Sir Aurobindo – 1907
EVENING TALKS with SRI AUROBINDO
Recorded by A. B. PURANI
Disciple: You told me Dr. R. uses mental intuition. So there may be various levels of intuition.
Sri Aurobindo: By mental intuition I mean the Intuition which comes from Above. Don’t get mixed in the mind. I don’t say that mental intuition is not correct but it is always limited because of the mixture. There is also the vital influence which very often becomes mixed up with one’s desires.
Disciple: How to get the intuition? By calmness of mind?
Sri Aurobindo: Calmness is not enough. Mind must be silent.
Disciple: It will then take a long time.
Sri Aurobindo: Can’t say. Can take a short time, or a long time.
Disciple: But it won’t be possible to keep the silence until one has realized the spirit. Sri Aurobindo: One can train one’s mind to be silent.
(Dr. X took his leave and as Mother lapsed into meditation we all tried to do the same. Then after
Mother had departed by 7 P.M., we rallied around Sri Aurobindo. He looked once or twice at M.)
Disciple: M. is beaming to-day.
Disciple: That must be Kundalini then.
Disciple: I don’t believe it. Is this vibration the Higher Force, Sir?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. It was trying to cure your lumbago, perhaps, and the first sign was a little aggravation (we all laughed). You don’t believe in Kundalini?
Disciple: No, Sir.
Sri Aurobindo: But you were telling about your “ascent and descent” experience.
Disciple: Is that Kundalini? I did not know it (laughter). But Kundalini is not the line of our yoga and you have not mentioned about it any where.
Disciple: Oh yes, he has in the “Lights on Yoga”.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. Kundalini is, of course, the Tantrik idea: The Shakti lying coiled in Muladhara awakes, rises up and carries the consciousness upward opening all the chakras up to Brahmarandhra and then meets the Brahman, and then the descent begins. The Tantrik process is more technical.
It is curious to see the action of the Force in some cases. Some feel as if a drilling were being done in the brain. Some people can’t keep the Force in. They sway from side to side, make peculiar sounds. I remember one practicing Pranayama rigourously and making horrible sound. I did not hear of his getting any good results. Sometimes the Force raises up what lies below–in the lower nature–in order to be able to deal with it.
18th December 1938 (4-30 P. M.)
Disciple: It is surprising that Swami Nikhilananda should write about you. (There was an article in the Hindu by Swami Nikhilananda)
Sri Aurobindo: It is Nishha (Miss Wilson) who arranged for its publication through him, her friend, before she came here. (After some silence) It is peculiar how they give an American turn to everything (Ref. to the article)
Disciple: How is that the Americans seem to be more open?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, because they are a new nation and have no past tradition to bind them. France and Czech-
oslovakia also are open. Many are writing from there to do yoga. Disciple: Nisha was in communication with you for some time?
Sri Aurobindo: Oh yes, for three or four years she has been in touch with us. She has very clear ideas about Yoga and is practicing it there. (At this point X. arrived and remarked that she must be very disappointed because there was no Darshan this time.)
Sri Aurobindo: No. She has taken it in the right yogic attitude, unlike others.
Then X. went on asking how is it that there are no Maharashtrian Sadhaks here in spite of Sri Aurobindo’s being in contact with Tilak and remaining a long time in Baroda.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes; it is strange. They are more vital in their nature. The Bengali, Gujarati and Tamil people are more in numbers. It is now spreading in other parts C. P. Punjab, Behar.
(The talk then passed on to Supermind)
Disciple: I hope we shall live to see the glorious day of the Supermind. When will it descend, Sir?
Sri Aurobindo (remained silent to this question and said): How can it descend? The nearer it comes the greater becomes the resistance to it!
Disciple: On the contrary the law of gravitation should pull it down.
Sri Aurobindo: That theory does not apply to it for it has levitation tendency and if it comes down in spite of that it does so against tremendous resistance.
Disciple: Have you realized Supermind?
Sri Aurobindo: You know I was talking about the tail of the Supermind to Y. I know what it is, I had flashes and glimpses of it. I have been trying to Supramentalize the Overmind. Not that the Supermind is not acting. It is doing so through Overmind and Intuition and the intermediate powers have come down. Supermind is above the Overmind (He showed it by placing one palm above the
other) so that one may mistake one for the other. I remember the day when people here claimed to have got it. I myself had made mistakes about it in the beginning, and I did not know about the many planes. It was Vivekananda who used to come to me in Alipore Jail and showed to me Intuitive plane and for about two to three weeks or so gave me training as regards Intuition. Then afterwards I began to see still higher planes. I am not satisfied with only a part, or a flash of Supermind but I want to bring down the whole mass of the Supermind pure, and that is an extremely difficult business.
Disciple: We hear that there will be a selected number of people who will first receive the Supermind.
Sri Aurobindo (made a peculiar expression with his eyes and asked): Selected by whom? Disciple: By the Supermind, Sir?
Sri Aurobindo (Laughingly): Oh, that is for the Supermind to decide. Whatever is the Truth will be done by it, for Supermind is Truth-Consciousness and things are established in the course by it so that your complaint about the disappearance of calm etc. will disappear, for they will be established by the Supermind.
Disciple: Will the descent of Supermind make things easier for us?
Sri Aurobindo: It will do so to those who receive the Supermind, who are open to it; for example, if there are thirty or forty people ready it could descend.
Disciple: You said that in 1934 Supermind was ready to descend but not a single Sadhak was found prepared. So it withdrew. But you told me once that the descent of Supermind does not depend on readiness of Sadhaks.
Sri Aurobindo: If none is ready to receive how will the Supermind manifest itself? But instead of thinking of Supermind one has first to open oneself to Intuition.
(At this time Mother came and asked what were we talking.)
Sri Aurobindo: About intuition etc. (Then as Mother lapsed into meditation we all joined. Mother departed for meditation at about 7 P. M.)
Sri Aurobindo: “Does any one know about S.? I am curious to know how his blood came out drop by drop from the body. He seems to have Elizabethan turn of expression”. Then the topic turned to the question of fear of death with S. and N’s example. How they cover their body for fear of catching cold etc.
Sri Aurobindo told a story that at Cambridge they were discussing about physical development. Then one fellow in order to show his own courage began taking out his genji one after another and they found that there were about 10 or 12 on his body!!
Disciple: There are people who think that as soon as they have entered the Ashram they have become immortal! We must develop our consciousness in order to conquer death, is it not?
Sri Aurobindo: People think so, because for a long time no death took place in the Ashram. Those who died were either visitors or who had gone back from here. In the beginning people had strong faith but as the number increased, the faith began to diminish. But why one should fear death?
Besides fear has no place in yoga. The soul is immortal and the body passes. The soul goes from one life to another.
Disciple: We fear because of our attachments.
Sri Aurobindo: One must have no attachments in yoga. Disciple: How to conquer fear?
Sri Aurobindo: By mental strength, will and spiritual power. In my own case, whenever there was any fear I used to do the very things that I was afraid of even if it entailed a violent death. Barin also had much fear while he was in the terrorist activity. But he would compel himself to do those things. When death sentence was passed on him he took it very cheerfully. Henry IV, King of France, had a great physical fear but by his mental will he would compel himself to rush into thick of the battle and was known as a great warrior. Napoleon and Caesar had no fear. Once when Caesar was fighting the forces of Pompeii in Albania, Caesar’s army was faring badly. Caesar was at that time in Italy. He jumped into the sea, took a fisherman’s boat and asked him to carry him there. On the way a storm rose and the fisherman was mortally afraid. The Caesar said “Why do you fear? You are carrying the fortunes of Caesar.”
I remember one Sadhaka under an attack of hiccoup saying “If it goes on I will die.” I told him “What does it matter if you die?” and the hiccoup stopped! Very often, these fears and suggestions bring in the adverse forces which then catch hold of the subject. By my blunt statement the Sadhaka realized his folly and did not, perhaps, allow any more suggestions.
Disciple: Is Barin still doing yoga?
Sri Aurobindo: I don’t know, he used to do some sort of yoga even before I began. My yoga he took up only after coming to Pondicherry. In the Andamans also he
was practicing it. You know he was Lele’s disciple. Once he took Lele to Calcutta among the young people of the secret society. Lele did not know that they were revolutionaries. One day Barin took him into a garden where they were practicing shooting. As soon as Lele saw it he understood the nature of the movement and asked Barin to give it up. If Barin did not listen to him, Lele said, he would fall into a ditch and he did fall.
Disciple: Barin, I heard, had a lot of experiences.
Sri Aurobindo: They were mere mental and he gathered some knowledge, much information or understanding out of them. I heard that when he had begun yoga he had an experience of Kamananda. Lele was surprised to hear about it. For he said that experience comes usually at the end. It is a descent like any other experience but unless one’s sex centre is sufficiently controlled it
may produce bad results etc. emission and other disturbances.
Disciple: Yes. He had brilliance.
Sri Aurobindo: But he was always narrow and limited. He would not widen himself, (SriAurobindo showed it by the movement of hands above the head) that is why his things won’t last.
e.g. he was brilliant writer and he also wrote devotional poetry. But nothing that will last because of this limitation. He was an amazing amateur in many things e.g. music, revolutionary activity. He was also a painter, though it did not come to much in spite of his exhibitions. He did well in all these but nothing more.
Disciple: Barin in his paper “Dawn” began to write your biography.
Sri Aurobindo: I don’t know that. Did he publish a paper?
I would have been interested to see what he writes about me.
Disciple: It ceased after a short time.
Disciple: You wrote back exclaiming great surprise that what everyone knows I do not know.
Sri Aurobindo: In fact it is not true. That is, what it is. Barin does not give the true state of things. I was neither the founder nor the leader. It was P. Mittra and Miss Ghosal that started it at the inspiration of Baron Okakura. They had already started and when I visited Bengal I cam to know about it. I simply kept myself informed of their work. My idea was an open armed revolution in the whole of India. What they did at that time was very childish. e.g. beating magistrates and so on. Later it turned into terrorism and dacoities etc. which were not at all my idea or intention. Bengal is too emotional, wants quick results, can’t prepare through a long course of years. We wanted to give battle through creating a spirit in the race through guerrilla warfare. But at the present stage of warfare such things are impossible and bound to fail.
Disciple: Then why did you not check it?
Sri Aurobindo: It is not good to check such things that press for strong expression, when they have taken a strong step, for, something good may come out of it.
Disciple: You did not appear in the riding test in your I. C. S.? Sri Aurobindo: No, they gave me another chance. But
again I did not appear and finally they rejected me.
Disciple: But why then did you appear in the I.C.S.? Was it by some intuition that you did not come for the riding test?
Sri Aurobindo: Not at all. I knew nothing of yoga at that time. I appeared for I.C.S. because my father wanted it and I was too young to understand. Later I found out what sort of work it is and I had disgust for administrative life and I had no interest in administrative work. My interest was in poetry and literature and study of languages and patriotic action.
Disciple: We heard that you and C.R. Das used to make plans of revolution in India while in England.
Sri Aurobindo: Not only C.R. Das but many others. Deshpande was one.
Disciple: You used to write very strong memoranda for the Gaikewad; you once asked him to go and give it to the Resident personally.
Sri Aurobindo: That is legend. I could not have said so. Of course, I wrote many memoranda for the Maharajah. Generally he used to indicate the lines and I used to follow them. But I myself was not much interested in administration. My interest lay outside in Sanskrit, literature, in the national movement. When I came to Baroda from England I found out what the Congress was at that time and formed a contempt for it. Then I came in touch with Deshpande, Tilak, Madhav Rao etc. There I strongly criticized the Congress for its moderate policy. The articles were so furious that M.G. Ranade, the great Maharashtra leader, asked the proprietor of the paper (through Deshpande) not to allow such seditious things to appear in the paper, otherwise he might be arrested and imprisoned. Deshpande approached me with
the news and requested me to write something less violent. I then began to write about philosophy of politics, leaving aside the practical part of politics. But I soon got disgusted with it.
Along with Tilak, Madhav Rao, Deshmukh and Joshi who became a moderate later, we were planning to work on more extreme lines than the Congress. We brought Jatin Banerji from Bengal and put him in the Baroda army. Our idea was to drive moderates from the Congress and capture it.
As soon as I heard that National College had been started in Bengal, I found my opportunity, threw off the Baroda job and went to Calcutta as the Principal. There I came in contact with B. Pal who was editing the “Bande mataram.” But its financial condition was precarious and when B. Pal was going on a tour he asked me to take up the paper. I asked Subodh Mullick and others to finance the paper and went on editing it.
Then some people wanted to oust Bipin Chandra Pal from the Bande Matram and they connected my name also with it. I called the sub-editor and gave him a severe thrashing, of course metaphorically. But the mischief was done. Bipin Pal was a great orator, and at that time his speeches were highly inspired, a sort of a descent. Later on his power of oration also got diminished. I remember he never used the word independence but always said “Autonomy without British control.” Later on when after Barisal Conference we brought in the peasants in the movement, forty to fifty thousand of them used to gather to hear Pal; Suren Banerjee can not stand comparison with Pal. He has never done anything like it. But he also lost his power later on. He was more an orator. He had not the qualities of a leader. Then Shyamsundar and some other people
came in. It soon drew the attention of large number of people and became an All-India paper. One day I called the Bengal leaders and said, “It is no use simply going on like this. We must capture the Congress and throw out these moderate leaders from it.” Then we decided to follow Tilak as the All-India leader.
They at once jumped at the idea. Tilak who was not well known in the Northern parts was chosen
for leadership. He was a real great man who was disinterested and a rare great man. Disciple: What do you think of his Gita? Was it inspired?
Sri Aurobindo: I must say I have not read it.
Disciple: You have reviewed it.
Sri Aurobindo: Then I have reviewed it without having read it (loud laughter). Of course I might have glanced through it and I don’t think it is inspired. It is more a mental interpretation and he had a brilliant mind.
Disciple: When some one asked Tilak what he would do when India got Swaraj, he said he would again become a professor of Mathematics.
Disciple: What about A. B. Patrika? It was also an extremist paper.
Sri Aurobindo: Never, it was impossible for A. B. Patrika to write openly like the “Bande Mataram” and Jugantar about independence, guerrilla warfare, day after day in a paper. It wanted safety first. At that time three papers were running in Bengal 1. “Jugantar” 2. Bande Mataram 3. And Sandhya. Brahma Bandhava. Upadhyaya editor of Sandhya was another great man. He used to write so cleverly the Government could not charge him; and our financial condition was so bad and yet we carried on for five to six years.
Disciple: But did the Government not try to arrest you? 39
Sri Aurobindo: It could not. There was no such law and the press had more liberty. Besides there was nothing in the papers that could be directly charged against–so cleverly were they written. “Statesman” used to complain that the paper Bande Mataram was full of seditious matter from end to end. But yet so cleverly was it written that one could not arrest the editor. Moreover the name of editor was never published. So they could arrest only the printer. But when one was arrested another came to take his place. Later on Upen Banerjee, Sub-editor, published some correspondence for which I was arrested on sedition charge, but as nothing could be proved I was acquitted. But in my absence as they were disastrously up against finance they wrote something very strong and the paper was suppressed. After another arrest I published the “Karmayogin”. There I wrote an article “Open letter to my countrymen.” for which the Government wanted to prosecute me. While the prosecution was pending I went secretly to Chandranagore and there some friends were thinking of sending me to France. I was thinking want to do next. There I heard the Adesh to go to Pondicherry.
Disciple: Why to Pondicherry?
Sri Aurobindo: I could not question. It was Sri Krishna’s Adesh. I had to obey. Later on I found it was for the Ashram and for the Work.
I had to apply for a pass-port under a false name. The Ship Company required Medical Certificate by an English Doctor. After a great deal of trouble I found out one and went to his house. He told me that I could speak English remarkably well. I replied that I had been to England.
Disciple: You took the certificate under a false name. (I was a little surprised to hear he had
disguised under a false name. So the question.)
Sri Aurobindo: Of course. If I had given my name, I would have been at once arrested. With due respect to Gandhi’s truth I could not be exactly precise about my name, otherwise you can’t be a revolutionary.
Accompanied by Bijoy and preceded by Moni and followed by my brother-in-law I arrived in Pondicherry but had to assume false names for some time.
22nd December 1938.
(All of us assembled in hope of hearing something from Sri Aurobindo. I was actually praying for it. But he did not seem to be in a talking mood. So we were forced to keep quiet at the same time thinking how to draw him into conversation and by what question. Suddenly we find X. beaming with a smile and looking at Sri Aurobindo. Then he takes a few more moves nearer to Sri Aurobindo and we automatically follow him, he still nears and then he bursts out with a question: “To attain right attitude what principles should we follow in our dealing and behaviour with others?”
Sri Aurobindo could not quite catch the question so it was repeated and he replied: It seems to me the other way about. If we have the right attitude other things come by themselves. Right attitude is necessary; what is important is the inner attitude. Spiritual and ethical principles are quite different, for every thing depends on whether it is done for the sake of the Spirit or ethical reasons.
One may observe mental control in dealings etc. but the inner state may be quite different e.g. he may not show anger, may be humble externally, but internally he may be proud and full of anger. For
example A. when he came here he was full of humility outside. It is the psychic control that is required and when that is there right attitude follows in one’s external behaviour. Conduct must flow from within outwards and the more one opens to the psychic influence the more it gains over the outer nature. Mental control may or may not lead to the spiritual. In people of a certain type it may be the first step towards psychic control.
Disciple: How to get psychic control?
Sri Aurobindo: By constant remembrance, consecration of ourselves to the Divine, rejection of all that stands in the way of the psychic influence. Generally, it is the vital that stands in the way with its desires and demands. And once the psychic opens it shows at every step what is to be done. (At the later stage of the conversation Mother came and soon after we all lapsed into meditation with the Mother.
After her departure at about 7 P.M. Sri Aurobindo asked X. “What is the idea behind your question? Something personal or a general question?”
Disciple: I meant, for instance, how to see good in every body, how to love all and have good-will
Sri Aurobindo: One has to start with the idea of good-will for all; to consecrate oneself to the Divine, try to see God in others, have a psychic good-will and in oneself reject all vital and mental impulses, and on that basis proceed towards the realization. The idea must pass into experience. Even then, it is easy in static aspect, but when it comes to the dynamic experience it becomes difficult. For example, when one finds a man behaving like a brute it is very difficult to see God in him unless one separates him from outer nature and sees the Divine behind.
One can repeat the name of the Divine and come to divine consciousness. Disciple: How does name do it?
Sri Aurobindo: Name has a power like Mantra. Everything in the world is power. There are others who do Pranayama along with the name. After a time the repetition behind the Pranayama becomes automatic and one feels Divine presence etc. Here people once began to feel tremendous force in their work. They would work without fatigue for hours and hours, but they began to overdo it. One has to be reasonable even in spirituality. That was when the Sadhana was in the vital. But when it began in the physical then things were different. Physical is like a stone, full of inertia and resistance.
Disciple: Sometimes one feels a sort of love for everybody, though the feeling lasts for a second it gives a great joy.
Sri Aurobindo: That is the wave from the psychic. But what is your attitude towards it? Do you take it as a passing mood or does it stimulate you to further experience of that sort?
Disciple: It stimulates but sometimes vital mixture tries to come in. Fortunately I could drive it out.
Sri Aurobindo: That is the risk. The fact that mixture tried to come in means that the wave came through the inner vital and thus took something from the vital. One has to be very careful in order to avoid these sex impurities. In spite of his occasional outburst of violence X was a very nice and affectionate man; but he used to get these things mixed up with sex-impulse and the experience was spoiled. This happens because sometimes one gives a semi-justification to sex-impulse. But sex is absolutely out of place in Yoga. In ordinary life it has a certain place for a certain purpose. Of course, if you
adopt the Sahaja Marga, it is different.
While in jail I know of a man who had a power of concentration trying to make everyone love him and he succeeded. The warder and all the people around him were drawn towards him.
Disciple: That is what we don’t know (laughter)
Sri Aurobindo: The mind must be made quiet and the consciousness turned-not mentally-towards the aim. It no doubt takes time but that is the way. There are no devices for these things.
Disciple: What difference is there between modification of nature and its transformation?
Sri Aurobindo: Transformation is the casting of the whole nature in the mould of realization. What you realize you project out in your nature. Christian Saints speak of the presence in the heart. That presence can change the nature.
I speak of three transformations: 1. Psychic, 2. Spiritual and 3. Supramental. Psychic transformation many had; spiritual is the realization of the Self, the Infinite above, with its dynamic side of peace, knowledge, ananda etc. That transformation is spiritual transformation and above that is the Supramental transformation. It is Truth-consciousness working for a Divine aim or purpose.
Disciple: If one has inner realization does transformation follow in the light of the realization?
Sri Aurobindo: Not necessarily. There may be some modification in the nature-part but the transformation is not automatic. It is not so easy as all that. My experience of peace and calm in the first contact with Lele has never left me, but in my outer nature there were many agitations and every time I had to make an effort to establish peace. From that time onwards the
whole object of my yoga was to change nature into the mould of the inner realization. I had to try to change or transform these by the influence of my realization.
Disciple: Even then a man with inner realization,–I don’t mean experience–won’t have grave difficulties such as sex in his nature.
Sri Aurobindo: Why not? There can be anger, like Durvasa’s or sex. You have not heard of the fall of Rishis through anger or through sex? The Yogis pass beyond the stage of good and evil. Ordinary questions of morality don’t arise in them. They look upon outer nature as a child behaving according to its wants. I think X’s fall came in that way. He had gone into the higher mind, I do not know, if not even to the overmind state; he used to be guided by an inner voice which he accepted as the voice of the Divine and did everything in the light of that voice. When people were asking him about his conduct I am told he replied that it was by the voice of God and that every Siddha had done that. You have heard of Agymananda Swami who went to London? He was arrested in England for making love to girls.
Disciple: Would not the inner realization stop because of these outer indulgences.
Sri Aurobindo: It depends on how far one has gone in the path in spiritual realization. There are any number of passages, crossways and paths; one may be at liberty to whatever yoga one likes. But in our yoga we insist on the transformation of outer nature as well. And when I say something is necessary in yoga, it means in “our yoga”; it does not apply to yoga with other aims.
(There was lull for some time after this.)
Then Sri Aurobindo asked: Do you know
anything about M.?
Disciple: My impression was not favourable. I was not personally attracted by him.
Sri Aurobindo: When I saw his photo I had an impression that he is a man with strong vital power.
When I saw that he was advertising about himself as Messiah I began to doubt his genuineness. His sadhana seems to be in the vital and it is in these cases that the power descends and unfortunately people are attracted by these powers. In the spiritual and the psychics even in mental sadhana, power can come, but it comes automatically without one asking for it.
Y. was another M. with a powerful vital being. At one time I had strong hopes about him. But people whose sadhana is on a vital basis pass into what I have called the Intermediate Zone and hardly go beyond the vital. It is like a jungle and it is comparatively much easy with those people who are weak and have no such power. He used to think that he had put himself in the Divine’s hand and the Divine is in him. We had to be severe with him to disillusion him of his idea. That is why he could not remain here. He went back and became a guru with about thirty or forty disciples around him. Gurugiri (Master-ship) comes very often to these people. He did all that in my name which I heartily disliked. Unfortunately his mind was not equally powerfully developed as his vital. He had the fighter’s mind not the thinker’s. We often put a strong force on him and as a result he used to become very lucid for a time and he could see his wrongs. But immediately his vital rushed back and took control of his mind, it all used to be wiped out. If his mind had been as developed perhaps he would have been able to retain the clarity. The intellect helps one to
separate oneself from the vital and look at it dispassionately. The mind also can deceive but not so much. M. is another of this type.
Disciple: Why did he go away from here?
Sri Aurobindo: Because he wanted to be an Avatar and because he could not get rid of the attachment to his work. He is very unscrupulous.
Disciple: Has he some power?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. But not an occult power like the others. Before that he was quite an ordinary man with some possibilities. When I came out of the jail, you know, I was staying in his house and I was full of certain force. He got a share of it.
Sri Aurobindo: He was doing some kind of yoga. I gave him some instructions. From them he got his power.
Disciple: Was he working on your idea?
Sri Aurobindo: When I was leaving Bengal I thought it might be possible to work through him on condition that he remained faithful to me. That he could never be. His own self came to the front though the original push was from me, now it is not my force that is working there. These things become easily unspiritualised.
Disciple: In his “Jivan Sangini” he makes a lot of fuss over his wife.
Sri Aurobindo: She struck me as a common-place woman though a good woman. She was a better woman than he as a man. I saw her only once by chance as she was not used to come out before people.
Disciple: He had developed a powerful Bengali style.
Sri Aurobindo: Is that so? He was once Translating the Veda in Bengali.
Disciple: His Bengali, you know, was like Christian Missionary’s Bengali. You know what it is like.
23rd December 1938
We have assembled as usual, and are eager to resume the talk. But nobody could begin without some hint or gesture from Sri Aurobindo. He was lying calmly in his bed.
A disciple made an approach to Sri Aurobindo half-hesitatingly. This made another disciple roar with laughter (Sri Aurobindo heard the laughter)
Disciple: X. is roaring with laughter.
Sri Aurobindo: Descent of Ananda?
This primary breaking of the ice made the atmosphere a little encouraging So, X catching the chance shot the following question with a beaming face:
Disciple: Because the hostile forces offer resistance to the Divine manifestation in the world and some of them become sometimes victorious (at least for the time being) can one logically say that the Divine lacks Omnipotence? It is not my question but somebody else’s.
Sri Aurobindo: (turning his head to him) It depends on what you mean by Omnipotence. If the idea is that God must always succeed then we must conclude that he is not Omnipotent. Do you mean to say that he must always succeed against the resistance and then only he may be called Omnipotent? People have very queer ideas of Omnipotence. Resistance is the law of evolution. Resistance comes from ignorance and ignorance is a part of inconscience: the whole thing starts from
ignorance that is inconscience. At the very beginning when the opposition between ignorance and knowledge was created, there was the very denial of the Divine. It is his Lila that the manifestation shall proceed through resistance and struggle: what kind of Lila, or play, it is in which side goes on winning? Divine Omnipotence generally works through the universal law. There are forces of Light and forces of Darkness. To say that the forces of Light shall always succeed is the same as saying that truth and good shall always succeed, though there is no such thing as unmixed truth and unmixed good. Divine Omnipotence intervenes only at critical or decisive moments.
Every time the Light has tried to descend it has met with resistance and opposition. Christ was crucified. You may say, “Why should it be like that when he was innocent?” and yet that was the Divine dispensation. Buddha was denied; sons of Light come, the earth denies them, rejects them in substance. Only a small minority grows towards a spiritual birth. It is through them the Divine manifestation takes place. What remains of Buddhism today except a few decrees of Asoka and a few hundred thousand Buddhists?
Disciple: Asoka helped in propagating Buddhism.
Sri Aurobindo: Anybody could have done that.
Disciple: But it is through his aid that it became all-powerful.
Sri Aurobindo: If kings and emperors had left Buddhism to those people who were really spiritual it would have been much better for real Buddhism. It was after Constantine embraced Christianity that it began to decline. The king of Norway, on whom Longfellow wrote a poem, killed all people who were not Christians
and thus succeeded in establishing Christianity! The same happened to Mohammedanism. When it succeeded the followers of the Prophet became Khalifas, then the religion declined. It is not kings and emperors that keep alive spirituality but people who are really spiritual that do so.
Disciple: Asoka sacrificed everything for Buddhism.
Sri Aurobindo: But he remained emperor till the end. When kings and emperors try to spread religion they become like Asoka i.e. make whole thing mechanical and the inner truth is lost.
Disciple: Raman Maharshi was known to no one. It was Brunton who made him widely known.
Sri Aurobindo: It is a strange measure of success, people adopt in judging people by the number of disciples. Who was great–Raman Maharshi who did his Sadhana in seclusion for years or Raman Maharshi surrounded by all sorts of disciples? Success to be real must be spiritual. At times, when some spiritual movement begins to succeed then the real thing begins to be lost.
The talk turned to Ramanashram.
Sri Aurobindo: (related a story here) Mrs. K. went to see Maharshi and was seen driving mosquitoes at the time of meditation. She complained to him about mosquito bites. The Maharshi told her that if she couldn’t bear mosquito bites she couldn’t do yoga. Mrs. K. could not understand the significance of the statement. She wanted spirituality without mosquitoes!
There are reports that those who stay there permanently are not all in agreement with each other.
Do you know that famous story about Maharshi “when being disgusted with the Ashram and the disciples,” he was going away into the mountain. He was passing through a narrow path flanked by the hills. He came upon an old woman sitting with her legs across the path. Maharshi begged her to draw her legs but she would not. Then Maharshi in anger passed across her. She then became very angry and said “Why are you so restless? Why can’t you sit in one place at Arunachala instead of moving about, go back to your place and worship Shiva there?” Her remarks struck him and he retraced his steps. After going some distance he looked back and found that there was nobody. Suddenly it struck him that it was the Divine Mother herself who wanted him to remain at Arunachala.
Of course it was the Divine Mother who asked him to go back. Maharshi was intended to lead this sort of life. He has nothing to do with what happens around him. He remains calm and detached. The man is what he was. By the way, I am glad to hear Maharshi shouting with the Indian Christian (we all laughed with him); it means he also can become dynamic. The only Ashram in which there
was great unity, I heard, was Thakur Dayanand’s. There was a strong sense of unity among them. I wrote an article on the “Avatar” in Karmayogin. Mahendra Dey, Dayanand’s disciple, seeing the article wrote to me “he is the
Avatar”. He was very enthusiastic about it. And when there was police firing and arrests, Mahendra Dey after his imprisonment became changed and said that he was hypnotized by Dayananda.
Disciple: Why are the Gurus obliged to work with imperfect and defective people like us? Here the difficulty seems to be more keen.
Sri Aurobindo: That has been a puzzle to me also. But it is so. Our case is a little different. Our aim is to change the world, not universally, of course. Hence every one here represents human nature with all its difficulties and capacities. That’s how your difficulties are explained, (He said looking at X).
26th December 1938.
Four disciples were seated on the carpet talking in low whispers at about 5. 30 P. M. One of the group broke into suppressed laughter in course of talk.
At 6. 30 P. M. we all assembled by the side of Sri Aurobindo, He looked round and referring to the laughter asked: “What was the divine descent about?”
Disciple: X. had his usual outburst of laughter.
Sri Aurobindo: Oh, it was the descent of Vishnu’s ananda.
Disciple: It is very peculiar how I break out into uncontrolled laughter so easily. Formerly, I used to weep at the slightest provocation. I think because I live in the external consciousness only I laugh so easily. Is it not?
Sri Aurobindo: It is the reaction of the superficial vital which is touched easily by simple, outward things; there is a child in nature that bursts out like that. It is the same as the Balabhava–the child-like nature. The deeper vital being does not get so easily touched.
The topic was changed at this point.
Disciple: What is meant by self-offering? How to do it?
Sri Aurobindo: How to do it! One offers one’s vital, mind and heart, attachment, passions, and grows into the Divine consciousness.
Disciple: What time is more propitious for meditation,–day-time or night-time? I get more concentrated at night.
Sri Aurobindo: It may be due to the calm and quiet atmosphere and also because you are accustomed to it. Nights and early mornings are supposed to be the best for meditation.
We ask people to have a fixed time for meditation, for, if they are habituated to it then the response comes at that time due to Abhyas. Lele asked me to meditate twice but when he came to Calcutta
he heard that I did not do it. He did not give me time to explain that my meditation was going on all the time. He simply said: “the devil has caught you.”
Disciple: Sometimes meditation is automatic.
Sri Aurobindo: At that time you must sit, otherwise you feel uneasy.
Disciple: The other day I was having peace, and ananda, and I saw many visions. But I had to go to sleep, for I thought, if I kept up at night I might fall ill. I saw the flower signifying sincerity in my vision.
Sri Aurobindo: Sincerity means to lift all our movements towards the Divine. Disciple: That fear of falling ill by keeping awake, is it not a mental fear?
Sri Aurobindo: The thing is, the physical being has got a limit. The vital being can feel the energy, peace, etc. but
the physical cannot be taxed beyond its capacity. That is what happened to many Sadhaks here. They overworked till a reaction took place. The force comes for your particular work, not to increase the work and keep it for the other purposes. If you go on overdoing it then the natural reaction will come. There is a certain amount of reasonableness even in spirituality.
Disciple: At one time I also used to feel a lot of energy while I was working with the Mother and I was never fatigued even working day and night, only one or two hours sleep was sufficient and I would feel as fresh as ever.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. That is because you opened to the Energy. About sleep, even ten minutes of sleep may be enough, but of course, it is not ordinary sleep but going within. If you can draw the Force with equanimity and conserve it, these things can be done. As I said many Sadhaks felt that sort of thing when we were dealing with the vital. But when the Sadhana came into the physical there was not that push any more and people began to feel easily fatigued, lazy, and unwilling to work. They began to complain about ill-health due to overwork and were helped by the doctor. Do you know the idea of “H?” He says people have come here not for work but for meditation.
I dare say if we had not come down into the physical and remained in the vital and mental like other Yogis without trying to transform them then things would have been different.
(At this hour Mother came in and we meditated for sometime. After she went away, our talk was resumed. Someone remarked N. had a good meditation. He did not know that Mother has gone.)
Sri Aurobindo: Good meditation?
Disciple: How do you know?
Sri Aurobindo: By the inclination of your head, perhaps.
Disciple: I can’t say; I was having many incoherent dreams and visions–that is all I can say, perhaps it was in the surface consciousness.
Sri Aurobindo: Surface consciousness of the inner vital being. Such things are very common; of course, when one goes still deeper one does not see them. There is a point between the surface consciousness and the deeper vital which is full of these fantasies and dreams. They are apparently incoherent. In the physical a mouse turning into an elephant may have no meaning but it is not so in the vital. They have no coherence of the physical plane but they have their own coherence of the
vital plane. But when one gets the clue one finds that everything is a linked whole. That I have seen many times in my own case. It is this world from which Tagore’s painting came,–what Europeans call the Goblin world.
Disciple: Does Tagore see them before drawing them?
Sri Aurobindo: I do not think so. Some see them but do not draw them. But they come to him. Anybody who has the least experience of these planes can at once say from where they come.
Disciple: But how is it that people think and he himself calls it great paintings?
Sri Aurobindo: Everybody calls it “great and wonderful”, so he himself comes to think it so. Then we began to talk about headache either due to physical cause or resistance.
Disciple: I have seen many times my headache start after Mother’s touch at Pranam.
Sri Aurobindo: That may be because you passed from one state of consciousness to another. Disciple: Unconsciously?
Sri Aurobindo: Why not? When from a state of concentration you mix yourself just after the Pranam you can easily pass to another state. That is why Mother advises people to remain calm and quiet for some time after Pranam or meditation.
Disciple: I felt once as if the head were suspended in the air and that parts of body did not resist. Sri Aurobindo: That is separation of the mental consciousness.
Disciple: Are you able to know what experiences Sadhaks are having, especially if they are some decisive ones?
Sri Aurobindo: I don’t. But Mother knows. Whenever it is a question of consciousness she can see in the Sadhak whatever changes are taking place. When she meditates (with the Sadhak) she can know what line he is following, the line she indicates or the Sadhak’s own and afterwards what changes have been brought in the consciousness.
Disciple: And when the Sadhaka experiences something, is it imparted to you?
Sri Aurobindo: What is the use of giving our own things to them? Let them have their own growth. I may put in a Force for people who are in habitual bad condition, people who are always going in the wrong and try to work it out so that the condition might improve. If the
Sadhak co-operates then it is comparatively easy. Otherwise, if the Sadhak is passive then the result takes a long time, it comes, goes again, returns like that and ultimately the Force prevails. In
case of people like “X.” we used to put in a strong Force then he became lucid and then the whole vital used to rush up and catch hold of him. Whereas if the Sadhak actively participates then it takes only one-tenth of the time.
27th December 1938.
Sri Aurobindo himself opened the talk to-day by addressing X and said “I hear D. going about in his car with a guard by his side, two cyclist policemen in front and back.” Then the talk continued regarding Pondicherry politics, most of talk being by us. Then Sri Aurobindo remarked. “When I see Pondicherry and Calcutta Corporation I begin to wonder why I was so eager for democracy. Pondicherry and Calcutta Corporation are the two object lessons which can take away all enthusiasm for self-government.”
Disciple: Was the Calcutta Corporation so bad before the Congress came there?
Sri Aurobindo: No. There was not so much scope for it,–at least we did not know of such scandals. It is the same thing with other municipal Governments. In New York and Chicago the whole machinery is corrupt. Sometimes the head of the institution is like that. Sometimes a Mayor comes up with the intention of cleaning out the whole, but one does not know after cleaning which one was better. The Mayor of Chicago was a great criminal but all judges and police-officers were under his pay. In France also it is about the same thing. It
is not surprising that people got disgusted with Democracy.
England is comparatively less corrupt. The English are the only people who know how to work the Parliamentary system. Parliamentary Government is in their blood.
Disciple: It seems that our old Indian system was the best for us. How could it succeed so well?
Sri Aurobindo: The old Indian system grew out of life, it had room for everything and every interest. There were monarchy, aristocracy, democracy. Every interest was represented in the Government. While in Europe the Western System grew out of the mind. They are led by reason and want to make everything cut and dried without any chance of freedom or variation. If it is democracy, then democracy only. No room for anything else. They cannot be plastic.
India is now trying to imitate the West. Parliamentary Government is not suited to India. But we always take up what the west has thrown off. Sir Akabar wanted to try a new sort of Government with an impartial authority at the head. There, in Hyderabad, the Hindu majority complains that though Mohammedens are in minority they occupy most of the offices in the state. By Sir Akabar’s method almost every interest would have been represented in the Government and automatically the Hindus would have come in, but because of their cry of responsible Government the scheme failed. They have a fixed idea in the mind and want to fit everything to it. They can’t think for themselves and so take up what the others are throwing off.
Disciple: What is your idea of an ideal Government for India? It is possible in Hyderabad which has a Nizam.
But how to do the same in an Indian Constitution?
Sri Aurobindo: Sir Akabar’s is as good as any. My idea is like what Tagore once wrote. There may be one Rashtrapati at the top with considerable powers so as to secure a continuity of policy and an Assembly representative of the nation. The provinces will contribute to a Federation, united at the top, leaving ample scope to local bodies to make laws according to their local problems. Mussolini started with a fundamental of the Indian System but afterwards began bullying and bluffing other nations for the sake of imperialism. If he had persisted in his original idea, he would have been a great creator.
Disciple: Dr. Bhagwandas suggested that there should be legislators above the age of 40, completely disinterested like the Rishis.
Sri Aurobindo: A chamber of Rishis! That would not be very promising. They will at once begin to quarrel. As they say; Rishis in ancient times could guide kings because they were distributed over various places.
Disciple: His idea is of gathering all great men together.
Sri Aurobindo: And let them quarrel like Kilkeni cats. I suppose. (said laughing).
The Congress at the present stage–what is it but a Fascist organization? Gandhi is the dictator like Stalin, I wan’t say like Hitler. What Gandhi says they accept and even Working Committee follows him. Then it goes to A. I. C. C. which adopts it and then the Congress. There is no opportunity for any difference of opinion except for Socialists who are allowed to differ. Whatever resolutions they pass are obligatory on all the
provinces whether the resolutions suit the provinces or not. There is no room for any other independent opinion. Every thing is fixed up before and the people are only allowed to talk over it like Stalin’s Parliament. When we started the movement we began with the idea of throwing out the Congress oligarchy and open the whole organization to the general mass.
Disciple: Srinivas Ayyanger retired from Congress because of his difference with Gandhi. He objected to Gandhi’s giving the movement a religious turn and bringing in religion in Politics.
Sri Aurobindo: He made Charka a religious article of faith and excluded all people from Congress Membership who could not spin. How many believe in his gospel of Charka? Such a tremendous waste of energy, just for the sake of a few annas is most unreasonable.
Disciple: He made that rule perhaps to enforce discipline?
Sri Aurobindo: Discipline is all right but once you centralize you go on centralizing.
Disciple: It failed in agricultural provinces and seems to have succeeded in other places especially where people had no occupation.
Disciple: In Bengal it did not succeed.
Sri Aurobindo: In Bengal it did not. It may be all right as a famine-relief measure. But when it takes the form of an All-India programme it looks absurd. If you form a programme that is suited to the condition of the agricultural people it sounds something reasonable. Give them education, technical training and give them (Fundamentals or Principles of) organization not on political but
on business lines. But Gandhi does not want any
such industrial organization and so comes in with his magical formula “spin, spin, spin.” C. R. Das and others could act as a balance against him. It is all a fetish.
Denmark and Ireland organized in the same way. Only now they are going to suffer because other nations are trying to be self-sufficient. I don’t believe in that sort of self-sufficiency. For that is against the principles of life. It is not possible for nations to be self-sufficient like that.
Disciple: What do you think of Hindi being the common language? It seems to me English has occupied so much place that it will be unwise and difficult to replace it.
Sri Aurobindo: English will be all right and even necessary if India is to be on an international state. In that case English has to be the medium of expression, especially as English is now replacing French as a world-language. But the national spirit won’t allow it and also it s a foreign language. At the same time Hindi can’t replace English in the universities nor the provincial languages. When the national spirit grows it is difficult to say what will happen. In Ireland before the revolution they wanted to abolish English and adopt Gaelic but as time went on and things settled themselves their enthusiasm waned and English came back.
Disciple: I do not understand why the Jews are being so much persecuted by Hitler. Disciple: I understand that the Jews betrayed Germany during the war.
Sri Aurobindo: Nonsense, on the other hand they helped Germany a great deal. It is because they are a clever
race that others are jealous of them, for anything that is wrong you point to the Jews! It is so much more easy than finding the real cause, or because people want something to strike and so the popular cry, “The Jews the Jews”. You remember I told you about the prophecy regarding the Jews that when they will be persecuted and driven to Jerusalem that the Golden age shall come?
It is the Jews that have built Germany’s Commercial fleet and her navy. The contribution of Jews towards the world’s progress in every branch is remarkable.
But this sort of dislike exists among other nations also e.g. the English do not like the Scots, because the Scottish have beaten the English in commercial affairs. There was a famous story in the Punch: two people asking themselves. “Bill, who is that man?”, and Bill answered, “Let us strike at him, he is a stranger.”
And then in Bengal the West Bengal people used to call East Bengal people “Bangale” and composed a satire “Bangale Manush nohe oe ekta jantu” At one time I used to wear socks at all times of the year. The West Bengalis used to sneer at that saying, “I am a Bangale”; they thought that they were the most civilized people on earth. It is a legacy from the animal world. Just as dogs of one street do not like dogs of another.
Disciple: But things will improve, I hope?
Sri Aurobindo: If this goes, you may be sure that the Golden Age is coming! All my opinions are
of course on the basis of the present conditions. But the things would be quite different if the Supermind came down.
Disciple: You are tempting us too much with your Supermind. But will it really benefit the whole of mankind?
Sri Aurobindo: It will exert a certain upward pull but in order that it may bring about a considerable change, that it may be efficient, two hundred Sadhaks of the Ashram can’t be enough. It must be thousands whose influence can spread all over the world, who by actual test can prove that it is something superior to the means hitherto employed.
Disciple: Will it have a power (corresponding to the Universal Consciousness) over humanity? Sri Aurobindo: We shall leave it to the Supermind to answer that question when it comes.
Disciple: The materialist and scientist say that Yogis have done nothing for human happiness. Buddhas and Avatars have come and gone but the sufferings of humanity are just the same.
Sri Aurobindo: Did Avatar come to relieve the sufferings of humanity? It was only Buddha who showed the way of release from suffering. But his path was to get away from the world and enter into Nirvana. Does mankind follow him? And if they do not and cannot get rid of their suffering, it is not Buddha’s fault!!
Disciple: They say that by scientific inventions and medical discoveries they have been able to improve the condition of the world. e.g. by cholera injections, smallpox vaccinations the death rate is reduced.
Sri Aurobindo: And are they happy? Vaccination! Intellectual people say that vaccinations have done more harm than good.
Disciple: But that is the opinion of intellectuals and not of doctors.
Sri Aurobindo: Why? The intellectuals have studied the subject before they gave their opinion. They may have reduced Cholera etc., but what about other things that they have brought in? About suffering! Suffering cannot go as long as ignorance remains. Even after the Supermind descends the suffering will remain. If you choose to remain in suffering how can it go?
Disciple: They say that they can compel people to take injections even against their will, can spiritual force do that? The Yogis have been busy with their own salvation while the world has remained just the same.
Sri Aurobindo: Evolution has proceeded from matter through animal to physical man, vital man, mental man and spiritual man. When mental man or spiritual man appears the others do not disappear. So, the tiger and serpent do not become man. In this upward growth of the human consciousness you cannot say that Buddha, Christ etc. have played no part.
I consider the Supramental the culmination of the Spiritual man. When the Supramental becomes established I expect that one will not be required to flee from life. It is something dynamic that changes life and nature. It will open the vital, mental even the physical to the intuitive and
You want comfort and happiness; in that case, Truth and Knowledge are of no value.
The discoveries of modern science have outrun their own usefulness, the human capacity to use them. And the scientists don’t know what to do with these discoveries. They have been used for the purposes of destruction. Now they are trying to kill men by throwing germs of small-pox from aeroplanes; they at least end the suffering by death but by bombing you mutilate for
life. Politics, science, even socialism have not succeeded in finding a way out of suffering. They have killed people, they kill each other and involve the state into a peril unless you say that murders and massacres are necessary. From this state of chaos and suffering there have been ways of escape and people have been shown the way out. You say they are not useful.
No. no, all that is a superficial view of things. One has to consider the whole civilization before one can pass opinion.
It is because Western Civilization is failing that people like A. Huxley are drawn to Yoga. December 28, 1938.
At about 5.30 P.M. “X” burst into a peal of laughter to which Sri Aurobindo reacted by asking: “What is that dynamic explosion?” There was no reply, only a silence of suppression. But at 6.30 P.M. the laughter was repeated and instead of Sri Aurobindo asking anything X himself complained to Sri Aurobindo that “Y” was making him laugh. The reply was: “Take care that he may not make you go off like a firework!”
All assembled by the side of the cot and there was complete quiet. One member yawned and another yawned in response. The result was a subdued bubble of laughter.
Sri Aurobindo could hardly fail to notice it. He asked: “What is the joke?”
Disciple: “X” is mocking at my yawning.
Sri Aurobindo: He does not know that yawning may be a fatal symptom.
There was reference to a letter from another Sadhak relating his symptom of yawning at night. Disciple: What medicine has been given to him for his perennial sickness?
Disciple: That is a secret.
Sri Aurobindo: That reminds me of the science of Augurs in Greece. There used to be Government Augurs who used to be called in to interpret omens and signs; and from that a college of Augurs came into existence. There–in the college the professors used to be quite grave and serious,–they gave lectures on Augury with grave faces; when afterwards they met together they used to laugh among themselves.
By the way, we have got mutilated news to-day; they have dropped two important words. Instead of saying “the Italians are marching” (into Djibuti). If the Italians march into Djibuti the French can
march into Tripoli as counter-attack.
Disciple: The French can also organize the Abysinians against Italy. Sri Aurobindo: There won’t be time for that.
Disciple: The Italians do not seem to be good soldiers.
Sri Aurobindo: No, I will be greatly surprised if they can defeat the French. In that case Mussolini must have changed the Italian character tremendously.
Disciple: They had a hard time in Abyssinia.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. It was by their superior air-bombs, mustard-gas poisoning that they succeeded.
Disciple: But they will be aided by the Germans.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, Italy can’t do without Germany.
Disciple: Fisher (the historian) says that German army in the last war was the greatest and the best army ever organized in the world.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. They are the most organized and able soldiers in the world except the Japanese. But the Japanese are numerically less and financially poorer.
Even so during the last war the Germans could not throw up any remarkable military genius like
Foch. If Foch had been the Commander-in-chief before, the war would have ended much earlier.
The Balkans and the Turks are also good fighters. Disciple: What about the Sikhs and the Gurkhas? Sri Aurobindo: They are unsurpassed but the war depends not on fighters but on generals.
Disciple: The British consul here says that the Chinese are no good as soldiers and the Russians are good in defensive warfare. The Germans are trying to expand in the Ukraine. After that Hitler might come to central Europe.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. But that will at once combine Russia, Poland, Rumania and Yugoslavia. These small minor powers will be afraid of their own safety.
Disciple: I don’t understand why Germany joins Italy in attacking France. According to European astrology Hitler’s stars are with him till Dec. 1936.
Sri Aurobindo: Why! Hitler himself has said in his “Mein Kemp” that Germany is not safe without the destruction of France. And France says the same thing about Germany. They have chosen this time, perhaps, because they think that France has been weakened by the general strike. But they lost sight of the fact that the invasion will bring the whole France to-gether.
Disciple: I read in the paper to-day that a group of people in England are shouting that America belongs to them–as a counter move to Italian claims.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, they can claim Germany, and also Denmark and Italy too for that matter. Disciple: The way these people are preparing seems that war is inevitable.
Sri Aurobindo: But we thought they would not do anything till early next year. They are trying to strike now, perhaps, because they think that France has been divided by the General strike. But war will bring the whole nation together at once. In any case, we find that the Germans are enjoying Christmas.
Disciple: England, most probably, will have to ally herself with France.
Sri Aurobindo: You have seen what Chamberlain has said? “England is not obliged to help France in case of war with Italy”. But if Italy combines with Germany one can’t say.
Disciple: In case there is a general war India will have an opportunity for independence. Sri Aurobindo: How?
Disciple: She will refuse to co-operate. I think the Congress Ministries were due to the threat of war in Europe.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes It was in order to conciliate the Indians.
29th December 1938.
To-day a question of a doctor (disciple) was conveyed by one of the disciples. Disciple: What is the connection between the causal body and the psychic being?
Sri Aurobindo: The psychic being is what is called Chaitya Purusha in the heart, while the Causal body is at present Superconscious. They are not the same.
Disciple: It is the Superconscious existence that later on is called “Self” in Vedanta. According to some people Raman Maharshi has realized the Self.
Sri Aurobindo: From what Brunton (Paul) has written it does not seem so. He speaks of the “voice in the heart” that would mean the Psychic Being.
At this point Mother came and asked: “What have you been speaking about?” Sri Aurobindo: “X” has asked a question which does not hang together. Then he repeated the question.
Disciple: I have heard about Raman Maharshi’s experience from a direct disciple of his: “One day the heart centre opened and I began to hear “I”, “I” and everywhere I saw this “I”.
Disciple: Different spiritual persons say different things. How to find out which is the highest? Our
choice is not necessarily that of the highest.
Mother: Each one goes to the limit of his consciousness. I have met many persons in Europe, India and Japan practicing yoga under different masters. Each claimed that his realization was the highest, he was quite sure about it and also quite satisfied with his condition, and yet each one was standing at a different place in consciousness and saying that he has attained the highest.
Disciple: But one can know what they mean by some criterion.
Mother: By what criterion? If you ask them they say “it is something wonderful but can’t be described by the mind.” I was with Tagore in Japan. He claimed to have reached the peace of Nirvana and he was beaming with joy. I thought: “here is a man who claims to have got the peace and reached Nirvana. Let us see.” I asked him to meditate with me and I followed him in meditation and found that he had reached just behind the vital and the mind: a sort of emptiness. I waited and waited to see if he would go beyond; I wanted to follow him. But he would not go further. I found that he was supremely satisfied and believed that he had entered Nirvana.
Disciple: But there is a fundamental realization of some kind?
Mother: That is to say, there is a fundamental truth of consciousness. But that is not so easy to reach.
Disciple: How to choose a master, then? We must know whom to choose.
Disciple: How are you going to know with your mind where he has reached? Disciple: Is not our choice decided by the psychic being in us?
Mother: That is another question. First you must realize about the limit of consciousness and the difference of the place where people stand.
The choice is mostly in answer to your need and it is governed by your inner necessity. Sometimes, the choice is made by instinct by which the animals find the right place for their food. Only, in the human being it acts from within. If you allow your mind to discuss and argue then the instinct becomes veiled. When you have made the choice the mind naturally wants to believe that it is the highest you have chosen. But that is subjective.
Disciple: If the choice is right one feels happiness and satisfaction.
Mother: Satisfaction? One can’t depend upon feelings and sensations. for, very often they misguide. Satisfaction is quite a different thing. There are people who are not satisfied in the best conditions, while in the worst conditions some are quite satisfied.
Look at the people in the world around; they are very happy with their conditions. Again, there are people whose satisfaction depends upon their liver–a brutally materialistic state. Also there are people who suffer extremely and yet their inmost being knows that there is the path for reaching the goal.
Disciple: There are certain signs given by the Shashtras by which one can judge.
Sri Aurobindo: What Shashtras? One can’t believe in all that is said in the Shashtras.
Mother: Besides, that may be all right for Indians; what about the Europeans? You can’t say that they have not realized any truth?
Then the Mother took her leave and went for meditation. There was a pause of silence for some time. Then Sri Aurobindo asked: “What are the Laxanas–signs–you spoke of?”
Disciple: They are common and found everywhere. They are given in the Gita: Equality, Love for others, even-mindedness etc.
Sri Aurobindo: They are, rather, conditions for realization. All experiences are true and have their place. But because one is true one can’t say that the other is false. Truth is infinite. There are so many ways to come to the Truth. The wider you become the higher you go. The more you find, there is still more and more. For instance, Maharshi (Raman) has his experience of “I” but when I had the Nirvan-experience I could not think of an “I”;–however much I tried I could not think of any “I”. The world simply got displaced. One can’t speak of it as “I”. It is either “He” or “That”. That I call Laya. Realization of the Self is all right; Laya was a part of a realization which is much more comprehensive.
When I do not accept the Maya-Vada it is not that I have not realized the Truth (behind it) or, that I don’t know “the One in All” and “All in the One”,–but because I have other realizations which are equally strong and which cannot be shut out. The Maharshi is right and everybody is also right.
When the mind tries to understand these things, it takes up fragments and treats them as wholes and makes unreal distinctions. They speak of Nirguna as the fundamental (experience) and Saguna as derivative or secondary. But what does the Upanishad mean by “Ananta Nirguna” and “Ananta Saguna”? They can’t be thought of as different. When you think of Impersonality as the fundamental Truth and Personality as something imposed upon it and therefore secondary, you cut across with your mind something which is beyond both. Or, is it not that Personality is the chief thing and Impersonality is only one side, or one condition of Personality? No. Personality and Impersonality are aspects of a thing which is indivisible. Shanker is right and so is Nimbarka. Only, when they state their Truth in mental terms there is a tremendous confusion. Shanker says “It is Anirvachaniya–indescribable by speech–and “All is One.” Nimbarka says: There is Duality and Unity: while Madhava says: “Duality is true.”
The Upanishads speak of “Him by knowing whom all is known.” What does it mean? That Vignana [@insert Sanskrit for Vignana] is not the fundamental realization of the One. It means the knowledge of the principles of the Divine Being; what Krishna (in the Gita) speaks of “Tattvatah” [@insert Sanskrit for Tattvatah]: One cannot know the complete Divine except in the Supermind. That is why Krishna said that one who knows him in the “true principles of his being” is rare, “Kashchit”. The Upanishads also speak of the Brahman as Chatushpada “having four legs, or aspects”. It does not merely state “All is the Brahman” and it is over. The realization of the Self is not all. There are many things beyond that. The Divine Guide within me urged me to proceed, adding experience after experience, reaching
higher and higher, stopping at none as final, till I arrived at the glimpses of the Supermind. There I
found the Truth indivisible and there everything takes its proper place. There, Nirguna and Saguna-Impersonality and Personality don’t exist. They are all aspects of One Truth which is indivisible.
In the Overmind stage knowledge begins to rush in upon you from all sides and you see the objects from all points of view and each thing from all points. All of them tend to get related to each other and there the Cosmic Consciousness is not merely in its static aspect but also in its dynamic reality: it is the expression of something Above. When you become Cosmic even though you speak of your self as “I” it is not the “I,”–the ego, the “I-ness” disappears and the mental, vital and the physical appear as representatives of that Consciousness. Ramakrishna speaks of that state as the form of ego left for action. When you reach the Supermind you become not only Cosmic but something beyond the Universe,–Transcendental, and there is indivisibility of unity and individuality. There, the Cosmic and the Individual all co-exist.
The same principle works out in science. The scientists at one time reduced all multiplicity of elements to Ether and described it in the most contradictory terms. Now they have found the Electrons as the basis of Matter. By difference of position and number of electrons you get the whole multiplicity of objects. There also you find the One that is Many, and yet is not two different things. Both the One and the Many are true and through both you have to go to the Truth.
When you come to politics, democracy, plutocracy, monarchy etc. all have truth, even Hitler and Mussolini stand for some truth.
This is a very big yoga,–one has to travel–I think “X” will not take all that trouble–(Sri Aurobindo said referring to a disciple.)
Disciple: Never, Sir. I have come here because I can’t take so much trouble.
Sri Aurobindo: You are not called upon to do it. Even for me it would have been impossible if I had to do it myself; but at a certain stage heavens opened and the thing was done for me.
The topic seemed to have ended. But “X” prolonged by saying: my friend “K” asked Maharshi if attainment of immortality was possible. But the Maharshi would not say anything by way of reply. But “K” persisted then he said; “It is possible by Divine Grace.”
Sri Aurobindo: That is hardly an answer. Everything is possible by Divine Grace. There are two things about immortality: one, the conquest of death. It does not however mean that one would never die. It means leaving the body at will. Second, it includes the power to change or renew the body. There is no sense in keeping the same body for years; that would be a terrible bondage. That is why death is necessary in order that one can take another body and have a fresh growth. You know Dasharath lived for sixty thousand years. He did not know what to do with such a long life and began at the end producing children! Have you read Shaw’s “Back to Methuselah?” It shows how silly an intellectual can become. And what a ridiculous farce he has made of Joan of Arc? He speaks of her visions as projections of her own mental ideas and decisions. Shaw is all right when he speaks of England, Ireland and Society; but he can’t do anything constructive. There he fails miserably.
These intellectuals like Russell when they talk of something beyond their scope they cut such a poor figure: you can see what he writes about the “introvert.” They can’t tolerate emptiness or cessation of thought and breaking away from outside interests! If you ask them to stop their thoughts they refuse to accept it and at once come back from emptiness. And yet it is through emptiness one has to pass beyond.