There are many planes and parts of our being each with their own unique rhythm. Idling in bed early in the morning, we may find that the longing for sex can seize the lethargic mind. After lunch when the stomach is full, one might feel the irrational urge to lash out in anger at some irritating individual. On Sunday evenings while listening to a wistful melody, one might become forlorn and slip into a state of depression. Psychologist Kay Jamison, after reviewing more than sixty studies across countries in both hemispheres, concluded that the peak periods for suicide are late spring and summer. Likewise, she found two broad peaks in seasonal incidence of major depressive episodes: March-May and Sept-Nov .
As one progresses in the practice of Yoga, one becomes singularly aware of these emotional vulnerabilities which get triggered at specific intervals, at certain locations or in the presence of troublesome individuals, as the following exchange illustrates:
Nagin: Every first of the month at a particular hour my general consciousness is pulled down from the heights. What is the cause of such a regular habit?
Sri Aurobindo: There are always these formed habits of the subconscient — originally there may have been some vital or other reason, afterwards it is only the habit of lending part of the consciousness to the old movement 
There are other disciples who wrote to Sri Aurobindo regarding the desire for sex which would stealthily overwhelm them early in the morning while they lay passive in bed. While we don’t have the original questions, we do have the responses that Sri Aurobindo sent them:
It is the most dangerous movement for sex-things when just after waking one remains lying in bed; one should either go to sleep again, if there is time, or else fix the mind on wholesome things .
That is a right change. There is no condition more dangerous for the sex-imagination to come than this lying in bed in a half-awake or else a relaxed inert condition unoccupied by any activity or any experience .
By giving up contact it [sex] can be reduced to two forms — dream and imagination. Dream is not of much importance unless it affects the waking mind which it need not at all do; it can besides be discouraged and, if not fed, fades out in the end. Imaginations can only be got rid of by a tapasya(askesis) of the will not allowing them to run their course, but breaking them off as soon as they begin. They come most easily when lying in bed after waking from sleep in a tamasic condition. One has to break them off either by shaking off the tamas or by emptying the mind and going to sleep again. At other times one ought to be able to stop it by turning the mind elsewhere .
The Mother once spoke at length on these rhythms of our consciousness:
Question: Sweet Mother, here: “Last comes the instrumentality of Time, Kala; for in all things there is a cycle of their action and a period of the divine movement…. “ What is this period of the divine movement? (For those who want to follow-up, the text cited here occurs in the chapter called “The Four Aids” in Sri Aurobindo’s “The Synthesis of Yoga”)
Mother: For each activity, each realisation, each movement, there is a definite period of time, which differs. There are countless periods of time which are entangled; but each thing is regulated by a kind of rhythm which is this thing’s own rhythm.
You see, for the facility of their outer existence, men have divided time more or less arbitrarily into years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds, etc.; it is a rhythm that’s more or less arbitrary, because it has been created by man, but it has in itself a certain reality, for it corresponds to universal movements… as far as possible. And that is why, by the way, we celebrate the birthday, for example: because there is a certain rhythm in each one’s existence which is established by this regular return of circumstances analogous to those in which he was born.
And all movements—when you observe them, you become aware that they have a certain rhythm—the movements of inner consciousness, for example, not only from the point of view of understanding but that of personal reactions, of the ups and downs in progress; of a fairly regular periodic return, at once of advancing and recoiling, of difficulties and of helps. But if each person is attentive he realises that his own rhythm is absolutely particular to him; it is not the same rhythm as his neighbour’s.
But even as the seasons follow a certain rhythm, regular enough on the whole, so the individual life has its seasons. And when one studies oneself attentively, one finds out that there are even certain repetitions of analogous circumstances at regular intervals. Even, very sensitive people become aware that there are certain days of the week or certain hours of the day when they can do things more easily. Some of them have particular difficulties on particular days and at particular hours; some on the contrary have better inspirations at particular moments—but every one has to find this out in himself by observation. Naturally it is far from being absolute, it is not strict, and if it is troublesome, it can be eliminated very easily simply by a little effort of resolute will. But if it helps, one can make use of it.
And all this, each thing having its own rhythm, well, it makes an extremely complicated criss-crossing of rhythms, which results in what we see: something which seems to have none – because it is too complicated, it is too complex.
Question: How can we make use of it, Sweet Mother?
Mother: Well, if… let us say, you know… we are speaking of yoga… if you observe in yourself a certain repetition of conditions, for example, that at a particular hour, a certain time of day, in certain circumstances, it is easier for you to concentrate or meditate, well, you make use of that by doing it at that time.
Naturally, you must not become its slave; one can use it but it must not become a necessity so that if the hour has gone by one can’t meditate then. But if it is a good help, one uses the help; it’s all a matter of observation.
If you study yourself you can become aware that in the year certain periods come due not only to personal conditions but more general ones – conditions of Nature in general. There are times when you meet more difficulties in the sadhana(askesis); there are times, on the contrary, when you feel in yourself a greater push for the growth of knowledge and consciousness. This helps you in the sense that, if at a given time you find yourself in the midst of special difficulties or something that seems like a stoppage, instead of lamenting you tell yourself, “Why, it’s the usual time; it’s because we are at this particular time of the year.” And you wait with patience for the time to pass; or do what you can, but without being discouraged and saying, “Ah, look, I am not getting on, I am not making any progress.” It helps you to be reasonable.
And naturally one can take one more step and take precautions in such a way… inner precautions to be independent of these external influences. But this comes much later, when one begins to be the conscious master of one’s sadhana. That comes afterwards. .
The Mystic Significance of Birthdays (Bonne Fête)
In case you are distressed by the information given above, the news is not all bad. On the positive side, the Mother indicated that birthdays hold a mystic significance because that is the one day out of the year when one is more receptive to the Divine:
Mother: Yes, it is truly a special day in one’s life. It is one of those days in the year when the Supreme descends into us — or when we are face to face with the Eternal – one of those days when our soul comes in contact with the Eternal and, if we remain a little conscious, we can feel His Presence within us. If we make a little effort on this day, we accomplish the work of many lives as in a lightning flash. That is why I give so much importance to the birthday – because what one gains in one day is truly something incomparable. And it is for this that I also work to open the consciousness a little towards what is above so that one may come before the Eternal. My child, it is a very special day, for it is the day of decision, the day one can unite with the Supreme Consciousness. For the Lord lifts us on this day to the highest region possible so that our soul which is a portion of that Eternal Flame, may be united and identified with its origin.
This day is truly an opportunity in life. One is so open and so receptive that one can assimilate all that is given. I can do many things, that is why it is important.
It is one of those days when the Lord Himself opens the doors wide for us. It is as though He were inviting us to rekindle more powerfully the flame of aspiration. It is one of those days which He gives us. We too by our Personal effort, could attain to this, but it would be long, hard and not so easy. And this is a real chance in life — the day of the Grace.
It is an occult phenomenon that occurs invariably, without our knowledge, on this particular day of the year. The soul leaves behind the body and journeys up and up till it merges into the Source in order to replenish itself and absorb from the Supreme its Power, Light and Ananda and comes down charged. for a whole year to pass. Then again and again… it continues like this year after year.”
How is one to receive this and advance further?
How is it effective on the outer physical and material plane? One way would be to open oneself to this higher consciousness and remain so throughout in deep meditation. One should strive to spread the Light and Ananda deep within and allow it to settle there. Imagination, if any, must be completely set aside for the mind to be free from delusions. The mind must be clear without movement, no longer breeding conflict through its wants and cravings; and when it is silent with understanding, in the light of that silence and peace, the Ananda can come into being. Then, gradually, the inner voice guides more and more and the outer mind forms the movements and actions less and less. The reactions become purified and truthful leading to positive thinking, an attitude for constructive hard work, honesty of thought and action which can reform and re-energise the actions.
A prayer said in right earnest and with an enlightened consciousness can then connect an individual to an infinitely greater Force, widen his consciousness and open him to such an extent that even one spark of this Force can spur him to stupendous actions.
Even when one prays sincerely for someone else, it constitutes a two-way flow of vibrations between individuals and also with the universal Force. The vibrations so generated can, through the ripple effect, cause harmonious vibrations of the universal Force (which is full of ail types of vibrations) and set in motion one’s love, compassion and similar feelings towards another individual who can actually feel and experience these waves.
Similarly, one can take advantage of the special receptivity in a very creative and constructive way. Most people have within some obscure corner of their nature a wish to live a life of fulfilment, pursue something higher although they might not know exactly the what and how of it. Even in the abstract word thoughts can exist. By remaining receptive, open and adopting and accepting them at the right time, one can crystallise one’s own definite thoughts and actions. One can become a channel of the higher Force and Ananda and a willing instrument of their manifestation .
- Kay Redfield Jamison. Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide, New York: Random House, 2000, p 222.
- Kay Redfield Jamison. Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996, p 133.
- Nagin Doshi. Guidance from Sri Aurobindo, Pondicherry: SABDA, 1987, vol 2, p 116.
- Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Yoga, SABCL vol. 24, Transformation of the Physical.
- The Mother. Collected Works vol. 7, pp 336-337, 19 October 1955.
- Roshan Apurva. Aspiring Swan, pp viii – xii.
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