The story of a soul

The course of yogic transformation never did run smooth, to paraphrase Shakespeare.  Life on the spiritual path tends to oscillate between radiant moments and gloomy nights.  One goes through phases where the determination wavers, mood swings exacerbate and the recalcitrant ego fights back to reclaim lost territory.  Amidst these internecine battles, it is the Guru’s light that serves as a bulwark against the disintegration of the jittery personality.  This article reviews some uplifting messages of  guidance that the Mother Mirra Alfassa gave to one of her disciples, Huta, during some particularly demanding stages of her transformation.  These excerpts are from Huta’s book “The story of a Soul“[1].

1. Fragments of the personality

The coherence of our personality is actually an illusion imparted by the recurring thought process.  After prolonged periods of successful meditation, when the mind starts to abide in silence,  this illusive coherent personality begins to disintegrate.   Now begins a very precarious phase of Yogic transformation.  The aspirant finds that there are in reality multiple fragments within the consciousness which had remained subdued under the stamp of the ego.  These fragments begin to act independently in an often unruly fashion in order to satisfy their programmed impulses.  Sometimes, they may even fall under the influence of greater universal forces thereby causing further instability.  This instability ends only when the real center – the higher Self within – has been found.  Such phases can be particularly trying for the spiritual aspirant, as we can see from the following exchange:

Huta:Truly difficulties do not come one at a time – they crowd together like Shakespeare’s “Sorrow”:

When sorrows come they come not single spies, But in battalions.

If I tried to stop certain parts of my being from listening to the evil forces, there were other parts which responded to them. No matter how hard I tried I always failed to recognise their treacherous acts. There were so many parts – I  may even say so many beings – in ourselves and, therefore, such a multiplicity of conflicts !

The mist of confusion and doubt covered me and I did not really know how to get out of this complex situation.   I wrote to the Mother.  She wrote back:

Mother: I quite understand that you are meeting with great difficulties in your outer nature, and that there are in you two opposite parts that are in complete contradiction one with the other – one wanting the Divine and ready to give everything to reach the Divine, the other quite weak and selfish and refusing to collaborate in the aspiration of the other. But you are not the only person in that condition and many others who were like that succeeded in overcoming the difficulty and finally succeeded in reaching the Divine. So you must keep hope, especially now that my force and help are always supporting in you the part that is turned towards the Divine.

With my love and blessings always [1].

During another trying phase, Huta found her mind being torn asunder by impulsive thoughts.  She found it difficult to resist the influence of the hostile forces, even though using her willpower,  she had vowed not to respond to them.  This was the message the Mother gave her at the time:

Mother: I know it is difficult to keep your consciousness steady and in order. If you look at the Truth and reject the Falsehood, then it helps to keep the consciousness stable. But there are so many parts of the being. At times some of them come in front and you feel happy and express your love and devotion to the Divine. This means that these parts of the being have come under the psychic influence and received the Divine’s Light. But all the parts are not in the same state and they are changing and moving constantly in a cycle.

Very often the hostile forces come and try to catch hold of your consciousness by making various suggestions – but then, at once you have to pull all of them into the Divine’s Light to see whether they are true or false. If they are false, reject the falsehood and accept the Truth by constant aspiration, remembrance of the Divine and call for the Divine’s help. Surely, if you learn to reject the adverse forces, they will never enter your consciousness and you will realise the Truth.

Once the consciousness falls from a certain height you have to start all over again. Naturally you cannot reach your goal at once, and you return again and again to the same miseries.

Child, you must surrender. You have to pay the full price to the Divine, and collaborate fully in His work – without collaboration the Divine’s work cannot be done. Your nature clings to its old habits and desires and resists the new consciousness – that is an obstacle in the Divine’s work. There must not be any room for the lower elements. If you participate fully in the Divine’s work, you will progress rapidly.

If people go from here and start living the ordinary life, then truly they will get nowhere and their lives will become ugly. I do not want this to happen to you or anyone[2].

An old pull of subconscious cords renews;
It draws the unwilling spirit from the heights,
Or a dull gravitation drags us down
To the blind driven inertia of our base.
This too the supreme Diplomat can use,
He makes our fall a means for greater rise.

(Sri Aurobindo.  Savitri, Book I, Canto III)

2. Human beings prefer miseries

Sometimes during meditation, we may get a glimpse of a greater freedom during a few radiant moments of breathtaking exaltation, but we fail to pursue the opening and instead fall back on our decadent ways.  Since we fail to exert any effort in conquering our weaknesses, we lose the opportunity which the Divine had opened for us.  Why do we engage in such puzzling behaviour?  It is because human beings find it difficult to live the disciplined, but admittedly dreary, life which is required for greater  transformation.  Part of our personality always thirsts for the familiar joys (and miseries) that the fickle social life is known to provide.   These are a couple of messages that the Mother gave Huta during such phases of her struggle:

Mother: People here think they are so miserable but they must know that there are millions of people more miserable than themselves – these have no food, no clothes – practically they have nothing – and still they carry on their lives.

Indeed, miseries come because there are two opposite things in the same person – one part in him like this and another likes that – and these parts are fighting each other as sometimes husband and wife do! If a person wants to get rid of this contradiction, then there must be a divorce. Afterwards there is no more struggle [3].

This was another message given along the same lines:

Mother: Human consciousness is so corrupted that men prefer the miseries of the ego and of its ignorance to the luminous delight that comes from sincere surrender to the Divine. So great is their blindness that they refuse even to try the experiences and would rather be subject to the miseries of their ego than to make the necessary effort to be freed from them.

So completely blind they are that they would not hesitate to make the Divine a slave of their ego, if the thing were possible, in order to avoid giving themselves to the Divine [4].

The hearts of men are amorous of clay-kin
And bear not spirits lone and high who bring
Fire-intimations from the deathless planes
Too vast for souls not born to mate with heaven.
Whoever is too great must lonely live.
Adored he walks in mighty solitude;
Vain is his labour to create his kind,
His only comrade is the Strength within.

(Sri Aurobindo.  Savitri, Book IV, Canto II)

3. I only look at the soul

It is natural for us to be concerned if our past excesses and weaknesses might turn the Divine away from helping us.  Once Huta  felt ashamed of her imperfections and wanted to hide from the Mother.  She received the Mother’s compassionate response:

My dear little child Huta,

Never feel ashamed or fear before me. You must come freely to me as a child to a Divine Mother. Because I never look at mistakes and faults – I only look at the soul, the psychic being, for it to come to the surface and to take the lead of the whole being.

The psychic being is your true self and by opening your exterior being to it you will be able to receive the Divine’s help and to conquer.

With my love and blessings [5].

4. I never impose my will

The Mother asked Huta to take a French class to improve her mind but Huta was reluctant to take up what seemed like a difficult assignment.  She asked the Mother to excuse her from this requirement.  Later, she became afraid that her reluctance might have caused the Mother to lose interest in her and abandon her.  When queried on the situation, the Mother reassured her with these words:

Something you must understand. I never impose my will on anybody. It is only when somebody asks me what is my will in order to obey it, that I say clearly what my will is. But if afterwards this same person shows displeasure or discomfort in obeying that will, I never insist upon it or use coercion. I leave each one free to do what one feels best [6].

The Guru does not pressurize you to undertake certain activities.  The Guru’s light silently augments your effort only when you honestly and meticulously observe your weaknesses and surrender them to the Greater Power.

5. You came from another sphere

In this delightful anecdote, Huta’s family has come to visit her in the Ashram, and they all pose for some group photographs.  The Mother deliberately leaves Huta out of the family photograph, and in doing so, she inadvertently reveals why Huta was selected as a disciple.

Huta: All my family was photographed with her except me. One last snap was to be taken. I managed to come closer so that I too might come into the picture with my family members and the Mother. Meanwhile Mr. Surendra Mohan Ghosh (M.P.) entered the room. I rose from my place at the sign of command in the Mother’s eyes. I was disappointed – I had been left out.

The next morning I went to the Mother. She was with Vasudha in the small passage leading to Sri Aurobindo’s room. She looked at me and started telling Vasudha something in French which I failed to comprehend. Her eyes twinkled for one instant as they met mine. She then disclosed:

Yesterday I saw you among your family members. You are quite different from them. You don’t belong to them – you have come from another sphere (gesture lifting her index finger up).

Later Vasudha told me that the Mother had said the same thing to her in French.

I laughed at my stupidity and thought: “I should not have been disturbed when I had not been photographed.” [7]

One among many thousands never touched,
Engrossed in the external world’s design,
Is chosen by a secret witness Eye
And driven by a pointing hand of Light
Across his soul’s unmapped immensitudes.

(Sri Aurobindo.  Savitri, Book I, Canto V)

In this context, see the article “True family and True country”.  People who are born in the same family need not be in the same stage of evolution – some can be more spiritually inclined than others.

Transformation (2006). Airbrush on Canvas by Hufreesh@Auroville. Click image for artist homepage

References

  1. Huta.  The story of a Soul, vol. 2, Part 1, Pondicherry: Havyavahana Trust, 2009, p 75.  (auromere books) (SABDA) (google books) (flipkart)
  2. ibid. vol. 2, part 1, p 152.
  3. ibid. vol. 2, part 2, p 30.
  4. ibid. vol. 2, part 2, p 170.
  5. ibid. vol. 2, part 1, p 77.
  6. ibid. vol. 2, part 1, p 23.
  7. ibid. vol. 2, part 2, p 185.

Related Posts

  1. Jnana Yoga : the ego blocks that have to be dissolved
  2. The Mother Mirra Alfassa as a Guru
  3. Anandamayi Ma as the Guru
  4. Modalities of the Initiation process (Diksha)
  5. Stages in the spiritual journey (as per Anandamayi Ma)
  6. The inversion of day and night (Gita 2:69) which occurs in Brahmic consciousness
  7. The Triple Cord which has to be sundered
  8. Liminality or negative capability required in Yoga
  9. The foundation of spiritual relationships
  10. Stabilizing the body before meditation
  11. Self-control over speech
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20 thoughts on “The story of a soul

  1. Hermann

    Thank you for this inspiring essay. It shows once again that the story of a soul leads in its multiplicity always to the same nectarine words:

    ‘Child, you must surrender.’

    Reply
  2. mikran

    Thank you Sandeep, this was very timely for me.
    I was having a bad week, and felt at times that all the sadhana I have done over the last 20 years had come to nothing.’
    The one thing that helped me through this was Trust.
    I kept repeating to myself ‘Sri Aurobindo says it can be done, it can be done’
    as always the doubt passed.

    Reply
      1. Diane

        I only realised after I sent the post, that it was named Mikran (my beautiful granddaughters Mikayla and Rhiannon, I will remember to sign from now on
        Diane

  3. Sandeep Post author

    Huta whose book was discussed in this post passed away today. The following eulogy was composed by Shraddhavan

    Huta

    Today November 17 – the anniversary of the Mother’s passing – at 1.30pm, a very special child of the Mother, Huta, born Savita D. Hindocha, passed away quietly in the Ashram Nursing Home. She had been there for about a month with her condition gradually deteriorating, after ailing for several months.

    The Mother gave her the name ‘Huta’ meaning ‘The Offered One’ when she joined the Ashram on November 1st 1954 at the age of 20. The Mother trained her in painting, and worked with her from 1961 to 1966 to create the series of oil paintings illustrating passages from the whole of Savitri called Meditations on Savitri. During this time Huta recorded the Mother’s readings of the passages corresponding to the paintings, which are familiar to many accompanied by the compositions of Mother’s musician Sunil.

    Huta had a very special connection with Auroville – a letter of hers to the Mother in 1965 inspired the creation of Matrimandir, the Mother’s Shrine; and it was to Huta that the Mother first explained, with sketches, her concept for the town-plan of Auroville. In 1996 Huta produced the painting which the Mother named ‘The Spirit of Auroville.’ All this is told in her books Matrimandir – the Mother’s Truth and Love and The Spirit of Auroville. In 2001 Huta entrusted the care of the Meditations on Savitri paintings and a lot of other related art works and materials to Savitri Bhavan.

    She is also well-known for her many books, beautifully designed by Huta herself, all inspired by her contacts with the Mother, such as White Roses (translated into Tamil, French and Russian by Aurovilians), The Story of a Soul, About Savitri, and most recently ‘You said So …’ a record of some of the Mother’s talks with her. In fact she was still working on her latest project, My Savitri Work with the Mother, when she became too weak to continue.

    She was extremely happy to learn, some six weeks before her passing, of the completion of a series of 18 DVDs made by Manohar of her Meditations on Savitri paintings, and even more recently of another one of her Paintings Inspired by Sri Aurobindo’s Poems. This film will be premiered at Savitri Bhavan on December 5th.

    Huta had no fear of death – she had been assured by the Mother that when the time came she would be immediately carried up by Sri Aurobindo to her true home. She has chosen a special day on which to leave. We remember her with deep gratitude and affection.

    Reply
  4. mike

    “I was having a bad week, and felt at times that all the sadhana I have done over the last 20 years had come to nothing.”
    Diane, lt’s all going on behind the veil. lt can burst out at any moment. There is no such thing as ‘sudden enlightenment’ – we just can’t see the working of the Force most of the time.
    Thanks for reminding me about TRUST. That’s where l’m falling down at the moment.

    Reply
  5. ipi

    1 February 1954
    Bombay

    O my dear Mother!

    I asked You, “Why do you not call me to stay near you? Mother, you won’t please liberate me from this ordinary world soon? Save me!”

    You replied , ” You are mistaken , my child. If the game of the world is soon over, then there is no charm in life. So first of all remain in the ordinary world and finish the game. Victory or defeat leave that to me.

    “Child! you will know more and see more in the ordinary world than here. One must live the complete life so that there may be felt no lack and no craving afterwards.

    “The ordinary world will itself free you from its own clutches. You are mine and you will be mine.I have saved you from troubles and I will always save you. With faith in me as your star sail the ship of your life.”

    I was astonished but i understood, I obeyed and in the end my soul bowed at Your feet, O Mother!

    from the book “Salutations” By Huta

    Reply
  6. mike

    “People who are born in the same family need not be in the same stage of evolution – some can be more spiritually inclined than others”

    l think my parents are spiritually inclined, but not at a conscious level in this life. My father has interests in occult things, though… But, l have noticed the inclination toward higher truths in them. lt helps that my mother has the same birthday as the Master [my fathers birthday is 17 feb – just a few days from Mother’s birthday. Probably not relevant though]. The Master did appear to my Mother years ago when l was going through a rough time and years before l’d even heard of Him. l suspect she was worrying about me. He told her l would be alright. She had no idea who He was until years later she saw His picture and told me the story.
    An act of Grace by Sri Aurobindo which l’ll never forget.

    Reply
    1. ipi

      When I look back on my past life, I see that if I had not failed & suffered, I would have lost my life’s supreme blessings; yet at the time of the suffering & failure, I was vexed with the sense of calamity. Because we cannot see anything but the one fact under our noses, therefore we indulge in all these snifflings and clamours. Be silent, ye foolish hearts! slay the ego, learn to see & feel vastly & universally.
      Sri Aurobindo

      (176−Thoughts and Aphorisms)

      Reply
      1. Rick Lipschutz

        Thank you Sandeep. This whole selection on Huta, the material from Shraddhavan and all comments bear such a powerful sweet psychic stamp that means so much right now.

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