge, what wide calms of our being lie waiting for us in the tracts which our animal evolution has not yet conquered, they would leave all [new p. 11]and never rest till they had gained these treasures. But the way is narrow, the doors are hard to force, and fear, distrust and scepticism are there, sentinels of Nature, to forbid the turning away of our feet from her ordinary pastures.
Sri Aurobindo, Thoughts and Aphorisms, No. 5
What Sri Aurobindo has written [the words "caught a glimpse"] ... means to see something in its totality, but for a very brief moment. It is obvious that a constant vision of all these wonders would automatically compel you to set out on the path. It is also certain that a little fragmentary glimpse is not enough--it would not have enough weight to compel you to follow the path.
But if you had a total vision, however brief, you would not be able to resist the temptation of making the effort needed to realise it. But, in fact, the total vision is exceptional, and that is why Sri Aurobindo says to us: "If mankind only... "
To tell the truth, it very seldom happens that those who are ready, who are undoubtedly meant for realisation, do not have, at a certain moment in their lives, even if only for a few seconds, the experience of what this realisation is.
But even those whose destiny is certain have to struggle mightily, resolutely, against this "something" which one seems to take in with the very air one breathes: this fear, this dread of what may happen. And this is so stupid, because, in the final analysis, the destiny of each individual is the same: you are born, you live--more or less satisfactorily--and you die; then you wait for a certain length of time, and again you are born, you live--more or less satisfactorily--and again you die, and [old p. 12]so on indefinitely, until you feel you have had enough of it.
Fear of what? Fear of coming out of the rut? Fear of being free? Fear of no longer being a prisoner?
And then, when you have enough courage to overcome this, [new p. 12]when you say, "Come what may! After all, there's not much to lose", then you become wary, you wonder if it is reasonable, if it is true, if all that is not an illusion, if you are not just imagining things, if there is really any substance to it.... And mind you, this mistrust seems stupid, but you encounter it even in the most intelligent, even in those who have repeatedly had conclusive experiences--it is something that you take in with the food you eat, the air you breathe, your contacts with others; and that is why you can speak of the "tentacles of Nature", [Note: The translation the Mother had before her was based on a text which read "tentacles of Nature" instead of "sentinels of Nature".] everywhere, in all things, like an octopus stealing in and catching you and binding you.
Even when you have overcome these two obstacles, when the experiences are so strong that you can no longer doubt, that doubt becomes impossible--like doubting one's own life--then there remains something awful, petty, dry, corrosive: scepticism. And this is founded on human pride, that is why it lasts so long. You want to think that you are above all these things, "Oh, I am not one to fall into those traps! I am a reasonable man, I see things from a practical point of view; I'm not so easily deceived." It is awful!... It is sordid. But it is dangerous.
Even in moments of greatest enthusiasm, even when one is filled with an exceptional, marvellous experience--it rises from the lowest depths. It is ugly, slimy, disgusting. And yet it rises, and spoils everything.
To conquer it, one must be a mighty warrior. One must struggle against all the obscurities of Nature, against all her tricks, all her temptations.
Why does she do this? It is as if she were moving away from her own goal. But I have already explained this to you many [old p. 13]times. Nature knows very well where she is going and what the outcome is. She wants it, but... in her own way. She does not feel that any time is being wasted. She has all eternity before her. She [new p. 13]wants to follow her own way as she likes, meandering as much as she likes, going back on her tracks, straying from the straight path, starting the same thing all over again several times to see what will happen. And these enlightened cranks, who want to get there at once, as soon as possible, who thirst for truth, light, beauty, balance--they bother her, they urge her on, they tell her that she is wasting her time. Her time! She always replies, "But I have all eternity before me. Am I in a hurry? Why are you in such a hurry?" And again, with a smile: "Your haste is all too human; widen yourselves, become infinite, be eternal, and you will no longer be in a hurry."
There is so much fun on the way, for her... but not for everyone.
This is what happens when one sees things from a great height, from a great distance, when one's view is vast, almost infinite. Everything that upsets human beings and makes them suffer, disappears; so those who are very wise, who have abandoned life for the sake of higher wisdom tell you with a smile, "Why suffer? Come out of it and you will suffer no more." That is all very well individually but, in fact, if you think about others you may wish this rather tragic comedy would come to an end sooner. And it is very justifiable to feel tired of living like a beast at pasture, of roaming from one patch of grass to another, of ruminating in a corner, of having such narrow horizons and of missing all the splendours of life.
Perhaps it amuses Nature that we should be like that, but we are tired of it, we want to be different.
And that is it. When you have truly had enough of it and want things to be different, then you have the courage, the strength, the capacity to conquer these three terrible enemies: fear, doubt and scepticism. But I repeat, it is not enough to sit down one fine day, watch yourself be, and struggle with these [old p. 14]things inside you once and for all. You have to do it and do it again and again and continue in a way which seems almost endless, to be sure that you have got rid of it all. In [new p. 14]reality, you are perhaps never truly rid of it, but there comes a time when inside yourself, you are so different that you can no longer be touched by these things. You can see them, but you see them with a smile, and at a simple gesture they go away, back to where they came from, perhaps a little changed, perhaps a little less strong, less obstinate, less aggressive--until the time when the Light is so strong that all darkness vanishes.
As for the marvels Sri Aurobindo tells us about, it is better not to describe them, because each individual feels them, undergoes them, experiences them in his own way--and for each person that is the best way. One must not adopt another's way, one must go one's own way, then the experience has its full value, its full inestimable value.
And finally, I wish that you may all have these experiences yourselves. And for that, faith, confidence, much humaneness and great goodwill are needed.
Open, aspire, and... wait. It will surely come, the Grace is there. It asks only to be able to work for everyone.
Collected Works of The Mother, Second Edition, Volume 10, pp. 10–14