Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo
The Complete Set
Apropos our discussion on women, let me put before you Mother's opinion on the matter. She says that women are not more bound to the vital and material consciousness than men. On the contrary, as they do not have the arrogant mental pretensions of men, it is easier for them to discover their psychic being and be guided by it.
No doubt, they can discover their psychic being more easily, – but that is not enough. It is the first step. The next is to live in the psychic. The third is to make the psychic the ruler of the being. The fourth is to rise beyond the mind. The fifth is to bring what is beyond mind into the lower nature. I don't say it is always done in that order. But all that has to be done.
Then why do you say that these are my clear-cut mental assertions?1
Perhaps if you give full weight to my marginal answers, you will realise why. The truth is too complex for such assertions to be reliable.
Mother also says that women are conscious in their sentiments, and that the best of them are conscious in their acts. If that is so, there is no more question2 about it, I think.
That is too much to say. There may not be so much mental questioning but there may be a lot of vital questioning and resistance.
You will agree then that women are more intuitive than men?
Yes, that of course – but it is the spontaneous intuition of the heart or of the vital mind, not the Intuition with a capital I.
As they live in the vital, their difficulties in the sadhana will be less, I suppose.
Not at all. How can living in the vital make things easier? The vital is the main source of difficulties in the Yoga. The difficulty with men is not purely mental. There too it is vital – only men call in their intellect to defend their vital against the coming or the touch or the pressure of the Divine. Women call in their vital mind to do the same thing.
Nolini writes in his book, “Woman's whole being is concentrated on the thing she clings to, but man's vision is not so exclusive. niṣṭhā is the very nature and ideal of woman.”
It depends on the spirit in which she is concentrated. There is the psychicised spiritual and there is the unregenerate vital. The unregenerate vital way creates enormous difficulties, and its desire to possess means a vehement vital egoism. How can a vehement egoism be helpful for the spiritual life?
If this niṣṭhā can be transformed into higher and diviner things then her path becomes easier, I suppose.
What is this niṣṭhā? If the woman recoils from the vital to the spiritual and psychic (the vital converting itself into an instrument of realisation), then what you say may be true. But there lies the whole question.
Since ancient times women have been trained to accept a position of subjection by Manu and others. Is it because men are more sexual? It would be rather hard on us to be accused of this!
It is because of man's desire to be the master and keep her in subjection, – the Hitler and Mussolini attitude. The sex is an additional stimulus. Not more hard than you deserve.
Then again, it is said that woman's centre of life and consciousness is in the vital, whose nature is to pull the jiva down to earth.
Woman's living in material and vital is not the cause – it is man's living in the vital and material that is the cause of his finding her an obstacle. She also finds him an obstacle and could say of him that he is narakasya dvāraṁ. The assumption that man lives less in the vital and material than woman is not true. He makes more use of his intellect for vital and material purposes – that is all.
Is it not because of this fundamental trait in her being that she has been so sacrificed and tied to man, and also incapacitated from any spiritual endeavour in conjunction with man?
Man has taken advantage of it to keep them under his heel.
Can we not then justify Buddha, Ramakrishna and others who advocated isolation from women? After all, is it not essentially the same principle here, because if vital relations are debarred, nothing remains except a simple exchange of words?
What about the true (not the pretended) psychic and spiritual – forgetting sex? The relation has to be limited as it is because sex immediately trots into the front. You are invited to live above the vital and deeper than the vital – then only you can use the vital aright. Buddha was for Nirvana, and what is the use of having relations with anybody if you are bound for Nirvana? Ramakrishna insisted on isolation during the period when a man is spiritually raw – he did not object to meeting when he became ripe and no longer a slave of sex.
Now, I have learnt a lot on the subject, but it has not been wholly satisfying, since the answers are in the nature of marginal comments. I would like to have a coherent, harmonious whole. My notebook can wait on your table till Monday.
Sorry, but you can't get today either the volume or the harmonious whole. Woman will have to wait as she has done through the centuries and may have to do again if Hitler and Mussolini have their way. The men have crowded her out. Next time better not discuss her yourself – that will save me from the temptation of marginals. As for Monday – no, sir! it is almost as impracticable as the Saturdays.
2 Sri Aurobindo underlined the words “no more question”