January 21, 1962
(The point of departure for this conversation was one of Sri Aurobindo's aphorisms:)
70 – Examine thyself without pity, then thou wilt be more charitable and pitiful to others.
Very good! (Mother laughs) That's very good.
It's very good for everyone, isn't it?
Especially for those who think they're so superior.
But it really does correspond to something very deep.
This is exactly the experience I have been going through these past few days; since the day before yesterday it seems to have reached its peak, and this morning it developed into a comprehensive vision, an earth-encompassing vision.
It's almost like a reversal of attitude.
Actually, people have always taken themselves for victims hounded by adverse forces – the courageous fight back, the rest lament. But increasingly there has been a very concrete vision of the role the adverse forces play in the creation, of their almost absolute necessity as goads to make the creation progress and become its Origin again. And there was such a clear vision that one should accomplish one's own transformation – that's what we must pray for, what we must work out – rather than demand the conversion or abolition of the adverse forces.
And this is all from the terrestrial, not the individual standpoint (for the individual standpoint, it's quite clear): I am speaking from the terrestrial standpoint.
And there was the sudden vision of all the error, all the incomprehension, all the ignorance, all the darkness and – even worse – all the ill will in the earth's consciousness, which felt responsible for the prolongation of those adverse forces and beings and offered them up in a great... it was more than an aspiration, it was a sort of holocaust, so that the adverse forces might disappear, might no longer have any reason to exist, no longer need to be there to point out all that has to change.
The adverse forces were necessitated by all these negations of the divine life. And this movement of earth consciousness towards the Supreme, the offering of all these things with such extraordinary intensity, was a kind of reparation so that those adverse forces might disappear.
The experience was very intense. It crystallized around a small nucleus of experiences too personal to mention (because I wasn't the only one involved), which translated into this: “Take all my wrongdoings, take them all, accept them, obliterate them, and may those forces disappear.”
That's essentially what this aphorism says, seen from the other end. So long as a single human consciousness carries the possibility of feeling, acting, thinking or being in opposition to the great divine Becoming, it is impossible to blame anyone else for it; it is impossible to blame the adverse forces, which are kept in the creation as a means of making you see and feel how far you still have to go.
It was like a memory,1 an eternally present memory of that consciousness of supreme Love emanated by the Lord onto earth – INTO earth – to draw it back again to Him. And truly it was the descent of the very essence of the divine nature into the most total divine negation, and thus the abandonment of the divine condition to take on terrestrial darkness, so as to bring Earth back to the divine state. And unless That, that supreme Love, becomes all-powerfully conscious here on Earth, the return can never be definitive.
It came after the vision of the great divine Becoming.2 “Since this world is progressive,” I was wondering, “since it is increasingly becoming the Divine, won't there always be this deeply painful sense of the nondivine, of the state that, compared with the one to come, is not divine? Won't there always be what we call 'adverse forces,' in other words, things that don't harmoniously follow the movement?” Then came the answer, the vision of That: “No, the moment of this very Possibility is drawing near, the moment for the manifestation of the essence of perfect Love, which can transform this unconsciousness, this ignorance and this ill will that goes with it into a luminous and joyous progression, wholly progressive, wholly comprehensive, thirsting for perfection.”
It was very concrete.
And it corresponds to a state where you are so PERFECTLY identified with all that is, that you concretely become all that is antidivine – and so you can offer it up. It can be offered up and really transformed through this offering.
This sort of will in people for purity, for Good (which in ordinary mentality is expressed by a need to be virtuous) is actually the GREAT OBSTACLE to true self-giving. It's the root of Falsehood, the very source of hypocrisy: the refusal to take up one's share of the burden of difficulties. And that's what Sri Aurobindo has touched on in this aphorism, directly and very simply.
Do not try to be virtuous. See to what extent you are united, ONE with all that is antidivine. Take up your share of the burden; accept to be impure and false yourself, and in so doing you will be able to take up the Shadow and offer it. And insofar as you are able to take it and offer it, things will change.3
Don't try to be among the pure. Accept to be with those who are in darkness and, in total love, offer it all.
From the moment this was seen and DONE, the full power came back – the great creative Power.
Most likely the experience could take place only because the time had come for all this to be offered up.
The point is not to perpetuate those things, but to offer them up.
Because the time has come to manifest this Power, which is a power of Love – of LOVE, not merely of identity – of Love, of perfect Love; for perfect Love alone can offer.
It happened this morning, with great simplicity, but at the same time it had something so vast and almighty in it, as if the Universal Mother were turning towards the Lord and saying, “At last! We are ready.”
That was my experience this morning.
Do you mean to say there's been a progress on Earth?
Yes, on Earth; it's the Earth's history that's in question.
In those realms, you know, “now” sometimes stretches over many years. I won't say it's going to be instantaneous; that, I don't know – I don't know. I will probably know in a few days.
It's like opening a door just a crack and catching a glimpse of what's beyond....
It was the same experience when I told Sri Aurobindo that India was free; it was the Universal Mother speaking from what could be called Her origin – it was from that level – and the thing took thirty-five years to come down on Earth.
When I had the experience that the time had come for the supramental Force to descend on Earth, I followed the effects of that descent, I followed the effects and the consequences in my consciousness. But to ordinary eyes it was something like what happened with India's liberation – it's possible, of course, that the Supermind did come down, but for the moment its effects are more than veiled.
The first rather tangible manifestation was this vision of the boat; with that, things became more concrete, it radically changed something in the attitude.
We're at another stage now.
This recent period has been very difficult. I see clearly that it was a preparation – to prepare the way for that experience. It came to reverse the attitude, the attitude of struggling to surmount, subdue and abolish everything antidivine in creation.
Up till now, this attitude was probably (not probably – certainly) necessary to prepare things. But now there's a sort of sudden reversal, as if the moment had come for the creative principle, the force, the universal creative Force to say, “This too is Me. For it is time for it to disappear. This too is Me: I no longer treat it as an enemy to get rid of; I accept it as Myself, so that it truly does become Me.”
And it was preceded by a kind of anguish: “Will there always be something that, compared with the state to come, seems antidivine?” No: after a long preparation, it becomes capable of feeling divine – and thus of being divine.
Looking at things externally, in terms of present material reality, there is still a lot of ground to be covered before the new manifestation becomes an actual fact. What we have now is probably the seed of the thing – like the seed of India's freedom, which later blossomed.
(Two letters of Sri Aurobindo on psychoanalysis)
This Letter was published in the Letters on Yoga, Cent. Ed., XXIV.1605 ff. here
Your practice of psycho-analysis was a mistake. It has, for the time at least, made the work of purification more complicated, not easier. The psycho-analysis of Freud is the last thing that one should associate with yoga. It takes up a certain part, the darkest, the most perilous, the unhealthiest part of the nature, the lower vital subconscious layer, isolates some of its most morbid phenomena and attributes to it and them an action out of all proportion to its true role in the nature. Modern psychology is an infant science, at once rash, fumbling and crude. As in all infant sciences, the universal habit of the human mind – to take a partial or local truth, generalise it unduly and try to explain a whole field of Nature in its narrow terms – runs riot here. Moreover, the exaggeration of the importance of suppressed sexual complexes is a dangerous falsehood and it can have a nasty influence and tend to make the mind and vital more and not less fundamentally impure than before.
It is true that the subliminal in man is the largest part of his nature and has in it the secret of the unseen dynamisms which explain his surface activities. But the lower vital subconscious which is all that this psycho-analysis of Freud seems to know, – and even of that it knows only a few ill-lit corners, – is no more than a restricted and very inferior portion of the subliminal whole. The subliminal self stands behind and supports the whole superficial man; it has in it a larger and more efficient mind behind the surface mind, a larger and more powerful vital behind the surface vital, a subtler and freer physical consciousness behind the surface bodily existence. And above them it opens to higher superconscient as well as below them to lower subconscient ranges. If one wishes to purify and transform the nature, it is the power of these higher ranges to which one must open and raise to them and change by them both the subliminal and the surface being. Even this should be done with care, not prematurely or rashly, following a higher guidance, keeping always the right attitude; for otherwise the force that is drawn down may be too strong for an obscure and weak frame of nature. But to begin by opening up the lower subconscious, risking to raise up all that is foul or obscure in it, is to go out of one's way to invite trouble. First, one should make the higher mind and vital strong and firm and full of light and peace from above; afterwards one can open up or even dive into the subconscious with more safety and some chance of a rapid and successful change.
The system of getting rid of things by anubhava [experience] can also be a dangerous one; for on this way one can easily become more entangled instead of arriving at freedom. This method has behind it two well-known psychological motives. One, the motive of purposeful exhaustion, is valid only in some cases, especially when some natural tendency has too strong a hold or too strong a drive in it to be got rid of by vicara [intellectual reflection] or by the process of rejection and the substitution of the true movement in its place; when that happens in excess, the sadhak has sometimes even to go back to the ordinary action of the ordinary life, get the true experience of it with a new mind and will behind and then return to the spiritual life with the obstacle eliminated or else ready for elimination. But this method of purposive indulgence is always dangerous, though sometimes inevitable. It succeeds only when there is a very strong will in the being towards realisation; for then indulgence brings a strong dissatisfaction and reaction, vairagya, and the will towards perfection can be carried down into the recalcitrant part of the nature.
The other motive for anubhava is of a more general applicability; for in order to reject anything from the being one has first to become conscious of it, to have the clear inner experience of its action and to discover its actual place in the workings of the nature. One can then work upon it to eliminate it, if it is an entirely wrong movement, or to transform it if it is only the degradation of a higher and true movement. It is this or something like it that is attempted crudely and improperly with a rudimentary and insufficient knowledge in the system of psycho-analysis. The process of raising up the lower movements into the full light of consciousness in order to know and deal with them is inevitable; for there can be no complete change without it. But it can truly succeed only when a higher light and force are sufficiently at work to overcome, sooner or later, the force of the tendency that is held up for change. Many, under the pretext of anubhava, not only raise up the adverse movement, but support it with their consent instead of rejecting it, find justifications for continuing or repeating it and so go on playing with it, indulging its return, eternising it; afterwards when they want to get rid of it, it has got such a hold that they find themselves helpless in its clutch and only a terrible struggle or an intervention of divine grace can liberate them. Some do this out of a vital twist or perversity, others out of sheer ignorance; but in yoga, as in life, ignorance is not accepted by Nature as a justifying excuse. This danger is there in all improper dealings with the ignorant parts of the nature; but none is more ignorant, more perilous, more unreasoning and obstinate in recurrence than the lower vital subconscious and its movements. To raise it up prematurely or improperly for anubhava is to risk suffusing the conscious parts also with its dark and dirty stuff and thus poisoning the whole vital and even the mental nature. Always therefore one should begin by a positive, not a negative experience, by bringing down something of the divine nature, calm, light, equanimity, purity, divine strength into the parts of the conscious being that have to be changed; only when that has been sufficiently done and there is a firm positive basis, is it safe to raise up the concealed subconscious adverse elements in order to destroy and eliminate them by the strength of the divine calm, light, force and knowledge. Even so, there will be enough of the lower stuff rising up of itself to give you as much of the anubhava as you will need for getting rid of the obstacles; but then they can be dealt with with much less danger and under a higher internal guidance.
This Letter was published in the Letters on Yoga, Cent. Ed., XXIV.1605 ff. here
I find it difficult to take these psycho-analysts at all seriously when they try to scrutinise spiritual experience by the flicker of their torch-lights, – yet perhaps one ought to, for half-knowledge is a powerful thing and can be a great obstacle to the coming in front of the true Truth. This new psychology looks to me very much like children learning some summary and not very adequate alphabet, exulting in putting their a-b-c-d of the subconscient and the mysterious underground super-ego together and imagining that their first book of obscure beginnings (c-a-t cat, t-r-e-e tree) is the very heart of the real knowledge. They look from down up and explain the higher lights by the lower obscurities; but the foundation of these things is above and not below, upari budhna esam. The superconscient, not the subconscient, is the true foundation of things. The significance of the lotus is not to be found by analysing the secrets of the mud from which it grows here; its secret is to be found in the heavenly archetype of the lotus that blooms for ever in the Light above. The self-chosen field of these psychologists is besides poor, dark and limited; you must know the whole before you can know the part and the highest before you can truly understand the lowest. That is the promise of the greater psychology awaiting its hour before which these poor gropings will disappear and come to nothing.
1 Questioned about the meaning of these words, Mother said, “The state I was in was like a memory.”
2 See conversation of January 12, 1962.
3 When Satprem published extracts from this conversation in the Ashram Bulletin of April 1962, Mother had this passage modified (over his protests). Instead of “Do not try to be virtuous,” she put “Do not try to seem virtuous”; and she added: “There's a drawback here. People never understand anything, or rather they understand everything in their own way. They would take this sentence as an encouragement to get into mischief, to misbehave, to entertain wrong feelings, and then proclaim, 'We are the Lord's favorites!'... There was something like it in one of Sri Aurobindo's letters, you remember – a letter to people who wanted to bring all the impurities in themselves out to the surface; he told them that was definitely not the way!” (See Sri Aurobindo's two letters on psychoanalysis in the Addendum.)