Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo
The Complete Set
In your letter on meditation and work, you say, “...afterwards meditation has to build laboriously a big superstructure on that foundation. It is very indispensable...”
“It” obviously refers to “the building of the superstructure”.
You have written: “Those who do work for the Mother in all sincerity are prepared by the work itself for the right consciousness even if they do not sit down for meditation.” Yet in another letter you say: “It may be necessary for an individual here and there to plunge into meditation for a time.”
This applies to a certain number of people – it does not lay down non-meditation as a principle. Note the “even if” which gives the proper shade.
To “plunge into” means to do meditation alone – for a time only.
These statements would obviously mean that meditation is not indispensable, for sincere workers, I mean.
I do not mind if you find inconsistencies in my statements. What people call consistency is usually a rigid or narrow-minded inability to see more than one side of the truth or more than their own narrow personal view or experience of things. Truth has many aspects and unless you look on all with a calm and equal eye, you will never have the real or the integral knowledge.
But when I wrote to you that I didn't feel like meditating, you replied, “I don't see how you can change your lower consciousness without it”; and when I got back the urge to meditate you again said, “That is the only thing to do.”
Perhaps there was a stress on the “you”.
I have hardly any time for meditation because till 9.30 p.m. I am simply cramped with work, classes, etc. After that I read a little or jump straight into bed and fall into a state of “Sachchidananda”, as Barinbabu terms it. Now how to reconcile the two?
Half an hour's meditation in the day ought to be possible – if only to bring a concentrated habit into the consciousness which will help it, first to be less outward in work and, secondly, to develop a receptive tendency which can bear its fruits even in the work.
In her Prayers and Meditations, under 8th October, 1914 the Mother says: “The joy that is contained in activity is compensated and balanced by the perhaps still greater joy contained in withdrawal from all activity...” This state of greater joy. Mother explains, is that state of Sachchidananda and the withdrawal is not an inner detachment during work. Does it not suggest then that there is a joy in non-activity superceding that of activity? If such be the case, one would naturally aspire for this far greater I which is the aim and purpose of our sadhana, isn't it so?
Do you think the Mother has a rigid mind like you people and was laying down a hard and fast rule for all time and all people and conditions? It refers to a certain stage when the consciousness is sometimes in activity and when not in activity is withdrawn in itself. Afterwards comes a stage when the Sachchidananda condition is there in work also. There is a still farther stage when both are a were one, but that is the supramental. The two states are the silent Brahman and the active Brahman and they can alternate (1st stage) coexist (2nd stage), fuse (3rd stage). If you reach even the first stage then you can think of applying Mother's dictum, but why misapply it now?
Is it possible to have the highest Sachchidananda realisation in work?
Certainly it is realisable in work. Good Lord! how could integral Yoga exist if it were not?
I regret to say that I haven't read your Arya and Essays the Gita. So I don't know what you have said or how far, about the possibilities of yogic work. I have only a rough idea. Others' experiences are others'...
Not the less true for that!
By the way, Rishabhchand remarked that many are wavering between meditation vs. work. What do you think of that? In spite of the 7 volumes of Arya, 2 volumes of Essays on the Gita and repeated stress on work, your sadhaks are wavering!!
My sadhaks are like that.
So may I request you to thrash out the whole thing beyond doubt, question, wavering, etc., with that addition you said you'd make? Please consider that your yoga is absolutely new ― the Karma part of it, I mean.
Karmayoga is as old as the hills. What is this nonsense about its absolute newness? Donner-wetter! Tausend Teufel!1
If we with our old ideas, are bewildered and question you repeatedly about it, please excuse us.
Yes, but if I have to write the same thing over and over again for each sadhak, – well!
Let one thing be clear – I do not mean by work action done in the ego and the ignorance, for the satisfaction of the ego and in the drive of rajasic desire. There can be no karmayoga without the will to get rid of ego, rajas and desire which are the seals of ignorance.
Another thing, I do not mean philanthropy or the service of humanity or all the rest of the things – moral or idealistic – which men substitute for the deeper truth of works.
I mean by work action done for the Divine and more and more in union with the Divine – for the Divine alone and nothing else. Naturally that is not easy at the beginning, any more than deep meditation and luminous knowledge are easy or even true love and bhakti are easy. But like the others it has to be begun in the right spirit and attitude, with the right will in you, then all the rest will come.
Works done in this spirit are quite as effective as bhakti or contemplation. One gets by the rejection of desire, rajas and ego a peace and purity into which the peace ineffable can descend – one gets by the dedication of one's will to the Divine, by the merging of one's will in the Divine Will the death of ego and the enlarging into the cosmic consciousness or else the uplifting into what is above the cosmic, – one experiences the separation of Purusha from Prakriti and is liberated from the shackles of the outer nature; one becomes aware of one's inner being and feels the outer as an instrument; one feels the universal Force doing one's works and the Self or Purusha watching or witness but free; one feels all one's works taken from one and done by the universal or the supreme Mother or by the Divine Power controlling and acting from behind the heart. By constant reference of all one's will and works to the Divine, love and adoration grow, the psychic being comes forward. By the reference to the Power above one can come to feel it above and its descent and the opening to an increasing consciousness and knowledge. Finally works, bhakti and knowledge join together and self-perfection becomes possible – what we call the transformation of the nature.
These results certainly do not come all at once; they come more or less slowly, more or less completely according to the condition and growth of the being. There is no royal road to the divine realisation.
This is the karmayoga as it is laid down in the Gita and developed by myself in the Arya. It is founded not on speculation and reasoning but on experience. It does not exclude meditation and it certainly does not exclude bhakti, for the self-offering to the Divine, the consecration of all oneself to the Divine which is the very essence of this karmayoga are essentially a movement of bhakti. Only it does exclude a life-fleeing exclusive meditation or an involved Bhakti shut up in its own inner dream taken as the whole movement of the Yoga. One may have hours of pure absorbed meditation or of the inner motionless adoration and ecstasy, but they are not the whole of the integral Yoga.
1 Thundering weather, thousand devils