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At the Feet of The Mother

The Mind – How Thoughts are Formed


From the beginning of my correspondence I was asking Sri Aurobindo a good number of questions about the nature of the mind and the right way of turning it towards the higher light and truth. The reason for doing this was not a wish to develop my immature mind; as a matter of fact, I did not quite know the reason myself till the correspondence was over. I just asked because I was somehow moved to do so. But as time passed I realised that in my sadhana the mind was to be the chief instrument — not a purely intellectualised mind moving about within its own limited boundaries but a mind plastic and receptive to the higher truth and able to act under its impulsion, and also open to the psychic behind.

As my mind began to develop with Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s help, the answers to my letters began to be more and more brief. At first this came as a shock, but later I understood that Sri Aurobindo wanted me to try and solve my own questions about my sadhana and send him the solutions only for verification. For a time I did not quite appreciate this kind of mental growth, which deprived me of his interesting and valuable replies. I remonstrated a little; he soothed me finally by making me understand that in the spiritual field the true development of the mind lies not in its restless questionings and wanderings amidst ideas, but in its capacity to remain calm and find the truth which lies beyond itself, and that the higher it penetrates, the more illumined it becomes.


What is the function of Manas?

To sense things and react mentally to objects and convey impressions to the Buddhi etc.

What is the place of the Manas in the scheme of our Sadhana?

I don’t use these terms myself as a rule — they are the psychological phraseology of the old Yoga.

What exactly is the relation between the Manas and the Chitta?

The Chitta is the general stuff of mental consciousness which supports Manas and everything else — it is an indeterminate consciousness which gets determined into thoughts and memories and desires and sensations and perceptions and impulses and feelings (chittavritti).

Is it not true that at times the Chitta takes something from the general Nature and then determines it into thoughts, desires etc.?

It is both ways. The Chitta receives these things, gives them for formation to the vital and the mind and all is transmitted to the Buddhi, but also it receives thoughts from the Buddhi and turns these into desires and sensations and impulses.

You say “The Chitta receives these things, gives them for formation to the vital and mind and all is transmitted to the Buddhi”. Does it mean that the Chitta does not give formation to anything but that the mind or the vital does it?

The Chitta is the consciousness out of which all is formed, but the formation is made by the mind or vital or other force — which are, as it were, the instruments of the Chitta for self-expression.

When the Chitta sends things to the mind and the vital for formation, is it they that are responsible for the formation made and not at all the Chitta?

There is something in the Chitta that either lends itself or subtly determines the formation.

What does your word “subtly” mean here?

Not openly or precisely or in such a way that you can say — the Chitta has done this or that and the vital the rest.

Has not the Chitta to cease catching influences at random from outside?

Yes, certainly, but as its whole business is to receive from above or below or around it cannot stop doing it, it cannot of itself determine what it shall or shall not receive. It has to be assisted by the Buddhi, vital will or some higher power. Afterwards when the higher consciousness descends it begins to be transformed and capable of an automatic rejection of what is not true or right or divine or helpful to the growth of the divine in the being.

When the vital will helps the Chitta, does it do so as freely and impersonally as the Buddhi?

In the ordinary control by the Buddhi or vital will there is no need of impersonality.

Can one distinguish between the thoughts, desires, sensations, impulsions etc. coming to the Chitta from outside and those coming from the Buddhi?

Yes. But the Chitta does not receive desires and sensations from the Buddhi. It takes thoughts from the Buddhi and turns them into desires.

Unless the Chitta is enlightened the desires cannot be expected to be transformed fundamentally. Is it not so?


When the Chitta receives thoughts, desires etc. not from the Buddhi, but from outside, does it keep them as they come or does it change them?

There is always or generally at least a modifying reaction in the Chitta — except when it simply receives and stores without passing over to the instruments.

The Manas may cease conceiving but how does it stop perceiving?

It can perceive passively and silently — that creates no vibration and does not break the silence.

What sort of connection exists between the Chitta and the Subconscient?

The same as with any part of the being — there is a subconscient part of the Chitta which keeps the past impressions of things and sends up forms of them to the consciousness in dream or else keeps the habit of old movements and sends up these whenever it finds an opportunity.

Is it the Chitta which supplies our mechanical mind with the recurrent rounds of thoughts?


May I know the nature of thoughts, desires and impulses? How and why do they come into men?

This is a thing one feels: one cannot say more than what everybody knows. As for how these come, they come as movements of universal Nature, taking form in the person if they are admitted, just as other natural forces move about in waves or currents and take form or act for particular purposes in a suitable receptacle.

You wrote to me the other day that X’s thought and desire may have taken form in my dream. How can a thought or desire of another person take form in my dream?

Why not? People’s thoughts are passing into each other’s mind always during the waking state even, without their knowing it, why not in dream also?

If one gives full and constant assent to the Mother’s working, how can the attempt of other beings to enter into one succeed?

If you give consent to the Mother’s working alone, then it cannot.

It is not always an attempt. One receives the thoughts and feelings of the others without any attempt or intention of theirs, because they are in the atmosphere.

If one is unconscious of others’ thoughts, wouldn’t they come and pass away leaving no trace behind?

Not at all. If you don’t know how they come you take them for your own and they have much greater force.

Is it true that no one has his own thoughts? Either they come from the lower nature — from people — or from the higher mind?

All comes from Nature of which people are a part — but they are called ours because they receive a particular form, arrangement or combination in our own minds.

All thoughts that are passing into one’s mind do not stay there. Some pass away invisibly, leaving no trace but others stay there and work. Do they not stay because of the response of some part of the being? If nothing responds to them, how can they stay there any longer?

It is not a conscious response. It is only when the thoughts rise to the surface, that the conscious mind is aware of them and accepts them — but it accepts them with the idea that they are its own thoughts.

In which condition can one be conscious of one’s thoughts and desires before they enter?

When one has got out of one’s limited physical personality and the consciousness is spread outside.

To keep the thoughts out of the system, is it not preferable that one should become indifferent to them and aspire to the Mother?

You can do it in that way — provided the thought does not get hold of you through your inattention.

Is it true that what we receive from the general Nature has no definite form, but is a particular kind of force? How is the force changed so as to make us feel it as a thought, sensation or impulse?

One can not only receive a force, but an impulse, thought or sensation. One may receive it from others, from beings in Nature or from Nature herself if she chooses to give her Force a ready-made form of that kind.

What happens with the force and energy of a thought or impulse rejected by a sadhaka?

A force returned goes back necessarily into the universal plane—at most its form gets abolished but the energy returns there.

When everything comes really from universal Nature, why are impulses felt as if they arose in one’s own self?

Because people are shut up in their personal consciousness — they see the results, that is the sensations in themselves but they do not see the process and the source — it is so all through human life.

Cannot a thought be a guide to us by ceasing to follow its own exclusive satisfaction?

What thought? The mental thought can never be more than a partial and ignorant guide.

What is the function of the physical thoughts?

They are concerned with physical things, ordinary external experiences, habitual thought and action. The physical mind looks at these things from a superficial point of view, taking things as they seem and dealing with them in what appears to it to be a practical ordinary way.

When the mind is psychicised the thoughts that come from the lower forces would change themselves into divine thoughts. Correct?

Yes, or fall off and come no more.

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