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At the Feet of The Mother

Forty Years Ago – by Sahana Devi (VI)

Now with a few minor questions and answers from Sri Aurobindo I shall bring to a close the chapter on my life in the Ashram of the old days:

QUESTION: How can things go on unless ‘rejection’ can be made effective?

ANSWER: It will be easier when you bring down a settled peace and equanimity into that part of the being. There will then be more of an automatic rejection of such movements and less need of tapasya.

QUESTION: O Mother! How to bring down a settled peace and equanimity? If you tell me how, I may try and see.

ANSWER: The Mother’s peace is above you — by aspiration and quiet self-giving it descends. When it takes hold of the vital and the body, then equanimity becomes easy and in the end automatic.



QUESTION: O Mother! I am immersed in my writings, is it right, what I am doing, I don’t know. Now I do not seem to have grasped your opinion about my efforts on writing a novel. So I am dubious if I am doing something not approved by you, if so, I will stop it. I had thought of offering the completed novel on my birthday.

SRI AUROBINDO’S ANSWER: Mother does not disapprove of your writing a book — what she does not like is your being so lost in it that you can do nothing else. You must be master of what you do and not possessed by it. She quite agrees to your finishing and offering the book on your birthday if that can be done — but you must not be carried away. You must keep your full contact with higher things.



QUESTION: Mother, may I ask something now? Whenever I get any doubt or some such thing, I have seen that automatically I begin to feel more strengthened in faith, aspiration — a feeling as if my faith covers me as behind a shield, an unshakable faith is concretely discerned. When I hear about doubts my strength increases — strange, is it not? Is there any meaning in this?

SRI AUROBINDO’S ANSWER: It is the reaction of the psychic to mental doubt and the vital disturbance which caused it. The psychic knows that the Divine is and affirms its knowledge against all appearances.



QUESTION: When I close my eyes for meditation my physical mind becomes too active, and instead of allowing it to go deeper, it pushes me on to the surface, and then I feel heaviness on my forehead because I feel the movement moving about there only; I find when I am at my work I am quite cheerful and enthusiastic, happy, quiet but after such a meditation I feel I am in discomfort. O Mother, how to improve my meditation? I think I could meditate better. After straining to meditate is it possible to have a fall in the consciousness? The difficulty is this that I am no more able to go deeper at all. Anyhow you will know what is wrong there.

SRI AUROBINDO’S ANSWER: It is on the surface that the transformation is done. One comes up to the surface with what one has gained in the depth, to change it. It may be you need to go in and find it difficult to make the movement back quickly. When the whole being becomes plastic you will be able to make whatever movement is needed more quickly.

QUESTION: Today I took my afternoon meal with A. Do you think I have taken a risk in doing so?

SRI AUROBINDO’S ANSWER: If you keep the intensity, it is all right — but you must see that the intensity continues and is not replaced by some other condition in which you only feel at ease and do not notice that the intense condition is gone — for if that happens, then something may again begin to matter.



SELF: I am always aspiring for Sri Aurobindo’s light in my mind. Tell me, Mother gracious, will I ever be capable of receiving the touch of His Light in my mind?

SRI AUROBINDO: It can always come in the mind if you aspire patiently. But the basic condition, if you want that Light, is to get rid of other mental influences.



SELF: What a turmoil came this afternoon as I was resting after the mid-day meal! A sea of images of my earlier life and that of many people were coming and receding one after another. I seemed to be smothered in that crowd. I got up to meditate, but wonder of wonders, there too they were coming in hordes, no meditation was possible. Much as I tried to reject them, it was still the same kaleidoscopic cinema show into which I was plunged with no possibility of detaching myself from all that. All this renders the peace of forging ahead to stop, the mind heavy, depressed within.

SRI AUROBINDO: So long you have not learned the lesson, the past had to touch you, it comes back on you. Notice carefully what kind of remembrances come, you will see that they are connected with some psychological movement in you that has to be got rid of. So you must be prepared to recognise all that was not right in you and is still not corrected, not allow any vanity or self-righteousness to cloud your vision.



SELF: Slowly I am beginning to understand from where the impulse to blame others or slander comes, what is behind these motives or in what spirit one indulges in them.

SRI AUROBINDO: It is the petty ego in each that likes to discover and talk about the “real or unreal” defects of others — and it does not matter whether they are real or unreal, the ego has no right to judge them, because it has not the right view or the right spirit. It is only the calm, disinterested, dispassionate, all-compassionate and all-loving Spirit that can judge and see rightly the strength and weakness in each being.



SELF: Whereas I should gather myself in I seem to be all dispersed. It seems to me that if I could detach myself internally from everything and all, consider myself quite alone then perhaps I shall be able to do sincerely that which I am here to do. What wants to be only in my petty mind concerned with petty things forgetting all else, this depresses me a lot.

SRI AUROBINDO: You must gather yourself more firmly. If you disperse yourself constantly, go out of the inner circle, you will constantly move about in the pettiness of the ordinary outer nature and under the influences to which it is open. Learn to live within, to act always from within, from a constant communion with the Mother. It may be difficult at first to do it always and completely, but it can be done if one sticks to it — and it is at that price, by learning to do that, that one can have the siddhi in the Yoga.



SELF: Why is it that I think that weeping opens the door through which weakness gets a way of entry into us, an opportunity to allow the force to get in which saps our strength of mind?

SRI AUROBINDO: It is quite correct that weeping brings in the forces that should be kept outside — for weeping is a giving way of the inner control and an expression of vital reaction and ego. It is only the psychic weeping that does not open the door to these forces — but that is without infliction, tears of bhakti, spiritual emotion or Ananda.



In answer to a letter Sri Aurobindo wrote:

The ananda you describe is evidently that of the inner vital when it is full of the psychic influence and floods with it the external vital also. It is the true ananda and there is nothing in it of the old vital nature. When the psychic thus uses the vital to express itself, this kind of intense ecstasy is the natural form it takes. This intensity and the old vital excitement are two quite different things and must not be confused together. Where there is the intensity with a pure and full satisfaction, content and gratitude leaving no room for claim, demand or depressing reaction, that is the true vital movement.



SELF: How can the right relation between all of ourselves be established and what should it be like?

SRI AUROBINDO: What you must have with other sadhaks is a harmonious relation, free from any mere vital attachment (indifference is not asked from you) and free from any indulgence in wrong movement of the opposite kind (such as dislike, jealousy or ill-will). It is through the psychic consciousness that you have found it possible to be in a true constant relation with the Mother and your aim is to make that the basis of all of your life, action and feeling, all in you, all you feel, say and do should be consistent with that basis. If all proceeds from that psychic union of your consciousness with the Mother, dedicating everything to her, then you will develop the right relation with others.



Here ends the memory-image of my life in the Ashram of the old days. But before that I would like to reproduce a rendering by Sri Aurobindo of one of my songs.

Since thou hast called me, see that I
Go not from thee, — surrounding me stand.
In thy own love’s diviner way
Make me too love thee without end.

My fathomless blackness hast thou cleft
With thy infinity of light,
Then waken in my mortal voice
Thy music of illumined sight.

Make me thy eternal journey’s mate
Tying my life around thy feet.
Let thy own hand my boat unmoor,
Sailing the world thyself to meet.

Fill full of thee my day and night,
Let all my being mingle with thine
And every tremor of my soul
Echo thy flute of flutes divine.

Come in thy chariot, Charioteer,
And drive me whither thou wouldst go.
All within me and all my acts
Make luminous with surrender’s glow.

Translated by Sri Aurobindo (13.2.41)

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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.