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At the Feet of The Mother

Depression and Despair

Guidance from Sri Aurobindo

 

I heard that some people here remain constantly in despair and gloom because they have become conscious of their minutest imperfections and defects which they are unable to get rid of.

They are unable for two reasons: (1) because they yield to despair and gloom and the illusion of impotence, (2) because they try only with their own strength and do not care or know how to call on the working of the Mother’s Force.

Some sadhaks think that when we do not meet Mother we should feel dull and unhappy. They even consciously bring in depression and despair in order to prove that their love for the Mother is overflowing!

This theory is terrible nonsense. It is applying the formulae of the most vital kind of love to the Yoga. This vital idea of love for the Divine has been a great stumbling-block in the Yoga in the Ashram.

Are not the movements of depression and despair big and strong movements?

They can hardly be called big movements. The real distinction is that they are rajasic movements, not tamasic.

They are not big — they are small movements of the vital ego — I mean the movements of vital dissatisfaction which cause people here to be depressed and revolt and despair. If the resultant depression or despair is strong, that simply means that the minds of the people here are seeing things out of all right measure and proportion, magnifying trifles into tremendous things, swelling little hurts to vanity, petty pride, small ambition, amour propre etc. They make a tempest in a tea-cup, a tragedy out of a trifle. Because people are living here under the Mother’s shelter and saved from the great sufferings and tragedies of human life, they must need spin despairs and tragedies out of nothing. The vital wants to indulge its sorrow sense and shout and groan and weep and if it can’t have a good or strong reason for doing it, it will use a bad or small one.

How poor, weak and sensitive is our little vital! Even in its own egoistic sense it has no pride and dignity. If it had, it would not allow itself to be moved by these petty movements of the world.

Not even of the world — of a small circle of people exaggerating the little vital movements around them and in themselves into something big and stupendously important.

How is it that there are some persons who rarely get depression or despondency? Has it anything to do with the Grace of the Divine?

For many reasons, some because their vital has taken the right attitude, some because their psychic is prominent, some simply because they have a more sound, balanced and reasonable nature. The Grace of the Divine has nothing to do with it.

It seems that yesterday some Ashramites ran away from here — a few miles — and returned after a short time!

They are divided — they feel pushed to go and yet don’t want to go.

Did they act thus as a revolt against the Mother?

Yes, there is that also. But it is a very confused condition.

About people’s impulse to go out at present, you wrote, “It was always strong — only now we don’t contradict as strongly as before.” Does your answer mean that now there is no harm (from the spiritual point of view) if they go out and return?

No, it does not; it simply means that we can’t always be holding back people whose vital says, “I want to go, I want to go,” and they side with the vital. They are allowed to go and take their risk.

If one leads the ordinary vital life, there can be no spiritual struggles — only vital troubles.

He was always on the point of going. He wanted to be immediately rid of all imperfections and struggles and have at once a perfect surrender and when he found himself upset by the smallest things in his work or otherwise, he concluded that he was unfit for Yoga and must go away. He was in fact a constant victim of the going away illness and immediate siddhi demand illness from which Z also was a sufferer.

If I said only things that human nature finds easy and natural, that would certainly be very comfortable for the disciples, but there would be no room for spiritual aim or endeavour. Spiritual aims and methods are not easy or natural (e.g. as quarrelling, sex-indulgence, greed, indolence, acquiescence in all imperfections are easy and natural) and if people become disciples, they are supposed to follow spiritual aims and endeavours, however hard and above ordinary nature and not the things that are easy and natural.

When we have spoken the truth, should we withdraw it if the other person gets depressed or troubled by it?

No. If it is true, it should not be withdrawn. But the truth need be told only when it helps the person spoken to, otherwise silence is better.

I would like to know how sadhaks who have progressed more than I manage their outer life in spite of their overwhelming higher and deeper experiences?

Nothing can be said about that, if there is no reference to specific sadhaks. Each has his own movement and it is not the fact that all have to pass through the same stages or experiences — for each has a different nature.

I like P’s atmosphere and find it helpful. Is my finding true?

It is true. He is very sincere in his sadhana.

There are a few here who share all the difficulties of the Path with others and yet do not seem to be burdened with them!

Probably because they have a quiet and controlled vital and do not allow it to clamour — also in some a calm reliance on the Divine.

A fully developed sadhak can be an instrument of the Mother for helping others, but a fully developed sadhak means one who is free from ego and he would never claim the work as his own. In this Ashram all helping has recoiled on the helper by either making him egoistic or by his getting affected with the very things he is helping the other to get rid of.

Could I entrust Mulshankar[1] with copying my letters to you?

Mulshankar is a man with much serious strength in his character and a strong will. The discretion and secrecy of such people can be trusted.

Some sadhaks type out their experiences and your comments on them and then show them to their friends!

To show what is written about experiences or to speak about one’s experiences to others is always risky. They are much better kept to oneself.

Vanity is not pride. It is self-admiration and has always in it something light and absurd.

Ostentation can be a show of things one has but also a show of things one has not. Ostentation means a showing off to others. A vain man may or may not be ostentatious.

All antagonism to other sadhaks or dislike of them should go. There should be a calm goodwill and charity to all, but no inner mixing or interchange. Liking and disliking always means interchange of influences.

The point is that [human] relations and friendships are usually founded on the vital and are very mixed affairs. That is why they turn out to be obstacles in sadhana.

Why are some people here always craving for letters or news from their relatives and friends?

So long as the mind is not sufficiently drawn inwards, it runs after these things, needing food for its activity.

You wrote, “They [the sadhaks] go according to their own preference, Mother’s liking or not liking has nothing to do with it.” They say that they go for outings with Mother’s permission, not out of any desire but to see Nature and learn to appreciate it, and that she herself used to go and take some sadhaks with her.

That is all rubbish. They go for the vital fun of it and it would be better if they recognised it instead of talking high-sounding humbug. Mother went because her health needed fresh air and she could not be quiet anywhere else owing to her position and people crowding round her. But if she had never gone, they would still be taking their Nature trips to please themselves.

What is a “true necessity” — one can always say to oneself that one has a “true necessity” for the thing one desires. Moreover in approaching a thing needed one can do it with desire or without desire. The fact that a thing is “needed” does not prove that you have no desire for it.

Every sadhak has a good amount of defects and imperfections and the majority of them seem as unable to get rid of them as X.

In fact, if Z and a few others had not made themselves the instruments of the Mother and helped her to reorganise the whole material side of the Ashram, the Ashram would have collapsed long ago under the weight of a frightful mismanagement, waste, self-indulgence, disorder, chaotic self-will and disobedience. He and they faced unpopularity and hatred in order to help her to save it. It was the Mother who selected the heads for her purpose in order to organise the whole; all the lines of the work, all the details were arranged by her and the heads trained to observe her methods and it was only afterwards that she stepped back and let the whole thing go on on her lines but with a watchful eye always. The heads are carrying out her policy and instructions and report everything to her and she often modifies what they do when she thinks fit. Their action is not perfect, because they themselves are not yet perfect and they are also hampered by the ego of the workers and the sadhaks. But nothing can be perfect so long as the sadhaks and the workers do not come to the realisation that they are not here for their ego and self-indulgence of their vital and physical demands but for a high and exacting Yoga of which the first aim is the destruction of Desire and the substitution for it of the Divine Truth and the Divine Will.

If the Mother sanctions it means that it is her will that it should be so.

 


[1] Mulshankar was one of the six inmates selected by the Mother to attend on Sri Aurobindo during his convalescent period after the accident to his right leg in November 1938.

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