True family and True country

When the goal of life changes, the people we associate with also change.   Traditional family life between individuals is bound by a certain level of comfort, attachment, fulfillment of the desire for security and the satisfaction of egoistic demands.   When the search for the Truth becomes an all-consuming passion, these traditional bonds of comfort are discarded and replaced by bonds of wisdom that tie us to a new set of people.   The Mother calls this the True family.   Her comments on this issue are excerpted below.

Question : What does “choose one’s family” mean ?

Mother: You have come into the world in a certain milieu, among certain people. When you are quite young, but for a few rare exceptions, what surrounds you seems altogether natural to you, because you are born in its midst and are quite used to it. But when, a little later, a spiritual aspiration wakes up in you, you may quite possibly feel yourself completely ill at ease in the environment where you have lived, if, for instance, the people who have brought you up don’t have the same aspiration or if their ideas are the very opposite of what is developing in you. Instead of saying, “You see, I belong to this family, what shall I do? I have a mother, a father, brothers, sisters…” , you can set out in search (I don’t mean necessarily travel), set out in search of spirits who have an affinity with yours, people who have a similar aspiration and, if you have the sincere aspiration to find those who like you are in quest of something, you will always have the occasion to meet them in one way or another, through quite unexpected circumstances; and when you have found one or more people who are in exactly the same state of mind and have the same aspiration, quite naturally there will be created bonds of closeness, intimacy, friendship and, among you, you will form a kind of brotherhood, that is to say, a true family. You are together because you are close to one another, you are together because you have the same aspiration, you are together because you want to create the same goal in life; you understand one another when you speak, you have no need to discuss anything which is said and you live in a kind of inner harmony. This is the true family, this is the family of aspiration, the family of spiritual inclinations.

Now, about the country, this may depend upon all sorts of things, this may depend upon a sort of inner affinity. For instance, if you come to a country and there you find a kind of response, an inner response to your aspiration, you find the surroundings more in conformity with your tastes, your tendencies, you may very well choose to live in this country, which is not necessarily that of your birth; and since you choose that country to live there, you may say, “This is my country.” There are people, many people who go and settle elsewhere for very materialistic and uninteresting reasons most of the time, but there are also others who are in search of an environment which suits their inner taste, their aspiration, or who seek lands, ways of living more in keeping with their deeper nature; then they settle down somewhere and don’t move again, and when they stay there for a number of years, they can really feel that this country is theirs, much more than the house or village or city where they were born.

The Mother, Questions and Answers (1950 – 1951): 29 March 1951

Mother: If you want to appraise the real value of the religion in which you are born or brought up or to have a correct perspective of the country or society to which you belong by birth, if you want to find out how relative a thing the particular environment is into which you happened to be thrown and confined, you have only to go round the earth and see that what you think good is looked upon as bad elsewhere and what is considered as bad in one place is welcomed as good in another. All countries and all religions are built up out of a mass of traditions. In all of them you will meet saints and heroes and great and mighty personalities as well as small and wicked people. You will then perceive what a mockery it is to say, “Because I am brought up in this religion, therefore it is the only true religion; because I am born in this country, therefore it is the best of all countries.” One might as well make the same claim for his family, “Because I come of this family that has lived in the same place for so many years or so many centuries, therefore I am bound by its traditions; they alone are the ideal.”

Things have an inner value and become real to you only when you have acquired them by the exercise of your free choice, not when they have been imposed upon you. If you want to be sure of your religion, you must choose it; if you want to be sure of your country, you must choose it; if you want to be sure of your family, even that you must choose. If you accept without question what has been given you by Chance, you can never be sure whether it is good or bad for you, whether it is the true thing for your life. Step back from all that forms your natural environment or inheritance, made up and forced upon you by Nature’s blind mechanical process; draw within and look quietly and dispassionately at things. Appraise them, choose freely. Then you can say with an inner truth, “This is my family, this my country, this my religion.”

The Mother, Questions and Answers (1929 – 1931): 9 June 1929

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” [Matthew 10:37]

8 thoughts on “True family and True country

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  4. ipi

    Altruism, duty, family, country, humanity are the prisons of the soul when they are not its instruments.
    -Sri Aurobindo (Thoughts And Aphorism)

  5. Tusar N. Mohapatra

    While citing the Master, accuracy should be ensured down not only to a comma, but also to the space succeeding it. [TNM55]

  6. ipi

    I have already answered your question. You came because your soul was moved to seek the Divine. That some part of your vital has strong attachments to the people you left behind, is a fact, but it does not make your soul’s seeking unreal. If the presence and persistence of vital difficulties were to prove that a sadhak is unfit and has no chance, then only one or two in the Ashram — and perhaps not even they — would survive the test. The feeling of dryness and not being able to aspire is also no proof. Every sadhak gets periods and even long periods of such emptiness. I could point to some who are considered among the most “advanced” sadhaks and yet are not free yet altogether from the family instinct. It is therefore quite unreasonable to be upset because these reactions still linger in you. These reactions come and go, but the need of the soul is permanent, even when covered up and silent, and will always stay and re-emerge.


    All who came here did not come with a conscious seeking for the Divine. It is without the mind knowing it the soul within that brought them here. In your case it was that and the relation your soul had with the Mother. Once here the force of the Divine works upon the human nature till a way is opened for the soul within to come out from the veil. The conscious seeking for the Divine does not by itself prevent the struggle with the ignorance of the nature; it is only self-giving to the Mother that can do that.

    Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga – II: Basic Requisites of the Path – I

  7. Pingback: Sri Aurobindo on Nationalism | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

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