Editor’s note: We present here a selection of letters of Sri Aurobindo in which he describes the working of the Mother’s Force in Integral Yoga and how we must open to receive it. These letters were written in responses to the questions some disciples had asked based on the descriptions of the Divine Mother given in the book ‘The Mother‘.
What is the Yoga shakti? What is Yogic mind-force, Yogic life-force and Yogic body-force?
In the Yogic consciousness one is not only aware of things, but of forces, not only of forces, but of the conscious being behind the forces. One is aware of all this not only in oneself but in the universe. There is a force which accompanies the growth of this new consciousness and at once grows with it and helps it to come about and to perfect itself. This force is the Yoga shakti.
It is here asleep and coiled up in all the centres of our inner being (chakras) and is at the base what is called in the Tantras the Kundalini Shakti. But it is also above us, above our head as the Divine Force—not there coiled up, involved, asleep, but awake, scient, potent, extended and wide; it is there waiting for manifestation and to this Force we have to open ourselves—to the power of the Mother.
In the mind it manifests itself as a divine mind-force or a universal mind-force and it can do everything that the personal mind cannot do; it is then the Yogic mindforce. When it manifests and works in the vital or physical in the same way, it is then apparent as a Yogic life-force or a Yogic body-force.
It can awake in all these forms, bursting outwards and upwards, extending itself into wideness from below; or it can descend and become there a definite power for things; it can pour downwards into the body, working, establishing its reign, extending into wideness from above, link the lowest in us with the highest above us, release the individual into a cosmic universality or into absoluteness and transcendence.
Open to the Mother
When you say to someone, “You are open to the Mother”, do you mean open in a general way? Are not all in the Ashram more or less open to the Mother as soon as they have accepted her as the Mother? And when the Mother has accepted a sadhak, does her Force not begin to work in him and is it not always with him?
All are not open to the Force. X never was in the least degree and there are others who shut themselves up in their own self-will or their own formations, ideas or desires. If there is no opening, the Force may act for a long time without response—and if there is an insufficient opening then the progress will be slow and chequered by great difficulties.
Let nothing and nobody come between you and the Mother’s force. It is on your admitting and keeping that force and responding to the true inspiration and not on any ideas the mind may form that success will depend. Even ideas or plans which might otherwise be useful, will fail if there is not behind them the true spirit and the true force and influence.
Nowadays my vital nature gets excited about anything and everything, even trifles. From morning to night it is in an unhappy condition. I have my doubts whether it can be changed. I know that it is not in my power to do the work; the Mother’s Grace alone can do it. My outer mind needs some rays of hope.
It is to be assumed that you are capable of the change since you are here in the presence and under the protection of the Mother. The pressure and help of the Mother’s Force is always there.
Your rapidity of progress depends upon your keeping yourself open to it and rejecting calmly, quietly and steadily all suggestions and invasions of other forces. Especially the nervous excitement of the vital has to be rejected; a calm and quiet strength in the nervous being and the body is the only sound basis. It is there for you to receive, if you open yourself to it always.
This restless mind and unquiet vital are not peculiar to you; they are the human nature from which every sadhak starts. What you have to get is the Mother’s force and grace bringing with it deliverance, peace and Ananda which you say you from time to time experience.
That in the beginning does come only for a short time, but as you persist in the path, it increases in frequency and stays longer until it can be made a permanent experience. It is this that will cure the defects of which you complain.
Is not every sadhak ready to receive and contain the Mother’s force at any time and in any circumstance? Who would not want to hold its constant action?
It is not a question of mental wish but of capacity and whether all the parts of the being are ready and can retain it. If everybody were containing the constant action of the Mother’s force, the sadhana would be finished by now and the siddhi complete.
There are some people here who remain constantly in despair and gloom because they have become conscious of their minutest imperfections, but they are unable to get rid of them.
They are unable for two reasons: (1) because they yield to despair and gloom and the illusion of impotence, (2) because they try only with their own strength and do not care or know how to call in the working of the Mother’s force.
Sometimes I feel a thick wall between me and the Divine. At other times there is a pressure on me and I feel quietude come into me.
Persevere in spite of the fluctuations. The Mother’s force is at work all the time, even when the thick wall is there, so that there may be no wall in future.
You have written that “the Force is there”. Why then do I not feel it except for a short time after pranam? Formerly I felt that the Force above was doing the sadhana. Why do I not feel it now?
The Mother’s Force is not only above on the summit of the being. It is there with you and near you, ready to act whenever your nature will allow it. It is so with everybody here.
When a sadhak works with the right attitude and the higher Force acts in him directly, how does the Force work to purify or remove his defects and imperfections?
It acts by awakening the inner consciousness gradually or swiftly, by replacing the principle of ego-service by the principle of service of the Divine, by making him watch his actions and see his own defects and pushing him to rectify them, by establishing a connection between his consciousness and the Mother’s consciousness, by preparing his nature to be taken up more and more by the Mother’s consciousness and force, by giving him experiences which make him ready for the major experiences of Yoga, by stimulating the growth of his psychic being, by opening him to the Mother as the Universal Being, etc. etc.
Naturally it acts differently in different persons.
Rely only on the Mother’s Force
How can I do Yoga when I know nothing about your Yoga? I do not even know what to do.
There are two ways of doing Yoga, one by knowledge and one’s own efforts, the other by reliance on the Mother. In the last way one has to offer one’s mind and heart and all to the Mother for her Force to work on it, call her in all difficulties, have faith and bhakti.
At first it takes time, often a long time, for the consciousness to be prepared in this way and during that time many difficulties can come up, but if one perseveres a time comes when all is ready, the Mother’s Force opens the consciousness fully to the Divine, then all that must develop develops within, spiritual experience comes and with it the knowledge and union with the Divine.
A Yoga like this needs patience, because it means a change both of the radical motives and of each part and detail of the nature. It will not do to say, “Yesterday I determined this time to give myself entirely to the Mother, and look it is not done, on the contrary all the old opposite things turn up once more; so there is nothing to do but to proclaim myself unfit and give up the Yoga.”
Of course when you come to the point where you make a resolution of that kind, immediately all that stands in the way does rise up—it invariably happens. The thing to be done is to stand back, observe and reject, not to allow these things to get hold of you, to keep your central will separate from them and call in the Mother’s Force to meet them.
If one does get involved as often happens, then to get disinvolved as soon as possible and go forward again. That is what everybody, every Yogi does—to be depressed because one cannot do everything in a rush is quite contrary to the truth of the matter.
A stumble does not mean that one is unfit, nor does prolonged difficulty mean that for oneself the thing is impossible.
The fact that you have to give up your ordinary work when you get depressed does not mean that you have not gained in steadiness—it only means that the steadiness you have gained is not a personal virtue but depends on your keeping the contact with the Mother—for it is her force that is behind it and behind all the progress you can make.
Learn to rely on that Force more, to open to it more completely and to seek spiritual progress even not for your own sake but for the sake of the Divine—then you will go on more smoothly.
Get the psychic opening in the most external physical consciousness. That and not despondency is the lesson you ought to draw from your present adverse experience.
~ Design: Beloo Mehra