Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo
The Complete Set
You ask me why I don't keep my inner condition right. As if I knew how to do it! It keeps itself right or goes wrong without the least caring for my effort.
What about the wonderful efforts (unprecedented in human history) by which D and you have made yourselves poets? Why can't you put some of that superhuman effort into this? If you do and succeed, I will rigorously leave all the credit to you and not ask any for a superior Power.
If it is I – the I that I know – that brings in the right condition, I would surely try to keep it... You admitted when you said “... of course whether you widened yourself or it [Force] widened you and forced its way is another matter,” that the Force has widened me and I quite believe it because I did nothing extraordinarily unusual to widen myself. The Force had seized me then and has left me now – that's all.
But what is this talk about force? Nothing is done in this world except by one's own effort. Ask your own reason and D.
You say that because I am an “efforter”, I write 4 lines in 40 hours! Is that so? Then I have yet to know how without an effort things pour in at all times.1
What things? Poetry flows into you at all times?
It may happen, I admit, in just a few cases, as it did in mine, but not always. And if one were to wait for the automatic opening of the flood-gates, I think my production would have been by now only 4 or 5 poems! You have yourself said that one has to beat and beat, and what is this beating, pray, if not an effort to bring down the reluctant Unseen into the field of the seen?
I don't understand. You say it is only by effort that one can write poetry – that is, what is written is something constructed by mental effort. It follows that anybody who makes the necessary effort can become a great poet. Up till now it was thought that there was some mysterious thing called inspiration. There are plenty of people who have made Herculean and untiring efforts night and day but have not succeeded in writing anything that others would call poetry – they may have just produced good or bad verse. That however in the light of your luminous rationality is evidently an agelong error. As D might say “I labour and write poems day and night and people give the credit to some damned thing (not my own great self) they call Inspiration.” Evidently. But what is this about a few cases? Are you going to tell me that Inspiration after all exists? can't be.
From your answers it seems there is a very simple way of doing things and it is only our egoistic foolishness that refuses to take it and goes in for laborious effort. Knowing “how to bow” for some such thing I suppose or is it some passivity?
Well, that is the idea in Yoga – that by a right passivity one opens oneself to something greater than one's limited self, and effort is only useful for getting that condition. There is also a notion that even in the ordinary life the individual is only an instrument in the hands of a Universal Energy though his ego takes the credit of all he does. But these are exploded ideas which you need not consider.
When did I refuse to accept experience as valid? I may want a rational explanation of a process, if any,2 but I don't disbelieve an experience.
I said you did not believe in the knowledge given by those who have the experience – you want a how that agrees with your own lack of knowledge and lack of experience.
In my case I have found that mostly I have to make a great effort and then when the thing comes down, people call it the result of the Force; I am quite justified in refusing to allow the Force most credit.
Quite. It was your efforts that turned non-poets into poets! Hail, you wonder-workers!
If you say that the Force has different ways of working – at times making one sweat and struggle for the sake of fun and at other times coming and sweeping one like spring breeze – nothing to argue!
It is the experience of the Yogis – but that is of no value.
If you don't exclaim “Again Dilip!”
I shall write what he very aptly and eloquently expresses – “I did everything with my effort, and you say that the Force has made me do it! If it's the Force that's doing it then why alas, this bone-breaking labour!”
All I can say is that if it was D's Force (of effort) that turned in a moment a hobbling ass into a winged eagle, for that was what happened to his poetry, it has done something no one ever did before, Namo Namo Dilipaya3 It is he who should go forth to change the world... But no doubt you are both of you right. I am rather coming to the conclusion that this world should be left to its own “efforts” to arrive where it can and the Mother and myself should take tickets for some other.
1 Sri Aurobindo underlined “at all times”.
2 Sri Aurobindo underlined “if any”.
3 Bow down to Dilip.