Psychological Difficulties on the Spiritual Path (Radio program)

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Transcript of:
Psychological Difficulties on the Spiritual Path
by Alok Pandey, 2017 (1:26:48)
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(See videos with better audio: Talk; Q&A)

Introduction from Santé

Denis: So good morning everybody, I am Denis. I have the pleasure to welcome you to Savitri Bhavan. This talk is organized by Entity::Santé Integral Health. I work in Santé as a practitioner in mental disorders, and I help people in getting rid of this kind of problem – which is not so easy, because since the one year I am in Auroville, I have realized that my practice is quite different (I used to practice in France), because of the spiritual aspect of our path.

(Is – you can listen correctly to me? Everything is fine? Maybe you can switch off your cellphone; maybe come, if you'd like to get closer, it would be great.)

So we thought it was a good idea, in Santé, to have a talk on this specific topic, which is how to face... let's say, mental disorders, or trouble of behaviors, with regards to spiritual path. So this talk is very non-academic; we invite Dr. Alok Pandey just to give a talk for maybe 20-30 minutes, and then allow people just to bring their concern. Because sometimes we are all concerned with similar topics, so if sometime when we bring some topic on the table, it could allow other people to get benefits. So thank you for coming, and let's start.

It is good to know what are the challenges of Yoga

Alok Pandey: First of all, a very good morning. And I really appreciate the idea of this talk. I am not aware if this has been taken up earlier, in this way. We talk about Yoga, we talk about ‘the path’, we talk about experiences and meditations, but usually we don't talk about the challenges we meet along the way. And it's good to be aware, because when we are on a journey, a Himalayan trek, it's not enough just to see photographs of the lovely mountains and the lovely lakes – it's also good to know what are the challenges, how to prepare oneself for it. So to that extent it's a very interesting and engaging subject.

Probably it's a whole workshop, because it's a vast and complex area, very subtle. At the same time, as a prelude, I must mention that while we speak about it (Yoga's difficulties and challenges) – we must know that, when we have mental difficulties or psychological difficulties on the spiritual path, we must know that Yoga is an extremely delightful journey. So that we don't start focusing on all these difficulties. It's a wonderful journey. And like any adventure, Mother said it's a real adventure – an adventure in real time and space. So very often people ask about Yoga, talk about Yoga, at least what they feel like expressing is that Yoga takes place in real time – it's not a book journey. Each nature is unique, is different, it has its own past, it has its own future. Therefore every journey is in a sense unique; and yet there are some common issues. Common issues are there because essentially Nature is the same. We talk about ‘my nature’, ‘your nature’, ‘this person's nature’, but it's universal Nature. It's a kind of force-field, and this force-field of creation, as it is today, allows evolution up to a certain point. It doesn't allow us to go further. And there are various kinds of ways, mechanisms, which are in-built, which will help you up to a point, but will not allow you go further. That's how we've been made.

So yogis in the past, they found a way to cut through this whole web of nature. And I'm not getting into how this whole web is constituted, but it's very interesting – the three types of tamasic, rajasic and sattvic (the Trimurti), and how they hold us, bind us, create their own illusions – there are various kinds of illusions (before we talk about the grand illusion that made the stars!). For instance, there's the illusion of knowledge. Reading books, everything, we ’know’ – it's very different from inner experience. There's a illusion of work: people are busy the whole day, and they can very well get into the category ‘Mother's work’: it can lead to accelerated sense of self-importance, ambition, egoism – very contrary to what the Yoga is meant to really create.

Then there's an illusion even of bhakti, that “I am a great bhakta”. And this ego itself can even become a big stumble on the path. So there are many of these things; and as it's a vast and important subject, probably a whole day would be insufficient.

The tendency for initial enthusiasm to wear off

But nevertheless, just to start with, in the 1940s, when a lot of people started coming to the Ashram – partly because of the World War, then the school had started – the Mother gave a message, a wonderful reading. And I really suggest that it should almost be given as a handout (at one point of time, it used to be given). And it's called “An advice to newcomers”. Very often it's good to remember that we're all newcomers – because we're all the time scaling new heights. So we become a newcomer at every level. And the beauty of this note is that it really applies right through.

On Education
An International University Centre
(See #3: “Advice to Newcomers”)

On Education - An International University Centre.jpg
PDF (9 pages)

And the Mother describes a very interesting phenomenon, which I'm sure many of us are familiar with: that when people come to take up the Yoga, they are full of enthusiasm – everything appears wonderful: the dining room food is the tastiest food, all the people appear holy and saintly, and everything is just super! But as things go by, she says, the same food begins to appear as tasteless, and one begins to start complaining; the same people who appeared so saintly, one begins to see through them – “this man I thought as saintly, but look how angry he gets! And how absurd she is...”, and so on and so forth.

And she says that they end up complaining and grudging, and eventually concentrated only on themselves. And she describes something very interesting. She says that then they start drawing words, quotations from Mother and Sri Aurobindo to justify their own way of life. For instance, to worry about the body is very natural and inbuilt in the human organism. But here the worry takes a spiritual coloring (I am just giving one example). “Ah, Mother has said that the yoga of transformation is ultimately physical.” So one gets focused on the body and the bodily needs, and is so focused about it, sometimes it can go to fads, and can go into all kinds of fantastic things that, you know, people do – just to take care of the body. Whereas, deep inside, there is fear.

Once I met a person during my practice who came and said, “You know, this is a yoga meant for me.” I said, “Wonderful, this is very good! But what brought you to yoga?” He said something very interesting, he said: “Basically it's the only yoga which can grant immortality.” So one becomes very cautious, when one hears such things (!). So I said, “Yes, immortality, fine – but what do you mean by that?” He said, “I am very afraid of death. Every night I sleep, I am afraid of death. So, I thought, this is the only yoga which can grant me immortality – so that's why I've taken to yoga.”

So I had to remind that Mother says that before we even become a candidate for immortality, we become completely free of all fear of death. So it is a paradox. If one is afraid of death, one is not a candidate for immortality.

So there are many such things. And so she gives us a very interesting solution – but we'll read that solution toward the end. Let's first face the problem, and start from there.

Be clear about why you are doing Yoga

So in another place, she says something very interesting: in the very beginning of a conversation, this [April 7, 1929] the very first Conversations of the Mother. That's the time when she would (a few of them would) come out of the Ashram, go to different places, a group of disciples would sit together. And they would give questions and she would give answers. So she is asked, “Tell us something about Yoga.” Very interestingly, Mother starts with this: “The first question you have to answer is why do you come to Yoga.” And then she makes it very clear: to satisfy ambition; sometimes it is vanity – ‘ah, yogi is a big guy these days, yogi means big business’. Thankfully she has done away with some of those illusionary things, like putting a ‘Swami’ prefix and ‘ananda’ suffix, because it gives you a grand illusion that “Ah, I'm already a Siddhar!”

In every Ashram, you have the same challenges! It is not an easy thing to, you know, go through Nature. Even to cut through nature in traditional yoga requires intense, intense focus and concentration. Look at Ramana Maharshi – years and years of meditation and concentration, before one can cut through. And one such person who has cut through can help, but even then, it's not simple and easy for the disciples. All this for traditional yoga; think of the yoga of transformation, where the pressure and the work is far greater. It's not just an inner experience, but also outer nature must change – which is where the seat of difficulties lie. It's not just moderating nature, but it's transformation. It's not just individual yoga, but a collective yoga. Because each of us represents the challenges of everybody else. She says that, like in the Ashram context (and I'm sure that this applies) – she says “Well, in the Ashram there are very few people who are really doing the Yoga.” “Acha. What about the others?” “They're giving the experience of the world to those who are doing the Yoga.” (Laughter)

Strange. So what happens to them? “Well, they receive anyways the gifts of those who are doing the Yoga.” It's very interesting. Some do the Yoga, and everyone receives – like in a temple, we have the prasadam. So some people do the puja, some people do the whole ritual, but everybody right down to the outermost person receives the gift of the puja. So it's a collective yoga, making it even more challenging and engaging.

So she says, first be clear why you want to do yoga. Any ambition is very, very dangerous. She says it is hidden like a canker, like a worm inside the fruit. And it will show up one day. One of the worst kinds of ambitions, very subtle – the ego has many masks – is like, “I'm doing Mother's work. I'm a great instrument of the Mother.” Or simply, “I am a sadhak,” so now I'm a different category. “I'm eligible for a VIP pass.” “I can have free entry everywhere.” You know, there's so many ways! And I'm sure in Auroville we have this experience – this state is challenged by everybody around. So you want to walk into the Ashram, and suddenly somebody will ask you, out of the blue, “Gate pass. Who are you?”

It's a very good opportunity, actually. If we are vigilant we can make a progress. But sometimes these are the small things where the ego gets hurt. “Oh, he doesn't know me? So many years I have been coming here, he doesn't know who I am?” So we have lost an opportunity. So like that, she says, in the beginning, be very clear about why we are doing the Yoga. And very beautifully she says, “Yoga is done for the sake of the Divine”. Wanting the Divine for the sake of the Divine – that's the straight road. All other things, even yoga for wanting knowledge, for power, for helping humanity, are side-roads. And side-roads are side-roads; eventually one connects at some point, but through a lot of difficulties, because it's a side-road. That's what Sri Aurobindo says in one of his very interesting letters, he says: “I entered the Supermind through the back door. The Mother went through the front door.”

It's amazing – how did he go through the back door? Because he wanted to take up yoga so that he could have power to liberate the country. Look at this – that's how he engages with yoga. And he calls it the back door; because through various twists and turns, and above all Grace, he is led into it. But Mother, when we read the writings of the Mother, her Prayers – so straight, so direct. “O supreme Love, teach me to be an instrument of Love.” Just giving, giving, giving oneself – that's the biggest safety.

So the first thing she says, “Why do you want to do Yoga? It's a fire that will burn. So don't touch it unless you are ready to give yourself.” And giving oneself means... sounds very nice, “Oh, I only have to give myself!” Satyajit Ray, the famous film-maker, had come to the Ashram. He had met Sri Aurobindo, and he wanted to live in the Ashram. So he told some sadhak, “Look, I like it, I want to live here, but I have a big problem.” “So what is the problem?” He said, “What about the career?” He was keen to make a career in films. He said, “I am also pulled by the career. What about my career?” So the sadhak replied, “This is very simple. The moment you join the Ashram you will be given a ‘career’ – first thing!” You know: the tiffen carrier (gesture). “It's very simple!” (Laughter) In all earnest he didn't know what is a career, what did it mean to make a career outside. But these are things which pull us.

And if we engage into Yoga with these things veiled inside, they will show up one day. And it can be a big disaster. So sometimes these things are tackled in the beginning – it is much better if they are tackled at the beginning, than when they come later on.

Hidden things in our nature will be brought out

In the Gita, Sri Aurobindo says that why did Arjuna develop all this attachment, before the war? And Sri Aurobindo gives a very unique and novel revelation, which we find nowhere. He says it was Sri Krishna who brought out these things. Hari – why did he bring out attachment and all these things? He says that it was hidden in his nature, and had he not brought it out at that moment, he would have suffered in the middle of the war, and it would have been a disaster. So many times these things come out of our nature; there are plenty of things hidden which we don't know, because we live in a very small zone – and in that small zone, it's like ‘me’ and ‘mine’, and ‘I am good and everybody else is bad’. Or ‘those who flatter me are very good people, and those who criticize me are the worst creatures on earth! They are living in falsehood...’

You know, Mother speaks of this; she says, “People come and tell me...” (this is regarding a message, where people speak of Truth). And she says, “People come and tell me, ‘Mother, why don't you stand for truth?’” She said, “What do you mean?” He said, “No, no – that person is eating non-vegetarian food, somebody else is having an affair, and they're all in falsehood – you don't stop them!” And Mother says, “You know, they all have their shibboleths. Some about food, some about this; and they think they are in truth, and all others are in falsehood.” And then she says, “Not once, not once are they willing to see that this could just be their own opinion, nothing else. Truth has nothing to do with all this – it's so vast, so far.” And then she laughs and she says, “What can I do, I told them, ‘Cling to Truth’!” She laughs about it. And she says, “I only told them; but I should have told them that ‘Truth is not your own opinion. Truth is not what you believe it to be. It's something very different’.”

So one of the first things that she cautions in that same conversation is that – the person asked, “What do we do to prepare for Yoga”. And I think that's a very important thing, because she says, “Be conscious”. I think this simple thing can save us from a lot of things – just to be conscious. And one way to become conscious is, of course, reading – it's a very indirect way, but I think it's also important. This is something which I find very often (at least in the Ashram context) that's missing. Because one takes for granted that ‘now I have come, I have joined the Ashram (or ’I have joined Auroville’), therefore I know everything about Yoga’. One is carrying a lot of notions, but one does not realize that these are just my notions: maybe I read some books, maybe I read about traditional yoga, maybe they are just some suggestions in my mind, and therefore I believe.

What is important and what is unimportant

There's a conversation of Mother about the Supramental Ship, and she said that “When I saw the supramental standpoint, I laughed and laughed and laughed”. So the disciple laughed, “Why, what happened?” She said, “I realized that many things that people consider important from the traditional point of view have no importance at all from the supramental standpoint.” So she asked, “What do you mean?” “For example, in India there is this idea of ascetic purity. It has no importance.”

People tie themselves into knots after knots; I have seen people having this guilt that they cannot get up at 4 o'clock. It's amazing, these kinds of things can really knock us down, sap our energy, just struggling against an unreal difficulty. Already there are enough challenges. But struggling against difficulties which are self-created.

And then she speaks also about sanctity of marriage. And then [the disciple] asks, “Then look, what is the supramental standpoint?” She said, “It's not moral, but psychological.” It doesn't mean being immoral. But she says, the psychological standpoint is wideness, plasticity, and equanimity. And I think that's a wonderful base. One of the first practices, if you see one of the first books that came out from the Ashram, was Bases of Yoga, which are primarily letters of Sri Aurobindo. The very fist chapter is “Calm – Peace – Equanimity”. It is the foundation. We can't have anything without this foundation.

And we have countless opportunities to practice calm, peace, equanimity when the lights are not there. India is meant for yoga – you will have plenty of opportunities to practice equanimity: go out in the traffic and you cannot navigate unless you have that equanimity, no? Because nothing is in order (!). There are holes, there are narrow roads, there are suddenly wide roads by nobody follows the system... so for yoga it is very good. I mean, because one has to practice. Somebody will say something which is very insulting. When somebody asked Mother, “So-and-so insults me very much, what should I do?” And Mother didn't say, “Oh, I will call him, I will write a letter, he shouldn't behave like this.” She instead told this gentleman that, “Look, it is the ego that gets insulted; the soul never feels any insult.” So that was the end of the story.

The cushion of divine Love

So everything is such an opportunity when we become conscious. So (1) is reading; (2) is applying it. And she also cautions that it's easy to be careful and conscious when there are big issues. But very difficult to notice the small pebbles on the way – and that's where one stumbles. A casual remark; nowadays we have WhatsApp and message, and you know, it is enough to derail the whole process. And this of course is an everyday thing, where we have a cushion, and we bounce back.

But sometimes this derailment can take very serious expressions. I have seen people and it's very – initially I used to find it very strange. That somebody who has lived 40 years, 50 years, suddenly goes into a state of despair and depression. And when you ask, if you probe it further on what: “Oh, I can't achieve what I came to achieve”. It is setting the cart before the horse. Yoga is not an achievement; you know a typical CEO sets a target: “finish this task by so-and-so date. Cut-off date.” It's not an achievement! The Yoga is all about giving; so the only achievement is how much I could give. How much is still left to be given. Have I given my thoughts, have I given my feelings – then one's treading on a very safe territory. But if one is trying to achieve – you know, like comparisons, ambitions, that ‘so-and-so has this experience; I don't have it. When will I have the experience?’ (Laughter).

The only experience worthwhile is ultimately the experience of love. It's a very powerful experience. And if one can have it, all else is contained in it.

This is a cushion; Mother speaks about it, that one has many falls. And one rises. There are various reasons for it. There's the subconscient which pulls us; there's the blind, driven inertia, it doesn't allow us to go beyond a certain point. Then there is all kinds of things which will enter from all sides into the mind, as suggestions. And all these difficulties which lead to the up-and-down movement of the sadhana (very beautifully described in Savitri). And yet there's a cushion, which prevents us from breaking our bones. And she says very beautifully: that cushion is divine Love. She says it's a mattress, below you.

We don't practice judo and karate without this mattress. So when the mattress is there, it springs us back, it absorbs the whole thing. When this mattress is not there, when one is all relying on oneself – tapasya, tapasya, tapasya – then one advances, but the moment one leaves that, it's all gone. So she speaks of becoming conscious; which means to be vigilant about what is happening inside us.

Vigilance in the right way

Now this vigilance can be of two kinds (there also she makes it very interesting). One is vigilance where we discover something, and it creates an opportunity for progress, and we progress. This can happen with practically any movement – literally any movement. I mean there are letters to Sri Aurobindo; someone has written that “in such a state (maybe while walking in a market, or lying on a bed), I suddenly had this experience”. And Sri Aurobindo has ratified it, “Yes.” “How could I have had it in this condition?” And Sri Aurobindo says why, what is the reason. (I am not going into the details of the letter; its a famous letter by Eleanor Montgomery – those who are interested can find it. She was a fashion designer in New York.)

But on the other hand, there's just the opposite: we become vigilant in the sense that we develop a very critical attitude toward ourselves. And the Mother has used the word for it as ‘censors’. Censors tag along – they are like tags: the moment we start the journey, some censors get attached to us. And she says that even with her – she says, “right from my birth, they were attached to me, and it took me a long time to shake it off.” And what is the task of these censors? They will... very often when people talk about ‘voice of the soul’, they are not speaking of soul but of conscience. Conscience is a construct of the mind; it's not the voice of the soul. So they become very conscientious, and for every small thing they start developing guilt. These censors keep pointing: ‘you are wrong; you're bad’. Which in Indian tradition use the word ‘tamasic ego’. Where we are still concentrated upon myself. When I say “I am bad”, it's still me. When I say “I am worthless”, it's still me. When I say “I am useless”, still me. “I am unfit” – still me. So none of us can be fit by our own efforts. Repeatedly Sri Aurobindo and the Mother remind us that it is the Grace which makes us fit.

So again when people come to the Ashram, sometimes they come and ask, “What is it like here?” You see, like any new country you go, you should know the basic rules of the country. If you know the rules, you are safe. So they ask, “What are the rules of living here?” So sometimes we give them the standard rules, even in a booklet – you know, they are not the basic rules. The fundamental rule is what Sri Aurobindo gave in the beginning. And the rule is that “This place belongs to Mother. Refer everything to her. Do not hide anything from her. Offer everything to her – then you are safe.” If you forget that, then it's dangerous, because this is the rule here! Sri Aurobindo gave it so beautifully, the foremost rule that he ever gave to a sadhak. And after that, Mother would say, “I am not in the habit of giving rules; I don't like to give rules.” So that rule is so beautiful; it's called as a ‘Golden Rule’. And that rule is simply: always behave as if the Mother is looking at you – because she is indeed always present.

Such a simple rule! Enough to transform our lives.

Because under the pressure of transformation, many things will emerge. This is a tremendous challenge, especially in fields like Auroville, in the Ashram, there's a tremendous pressure for transformation. People sometimes don't realize, and very often people ask me, “Look, we thought in the Ashram everybody would be so peaceful, look at me...” There are people who have cried, sitting at the Guest House – there was a gentleman who was from the Army. And Army people are very fond of narrating their war tales. So at the Ashram reception desk of a guest house, this person was narrating: “I am a Colonel So-and-so, in this war...” And this fellow, like a typical reception guy, after awhile said, “Okay, okay, okay. You don't have to narrate all these stories.” He was shocked! He came – he knew me – he was in tears! He said, “What kind of Ashram is this?” I said, “Look at it this way: this was your entry pass. If you can go through this test, you will be admitted. If you can't bear this...”

You know, it's an intense pressure of the sun. The same sun which gives us warmth, is such a pleasant sun today. Now as the heat grows, when sadhana is in its intensity, the same sun you feel, “Oh, my God, I wish I had a cooling shade”. Or as they say here, “...cooling glasses”. Cooling glasses, what? “I don't want to see all this. It is good to have something dark over the eyes.” Because it is difficult. As as we go nearer and nearer it becomes more and more difficult, because many things hidden in the nature begin to come out. If we get into that state of ’censor’, we end up in despair.

But Mother gives us a very simple way. Sri Aurobindo gave a way of rejection – rejection is not easy. Heroic souls can do it. But when Mother was asked, she said, “More than rejection, what helps is offering.” So to keep offering, to keep offering. Everything that comes out, without shame, without guilt: they sap away all our energies. Shame and guilt and depression – they're not helping. One of the signs that one is really getting close anywhere is peace and joy in the heart. A very simple barometer.

Often people ask, “What are the stages of this yoga?” Well, two fundamental stages: if you have peace and joy in the heart, you are on the course, wherever you are going. But if that is missing, or when we think we are struck with agitation, anger, sadness – it's time to take a re-look inside. And then we very often take the attitude of ‘so-and-so is bad’, ‘everybody's bad’, begin to complain, get angry. Where as ultimately we have to look inside... not with this attitude that ‘I am bad’ – no. One has to separate from nature, that “well, these movements are within me. And I am seeing the world what is inside me.” It's a very simple test. And she speaks about it, this projection as a mechanism. (In psychology we use the word ‘projection’.) And very often I see this, commonly. At least in the Ashram context, one of the commonest defense mechanisms is projection. So whatever is inside, people immediately see it in others. And become hyper-critical.

But whereas, one has to look inside. But not look inside like, ‘I am this’. It's a very subtle surgery. ‘This difficulty is in nature; I am not this difficulty. But this is given to me for work.’ It's like when I come to an office, it's my workplace, I have to do a work; if it is dirty, it has to be cleaned. But this is not my home. My home is here inside (touches chest), which is a beautiful space. So this (touches table) is nature, and this (touches chest) is me.

Detachment and humility

So one of the fundamental practices which Sri Aurobindo speaks of is detachment. Just like peace and equanimity, to detach oneself from this movement of nature. Detachment is not from others, and shutting oneself into a shell of ‘I am doing yoga’. You see, again, it's a wonderful thing, detachment – but this can be taken to be that ‘I isolate myself’; and when people (would say) ‘like’ you, they wouldn't use the word ‘like’. But they would say, “now I am not stepping out”. There were people who would want not to go to the dining room – “food has to be supplied there.” “Why?” “Because we are engaged in intense Yoga.” So when this was asked to Sri Aurobindo, he said: more likely than not, it is likely to take your mind into strange subjective lands.

You know, we know about this challenge called the ‘intermediate zone’. There are immense forces in the creation, we are not aware – which do not want us to go one step further. And they create all kinds of illusions. And one of the common things is experiences.

So I remember a small little story; one there was – in Delhi we used to go and read at a center, a relic center. (Just a few minutes more we'll take; then we'll open it for interaction.) So there was a course – a course in some healing (I am not going to put the prefix – we all can understand!). See, this healing, there was a master who was giving a basic training, which involved some 2,000 rupees. (This about 15 years back, or 20 years back.) Then for the next level, you had to pay 5,000. Next level, 10,000. So these people who had just come, new entrant, 2,000 rupees – and one of them (we all heard, we were reading and we used to wonder: what is happening?). So one of them is telling this master: “Yesterday, while I was doing this practice, I saw an orange light.” And he tells a little more loudly, “Yes, yes, now you have seen the supramental.” I am telling you first-hand. And we didn't know whether to laugh, or... whether to share it, or speak about it!

This kind of yoga is not a, like, cake-walk. As I said, it takes place in real time. It is through many forests, uncharted territories, jungles – and that's why one has to be a Samurai, when one goes through it. This is very important. Like a warrior. And that's why Mother would say: if you cannot take the issues of normal life, it's more difficult to go through the much greater, tougher practice of Yoga. Because here the battle is inside, with an unseen enemy. And the name of the enemy is, ‘me’! Ego.

See, it's a strange enemy! And he invites all kind of beings from all over creation. We use terms like ‘adverse forces’, ‘hostile forces’, but they are all creatures of creation. And it wants to strengthen itself. People get these suggestions: “I am very special”. They don't speak about it. “I am an advanced yogi.” “I am a sadhak of Integral Yoga – a special person.” Now these are suggestions which one has to be very, very careful, and counter. They take various forms (and I am not going into it) – many masks it can wear. And keep on offering... what saves, she says, one thing is humility. Humility – not before others, that “yes, I am nobody and nothing”. That's again an aggrandizement. But humility that before the Divine, before the infinite, what can anything be? I mean the whole creation is nothing but a small pebble, a grain of dust, before Hari.

In Savitri Sri Aurobindo describes, “The whole world lives in a lonely ray of her sun.” (p.276) Whole creation – it's nothing. And the state he has also described in Savitri, where she [Savitri's Jivatman] said, “Arcturus and Belphegor grains of fire / Circling in a corner of its boundless self, / The world’s destruction a small transient storm” (p.537). The burning of galaxies. What is it?

Releasing the energy of love on what troubles us

So this self-importance we give – that should be out. Humility, like vigilance. And then of course, sincerity – just to recognize, before that just a basic honesty, that ‘look, it is there’. And sometimes, to release the energy of love on these things... I had a strange experience; the place where I am living nowadays, everybody told, “there are ghosts here”, and this and that. I said, “Ok. All Mother's children are super ghosts.” So, you know – if we can handle human beings, we can handle ghosts! They are easy creatures. They are not difficult fellows. Human beings are the difficult fellows.

So sure enough, within 2-3 days I started getting all these fellows coming, while I am sleeping. So I said, “what is this nonsense?” So one day – there was a tree there (gesture). I just had a feeling that this is where they're lodging. So I stood by the side of the tree, and I said, “Look, I don't mean to trouble all of you. You guys are nice guys, and I know you are very troubled. Please, peace be on you. And all that I can say is that I love you and that Mother loves you. And she will take you in her embrace.” And in the meditation hall, I told the Mother, “Mother, there are some very troubled creatures there, full of...” You know, because they are troubled, they are going and troubling everybody. So, “Ma, please take them in your embrace. I'm sure they are in your embrace, but I'm just reminding your love for them.” And believe me, from next day, everything was gone.

It was such a wonderful and simple way. And I thought, “Why can't I do it with human beings, who trouble us?” And I thought, yeah, this is a good way. When people are very angry at us – sometimes they get angry. And it's ok, we shouldn't take these things so seriously. She said it so beautifully, she has said: bitterness is on the surface; in the heart there is always love. It's a surface thing, it's ok. People live in the ego. She says if you work on yourself, you discover – you have a sunny tolerance towards others. A generosity. Because you know, it's not easy. People react, but deep inside, there's love.

So to release this energy of love: “It's ok, I know you're angry, it's fine.” How does one treat a child? One doesn't become cross and say, “I am never going to speak to you.” Sometimes it happens – it's fine. That's life. And to offer to that person peacefully to the Mother, that (softly) “Ma, he is so disturbed. He was so angry with me.” But instead we go and say, (harshly) “Mother, I am so angry, this fellow!... Please – he should not be here anymore.” Let's pray for his peace, her peace and everybody's peace. And that comes in this little passage I'll read, and then we will open for interaction.

To rely only on the psychic

So, how does it come? She gives us a master remedy. This is I am now connecting with the very first passage that we spoke about. People come, they are full of joy, enthusiasm, everything is wonderful; and then later on, they start complaining and grudging. It's a strange phenomenon. We should be full of peace and joy, more and more! But it happens otherwise. And she says it's because the old nature comes back. It doesn't leave us. Only for a moment we have entered in that beatific state – there's a part in us which has been called. But man's nature is extremely complex. After some time, that other part comes in and says, “Why are we not getting rasgulla in the dining room?” That's it. Now what to do? Initially it was all surrender: “I have surrendered myself.” Now it is, “Where is the rasgulla, my favorite one?”

So ‘rasgulla’ can take many forms, you know – it can take the form of a simple sweetmeat, to comforts, to human relationships, to anything. So “where is my share of rasgulla?” – old nature comes back, with all its demands. And there she says:

“You might well ask, what is the remedy for this state of affairs?”[1]

What is this state of affairs? :

“Taking support from Sri Aurobindo’s teaching that the body is an indispensable basis for the yoga, that it should not be neglected and that, on the contrary, great care should be given to it, the physical consciousness concentrates almost exclusively on the body and tries to find ways of satisfying it. This is practically impossible, for, with a very few exceptions, the more it is given, the more it demands. Besides, the physical being is ignorant and blind; it is full of false notions...”

(Here she is speaking of our entire physical nature.)

“...preconceived ideas, prejudices and preferences. Indeed, it cannot deal effectively with the body. Only the psychic consciousness has the knowledge and the insight needed to do the right thing in the right way.”

So she says, what is the remedy?

“For here we are going round in a vicious circle...”

And if we get caught in this circle, there is no end to it.

“...since the whole trouble comes from drawing away from the psychic and only the psychic can find the solution to the problems. There is consequently only one remedy: be on your guard, hold fast to the psychic, do not allow anything in your consciousness to slip in between your psychic and yourself, close your ears and your understanding to all other suggestions and rely only on the psychic.”[2]

There are plenty of such suggestions. One last story: you know, __ji, some people have seen him sometimes, with Parkinson's disease, still with the [wheelchair] – he has even come to Savitri Bhavan, to attend the talk. He could not walk. He had advanced stage of Parkinson's; but still, somehow (of course people helped him), he managed to come – that kind of will. So he was a professor in economics, and a very highly educated person. So when he came, Mother gave him work in the dining room. For washing, and these things. Later on he became the in-charge. So someone asked him, “What is it? You are such a learned person – don't you think it's wrong that you have been given this kind of work? You would be wonderful in teaching!” So he said, “No, Mother knows what is best for my progress. I need this for my progress.” This is a psychic state.


So I'll just give a break here; and as I said it's a very vast and complex subject. I'm sure there are many issues which have not been touched (but just a broad overview), which we hope to touch if there is interaction, comments, suggestions. It need not be our own issue; it can be some issue which we observe. I mean – I must say these issues are with everybody. Everybody faces these challenges. It's not unique to one person.

Sexuality and human love

For example, one of the difficulties which I think I didn't touch (to just open up), is the sexual difficulty. This is another big challenge in Yoga. And people face it. It's not that suddenly everybody is a Siddhar – each one goes in his own way. It's a path where one has to offer, and offer, and offer. Sometimes a particular difficulty can come back a thousand times. A thousand times one has to aspire to be lifted up. It goes from mind, it takes root in the vital; it goes from vital, it remains in the physical; goes from the physical, remains in the environing consciousness. Goes from there, remains in the subconscient nature. So that's why it's a long process, this yoga of transformation. And there are different ways.

Somebody asked Mother: “We are supposed to love only the Divine. So what if human love comes in our way?” She gave a very interesting answer: “The best way is to go through it.” She said if you can learn to love unselfishly, in the true way, without expectations, without desires, then you will end up discovering this divine Love which is at the core of everything. Whereas people take the other way: they block all possibility of any kind of love; and she says they become very harsh, and the energy of love remains locked. And she says sometimes it takes many years, sometimes lives, to recover this energy. It's so strange.

Whereas if you take it in the other way, going through life in a very conscious and a true way – not ‘wanting things’, but things will come in the course of nature. Mother and Sri Aurobindo never advise us like psychoanalysts to ‘raise’ things – no. They will come. They are inevitable. Because that's how nature is. But when they come, to face it in the true way: equanimity, offering – and then the whole energy gets transformed. Into a real power. It's a gain – a gain from the forces of darkness who are holding it.

That's how the Vedas describe: the dialogue between Sarama, the Hound of Heaven, and the Panis. They have taken the cattle, the herd of the sun. (This is a myth even in Greece.) And they are holding it captive inside the caves of darkness. That's how it is. They are energies, which have been held captive by the darkness. So we take one of the two attitudes: either “oh it's gone, gone, let's not go and touch that area”, and sometimes we even block to this energy, and it remains captured. Or else we just completely deny it. But to release it from there is described in the Vedas, this process. And that comes when we see it, acknowledge it, offer it, invoke the higher consciousness, above all the grace and love to transform it. Then this is so much allegiance – they change sides. And it's an added gain of yoga.

[‘Death’ sounds like ‘test’]

(Edwin:) You're the very first person I've ever come across to mention about ‘death’ within 5 minutes. I give talks in many countries, for conferences, and the word ‘death’ never appears. We are so terribly afraid. And I think if we were more confronted within ourselves with death, we would have a few problems only.
You mentioned about an experience – in Latin, ‘peril’. The root is ‘peril’. We're all afraid of new experiences, because fear comes up. And an accident – a dog ran into my motorbike, in January; I hurt my shoulder terribly. I checked with [Louise Hay's] Heal Your Body – the shoulder means ‘fear of change’. It's correct. I was afraid of change – like everyone else.
And then ‘love’. In Chinese, ‘love’ is so beautiful: ‘I take my heart and put it into your hands’. Isn't that nice?
And the second one, especially for the man: to remember to go slowly. Thank you very much.

Yes, just one small word on the word ‘test’ (because thanks – you reminded me of it). Something I come across, people often say that “Mother is testing us”; repeatedly, repeatedly she has reminded us the Divine never tests us. Because he knows us. He is on our side. He is there to give us grace marks! Test is done by cosmic forces. And there are three kinds of forces: universal Nature (which won't allow us to cross their barrier); then adverse and hostile forces; and the third is spiritual and divine forces. It's very interesting – all these three will test us.

Champaklal's Treasures, p.106
(“Three groups of examiners...”)

Champaklals Treasures - Three groups of examiners.jpg
PDF (1 page)

Universal movements are all the movements which are ‘natural’ to us. And they have to be changed. They say, “Well, maybe, we are not sure.” “Are you sure you want to change?” So you have to persist, catch hold, explain to them, tell them that “look, it's something wonderful.”

Those who want to read about it in detail, Mother gives an experience in 1958. It's a message of the Mother: material nature accepting the new consciousness.

Questions and Answers 1957-1958
January 1, 1958

Questions and Answers 1958-01-01.jpg
PDF (2 pages)
        Questions and Answers 1957-1958
Appendix: Explanation of the New Year Message

Questions and Answers 1958-01-01 Appendix.jpg
PDF (2 pages)

So they take some time, but eventually they are ready.

Then the adverse forces will press upon the forces of universal Nature, and accelerate it. “Oh, I am a useless person, I am full of these things.” Actually, everybody is full of these things (!), but not ‘full’ in that sense. So she advised not to focus too much on difficulties (that's why I said in the prelude, the main thrust of sadhana should be positive. 70-80% should be to cultivate peace, calm, aspiration, equanimity, joy, light, surrender, devotion – all positive things. Whereas 20-30%, or where one encounters that, yes, one engages.

And then of course hostile forces – hostile attacks are typically: there is a sudden sense of despair, feeling that life is not worth it, even a death wish. Depression which is abnormal in kind, a lot of crying, confusion in the mind... people have wandered away and done all kinds of strange things. Someone has started hearing voices, and has had a complete breakdown – then one is in the grip. And there are instances, people who have been sent away from Ashram. The famous case of Triputi, incidentally, because he was one of the pillars chosen to incarnate Faith. And he had a breakdown, he had to be sent away. Because Ashram, Auroville, they are very intense energy fields. Sometimes going away for sometime helps. Because just being around this force-field, one continues to experience it, that pressure.

So when he went away, he would say, “I have heard your voice, you are calling me.” So Sri Aurobindo would wire, “No, I am telling you not to come.” “No, but inside you are telling me to come, outwardly you are testing me by writing ‘don't come’.” So Sri Aurobindo is writing, “I am not telling you a lie, I am telling you the truth. Don't listen to these suggestions and voices; listen to what I am telling you.” “No, no, I know your play. The real play is inside.” So! Hostile forces can completely derail the whole process. A real adventure. And that's why she says vigilance, humility, surrender – all these are very helpful to go through. (Not surrender to the hostile forces, of course, but surrender to the Divine. Which means a dynamic surrender.)

The third test comes from spiritual and divine forces. They can give us those sidekicks of sadhana, sudden experiences, and aggrandize us. Sometimes even there can be beings of a higher world who can come and fuse. And one can very well be carried away. One can become ‘guru’ – all kinds of things, which are real dangers of yoga.

So there are various kinds of tests, but fortunately for us, Mother is on our side of the sea. She carries us if we allow her to, safe. And wherever necessary – because it's attacks of night, they will test us. They will ask the tax – you can't be allowed just to have a free walk, on the toll. So just to take an example, for serving (Army) persons, in defense forces, you're not allowed tax on the toll gate. So when people went in a car and there was somebody from the Army or Air Force, they would flash their identity card, and so they are allowed to go free. So Divine Mother is like that (!). So we are traveling in our car, and suddenly the night asks, “Tax.” So she gives it on our behalf: “Take it, and let him pass.”

So we still have to go through the toll and the test and the tax, but is so much less. That's what ‘sunlit path’ means: it doesn't mean no difficulties. It means going through difficulties in such a way that you don't feel it; others feel, “oh my God, such a big difficulty, poor fellow.” But this poor fellow is enjoying, because he is experiencing the Mother's grace and protection.

So thank you for bringing out this element of ‘test’. The Divine never tests us. He protects us, rather.

How to help someone who is not connected to the Mother and the Yoga?

(Friedericke:) I'm wondering, if someone is not connected to the Mother and the Yoga but is living here – maybe by birth, or by other circumstances – and comes in a state of being troubled, being really deeply confused, and also creating a lot of confusion in his surroundings. So I'm really wondering what to do; because I can't come with ‘Mother’, I can't come with phrases...

I understand.

I can only of course look for my own integrity, and try to...

That's true.

...stay centered. But really, what is the remedy for somebody who is so troubled, and so lost, and wind up in stories which we are sometimes having?

So one simple remedy of course – or rather we can speak of 2-3 remedies, which will be done simultaneously. See, it's not about somebody having faith, or connected to the Mother. It's understood that not everybody is blessed with faith. It's a special grace. Love for the Divine is the rarest of rare treasure; if one has it, treasure it. If one doesn't have it, well, you can't cultivate it – can't force somebody and say, “Have love for the Mother!” If it is there, it is a treasure. And there are people who would find it difficult, even those who are seekers – they may have doubts. They may not believe that yes, Mother is really Divine, but they are drawn to a certain ideal. All kids of things are possible. But those who are connected with them, I am speaking of that: they still know that, “Well, whether we have the idea or not, the light is there.” And therefore those who are connected can pray to the Mother, and thereby direct her gaze onto this person.

There is an interesting letter of Sri Aurobindo where there is a boy who was undergoing epileptic fits. And Sri Aurobindo has said that epileptic fits are because there is an occult influence from other worlds, vital worlds. And when it tries to enter a person, and the person resists, there is a fit. When it possesses, then there is a change in personality – what we call a psychosis. But actually this pressure creates epileptic fits. So [the father of the boy] says, “Sir, if you can send your force...” [Sri Aurobindo:] “He is not open to me, but he is open to you. You sit near him and invoke me.”

So I have seen this kind of things happening. Those who really love the person, or who are connected – to invoke, to pray. Maybe near the person; it helps. Of course one has to strike a balance, because being attached to the person, knowing the person, having love for the person, is one thing; entering into sympathy is another thing. Entering into sympathy with somebody who has gone into a state of confusion can be dangerous. This also Sri Aurobindo cautions. Because the whole thing comes into us, and we don't know how to handle ourselves. So first of all it should be done like there is a disclaimer always below: “These turns are done by those who are experts.”

On going away for a time

So it's important to keep offering the person, but always these things should be done in a state of nishkam karma. We don't know really what is the destiny. Maybe the destiny eventually is to go away and come back through a larger cycle. What do we understand what is best for the person? And everything is possible – it's a real adventure. So maybe it is best for the person to go away. And just the simplest of advice: I have seen people who have been almost magically, miraculously, they have felt much relieved just by going away. Which is paradoxical, because people say, “When the person went there, Ashram, what happened, he became crazy! But moving away he's so nice.” I said, “Yes, we know about it, it's all right.” I mean, near the sun is not easy to live. And being __ is, you know, a lot more soothing. So it may be best advice to say, “Take a break, go away, maybe to the Himalayas, nice healing energies. To Nepal, or some place where there is a quieter energy. And more peaceful energy.”

...Peace of a certain kind. Here there is dynamic peace. Intensely dynamic peace, even in the Ashram. But there is a pacifist peace – like if you go to Tiruvannamalai, you feel a quietness, but more of a withdrawal kind. Here there is a very dynamic peace, very intense. And Mother would send people sometimes away. A lot of people were sent away.

And of course if one has lost a complete balance, there's no harm in taking help even from, maybe, even medically. Or sometimes people get very scared. That is another thing I have seen: “Oh, I...” You know, ego wears many masks. One of them: “I have never taken drugs.” What is wrong? We eat food, it is full of inconscience. We meet people; we see so many things. What's wrong if we take a medicine? Mother has sent people even to __.

There's a very interesting story, it's a very illustrative story: there was one Gangadarji (Gangadaran), living in the Ashram. A man from very humble backgrounds, near Pondicherry. And amazing experiences – actually, Mother has verified that he had authentic supramental experiences. Amazing person; and yet when he had a breakdown, Mother sent him to __. Now in __ it's very strange; so one would say, oh, Mother has sent him to __ for treatment, medically. Now while medical treatment was going on, every night he would see a nurse coming with two coconut water, and he would drink the coconut water, and she would say, “take it, you will be alright”. So after two months he became alright; he came back and he asked Mother: “Mother, everything is fine, I am fine, it is good you send me...” (a surrendered person, not questioning) “...but there was a nice lady, and I wanted to thank her but I couldn't find her.” And Mother smiled; it was Mother herself who had gone and...

On taking medicines

Now, it's a lila. How do we understand? Mother could have given him this recipe while he was there! A real coconut, from her real hands. But he has to go away. Sometimes, there are material grooves in our nature. Everything in creation (in earthly life, not ‘in creation’, but on earth), finally finds an outlet through matter. There may be some subtle law, or some little molecule through which the forces are entering. And it's good sometimes to take a medicine to block it. But we must understand that yes, this medicine is giving us temporary relief; change of consciousness, attitude, is necessary. So very often people take a very strong either/or attitude: “I'll never take medicine whatever happens.” Well, this also is one kind of rigidity and egoism. The other is, “I'll rely only on medicine.” So balance and moderation are one of the best things in Yoga.

Narad who comes here (I think Garden [Matrimandir Nursery] and Om Choir), he was narrating to me that once he had a serious stomach upset or something, and he wrote to the Mother. “Mother, what should I do, rely on your force or take the medicine?” She said, “Rely on my force and take the medicine.” So you know, there are other solutions – what's wrong with it?!

And I have seen that people in the Ashram context and in Auroville generally need lesser dosage. That's my own personal study. So sometimes it's good to take medical help. There's nothing wrong with it. So all these are possibilities. Ultimately the important thing is to come out of the morass, not ‘I am sinking, sinking, sinking, but I never took medicines’. That's not important; it's ok. Whatever helps, helps.

What if someone lacks insight?

(Friedericke:) (It's the second question, then I'm done.) If somebody does not have an insight, so some of it: “I do not have any problem, the other people have the problem”...


“...and is very aggressive and is totally... does not have self-consciousness. So...?

Yes, we encounter it very often. (Laughing). Not only doesn't have insight: there will be nice, neat explanations, you know? So there is a point up to which we can help. As I said, we can pray, we can suggest. But ultimately a point comes when an individual is left to himself, because it's his evolutionary journey. I've seen that happen in the Ashram context: people for years and years have been having that psychotic (what we call medically ‘psychotic’. In yoga it's seen differently – a possession, an influence of hostile forces). And they just remain for years and years, don't go for work, and complaining, grudging. And they remain... at the same time I have studied some of them over a long period of time. Not ‘studied’ like a research, but very naturally, because they come. I have seen sometimes, something gets unlocked (gesture). And they will come one day and say, “Ok, you were talking about that medicine, can I have something?” And they respond so well. And get integrated, take to work; their whole state changes.

Also I have seen some of them – I am still seeing someone, who has learned that these voices and suggestions are from the hostiles. And this man has learned to say “No.” And he is invaded by them. Because a gate is open – a big gate. But he knows how to say “no”, and rely on Ma; and one of the things is just Mother's name. (Of course, not somebody who doesn't believe.) But I have seen, like this example I am telling you, all that he does is... because he's a very simple person, doesn't even have the psychological subtlety or complexity to understand things. He knows ‘there are hostile forces; I should keep them away’. And he knows that ‘Mother's name will protect me’. And I can tell you, I have seen him for years now – decades – and he's protected and safe.

I mean he gets all these suggestions: go, do this, jump away... initially when I saw him, I was very surprised, because I didn't know what to do. In a traditional setup, you would put the person in a safe thing [institution]. But he has never been admitted (Mother's grace), in either of the places – he's in open Ashram, one of the places where I take care. And he's fine. Every day when I see him, he says, “Alok-bhai, that suggestion comes, I am taking Mother's name. All right?” I say, “Yes, correct.” And then we shake hands, and it's amazing.

So protection comes, just taking Mother's name. I often recommend it (those who have faith, of course). Even without faith, just call her name – it's something wonderful. It's a tremendous power.

In the practice of Yoga, Mother even goes on to say when Satprem insists, “Tell me something, some method, some practice, some method.” And she speaks of surrender; “But still, some method.” So she speaks about it. She speaks of the mantra. Such a simple thing, just the mantra. Calling Mother. It's very powerful.

Sometimes I suggest putting some nice music; and if the person resists the music, just putting it on a very low key. It need not be heard, but just the vibrations are spreading into the atmosphere. So this also I have tried to do: to avoid too much stimulation around such a person, so that there's time to properly go within. Essentially, these are some of the things one can do.

On multiplying therapies and taking responsibility

(Bee:) You mentioned people are reluctant sometimes to take some medicine. It can be also the opposite, that they're multiplying therapies, or also taking some supplements, or Ayurvedic medicine, allopathic medicine... it's like they're not taking the responsibility for what is happening to them, and just putting the responsibility on others to be able to...

It's a very good question, and a very interesting one; it has many ramifications. I'll first tell you how I look at these things from the deepest perspective. Then there are other aspects of it as you rightly said – ‘responsibility’ part. But the deepest perspective is that man in his search for the ultimate remedy will go through many approximate attempts. And they are not the ultimate attempts. I think if that is clear, that, ‘well, whatever I may be doing, whether it be allopathic, or homeopathic or Ayurveda or pranic healing or crystal gazing or dowsing...’ whatever one may do, one must know that these are all intermediary things, and not the panacea. If they were the panacea, Sri Aurobindo and Mother would not waste decades doing tapasya for the supramental consciousness. So one thing we should be clear: that they're all helpful, and they all help in a limited way.

To make one therapy absolute and ultimate and damning others, is not really an integral way. So I look at it that they are experimentation; depending on one's need and turn of being, one will go through – most, many of these therapies are at the vital level. Some are at the mental level. And they have sometimes very quick results. The vital is like that; as I said, it's a master fabricator. It's ok; man will go through this phase, till he discovers that ‘no, no, this is not the ultimate remedy’. At some stage he will break through, go into mind, and then today we talk about ‘non-dual’ consciousness – my thoughts helping somebody – and stuff like that. But even that is New Age stuff. (I mean ‘New Age’, I am speaking in the fashionable way.)

Then eventually, a time will come when he will get hold of the pure spiritual consciousness. But there's a big journey in which these things will come, inevitable – we can't stop them, I don't think we should stop them.

But your question is very relevant, because then who takes the responsibility? I face it; somebody goes, and after some time, when things become much worse and suddenly the person comes. So personally I say it's ok; a person has come to me at this point of time, it's all right, one can go through. But sometimes very tricky, because things have gone to a point. And that's where I think probably the way is to probably have this kind of gathering, collective gatherings, where there's a collective understanding about what is what. That is missing. So each one opens his own shop – and that's it. And he says, “My product is the best.” That is dangerous.

We have this even in Ashram: “My product is the best.” And, “Oh, that person – when I came, I had to face these challenges; he's a pagal ka doctor (a mad-people's doctor).” So... in India, to be psychotic is not a good thing. You are mad; before, others. (Laughing) “Oh, he's a mad doctor!” Even in (openly I can share) – in dispensary setup. Somebody will come for blood pressure... now I'm also a general doctor, because I am trained in __, worked in Air Force for 21 years, seen all kinds of patients. But when the person will take medicine and go to the counter: “Oh, why have you gone to this person? He is a pagal ka doctor.” So you know, ‘pagal ka doctor’ becomes ‘pagal-doctor’, you know: mad-doctor.

So when I came to know, I said, “Very good, Mother wants me to have time to myself. I am not keen to have patients with me, or proclaim myself!” So, very good, I'll spend time in reading and writing. Then slowly people come.

And then this challenge will come: “Oh, so-and-so said ‘don't go’, and that person... medicines are very bad...” and then the person has come. So personally I like to make it clear: “Look, if you have come here, I have my limitations. I don't claim to have panacea; but these are my limitations, with which I operate. If you're fine with it, fine. If you're not fine with it, the world is there.” But all this should be done without any hard feelings. In the sense: doors are always open. Any time you can come. At the end of the day, we are all equal players in the same field, we are all adventurers, we are all brothers and sisters and co-travelers. So doors are always open.

So this should be, I feel, the state: that “Ok, you want to experiment...” (people come and tell me, “I want to experiment with this or that therapy.”) I say, “It's ok.” “Can we come back to you if things mess up?” I say, “Ok”! (Laughing) “If you come back here, Mother has sent you; so I will see you.” So this is how. I've had people who have come back three times, four times... it's okay. I have to do my bit, and do it as a nishkam karma.

But this question of responsibility is a very tricky issue. And I think it has to be addressed more administratively – that if somebody takes up a case, to what degree one has a responsibility. What happens if the patient messes up. And are we doing things in tune with the law. Because sometimes people are not aware, that there are certain practices which are not in tune with the law. Now this is a different area altogether, which has more to do with the way the world is organized today. And, well, if things are like that, one has to maybe tie up with rather a person or a hospital or something, to take care when things are messed up. And acknowledge they are messed up – that's the worst part. Sometimes there's not acknowledgment that they are messed up. I have seen people like that. Because you know you are pushing by the ego, that “No, no, my therapy alone will cure you.” Only Grace can say like that, Grace alone, nobody else can say that. That is being presumptuous.

The mind divides, the heart unites

(Edwin:) So many problems that we have go back to Descartes' je pense, donc je suis: “I think, therefore I am.” Not combining the left part and the right part of the brain. He died in 1650. Ancient type just thought with their heart. When I read Buddha's Dhammapada, it begins, “We are what we think.” It means exactly, translated, “We are what we think and feel.” In ancient Egypt, ‘to think’ = ‘to see with the eye of the heart’. ...90% of curricula is the left part of the brain. Now where's the heart?

I quite agree with you. A small little example is about the misunderstandings when I came to Pondicherry; and recently, people started this, that “everybody must learn Tamil, to integrate with the culture.” So now I have this difficulty, that any language (I mean apart from Hindi and English), though I have in Air Force been in Maharashtra, Gujarat... but I have a difficulty. My mind doesn't just work like that. But I have another way. People often ask, “You must learn Tamil...” I say, “No, open your heart.” You may learn Tamil but not be able to integrate because in your heart you are still carrying this feeling of being either this or that, different, superior, all kinds of things – but if you open the heart, there's no issue. And I've had no issues. Because whatever one feels one needs, they're all... we're all children of the Mother. So what is there? Mother is in everyone. Or if you want to put it: Divine is in everyone.

And then I discovered that there is no difference. These differences are all mental things. Absolutely same human nature inside, below the surface. If you get past that initial difficulty that language and appearances create. In fact, to put it in a summary way, all I can say is the mind divides – by its very nature, it divides. The heart unites. So if you want unity, it must flow from the heart. If you want division: analyze, understand, accommodate – but still, division will be there.

Your heart has the energy of love.

The heart hears. From the word ‘heart’, if you take away the ‘h’ and the ‘t’, you have ‘ear’.

I'm fond of using this term, that it's a civilizational disorder: we lack vitamin L and vitamin F. Vitamin L is vitamin Love (with a capital ‘L’). And vitamin F is Faith. It's a civilizational disorder. They are not available in our dispensary; I don't know if in Auroville also. Pharmacies don't sell it. They are priceless.

So I always say that if one has this vitamin in abundance, share it with others. But don't lose it (!). It's a priceless gift.

And of course, super-vitamin is Grace. ‘G’.

So, anything else?...

The power of reading Sri Aurobindo

Good morning, my name is T__. I put it in my words: for me, I'm not on the ‘spiritual path’. And at the same time, I experience – I have a lot of mental questions in me. Is there especially something for people who are in the spiritual path, in relation to what we are talking about this morning?

Yes. I'm glad you brought this up. Questioning ’mind’. There is a difference between a questioning mind and a doubting mind – first, this distinction. Questioning mind is a mind in quest – that's how it comes. It's a seeking mind. It's a wonderful thing to have a seeking in any part of the being, including the mind. But a doubting mind is a different mind: it doubts for the sake of doubt. It is a mind which has turned itself from the light and says, “Where is light? Where is light?” Whereas a seeking mind is turned towards the light and is seeking it more and more. So a questioning mind is a very good mind, provided it's not a doubting mind. (I am just trying to make the distinction.)

So all of us – many of us – have it; anybody with some [mental] development. I had it in plenty, that's why I broke away from the traditions, Indian traditions – so many of them are there. I've been brought up in a typically traditional family, but I was not satisfied, because I had questions about karma, and this or that, creation, moksha, maya, Nirvana... so many gurus I met, but I couldn't be satisfied that way, because there was something else which one was looking for. It was not a perfect solution; it was a half-hearted solution. When I came to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, then, yes.

Now what happens is that obviously we carry certain baggages, in our own mind. So the method I adopted that I can tell you, and it does a few things.

So whenever I had a certain view about something, and I would read Sri Aurobindo, I would see that Sri Aurobindo has said something that is very different. It was implicit that that was right, and this (whatever) opinion has to be thrown aside. Then I realized that when I do it, I may not immediately understand why he has said what he has said. But if I just allow – accept a priori that Sri Aurobindo is my master, and what he says is right; I do not know, I do not have the acumen to understand – then after a period of time, the truth of those things began to appear. Then this process got so activated that after a time, as soon as I would read, I would get a very clear insight or ‘revelation’ you may call it, that behind the words, there is something else. The whole thing: context, understanding, and why he has said, to whom he has said – everything would appear.

So this, I feel, comes as we... essentially the mind has to surrender to the infinite. The question is there, and then the answer comes. This answer which comes – I am not talking of the inner answer, which we can play around with. I mean, it has its validity, but I am speaking of an answer... fortunately, we have for the first time, an Avatar (or even you could just say a Master) who has touched upon every aspect of human life. First time. I am not aware, having read practically everything in Indian and Western thought. Practically everything [from the] spiritual point of view. I have not come across this detailed answering of questions. And Sri Aurobindo said, because this Ashram is full of modern disciples, and because mind was predominant in the previous curve of evolution, it's natural that we have to move from this questioning mind on to intuition. And it's perfectly fine, valid – it's valid.

But the way is there: [he's] answered everything. Now one was is if we say, “Oh, it's dogma.” No, it's not like dogma. Because dogma is like when we take the word in isolation, turn it into a rigid... applicable to all things. “Oh, Sri Aurobindo has said this, therefore don't do this.” It's not like that. It is a truth, which has been given in a body of words. The body of words is just a vessel.

I can share a strange experience. Once I had Mother's writings, and as I was looking at it, all these writings – first, outwardly it was like rock, and suddenly they were melting away, and they were just fire inside.

So it's very interesting that they're carrying consciousness. And this was asked to Mother, “Mother, what is there in your writings, which gives us a very different experience when we read it?” And she used the word ‘consciousness’. “I put consciousness into it.” So when we read their writings it should be to come in contact with their consciousness, which will reveal [to] us. It's one approach.

So those that have a mental questioning, I suggest to read Mother and Sri Aurobindo. It's tremendous. Don't have to listen to speakers like us, or anybody in the world. Fortunately we have Mother and Sri Aurobindo directly. And read the writings – read it exhaustively. I mean... some of the beginning years of my turning to the path, it was like a fire. I was even carrying Mother's books and Sri Aurobindo's books in the bathroom. And sitting and reading. So part of me was saying, “What is it you are doing? Bathroom is not a place...” And then I put Mother's picture there; I said, “why not. She is everywhere.”

So even in bathroom she is there, and I would read! And you know, it was like a fire. And after finishing Mother and Sri Aurobindo, what else? Ok, Agenda. After Agenda, Nolini-da, Nirod-da. Then when you get into that, from every angle one sees (after a time) that... well, what they are really revealing to us.

So there is a quest and questioning, I recommend read Mother and Sri Aurobindo at least. And after awhile, it's not so much the intellectual part (is one part), but there will be a kind of peace and knowledge settling inside. It's there like seeds of life. And then it gets applied to everything.

But one should be careful about doubt. Doubt is dangerous. It corrodes the mind. Doubt means, “Oh, Sri Aurobindo writes this, but I don't know, maybe... Kant has said this, Hegel has said this, Vivekananda has said this...” Then, you know, I am still a person who is moving all around in the world. Which is fine, nothing wrong with that. But then I am not on the path.

This is a very subtle thing. That “well, if Sri Aurobindo...” once we accept, then there's a certain degree of implicit faith and surrender. And it applies everywhere. If somebody goes to a teacher and says, “Well, I don't really believe you.” Or if somebody goes to a doctor. No, these are implicit, that if I come to Sri Aurobindo, I have this basic faith in what Sri Aurobindo says. If one has not gone through the process... like, I was fortunate (or unfortunate) to go through a whole range of studies. And still I was not satisfied. But people have not gone through that, and then they are reading Sri Aurobindo, and then doubt comes – well, it should start with “Well, he is saying something, I don't understand right now. But if I trust him, I aspire, I pray, I seek – surely one day I will understand the inner sense behind the words.” And that is the best way; I don't know of any other.

How to deal with emotions?

How to deal with emotions?

Ah, emotions. How to deal with emotions? I think it's relatively simple advice. One says that emotions can create their own difficulty. I can again share with you what I have understood and worked upon. As I said, the simple thing is, release this energy of love. And very often for us ‘love’ means my family members, those who are near to me, those who are dear to me, whom I cherish – but that is where love gets __. Release this energy of love, in creation. Everywhere it is there: loving a tree which is near you, the flowers that are on the ground, the objects which one is dealing with. So let us learn to love everything and everyone around. It is very challenging (it looks very simple), especially when it comes to human beings. And human beings who have hurt us.

But still, if we look at it from the yogic point of view, then all energy of love should be eventually turned toward the Divine. It means, in that person, through that person, through this object, through this tree, through this beast, it should turn toward the Divine, should reach out to the Divine. This brings wideness as well as releases this energy.

The other way, the way of traditional bhakti that “I'll only love Divine in my heart, and not love anything else, anybody else” – I don't know about it. I find it very narrow, and maybe limiting. But I'm sure it will eventually bring that universality. But I don't know about that path.

Yes, it should be very clear that all the love in the world cannot be even a drop of the love of the Divine Mother. That should be the background. But then, release this energy of love. I think this is the one emotion that can heal all other emotions: love. So.

Nowadays, even in psychiatry we speak about curing depression by having a pet at home (!). But it is paradoxical, no? We can love human beings – start with a pet! No, because pets will not say anything; they are very nice creatures. That is not... take the biggest challenge, which is to love human beings. Most difficult challenge. Because of the individualized ego, not because human beings are bad. But because of the strong individualization of the ego, the demands, expectations can be very high. Unlike an idol or like a beast, where the demand is not there.

And there's a very nice – for a detailed thing, I would suggest for those who want to read more about it. There's a very nice writing of Nolini-da. It's originally in Bengali, but translated into English it's called “To Love Man” (Manush Bhajan). “To Love Man.”

Nolini Kanta Gupta
“To Love Man” (Manush Bhajan)

Nolini Kanta Gupta - To Love Man.jpg
PDF (5 pages)

And he says there are three stages: [second] is you love the Divine. First is you're engaged with humanity in whatever way. Then you love the Divine, and there is an exclusivity of the Divine. Third is you come back to man, and love him. But now this is a different kind of love that you bring. It's universalizing this which you have discovered inside. It's a very evolutionary writing. (I think I still have the soft copy somewhere. But it should be available somewhere – in SABDA, something. I'm sure __ will be able to help out.)

But it's a must-read, because I find it really very practical, very wonderful. To release this energy of love, and transmute the emotions.

And yes, to love the Divine is to love everything. That's the remedy. Divine love is the remedy for all, and she has said it is the best emotional protection. So it should always be there in the background. Even if the whole creation vanishes, even if everybody hates, nobody likes us – still, one thing we must remember is that the Mother loves us.

There's a nice letter of Sri Aurobindo, a small letter. It says, “Remember that the Mother loves you.” Base your life on this single advice, and everything will be fine.

Now he's not saying that “remember that you love the Mother.” Because who can love the Divine? I mean we may claim, but loving the Divine is... amazing. But the Divine loves us. If we remember this, it's a very big question; as I said, it's a mattress, spread below our feet, so that we don't break our bones.

And to add to it, it's a strange thing, often – several conferences, workshops, I've seen of Integral Yoga. I don't know why everybody's held up on turning Sri Aurobindo into a philosopher and a thinker. There's so much love, – I mean, it's amazing. And she says, “never forget two things: Sri Aurobindo's compassion, and the Mother's love”. And if you read through his letters, through The Synthesis of Yoga, through Savitri, it's ultimately at the end all about love. It's the crowning realization. But it's ignored. We have conferences on Supermind, but love is missing. It's a very dry Supermind (!).

I mean there, Sri Aurobindo's words: “You think Supermind is dry? It has an intensity of love and ananda as you can never imagine in a mental world.”[3]

So I think we can pause here. Thank you so much.

  1. On Education, p.46, “Advice to Newcomers”
  2. Ibid.
  3. “The supramental love means an intense unity of soul with soul, mind with mind, life with life, and an entire flooding of the body consciousness with the physical experience of oneness, the presence of the Beloved in every part, in every cell of the body.” (Letters on Yoga – II, p.482)

See also