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At the Feet of The Mother

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as I saw Them – by V. Chidanandam (II)



In the mornings at about 9 a.m. we could see the Master individually whenever we wished to have his guidance. He used to help us very patiently with his advice and answer our questions.


8.5.1926 — Morning

In one of my interviews with the Master after I had been accepted, he remarked: “At present you are actively moving in the mind…. Are your nerves solid?”

Answer: My nerves are sensitive. Kindly tell me how to strengthen them, and also how to quieten my mind.

SRI AUROBINDO: Solid nerves means patience, vigilance, endurance, capacity to break stones…. You must make your nerves strong by cultivating these qualities, and by bringing down quiet and peace. To get the stillness and peace you must first have silent aspiration in all the being for peace, then separate yourself from your mind, draw back and look at it from above. Actively watch the mind as it runs along. Don’t give sanction to the thoughts; if they are persistent reject them centrally, calmly, steadily, without struggle or effort or strain. Don’t involve yourself in the act of rejecting the thoughts. A vigilant will is essential lest you lose hold of self. You must be able to inwardly seize the mind and hold it… this is also necessary for active concentrated thinking. Both movements are mutually helpful…. With practice the mind comes under control, there will be quiet and stillness. After stillness is established, concentrate silently, consciously on the peace.


10.5.1926 — Morning

SRI AUROBINDO: Emptiness of mind is something deeper than the normal void of the inert, tamasic mind, it is a preparation for a higher movement in consciousness. One must be vigilant and drive away all weakness and impurity, lest in this emptiness the force that is in the atmosphere may take advantage of the weak spot and overturn him. I have reached a stage where there is something in the atmosphere around me, and the Sadhaks may feel the effects of its pressure on all the levels of being…. Unless one has a strong hold on the self there is every danger.


12.5.1926 — Morning

SRI AUROBINDO: The external things do not much matter, it is the restlessness and the inertia of mind that are the real obstacles. The body is not so much of an obstacle as the mind with its activity and its desire for results. Don’t engage yourself in a duel with the mind. Don’t fight with the thoughts. You must stand back from the mind and like a spectator watch its activity. Even in the act of watching the mind as it runs, you are passively rejecting the thoughts…. Unless you do this, you will not get the peace and the force. Even in my own case mind was the obstacle in the path of my progress to Vijnana…. Silently command the mind to be still. There must be an inner central concentration.


14.5.1926 — Morning

SRI AUROBINDO: The stillness is of the mind…. The melancholy may be due to the sentimental part of the mind. The mind raises up the melancholy to enjoy it. It is the melancholy of the poets, Tagore, for example, or it may be due, as you say, to imagination. You have to still the sentimental mind, the sensational mind by calling down the peace. When the peace descends, you feel it within you in the body descending from centre to centre, and around you. The peace is the foundation and the beginning of Yoga. Later come Ananda, vastness of Brahman, Purusha consciousness, etc. You have to look at the thoughts, cast out the false, receive the true…. The will should be silent intuitive will, a force that is not mental…. If the melancholy is corrosive, it must be rejected…. If it is soothing, as for e.g., such as is induced by certain melodies, it is psychic sadness, and this can be utilised in the Sadhana….


20.5.1926 — Morning

SRI AUROBINDO: There is no harm in summarily rejecting the thoughts, only you should not involve yourself in the act of rejecting them…. In the act of watching your mind, you are passively rejecting the thoughts, but you are not involving yourself…. Though the quiet is not disturbed by the thoughts, you must not allow them to rise often lest it become a habit. Try to silence them as completely as possible. Otherwise they may be coming up like this (with a gesture of the hand)…. The quiet must not depend on any external causes e.g., music…. You must lay down the mind as freely as you do a tool.


22.5.1926 — Morning

SRI AUROBINDO: You must have equality under all circumstances. If your mind gets out of control even for a moment and gets disturbed or troubled, then all troubles follow, mental unrest, suggestions, etc. Be vigilant always, more vigilant in other hours than during meditation…. You must see the One Infinite everywhere. Always you must try to see everything as the manifestation of God. Aspiration in the heart, (i.e. the psychic mind,) and will in the higher mind — prayer is only the making precise of the aspiration –, will bring down the peace. The peace you will feel as a Presence about you, within you…. Silence is a very powerful weapon and comes only after long Sadhana to those whose mental development does not become an obstacle to the silence, generally it does…. It depends on one’s Samskara, temperament. Thought is a form of consciousness. And in the near future since there would be no silence, thoughts would arise and make their impression on the consciousness before they are dismissed…. Separate yourself from mind, and quiet the mind. Be one with the Witness. Separate yourself from Prana later…. You don’t find the obstacles in your path now. As the peace and force descend, they reveal the obstacles, and they also show you how to get over them. The will in the Higher Mind you cannot reach so soon. Till it is awakened, resort to aspiration purified and strengthened more and more.


26.5.1926 — Morning

SRI AUROBINDO: The concentration of the physical mind on the Higher Power (Mother), will not do. What is required is an inner concentration and inner peace. A certain stillness there may be, due to absorption in an idea, but inner concentration alone can give you the inner stillness. Absorption in one idea without full self-control, wakefulness and power of detachment behind is dangerous. The concentration must be conscious. When there is no vigilance and detachment you unconsciously identify yourself with the mind, even in prayer…. Absorption in one movement may be helpful sometimes….


14.7.1926 — Morning

SRI AUROBINDO: It is because you are thinking much about peace you are not getting it…. There should be no difference between the hours of meditation and other hours. Only during meditation time you get the peace which you must have during the whole day. Never for once throw yourself into the play.


You have to get back the largeness, the largeness which holds the peace. You have to change the stuff of your mind, it must be flexible and plastic. It is not enough if you have the stillness within, it must be around you… if you cannot get the peace concentrate on the force. The two mean the same thing in the end. The peace brings the force with it, and the force, when it comes, removes the obstacles and establishes peace.

Q: Are there obstacles of the subconscious?

A: There are any number of obstacles in the subconscious. They don’t matter now. Only aspire for peace. Let the thoughts only play on the surface. Look at the thoughts as you look at things outside yourself, e.g. tables, books, etc.


19.7.1926 — Morning

SRI AUROBINDO: To still the mind is not to abolish mental activity altogether. You don’t throw away the habit of mental activity from your nature…. The coming down of the higher things depends on the purity and preparation of the lower nature; the purity of the lower depends on the descent of the higher. The descent of the calm and the purity of the lower nature are interdependent….


16.8.1926 — Morning

SRI AUROBINDO: To try to quiet the mind by prayer is not the right thing, for it is only a precarious calm that you get and soon the mind is up again….

Never allow the mind to tyrannise over you. You must forever stop its mechanical habits and learn to use it like a tool. Even in severe thinking you must be calm, and stand back and coolly think. Don’t be restless. Don’t desire to possess knowledge…. Make the questioning mind quiet. Don’t lose hold of your mind. Let it obey your command every moment. If once you lose control, you will allow the subconscious habit of mechanical restless thinking to rise and continue for days.


SRI AUROBINDO: Prayer merely mental or vital, and desire to know truth in the mental form will not take you inside, on the other hand they will take you more outside your centre.


23.8.1926 — Morning

SRI AUROBINDO: You felt, or you saw that the mental aspiration and the vital aspiration (the demand for knowledge in the forms of mind and the demand for peace) are something foreign to you?

I felt, and then I saw.

SRI AUROBINDO: Then it is the psychic being that felt it and discrimination that saw it. Psychic aspiration first expresses itself through the mental and vital being. The aspiration of the vital being must be there, not the aspiration of the surface vital being which is overpassed soon.

Q: To what part of the being in us does Nature appeal?

SRI AUROBINDO: It appeals to the mind and vital being generally. The aesthetic being is partly mental and partly vital…. Nature appeals in some to all parts of the being. What you say is the appeal to the psychic being. To the psychic being Nature reveals the Infinite; it feels Bhakti, it enters Universal Beauty through Nature.

Q: How far does it help the Sadhaka?

SRI AUROBINDO: It first refines the vital being, frees it from desire and egoism, — not directly. It creates a certain psychic sensibility, a door through which the Sadhaka can enter the Infinite.

Q: Music?

SRI AUROBINDO: Music also appeals to the psychic being.

Q: Likewise Poetry and Art?

SRI AUROBINDO: Yes, but with some people music appeals to the mind only. These mental movements may help to prepare the being; the soul may be touched through the aesthetic being, but they also obstruct. It is all sentiment.

Q: Their attraction is too great. Is it an obstacle?

SRI AUROBINDO: It is only something within which is struggling to express itself. The Yogin has to exceed all these things. That does not mean that he must suppress them. He must over-pass them and transform them.

to be continued…

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There is nothing sentimental in the true weeping that comes from the soul. All that you feel now is the blossoming of the psychic being in you and the growth of a real bhakti.