Editor’s note: How to look at misfortune with a true attitude of equality? We share the Mother’s comment on one of the aphorisms of Sri Aurobindo about this. We also feature a few of Sri Aurobindo’s letters about the significance of equality when confronted with suggestions or attacks by hostile forces.
Equality and Misfortune
Sri Aurobindo’s Aphorism:
O Misfortune, blessed be thou; for through thee I have seen the face of my Lover.– CWSA, Vol. 12, p. 427
Question: If through misfortune one sees the face of God, then it is no longer misfortune, is it?
The Mother Explains:
Obviously, far from being a misfortune, it is a blessing. And this is precisely what Sri Aurobindo means.
When things happen which are not what we expect, what we hope for, what we want, which are contrary to our desires, in our ignorance we call them misfortunes and lament.
But if we were to become a little wiser and observe the deeper consequences of these very same events, we would find that they are leading us rapidly towards the Divine, the Beloved; whereas easy and pleasant circumstances encourage us to dally on the path, to stop along the way to pluck the flowers of pleasure which present themselves to us and which we are too weak or not sincere enough to reject resolutely, so that our march forward is not delayed.
One must already be very strong, very far along the way, to be able to face success and the little enjoyments it brings without giving way.
Those who can do this, those who are strong, do not run after success; they do not seek it, and accept it with indifference. For they know and appreciate the value of the lashes given by unhappiness and misfortune.
But ultimately the true attitude, the sign and proof that we are near the goal, is a perfect equality which enables us to accept success and failure, fortune and misfortune, happiness and sorrow with the same tranquil joy; for all these things become marvellous gifts that the Lord in his infinite solicitude showers upon us.
– The Mother (CWM, Vol. 10, pp. 58-59)
Equality and Dealing with Hostile Attacks
About the contact with the world and the hostile forces, that is of course always one of the sadhak’s chief difficulties, but to transform the world and the hostile powers is too big a task and the personal transformation cannot wait for it.
What has to be done is to come to live in the Power that these things, these disturbing elements cannot penetrate, or, if they penetrate, cannot disturb, and to be so purified and strengthened by it that there is in oneself no response to anything hostile.
If there is a protecting envelopment, an inner purifying descent and, as a result, a settling of the higher consciousness in the inner being and finally, its substitution even in the most external outwardly active parts in place of the old ignorant consciousness, then the world and the hostile forces will no longer matter—for one’s own soul at least; for there is a larger work not personal in which of course they will have to be dealt with; but that need not be a main preoccupation at the present stage.
~ Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 31, p. 796
There are two things that make it impossible for them [the hostile forces] to succeed even temporarily in any attack on the mind or the vital—first, an entire love, devotion and confidence that nothing can shake, secondly, a calm and equality in the vital as well as in the mind which has become the fundamental character of the inner nature.
Suggestions then may still come, things go wrong outside, but the being remains invulnerable. Either of these two things is sufficient in itself—and in proportion as they grow, even the existence of the hostile forces becomes less and less of a phenomenon of the inner life—though they may still be there in the outer atmosphere.
~ Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 31, p. 796
It is those who are of a highly sattwic nature, especially if strongly surrendered to the Mother, who escape the invasion or attacks of the hostile Forces on the mind and vital.
That does not mean that they escape the difficulties of the lower human nature or of the sadhana, but these are not complicated by the effective support given to them by the hostiles. It is not that there is no point in them that might be pressed upon by the hostiles but in actual fact they cannot get at these points because of the build of the nature which is fortified against them owing to the large proportion of prakāśa and sukha which the sattwic brings with it.
But otherwise there is an internal clarity, a balance, a happy composition in the being reflecting sunlight easily, less amenable to the touch of cloud and tempest, which gives no handle to the hostile forces.
The nature refuses to be violently agitated or darkened or upset. At most it is the body that the hostiles can attack and there too because the nervous being is calm and it is only through the most material that it can be done.
~ Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 31, pp. 794-795
~ Design: Raamkumar and Beloo Mehra