How to know the Divine Will?

The Divine Will is an elusive thing for sure.  The religious preacher confuses his strong beliefs with the Divine Will, the despot attributes his success to it’s action, and spiritual aspirant is supposed to surrender to it.  Does any such thing as the Divine Will really exist?  How can one recognize it ?  The Divine Will does exist because there is a teleological purpose in evolution.  Every soul is being led to the Truth through a certain line of evolution, seemingly haphazardly, and it is this Divine Will which subtly goads him to progress forward.   Ordinarily, the Divine Will remains concealed due to our ignorance of our true nature but it begins to unveil itself as we gradually erase the ego through Yoga and allied occult-spiritual practices.

Question: Is it possible to know the Divine Will without having any experience of the Divine Reality, without rising to the intuitive consciousness or entering into the depths of one’s heart?

Mother: Certainly, without at least one of these three conditions, one runs a grave risk of being mistaken and taking one’s own subconscious will for the Divine Will.

The Mother, More Answers from the Mother: 19 July 1935

Conditions for knowing the Divine Will

Purification of consciousness is necessary to uncover the Divine Will. There are certain set of practices one must do regularly as an integral part of spiritual life.  First, one must let go of one’s certitudes and beliefs, and clear the clutter of opinions one has acculumated regarding the world.  Secondly, in day-to-day life, when one makes decisions or responds to people, the consciousness must be centered above the head instead of around the forehead or near the heart as is normally the case. This is a very useful technique which aids in becoming impersonal and rising above prejudices.  One must also live with equanimity during the day and have sound sleep at night.

Mother: But it is difficult to know the divine Will, isn’t it? We have already studied the subject at length. Don’t you remember what we said? There are four conditions for knowing the divine Will : first – an absolute sincerity, second – to overcome desires and preferences, third – to silence the mind and listen and fourth – to obey immediately when you receive the order.  If you persist, you will perceive the Divine Will more and more clearly. But even before you know what it is, you can make an offering of your own will and you will see that all circumstances will be so arranged as to make you do the right thing. But you must not be like that person I knew who used to say, “I always see the divine Will in others.” That can lead you anywhere, there is nothing more dangerous, for if you think you see the divine Will in others, you are sure to do their will, not the divine Will. There too we can say that not one among many, many human beings acts in accord with the divine Will.   Questions and Answers (1950 – 1951): 14 March 1951

In the initial stages of Yoga, it is possible that one might suddenly start experiencing coincidences (“I was looking for something and suddenly this person called and said he was thinking of giving away that exact thing“).  One must not get excited by such coincidences because they may occur due to a minor opening into the cosmic mind.  These are all trivial phenomena which will recede after providing initial entertainment.

A first glimpse of attunement to the Divine is seen after one has long periods of deep restful meditation.  One feels as if some hidden stream of intuition within has been tapped.  In this state, you have moments of spontaneity where you act out of some hidden instinct and later realize that you unknowingly did the right thing.   Such brief attunements continue to grow stronger (along with misinterpretations!) as the higher power descends and changes the consciousness.  The self-realized soul reaches the zenith of this movement for he/she acts and grows in likeness of the Divine.

The Divine Will lurks behind our every action

In this passage, the Mother points out that in any decision-making process, there is a duel between the desires of the vital and the ideas of the intellect.  In between, the third voice – the voice of the soul – which wishes to speak from within the heart usually gets suppressed.

Mother: One does not have the discernment because one does not care to have it! Listen, I don’t think there is a single instance in which one does not find within oneself something very clear, but you must sincerely want to know—we always come back to the same thing—you must sincerely want it. The first condition is not to begin thinking about the subject and building all sorts of ideas: opposing ideas, possibilities, and entering into a formidable mental activity. First of all, you must put the problem as though you were putting it to someone else, then keep silent, remain like that, immobile. And then, after a little while you will see that at least three different things may happen, sometimes more. Take the case of an intellectual, one who acts in accordance with the indications of his head. He has put the problem and he waits. Well, if he is indeed attentive, he will notice that there is (the chronological order is not absolute, it may come in a different order) at first (what is most prominent in an intellectual) a certain idea: “If I do that in this way, it will be all right; it must be like that”, that is to say, a mental construction. A second thing which is a kind of impulse: “That will have to be done. That is good, it must be done.” Then a third which does not make any noise at all, does not try to impose itself on the others, but has the tranquillity of a certitude —not very active, not giving a shock, not pushing to action, but something that knows and is very quiet, very still. This will not contradict the others, will not come and say, “No, that’s wrong”; it says simply, “See, it is like this”, that’s all, and then it does not insist. The majority of men are not silent enough or attentive enough to be aware of it, for it makes no noise.  But I assure you it is there in everybody and if one is truly sincere and succeeds in being truly quiet, one will become aware of it. The thinking part begins to argue, “But after all, this thing will have this consequence and that thing will have that consequence, and if one does this… “ and this, and that… and its noise begins again. The other (the vital) will say, “Yes, it must be done like that, it must be done, you don’t understand, it must, it is indispensable.” There! Then you will know. And according to your nature you will choose either the vital impulse or the mental leading, but very seldom do you say quite calmly, “Good, it is this I am going to do, whatever happens”, and even if you don’t like it very much. But it is always there. I am sure that it is there even in the murderer before he kills, you understand, but his outer being makes such a lot of noise that it never even occurs to him to listen. But it is always there, always there. In every circumstance, there is in the depth of every being, just this little (one can’t call it “voice”, for it makes no sound) this little indication of the divine Grace, and sometimes to obey it requires a tremendous effort, for all the rest of the being opposes it violently, one part with the conviction that what it thinks is true, another with all the power, the strength of its desire. Questions and Answers (1950 – 1951): 5 May 1951

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21 thoughts on “How to know the Divine Will?

  1. Maarit

    Thanks a lot for these blogs. I have a little spiritual study group, and every now and then we use the texts of the blog. Great service!

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      John,

      Some things have to be experienced. Theological debate is not fruitful. One can’t convince anyone on this topic. Creation does have a purpose. The Divine Will works through every soul guiding it to its destiny. We experience it sometimes in the form of serendipity (or Jung’s synchronicity).

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Why the future is veiled from us | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  3. ipi

    In oneself, there are contradictory wills.
    Yes, many. That is one of the very first discoveries. There is one part which wants things this way; and then at another moment, another way, and a third time, one wants still another thing! Besides, there is even this: something that wants and another which says no. So? But it is exactly that which has to be found if you wish in the least to organise yourself. Why not project yourself upon a screen, as in the cinema, and then look at yourself moving on it? How interesting it is!
    This is the first step.
    You project yourself on the screen and then observe and see all that is moving there and how it moves and what happens. You make a little diagram, it becomes so interesting then. And then, after a while, when you are quite accustomed to seeing, you can go one step further and take a decision. Or even a still greater step: you organise – arrange, take up all that, put each thing in its place, organise in such a way that you begin to have a straight movement with an inner meaning.. . .
    And little by little, little by little, you see clearer and then you see why you are made like that, what is the thing you have got to do – that for which you are born. And then, quite naturally, since all is organised for this thing to happen, the path becomes straight and you can say beforehand: “It is in this way that it will happen.” And when things come from outside to try and upset all that, you are able to say: “No, I accept this, for it helps; I reject that, for that harms.” And then, after a few years, you curb yourself as you curb a horse: you do whatever you like, in the way you like and you go wherever you like.

    – The Mother [CWMCE, 5:199-200]

    source:
    http://www.sriaurobindosociety.org.in/quotes.htm

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      thanks. If you feel the inclination and haven’t done so already, I suggest reading the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. There are more gems in there.

      Reply
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  5. mwb6119

    The following line is taken from this paragraph above: “Conditions for knowing the Divine Will”

    “This is a very useful technique which aids in becoming impersonal and rising above prejudices.”

    Once a person is “impersonal” and “above prejudice,” how do they interact in a world that knows only the personal and prejudicial experience? Those on the same ground (personal and prejudice) knock their heads against each others. But if one is impersonal meets another [individual] who is personal…. Do you see what I am asking? Is there a blog here that speaks to this concern? Thank You!

    Reply
    1. mwb6119

      “To be in a state of such purity and beauty that there is no perception of evil and ugliness. It’s like something that doesn’t touch you because it doesn’t exist in you.” from “How to act in an Unstable World.”

      This answers my question.

      Reply
    2. Sandeep Post author

      One would have to be in a very high state of consciousness to dissolve the impurity and prejudice in the person before you. In the interim, one has to exercise some caution and not allow oneself to get submerged in the flood of vital vibrations. Difficult task…!

      Reply
      1. mwb6119

        Sandeep: recently I have experienced a shift in consciousness. It appears that the prejudices I used to carry inside have dissolved. This is an unusual sensation since the former was my norm! In a way I feel disconnected from the world (disconnected in the sense that I do not know how I will meet another person now that the old combatant attitude is no longer present), but at the same time, I feel very “high”, i.e., I feel very good, even compassionate. Before there was a power struggle between me and another person. And now I no longer desire to dominate another person – it is not a question of disciplining myself not to engage in the power struggle, in me it is gone completely.

        *It is one thing to read the writings of the Master, but it is another thing to be able to identify those writing within oneself. There is a large margin for error. Even what I am sharing with you now, I question, “How Could this be?” “Am I deceiving myself?” “I do I know what this experience really is?”

        Thank You!

  6. mike

    l can’t imagine being in that state without having the Vision of the ‘Divine in All’ – probably being filled with Divine Love too. Very High states as sandeep says.
    l believe the Psychic Union would bring it also.

    Reply
    1. mwb6119

      Thanks Mike.
      You mention seeing the Divine in All. I read something similar about seeing the Self in all. When I am with another person, I still feel their lower mentality, like an abrasive energy, which I find uncomfortable, so there is still some discomfort when I am with another person and that is why I asked about how to interact with people who are still in the lower consciousness.

      *I have no contact with persons of a higher consciousness, I am learning all of this first-hand, via SA & M’s writings, etc….

      Reply
  7. mike

    “(disconnected in the sense that I do not know how I will meet another person now that the old combatant attitude is no longer present)”

    l was just reading yesterday where the Mother said that SA never ‘asserted’ Himself – so l’d say your in good company. mark 🙂

    Reply
    1. mwb6119

      Thank You Mike. Could you tell me where that is specifically about SA not asserting himself, or share the quotation here? Thank You!

      Reply
  8. mike

    Yes mark, it comes from the talk by Mother on Savitri [l’ve put the relevant quote in caps]:

    “- Do You read Savitri ?
    – Yes Mother, yes.

    – You have read the whole poem?
    – Yes Mother, I have read it twice.

    – Have you understood all that you have read?
    – Not much, but I like poetry, that is why I read it.

    – It does not matter if you do not understand it — Savitri, read it always. You will see that every time you read it, something new will be revealed to you. Each time you will get a new glimpse, each time a new experience; things which were not there, things you did not understand arise and suddenly become clear. Always an unexpected vision comes up through the words and lines. Every time you try to read and understand, you will see that something is added, something which was hidden behind is revealed clearly and vividly. I tell you the very verses you have read once before, will appear to you in a different light each time you re-read them. This is what of happens invariably. Always your experience is enriched, it is a revelation at each step.
    But you must not read it as you read other books or newspapers. You must read with an empty head, a blank and vacant mind, without there being any other thought; you must concentrate much, remain empty, calm and open; then the words, rhythms, vibrations will penetrate directly to this white page, will put their stamp upon the brain, will explain themselves without your making any effort.
    Savitri alone is sufficient to make you climb to the highest peaks. If truly one knows how to meditate on Savitri, one will receive all the help one needs. For him who wishes to follow this path, it is a concrete help as though the Lord himself were taking you by the hand and leading you to the destined goal. And then, every question, however personal it may be, has its answer here, every difficulty finds its solution herein; indeed there is everything that is necessary for doing the Yoga.
    He has crammed the whole universe in a single book. It is a marvellous work, magnificent and of an incomparable perfection.
    You know, before writing Savitri Sri Aurobindo said to me, I am impelled to launch on a new adventure; I was hesitant in the beginning, but now I am decided. Still, I do not know how far I shall succeed. I pray for help. And you know what it was? It was — before beginning, I warn you in advance — it was His way of speaking, so full of divine humility and modesty. HE NEVER…ASSERTED HIMSELF. And the day He actually began it, He told me: I have launched myself in a rudderless boat upon the vastness of the Infinite. And once having started, He wrote page after page without intermission, as though it were a thing already complete up there and He had only to transcribe it in ink down here on these pages.
    In truth, the entire form of Savitri has descended “en masse” from the highest region and Sri Aurobindo with His genius only arranged the lines — in a superb and magnificent style. Sometimes entire lines were revealed and He has left them intact; He worked hard, untiringly, so that the inspiration could come from the highest possible summit. And what a work He has created! Yes, it is a true creation in itself. It is an unequalled work. Everything is there, and it is put in such a simple, such a clear form; verses perfectly harmonious, limpid and eternally true. My child, I have read so many things, but I have never come across anything which could be compared with Savitri. I have studied the best works in Greek, Latin, English and of course French literature, also in German and all the great creations of the West and the East, including the great epics; but I repeat it, I have not found anywhere anything comparable with Savitri. All these literary works seems to me empty, flat, hollow, without any deep reality — apart from a few rare exceptions, and these too represent only a small fraction of what Savitri is. What grandeur, what amplitude, what reality: it is something immortal and eternal He has created. I tell you once again there is nothing like in it the whole world. Even if one puts aside the vision of the reality, that is, the essential substance which is the heart of the inspiration, and considers only the lines in themselves, one will find them unique, of the highest classical kind. What He has created is something man cannot imagine. For, everything is there, everything.
    It may then be said that Savitri is a revelation, it is a meditation, it is a quest of the Infinite, the Eternal. If it is read with this aspiration for Immortality, the reading itself will serve as a guide to Immortality. To read Savitri is indeed to practice Yoga, spiritual concentration; one can find there all that is needed to realise the Divine. Each step of Yoga is noted here, including the secret of all other Yogas. Surely, if one sincerely follows what is revealed here in each line one will reach finally the transformation of the Supramental Yoga. It is truly the infallible guide who never abandons you; its support is always there for him who wants to follow the path. Each verse of Savitri is like a revealed Mantra which surpasses all that man possessed by way of knowledge, and I repeat this, the words are expressed and arranged in such a way that the sonority of the rhythm leads you to the origin of sound, which is OM.
    My child, yes, everything is there: mysticism, occultism, philosophy, the history of evolution, the history of man, of the gods, of creation, of Nature. How the universe was created, why, for what purpose, what destiny — all is there. You can find all the answers to all your questions there. Everything is explained, even the future of man and of the evolution, all that nobody yet knows. He has described it all in beautiful and clear words so that spiritual adventurers who wish to solve the mysteries of the world may understand it more easily. But this mystery is well hidden behind the words and lines and one must rise to the required level of true consciousness to discover it. All prophesies, all that is going to come is presented with the precise and wonderful clarity. Sri Aurobindo gives you here the key to find the Truth, to discover the Consciousness, to solve the problem of what the universe is. He has also indicated how to open the door of the Inconscience so that the light may penetrate there and transform it. He has shown the path, the way to liberate oneself from the ignorance and climb up to the superconscience; each stage, each plane of consciousness, how they can be scaled, how one can cross even the barrier of death and attain immortality. You will find the whole journey in detail, and as you go forward you can discover things altogether unknown to man. That is Savitri and much more yet. It is a real experience — reading Savitri. All the secrets that man possessed, He has revealed, — as well as all that awaits him in the future; all this is found in the depth of Savitri. But one must have the knowledge to discover it all, the experience of the planes of consciousness, the experience of the Supermind, even the experience of the conquest of Death. He has noted all the stages, marked each step in order to advance integrally in the integral Yoga.
    All this is His own experience, and what is most surprising is that it is my own experience also. It is my sadhana which He has worked out. Each object, each event, each realisation, all the descriptions, even the colours are exactly what I saw and the words, phrases are also exactly what I heard. And all this before having read the book. I read Savitri many times afterwards, but earlier, when He was writing He used to read it to me. Every morning I used to hear Him read Savitri. During the night He would write and in the morning read it to me. And I observed something curious, that day after day the experiences He read out to me in the morning were those I had had the previous night, word by word. Yes, all the descriptions, the colours, the pictures I had seen, the words I had heard, all, all, I heard it all, put by Him into poetry, into miraculous poetry. Yes, they were exactly my experiences of the previous night which He read out to me the following morning. And it was not just one day by chance, but for days and days together. And every time I used to compare what He said with my previous experiences and they were always the same. I repeat, it was not that I had told Him my experiences and that He had noted them down afterwards, no, He knew already what I had seen. It is my experiences He has presented at length and they were His experiences also. It is, moreover, the picture of Our joint adventure into the unknown or rather into the Supermind.
    These are experiences lived by Him, realities, supracosmic truths. He experienced all these as one experiences joy or sorrow, physically. He walked in the darkness of inconscience, even in the neighborhood of death, endured the sufferings of perdition, and emerged from the mud, the world- misery to breathe the sovereign plenitude and enter the supreme Ananda. He crossed all these realms, went through the consequences, suffered and endured physically what one cannot imagine. Nobody till today has suffered like Him. He accepted suffering to transform suffering into the joy of union with the Supreme. It is something unique and incomparable in the history of the world. It is something that has never happened before, He is the first to have traced the path in the Unknown, so that we may be able to walk with certitude towards the Supermind. He has made the work easy for us. Savitri is His whole Yoga of transformation, and this Yoga appears now for the first time in the earth-consciousness.
    And I think that man is not yet ready to receive it. It is too high and too vast for him. He cannot understand it, grasp it, for it is not by the mind that one can understand Savitri. One needs spiritual experiences in order to understand and assimilate it. The farther one advances on the path of Yoga, the more does one assimilate and the better. No, it is something which will be appreciated only in the future, it is the poetry of tomorrow of which He has spoken in The Future Poetry. It is too subtle, too refined, — it is not in the mind or through the mind, it is in meditation that Savitri is revealed.
    And men have the audacity to compare it with the work of Virgil or Homer and to find it inferior. They do not understand, they cannot understand. What do they know? Nothing at all. And it is useless to try to make them understand. Men will know what it is, but in a distant future. It is only the new race with a new consciousness which will be able to understand. I assure you there is nothing under the blue sky to compare with Savitri. It is the mystery of mysteries. It is a *super-epic,* it is super- literature, super-poetry, super-vision, it is a super- work even if one considers the number of lines He has written. No, these human words are not adequate to describe Savitri. Yes, one needs superlatives, hyperboles to describe it. It is a hyper- epic. No, words express nothing of what Savitri is, at least I do not find them. It is of immense value — spiritual value and all other values; it is eternal in its subject, and infinite in its appeal, miraculous in its mode and power of execution; it is a unique thing, the more you come into contact with it, the higher will you be uplifted. Ah, truly it is something! It is the most beautiful thing He has left for man, the highest possible. What is it? When will man know it? When is he going to lead a life of truth? When is he going to accept this in his life? This yet remains to be seen.
    My child, every day you are going to read Savitri; read properly, with the right attitude, concentrating a little before opening the pages and trying to keep the mind as empty as possible, absolutely without a thought. The direct road is through the heart. I tell you, if you try to really concentrate with this aspiration you can light the flame, the psychic flame, the flame of purification in a very short time, perhaps in a few days. What you cannot do normally, you can do with the help of Savitri. Try and you will see how very different it is, how new, if you read with this attitude, with this something at the back of your consciousness; as though it were an offering to Sri Aurobindo. You know it is charged, fully charged with consciousness; as if Savitri were a being, a real guide. I tell you, whoever, wanting to practice Yoga, tries sincerely and feels the necessity for it, will be able to climb with the help of Savitri to the highest rung of the ladder of Yoga, will be able to find the secret that Savitri represents. And this without the help of a Guru. And he will be able to practice it anywhere. For him Savitri alone will be the guide, for all that he needs he will find Savitri. If he remains very quiet when before a difficulty, or when he does not know where to turn to go forward and how to overcome obstacles, for all these hesitations and incertitudes which overwhelm us at every moment, he will have the necessary indications, and the necessary concrete help. If he remains very calm, open, if he aspires sincerely, always he will be as if lead by the hand. If he has faith, the will to give himself and essential sincerity he will reach the final goal.
    Indeed, Savitri is something concrete, living, it is all replete, packed with consciousness, it is the supreme knowledge above all human philosophies and religions. It is the spiritual path, it is Yoga, Tapasya, Sadhana, in its single body. Savitri has an extraordinary power, it gives out vibrations for him who can receive them, the true vibrations of each stage of consciousness. It is incomparable, it is truth in its plenitude, the Truth Sri Aurobindo brought down on the earth. My child, one must try to find the secret that Savitri represents, the prophetic message Sri Aurobindo reveals there for us. This is the work before you, it is hard but it is worth the trouble.

    Reply
    1. mwb6119

      Thanks Mike. This is quite revealing:

      “it was His way of speaking, so full of divine humility and modesty. HE NEVER…ASSERTED HIMSELF.”

      Reply
    2. Joshua Belisle

      thank you so much mike, that was one of the most beautiful, revealing and inspiring things I have read in a long time, and most of my time is spent reading Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. I had struggled to get into Savitri, saving it for the future, but that passage.. Most wonderful. Thank you again so much. I hope that passage is located in the amazon.com review section of that book.

      Reply
  9. mike

    l just found a quote by the Mother which was very uplifting. l’ve never heard it before:
    “Whoever gets my touch, whover has a second of True aspiration, True love for Me,he is finished for this life, for all lives…he is bound to Me.
    l have put a golden chain round his neck; his heart is bound eternally to Me.”

    There’s a picture with it here:

    hxxp://savitrieradevotees.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/agitation-against-sri-aurobindo-ashram.html

    Reply

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