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Pavitra1

The conversation with Sri Aurobindo
Editor's Note
1969

These conversations were held from December 18, 1925 to November 20, 1926. Pavitra, a French engineer of the Polytechnic School, arrived at Pondicherry on the 17th of December, 1925, having come from a Mongolian lamasery where his spiritual search had driven him, after his having spent four years in japan. He never left Pondicherry again, where he lived for forty-four years in the service of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. He left his body on May 16, 1969. These brief conversations were noted from memory, most of the time in French, except towards the end. Hence, they do not represent the exact words of the Master, but are as faithful a record as possible. Pavitra was then 31 years old.

Friday, December 18, 1925

YOUR going back to France at the moment would be a defeat. You would fall off from the state of consciousness of which you have caught a glimpse. It could even be worse. Perhaps after a few years you would get over it, but in any case, you would be missing an opportunity and failing in what you have to do.

You bring a sincerity of heart in your search and the aptitude of your mind for learning (for reserving your judgment). But your mental activity is harmful ; you must make your mind silent.

A new consciousness is seeking expression in you. There are in India people, yogis, who can help you in this and give you a new birth. But there will be some difficulties in finding them, for you do not speak their language and they are often hard of access. This, however, is one of the solutions before you.

This spiritual consciousness will give you mukti. Personally, my yoga would be finished if my goal were liberation. Mukti is only the first part. The second is to bring down the light into all the instruments, to make them perfect and to become the embodiment of Truth. The universal truth and power will then act through you and by your instrumentation. It is true that people are more or less unconscious instruments of the Shakti ; but it is a question of remaining perfectly conscious.

This perfection of man is difficult—very, very difficult, and it is a life-time's work. One may fail and make a mess of one's life. It is in fact so hard that I do not advise anyone to take this path. However, there is a powerful aspiration in you and something which is seeking to come down. So I put this ideal before you. If you choose it remain here, with us, and see what I can give you and what you can take from me before going farther.

Sunday, December 20, 1925

There is in us a region which is above space and time, immobile, im­mutable, at first ; it does not participate in the waves of emotions and thoughts. The first step is to centre one's consciousness in this region and keep it there : this is mukti. In us, beyond our personality, the Purusha is seen, with many attributes which are successively unveiled.

First of all, he appears as the witness of actions and sensations, un­touched, unalterable.

Then he manifests as the giver of sanctions : he approves or refuses his consent to a movement of Prakriti : desire or thought or even action. When such an order is given, as for instance, the refusal to take part in a certain emotion, though the past is yet strong, the being turns away from that emotion.

Then, Purusha is the Knower and in him is the knowledge. This knowledge has several forms : the lowest is intuition, then comes the knowledge in unity. In any case, the senses are no longer avenues of knowledge : it comes directly.

Finally, Purusha reveals himself as Ishwara, the Lord. Governing and acting through his instruments he at last takes his kingdom in his hands.

This is accomplished in two stages.

At first the contact is mental—zone of the spiritual mind (Buddhi ?). Man recognises his mind, his emotions and his body as not-himself. He feels himself existing above them—above the spatial and temporal form. He has peace and certitude.

To reach this, the first thing (and specially for you) is to stop the thoughts at will. One must first separate oneself mentally from the mind (for one is not yet capable of doing it otherwise), must look at it and study it. When that is done it becomes easy to stop the thoughts. This is the first lesson of Yoga. Thus, whilst talking with you at this moment, I have no thoughts. I see what is around me but without thinking (unless I want to do so and call the thought). When I began Yoga I went in search of Lele to ask him to help me. He ordered me to sit beside him and practise this mental separation. At the end of three days I had succeeded and slain the thoughts.

There are other means of arriving at this, like the one of sitting down and opening oneself to the influx from above, so that this working may be accomplished from above without any personal effort. To you I would recommend the first method. Till this first realisation everything is men­tal. And intuition is only fragmentary, uncertain and intermittent. One must go beyond. Little by little, strong aspiration brings about (sometimes suddenly) the irruption into the consciousness of something new. Some-times it is a peace, solid like a rock. Sometimes a light, almost physical, which illumines all things, inner and outer. Sometimes a guidance. In any case, ineffable peace is followed by knowledge.

Besides, all this descends from above below. And not as with the Tan­triks starting from the lower cakra. But on the contrary from above.

So—for you—the first aim: to separate yourself from your mind and know it as outside you. To take the attitude of the witness. Let the thoughts come but do not let yourself be carried away by them. Practise during meditation. Then, you will have to infuse into daily life what you establish first in meditation.

Tuesday, December 22, 1925

It seems to me that there are two levels in the mind: the first attends to images and forms ; the second to words and ideas. Beyond this is the principle of comprehension (Buddhi). I can easily disso­ciate myself from the lower mind. When I recall to memory an idea or phrase which I have just expressed, I can also remain detached. But when for instance, I reason, I am one with my mind (more exactly Buddhi is joined to manas).

This is true—but there is yet a third thing, it is the mind in itself, different from the forms and ideas it produces. It is a principle which per­vades the whole universe—calm and transparent. Most people—and you also—identify yourself with the mind and its activities: you confuse the mind and its activities. You must succeed in separating yourself from Prakriti and knowing yourself as the Purusha.

The method I was taught was to kill all thoughts when they appeared before me, quite simply by looking at them steadily.

You say that you sleep, for indeed the only form of silence ordinary man knows for the mind is sleep. But this must be overcome—it is a known obstacle which all must overcome. Reject sleep as you reject other ills of the lower nature. You have the strength to do it, being the Purusha.

Then one of the following two things will happen: either you will remain fully conscious but with the mind empty, or you will have this consciousness but not in the waking state, that is, you will be in Samadhi.

So, this work is the first step for you.

Friday, December 25, 1925

Remaining attentive facing my thoughts—I found that they disappeared immediately on my looking steadily at them. The means of killing them, hence, is to watch attentively and, as soon as one becomes conscious of any, destroy it thus. This succeeds quite well in the region of words but less in that of images. I can manage to remain thus, conscious only of my attention. But the mind is not dead. I feel it behind the door. At certain moments I have the im­pression that I shall soon lose consciousness (?).

Good, but you are still conscious of your effort to kill the thoughts. This is natural, but in time this will disappear also.

As for the loss of consciousness, do not fear. It might happen that, besides the two alternatives put before you last time, you could fall into an unconsciousness of which you would not keep any memory. You must try to avoid that and to attain either the waking state without mind or Samadhi.

Is reading harmful ? I do not need it much, and sometimes mental work is painful to me.

You must not make any mental rules. Do according to your inner needs. Reading is not harmful in itself.

Wednesday, December 30, 1925

I succeed for a few minutes in keeping myself attentive, empty of thought—but then the sensations return with a new strength. I do not succeed in turning away from a noise once my attention is caught there, for I have no object of concentration.

The first step is not to withdraw from all thought and sensation, but to consider them as outside oneself. There are two regions in the mind, one active, the other calm and attentive, not dragged away by the move­ments of nature. It is this distinction that you must make. You want to go too fast by suppressing even the thought: `I am not that'. At the moment this thought is your instrument.

Remain the spectator of your thoughts and sensations, recognising that they are outside you and do not affect you. Then the higher conscious­ness (Purusha consciousness) will descend and take possession of your mind.

But never struggle, for, in the mind, what you reject violently returns with a greater force.

To struggle is to enter into all sorts of difficulties.

Monday, January 4, 1926

I succeed in fixing my consciousness so as to remain awake, immobile, in the silence. This state lasts only for a few moments. It happens that my consciousness is then centred in a point next to the eyebrow centre. This exercise involves a great fatigue of the brain and a work in the three centres: solar, eyebrow and occipital.

Later, this cerebral effort will disappear, for you will not work with the brain. This is an intermediate state. Your consciousness will be cen­tred at a particular moment outside your physical body—above your head—, then it will expand and you will become aware of its unity with the other centres.

The throat-centre is not involved for it is not a mental centre, but only vocal. Most people who work with the emotional mind remain at the level of the solar plexus.

If one becomes aware of one's unity with the whole, does one con­sequently become capable of identifying one's consciousness with that of another centre of consciousness ?

Not all at once. There are two stages. First, you will feel your unity with the other centres of consciousness `in the silence'. It is in the Tran­scendent that you will feel the identification. Later, you will realise this union even in the manifested activity—in the play of forces—and at that moment the union you speak about is possible.

I do not yet succeed in realising actually the independence of my real being from my physical body—an independence which I can conceive mentally. Will I realise this division ?

This will necessarily come and you will realise that your body is an instrument which you can put aside. This is the first aspect of Mukti: the recognition that you are free from your body.

All the same, certain imperfections like the desire for approbation, for consideration, are very strong, though mentally I fight them.

Yes, and your being is much more complex still than you imagine. The time will come when you will observe your inner being as though it were outside. And there is a part of your consciousness which gives its sanction to this movement of nature. For there is in you something which desires this approbation, although your mind struggles. But the mind can only restrain—it cannot change anything.

That this change—this transmutation—may be effective, it is necessary, according to my own ideas, to attain the cosmic conscious­ness and to get possession thus of the `universal solvent' as the alchemists say. Then can't one transmute?

No, this does not suffice. When you come down again from your cosmic consciousness, the same tendencies are there which can always be restored to life. But beyond the immanent aspect of the absolute power, the aspect which you realise in the experience of the cosmic consciousness, there is what may be called the transcendent aspect, which is creative and without limitations. This is the solvent which destroys and creates. The vital Purusha who consented to a certain movement of nature, must surrender to the higher life and the transformation is possible.

There are several levels in the incarnated consciousness. The Upa­nishads speak of five Purushas bound to the five Koshas.*

*The five envelopes or five subtle bodies which constitute man.

In the case in which the soul succeeds in escaping from the world of forms and entering into Nirvana, in sinking into the silence, is this fusion and loss of individuality final?

Naturally, this is what many seek. The Absolute has two aspects as Purusha : the transcendent, immutable Purusha and the mutable Purusha, as the Gita says. The soul can realise its union with the first : Prakriti disappears and the soul escapes from the manifested world which it considered a falsehood, an illusion or a dangerous trap. But this cannot satisfy. For the Absolute contains also the mutable Purusha and the soul, if it wants integral union, must realise its unity with the Divine in the manifestation, as with the Transcendent.

Besides, to say that the soul has become finally absorbed in the Absolute is only a way of speaking. Is this liberation final ? I am far from grant­ing this.

The Absolute has an aspect which knows itself, loves itself, etc. through us as intermediaries. And that is the reason of the manifestation.

Friday, January 8, 1926

What seemed so simple has become very difficult. These last few days I have had the greatest difficulty in separating myself from my lower mind. It needed a great deal of energy to remain awake, attentive, and not to let myself be carried away by the stream of mental images, without head or tail, a sort of waking dream. Perhaps this is a temporary reaction?

What do you do when you try to quiet your mind ?

I fix my consciousness on a point and try to remain attentive, to watch the play of the lower mind. If I attain this attitude it becomes quiet. Two postures: one with images, one with language. The one with language is more difficult. It is automatic: does not hook itself to well-defined objects, but to what preoccupies me most, or to the last thing I have thought about—the unhooking is often pro­duced by the senses.

On what point do you try to fix your consciousness ?

Normally at the level of the Ajna.*

*The centre between the eyebrows.

Ajna is the centre which corresponds to the automatic mind and it is this dynamic position which is working in you. It is this which consti­tutes the mind of the majority of men, and if you are conscious of it—if you notice its action during your ordinary occupations—others are not conscious of it.

The real mind (thought-mind) is higher. The other is the automatic mind which is no longer of any use to you. It is a waste of nature. Have you ever tried to use the will ?

Naturally, but I do not know if it is really the will which I have used.

The will has three grades and it must be distinguished before all from the effort which is purely mental. The first grade is desire—corres­ponding to the solar plexus. The second, isita or aisvarya is a kind of command, of order, which either sanctions or not the work of Prakriti. When it is known that a thing must or must not be, it ought to come into action. This is an indispensable power for the Yoga we follow. One can call it by a consecration and one becomes aware of its action. This action is disturbed and imperfect at the beginning, but in time it is perfected. Mental effort may succeed in time, but the action of the true will is infinitely more rapid.

I have experienced this action when, by a call which is at the same time an offering, I reach the highest layers of my being. I have, physically, the sensation of an action descending above my head.

That's it. Try from time to time to invoke it. A continuous action is yet impossible—but get back the contact now and then.

The third action of the will is a control, an absolute possession of Prakriti by the Purusha (vasita ?).

Monday, January 11, 1926

The fundamental doctrine of the T.S., in my opinion, is the existence of the Masters. On one side this is the new message (the other doctrines: Karma, reincarnation, being purely philosophical and already known). On another, this is a vital point for the leaders of the T.S. who affirm that they are guided by these very Masters. a) From the logical and philosophical point of view, the existence of Siddhas who have perfected their vehicles and remain to guide humanity, is reasonable and even very probable. I admit it on this ground. b) Putting aside the idea that the leaders of the T.S. are consciously deceitful, how to account for their assertions about their relations with the masters—on the higher planes, but also on the physical plane ? HPB, HSO, CWL, for example, have met living masters. If one admits these statements, how to explain the little spirituality of the T.S. in general, and the general trend, ethical, moral, but not spiritual? There is something erroneous there of which I cannot find the cause, but which has made me stand aside from the movement (missionary, sectarian, etc., etc.).

These are very important questions for me.

There are as a matter of fact two very different questions. Their true answers are not of a mental order, but can be understood only through spiritual realisation. However, here's what I can say about it.

About the first point, I shall say only that the existence of perfect beings, that is, of those "having nothing more to learn" as you say, is prob­lematical. There is always something to learn in the Infinite. The Buddha who took a vow to remain on earth until the last man should enter Nirvana, is not Gautama but Amida.

The other question is to judge the relations of the leaders of the T.S. with the masters, that is, to determine the nature of the psychical expe­riences of these people. Everything in their works, and particularly the little true spirituality one meets with, makes me think that they have never gone beyond the vital plane—which corresponds to what they call the astral plane. I set aside the case of deception. First, there is to be considered wilful self-deceit, the fact that on this plane we see what we mentally want to see. This is a complex and marvellous realm, where the true and the false are inextricably entangled. Everything appears under a logical and seductive form, organised but finally illusory.

HPB was an amazing woman, with strong intuitions but wherein everything was mixed up, incapable of discussing critically psychical facts. She did not want it, besides. What mattered to her was to launch a move­ment. And this impulse, this desire to organise, to exercise an influence, is the characteristic of the vital plane. There are influences of all sorts there, whose one desire is to take possession of those who are rising high in order to use them for their own ends. Not only the weak are their prey, but the strong can be so equally, for it is specially the strong they aim at. After HPB, there was A.B. In the beginning she simply followed the lines of HPB, then it was CWL who influenced her. She recognised him, however, at a certain moment of her life (the glamour he has put on me...), but as she had nothing of her own, she returned. And what is special about the vital plane is that anyone who has a certain realisation there, can make another person get the same realisation. One must not apply the cri­teria of ordinary life to this plane ; this is the mistake that many spiritists, metapsychists, etc. make. I know it by experience. I have old disciples who have deviated, without my being able to bring them back, so great is the force of deception. Others write to me letters full of visions they have had ; they have seen me and I am supposed to have given them instructions. Now, it was not I, and those instructions I would disown. It so happened that several of them had the same vision at the same time, not taking into account small variations of detail.

On the other hand, if the masters directing the T.S. are perfect, they have certainly noticed the nature of these influences and also know the value of true spirituality. How is it they have not warned their disciples and why does one find so little of this spirituality ? I have met Theoso­phists, some of them have had glimpses of the spiritual life, but in none of those I know has it been truly organised. Whilst in other men, who don't claim to be guided by perfect masters, one often finds much more spirituality, as in some Yogis and other people.

Their conception is mental and ethical, not spiritual. And as ethical, it has nothing remarkable.

In spiritual life, one must always be ready to reject every system and all constructions. For a time a certain form is useful, then it becomes harm­ful. In my spiritual life, since I was forty I have three or four times completely discarded and broken the system I had arrived at.

If our disciples at X could not be brought back, the fault lies in their ambition, that kind of spiritual ambition, so dangerous for a yogi, which endows us with a special importance in human life. It is a big danger, which seems to me to have made the Theosophists also fall.

There is a core of true spirituality there, very small, surrounded by a mass of erroneous facts and psychical data. And in time even the core becomes affected.

I am replying to your question because, breaking through the veil, you will come to this psychical region. Hardly I% can go through, as a result of their mental purity—their mind does not get attached to objects to find satisfaction in them. And there is a big danger, a powerful pressure. One must be very strong and hold on to the truth in order to resist. It is for this reason that I am answering and not in order to speak about the T.S. I have nothing against it nor against any of the Theosophists to all of whom I wish the best. I am not against them.

As for the fact that some have seen a master physically, an explana­tion is possible. These influences of the vital plane, when conditions are favourable, can very easily materialise: they have a sufficient mastery over matter to do this. Of course they must be given these conditions.

But if the Asuras can do this, cannot the Suras do so ?

Evidently, but they do it much less frequently; they are not at all in haste to impose their guidance. And then very strict special conditions are necessary—one must be on the absolute march towards the truth.

If these are the conditions of the vital plane, is it nevertheless possible to manage to extricate oneself ? These forces obey laws—by know­ing them one can free oneself from them.

Undoubtedly this is possible. Even illusions obey laws. Here there is an aspect of true occultism, not that of the Theosophists. This occultism seeks to understand and realise, and not to edify mentally. It extends in a way (the field of) science.

Monday, January 15, 1926

I am progressing, but slowly. I have not been able to apply the will as you described it. In this connection a curious thing happens. In meditation when I look for a higher support in myself, when I try to invoke the deeper parts of my being, I meet only a void and I am incapable of making any inner movement. Naturally, in ordinary life, either under the impulsion of outer excitement or de proprio, such movements followed by results are frequent. And usually, though meditation has very perceptible effects on my general state, it has never had any tangible results.

There are two principal forces which help in the ascent of man. One is aspiration; it is emotive and has its centre in the solar plexus. The other is supramental and its centre is above the head. You act in ordinary life with the help of the first. In meditation your consciousness goes back into the higher mind. The silence aspired for, is not for itself, but only in order to let this higher force descend and rejoin the other. The old allegory of the climbing fire and the descending Sun. But your mind is not used to letting this force pass consciously and consequently it does not know how to act. There is no effort to be made then. In your case it is better to remain immobile. Naturally, this depends on different cases ; there are people, very active above the head, who draw easily from this force. Later one succeeds in calling it down at will.

When I prepare myself inwardly to practise silence, I have noticed that I centre my consciousness by taking the help of the physical body. Then my attention sinks deeper little by little. A moment comes when I must leave this point of support. Then I do not know where to fix my consciousness. Either it returns to external things and I then become quite awake and attentive to the outer world, or I fall into a half-dream state, although keeping my consciousness for a time attentive.

It is not necessary to fix the consciousness anywhere. When you begin to participate in the higher consciousness, you will find it diffuse, englobing everything and without any particular centre. One makes for oneself one's own centre (above the head). In the beginning, what you are doing is natural ; but let go. As for attention to the outer world you will see also at one time all the phenomena, noises, etc. as though you were a part of them ; you will embrace them in your consciousness, "they will occur in it".

The half-dream state is not to be feared, but keep your consciousness attentive ; it will then probably shift inwards. But have you succeeded in quietening your mind ?

Yes, in the first state in which I take a support. When I let go the support, I cannot yet stop the passing images.

What kind of images ? Objects and beings seen and known, or un­known to you ?

I do not know. Some seem to me new, but perhaps I have already seen them?

And what do you do then?

I try to efface them.

You must not do that. Wait and observe. Perhaps these images show a rudiment of clairvoyance. Perhaps you are seeing events which are happening at a distance. You must take the scientific attitude and see what it is. This may be a precious faculty.

I have heard much about this faculty, but I did not think that the incoherent images I see could lead to it.

This may be the beginning.

All that you said about the T.S. is undoubtedly absolutely true. I have understood and raise no objection. I have the feeling of a link which has been cut. But I would like to ask one more question. The force which is behind me, which I feel and which guides me, which I call my master (without ever having seen him) and which some psychicists have connected with a Master—what is this force?

These are problems which cannot be solved solely with the mind. When your psychic being opens, you will see and understand.

This can happen. But there are many things. All those who have a strong urge towards the higher life, have a similar experience. The mind travesties and clothes the force in a form which pleases it or to which it is accustomed : Christ for a Christian, etc. First, there is the universal force, the Purusha, whose action is effective and guiding. Then there are the intermediaries in the great plan, at all levels. Then, those you are destined to meet can also influence you, often without their knowing it. When the psychic being has opened and has set foot on spiritual ground, it can judge. The mental being cannot.

Monday, January 18, 1926

I have succeeded in keeping my mind absolutely empty of thought for a few minutes. All the waves have stopped. But still my consciousness is fixed all the time upon the physical plane; thus, I hear and see, though the perceptions do not awaken any thought. However, several times I had the feeling of being on the point of passing beyond; my breathing became very difficult and every-thing went whirling round though my consciousness remained and attentive.

If I could have stopped my breath, I would have surely changed consciousness.

IT is a question of leaving the physical body. But this is not to be tried at the moment : it is necessary at first to get more control (to know, for instance, how to direct oneself beyond) and other conditions are also necessary—for example, to be sure of not being disturbed. Naturally, this is what yogis seek and strive to attain. Everybody cannot do it. In my opinion, it is not necessary to seek this state at present—for instance, by breathing normally.

No, you have touched the state of perfect silence.

Widen it—this does not mean deepen it. But make it last steadily for a longer time and let it envelop gradually all that surrounds you.

Friday, January 22, 1926

These last few days have not brought much progress, for my mind was extremely distracted and agitated by different mental occupations. Everything is settled now. But I don't see very well what I ought to do: my mind is divided into two parts. The first which uses language, reasons and formulates—is that which is silent. A certain attention is however necessary in order to prevent inopportune thoughts from arising through the throat and dis­turbing this peace. The other part is attentive, its particular function being the vision of inner images—its centre is Ajana.* The former is inactive so far, but it is not always still for all that : it is centred here and there and does not know what to do.

Thoughts, in fact, have their origin in the solar plexus, rise up through the throat and invade the brain where they become conscious. The still mind has no definite localisation ; it is a question of habit. For the moment you are localising it in the brain, but its true seat, which corresponds to the supramental truth, is Sahasrara.** Above, this very consciousness will spread out and become the cosmic consciousness.

There are two different points to consider. The first is to empty the active mind of thoughts and leave it motionless. It is a useful faculty. The second is to remain completely detached from the thoughts which may arise in this active mind. Later you will see the thoughts formulating there, not rising from below, but coming from the surroundings or from above. And you will have to learn to recognise the truth.

So you must learn to regard these thoughts as external objects, without ever letting yourself be carried away.

Besides, you may from now onwards, whilst keeping the lower mind still, "look upwards" to centre your consciousness there, gradually.

*The centre between the eyebrows.

**The thousand-petalled lotus above the top of the head.

When I do that, my consciousness oscillates between the top and bottom for it has yet to watch the lower part.

Besides, a prolonged sound, for instance, does not raise any thought but it captures my attention which gets riveted there.

This is wrong concentration !

Put this aside, simply. In the cosmic consciousness you will have the impression that this sound is occurring somewhere in this conscious­ness, but it will no longer trouble you.

Monday, January 25, 1926

I can at times keep my attention fixed, "turned upwards" (pointed towards Sahasrara) and my mind calm and empty of thought. But all is closed up there—I am at the door and knock.

Something curious happened this morning. I woke up with waves of powerful vibrations at the top of the head and in the pit of the stomach. They were even physical, my scalp was sensitivised. These vibrations were connected with a sort of anguish—though I was not frightened and reproduced these vibrations in order to study them.

You must be prepared for such things. You have called and the force descends, prepares the instruments, right up to the physical itself. Every thing in man is opposed to the work of the Force, and it must be transformed. The very cells will be transmuted later.

The feeling of fear must be put aside completely. Even when an ex­perience is likely to be dangerous, one must remain calm and master of one-self, for without that danger comes immediately. The help is always given if one remains master. Here it is a simple preparation—reply to the call given—a reply which, besides, does not always come.

The mental states are becoming more marked joy, calm and fervent seeking on one side—but deep sadness when I am separated from my inner light or when my mind, troubled by an outer cause, becomes a great obstacle to sadhana.

It is normal and connected with the psychic being.

(Then we spoke of Z... whose letter, announcing her early departure from France, had just come. A. G.* asked me several questions, wanting to know the state she had reached and whether she had succeeded in separating the true psychic from the various false creations. I do not know anything much about it—is she coming here to realise her primitive plan of a small colony in North India??)

*Formerly Sri Aurobindo was known as Aurobindo Ghose, or A.G. to his disciples.

Monday, February 1, 1926

All these days I had many difficulties with my mind. At one mo­ment, when I succeed in rising above it, all goes well. But at other times I am overwhelmed. Meditation is painful and without much profit. It is at other moments that I feel sometimes how thin the veil is. The best method I have found consists precisely in climbing as high as possible—then the lower being is calmed. The three centres (Sahasrara, Ajna and Solar) are then united. When not in medi­tation the mechanical mind is very restless and I have difficulty even in reading—in concentrating on anything at all. Whence this difficulty ? Should I put yet more energy into my meditation and my efforts ?

What is happening to you is common. The dynamic mind (and not the mechanical which only repeats the actions and thoughts of ordinary life) takes as much more force as the other higher parts are calm and as at certain periods it is reduced to silence. When one "relapses" during  meditation, one gets out of one's depth in its turmoil. It is a common experience. Do not be frightened by it but continue to detach yourself more and more. When the detachment is complete, the waves will gradual­ly become less powerful and will die away. This experience must be extended to the entire conscious life, and not only to the period of meditation.

The moment you feel tired, you must not force yourself. Overdoing will cause another delay. It is better to go more slowly but surely.

Here is Z's letter which you had given me. According to me she is at the stage when one does not know how to distinguish between the crea­tions of one's own mind and the truth. In her book she is very positive and believes herself bound, in the name of Christ, to spread it in the world. In her letter she expresses doubts about her capacity of discernment. But then why attach so much importance to what is so doubtful ? She writes "... the Force connected with it is, and because it is and I know it to be my Force (and your Force if you like), It cannot deceive me." Here's exactly what makes so many people stumble. They imagine, because they have an experience of something higher than the ordinary mentality, that everything is the truth. But when the universal Force enters an individual, there is an entire part of him which rises and tries to profit by this Force for its own benefit, to use it for its personal ends. Her book seems to be altogether a dialogue between her higher illumined mind and her ordinary mind. One gets the impression of a conversation between her conscious self and her higher being or another being or a god.

But how many things creep in from below upwards! I know it, having myself remained for long in this state. But I always kept the critical mind, and my attention was roused by equivocal mixtures. But it is a common experience, and unless one has a special tact it is extremely difficult to distinguish the truth in the beginning. One must have an absolute sincerity—not the sincerity of the ordinary mind but something deeper, an impulsion which never lets one stop till the truth is reached, the whole truth, and one pushes ahead.

You easily gave up your ideas when you came to me; but if they had been mixed with personal psychic experiences, this would have been much more difficult.

If there is a little pride in us—quite unconscious, even hidden under humility—it makes us exaggerate to ourselves our personal im­portance and we believe ourselves called to something special. So she writes this book, takes disciples, etc. It is a common trap.

Let us hope that the doubt she shows in her letter will help her to shake off the illusion.

Friday, February 5, 1926

These last few days were better—the concentration easier and the detachment of the mind more happy. I can separate myself from the mind and observe its action. But when I try to make it dead-still, I cannot do it except by concentrating near the Sahasrara, trying to separate myself from the body,—and the breathing becomes difficult.

There are two ways of becoming aware of a higher world. One is to send a part of oneself there, whilst remaining at the same time in one's physical consciousness. The other is to leave this physical consciousness and to enter into a sort of trance, which may come very near catalepsy or coma. You are not in a condition to try that. And probably, there is a confusion between the two movements in you: the one of quieting the mind and the other of going out of your physical body.

This is probable. When I meditate I am aware of certain movements which I locate in my vital body. They are not physical though I feel them physically, specially between the chest and the head and within the head.

There are movements in the higher body and they are felt even phy­sically. But mostly they are a consequence (as your breathing trouble proves) of an effort to go out of your physical body. They are not neces­sary. You can simply become aware of the movement of the consciousness from one point to another.

Now that you can observe the calmness of the mind and separate yourself from the action of the mind linked to the physical, you must give up these efforts and remain in an expectant attitude, open to the action from above—without making an effort to go towards this above, but knowing it is there, offering yourself for its descent. Do not even make an effort to "see" and "feel". Quiet all below and wait—form a simple aspiration towards what you know is near.

Thursday, February 11, 1926

I must indeed have confused two movements: quieting my dynamic mind and going out of my body. Consequently, I had to work all over again to get mental silence. I can get it, though not always, for the dynamic mind is very active and I am always obliged to supervise it. I attain also a kind of relative peace: I am motionless, attentive, in a sort of transparent surrounding. But this has never a very long duration. It is another peace, deeper, which I want to attain. That which will destroy the feeling of the "self".

One difficulty comes from trying at the same time to keep the mind silent and to look beyond, to make this offering silent and attentive.

These last few days, I forced the meditation a little too much and the tension was too great. I have come back to 3 hours a day. Dental neuralgia. Why is this feeling of personal effort so painful? It is not inertia and rest I want, but peace in action, the cessation of individual effort.

The deeper peace cannot come till the "lotuses" are open and the force descends to take possession. Besides, a distinction must be made between the real individuality and the illusory sense of the ego. The true individuality is a fragment of the universal consciousness and even when it seems to merge in this consciousness, the distinction is nevertheless there. It permits organised action, which without it would be impossible.

As gradually the supreme force takes possession of you, this sense of

effort will diminish ; but the separate action will disappear only with per­fection.

Besides, other difficulties will yet come. Your active centres are the centres higher than the solar plexus : the others are asleep. With their awakening, the mind, even quieted and controlled, will again be invaded and submerged. The real difficulties come then—in the mind there is always an element which helps. But here, everything is directly linked with life and action.

Since you feel the possibility of uniting yourself to nature through the solar plexus, do it when not in regular meditation.

You also say that all that you do outside meditation seems to activise your mind again. This has no importance—you cannot do nothing. Everything must take its time. And you are of those who have built everything on the mind—thence the difficulty. Others open easily. But do not be impatient, this prolongs the sense of personal effort.

Monday, February 15, 1926

The effect of sadhana makes itself felt especially outside meditation. It is becoming more and more easy for me to assume the role of witness of the actions of the mind and even of the body. From this comes quietude, but the mind is not yet silent. This separation has made me conscious of the disorderly chaos of the dynamic mind, and thus, at first, I thought it was becoming more active, whilst really I was simply conscious of its action.

The main thing is precisely to deepen and increase this consciousness—witness or Purusha consciousness. The silence of the mind is certainly a precious faculty ; but it will come in its time. The widening of this cons­ciousness will bring the influx of a deeper consciousness. Besides, isn't this witness silent ?

Before coming here I used to smoke, then I stopped. Now I often have the desire to smoke. What should I do ?

There is no absolute rule and this is of no very great importance. I too smoke. But to abstain from something gives a purer atmosphere. Besides, you have stopped; it is better not to begin again.

The time spent in sleep seems to me lost. Is there no means of using it better?

Is it lost ? Everything in sadhana is not conscious effort. Besides, it is a very difficult thing, which comes at the end. The body rests; but you have nothing to replace the torpor of the inner being. Later, gradually, sleep gets organised in its turn.

Monday, February 22, 1926

I am continuing the separation of my self from the mind. I can easily enough place myself as inactive spectator of the move­ments of the individual being. In these conditions I exist never­theless as a mental being, endowed with the `I ' and centred in the brain. But behind this mental self I can discern another state, free from all relation with the manifested activity. There lies my true self which uses the mental self as a window to look out from. What is this true self? I have so far only a faint experience of it. I distinguish nothing, I have the im­pression of an emptiness, of a nought; but I have also the im­pression of a veil behind which a Presence would be found.

When you are a spectator, are you active or passive?

Passive. It is not a question of witnessing a march past of images, of being the spectator of an action unfolding itself before me. The mental images are vague, fragmentary, very much like waves of a sea grow­ing calm. Besides, the sensorial impressions often give rise to vivid images which are a cause of trouble.

Do you have the feeling of being a mental being ?

Whilst I remain on the level of the mind, yes; but when I can raise myself above it, the being (?) that I am is not mental. The mental being is a mask assumed by the true self.

I see the way clearly. And I know that if I could make the total and definitive surrender to the Divine Force, it would itself take charge of the Yoga. This self-giving is made in my soul—my mind has accepted it, but there are certain points in the vital being which hinder the perfection of the gift and pull me down at times. But now, even these defections I see with an equal eye and offer to the Divine Force—the good movements and the bad, all are parts of the process. Formerly I used to be easily upset—now I am more calm.

Good—you have but to continue. Isn't there anything else? As to Z's letter, what are you going to say to her?

That I am awaiting a telegram announcing her arrival to go to the station to receive her. There is no need to go to Madras or Trichino­poly.

Evidently she is coming here with this plan of work—imaginary work. India is not what she thinks. India is India. After a short time every foreign element is either absorbed or thrown out. And the life is different from that of Europe. These ideas about a work to be done are common. It is the mental being which invents its own inspirations: one part of the mind ascends and when coming down takes on the nature of a revelation. The mind wants to achieve something and seeks a great and important work. But all work, even the humblest, has the same value if it is that which ought to be done. There is something true behind, it is the idea of a work to be accomplished. And this work is the divine work—but one must be perfect to be able to undertake it. There are many men whose work has no need of perfection; they vaguely feel an impulsion, the mind mixes up its own desires and they go on thus. But I am speaking of those who have to realise some spiritual work—then, for these, the work will be found when the instrument is ready.

Naturally, all work is a preparation. Your friends X... seem to me to be in the same position as Z... It is the mind which is pushing them though they are altogether unaware of it. And they must learn to put aside this illusion; then all work is good for Yoga.

But I wouldn't advise you to say all that to Z... I don't know if the mere fact of coming here and listening to what I have to say will suffice to make her see the truth. It is possible that she needs to find out by her own experience. For it is experience of life which is the touch-stone; so long as one remains in abstractions one does not discover the criterion; but when you try to realise, experience teaches you. It is necessary for the whole being to know the truth. If she only puts aside her idea, this ten­dency will remain there, intact, ready to reappear, and the final results may be bad. Perhaps it would be better to let her try out her own expe­rience; that of another does not suffice.

You may write to her that you are engaged in sadhana and that for the time being you have given up all other work.

If she wants to see you she may do so here.

It is very dangerous to think oneself inspired for the work. This happens specially to those who are very impatient, who have a strong desire for realisation. They do not perceive that it is their mind which is thus sending messages to their mind. The true work to be done does not present itself under this form, and the method of work also is entirely different.

 

All extracts and quotations from the written works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and the Photographs of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo are copyright Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry -605002 India.