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At the Feet of The Mother

Correspondence 1930, April-September

April 11, 1930

The “Introduction” will do. I do not know quite which is the conversation on “surrender” to which you refer, as I have not just now the Conversations before me. You sent me one for inclusion (besides the two originally chosen) along with the other Mss. If it is that, you can include it.

I am afraid I cannot gratify the poetess; I have made it a rule not to sign or write anything in autograph books and if I break the rule in one case, I have no defence in others.

I am afraid the handwriting and style of the letter are rather affected, maniéré. There is no simple spontaneity — too much attempt to be something or show something that is put on. Probably she has tried too much to put on Tagore-colour to be herself. However I will look at her poems when I have leisure — it may not be very soon — and see what they are like.

*   *   *

April 16, 1930

The message on faithfulness to the soul’s Divine Ideal seems to me too personal to be published.

It is better not to speak of these things that concern the life of the Ashram and the Yoga to people (like these cyclists) coming from outside who are generally moved by curiosity of a most trivial and superficial kind. But the distorted interview seems to me more silly than intentionally malicious or capable of doing harm.

*   *   *

May 7, 1930

It does not matter about the poem.

I send back the farce; I cannot say that I have gone through it, but there is no objection to your giving it.

I have after so long a time got some idea of the introduction, but I do not know yet whether in the next few days it will materialise — or whether, when materialised, it will be satisfactory or even publishable. I will see in three or four days — though it is difficult to make time.

As for your sadhana — remember that an inner quietude, caused by the purification of the restless mind and vital, is the first condition of a secure sadhana. Next, that to feel the Mother’s presence while in external action is already a great step and one that cannot be attained without a considerable inner progress. Probably, what you feel that you need is a constant and vivid sense of the Mother’s force working in you, descending from above and taking possession of the different planes of your being. That is often a prior condition for the twofold movement of ascent and descent, and it will surely come in time. These things often take a long time to begin visibly, especially when the mind is accustomed to be very active and has not the habit of mental silence. When that is the case, much work has to be carried on behind the veil of the mind and the sadhak thinks nothing is happening when really much preparation is being done. If you want a more swift and visible progress, it can only be by bringing your psychic to the front through a constant self-offering. Aspire intensely, but without impatience.

P. S. More can certainly be given to the physician, but first, as he himself admits, the treatment must be finished and brought to a full and lasting success.

*   *   *

June 1, 1930

Re the dreams. You do not realise how much of the ordinary natural being lives in the subconscient physical. It is there that habitual movements, mental and vital, are stored and from there they come up into the waking mind. Driven out of the upper consciousness, it is in this cavern of the Panis that they take refuge. No longer allowed to emerge freely in the waking state, they come up in sleep in dreams. It is only when they are cleared out of the subconscient, their very seeds killed by the enlightening of these hidden layers, that they cease for good. As your consciousness deepens inwardly and the higher light comes down into these subliminal parts, these things will disappear.

I shall see whether I can get the thing done (the facts of the life) in these ten days.

I fear it is quite impossible for me to read what you sent me just now. Perhaps a week or two later. I suppose there can be no objection to your publishing the novel[1] — especially as there is no politics in it.

*   *   *

September 1930?

… I will try to explain the concentration; it is not really very difficult or abstruse. Nor is the Yoga so mysterious as all that; almost all the elements in it are quite familiar to the Vedantin, Vaishnava or Tantrik. It is only the combination of elements and their orientation that is new — and of course its being put in English instead of Sanskritic terms.

The “too good” idea is a delusion — it does not depend on that; people with less intelligence, more vital confusion and resistance, have at length got the opening. The main thing is to get rid of the despondency and disturbance of the mind, make it more quiet and peaceful too as to receive. I don’t expect you at all to do the thing off your own bat, once you get the habit of receiving (as you did with the poetry) I am prepared to take you the whole way myself. Not in a day of course; kāla [time] is necessary as well as the Guru.

*   *   *

September 1930?

I was very glad to get your letter and especially to know that you are more at peace. That is what is first needed, the settling down of a natural peace and quiet on the nature — the spiritual peace is a bigger thing that can come afterwards.

Then as to concentration. Ordinarily the consciousness is spread out everywhere, dispersed, running in this or that direction, after this subject and that object in multitude. When anything has to be done of a sustained nature the first thing one does is to draw back all this dispersed consciousness and concentrate. It is then, if one looks closely, bound to be concentrated in one place and on one occupation, subject or object — as when you are composing a poem or a botanist is studying a flower. The place is usually somewhere in the brain, if it is the thought, in the heart if it is the feeling in which one is concentrated. The yogic concentration is simply an extension and intensification of the same thing. It may be on an object as when one does trātak on a shining point — then one has to concentrate so that one sees only that point and has no other thought but that. It may be on an idea or word or a name, the idea of the Divine, the word OM, the name Krishna, or a combination of idea and word or idea and name. But, farther, in Yoga one also concentrates in a particular place. There is the famous rule of concentrating between the eyebrows — the centre of the inner mind, of occult vision, of the will is there. What you do is to think firmly from there on whatever you make the object of your concentration or else try to see the image of it from there. If you succeed in this, then after a time you feel that your whole consciousness is centred there in that place — of course for the time being. After doing it sometimes and often it becomes easy and normal.

I hope this is clear. Well, in this Yoga, you do the same, but not at that particular centre, but anywhere in the head or at the centre of the chest where the physiologists have fixed the cardiac centre. Instead of concentrating on an object, you concentrate in the head in a will, a call for the descent of the peace from above or, as some do, an opening of the unseen lid and an ascent of the consciousness above. In the heart centre one concentrates in an aspiration, for an opening, for the presence of the living image of the Divine there or whatever else is the object. There may be Japa of a name but, if so, there must also be a concentration on it and the name must repeat itself there in the heart centre.

It may be asked what becomes of the rest of the consciousness when there is this local concentration? Well, it either falls silent as in any concentration or, if it does not, then thoughts or other things may move about, as if outside, but the concentrated part does not attend to them or notice. That is when the concentration is reasonably successful.

One has not to fatigue oneself at first by long concentration if one is not accustomed, for then it loses its power and value. One can relax and meditate instead of concentrating. It is only as the concentration becomes normal that one can go on for a longer and longer time.

*   *   *

September 3, 1930

It is a very beautiful poem you have written.

I return your article. I have not been able to make time to go through the whole of it; I will read it when it is printed.

As to the book, I am afraid I have no time for such things. The twenty-four hours are already too short for what I have to do.

*   *   *

September 7, 1930

Yes, let your sister decide these things for herself; do not put any pressure upon her.

There is no reason why one should not receive through the thinking mind, as one receives through the vital, the emotional and the body. The thinking mind is as capable of receiving as these are, and, since it has to be transformed as well as the rest, it must be trained to receive, otherwise no transformation of it could take place.

It is the ordinary unenlightened activity of the intellect that is an obstacle to spiritual experience, just as is the ordinary unregenerated activity of the vital or the obscure stupidly obstructive consciousness of the body. What the sadhaka has to be warned against is, first, mistaking mental ideas and impressions or intellectual conclusions for realisation; secondly, the restless activity of the mere mind, chanchalaṃ manaḥ which disturbs the spontaneous accuracy of psychic and spiritual experience and gives no room for the descent of the true illuminating knowledge or else deforms it as soon as it touches the human mental plane. Always, it is substituting its own representations and constructions and opinions for the true knowledge. But if the intellect is surrendered, open, quiet, receptive, there is no reason why it should not be a means of reception of the light or an aid to the experience of spiritual states and an inner change.

*   *   *

[1]  A Bengali novel by Dilip: Ranger Parash (Touch of Colour).

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