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At the Feet of The Mother

Correspondence 1932, June (II)

June 16, 1932

I have not read anything of Lawrence, but I have recently seen indications about him from many quarters; the impression given was that of a man of gifts who failed for want of vital balance — like so many others. The prose you have turned into verse — very well, as usual — has certainly quality, though there is not enough to form a definite judgment. A seeker who missed the issue, I should imagine — misled by the vitalistic stress to which the mind of today is a very harassed captive.

I have read your correspondence with Subhash Bose.[1] Your main point is of course quite the right thing to answer; all this insistence upon action is absurd if one has not the light by which to act. “Yoga must include life and not exclude it” does not mean that we are bound to accept life as it is with all its stumbling ignorance and misery and the obscure confusion of human will and reason and impulse and instinct which it expresses. The advocates of action think that by human intellect and energy making an always new rush, everything can be put right; the present state of the world after a development of the intellect and a stupendous output of energy for which there is no historical parallel is a signal proof of the emptiness of the illusion under which they labour. Yoga takes the stand that it is only by a change of consciousness that the true basis of life can be discovered; from within outward is indeed the rule. But within does not mean some quarter inch behind the surface. One must go deep and find the soul, the self, the Divine Reality within us and only then can life become a true expression of what we can be instead of a blind and always repeated confused blur of the inadequate and imperfect thing we were. The choice is between remaining in the old jumble and groping about in the hope of stumbling on some discovery or standing back and seeking the Light within till we discover and can build the Godhead within and without us.

*   *   *

June 24, 1932

I am sending you the translation of your poems; they were a little difficult, because of the compactness of the expression in the original, to get into an acceptable English form — that was why it took me some time. But I had not neglected either it or you, only I could not finish the second before last night; you have not been out of my thoughts at any time, nor am I growing cold to you. You should have more confidence in me after so long an experience than to imagine anything so incredible and impossible.

Of course you are not going tonight nor any night. You are going to remain and fight out this over-sensitiveness of yours and get a true balance of the vital nature. That is what you have pledged yourself to and you will keep your soul’s pledge. The obstacle is not so great as it looks to you when you are in these fits of depression; but even if it were, you can and will overcome it.

In fact this sensitiveness in itself is nothing; it is the depression, the exaggerated importance you give to it, the train of despondent suggestions you allow to come and overpower you that makes the whole difficulty. If you could resist that and refuse to entertain it, these defects of your vital are small things, little difficulties that cannot in themselves be a serious obstacle to your progress. If you would only so learn to regard them and not be overimpressed by them, it would make the path so much easier and smoother!

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June 24, 1932

The exacerbation of certain vital movements is a perfectly well-known phenomenon in Yoga and does not mean that one has degenerated, but only that one has come to close grips instead of to a pleasant nodding acquaintance with the basic instincts of the earthly vital nature. I have had myself the experience of this rising to a height, during a certain stage of the spiritual development, of things that before hardly existed and seemed quite absent in the pure yogic life. These things rise up like that because they are fighting for their existence — they are not really personal to you and the vehemence of their attack is not due to any “badness” in the personal nature. I dare say seven sadhaks out of ten have a similar experience. Afterwards when they cannot effect their object which is to drive the sadhak out of his sadhana, the whole thing sinks and there is no longer any vehement trouble. I repeat that the only serious thing about it is the depression created in you and the idea of inability in the Yoga that they take care to impress on the brain when they are at their work. If you can get rid of that, the violence of the vital attacks is only the phenomenon of a stage and does not in the end matter.

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June 25, 1932

One is not to cure oneself of one’s sensitiveness, but only acquire the power to rise to a higher consciousness taking such disenchantments as a sort of jumping-board. One way is not to expect even square dealing from others no matter who the others are. In your case you might have expected such denials from your “famous” uncle. So why on earth do you cherish a hurt? Surely you should have known better than to expect straight dealings from your Toku Mama! And besides, it is good to have such experiences of the real nature of some people to which a generous nature is often blind; for that helps the growth of one’s consciousness. The blow you wince at seems to you so hard because it is a blow the world of your mental formation has sustained. Such a world often becomes a part of our being. The result is that a blow dealt to it gives almost physical pain. The great compensation is that it makes you live more and more in the real world in contradistinction to the world of your imagination which is what you would like the real world to be. But the real world is not all that could be desired, you know, and that is why it has to be acted upon and transformed by the Divine Consciousness. But for that, knowledge of the reality, however unpalatable, is almost the first requisite. This knowledge often enough is best brought home to us through blows and bleedings. True, idealistic people, sensitive people, refined natures smart under such disillusionments more than do others who are somewhat thick-skinned, but that is no reason why fine feelings should be deprecated and the keen edge of fine susceptibilities be blunted. The thing is to learn to detach oneself from any such experience and learn to look at such perversions of others from a higher altitude from where one can regard these manifestations in the proper perspective — the impersonal one. Then our difficulties really and literally become opportunities. For knowledge, when it goes to the root of our troubles, has in itself a marvellous healing-power as it were. As soon as you touch the quick of the trouble, as soon as you, diving down and down, get at what really ails you, the pain disappears as though by a miracle. Unflinching courage to reach true Knowledge is therefore of the very essence of Yoga. No lasting superstructure can be erected except on a solid basis of true Knowledge. The feet must be sure of their ground before the head can hope to kiss the skies.

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June 25, 1932

There is much in your letter that would need long explanation for an adequate reply — but I want to say something about the faith which you say you don’t have and can’t have in the absence of experience. First of all, faith does not depend upon experience; it is something that is there before experience. When one starts the Yoga, it is not usually on the strength of experience, but on the strength of faith. It is so not only in Yoga and the spiritual life, but in ordinary life also. All men of action, discoverers, inventors, creators of knowledge proceed by faith and, until the proof is made or the thing done, they go on in spite of disappointment, failure, disproof, denial, because of something in them that tells them that this is the truth, the thing that must be followed and done. Ramakrishna even went so far as to say, when asked whether blind faith was not wrong, that blind faith was the only kind to have, for faith is either blind or it is not faith but something else — reasoned inference, proved conviction or ascertained knowledge.

Faith is the soul’s witness to something not yet manifested, achieved or realised, but which yet the Knower within us, even in the absence of all indications, feels to be true or supremely worth following or achieving. This thing within us can last even when there is no fixed belief in the mind, even when the vital struggles and revolts and refuses. Who is there that practises the Yoga and has not his periods, long periods of disappointment and failure and disbelief and darkness — but there is something that sustains him and even goes on in spite of himself, because it feels that what it followed after was yet true and it more than feels, it knows. The fundamental faith in Yoga is this, inherent in the soul, that the Divine exists and the Divine is the one thing to be followed after — nothing else in life is worth having in comparison with that. It was this faith growing in you that made you come for Yoga and this faith has not died or diminished — to judge from what you say in your letter, it has become more insistent and abiding. So long as a man has that, he is marked for the spiritual life and I will say that, even if his nature is full of obstacles and crammed with denials and difficulties, and even if he has many years of struggle, he is marked out for success in the spiritual life.

What you really have not yet a fixed faith in is the guidance of the Divine, his will to manifest to you or your capacity to receive him. It is this that the adverse attacks which began when you were on the threshold of the inner experience — as so often happens in the Yoga, — try constantly to fix in your brain. They want to have a fixed mental formation there, so that whenever you make the attempt there will be in the physical mind an expectation of difficulty, a dwelling on the idea of difficulty and unsuccess and incapacity, if not always in the front of the mind, yet at the back and by that they hope to prevent the experience from coming. It is these mental formations that you must reject, for they are a much greater obstacle than the vital feelings to which you give such an exaggerated importance. It is not a fact that you have not had experiences — you had them but you did not give them their full value, because you were expecting something else. Otherwise the sense of the Divine Guidance and the faith in attainment would have formed in spite of difficulties and relapses such as every one has in the Yoga. It is this faith that you need to develop, — a faith which is in accordance with reason and common sense — that if the Divine exists and has called you to the Path, as is evident, then there must be a Divine Guidance behind and that through and in spite of all difficulties you will arrive. Not to listen to the hostile voices that suggest failure or to the voices of impatient vital haste that echo them, not to believe that because great difficulties are there, there can be no success or that because the Divine has not yet shown himself, he will never show himself, but to take the position that everyone takes when he fixes his mind on a great and difficult goal, “I will go on till I succeed and I will succeed — all difficulties notwithstanding.” To which the believer in the Divine adds “The Divine exists, he is there, and since he exists, my following after the Divine cannot fail. I will go on through everything till I find him.”

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[1] Subhash Chandra Bose (23 January 1897 – 18 August 1945), the well-known Nationalist leader. Dilip knew him from their student days in England. He was an admirer of Sri Aurobindo’s revolutionary action. Resigning from the I.C.S., Subhash Bose entered the freedom movement and joined the Congress soon after his return to India in 1921. He worked with Chittaranjan Das, was imprisoned many times, and tried to orient the Congress towards firm action. In 1939, he fell out with Gandhi and the Congress, escaped in 1941 from house arrest, fled to Europe and stayed for a while in Germany, trying to muster support for an attack on British India. In 1942, Subhash Bose, reached Japan, then Singapore, and developed the “Indian National Army,” which was to join Japan in its campaign against British India. In 1944, the I.N.A. launched its offensive from Burma, but could not proceed beyond Assam as the Japanese forces became increasingly engaged elsewhere. Subhash Bose disappeared in a plane accident in 1945.

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To be spontaneous means not to think, organise, decide and make an effort to realise with the personal will.