It is question we may ask ourselves at times “Why don’t we progress spiritually faster?” Because we may meditate for fifteen minutes but, psychologically, the rest of our life remains untransformed. The way we eat, the way we talk, the friends we keep, the desires we nurture – none of these really change. As long as life does not deliver any adversities which throw us off-track, we let things continue and allow ourselves to languish. These are a couple of conversations by the Mother Mirra Alfassa on how to rise above the ordinary life that we find ourselves in.
“The unexamined life is not worth living” (Socrates)
The ordinary life is a round of various desires and greeds. As long as one is preoccupied with them, there can be no lasting progress. A way out of the round must be discovered. Take, as an instance, that commonest preoccupation of ordinary life the constant thinking by people of what they will eat and when they will eat and whether they are eating enough. To conquer the greed for food an equanimity in the being must be developed such that you are perfectly indifferent towards food. If food is given you, you eat it; if not, it does not worry you in the least; above all, you do not keep thinking about food. And the thinking must not be negative, either. To be absorbed in devising methods and means of abstinence as the sannyasis do is to be almost as preoccupied with food as to be absorbed in dreaming of it greedily. Have an attitude of indifference towards it: that is the main thing. Get the idea of food out of your consciousness, do not attach the slightest importance to it.
This will be very easy to do once you get into contact with your psychic being, the true soul deep within you. Then you will feel immediately how very unimportant these things are and that the sole thing that matters is the Divine. To dwell in the psychic is to be lifted above all greed. You will have no hankering, no worry, no feverish desire. And you will feel also that whatever happens, happens for the best. Do not misunderstand me to imply that you must always think that everything is for the best. Everything is not for the best so long as you are in the ordinary consciousness. You may be misled into utterly wrong channels when you are not in the right state of consciousness. But once you are poised in the psychic and have made your self-offering to the Divine, all that happens will happen for the best, for everything, however disguised, will be a definite divine response to you.
Indeed the very act of genuine self-giving is its own immediate reward – it brings with it such happiness, such confidence, such security as nothing else can give. But till the self-giving is firmly psychic there will be disturbances, the interval of dark moments between bright ones. It is only the psychic that keeps on progressing in an unbroken line, its movement a continuous ascension. All other movements are broken and discontinuous. And it is not till the psychic is felt as yourself that you can be an individual even; for it is the true self in you. Before the true self is known, you are a public place, not a being. There are so many clashing forces working in you; hence, if you wish to make real progress, know your own being which is in constant union with the Divine. Then alone will transformation be possible. All the other parts of your nature are ignorant: the mind, for instance, often commits the mistake of thinking that every brilliant idea is also a luminous idea. It can with equal vigour trump up arguments for and against God: it has no infallible sense of the truth. The vital is generally impressed by any show of power and is willing to see in it the Godlike. It is only the psychic which has a just discrimination: it is directly aware of the supreme Presence, it infallibly distinguishes between the divine and the undivine. If you have even for a moment contacted it, you will carry with you a conviction about the Divine which nothing will shake.
How, you ask me, are we to know our true being? Ask for it, aspire after it, want it as you want nothing else. Most of you here are influenced by it, but it should be more than an influence, you should be able to feel identified with it. All urge for perfection comes from it, but you are unaware of the source, you are not collaborating with it knowingly, you are not in identification with its light. Do not think I refer to the emotional part of you when I speak of the psychic. Emotion belongs to the higher vital, not to the pure psychic. The psychic is a steady flame that burns in you, soaring towards the Divine and carrying with it a sense of strength which breaks down all oppositions. When you are identified with it you have the feeling of the divine truth – then you cannot help feeling also that the whole world is ignorantly walking on its head with its feet in the air!
You must learn to unite what you call your individual self with your true psychic individuality. Your present individuality is a very mixed thing, a series of changes which yet preserves a certain continuity, a certain sameness or identity of vibration in the midst of all flux. It is almost like a river which is never the same and yet has a certain definiteness and persistence of its own. Your normal self is merely a shadow of your true individuality which you will realise only when this normal individual which is differently poised at different times, now in the mental, then in the vital, at other times in the physical, gets into contact with the psychic and feels it as its real being. Then you will be one, nothing will shake or disturb you, you will make steady and lasting progress and be above such petty things as greed for food.
You ask me what you must do. It would be better to ask what you must be, because the circumstances and activities in life have not much importance.What is important is our way of reacting towards them.
Human nature is such that when you concentrate on your body you fall ill; when you concentrate on your heart and feelings you become unhappy; when you concentrate on the mind you get bewildered. And it’s absolutely true!
There are two ways of getting out of this precarious condition. One is very arduous: it is a severe and continuous tapasya. It is the way of the strong who are predestined for it.
The other is to find something worth concentrating upon that diverts your attention from your small, personal self. The most effective is a big ideal, but there are innumerable things that enter into this category. Most commonly, people choose marriage, because it is the most easily available (Mother laughs). To love somebody and to love children makes you busy and compels you to forget your own self a little. But it is rarely successful, because love is not a common thing.
Others turn to art, others to science; some choose a social or a political life, etc., etc.
But here also, all depends on the sincerity and the endurance with which the chosen path is followed. Because here also, there are difficulties and obstacles to surmount.
So, in life, nothing comes without an effort and a struggle. And if you are not ready for the effort and the struggle, then it is better to accept the fact that life will be dull and unsatisfactory, and submit quietly to this fact. That’s for the complainers.
And it’s absolutely true – true at each stage, on all levels. Whatever level you have attained, even the very highest, if you concentrate on that [the body], it is finished! And all the difficulties begin, you know, with that very concentration that tries to draw down Light and Power – yogic concentration itself.
So it would seem … that if one wants to use his individuality, his body, to transform the whole – that is, if one wants to use his bodily presence to act upon the universal corporeal substance – there’s no end to it. No end to the difficulties, no end to the battle … BATTLE!
Those who try to lead a spiritual life have always been compared to warriors (there are classic writings on this subject), and one must truly be a fighter – ‘fighter’ is more exact than ‘warrior’ because you wage war against no one: everything wages war against you! Everything … (Mother makes a gesture like an avalanche falling upon her) and with such savage opposition! …
You see, as long as there are currents swirling within you – swirling in the mind or the vital – you tell yourself that these currents are the cause of all the difficulties. But when there is nothing any longer? … When there is a serene and immutable peace … but still you are relentlessly hounded – oh, with such ferocity! … You cannot imagine.
The Mother, Mother’s Agenda: February 7, 1961
- Signs of readiness for spiritual life
- Why bad things happen to good people?
- Are earthquakes due to Divine retribution?
- Karma can be changed. Your destiny is in your hands
- Gita Chapter 18, Verse 60-61: The illusion of free-will
- Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on Astrology
- The occult spirits which influence our actions
- How to make the right choice when faced with a serious decision
- Jnana Yoga : the ego blocks that have to be dissolved
- Is fear and awe of God necessary?
- The Aurobindonian model of Karma