Anything that shocks you is the very thing you carry in yourself – The Mother.

It is rather remarkable that when we have a weakness – for example a ridiculous habit, a defect or an imperfection – since it is more or less part of our nature, we consider it to be very natural, it does not shock us. But as soon as we see this same weakness, this same imperfection, this same ridiculous habit in someone else, it seems quite shocking to us and we say, “What! He’s like that?” – without noticing that we ourselves are “like that.” And so to the weakness and imperfection we add the absurdity of not even noticing them

There is a lesson to be drawn from this. When something in a person seems to you completely unacceptable or ridiculous – “What! He is like that, he behaves like that, he says things like that, he does things like that” – you should say to yourself,  “Well, well, but perhaps I do the same thing without being aware of it. I would do better to look into myself first before criticising him, so as to make sure that I am not doing the very same thing in a slightly different way.” If you have the good sense and intelligence to do this each time you are shocked by another person’s behaviour, you will realise that in life your relations with others are like a mirror which is presented to you so that you can see more easily and clearly the weaknesses you carry within you.

In a general and almost absolute way anything that shocks you in other people is the very thing you carry in yourself in a more or less veiled, more or less hidden form, though perhaps in a slightly different guise which allows you to delude yourself. And what in yourself seems inoffensive enough, becomes monstrous as soon as you see it in others.

Try to experience this; it will greatly help you to change yourselves. At the same time it will bring a sunny tolerance to your relationships with others, the goodwill which comes from understanding, and it will very often put an end to these completely useless quarrels.

One can live without quarrelling. It seems strange to say this because as things are, it would seem, on the contrary, that life is made for quarrelling in the sense that the main occupation of people who are together is to quarrel, overtly or covertly. You do not always come to words, you do not always come to blows – fortunately – but you are in a state of perpetual irritation within because you do not find around you the perfection that you would yourself wish to realise, and which you find rather difficult to realise – but you find it entirely natural that others should realise it.

“How can they be like that?…” You forget how difficult you find it in yourself not to be “like that” !

Try, you will see.

Look upon everything with a benevolent smile. Take all the things which irritate you as a lesson for yourself and your life  will be more peaceful and more effective as well, for a great percentage of your energy certainly goes to waste in the irritation you feel when you do not find in others the perfection that you would like to realise in yourself.

 You stop short at the perfection that others should realise and you are seldom conscious of the goal you should be pursuing yourself. If you are conscious of it, well then, begin with the work which is given to you, that is to say, realise what you have to do and do not concern yourself with what others do, because, after all, it is not your business. And the best way to the true attitude is simply to say, “All those around me, all the circumstances of my life, all the people near me, are a mirror held up to me by the Divine Consciousness to show me the progress I must make. Everything that shocks me in others means a work I have to do in myself.”

And perhaps if one carried true perfection in oneself, one would discover it more often in others.

(Collected Works of the Mother, vol. 10, pp 21-22)

Posted yesterday at the Sri Aurobindo Los Angeles Center blog

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35 thoughts on “Anything that shocks you is the very thing you carry in yourself – The Mother.

  1. Aaron Asphar

    You know what, I don’t consider you a festering anus anymore!! Only joking – I love you deeply my friend! This is REAL service, I hope you know that. Many thanks for this and all yr work! Love it love it love it. Regards, Aaron

  2. madhusoodanan

    Sir.i like this advice very much.mother repeats the
    same thing of our saints ie if we clean our innerself
    automotically our outerworld will become pure.our outer
    world is the mirror of our innerself.
    But everything is right.but iam much concerning
    about others feeling but no one care about my feeling
    why ?

    1. Sandeep Post author

      Madhusoodanan: but i am much concerning about others feeling but no one care about my feeling. why ?

      You want others to care about your feelings because you want to be acknowledged as an individual. You should observe other people closely and realize that it is futile to expect anything from them because everyone is trapped in their own circle of ideas, emotions and egoistic insecurities. Even if you meet someone compassionate enough to understand your feelings, it will only be a temporary solution. It is only when you release all expectations that your mind will become free and you will find true freedom.

      See Four stages of human love

  3. Angelo

    And in fact when one regonizes it, it’s complete new way of looking in to ourselves. But one should have the sincerity to recognize what is seen.
    A question: is what we admirer in others, the quality that we are missing and need to nurture and grow in ourselves?

  4. Al

    Disciple: Do you not refer to the Mother (our Mother) in your book
    The Mother?

    SA: Yes.

    Disciple: Is she not the “Individual” Divine Mother who has embodied
    “the power of these two vaster ways of her existence” —
    Transcendent and Universal?

    SA: Yes.

    An incantation I wrote in 2002 based on SA’s book “The Mother”:

    The Mother
    (Mirra Alfassa you were once called, yes that is)

    Sweet, sweet, sweet, beautiful Mother I bow to you,
    I bow to you!
    Maheshwari please protect me; encompass me,
    With your Divine love.
    Oh Mahakali, destroyer of foes,
    Scorch my defects with the light of wisdom,
    Let my Shadow’s head hang bloody in your garland,
    Shatter my limits like the hot wind,
    Mercy I ask not from Thee!
    Hearken, Mahalakshmi, a constant ray of your Shakti,
    Formidable and swift,
    Will throw much illumination,
    Will cause the individualization needed,
    Before my ego is offered for sacrifice.
    Enter me Mahasaraswati,
    You youngest one, Anandamayi,
    Like a whirlwind reorganize my inner being.
    Mahashakti, I put myself in your hands!

  5. Joshua Belisle

    When it is obvious then that an irritant shows rather some imperfection within myself what may be an ideal course in turn? Is it to ignore it and continue working? To ask why I find it irritating? To try to just remain equal? I find many noises people make irritating, as does my sister. I imagine not running from the experience is probably a good step. Thank you so much.

    1. Sandeep Post author

      There is a passage by the Mother on “how to listen” which applies to your question but I can’t find it right now.

      An irritating noise can be dissolved by “widening the consciousness“. You should remain aware of the noise without shirking from it, without responding to it mentally or emotionally. Soak it up without letting it affect you. It will be hard initially but over time, you should be able to do it.

      When your consciousness is too attached to what is pure or neat, you find yourself repelled by chaos or dirt. Its a question of polarity – since you have/are something positive, you are detecting something negative outside.

      To conquer irritation does not mean you have to lose all discrimination of right and wrong, or pure and impure. You should be able to withstand an external impurity without succumbing to it. A person whose consciousness is as wide as the Universe finds everything inside it to be sounding sweet, even though he or she is above it all.

      On a lighter note, the best way to determine if you have succeeded in conquering your irritation to noises is to move to India ! Here, we develop the capability naturally 😉

      1. Joshua Belisle

        Haha thank you so much for your wonderful response.
        I found that to see myself in relation to all imaginable space and time helps to relieve attachment in the struggle for perfection that I wish to gain on my terms. The practice feels like an expanding of identify.Yay. seems like a great tool for calm, equality, right understanding and surrender.
        As far as moving to India.. that sounds good. Lol. I’m saving to come back.
        Thank you so much Sandeep. I am inspired by your work.

      2. mwb6119

        Sandeep/Joshua: regarding noise – this came to my e-mail today:

        “Even if there is too much noise, you can go within your true self and take rest over there. You must learn how to enter your true self. You should throw out all thoughts and isolate yourself from outer things and create the Divine atmosphere around yourself. Then naturally, you are safe from noise and disturbance. I am taking rest by entering into my Self – no matter what noise is going on. An occultist-my teacher Max Theon told me that one can meditate even on the battlefield where there is bombardment and shells fall. Here, no doubt, I am putting my Force around everyone. So everyone can remain protected and it is easy to meditate nicely and they are always safe. Yes, it needs practice. Once, twice, ten times you must try and learn how to enter into your true self. After a while you can become an expert.” – The Mother [Sorry, but there is no point of reference. The web address is: In “Search of the Mother” – I did type in the web-address, sometimes it disappears after posting.]

      3. Sandeep Post author

        I recall there was another passage where the Mother talks of how to listen to music. Post it if you find that one

      4. Joshua Belisle

        i have been trying often to widen the consciousness or rest as Purusha for a while now and i found today that if I hold my breath instantly become secure against any reaction. thought limited so I highly doubt this is the final step of equality for me, but regardless it seems so immensely valuable as I have probably been suffering from irritation for decades now and any form of instant relief, so easily accessed is truly wonderful.

      5. Sandeep Post author

        Holding the breath is of limited utility. You should find a class which teaches Vipassana or at least Pranayama.

        You could even try Sudarshan Kriya taught by the Art of Living

      6. Joshua Belisle

        I am familiar with vipassana and pranayam. After a 10 vipassana course there seems to be a significant expansion in my capacity to remain stable, though those courses are quite agonising, nothing like sitting in a room full of people who are all uncomfortable. I was taught pranayam at a raja yoga ashram, is there a particular technique you could recommend? And I will check out sudarshan kriya thank you. I don’t know how many years it will take before I can just be with sounds but it is a long awaited day..

    1. mw

      I wonder… are not sounds thought-forms? If sounds emanate from physical manifestations, and are not all physical manifestations originated from the mind, and or thought? Is everything here that we touch and feel thought in material form? And then we ourselves must be the result of a thought form from the Divine?

      1. mw

        The above question/s came after reading this excerpt by he Mother:

        “…when the mind is put in communication with the Divine Will, the supramental Truth begins to descend through the layers intervening between the mind and the highest Light and if, on reaching the mind, it finds there the power of making forms it easily becomes embodied and stays as a creative force in you.” from: Q & A 1929 – 1931 p. 156 subtitled “Power of Imagination”

      2. mw

        Here, Satprem, uses the word “thought waves” and “thought stuff”…. Perhaps I am not seeing the full spectrum of the thought process’.

        “The principal business of our mind is either a response of acceptance or a refusal to these thought waves (as also vital waves, subtle physical energy waves) or this giving a personal-mental form to thought-stuff (or vital movements) from the environing Nature-Force.”

        (Satprem, The Adventures of Consciousness, Chapter 4, The Silent Mind)
        from :

        Personal note: eventually I will have to find my own wording to describe these truths because it is (sometimes) so hard looking at them through other peoples descriptions. 🙂

      3. mw

        “The seers of Truth discovered the building of being in non-being by will in the heart and by the thought; their ray was extended horizontally; but what was there below, what was there above? There were Casters of the seed, there were Greatnesses; there was self-law below, there was Will above.” The Knot of Matter, The Life Divine

        *I think this is what I am looking for. Sorry to trouble you all. Thank You! 🙂

      4. mw

        from: Savitri, Pt Two Book Canto Six
        “The word, the form, the charm, the glory and grace
        Are missioned sparks from a stupendous Fire;
        A sample from the laboratory of God
        Of which he holds the patent upon earth,
        Comes to him wrapped in golden coverings”

        *This appeared to fit this thread.

  6. Mires

    “On how to listen to music”

    Q: Mother, when one hears music, how should one truly hear it?

    The Mother: For this – if one can be completely silent, you see, silent and attentive, simple as though one were an instrument which has to record it – one does not move, and is only something that is listening – if one can be absolutely silent, absolutely still and like that, then the thing enters. And it is only later, sometime later, that you can become aware of the effect, either of what it meant or the impression it had on you. But the best way of listening is this. It is to be like a still mirror and very concentrated, very silent. In fact, we see people who truly love music… I have seen musicians listening to music, musicians, composers or players who truly love music, I have seen them listening to music… they sit completely still, you know, they are like that, they do not move at all. Everything, everything is like that. And if one can stop thinking, then it is very good, then one profits fully… it is one of the methods of inner opening and one of the most powerful.

    (on music in general:

      1. mwb6119

        Aggreed Joshua. I have a very sensitive nature, I even feel the impact of the repercussion emanated by the sound against my skin. It is uncomfortable. As well, the annoyance factor to boot. But my attitude has changed a lot regarding noise, but still there is some irritation. This is apparently a matter of reaching equality – if I am correct. Eventually (I think/hope) noise will become as sweet as one of Mozart’s symphonies. 🙂

  7. amsha

    Matthew 7:4-5 English Standard Version (ESV)

    4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

      1. amsha

        Actually it is the same thing as in an article only step further. You shocked if you resist anything without being master of it.

  8. mike

    Joshua there’s actually something in the Agenda about ‘holding the breath’ – M describes it as ‘extremely interesting’..

    “Satprem: Do you object to my doing some pranayama before I begin working?

    M: I think it would do you good, mon petit.

    Satprem: I began three days ago, but I keep getting entangled with the traditional formation around it: “Oh,
    it’s dangerous, it’s dangerous, be careful.” So this morning I thought I’d better speak to you about it.

    M: Are you doing it without instructions?

    Satprem: There’s a traditional way of doing it, I know the formula.

    M: How does it go?

    Satprem: The time varies. You inhale through the left nostril for let’s say 4 seconds, then you hold your
    breath for 16 seconds, raising the diaphragm and closing all the openings; after 16 seconds you
    exhale for 8 seconds through the other nostril.

    M: Are these the “official” figures?

    (Pranayama: breathing exercises.)

    Satprem: Yes; I mean that’s the proportion: inhale 4, hold 16, exhale 8.

    M: Sixteen?

    Satprem: It has to be double the exhalation. If you do 8, then it’s 8-32-16.

    M: I did it myself for years, using the same system: inhale, hold, exhale, remain empty. But holding the
    lungs empty is said to be dangerous, so I don’t advise it. I did it for years. Without knowing it, Sri Aurobindo and I did it nearly the same way, along with all sorts of other things that aren’t supposed to
    be done! This is to tell you that the danger is mainly in what you think. In the course of certain
    movements, both of us made the air go out through the crown of the head – apparently that’s only to be
    done when you want to die! (Mother laughs) It didn’t kill us.
    No, the “danger” is MAINLY a thought formation.
    You can achieve excellent control of the heart. But I never practiced it violently, never strained
    myself. I think holding for 16 is too long. I used to do it simply like this: breathe in very slowly to the
    count of 4, then hold for 4 like this (I still have the knack of it!), lifting the diaphragm and lowering the head (Mother bends her neck), closing everything and exerting pressure (this is an almost
    instantaneous cure for hiccups – it’s handy!). Then while I held the air, I would make it circulate with the force (because it contained force, you see) and with the peace as well; and I would concentrate it wherever there was a physical disorder (a pain or something wrong somewhere). It’s very effective. The way I did it was: inhale, hold, exhale and empty – you are completely empty. It’s very useful; very handy for underwater swimmers, for instance!
    I had trouble breathing in slowly enough – that’s a bit hard. I began with 4 and eventually managed to do 12. I did 12-12-12-12. It took me months to reach that, it can’t be done quickly. To breathe in very
    slowly and hold all that air isn’t easy.
    Now I have lost the knack, I can barely do more than 6 (Mother demonstrates). I count: 1-2-3-4…no quicker.
    And exhale slowly – that’s very difficult – being careful to empty the top part of the lungs, because air often stagnates there. This seems to be one of the most frequent causes of coughs and colds. When I
    had bronchitis I learned to empty the air out completely. And I knew singing, so I was familiar with the method: you learn to hold the air and then release it slowly, slowly, so as to keep singing nonstop. I advise you to practice it.

    M: How much time do you spend on it?

    Satprem: Eight to ten minutes, three times a day before my japa.

    M: Oh, that’s very good.

    Satprem: I don’t know why, but I got entangled with that traditional formation which says it’s dangerous.

    M: Someone put it on you, mon petit!

    Satprem: It troubled me.

    M: No, it’s not at all dangerous, at least if you don’t overdo it. If you do it simply…. I think some people practice pranayama with the idea of gaining “powers.” That idea of gaining powers fouls it up more than anything. But if you do it simply as a help to your progress, there’s no danger.
    At any rate, Sri Aurobindo and I both did a lot of things considered dangerous, and absolutely nothing happened to us. Not that it’s necessary to do dangerous things, but nothing happened to us, so it
    all depends on how you do them.
    I think you can safely forget about this formation.
    But instead of doing equal amounts of time, it might be better to do less for inhaling and more for holding the breath. The holding part is extremely interesting! When the air is inside, let’s say you have
    a headache or a sore throat or a pain in your arm, anything – then you take the air… (Mother demonstrates) and direct it to the unwell part… very, very helpful and pleasant and interesting. You see
    the force go to the spot, settle in and stay there, all sorts of things.
    Ah, it’s funny, because just this morning…. Did you come for the balcony?

    Satprem: Lately I have been coming, but I didn’t this morning.

    M: Yes, I thought I didn’t see you! But when I went out on the balcony, something suddenly began making me do pranayama! I started doing it and it was funny – I had great fun. It was like the Lord entering
    into me as air, and when it was held inside like that (I was doing it physically at the same time), all the air began to flow out into everybody and do its work in each one – with such a sensation of ease, of
    tranquil power, and so sure of itself! So comfortably peaceful.
    The balcony darshans are interesting.
    Well, do it… according to your inner moods.
    At what time?

    Satprem: I do my japa in the morning, at noon, and in the evening.”

    1. Joshua Belisle

      thanks mike for the addition. I didnt read it till now, but it still very much applies as the “problem” is still present. regardless, based on what the mother said in the agenda I am under the impression that I sometimes use “holding the breath” perhaps as a means to temporarily internalize my consciousness as a retreat from reactive suffering.


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