Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo
The Complete Set
There was a small gale over the servant business. When his fault was shown, he went on arguing with me with an insolent attitude which I couldn't bear.
Why not? He is using the freedom of his reason and asserting his sovietic equality with you, his “comrade” and fellow human. Ask H.
Really, Sir, your Karmayoga has lost all charm for me. To go on all the time driving a fellow, rebuking him, is an anaesthetic business; besides, one can't pour out the venom as one doesn't know the language. But you harp on your dictum that all this is necessary for a great transformation.
Exceedingly good discipline for you.
Methinks you are making just a little too much of the Yoga-Force, when you speak of poetry, music, painting, etc. I will take Dilip's classical example, to illustrate my viewpoint. He himself, and everybody, agrees that what progress he has made in music and literature has been greatly accelerated by the Yogic Force. But why? Well, because the things were in him, and if he went on cultivating them as assiduously, sincerely, earnestly, outside as he has done here, can you say that he wouldn't have taken such strides in those directions? For any real and remarkable achievement, the main issue is to be born with the capacity and then to have the determination to develop it. Then Force or no Force, one will have the result. Well?
Will you explain to me how Dilip who could not write a single good poem and had no power over rhythm and metre before he came here, suddenly, not after long “assiduous” efforts blossomed into a poet, rhythmist and metrist after he came here? Why was Tagore dumbfounded by the “lame man throwing away his crutches and running” freely and surely on the paths of rhythm? Why was it that I who never understood or cared for painting, suddenly in a single hour by an opening of vision got the eye to see and the mind of understanding about colour, line and design? How was it that I who was unable to understand and follow a metaphysical argument and whom a page of Kant or Hegel or Hume or even Berkeley left either dazed and uncomprehending and fatigued or totally uninterested because I could not fathom or follow, suddenly began writing pages of the stuff as soon as I started the Arya1 and am now reputed to be a great philosopher? How is it that at a time when I felt it difficult to produce more than a paragraph of prose from time to time and more than a rare poem short and laboured, perhaps one in two months, suddenly after concentrating and practising Pranayam daily began to write pages and pages in a single day and kept sufficient faculty to edit a big daily paper2 and afterwards to write 60 pages of philosophy every month? Kindly reflect a little and don't talk facile nonsense. Even if a thing can be done in a moment or a few days by Yoga which would ordinarily take a long, “assiduous, sincere and earnest” cultivation, that would of itself show the power of the Yoga-force. But here a faculty that did not exist appears quickly and spontaneously or impotence changes into highest potency or an obstructed talent changes with equal rapidity into fluent and facile sovereignty. If you deny that evidence, no evidence will convince you, because you are determined to think otherwise.
So about your style too; as you say you were born with it and it flourished by your great endeavours. It is difficult to understand how much the Force has contributed towards its perfection. But I have no doubt about the potency of the Force as regards matters spiritual, though even there one must have the opening, faith, etc., etc.
It may be difficult for you to understand, but it is not difficult for me, since I have followed my own evolution from stage to stage with a perfect vigilance and following up of the process. I have made no endeavours in writing; I have simply left the higher Power to work and when it did not work, I made no efforts at all. It was in the old intellectual days that I sometimes tried to force things, but not after I started the development of poetry and prose by Yoga. Let me remind you also that when I was writing the Arya and also since, whenever I write these letters or replies, I never think or seek for expressions or try to write in good style; it is out of a silent mind that I write whatever comes ready-shaped from above. Even when I correct, it is because the correction comes in the same way. Where then is the place for even a slight endeavour or any room at all for “my great endeavours”? Well?
By the way, please try to understand that the supra-intellectual (not the supramental only) – is the field of a spontaneous automatic action. To get it or to get yourself open to it needs efforts, but once it acts there is no effort. Your grey matter does not easily open; it closes up also too easily, so each time an effort has to be made, perhaps too much effort – if your grey matter would sensibly accommodate itself to the automatic flow there would not be the difficulty and the need of “assiduous, earnest and sincere endeavour” each time. Methinks. Well?
I challenge your assertion that the Force is more easily potent to produce spiritual results than mental (literary) results. It seems to me the other way round. In my own case the first time I started Yoga, Pranayama etc., I laboured 5 hours a day for a long time and concentrated and struggled for five years without any least spiritual result, but poetry came like a river and prose like a flood and other things too that were mental, vital or physical, not spiritual richnesses and openings. I have seen in many cases an activity of the mind in various directions as the first or at least an early result. Why? Because there is less resistance, more cooperation from the confounded lower members for these things than for a psychic or a spiritual change. That is easy to understand at least. Well?
(N.B. When the spiritual experiences did come, they were as unaccountable and automatic as – as blazes).
1 The monthly review in which, from 1914-1920, Sri Aurobindo wrote some five thousand pages of his work.
2 The Bande Mataram (in English) from 1906-1909 in Calcutta.