We all have our favourite lines and passages from the Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s vast writings and conversations to which we keep going again and again whenever we seek renewed assurance and hope, a fresh dose of energy whenever we feel drawn down by the vicissitudes of life. I recall today one of my many such favourite passages from the Mother:
It is the last part of this passage that is most assuring — Her help is always with us, if we only learn how to use it, if we could only rely on it rather than our own insufficient and imperfect resources. For everything we need Her help.
Before writing down this editorial for the Perseverance issue, as I prayed to Her for guidance, a particular morning from several years back came to mind. That day I had learned an important lesson in endurance. With the Mother’s help, of course. I begin by recollecting that ordinary morning when a simple phrase — Wash, Rinse, Repeat — had somehow caught my attention.
I use the word ‘ordinary’ to describe the morning because it had started off like any other morning. Only what happened later made it extraordinary for me, in terms of what I learned. And I use the word ‘simple’ for the phrase because ‘Wash, Rinse, Repeat’ is quite a commonly seen phrase on shampoo and liquid soap bottles as an advice for thorough cleaning. During these pandemic times, this phrase has indeed gained a greater significance!
That morning somehow, out of the blue, these three words – wash, rinse, repeat – seemed to me as just the right formula for a constant, conscious and regular practice for purification of one’s mind and heart. As I generally do when such an idea flashes in my mind, that morning also I took out my laptop and started writing down the different strands of thoughts that kept shaping up in my mind. One thought led to another as I kept writing. But it was only later that afternoon when I was reading something from the vast writings of the Mother, I realised the significance of the phrase much more deeply.
Our minds and hearts regularly need good, thorough cleansing, like our hands and hair. The dirt and dust left over from small, medium and big stresses, the dryness and dullness resulting from all sorts of repetitive and mundane thinking, the stickiness and roughness created by old and obsolete cobweb-like patterns of the mechanical mind — all these must be regularly cleansed off for seeking and creating a new order, a new harmony within.
The cleansing agent is different for different individuals. Also different ones are helpful at different times. For some, it can be a good book or perhaps a special poem. For others it can be a special piece of music or some old favourite film. For some, a walk in the nature does wonders; for others cleaning and organising one’s living space is the right cleanser.
A little getaway to some special place is needed for some at a particular time, while at other times all it takes is a quiet hour in the balcony at home with a nice cup of tea. Some offer prayers at a temple while others retreat to the temple within. Some pursue fun, enjoyable hobbies while others seek solace in a quiet, relaxing nap.
As I switch my shampoo brands periodically, so I have discovered that I respond better when I bring in some variety in my heart-mind cleansers. I have used all the above listed mind-heart cleansers (and some others). And each of them has worked differently for me at different times.
That particular day, a passage from one of Mother’s conversations in Agenda did the perfect job.
It’s all right, it’s all right.
We must endure. The victory belongs to the most enduring.
There are times when one is disgusted, and that’s just when one should remember this. Now, your disgust may have reasons of its own (!) But you have only to endure. You know, there is one thing. . . as soon as you have a difficulty, dissatisfaction, revolt, disgust—anything—fatigue, tension, discomfort, all, all that negative side (there are lots and lots and lots of such things, they take on all kinds of different colours), the immediate movement—immediate—of calling the Lord and saying, “It’s up to You.”
As long as you try (instinctively you try to arrange things with your best light, your best consciousness, your best knowledge. . .), it’s stupid, because that prolongs the struggle, and ultimately it’s not very effective. There is only one effective thing, that’s to step back from what’s still called “me” and. . . with or without words, it doesn’t matter, but above all with the flame of aspiration, this (gesture to the heart), and something perfectly, perfectly sincere: “Lord, it’s You; and only You can do it, You alone can do it, I can’t. . .”
It’s excellent, you can’t imagine how excellent! For instance, someone comes and deluges you with impossible problems, wants you to make instant decisions; you have to write, you have to answer, you have to say—all of it—and it’s like truckloads of darkness and stupidity and wrong movements and all that being dumped on you; and it’s dumped and dumped and dumped—you are almost stoned to death with all that. You begin to stiffen, you get tense; then, immediately (gesture of stepping back): “O Lord. . .” You stay quiet, take a little step back (gesture of offering): “It’s up to you.”
But you can’t imagine, it’s wonderful! Immediately there comes—clear, simple, effortlessly, without seeking for it—exactly what has to be done or said or written: the whole tension stops, it’s over. And then, if you need paper, the paper is there; if you need a fountain pen, you find just the one you need; if you need. . . (there’s no seeking: above all don’t seek, don’t try to seek, you’ll just make another mess)—it’s there.~ Agenda, Vol. 4, pp. 386-388
The moment I came across this passage I could feel that the Divine Mother was giving me exactly what I needed. An Assurance and a Support. A Light and a Guidance. Not only for that day, but for all the days to come.
Her words helped me wash away some dusty cobwebs of my mind and heart. They made me conscious of some old sticky habits of forgetting to “call the Lord in there,” especially when “things resist or grate or howl inside there.” They gave me the strength and determination I needed — to slowly and patiently remove and rinse off the obsolete patterns of mind obstructing the path. They continue to do so whenever I think of that afternoon and these words.
Sitting silently with Her words resonating within, I began to feel a renewed strength. I realised why this cleansing must be practiced patiently, persistently, constantly repeated as part of inner practice. Because only a regular practice of ‘remembering to call‘ can indeed make this a living truth for me.
So, I must Wash, Rinse, Repeat. And I must Remember to Call. This remembering to call builds endurance.
More in this issue:
Sādhanā: “One Who Perseveres is Sure to Triumph”
This constant remembrance requires persistence and an ever-renewing surrender. Only through constant practice we grow in persistence; and only through persistence we grow in our practice. We must endure and restart every time we forget or fall off the path. We must persevere every time the haziness of dark clouds and hard resistance from our old nature block our progress. We must call with even greater strength and wait for the light to pierce through the clouds. And the Divine surely helps.
Someone had once written to Sri Aurobindo: “I am overwhelmed at the patience and compassion with which you put up with our insincerities, disobediences and loosenesses.”
Sri Aurobindo wrote back a deeply loving and compassionate reply:
“Human nature is like that in its very grain; so if we are not patient, there would be little hope of its changing. But there is something else in the human being which is sincere and can be a force for the change. The difficulty in people. . . is to get at that something (it is so covered up) and get it to act.”(CWSA, Vol 32, pp. 120-121)
Perseverance is one of the core twelve soul-qualities that the Mother has emphasised for all those aspiring to walk on the Sunlit Path. The present issue explores this theme of Perseverance in some of its aspects.
Before proceeding further, it is important to clarify something important. Our purpose here is not to bring out an exhaustive compilation of all that Mother and Sri Aurobindo have said on perseverance, endurance or patience. That was also not our goal with other themes explored in previous issues since August 2021.
Our objective is to bring out selected and varied dimensions of the specific soul-quality, with an aim to highlight its significance for a deeper, inner progress of the individual. That can then become the enduring means to sustainable outer progress leading to a rebirth and renaissance in the collective. Our inner work, in this way, becomes our means to build endurance and patience — qualities equally needed for all outer work.
In this issue, we highlight some key passages from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother that speak of the immense importance of persistence and patience in the path of Integral Yoga. The Guiding Light section focuses on selected words of Sri Aurobindo. The two articles in our Sunlit Path section highlight selected words of the Mother where she speaks of endurance in the immensely important work of purification and transformation of our vital nature. We find here great practical advice on how to work with our stubborn vital and help it learn how to endure.
The Mother’s extremely pragmatic guidance also comes to us through some of the interesting Perseverance tales she tells. The Sādhana series presents another beautiful film made by Art Studio-12 Qualities. We also feature an essay titled ‘Yogic Initiation and Aptitude‘ by Nolini Kanta Gupta which emphasises the significance of call, adhikāra and endurance in spiritual life.
Sheeba Naaz, our regular contributor, tells of an episode from her life which helped her grow in endurance. It not only opened up a deeper dimension for her yogasana practice but also helped her develop greater emotional maturity and equanimity – qualities which she now recognises have profoundly transformed her life.
Another life-lesson in endurance and equanimity comes to us from Aditi Banerjee Malakar, a US-based author and speaker on topics related to Sanatana Dharma and sadhana. Her reflections on how patiently and persistently pursuing one’s inner work helps one not only grow in endurance, but also develop a deeper sense of gratitude and equanimity are deeply moving.
Siddhi Day, the Descent of the Overmind God
Part of this issue is dedicated to Sri Krishna.
November 24 is known as Siddhi Day in the Ashram, the day of descent of Sri Krishna in Sri Aurobindo’s physical consciousness. Explaining the significance of the spiritual realisation of November 24, 1926, the Mother had emphasised that this realisation was “truly important FOR THE CREATION. While the realisation made no difference for Sri Aurobindo personally, the event was significant because this kind of complete descent of the Supreme from the past creation, Overmind, was now consenting to participate in the new manifestation.” (Agenda, Vol. 2, pp. 299-301).
We feature the complete conversation of the Mother along with a descriptive selection from Nirodbaran’s writing which presents the unfolding events in the Ashram on that special day of November 24, 1926.
For our insightful conversation series, we speak with Dr. Bhawana Badhe and Mr. Sushrut Badhe on their experience of taking the wisdom of Bhagavad Gita to children and youth through Krishna’s Butter Project which is based out of Puducherry. The conversation brings to light the inspiration behind the project, its pedagogical approach and its unique focus.
It also explores other relevant questions including: the significance of Bhagavad Gita as a scripture for practical spirituality that helps one evolve and heal; and the resistance of formal educational institutions in introducing such practical insights from our scriptures in the overall curriculum.
Another important dimension in which we explore the theme of perseverance is that of nations and civilisations which endure and gain immortality. Nolini Kanta Gupta’s insightful essay is a reading not to be missed by those interested in understanding the psycho-spiritual essence of a group-soul that forms the core of a nation.
Only in the land of Bhārat we have a well-preserved collective memory of the long search for true immortality by mystics and seers. The spiritual riches gained through such explorations in the world of spirit have, in essence, made the Indian nation immortal. Veda is the earliest record available to humankind of such spiritual explorations and realisations. In our Book of the Month series, we feature a few excerpts from Sushrut Badhe’s book, Rhythm of the Veda-Know your Devas.
Next parts of our two ongoing series, Sri Aurobindo on Isha Upanishad and सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः – May All be Free from Illness complete this issue.
As we continue with our year-long journey of exploring each of the 12 attributes, we are reminded of the Mother’s words that to constantly strive for progress is the perfect formula for staying forever young.
With a quiet aspiration to grow in sincerity, humility, and perseverance, I close this editorial and hope that our readers will find value and inspiration in this issue’s offerings. As always, I offer this work at the lotus feet of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
Beloo Mehra (for Renaissance Editorial Team)
~ Design: Beloo Mehra