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At the Feet of The Mother

The Need for Humility – An Indispensable Quality (HH 088)

The Divine Action upon the world is not easily understood by humanity. The pressure of the Divine Force is received poorly because we are often shut up in the small glass case of the ego. We have our preferences, attachments, opinions about everything leaving little scope for the Divine to act or if He does so, to be understood. No wonder the forces that are ever active to disrupt the pilgrim use this pride and arrogance of man to cause his downfall. The one safety against the attack of these forces hostile to Yoga is Humility. The other helpful qualities are sincerity and vigilance. The following talk is based on the need of this indispensable quality called Humility.

Words of the Mother


This physical consciousness records all it sees, all your reactions, your thoughts, all the facts – without preference, without prejudice, without personal will. Nothing escapes it. Its work is almost mechanical. Therefore I know what to tell or to ask you according to the integral truth of your being and its present possibilities. Ordinarily, in the normal man, the physical consciousness does not see things as they are, for three reasons: because of ignorance, because of preference, and because of an egoistic will. You color what you see, eliminate what displeases you. In short, you see only what you desire to see.

Now, I recently had a very striking experience: a discrepancy occurred between my physical consciousness and the consciousness of the world. In some instances decisions made in the Light and the Truth produced unexpected results, upheavals in the consciousness of others that were neither foreseen nor desired, and I did not understand. No matter how hard I tried, I could not understand – and I emphasize this word ‘understand.’ At last, I had to leave my highest consciousness and pull myself down into the physical consciousness to find out what was happening. And there, in my head, I saw what appeared to be a little cell bursting, and suddenly I understood: the recording had been defective. The physical consciousness had neglected to register certain of your lower reactions. It could not have been through preference or through personal will (these things were eliminated from my consciousness long, long ago). But I saw that this most material consciousness was already completely permeated with the transforming supramental truth, and it could no longer follow the rhythm of normal life. It was much more attuned to the true consciousness than to the world! I couldn’t possibly blame it for lagging behind; on the contrary, it was in front, too far ahead! There was a discrepancy between the rhythm of the transformation of my being and the world’s own rhythm. The supramental action on the world is slow, it does not act directly – it acts by infiltration, by traversing the successive layers, and the results are slow to come about. So I had to pull myself violently down in order to wait for the others.

One must at times know how not to know.

This experience showed me once more the necessity to be perfectly humble before the Lord. It is not enough merely to rise to the heights, to the ethereal planes of consciousness: these planes have also to descend into matter and illuminate it. Otherwise, nothing is really done. One must have the patience to establish the communication between the high and the low. I am like a tempest, a hurricane – if I listened to myself, I would tear into the future, and everything would go flying! But then, there would no longer be any communication with the rest.

One must have the patience to wait.

Humility, a perfect humility, is the condition for all realization. The mind is so cocksure. It thinks it knows everything, understands everything. And if ever it acts through idealism to serve a cause that appears noble to it, it becomes even more arrogant more intransigent, and it is almost impossible to make it see that there might. be something still higher beyond its noble conceptions and its great altruistic or other ideals. Humility is the only remedy. I am not speaking of humility as conceived by certain religions, with this God that belittles his creatures and only likes to see them down on their knees. When I was a child, this kind of humility revolted me, and I refused to believe in a God that wants to belittle his creatures. I don’t mean that kind of humility, but rather the recognition that one does not know, that one knows nothing, and that there may be something beyond what presently appears to us as the truest, the most noble or disinterested. True humility consists in constantly referring oneself to the Lord, in placing all before Him. When I receive a blow (and there are quite a few of them in my sadhana), my immediate, spontaneous reaction, like a spring, is to throw myself before Him and to say, ‘Thou, Lord.’ Without this humility, I would never have been able to realize anything. And I say ‘I’ only to make myself understood, but in fact ‘I’ means the Lord through this body, his instrument. When you begin living THIS kind of humility, it means you are drawing nearer to the realization. It is the condition, the starting point.

November 12, 1957


* * *

If there is one fundamental necessity, it is humility. To be humble. Not humble as it is normally understood, such as merely saying, ‘I am so small, I’m nothing at all’ – no, something else …

Because the pitfalls are innumerable, and the further you progress in yoga, the more subtle they become, and the more the ego masks itself behind marvelous and saintly appearances. So when somebody says, ‘I no longer want to rely on anything but Him. I want to close my eyes and rest in Him alone,’ this comfortable ‘Him,’ which is exactly what you want him to be, is the ego – or a formidable Asura, or a Titan (depending on each one’s capacity). They’re all over the earth, the earth is their domain. So the first thing to do is to pocket your ego – not preserve it, but get rid of it as soon as possible!

You can be sure that the God you’ve created is a God of the ego whenever something within you insists, ‘This is what I feel, this is what I think, this is what I see; it’s my way, my very own – it’s my way of being, my way of understanding, my relationship with the Divine, etc.’

And then they say, ‘I want to close my eyes and see nothing but Him I want nothing more of the outer world.’ And they forget there’s Love! That is the great Secret, that which is behind the Existent and the Non-Existent, the Personal and the Impersonal – Love. Not a love between two things, two beings … A love containing everything.

In the early part of the century, I wrote Prayers and Meditations, and I too spoke of ‘Him’; but I wrote that with all my aspiration, all my sincerity (at least with all the sincerity of the conscious parts of my being) and I locked it up in a drawer so that no one would see it. It was Sri Aurobindo who later asked me to publish it, for it could be useful … If I knew then, fifty years ago, what I know now, I would have been crushed! … All this ‘shame,’ all this ‘unworthiness’ …

After all, it’s good to know gradually, good to have some illusions – not for the sake of illusions but as a necessary step along the way.

Everything comes at the right moment.

And what is wonderful is that at each moment the Grace, the Joy, the Light, the Love never cease pouring down in the very midst of all this – despite the ego, despite the shame, despite the unworthiness. To be humble … … …

It’s very simple: when you say to people, “Be humble,” they immediately think of “being humble towards others,” and that humility is bad. True humility is humility towards the Divine, that is, the precise, exact, LIVING sense that you are nothing, can do nothing, understand nothing without the Divine, that even if you are an exceptionally intelligent and capable being, that is NOTHING in comparison with the divine Consciousness – and one must keep that constantly, because then one constantly has the true attitude of receptivity. A humble receptivity that sets no personal pretension against the Divine.

May 16, 1960 



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