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At the Feet of The Mother

Correspondence 1931, June

June 2, 1931

It was not half sleep or quarter sleep or even sixteenth sleep that you had; it was the going inside of the consciousness, which in that state remains conscious but shut to outer things and open only to inner experience. You must distinguish clearly between these two quite different states, one is nidrā [sleep], the other the beginning at least of samādhi (not nirvikalpa, of course). This drawing inside is necessary because the active mind of the human being is at first too much turned to outward things; it has to go inside altogether in order to live in the inner being (inner mind, inner vital, inner physical, psychic). But with training one can remain outwardly conscious and live in the inner being and has at will the indrawn or the outpoured experience; you will then have the same experience of dense immobility and the inpouring of a greater and purer consciousness in the waking state as in what you erroneously call sleep.

As for working, it depends on what you mean by the word. Desire often leads either to excess of effort, meaning often much labour and a limited fruit with strain, exhaustion and in case of difficulty or failure, despondence, disbelief or revolt; or else it leads to pulling down the force. That can be done, but except for the yogically strong and experienced, it is not always safe, though it may be often very effective; not safe, first, because it may lead to violent reactions or it brings down contrary or wrong or mixed forces which the sadhak is not experienced enough to distinguish from the true ones. Or else it may substitute the sadhak’s own limited power of experience or mental and vital constructions for the free gift and true leading of the Divine. Cases differ, each has his own way of sadhana. But for you what I would recommend is constant openness, a quiet steady aspiration, no over-eagerness, a cheerful trust and patience.

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June 8, 1931

It is true I read through Aldous Huxley’s monster, but it took me several months to finish it. This is not because I object to “light” literature, but because I find only an occasional quarter of an hour in three or four days to glance at it. If Sarat Chatterji[1] does not mind my treating his book to the same tortoise dharma, I will undertake to read it; but I can make no promises as to time etc. Possibly it will take less time than the Round Table Conference.[2] As to giving him a new turn, that, I fear, is beyond me; besides, in this field I was once a voracious reader, but never a critic or creator.

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June 21, 1931

Three poems marked (1, 4, 6). Letter follows.

Excuse telegraphic style — it is because of the return of post.[3]

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June 22, 1931

I kept Khitish Sen’s translations with the idea of toning down some of the rather effete archaisms and other inelegances with which he unfortunately strews or rather peppers his work; but I renounce the endeavour, it would take too much of my time. I have marked the three poems which seem to me the best; they achieve something, in spite of some glaring faults of detail, are fairly equal and make something like a harmonious whole. There is a certain beauty of thought and expression kept up throughout. The other translations have lines and passages of merit, but fail as a whole.

The poetry of your friend is rather irritating, because it is always just missing what it ought to achieve, — one feels a considerable poetic possibility which does not produce work of permanence because it is not scrupulous enough or has not a true technique. The reasons for the failure can be felt, but are not easy to analyse. Among them there is evidently the misfortune of having passed strongly under the influence of poets who are quite out of date and learned a poetic style and language full of turns that smell of the schoolroom and the bookworm’s closet. Such awful things as “unsoughten,” “a-journeying,” “a-knocking,” “strayed gift” and the constant abuse of the auxiliary verb “to do” would be enough to down even the best poem. If he would rigorously modernise his language one obstacle to real poetic success would perhaps disappear, — provided he does not, on the contrary, colloquialise it too much — e.g. “my dear” etc. But the other grave defect is that he is constantly composing out of his brain, while one feels that a pressure from a deeper source is there and might break through, if only he would let it. Of course, it is a foreign language he is writing and very few can do their poetic best in a learned medium — but still the defect is there.

As to the novel, perhaps I simply meant that I was unwilling to exercise my critic’s scalpel on a living master of the art. In poetry it is different because I am there both a critic and a creator.

Yes, the mantra (not necessarily in the Upanishads) as I have tried to describe it in the Future Poetry is what comes from the Overmind inspiration. Its characteristics are a language that says infinitely more than the mere sense of the words seems to indicate, a rhythm that means even more than the language and is born out of the Infinite and disappears into it and the power to convey not merely the mental, vital or physical contents or indications or values of the thing it speaks of, but its value and figure in some fundamental and original consciousness which is behind all these. The passages you mention (from the Upanishad and the Gita) have certainly the Overmind accent. But ordinarily, as I have said, the Overmind inspiration does not come out pure in human poetry — it has to take hold of something that was meant to be a mental, vital or other utterance and lift it by a seizure and surprise from above into the overmind largeness. But in doing so there is usually a mixture of the two elements. You must remember that the Overmind is a superhuman consciousness and to be able to write always or purely from an overmind inspiration would mean the elevation of at least a part of the nature beyond the human level. But to write of these things would need a greater length of exposition than I can give you at present.

But how then do you expect a supramental inspiration to come down here when the Overmind itself is so rarely in human reach? That is always the error of the impatient aspirant, to think he can get the Supermind without going through the intervening stages or to imagine that he has got it when in fact he has only got something from the illumined or intuitive or at the highest some kind of mixed Overmind consciousness.

As for your last question you are not likely to get any answer until the thing attempted (supposing it is being attempted) is accomplished.

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June 27, 1931

It is not surprising that you could not find out what you had done to make the Mother change her attitude towards you, and this for two good reasons, — first, that you had done nothing, and, second, that the Mother’s feeling for you and her attitude had not changed at all — not in any smallest respect not in the least shadow of a degree. She has the same care and love as she always had and during the last few days of which you speak they were not clouded for a moment.

Then you ask, if so, why do I feel like this or like that? I can only answer that, in their origin, they were not your own feelings at all, but rather ideas, impressions, impulses pushed into your lower vital from outside; your mistake has been to admit them and identify them as your own — from want of knowledge and experience in these matters. There are certain vital forces of this lower vital plane that are constantly wandering about the Ashram and trying to push their movements now on one, now on another, now on several at a time. The processus is always the same. First, suggestions, — the Mother has done this or not done that, she has said this or not said that, she has had this or that thought about me or feeling towards me, she is displeased with me, unfair to me, partial to others, etc. etc. etc.; next, discouragement, wounded feelings, jealousy, despondency, revolt or any other kindred vital downfall or upheaval; result, the impulse to withdraw from the Mother, not to give her flowers or take flowers, to go away from soup[4] or pranam, not to come there, to shut oneself away from her altogether, to give up the Yoga, to go away or worse. I give you the whole round in its ground plan, omitting many variations, so that you may be on your guard the next time these suggestions try to come. If you don’t want to be misled by them and to go through such quite groundless and unnecessary disturbance and trouble, you must recognise them immediately they come, cast them out by the neck or break their backs as you would a snake’s.

For they are in their nature not only irrational, but strongly mechanical. Irrational, because they have no true ground in reality. They are ready enough to seize in some (usually trifling) outward appearances and twist them this way or that in order to convince the easily deceived physical mind; they will even create circumstances and make them appear to have that colour. But if they cannot find or create, they will go on just as merrily with no other ground than imaginations or impressions which they persuade their victims to take for realities. And they are mechanical because, once they can make the mind their field, they always recur with the same inevitable round of suggestions, the same ideas, the same feelings, the same impulses, the same actions in consequence. It is like a recurrent illness with always the same series of symptoms and the same “course.” And the object is always the same, to create a distance between the sadhak and the Mother and so to break the sadhana. It is a great mistake to think, as some do, that the Mother in such cases pushes the sadhak away from her; on the contrary, it is he who pushes her away from him under the influence of these forces and believes all the time — for they have a great power of blinding the mind and clouding the judgment — that she is to blame.

To show how these suggestions mislead once one starts listening to them, I may instance the matter of your sister’s letters. The Mother and I have always accepted without reservation your sister’s coming and neither today nor at any other time had she the least idea in her mind against it. On the contrary, when you came in the midst of a hard and trying morning, she gave you full time, heard all you had to say, made her own suggestions and gave her full acquiescence. What more could she have done? And yet you have this suggestion made to you that she does not really want, that she is not frank, that she is cold to you about the matter. Why? Precisely because there was this predisposing influence at work on the lookout for any pretext to mislead you, — any, even less than a shadow’s shadow.

I must ask you therefore to dismiss this kind of suggestion, these feelings and all the cycle in future the moment they try to come. Never mind, what circumstances or justifications they may allege. Nothing is more dangerous than the inferences of the physical mind trying to build up conclusions upon outward appearances — they have nine chances out of ten of being false. One must learn to distrust hasty conclusions from surface appearances — is not that the first condition of true knowledge? — and learn to see and know things from within.

You ask how to stem these movements? To begin with, observe three rules:

Keep always confidence in the Mother’s care and love — trust in them and distrust every suggestion, every appearance that seems to contradict.

Reject immediately every feeling, every impulse that makes you draw back from the Mother — such as that about the Pranam — from your true relation with her, from inner nearness, from a simple and straightforward confidence in her.

Do not lay too much stress on outward signs — your observation of them may easily mislead you. Keep yourself open to her and feel with your heart — the inner heart, not the surface vital desire, but the heart of true emotion, — there you are more likely to find her and be always near her in yourself and receive what constantly she is working to give you.

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June 28, 1931

I think Abhipsa does very well for aspiration. I don’t recollect just now any Vedic word for it.

The attitude you describe is just what it should be — there is nothing wrong in it, — nor in your reading or letter-writing etc. There can be no objection to these activities in themselves, for the Yoga; only they must be done with the right attitude and spirit and as part of the sadhana — because the whole life has to become a sadhana, until it is able to become, the whole life, an embodiment of the siddhi.

If Sahana gives up music, — I presume it is only a temporary stop — I suppose it must be for a reason personal to her sadhana. There is no incompatibility in principle between music and sadhana.

Of course I heard your music. I am no judge of technical merit in that field, but it seems to me that in the inner element and the psychological source of your singing and its music, if I may so express it, there has been a great deepening and change, a true advance, and that here also your Yoga is justified by its fruits.

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[1] Sarat Chandra Chatterji (15 September 1876 – 16 January 1938), a top Bengali novelist and short story writer. He is ranked just after Rabindranath in Bengali literature. Some of his books are based on his own adventures of which he had plenty. He had also joined several political movements, and written articles on politics which are scattered in various periodicals.

[2] A conference held in London in 1930-32 to draw up a new Constitution for India.

[3] I.e., when every morning the disciples’ letters or notebooks would be returned to them with Sri Aurobindo’s answers.

[4] Mother used to distribute soup every evening. She would first meditate while keeping her hands extended over the container. Meditation over, one by one the disciples approached with an empty cup which Mother filled with the hot soup.

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It is not the personality, the character that is of the first importance in rebirth — it is the psychic being who stands behind the evolution of the nature and evolves with it.