Editor’s note: In these letters, Sri Aurobindo reminds the sadhaks to detach from and not identify with the wrong movements in the nature that are bound to come on the path of sadhana. He advises to go on aspiring for greater peace because only in inner peace and silence the Divine Force can work to transform the nature.
Live in the Peace Behind
Aspire, concentrate in the right spirit and, whatever the difficulties, you are sure to attain the aim you have put before you.
It is in the peace behind and that “something truer” in you that you must learn to live and feel it to be yourself. You must regard the rest as not your real self, but only a flux of changing or recurring movements on the surface which are sure to go as the true self emerges.
Peace is the true remedy; distraction by hard work is only a temporary relief—although a certain amount of work is necessary for the proper balance of the different parts of the being.
To feel the peace above or about your head is a first step; you have to get connected with it and it must descend into you and fill your mind and life and body and surround you so that you live in it—for this peace is one sign of the Divine’s presence with you, and once you have it all the rest will begin to come.
Truth in speech and truth in thought are very important. The more you can feel falsehood as being not part of yourself, as coming on you from outside, the easier it will be to reject and refuse it.
Persevere and what is still crooked will be made straight and you will know and feel concretely the truth of the Divine’s presence and your faith will be justified by direct experience.
[. . .]
To be calm, undisturbed and quiet is not the first condition for sadhana but for siddhi. It is only a few people (very few, one, two, three, four in a hundred sadhaks) who can get it from the first. Most have to go through a long preparation before they can get anywhere near it.
Even afterwards when they begin to feel the peace and calm, it takes time to establish it—they swing between peace and disturbance for a fairly long time until all parts of the nature have accepted the truth and the peace. So there is no reason for you to suppose you cannot progress or arrive.
You are finding a great difficulty with one part of your nature which has been accustomed to open itself to these feelings, separation from the Mother and attachment to relatives, and is not willing to give them up—that is all. But everybody finds such obstinate difficulties in that part of the nature, even the most successful sadhaks here. One has to persevere until the light conquers there.
[. . .]
That is the right way—to keep the peace of the higher consciousness, then even if there is vital disturbance, it will be only on the surface. The foundation will remain till the Force can release the true vital.
Detachment, silence, inner peace are certainly indispensable for the spiritual progress—a quiet peace-filled detachment. In that peace the Force must do its work. Attacks of confusion, pains etc.—the one thing to arrive at is to be able to stand back from them, to feel detachment from them, separate and call down the Force to act.
Whenever one can do that, the attack, the difficulty after a time retires—or even if it lasts a little cannot disturb what has been gained.
Move Towards a Firm Basis of Calm and Equality
The depression and vital struggle must have been due to some defect of over-eagerness and straining for a result in your former effort—so that when a fall in the consciousness came it was a depressed, disappointed and confused vital that came to the surface giving full entry to the suggestions of doubt, despair and inertia from the adverse side of Nature.
You have to move towards a firm basis of calm and equality in the vital and physical no less than in the mental consciousness; let there be the full downflow of Power and Ananda, but into a firm adhara capable of containing it—it is a complete equality that gives that capacity and firmness.
When the peace of the higher consciousness descends, it brings always with it this tendency towards equality, samatā, because without samatā peace is always liable to be attacked by the waves of the lower nature.
~ Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol,. 29, pp. 125-128
In our previous issue
What is Yogic Samatā?: Sri Aurobindo Explains
Dealing with Wrong Movements of the Lower Vital
The lower vital in most human beings is full of grave defects and of movements that respond to hostile forces. A constant psychic opening, a persistent rejection of these influences, a separation of oneself from all hostile suggestions and the inflow of the calm, light, peace, purity of the Mother’s power would eventually free the system from the siege.
What is needed is to be quiet and more and more quiet, to look on these influences as something not yourself which has intruded, to separate yourself from it and deny it and to abide in a quiet confidence in the Divine Power.
If your psychic being asks for the Divine and your mind is sincere and calls for liberation from the lower nature and from all hostile forces and if you can call the Mother’s power into your heart and rely upon it more than on your own strength, this siege will in the end be driven away from you and strength and peace take its place.
~ Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 31, p. 158
Aspire for Peace, Do Not Demand
(Peace by the way is not joy—for peace can be there even when joy is quiescent.) It is not a fact that one ought not to pray or aspire for peace or spiritual joy. Peace is the very basis of all the siddhi in the Yoga, and why should not one pray or aspire for foundation in the Yoga?
Spiritual joy or a deep inner happiness (not disturbed even when there come superficial storms or perturbations) is a constant concomitant of contact or union with the Divine, and why should it be forbidden to pray or aspire for contact with the Divine and the joy that attends it?
As for Ananda, I have already explained that I mean by Ananda something greater than peace or joy, something that, like Truth and Light, is the very nature of the supramental Divine. It can come by frequent inrushes or descents, partially or for a time even now, but it cannot remain in the system so long as the system has not been prepared for it.
Meanwhile, peace and joy can be there permanently, but the condition of this permanence is that one should have the constant contact or indwelling of the Divine, and this comes naturally not to the outer mind or vital but to the inner soul or psychic being.
Therefore one who wants his Yoga to be a path of peace or joy, must be prepared to dwell in his soul rather than in his outer mental and emotional nature.
I objected in a former letter not to aspiration but to a demand, to making peace, joy or Ananda a condition for following the Yoga. And it is undesirable because if you do so, then the vital, not the psychic, takes the lead.
When the vital takes the lead, then unrest, despondency, unhappiness can always come, since these things are the very nature of the vital—the vital can never remain constantly in joy and peace, for it needs their opposites in order to have the sense of the drama of life.
And yet when unrest and unhappiness come, the vital at once cries, “I am not given my due, what is the use of my doing this Yoga?” Or else it makes a gospel of its unhappiness and says,. . . that the path to fulfilment must be a tragic road through the desert. And yet it is precisely this predominance of the vital in us that makes the necessity of passing through the desert.
If the psychic were always there in front, the desert would be no longer a desert and the wilderness would blossom with the rose.
Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 31, pp. 167-168
~ Design: Beloo Mehra