In oneself, there are contradictory wills.
Yes, many. That is one of the very first discoveries. There is one part which wants things this way; and then at another moment, another way, and a third time, one wants still another thing! Besides, there is even this: something that wants and another which says no. So? But it is exactly that which has to be found if you wish in the least to organise yourself. Why not project yourself upon a screen, as in the cinema, and then look at yourself moving on it? How interesting it is!
This is the first step.
You project yourself on the screen and then observe and see all that is moving there and how it moves and what happens. You make a little diagram, it becomes so interesting then. And then, after a while, when you are quite accustomed to seeing, you can go one step further and take a decision. Or even a still greater step: you organise — arrange, take up all that, put each thing in its place, organise in such a way that you begin to have a straight movement with an inner meaning. And then you become conscious of your direction and are able to say: "Very well, it will be thus; my life will develop in that way, because that is the logic of my being. Now, I have arranged all that within me, each thing has been put in its place, and so naturally a central orientation is forming. I am following this orientation. One step more and I know what will happen to me for I myself am deciding it...." I do not know, I am telling you this; to me it seemed terribly interesting, the most interesting thing in the world. There was nothing, no other thing that interested me more than that.
This happened to me.... I was five or six or seven years old (at seven the thing became quite serious) and I had a father who loved the circus, and he came and told me: "Come with [old p. 200]me, I am going to the circus on Sunday." I said: "No, I am doing something much more interesting than going to the circus!" Or [new p. 198]again, young friends invited me to attend a meeting where we were to play together, enjoy together: "No, I enjoy here much more...." And it was quite sincere. It was not a pose: for me, it was like this, it was true. There was nothing in the world more enjoyable than that.
And I am so convinced that anybody who does it in that way, with the same freshness and sincerity, will obtain most interesting results.... To put all that on a screen in front of yourself and look at what is happening. And the first step is to know all that is happening and then you must not try to shut your eyes when something does not appear pleasant to you! You must keep them wide open and put each thing in that way before the screen. Then you make quite an interesting discovery. And then the next step is to start telling yourself: "Since all that is happening within me, why should I not put this thing in this way and then that thing in that way and then this other in this way and thus wouldn't I be doing something logical that has a meaning? Why should I not remove that thing which stands obstructing the way, these conflicting wills? Why? And what does that represent in the being? Why is it there? If it were put there, would it not help instead of harming me?" And so on.
And little by little, little by little, you see clearer and then you see why you are made like that, what is the thing you have got to do — that for which you are born. And then, quite naturally, since all is organised for this thing to happen, the path becomes straight and you can say beforehand: "It is in this way that it will happen." And when things come from outside to try and upset all that, you are able to say: "No, I accept this, for it helps; I reject that, for that harms." And then, after a few years, you curb yourself as you curb a horse: you do whatever you like, in the way you like and you go wherever you like.
It seems to me this is worth the trouble. I believe it is the most interesting thing. [old p. 201]
Mother, what is this little screen? [new p. 199]
This screen? It is the psychic consciousness.
And this play? 1
Play? It is the play of the central consciousness. It is precisely the consciousness that is at the origin of the psychic being. And then there you have to take only a tiny step to find out how this psychic consciousness should reflect and translate the one supreme Consciousness. And there the matter ends. This last step becomes very easy.
But it is the secret that's discovered at the end. And when it is discovered, there is no more fighting, for the battle has already been fought and everything arranged; so it is in one single movement and in a way as simple, as natural and as straight as possible that the thing happens, without any reaction.
I think that is what the sages of the past meant when they said: "Know thyself." Not anything else. But then, instead of going in there as if with a bandage on your eyes, and knocking your nose or forehead against something hard to find out that it is hard or that it is a wall or a closed door or an obstruction or some bad will; instead of all that, there is no need of years of experience and all kinds of misfortune and more or less unpleasant circumstances, in order to learn to know oneself: you do the work quietly, as I said.
When I did that, there was no cinema, so I could not compare what I was doing with the cinema — it was not yet there, [old p. 202]but it is exactly like projecting on the screen what is inside, [new p. 200]objectifying it. And a screen that's all white, quite smooth, that does not deform. If the screen were not quite smooth and very white, your image would be all hazy, you would not be able to see anything. Well, it is the same thing. The screen must be very white, quite smooth, quite clean, quite pure. Then one sees things as they are.
You must have a great deal of sincerity, a little courage and perseverance and then a sort of mental curiosity, you understand, curious, seeking to know, interested, wanting to learn. To love to learn: that, one must have in one's nature. To find it impossible to stand before something grey, all hazy, in which nothing is seen clearly and which gives you quite an unpleasant feeling, for you do not know where you begin and where you end, what is yours and what is not yours and what is settled and what is not settled — what is this pulp-like thing you call yourself in which things get intermingled and act upon one another without even your being aware of it? You ask yourself: "But why have I done this?" You know nothing about it. "And why have I felt that?" You don't know that, either. And then, you are thrown into a world outside that is only fog and you are thrown into a world inside that is also for you another kind of fog, still more impenetrable, in which you live, like a cork thrown upon the waters and the waves carry it away or cast it into the air, and it drops and rolls on. That is quite an unpleasant state. I do not know, but to me it appears unpleasant.
To see clearly, to see one's way, where one is going, why one is going there, how one is to go there and what one is going to do and what is the kind of relation with others... But that is a problem so wonderfully interesting — it is interesting — and you can always discover things every minute! One's work is never finished.
There is a time, there is a certain state of consciousness when you have the feeling that you are in that condition with all the weight of the world lying heavy upon you and besides you are [old p. 203]going in blinkers and do not know where you are going, but [new p. 201]there is something which is pushing you. And that is truly a very unpleasant condition. And there is another moment when one draws oneself up and is able to see what is there above, and one becomes it; then one looks at the world as though from the top of a very very high mountain and one sees all that is happening below; then one can choose one's way and follow it. That is a more pleasant condition. This then is truly the truth, you are upon earth for that, surely. All individual beings and all the little concentrations of consciousness were created to do this work. It is the very reason for existence: to be able to become fully conscious of a certain sum of vibrations representing an individual being and put order there and find one's way and follow it.
And so, as men do not know it and do not do it, life comes and gives them a blow here: "Oh! that hurts", then a blow there: "Ah! that's hurting me." And the thing goes on like that and all the time it is like that. And all the time they are getting pain somewhere. They suffer, they cry, they groan. But it is simply due to that reason, there is no other: it is that they have not done that little work. If, when they were quite young, there had been someone to teach them to do the work and they had done it without losing time, they could have gone through life gloriously and instead of suffering they would have been all-powerful masters of their destiny.
This is not to say that necessarily all things would become pleasant. It is not at all that. But your reaction towards things becomes the true reaction and instead of suffering, you learn; instead of being miserable, you go forward and progress.
After all, I believe it is for this that you are here — so that there is someone who can tell you: "There, well, try that. It is worth trying." Indeed, this should be said when children are quite young. For unless it be awakened in their consciousness, they won't understand. Yet it can be done even with a very young brain, for at five one doesn't have a very big brain; you [old p. 204]have particularly the feeling that there are gaps, that many things [new p. 202]should be known but are not known. The brain has not yet been formed. There is the consciousness there, fully conscious, luminous, clear-sighted, all is there; but there are gaps, and when one tries to draw anything out of it, it does not come through. That is what happens when one is quite young. But if one continues little by little, little by little, the ideas are organised as they come, and instead of being a chaos which must be put into order afterwards, it gets organised as it takes shape. It is a great advantage.
1In the universal play there are some, the majority, who are ignorant instruments; they are actors who are moved about like puppets, knowing nothing. There are others who are conscious, and these act their part, knowing that it is a play. And there are some who have the full knowledge of the universal movement and are identified with it and with the one Divine Consciousness and yet consent to act as though they were something separate, a division of the whole. There are many intermediary stages between that ignorance and this full knowledge, many ways of participating in the play. — Questions and Answers 1929, (26 May)
Collected Works of The Mother, Second Edition, Volume 5, pp. 197–202
Here is a short passage by Sri Aurobindo describing human nature