Processes of change
Widening of our consciousness
How can we make our consciousness vast?
Vast? Ah, there are many ways of doing this.
The easiest way is to identify yourself with something vast. For instance, when you feel that you are shut up in a completely narrow and limited thought, will, consciousness, when you feel as though you were in a shell, then if you begin thinking about something very vast, as for example, the immensity of the waters of an ocean, and if really you can think of this ocean and how it stretches out far, far, far, far, in all directions, like this (Mother stretches out her arms), how, compared with you, it is so far, so far that you cannot see the other shore, you cannot reach its end anywhere, neither behind nor in front nor to the right or left... it is wide, wide, wide, wide... you think of this and then you feel that you are floating on this sea, like that, and that there are no limits.... This is very easy. Then you can widen your consciousness a little.
Other people, for example, begin looking at the sky; and then they imagine all those spaces between all those stars, and all... that kind of infinity of spaces in which the earth is a tiny point, and you too are just a very tiny point, smaller than an ant, on the earth. And so you look at the sky and feel that you are floating in these infinite spaces between the planets, and that you are growing vaster and vaster to go farther and farther. Some people succeed with this.
—The Mother, MCW, Vol. 6, pp. 344-45
Widening and pain
If one can realize … visualize, picture the little person one is, in the little earth where one is, and the tiny second of consciousness which for the moment is hurting you or is unpleasant for you, … then suddenly you sense the utter ridiculousness of the importance you attach to what happened to you…. Truly you feel to what an extent it is absurd to attach any importance to one's life, to oneself, and to what happens to you. And in the space of three minutes, if you do this properly, all unpleasantness is swept away. Even a deep pain can be swept away. Simply a concentration like this, and to place oneself in infinity and eternity. Everything goes away. One comes out of it cleansed. One can get rid of all attachments and even, I say, of the deepest sorrows — of everything, in this way.
—The Mother, MCW, Vol. 6, p. 346
The outer nature has to undergo a change of poise, a quieting, a puriﬁcation and ﬁne mutation of its substance and energy by which the many obstacles in it rarefy, drop away or otherwise disappear; it then becomes possible to pass through to the depths of our being and from the depths so reached a new consciousness can be formed, both behind the exterior self and in it, joining the depths to the surface. There must grow up within us or there must manifest a consciousness more and more open to the deeper and the higher being…
—Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, p. 938
Deepening and heightening
If you open to the higher regions of consciousness and the force descends from above, quite naturally it establishes a silence in the lower regions, for they are governed by this higher power which descends. This comes from higher regions of the mind or from beyond, even from the supermind. So when this force and consciousness come down and enter into the consciousness of a lower plane, this consciousness becomes naturally quiet, for it is as though invaded, flooded by that higher light which transforms it. In fact, this is even the way of establishing a constant silence in one's mind. It is to open oneself to higher regions and let this higher consciousness, force, light descend constantly and take possession of it. And here, when this happens, this lower mind can remain constantly quiet and silent.
—The Mother, MCW, Vol. 6, pp. 328-29
To keep one's consciousness in a higher state … is to keep it in the light, in the peace, in the higher knowledge and harmony; that is to place one's consciousness as high as possible in one's being. Then naturally, if the consciousness is there, the thoughts it receives are those of a higher order. And thought is only one form of activity of the consciousness, it is not the stuff of consciousness. There is a consciousness without thought, there is a very much higher state of consciousness in which there are no thoughts. It is a consciousness that can have very perfect knowledge of things, without it being expressed in thoughts and words. Thought is only one form of activity.
—The Mother, MCW, Vol. 6, p. 328
Remember and offer
When you have a little time, whether it is one hour or a few minutes, tell yourself, "At last, I have some time to concentrate, to collect myself, to relive the purpose of my life, to offer myself to the True and the Eternal." If you took care to do this each time you are not harassed by outer circumstances, you would find out that you were advancing very quickly on the path. Instead of wasting your time in chattering, in doing useless things, reading things that lower the consciousness--to choose only the best cases, I am not speaking of other imbecilities which are much more serious--instead of trying to make yourself giddy, to make time, that is already so short, still shorter only to realise at the end of your life that you have lost three-quarters of your chance--then you want to put in double time, but that does not work--it is better to be moderate, balanced, patient, quiet, but never to lose an opportunity that is given to you, that is to say, to utilise for the true purpose the unoccupied moment before you.
—The Mother, MCW, Vol. 3, p. 250
… try to concentrate in a centre, the centre of aspiration, one might say, the place where the flame of aspiration burns, to gather in all the energies there, … if possible, to obtain an attentive silence as though one wanted to listen to something extremely subtle, something that demands a complete attention, a complete concentration and total silence. And then not to move at all. Not to think, not to stir, and make that movement of opening so as to receive all that can be received, but taking good care not to try to know what is happening while it is happening, for if one wants to understand or even to observe actively, it keeps up a sort of cerebral activity which is unfavourable to the fullness of the receptivity — to be silent, as totally silent as possible, in an attentive concentration, and then be still.
If one succeeds in this, then, when everything is over, when one comes out of meditation, some time later — usually not immediately — from within the being something new emerges in the consciousness: a new understanding, a new appreciation of things, a new attitude in life — in short, a new way of being. This may be fugitive, but at that moment, if one observes it, one finds that something has taken one step forward on the path of understanding or transformation. It may be an illumination, an understanding truer or closer to the truth, or a power of transformation which helps you to achieve a psychological progress or a widening of the consciousness or a greater control over your movements, over the activities of the being.
And these results are never immediate. For if one tries to have them at once, one remains in a state of activity which is quite the contrary of true receptivity. One must be as neutral, as immobile, as passive as one can be, with a background of silent aspiration not formulated in words or ideas or even in feelings…
Naturally, in the beginning, one must slowly quieten the mind, gather up one's consciousness, concentrate; one loses three-quarters of the time in preparing oneself. But when one has practised the thing, in two or three seconds one can get it, and then one benefits from the whole period of receptivity.
—The Mother, MCW, Vol. 9, pp. 114-15
Rejection — for obtaining a quiet mind and a calm heart
[The] object is a spiritual change and not merely an ethical control, but this can only come first by a spiritual rejection from within and then by a supramental descent from above.
—Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, p. 101
There are a number of thoughts of all kinds that have no interest, but which the mind was accustomed to allow to come as a habit, mechanically, — these sometimes come up when one tries to be quiet. They must be allowed to pass away without attending to them until they run down and the mind becomes still; to struggle with them and try to stop them is no use, there must be only a quiet rejection.
—Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, p. 975
The rejection of desire is essentially the rejection of the element of craving, putting that out from the consciousness itself as a foreign element not belonging to the true self and the inner nature. But refusal to indulge the suggestions of desire is also a part of the rejection; to abstain from the action suggested, if it is not the right action, must be included in the yogic discipline. It is only when this is done in the wrong way, by a mental ascetic principle or a hard moral rule, that it can be called suppression. The difference between suppression and an inward essential rejection is the difference between mental or moral control and a spiritual purification.
—Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, p. 1455
The most important surrender is the surrender of your character, your way of being, so that it may change. If you do not surrender your very own nature, never will this nature change. It is this that is most important. You have certain ways of understanding, certain ways of reacting, certain ways of feeling, almost certain ways of progressing, and above all, a special way of looking at life and expecting from it certain things — well, it is this you must surrender. That is, if you truly want to receive the divine Light and transform yourself, it is your whole way of being you must offer — offer by opening it, making it as receptive as possible so that the divine Consciousness which sees how you ought to be, may act directly and change all these movements into movements more true, more in keeping with your real truth…. Whatever the activity, it is not quite the way of doing it but the state of consciousness in which it is done that is important.
—The Mother, MCW, Vol. 4, p. 373
Surrender and passivity
…we must never slacken our efforts to change the world… All depends upon the personal attitude. If, in the presence of circumstances that are on the point of occurring, you take the highest possible attitude — that is to say, if you put your consciousness in contact with the highest consciousness within your reach — you can be absolutely certain that in such a case what happens is the best that can happen to you. But as soon as you fall from this consciousness and come down into a lower state, then it is evident that what happens cannot be the best, since you are not in your best consciousness. As Sri Aurobindo once said, "What happened had to happen, but it could have been much better." Because the person to whom it happened was not in his highest consciousness, there was no other consequence possible… What makes all the difference is how you receive the impulsion of the Divine Will.
—The Mother, MCW, Vol. 3, pp. 170-71
All that happens is not, in fact, divine: the Supreme Will is distorted in the manifestation owing to the combination of lower forces which translate it. They are the medium which falsifies its impetus and gives it an undivine result. If all that happened were indeed the flawless translation of it, how could you account for the distortions of the world?... Not that the Divine Will could not have caused the cosmic Ignorance. It is omnipotent and all possibilities are inherent in it: it can work out anything of which it sees the secret necessity in its original vision. And the first cause of the world is, of course, the Divine, though we must take care not to adjudge this fact mentally according to our petty ethical values. But once the conditions of the cosmos were laid down and the involution into nescience accepted as the basis of a progressive manifestation of the Divine out of all that seemed its very opposite, there took place a sort of division between the Higher and the Lower. The history of the world became a battle between the True and the False, in which the details are not all direct representations of the Divine's progressive action but rather distortions of it owing to the mass of resistance offered by the inferior Nature. If there were no such resistance, there would be nothing whatever to conquer in the world, for the world would be harmonious, a constant passage from one perfection to another instead of the conflict which it is--a game of hazards and various possibilities in which the Divine faces real opposition, real difficulty and often real temporary defeat on the way to the final victory. It is just this reality of the whole play that makes it no mere jest. The Divine Will actually suffers distortion the moment it touches the hostile forces in the Ignorance. Hence we must never slacken our efforts to change the world and bring about a different order. We must be vigilant to co-operate with the Divine and not placidly think that whatever happens is always the best. All depends upon the personal attitude. If, in the presence of circumstances that are on the point of occurring, you take the highest possible attitude--that is to say, if you put your consciousness in contact with the highest consciousness within your reach--you can be absolutely certain that in such a case what happens is the best that can happen to you. But as soon as you fall from this consciousness and come down into a lower state, then it is evident that what happens cannot be the best, since you are not in your best consciousness. As Sri Aurobindo once said, "What happened had to happen, but it could have been much better." Because the person to whom it happened was not in his highest consciousness, there was no other consequence possible; but if he had brought about a descent of the Divine, then, even if the situation in general had been inevitable, it would have turned out in a different way. What makes all the difference is how you receive the impulsion of the Divine Will.
—The Mother, MCW, Vol. 3, pp. 170-71
Sincerity means more than mere honesty. It means that you mean what you say, feel what you profess, are earnest in your will.
There can be no doubt about the Divine Grace. It is perfectly true also that if a man is sincere, he will reach the Divine. But it does not follow that he will reach immediately, easily and without delay. Your error is there, to fix for God a term, five years, six years, and doubt because the effect is not yet there. A man may be centrally sincere and yet there may be many things that have to be changed in him before realisation can begin. His sincerity must enable him to persevere always -- for it is a longing for the Divine that nothing can quench, neither delay nor disappointment nor difficulty nor anything else.
—Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, Part-2, p. 117
Mother, if there is a part in one's nature that does not open, what is the method of aspiring so that this part may open?
You may aspire that this part may open — let the part that is open aspire for the other to open. It will open after a certain time; one must continue, persist. That is the only thing to do. There is something that does not want it, an acute resistance there, which does not want it. It is like a stubborn child: "I don't want it, I shall remain what I am, I won't move." It does not say, "I am pleased with myself'", because it does not dare. But the truth is it is quite self-satisfied, it does not budge.
But when one wants to aspire, shouldn't one know which part it is?
Ah! Yes, but if one is sincere, he will know it. If one looks at himself sincerely, he is sure to know. It is only when one plays the ostrich that he does not know: one shuts his eyes, turns his head to the other side, does not look and says, "It does not exist." But if one looks at himself straight in the face, he knows very well where it is — hidden somewhere in a corner quite nicely, turned upon itself, shut in, close-set. But then, when you go and flash a light like that, straight upon it, oh, it suddenly hurts, doesn't it?
Mother, on what does receptivity depend?
It depends first of all upon sincerity — on whether one really wants to receive — and then… yes, I believe the principal factors are sincerity and humility. There is nothing that closes you up more than vanity. When you are self-satisfied, you have that kind of vanity of not wanting to admit that you lack something, that you make mistakes, that you are incomplete, that you are imperfect, that you are… There is something in the nature, you know, which grows stiff in this way, which does not want to admit — it is this which prevents you from receiving. You have, however, only to try it out and get the experience. If, by an effort of will you manage to make even a very tiny part of the being admit that "Ah, well, yes, I am mistaken, I should not be like that, and I should not do that and should not feel that, yes, it is a fault", if you manage to make it admit this, at first, as I said just now, it begins by hurting you very much, but when you hold on firmly, until this is admitted, immediately it is open — it is open and strangely a flood of light enters, and then you feel so glad afterwards, so happy that you ask yourself, "Why, from what foolishness did I resist so long?"
But when one is so self-satisfied, can one still aspire?
One is not made all of a piece, don't you know? There is something in the being which can aspire. There is always something in the being which is conscious exactly of what is not all right, at times vaguely, imprecisely, but yet sufficiently conscious that still, after all, one is not perfect, you see, that things could be better than they are. That's enough! That part can aspire.
—The Mother, MCW, Vol. 6, pp. 116-18
Equanimity and equality
Equality means a quiet and unmoved mind and vital, it means not to be touched or disturbed by things that happen or things said or done to you, but to look at them with a straight look, free from the distortions created by personal feeling, and to try to understand what is behind them, why they happen, what is to be learnt from them, what is it in oneself which they are cast against and what inner profit or progress one can make out of them; it means self-mastery over the vital movements, — anger and sensitiveness and pride as well as desire and the rest, — not to let them get hold of the emotional being and disturb the inner peace, not to speak and act in the rush and impulsion of these things, always to act and speak out of a calm inner poise of the spirit. It is not easy to have this equality in any full perfect measure, but one should always try more and more to make it the basis of one's inner state and outer movements.
—Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, Part-2, p. 130
Determination and perseverance
How should we reject something in the vital so that it doesn't enter the subconscient?
There is a great difference between pushing back a thing simply because one doesn't want it and changing the state of one's consciousness which makes the thing totally foreign to one's nature. Usually, when one has a movement one doesn't want, one drives it away or pushes it back, but one doesn't take the precaution of finding within oneself what has served and still serves as a support for this movement, the particular tendency, the fold of the consciousness which enables this thing to enter the consciousness. If, on the contrary, instead of simply making a movement of reprobation and rejection, one enters deeply into his vital consciousness and finds the support, that is, a kind of particular little vibration buried very deeply in a corner, often in such a dark corner that it is difficult to find it there; if one starts hunting it down, that is, if one goes within, concentrates, follows as it were the trail of this movement to its origin, one finds something like a very tiny serpent coiled up, something at times quite tiny, not bigger than a pea, but very black and sunk very deeply.
And then there are two methods: either to put so intense a light, the light of a truth-consciousness so strong, that this will be dissolved; or else to catch the thing as with pincers, pull it out from its place and hold it up before one's consciousness. The first method is radical but one doesn't always have at his disposal this light of truth, so one can't always use it. The second method can be taken, but it hurts, it hurts as badly as the extraction of a tooth; I don't know if you have ever had a tooth pulled out, but it hurts as much as that, and it hurts here, like that. (Mother shows the centre of the chest and makes a movement of twisting) And usually one is not very courageous. When it hurts very much, well, one tries to efface it and that is why things persist. But if one has the courage to take hold of it and pull it until it comes out and to put it before himself, even if it hurts very much… to hold it up like this (gesture) until one can see it clearly, and then dissolve it, then it is finished. The thing will never again hide in the subconscient and will never again return to bother you. But this is a radical operation. It must be done like an operation.
You must first have a great deal of perseverance in the search, for usually when one begins searching for these things the mind comes to give a hundred and one favourable explanations for your not needing to search. It tells you, "Why no, it is not at all your fault; it is this, it is that, it is the circumstances, it is the people, these are things received from outside — all kinds of excellent excuses, which, unless you are very firm in your resolution, make you let go, and then it is finished; and so, after a short time the whole business has to be started again, the bad impulse or the thing you didn't want, the movement you didn't want, comes back, and so you must begin everything over again — till the day you decide to perform the operation. When the operation is done it is over, one is free. But, as I said, you must distrust mental explanations, because each time one says, "Yes, yes, at other times it was like that, but this time truly, truly it is not my fault, it is not my fault." There you are. So it is finished. You must begin again. The subconscient is there, the thing goes down, remains there, very comfortably, and the first day you are not on your guard, hop! It surges up again and it can last — I knew people for whom it lasted more than thirty-five years, because they did not resolve even once to do what was necessary. Yes, it hurts, it hurts a little, that's all; afterwards it is finished.
—The Mother, MCW, Vol. 7, pp. 83-85
Faith and hope
Faith is a thing that precedes knowledge, not comes after knowledge. It is a glimpse of a truth which the mind has not yet seized as knowledge. It is not by the intellect that one can progress in the yoga but by psychic and spiritual receptivity…
—Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, Part-2, p. 91
Even a faltering faith and a slow and partial surrender have their force and their result, otherwise only the rare few could do yoga at all. What I mean by the central faith is a faith in the soul or the central being behind, a faith which is there even when the mind doubts and the vital despairs and the physical wants to collapse, and after the attack is over reappears and pushes on the path again. It may be strong and bright, it may be pale and in appearance weak, but if it persists each time in going on, it is the real thing.
—Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, Part-2, p. 96
What is "the right spirit"?
It depends on the case, my child. The right spirit is the will to perfect oneself, or the will to be calm, or... it depends, you see, depends on the circumstances. That is why he has not stated it precisely, in this way or that; it means that in each circumstance there is a spirit which is the suitable spirit, the one you ought to have, the attitude you must inwardly take. It depends on the case.
For example, you see, as soon as one feels a wave of physical disequilibrium, of ill health coming, well, to concentrate in the right spirit is to concentrate in an inner calm, a trust in the divine Grace, and a will to remain in physical equilibrium and good health. This is the right spirit. In another case, one may feel a wave of anger or a fit of temper coming from outside; then one should withdraw into an inner calm, a detachment from superficial things, with a will to express only what comes from above and always be submissive to the divine Will. This is the right spirit. And in each case it is something like that. Naturally it always comes back to the same thing, that one must remember the Divine and put oneself at His service and will what He wills.
But in one case you may want the calm, in the other you may want the force, in another still you may want health, in yet another something which resists the pressure from outside.
When one is perplexed, when one has to make a choice, when one doesn't know what the right thing to do is--you see, one has to choose among two or three or four possible decisions and doesn't know which is the right one, then one must put himself as far as possible in contact with his psychic being and the divine Presence in him, present the problem to this psychic consciousness and ask for the true light, the true decision, the most in accordance with the divine Will, and try to listen and receive the inspiration.
In each case, you see, it is the right attitude.
—The Mother, MCW, Vol. 6, p. 340
Mother, there are mistakes… one knows they are mistakes, but still it is as though one were pushed into making them. Then?
Pushed by what? Ah, this is exactly what happens! It is the lower nature, the instincts of the subconscient which govern you and make you do things you should not do. And so it is a choice between your will and accepting submission. There is always a moment when one can decide. …And it is a choice between weak submission and a controlling will. And if the will is clear, if it is based on truth, if truly it obeys the truth and is clear, it always has the power to refuse the wrong movement. It is an excuse you give yourself when you say, "I could not." It is not true. It is that truly you have not wanted it in the right way. For there is always the choice between saying "yes" and saying "no". But one chooses to be weak and later gives oneself this excuse, saying, "It is not my fault; it was stronger than I." It is your fault if the thing was stronger than you. Because you are not these impulses, you are a conscious soul and an intelligent will.
—The Mother, MCW, Vol. 6, p. 343
Sweet Mother, how can we make our resolution very firm?
By wanting it to be very firm! (Laughter)
No, this seems like a joke… but it is absolutely true. If you look sincerely, you will see that you have decided that it will be like this, and then, beneath there is something which has not decided at all and is waiting for the second of hesitation in order to rush forward. If you are sincere, if you are sincere and get hold of the part which is hiding, waiting, not showing itself, which knows that there will come a second of indecision when it can rush out and make you do the thing you have decided not to do. … It is because one is divided in one's will. If you are not divided in your will, I say that nothing, nobody in the world can make you change your will.
To learn how to will is a very important thing. And to will truly, you must unify your being. In fact, to be a being, one must first unify oneself. If one is pulled by absolutely opposite tendencies, if one spends three-fourths of his life without being conscious of himself and the reasons why he does things, is one a real being? One does not exist. One is a mass of influences, movements, forces, actions, reactions, but one is not a being. One begins to become a being when he begins to have a will. And one can't have a will unless he is unified.
—The Mother, MCW, Vol. 6, pp. 346-48