Sir Aurobindo – 1907
EVENING TALKS wit SRI AUROBINDO
Recorded by A. B. PURANI
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
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
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
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
Disciple: But there is a fundamental realization of some
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
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
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
Disciple: They are common and found everywhere. They are
given in the Gita: Equality, Love for others,
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
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
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,
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
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
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
Disciple: How can one succeed in meditation?
Sri Aurobindo: By quietude of the mind. Above the Mind
there is not only the Infinite in itself but infinite sea of
peace, joy, light, power etc.–above the head. The golden
lid–Hiranmaya patra–intervenes between that which is above
Mind and what is below. Once one can break that lid those
elements can come down at any time one wills, and for that,
quietude is necessary. There are people who get those things
without quietude, but it is very difficult.
Disciple: It is said that there is also a veil in the
heart, is it true?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, a veil or a wall, if you like. The
vital with its surface consciousness, the emotional with its
disturbances and veils and one has to break through these
and get to what is behind them. There, one finds the heart.
In some people the higher force works behind the veil
because it would meet with many obstacles if it worked in
front; it builds or breaks whatever is necessary till one
day the veil is withdrawn and one finds oneself in the
Disciple: Does the Higher Force work all the time, even
when there is no aspiration in the individual.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. In those who have the inner urge, the
intermittent action of aspiration itself may be due to the
action of the Higher Force from behind.
Disciple: We want to know how to get the infinite peace,
Sri Aurobindo: First, to want only that. It is difficult,
is it not? In that case you have to wait; yoga demands
patience. The old yogas say that one has to wait twelve
years to get any experience at all. After that period one
can complain; but you said that you had many experiences.
So, it is not so bad.
Disciple: Yes. I told you that meditation used to come to
me at my place spontaneously,–at any time and I had to sit
down and meditate. Sometimes, it used to come to me while I
was just going to my office and the experience of peace etc.
used to last for some days. But sometimes for a long period
nothing happens. One should get some experience at least
once in a fortnight.
Disciple: Sometimes I feel a pull on the head upwards.
What is it due to?
Sri Aurobindo: Of course, it is not in the physical head
but in the subtle body, the Mind trying to
ascend towards the Higher Consciousness.
Disciple: If one dreams or sees visions of seas, hills,
etc.,–what do they mean?
Sri Aurobindo: These are symbols; the sea of energy, the
hill of the Being with its different planes and parts,–the
Spirit at the summit. These visions are quite common,–one
sees them as the mind and the heart expands.
Disciple: I felt at one time that my head was at the
Mother’s feet. What is it, Sir!
Sri Aurobindo: It is the experience of the psychic being.
So, you had the psychic experience.
Disciple: I told you how I had it and lost it through
fear that I was dying. But I could not recognize this
experience as psychic (Laughter).
Sri Aurobindo: It is this “I” that comes in the way. One
must forget it and experience as if it were happening to
somebody else. If one could do that it would be a great
conquest. When I had the Nirvana experience I forgot myself
completely. I was a sort of nobody.
What is the use of your being Mr. so and so, son of so
and so? If your “I” had died it would have been a glorious
Disciple: What happens when the human consciousness is
replaced by the Divine Consciousness?
Sri Aurobindo: One feels perpetual calm, perpetual
strength,–one is aware of Infinity, lives not only in
Infinity but in Eternity. One feels the immortality and does
not care about the death of the body, and one has the
consciousness of the One in all. Everything becomes the
manifestation of the Brahman. For instance, as I look around
the room I see everything as the Brahman–it is not
thinking, it is a concrete experience,–even the wall, the
book is Brahman. I see you not as X. but as a divine being
in the Divine. It is a wonderful experience.
2nd January 1939
Disciple: I think the Mother is testing me.
Mother: That is not the habit here. It is the play of the
forces, or rather the play of adverse forces, that tries to
test the Sadhak. If you refuse to listen to them or remain
firm, then they withdraw. People here have plenty of
difficulties already. Why, add new ones? To say that we
purposely test them is not true. We never do it, never.
Mother came in for meditation and went away early at
6-45. But she did not go to the evening meditation before
nearly 7-25 or 7-30.
Disciple: How far is it desirable for the Ashram to be
self-sufficient? Sri Aurobindo: Self-sufficient in what
Disciple: In meeting the needs of the daily life, say for
instance, preparing our own cloth here; my friend who has
come from Bombay wants that we should introduce spindles and
looms to prepare our clothes. Whether and how far such
self-sufficiency is desirable in Ashram like ours?
Sri Aurobindo: It is not a question of how far it is
desirable, it is also a question of how far it is
practicable? No objection to spinning or weaving. How would
“N” like to go on spinning?
Disciple: I am already spinning away.
Sri Aurobindo: There are all sorts of mental ideas, or
rather mental formations which can be carried out and which
are being carried out at the other places but this Ashram is
not the fit place for carrying them out.
Disciple: In what way it is not fit?
Sri Aurobindo: There are many difficulties here.
They all point out to institutions like Dayalbagh. In
that case you have to direct all your energies in that
channel (leaving the Sadhana on one side).
In other organizations they impose discipline and
obedience from outside by rule of force. There people are
obliged to take their orders from some one.
But here we don’t impose such discipline, (from outside)
and therefore you can hardly get people to work together. It
is because of their ego and their idea of mental
independence. Even if you want to do that kind of work there
are two things you must guard against.
1. The tendency to degenerate into mere mechanical and
2. You have to guard against ambition. There is a
natural tendency to cut a figure before the world, to hold
that the Ashram and the Ashramites are some thing great,
that must go.
Lastly there is health–unless the doctor promises to
homeopathise them (Sadhaks) into health.
Work as a part of Sadhana is all right, but work as a
part of spiritual creation we cannot take up unless the
inner difficulties are overcome. It is not that we do not
want to do it but here it is not mental-construction that we
want but spiritual creation. It is here left to the Mother’s
intuition. Even then there are difficulties.
Disciple: What is the difference between peace and
Sri Aurobindo: What do you mean?
Disciple: Is peace included in silence or vice versa?
Sri Aurobindo: If you have silence you have peace, but
the opposite is not true. That is to say, you may have peace
but not silence.
Disciple: Is silence mere emptiness?
Sri Aurobindo: No. Not necessarily. It may be full of the
positive presence of the Divine. Disciple: Is it not a dull
and dry state?
Sri Aurobindo: No. Not necessarily. As I said, it can be
full of the presence of the Divine or it
may be Mental peace–accompanied by a sense of emptiness
which may be dull to the mind but it is the emptiness for
something higher to come in and fill it.
Disciple: In that emptiness–Shunyam–there is a great
release. Is it not?
Sri Aurobindo: Oh yes. It is a very pleasant state. These
people, like Russell, don’t understand what this emptiness
means. They try to go in and immediately they find
themselves empty. They do not like it. They think that all
that comes into the consciousness comes from outside. They
have no idea that there are inner things with which the
being can be filled.
Disciple: But you said in one of your letters to “D” that
one must be prepared to pass through the period of
Sri Aurobindo: There is an experience of neutral peace of
mind which may be dry and dull to the ordinary man.
Disciple: Can one act when one has the silence?
Sri Aurobindo: Certainly; why not? When I talk of silence
I mean inner silence. It is perfectly possible to hear and
do all sorts of things and retain that inner silence.
Disciple: Is the silence static and dynamic both?
Sri Aurobindo: It is not silence that is dynamic–but you
can become dynamic having that inner silence. You can also
remain without doing anything. It depends.
People who are dynamic can’t remain without doing
something. They do not realize that if they have the inner
silence the effectivity of their work is increased a hundred
Some Maraths came when I came to Pondicherry, inquired
what I was doing: when he heard I was doing “nothing”, he
said “it is a great thing if one can do it. It is a capacity
to do nothing”!
Disciple: There is one gentleman who actually sealed up
his lips with something so that he may not be able to
Sri Aurobindo: That is what is called Asuric Tapasya:
Titanic askasis. Disciple: Can one gain something by Asuric
Sri Aurobindo: Yes; all Tapasya can give you
Physical and vital tapasya can give you something. It can
give you physical and vital control, though that is more a
Nigraha–repressed control–rather than anything else.
Disciple: Is it not a part of Divine realization–? What
is Divine realization?