Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo
The Complete Set
Man of Sorrows? Knock him off? Well, he is too cryptic or brief for me. I'm not much satisfied with the answer.
The most fundamental difficulty I find in me is that I can't believe that the Divine will do everything for me. My experience has shown me that – please don't say my experience is nothing. Take for instance this Poetry business. It has always been rare for me to write any poetry without a heavy dose of mental exercise – you know it very well. I have not, except once or twice, as I said, felt some force coming down and delivering a poem out of me, even a worthless one, in a second. If I don't write, I don't write, and even when I try to write, it takes me so many, so many days and so much labour. You will give the usual reply – What of that? That's all very well, but it means that I must labour – my own quota has to be enormous in order to get any success. But I haven't got that leechlike tenacity. Since I haven't, I can't as well believe that someday the Divine Force will pour down, or gush out and do the miracle. You yourself had to concentrate for 4 or 5 hours a day for so many years, after which everything flowed in a river. But I am not Sri Aurobindo! I am not born with such a will and determination. Since I don't possess them, the most politic thing would be to rely on the Divine, but I can't believe in any such thing. You had to concentrate, Dilipda had to and so had everybody. Since I can't spend so much labour, I have to conclude that such big things are not for me. Even then I sit down for 2 or 3 hours, 3 or 4 or 5 days pass away and I am just where I was – result: depression. Where is the Force?
Now about Yoga: you know how much progress I have made. I don't blame you. I can't meditate, I can't pray, – I can't aspire. Without them, I don't see how I am to get anything. Why not do them – you ask? If I could, would I have troubled you with all these wailings? Since I can't, I have no peace, no joy! You can't give them without any urge or aspiration for them, can you? I know, I understand, I gather how much one has to aspire for all these and even then the result is sometimes zero. Then if one can't aspire at all, where is his hope?...
Sometimes I think – don't bother your head. Eat, drink, be merry – with yogic reservations no thought, no worry. I thought I would go on chatting, eating, reading novels, etc. But I can't. I don't get peace, though I find some are all right. Anilkumar for instance (I don't mean any offence, though) reads novels the whole night practically. How can he? He must have got something. If I could do it, I would, but how would that bring me peace, progress in sadhana? As you have said, personal effort is absolutely imperative and a sustained effort too, until your Grace descends. God knows what will happen then! I don't see anywhere that effort nor the capacity nor even the will for it. So with what shall I hope on what shall I rely? Neither can I try it myself nor can I believe that you will do everything for me. Hence all these precious agitations, disbelief... I am not meant for any big endeavour.
Give an answer that will pierce the mind-soul. By an answer only. I don't expect more!
As there are several lamentations today besieging me, I have very little time to deal with each separate Jeremiad. Do I understand rightly that your contention is this, “I can't believe in the Divine doing everything for me because it is by my own mighty and often fruitless efforts that I write or do not write poetry and have made myself into a poet”? Well, that itself is Úpatant, magnificent, unheard of. It has always been supposed since the infancy of the human race that while a verse-maker can be made or self-made, a poet cannot. “Poeta nascitur non fit”, a poet is born not made, is the dictum that has come down through the centuries and millenniums and was thundered into my ears by the first pages of my Latin Grammar. The facts of literary history seem to justify this stern saying. But here in Pondicherry we have tried, not to manufacture poets, but to give them birth, a spiritual, not a physical birth into the body. In a number of instances we are supposed to have succeeded – one of these is your noble self – or if I am to believe the man of sorrows in you, your abject, miserable, hopeless and ineffectual self. But how was it done? There are two theories, it seems – one that it was by the Force, the other that it was done by your own splashing, kicking, groaning Herculean efforts. Now, sir, if it is the latter, if you have done that unprecedented thing, made yourself by your own laborious strength into a poet (for your earlier efforts were only very decent literary exercises), then, sir, why the deuce are you so abject, self-depreciatory, miserable? don't say that it is only a poet who can produce no more than a few poems in many months. Even to have done that, to have become a poet at all, a self-made poet is a miracle over which we can only say “Sabash! Sabash!”1 without ever stopping. If your effort could do that, what is there that it can't do? All miracles can be effected by it and a giant self-confident faith ought to be in you. On the other hand if, as I aver, it is the Force that has done it, what then can it not do? Here too faith, a giant faith is the only logical conclusion. So either way there is room only for Hallelujahs, none for Jeremiads. Q.E.D.
By the way what is this story about my four or five hours' concentration a day for several years before anything came down? Such a thing never happened, if by concentration you mean laborious meditation. What I did was four or five hours a day pranayam – which is quite another matter. And what flow do you speak of? The flow of poetry came down while I was doing pranayam, not some years afterwards. If it is the flow of experiences, that did come after some years, but after I had stopped the Pranayam for a long time and was doing nothing and did not know what to do or where to turn once all my efforts had failed. And it came as a result not of years of Pranayam or concentration, but in a ridiculously easy way, by the grace either of a temporary guru (but it wasn't that, for he was himself bewildered by it) or by the grace of the eternal Brahman and afterwards by the the grace of Mahakali and Krishna. So don't try to turn me into an argument against the Divine; that attempt will be perfectly ineffective.
I am obliged to stop – if I go on, there will be no Pranam till 12 o'clock. So send your Jeremiad back tonight and I will see what else to write. Have written this in a headlong hurry – I hope it is not full of lapsus calami.
1 Bravo, well done!