Editor’s note: From 1923 to 1926, it had become customary that on his birthday, Sri Aurobindo would deliver a small speech about Yoga for his close disciples. The following message dated 15 August 1926 highlights the deeper significance of August 15 for yoga. This is excerpted from Evening Talks with Sri Aurobindo, as recorded by A.B. Purani (1995 edition, pp. 504-508)
I shall say a few words today about the 15th of August. The question was one that was recently put to me and I gave a negative answer in order to remove certain mental and conventional notions on the matter.
I shall now speak about the positive side of the matter. If there were not that other side there would be no use in this celebration. I shall not refer to the personal aspect for very obvious reasons, but I shall say something in general with regard to what it can and ought to mean in regard to the Yoga, the common object we all have in view.
What that object — that Yoga — is, you know in principle. It is the bringing down of a Consciousness, a Power, a Light, a Reality that is other than the consciousness which satisfies the ordinary man upon earth — a Consciousness, a Power and Light of Truth, a Divine Reality which is destined to raise the earth-consciousness and transform everything here.
That cannot take place unless there is a decision from Above. But, also, it cannot be done unless the earth-consciousness itself is in some part of it, in some of those who dwell here upon these lower planes, ready to receive. Once this Consciousness, the Power, descends it is there for all times and every day for those who are willing and fit to receive it.
But we have attached a special importance to this day and it is justified if we live in the light of the Truth it symbolises. For this day we can fix a mark in the stage of the individual and general progress. It is a day which ought to be a day of consecration, of self-examination and a preparation for future advance, if possible, for the reception of a special Power which would carry on the work of advance.
This can only be done in each individually if he takes up the true attitude and lives on that day under the right conditions. That was what I meant when I spoke the other day. It is we who can make it a decisive day in this sense, and it is we who can help to fulfil it.
There must be a consecration from beforehand, and a looking inward on the past to see how far we have reached, what in us is ready, what in us has not yet changed and has yet to be changed, what stands behind waiting for a complete transformation; what still resists and what is still obscure. There must be the aspiration, a calling down of the Power to effect the change which we see to be necessary.
Sri Aurobindo, the Reconciler of Light and Life
All this we cannot do if we throw ourselves out on this day, but only by an intense concentration so that the internal being is ready, and turned upwards to receive the Light. In proportion as we admit an externalising movement we disturb the higher working and waste the energy needed for the work of inner change.
Whatever is done other than on ordinary days should be done either as a part of the movement itself, or as something which is held on the outskirts of the being and cannot disturb the inner movement. And all the customary circumstances of the day must be used for advance.
And if you came to me in the morning, it should not have been in fulfilment of a customary ceremony but with your souls and minds prepared to receive. If you listen to me now and if it is merely something that touches your mental interest and satisfies a mental interest I would rather remain silent.
But if it touches somewhere the inner being, the soul, then only has this day a utility or a purpose. And the meditation too ought to be done under such conditions that even if nothing decisive descends there would be a certain infiltration the results of which would come afterwards.
That is the one meaning of the 15th of August from the point of view of our Yoga.
As to taking stock of the work, where you are and the work, how far it is done, etc., certain things ought to be remembered. You know them with the mind.
First, remember that what are the objects of other yogas are for us only the first stages, or first conditions.
In the former ways of Yoga men were satisfied if they could feel the Brahmic Consciousness or the Cosmic Consciousness or some descent of Light and Power, some intimation of the Infinite. It was thought sufficient if the mind got certain spiritual experiences and underwent a partial transformation and the vital being was in contact with it. They sought for a static condition and considered release as the final goal, the final aim.
To realise all this, to be open to the Infinite and Universal Power, to receive its intimations and to have experiences, to completely go beyond the ego, to realise the Universal Mind, Universal Soul, the Universal Spirit, that is only the first condition.
We have to call down this greater Consciousness also into the vital and the physical beings, so that the supreme calm and universality will be there in all fullness from top to bottom. If this cannot be done then the first condition of transformation is not fulfilled.
The second thing we have to know and remember is that nothing is perfectly done unless all is perfectly done. It is not sufficient to open the mind and the vital being and leave the physical being to its obscurity.
So in the transformation also, the mind cannot be fully transformed unless the vital also is transformed. If the vital being is not transformed nothing can be realized; because it is the vital being that realizes. And if the mind is only partially changed and if the vital being is open and also partially changed it is still not sufficient for our purpose. Because the whole range of the vital being cannot be changed unless the physical being also is opened and changed, for the divine vital cannot realize itself in an unfitting environmental life.
And it is not enough for the inner physical being to be changed if the external man is not transformed. In this process of Yoga there is a whole totality and each depends upon the other. Therefore to stop short may be a preparation for another life, but it is not the victory. All has to be changed before anything can be permanently changed.
When the mind, life and body are entirely divine and supramentalised, that is the perfect transformation and the true transformation is the process that leads towards it.~ Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 28, p. 297
The third thing to remember is that if all is to be changed and done then there must be complete surrender with no reservation in any part of the being, no compromise with the old customary thoughts and human ways of doing things.
Wherever anything is reserved, it means the Truth is not accepted and we shall commit, again, the old mistake of partial achievement and transformation. We should leave no field for the indulgence of ignorance. For us there can be no compromise between falsehood and Truth, between the Supreme and the lower nature.
It is by remembering these things that we have to take stock of our work. To see how much is to be done, not in any spirit of pessimism because the way is long and hard and cannot be done by a miracle. It can only be accomplished by a large and thorough movement.
Each step you have to take as a mark, as an encouragement, for a step towards the Beyond: on one side no lack of resolution and zeal for the victory to be won, on the other no hasty impatience or depression, but the calm certainty for the Divine Will, the calm will that “It shall be done in us” and the aspiration that “It may be done for us so that it may be done for the world.”
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