Loretta reads Mother's Questions and Answers:1956-12-12 part 1
|Mother's Questions and Answers: December 12, 1956 (part 1 of 2)|
|by Loretta, 2018 (36:25)|
|Listen on Auroville Radio →|
This week, Mother explains why nothing we want to do is impossible. She also explains how we can work to make something possible which we always believed was not possible for us to do. She begins by reading the next aphorism from Sri Aurobindo's “Thoughts and Glimpses”. And in that aphorism he says that because the universe was a paradox and an impossibility for the Eternal, the Eternal emanated this possibility – our universe – out of His being.
The dictionary defines a ‘paradox’ as something that is contrary to what we expect. It is contrary to common sense, and yet it is true. It seems to be self-contradictory.
Mother explains that we only find this aphorism self-contradictory because it's not fully explained. Instead, Sri Aurobindo gives us a paradox – let's say a problem to solve, some work to figure it out for ourselves. And this makes us think. By doing this in a very subtle way, he's telling us that nothing is impossible for us if we want it, and if we will to work to get it. This is also Mother's answer to the first question in the class. Mother explains that since everything is in our universe, everything is possible. As soon as we have an idea about something, it is included in our consciousness. Even if our idea is that this thing we are thinking about is impossible, because it is now in our consciousness, this is the beginning of possibility for us.
In this case, she speaks about being able to mentally understand something that we could not understand before. So she's in the mind here, speaking about mental possibility. But the principle could apply to anything we believe is not possible.
Then Mother goes on to show that once we think that something is impossible to understand mentally, a process goes on in our brain, until what we first thought was impossible to understand becomes possible for us. And with this example of understanding new things with our mind, she teaches that we have a limitless capacity to learn and develop a vast amount of mental skills. But, she says, the problem is that we have our own mental limits – and also we are lazy. Then she says that our limitations and laziness are actually illnesses, which have to be cured and can be cured. She says that if one is a normal person, the capacity for growth is almost unlimited. This is not only true about mental skills – it's also true for other skills.
If we work on anything at all, if we give ourselves to use our being to work on anything, we change. If we work directly and consciously on something for personal development, we evolve even more quickly.
One of Mother's well-known sayings is “Remain young, never stop striving towards perfection.” In today's class she says, “I do not believe in limits which cannot be surpassed.”
When Mother created Auroville, she said it would be a place of youth that never ages, and a place of unending education. This is all in line with what she's talking about in class; and here she's making a city which gives the possibility for endless widening of our being. A city with the purpose for endless widening of our being.
Most traditional yoga practices today have people thinking that the goal of their life is to get out of the manifested creation. They are not taught to work for the capacity of universal functionality in the manifestation. They are not taught to work on themselves, on what they are. They are taught to work to get out. People are encouraged to spend a lot of time sitting down with their eyes closed, doing various inner movements, so they can finally leave the manifested universe. But Mother and Sri Aurobindo teach that once people have realized their truth, they have to go on in life – they have to go on in the life they were in, and use their realizations in all the parts of their being, for everything that they do.
Mother once told the children that only sitting in meditation was like taking off your outer being as if it were an overcoat, and putting your outer being in a corner, and telling it to stay there and be good, until you return. Then you sit there in meditation, and whether or not your meditation changes you, when your meditation is over, you go and get your outer being, which is still unchanged, or perhaps even a little worse than it was when you left it there. And that part of you does not progress, because you never use what is in your meditation for that rest of your being.
Sri Aurobindo said that the practice of his yoga means growing conscious of every movement of what is going on in yourself. When we work every minute to be conscious like this, our consciousness expands, which means we open to more consciousness in every part of our being. And this consciousness acts in us to change us. The transformation of our nature is done by that consciousness. And therefore whatever we do in life receives some benefit, and we automatically transform everything around us, just because we are existing here and now.
When we can really, truly look at ourselves, we see all sorts of resistances, and we see laziness that we didn't realize was there. Often these things are so deep inside that they could have stayed there all of our lives, and we would never have known it if we hadn't made the effort to become more conscious of each moment. When we do this, we move forward out of the things that hold us back. In fact, people have noticed, if we don't keep growing, if we don't keep moving, we stagnate and we get left behind.
While Sri Aurobindo was in retirement, when he went into retirement after November of 1926, he wrote some poems about the inborn need to progress. Here is one that he calls, “The Silver Call”.
The Silver Call
- There is a godhead of unrealised things
- To which Time’s splendid gains are hoarded dross;
- A cry seems near, a rustle of silver wings
- Calling to heavenly joy by earthly loss.
- All eye has seen and all the ear has heard
- Is a pale illusion by some greater voice
- And mightier vision; no sweet sound or word,
- No passion of hues that make the heart rejoice
- Can equal those diviner ecstasies.
- A Mind beyond our mind has sole the ken
- Of those yet unimagined harmonies,
- The fate and privilege of unborn men.
- As rain-thrashed mire the marvel of the rose,
- Earth waits that distant marvel to disclose.
We can see from the last line that he speaks of earth, our earth, which is our physical body – the body which is made up only of earth, earth-elements. Here again, he leads us to the transformation of the last refuge and stronghold of ignorance: physical matter, our physical body.
Mother teaches that we have to die because we cannot keep up with the evolution. Everything is changing, but we, constituted as we are, change more slowly. And the physical body is the last to change.
We have a complex interweaving of resistances that life within us all the time. The more we can purify all of our being, the more we are able to be part of the ongoing changes. And then when we really are part of the ongoing changes of the unfolding of the Divine, then we live in the joy of the unfolding of the Divine in the manifestation.
In that sonnet we just heard, Sri Aurobindo shows us that we can have a future free of what is holding us back, if we can shed old darknesses – which are only things from the past. Sri Aurobindo and Mother teach that today's darknesses once were the light of yesterday. They're only on the way out of the manifest creation. And if we can be free of that, then we can live in what Sri Aurobindo calls the “unimagined harmonies” which are “The fate and privilege of unborn men”.
Since Mother has just said that if we think of something, it is there somewhere – because all of it is in creation – we can see that Sri Aurobindo has thought of these harmonies, and he has been able to write poetry about it already.
He's written another sonnet about the future calling us. About the impossibility of the future, calling us. In this sonnet, he takes us all the way from now to man's full development of consciousness. And he includes the body's transformation into immortality. This sonnet is called, “The Call of the Impossible”.
The Call of the Impossible
- A godhead moves us to unrealised things.
- Asleep in the wide folds of destiny,
- A world guarded by Silence’ rustling wings
- Shelters their fine impossibility:
- But parting quiver the caerulean gates;
- Strange splendours look into our dreaming eyes;
- We bear proud deities and magnificent fates;
- Faces and hands come near from Paradise.
- What shines above, waits darkling here in us:
- Bliss unattained our future’s birthright is,
- Beauty of our dim souls grows amorous,
- We are the heirs of infinite widenesses.
- The impossible is our mask of things to be,
- Mortal the door to immortality.
This class today is quite long, and the first half and second half are on completely different subjects. So we will have it in two parts. The last question in this part asks why some people are intelligent, and other people are not, and why some people can do things which other people cannot do. Mother points out that there is no purpose in having everyone the same. Then she goes behind the question to a hidden motivation, which is a subconscious wish to have what others have and do what others do. She points out that questions like this about other people are really our own complaint about not having everything and doing everything. If we go back to Mother's answer to the first question, we find that it is the same answer for this question. Our feeling about what we cannot do, and what we cannot have, is the beginning of the possibility to do it or have it. It takes whatever effort it's going to take – and we have to make the effort. Elsewhere, Mother has said that all sincere effort always brings a result.
Unfortunately, we don't have the original French tape-recording of Mother's class today. So the class will just end with the English translation.
It's the 12th of December, 1956. Everyone is in the Playground; Mother is seated, she has the book in her hand; the students are sitting close to her, they all have their little book; the ashramites are in the back. And Mother says...
12 December 1956
Straight away we are leaping into the greatest difficulty! I believe this one paragraph alone will be enough for this evening:
- “What I cannot do now is the sign of what l shall do hereafter. The sense of impossibility is the beginning of all possibilities. Because this temporal universe was a paradox and an impossibility, therefore the Eternal created it out of His being.”
Sri Aurobindo, “Thoughts and Glimpses”
Do you know why this seems paradoxical to you? It is simply because Sri Aurobindo has not put in the guide marks of the thought, hasn’t led you step by step from one thought to another. It is nothing else. It is almost elementary in its simplicity.
And I am simply going to ask you a question — but in fact I expect no answer — to tell you something very simple: When does something seem impossible to you? — It is when you try to do it. If you had never tried to do it, it would never have seemed impossible to you.
And how is it that you tried to do it? — Because it was somewhere in your consciousness. If it had not been in your consciousness, you would not have tried to do it; and the moment it is in your consciousness, it is quite obvious that it is something you will realise. That alone which is not in your consciousness you cannot realise. It’s as simple as that!
Only, instead of telling you the thing in this way, Sri Aurobindo puts it in a way that stimulates your thought. That is the virtue of paradoxes, they compel you to think.
- Then, Sweet Mother, what does “impossible” mean?
There is nothing impossible in the world except what is outside your consciousness. And as your consciousness can grow, as what is not in your consciousness today may be in your consciousness after some time, for the consciousness can become wider, so in the eternity of time nothing is impossible.
At the present moment — I have explained this to you once — at the present moment, at a given moment, in certain circumstances, there are impossibilities. But from the eternal point of view in the infinity of time, nothing, nothing is impossible. And the proof is that everything will be. All things, not only those which are conceivable at present, but all those which at present are inconceivable, all things are not only possible, but will be realised. For what we call the Eternal, the Infinite, the Supreme, the Absolute — we give him many names, but in fact He is eternal, infinite, absolute — contains in himself not only all that is, but also all that will be, eternally, infinitely; and therefore nothing is impossible. Only, for the consciousness of the temporal and objective being, all things are not possible at the same time; it is necessary to conceive of space and time to make them possible. But outside the manifestation, everything is, simultaneously, eternally, potentially, in its possibility. And it is this All, inconceivable, for He is not manifest, who manifests in order to become conceivable.
And this is what Sri Aurobindo tells us. This temporal universe, that is, a universe which is unfolding, a universe which does not exist all at the same time at the same place outside time and space, a universe which becomes temporal and spatial, which is successive — for That which is beyond the manifestation it is truly an absurdity, don’t you think so, and a paradox; it is its very contradiction. For the temporal consciousness, it is That which is unthinkable and incomprehensible, and for That, which is incomprehensible to the temporal consciousness, this temporal consciousness is incomprehensible!... We cannot conceive of something which is not in time and space, for we ourselves are in time and space; we attempt an approximation to attain some small understanding of a “Something” which is not expressible and is simultaneously everything, eternally and beyond time. We may try, yes, and we use all sorts of words, but we are not able to understand it unless we go outside time and space. Well, to reverse the problem, for That which is beyond time and space, time and space are something paradoxical and incomprehensible: they don’t exist, they are not there. And Sri Aurobindo says: “Because this temporal universe was a paradox and an impossibility, therefore the Eternal created it out of His being”, that is, He changed his non-existence into existence — if you like to put it humorously, in order to know what it is! For so long as He had not become time and space, He could not know it!
But if we go back to the beginning, then it becomes extremely practical, concrete and very encouraging.... For we say this: in order to have the idea of the impossible, that something is “impossible”, you must attempt it. For example, if at this moment you feel that what I am telling you is impossible to understand (laughing), this means that you are trying to understand it; and if you try to understand it, this means it is within your consciousness, otherwise you could not try to understand it — just as I am in your consciousness, just as my words are in your consciousness, just as what Sri Aurobindo has written is also in your consciousness, otherwise you would have no contact with it. But for the moment it is impossible to understand, for want of a few small cells in the brain, nothing else, it is very simple. And as these cells develop through attention, concentration and effort, when you have listened attentively and made an effort to understand, well, after a few hours or a few days or a few months, new convolutions will be formed in your brain, and all this will become quite natural. You will wonder how there could have been a time when you did not understand: “It is so simple!” But so long as these convolutions are not there, you may make an effort, you may even give yourself a headache, but you will not understand.
It is very encouraging because, fundamentally, the only thing necessary is to want it and to have the necessary patience. What is incomprehensible for you today will be quite clear in a short time. And note that it is not necessary that you should give yourself a headache every day and at every minute by trying to understand! One very simple thing is enough: to listen as well as you can, to have a sort of will or aspiration or, you might even say, desire to understand, and then that’s all. You make a little opening in your consciousness to let the thing enter; and your aspiration makes this opening, like a tiny notch inside, a little hole somewhere in what is shut up, and then you let the thing enter. It will work. And it will build up in your brain the elements necessary to express itself. You no longer need to think about it. You try to understand something else, you work, study, reflect, think about all sorts of things; and then after a few months — or perhaps a year, perhaps less, perhaps more — you open the book once again and read the same sentence, and it seems as clear as crystal to you! Simply because what was necessary for understanding has been built up in your brain.
So, never come to me saying, “I am no good at this subject, I shall never understand philosophy” or “I shall never be able to do mathematics” or... It is ignorance, it is sheer ignorance. There is nothing you cannot understand if you give your brain the time to widen and perfect itself. And you can pass from one mental construction to another: this corresponds to studies; from one subject to another: and each subject of study means a language; from one language to another, and build up one thing after another within you, and contain all that and many more things yet, very harmoniously, if you do this with care and take your time over it. For each one of these branches of knowledge corresponds to an inner formation, and you can multiply these formations indefinitely if you give the necessary time and care.
I do not believe at all in limits which cannot be crossed.
But I see very clearly people’s mental formations and also a sort of laziness in face of the necessary effort. And this laziness and these limits are like diseases. But they are curable diseases — unless you have a really defective cerebral structure and lack something; if something was “forgotten” when you were formed, then it is more difficult. It is much more difficult, but it is not impossible. There are people like that, really incomplete, who are like an ill-made object — logically it would be better if they didn’t continue to exist; but still (laughing) it is not the custom, it is not the ordinary human way of thinking. But if you are a normal person, well, provided you take the trouble and know the method, your capacity for growth is almost unlimited.
There is the idea that everyone belongs to a certain type, that, for example, the pine will never become the oak and the palm never become wheat. This is obvious. But that is something else: it means that the truth of your being is not the truth of your neighbour’s. But in the truth of your being, according to your own formation, your progress is almost unlimited. It is limited only by your own conviction that it is limited and by your ignorance of the true process, otherwise...
There is nothing one cannot do, if one knows how to do it.
I have a question here which is more childish. Someone has asked:
- “Why are some people intelligent and others not? Why can some people do certain things while others can’t?”
It is as though you asked why everybody was not the same! Then it would mean that there would only be one single thing, one single thing indefinitely repeated which would constitute the whole universe.... I don’t know, but it seems to me that it wouldn’t be worth the trouble having a universe for that, it would be enough to have just one thing!
But the moment one admits the principle of multiplicity and that no two things are alike in the universe, how can you ask why they are not the same! It is just because they are not, because no two things are alike.
Behind that there is something else which one is not conscious of, but which is very simple and very childish. It is this: “Since there is an infinite diversity, since some people are of one kind and others of a lesser kind, well” — here of course one doesn’t say this to oneself but it is there, hidden in the depths of the being, in the depths of the ego — “why am I not of the best kind?” There we are. In fact it amounts to complaining that perhaps one is not of the best kind! If you look attentively at questions like this: “Why do some have much and others little?” “Why are some wise and not others? Why are some intelligent and not others?” etc., behind that there is “Why don’t I have all that can be had and why am I not all that one can be?...” Naturally, one doesn’t say this to oneself, because one would feel ridiculous, but it is there.
There then. Now has anyone anything to add to what we have just said?... Have you all understood quite well? Everything I have said? Nobody wants to say...
- (A teacher) Our daily routine seems a little “impossible” to us.
Well, wait a century or two and it will become possible! (Laughter)
You are told that today’s impossibility is the possibility of tomorrow — but these are very great tomorrows!