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At the Feet of The Mother

Correspondence 1932, December (II)

December 17, 1932

There is no reason why you should stop writing letters — it is only one kind of letter that is in question and that is not a very good means of contact; you yourself felt the reaction was not favourable. I asked you to write because your need of unburdening the perilous matter in you was very great at the time and, although it did not relieve you at once, it kept me exactly informed of the turns of the fight and helped me to put a certain pressure on the attacking forces at a critical moment. But I do not believe any of these necessities now exists. It is rather a discouragement from within yourself of the source of these movements that is now the need; but putting them into words would tend, as I have said, to give them more body and substance.

It is an undoubted fact proved by hundreds of instances that for many the exact statement of their difficulties to us is the best and often, though not always, an immediate, even an instantaneous means of release. This has often been seen by sadhaks not only here, but far away, and not only for inner difficulties, but for illness and outer pressure of unfavourable circumstances. But for that a certain attitude is necessary — either a strong faith in the mind and vital or a habit of reception and response in the inner being. Where this habit has been established, I have seen it to be almost unfailingly effective, even when the faith was uncertain or the outer expression in the mind vague, ignorant or in its form mistaken or inaccurate. Moreover, this method succeeds most when the writer can write as a witness of his own movements and state them with an exact and almost impartial precision, as a phenomenon of his nature or the movement of a force affecting him from which he seeks release. On the other hand, if in writing his vital gets seized by the thing he is writing of and takes up the pen for him, — expressing and often supporting doubt, revolt, depression, despair, it becomes a very different matter. Even here sometimes the expression acts as a purge; but also the statement of the condition may lend energy to the attack, at least for the moment, and may seem to enhance and prolong it, exhausting it by its own violence perhaps for the time and so bringing in the end a relief, but at a heavy cost of upheaval and turmoil — and the risk of the recurring decimal movement, because the release has come by temporary exhaustion of the attacking force, not by rejection and purification through the intervention of the Divine Force with the unquestioning assent and support of the sadhak. There has been a confused fight, an intervention in a hurly-burly, not a clear alignment of forces — and the intervention of the helping force is not felt in the confusion and the whirl. This is what used to happen in your crises; the vital in you was deeply affected and began supporting and expressing the reasonings of the attacking force, — in place of a clear observation and expression of the difficulty by the vigilant mind laying the state of things in the light for the higher Light and Force to act upon it, there was a vehement statement of the case for the Opposition. Many sadhaks (even “advanced”) had made a habit of this kind of expression of their difficulties and some still do it; they cannot even yet understand that it is not the way. At one time it was a sort of gospel in the Ashram that this was the thing to be done, — I don’t know on what ground, for it was never part of my teaching about the Yoga, — but experience has shown that it does not work; it lands one in the recurring decimal notation, an unending round of struggle. It is quite different from the movement of self-opening that succeeds, (here too not necessarily in a moment, but still sensibly and progressively) and of which those are thinking who insist on every thing being opened to the Guru so that the help may be more effectively there.

It is inevitable that doubts and difficulties should arise in so arduous an undertaking as the transformation of the normal nature of man into the spiritual nature, the replacement of his system of externalised values and surface experience into profounder inner values and experience. But the doubts and difficulties cannot be overcome by giving them their full force; it can be rather done by learning to stand back from them and to refuse to be carried away; then there is a chance of the still small voice from within getting itself heard and pushing out these louder clamorous voices and movements from outside. It is the light from within that you have to make room for; the light of the outer mind is quite insufficient for the discovery of the inner values or to judge the truth of spiritual experience.

*   *   *

December 18 1932

In the typed letter[1] I have tried to explain the rationale of this matter of expression or non-expression of the difficulties that assail one in the Yoga. I don’t know whether I have been able to make it clear. But in any case it is not really a matter of principle, but of the needs of the case and the moment. You had to write at that time and to have been silent would have been more prejudicial than writing all that was coming up in you. But now I feel that you are right in not doing so any longer. It is necessary to establish in its place a habit of conscious inner response, that is really the thing truly helpful — and if you silence the itch of the outer reason, as you say you feel now development, that can be done. It is not that you do not respond, I have seen that you do, but the activity of the mind struggling to solve its own difficulties and the vital’s has stood a good deal in the way both of the quickness of the response and of your being conscious of it on the surface. What I want to say is that there is a deeper Light than the outer reasons in yourself, and it is getting access to that that is the most important thing for you to do. With this Light open in you, love and bhakti and Ananda will be more easy to feel and retain, for it is this that creates their needed atmosphere.

*   *   *

December 24, 1932

Today a Kanchenjungha of correspondence has fallen on my head, so I could not write about humanity and its progress. Were not the later views of Lowes Dickinson greyed over by the sickly cast of a disappointed idealism? I have not myself an exaggerated respect for humanity and what it is — but to say that there has been no progress is as much an exaggerated pessimism as the rapturous hallelujahs of the nineteenth century to a progressive Humanity were an exaggerated optimism. However of that later, if it may be; if I don’t get on my head too persistent an avalanche of Kanchenjungas.

I shall manage to read through the chapter you sent me, though how I manage to find time for these things is a standing miracle and a signal proof of a Divine Providence.

Yes, the “progress” you are making is of the genuine kind, — the signs are recognisable. And after all, the best way to make Humanity progress is to move on oneself — that may sound either individualistic or egoistic, but it isn’t: it is only common sense.

Yadyadācarati śreṣṭastattadevetaro janaḥ. [Whatever the best do is put into practice by the rest (Gita, 3.21).]

*   *   *

December 24, 1932

I had already read most of the article in the magazine — I read the whole or rather rushed through it this time; it is clear enough, I find. Who by the way are the friendly people who find your poems trashy and my approval partial — is it our dear X of Saturday fame? It sounds like his style. Such appreciations are after all part of the familiar savour of life and we should perhaps miss them if they were not there! It is argued by the philosophers that everything that exists has a use, so why not Sajani also?

*   *   *

December 26, 1932

I read in the papers a recent letter published from Subhash to a friend of his wherein he writes his prayer is “Let thy will be done.” I was anxious to read this — as a surgeon from Calcutta suggested an operation for application of oxygen whatever that might mean. I will pray.

But in the meanwhile could you possibly make an exception in his case? I want to send him the Chapter I Saurin typed. It will, I am sure, be just the aliment for his soul and may work a sort of miracle as it did in me (combined with Krishnaprem’s letter — what about comments thereon though? Pardon me for reminding in spite of my knowledge that you have a Kanchenjunga of correspondence!) He will return it if you wish it to be returned and I think it is extremely beautiful as it is. So unless you have a particular reason you could see your way to allowing me to send him this Chapter by tomorrow’s post.

I saw the star and colours all right and the bells are loud. I am feeling joyful only Subhash’s case has countered it somewhat. I owe such a lot to him in life. How I wish sometimes or rather imagine sometimes my tending him by his sickbed. Please excuse me if I speak a bit too much of him. But you will surely understand and allow for my human tenderness for him. I can’t contemplate his death yet à la Gita.

I am not sure that Subhash is prepared to receive any effect from it — it is only because your inner preparation had proceeded to a point at which you could feel something of what was behind the words that it had an effect upon you. All the same — you can send it, if you like.

*   *   *

December 28, 1932

The desire for the Divine or for bhakti for the Divine is the one desire which can free one from all the others — at the core it is not a desire, but an aspiration; a soul need, the breath of existence of the inmost being, and as such it cannot be counted among desires, kāmanār madhye nay.

*   *   *

December 30, 1932

I have compared your translations with the original; you have taken the sense and put it into the poetic form in Bengali with your usual combination of fidelity and felicity. Very well done indeed!

No, I don’t think there is too much uchchvās.

As for the “spectator” and the coils of the dragon, it is the Chino-Japanese image for the world-force extending itself in the course of the universe and this expresses the attitude of the witness seeing it all and observing in its unfolding the unrolling of the play of the Divine Lila [play]. It is this attitude that gives the greatest calm, peace, samatā [equanimity] in face of the riddle of the cosmic workings. It is not meant that action and movement are not accepted but they are accepted as the Divine Working which is leading to ends which the mind may not always see at once, but the soul divines through all the supreme purpose and the hidden guidance.

Of course, there is afterwards an experience in which the two sides of the Divine Whole, the Witness and the Player, blend together; but this poise of the spectator comes first and leads to that fuller experience. It gives the balance, the calm, the increasing understanding of soul and life and their deeper significances without which the full supramental experience cannot come.

*   *   *



(Sri Aurobindo’s translation of Dilip’s poem)

At the mobile passion of thy tread the cold snows faint and fail,

Hued by thy magic touches shimmering glow the horizons pale

The heavens thrill with thy appeal, earth’s grey moods break and die,

In nectarous sound thou lav’st men’s hearts with thy voice of Eternity,

All that was bowed and rapt lifting clasped hands out of pain and night,

How hast thou filled with murmuring ecstasy, made proud and bright!

Thou hast chosen the grateful earth for thy own in her hour of anguish and strife,

Surprised by thy rapid feet of joy, O Beloved of the Master of Life.


To the above this reply came to me: Man has tested Divine grace most — in order to bring into boldest relief its marvel and miracle. I wonder if my answer is true?

Your answer is not only fine poetry but it is a true explanation of the descent of the soul into the Ignorance. It is the adventure into the Night (the introduction of the Light, Joy, Immortality) to see whether they cannot be established there — so that there may be a new experience of the Divine and joy of the Divine through separation and union (or reunion) on a new basis. It is what I have hinted at in the Riddle of This World.

[1] The preceding letter.

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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.