LETTERS ON YOGA
Volume 2. Part two
4. The Foundation of Sadhana
II III IV
It is not possible to make a foundation in yoga if the mind is restless. The first thing needed is quiet in the mind. Also to merge the personal consciousness is not the first aim of the yoga: the first aim is to open it to a higher spiritual consciousness and for this also a quiet mind is the first need.
The first thing to do in the sadhana is to get a settled peace and silence in the mind. Otherwise you may have experiences, but nothing will be permanent. It is in the silent mind that the true consciousness can be built.
A quiet mind does not mean that there will be no thoughts or mental movements at all, but that these will be on the surface and you will feel your true being within separate from them, observing but not carried away, able to watch and judge them and reject all that has to be rejected and to accept and keep to all that is true consciousness and true experience.
Passivity of the mind is good, but take care to be passive only to the Truth and to the touch of the Divine Shakti. If you are passive to the suggestions and influences of the lower nature, you will not be able to progress or else you will expose yourself to adverse forces which may take you far away from the true path of yoga.
Aspire to the Mother for this settled quietness and calm of the mind and this constant sense of the inner being in you standing back from the external nature and turned to the Light and Truth.
The forces that stand in the way of sadhana are the forces of the lower mental, vital and physical nature. Behind them are adverse powers of the mental, vital and subtle physical worlds. These can be dealt with only after the mind and heart have become one-pointed and concentrated in the single aspiration to the Divine.
The first step is a quiet mind – silence is a further step, but quietude must be there; and by a quiet mind I mean a mental consciousness within which sees thoughts arrive to it and move about but does not itself feel that it is thinking or identifying itself with the thoughts or call them its own. Thoughts, mental movements may pass through it as wayfarers appear and pass from elsewhere through a silent country – the quiet mind observes them or does not care to observe them, but, in either case, does not become active or lose its quietude. Silence is more than quietude; it can be gained by banishing thought altogether from the inner mind keeping it voiceless or quite outside; but more easily it is established by a descent from above – one feels it coming down, entering and occupying or surrounding the personal consciousness which then tends to merge itself in the vast impersonal silence.
To quiet the mind in such a way that no thoughts will come is not easy and usually takes time. The most necessary thing is to feel a quietude in the mind so that if thoughts come they do not disturb or hold the mind or make it follow them, but simply cross and pass away. The mind first becomes the witness of the passage of thought and not the thinker, afterwards it is able not to watch the thoughts but lets them pass unnoticed and concentrates in itself or on the object it chooses without trouble.
There are two main things to be secured as the foundations of sadhana – the opening of the psychic being and the realisation of the Self above. For the opening of the psychic being, concentration on the Mother and self-offering to her are the direct way. The growth of Bhakti which you feel is the first sign of the psychic development. A sense of the Mother's presence or force or the remembrance of her supporting and strengthening you is the next sign. Eventually, the soul within begins to be active in aspiration and psychic perception guiding the mind to the right thoughts, the vital to the right movements and feelings, showing and rejecting all that has to be put away and turning the whole being in all its movements to the Divine alone. For the self-realisation, peace and silence of the mind are the first condition. Afterwards one begins to feel release, freedom, wideness, to live in a consciousness silent, tranquil, untouched by any or all things, existing everywhere and in all, one with or united with the Divine. Other experiences come on the way, or may come, such as the opening of the inner vision, the sense of the Force working within and various movements and phenomena of the working etc. One may also be conscious of ascents of the consciousness and descents of Force, Peace, Bliss or Light from above.
Silence is always good; but I do not mean by quietness of mind entire silence. I mean a mind free from disturbance and trouble, steady, light and glad so as to open to the Force that will change the nature. The important thing is to get rid of the habit of the invasion of troubling thoughts, wrong feelings, confusion of ideas, unhappy movements. These disturb the nature and cloud it and make it difficult for the Force to work; when the mind is quiet and at peace, the Force can work more easily. It should be possible to see things that have to be changed in you without being upset or depressed; the change is the more easily done.
The difference between a vacant mind and a calm mind is this: that when the mind is vacant, there is no thought, no conception, no mental action of any kind, except an essential perception of things without the formed idea; but in the calm mind, it is the substance of the mental being that is still, so still that nothing disturbs it. If thoughts or activities come, they do not rise at all out of the mind, but they come from outside and cross the mind as a flight of birds crosses the sky in a windless air. It passes, disturbs nothing, leaving no trace. Even if a thousand images or the most violent events pass across it, the calm stillness remains as if the very texture of the mind were a substance of eternal and indestructible peace. A mind that has achieved this calmness can begin to act, even intensely and powerfully, but it will keep its fundamental stillness – originating nothing from itself but receiving from Above and giving it a mental form without adding anything of its own, calmly, dispassionately, though with the joy of the Truth and the happy power and light of its passage.
It is not an undesirable thing for the mind to fall silent, to be free from thoughts and still – for it is oftenest when the mind falls silent that there is the full descent of a wide peace from above and in that wide tranquillity the realisation of the silent Self above the mind spread out in its vastness everywhere. Only, when there is the peace and the mental silence, the vital mind tries to rush in and occupy the place or else the mechanical mind tries to raise up for the same purpose its round of trivial habitual thoughts. What the sadhak has to do is to be careful to reject and hush these outsiders, so that during the meditation at least the peace and quietude of the mind and vital may be complete. This can be done best if you keep a strong and silent will. That will is the will of the Purusha behind the mind; when the mind is at peace, when it is silent one can become aware of the Purusha, silent also, separate from the action of the nature.
To be calm, steady, fixed in the spirit, dhīra, sthira, this quietude of the mind, this separation of the inner Purusha from the outer Prakriti is very helpful, almost indispensable. So long as the being is subject to the whirl of thoughts or the turmoil of the vital movements, one cannot be thus calm and fixed in the spirit. To detach oneself, to stand back from them, to feel them separate from oneself is indispensable.
For the discovery of the true individuality and building up of it in the nature, two things are necessary, first, to be conscious of one's psychic being behind the heart and, next, this separation of the Purusha from the Prakriti. For the true individual is behind veiled by the activities of the outer nature.
It is simply because you are full of mental and vital activities and relations. One must get the power to quiet the mental and vital, if not at first at all times, yet whenever one wills – for it is the mind and vital that cover up the psychic being as well as the self (Atman) and to get at either one must get in through their veil; but if they are always active and you are always identified with their activities, the veil will always be there. It is also possible to detach yourself and look at these activities as if they were not your own but a mechanical action of Nature which you observe as a disinterested witness. One can then become aware of an inner being which is separate, calm and uninvolved in Nature. This may be the inner mental or vital Purusha and not the psychic, but to get at the consciousness of the inner manomaya and prāṇamaya puraṣa is always a step towards the unveiling of the psychic being.
Yes, it would be better to get full control of the speech – it is an important step towards going inward and developing a true inner and yogic consciousness.
Remember first that an inner quietude, caused by the purification of the restless mind and vital, is the first condition of a secure sadhana. Remember next, that to feel the Mother's presence while in external action is already a great step and one that cannot be attained without a considerable inner progress. Probably, what you feel you need so much but cannot define is a constant and vivid sense of the Mother's force working in you, descending from above and taking possession of the different planes of your being. That is often a prior condition for the twofold movement of ascent and descent; it will surely come in time. These things can take a long time to begin visibly, especially when the mind is accustomed to be very active and has not the habit of mental silence. When that veiling activity is there, much work has to be carried on behind the mobile screen of the mind and the sadhak thinks nothing is happening when really much preparation is being done. If you want a more swift and visible progress, it can only be by bringing your psychic to the front through a constant self-offering. Aspire intensely, but without impatience.
Keep the quietude and do not mind if it is for a time an empty quietude; the consciousness is often like a vessel which has to be emptied of its mixed or undesirable contents; it has to be kept vacant for a while till it can be filled with things new and true, right and pure. The one thing to be avoided is the refilling of the cup with the old turbid contents. Meanwhile wait, open yourself upwards, call very quietly and steadily, not with a too restless eagerness, for the peace to come into the silence and, once the peace is there, for the joy and the presence.
Calm, even if it seems at first only a negative thing, is so difficult to attain, that to have it at all must be regarded as a great step in advance.
In reality, calm is not a negative thing, it is the very nature of the Sat-Purusha and the positive foundation of the divine consciousness. Whatever else is aspired for and gained, this must be kept. Even Knowledge, Power, Ananda, if they come and do not find this foundation, are unable to remain and have to withdraw until the divine purity and peace of the Sat-Purusha are permanently there.
Aspire for the rest of the divine consciousness, but with a calm and deep aspiration. It can be ardent as well as calm, but not impatient, restless or full of rajasic eagerness.
Only in the quiet mind and being can the supramental Truth build its true creation.
First aspire and pray to the Mother for quiet in the mind, purity, calm and peace, an awakened consciousness, intensity of devotion, strength and spiritual capacity to face all inner and outer difficulties and go through to the end of the yoga. If the consciousness awakens and there is devotion and intensity of aspiration, it will be possible for the mind, provided it learns quietude and peace, to grow in knowledge.
To be calm, undisturbed and quiet is not the first condition for sadhana but for siddhi. It is only a few people (very few, one, two, three, four in a hundred sadhaks) who can get it from the first. Most have to go through a long preparation before they can get anywhere near it. Even afterwards when they begin to feel the peace and calm, it takes time to establish it – they swing between peace and disturbance for a fairly long time until all parts of the nature have accepted the truth and the peace. So there is no reason for you to suppose you cannot progress or arrive. You are finding a great difficulty with one part of your nature which has been accustomed to open itself to these feelings, separation from the Mother and attachment to relatives, and is not willing to give them up – that is all. But everybody finds such obstinate difficulties in that part of the nature, even the most successful sadhaks here. One has to persevere until the light conquers there.
One can go forward even if there is not peace – quietude and concentration are necessary. Peace is necessary for the higher states to develop.
The words "peace, calm, quiet, silence" have each their own shade of meaning, but it is not easy to define them.
Peace – śānti.
Calm – sthiratā.
Quiet – acañcalatā.
Silence – niścala-nīravatā.
Quiet is a condition in which there is no restlessness or disturbance.
Calm is a still unmoved condition which no disturbance can affect – it is a less negative condition than quiet.
Peace is a still more positive condition; it carries with it a sense of settled and harmonious rest and deliverance.
Silence is a state in which either there is no movement of the mind or vital or else a great stillness which no surface movement can pierce or alter.
Quiet is rather negative – it is the absence of disturbance.
Calm is a positive tranquillity which can exist in spite of superficial disturbances.
Peace is a calm deepened into something that is very positive amounting almost to a tranquil waveless Ananda.
Silence is the absence of all motion of thought or other vibration of activity.
Calm is a strong and positive quietude, firm and solid – ordinary quietude is mere negation, simply the absence of disturbance.
Peace is a deep quietude where no disturbance can come – a quietude with a sense of established security and release.
In complete silence there are either no thoughts or thoughts come, but they are felt as something coming from outside and not disturbing the silence.
Silence of the mind, peace or calm in the mind are three things that are very close together and bring each other.
Quietness is when the mind or vital is not troubled, restless, drawn about by or crowded with thoughts and feelings. Especially when either is detached and looks at these as a surface movement, we say that the mind or vital is quiet.
Calmness is a more positive condition, not merely an absence of restlessness, over-activity or trouble. When there is a clear or great or strong tranquillity which nothing troubles or can trouble, then we say that calm is established.
These [tranquillity and stillness] are general words, of a general, not a special yogic significance. Quiet, calm and peace can all be described as tranquillity: silence is akin to what is meant by stillness.
It is the silence of the mind and vital – silence implying here not only cessation of thoughts but a stillness of the mental and vital substance. There are varying degrees of depth of this stillness.
The first is the ordinary fundamental calm of the individual Adhar – the second is the fundamental limitless calm of the cosmic consciousness, a calm which abides whether separated from all movements or supporting them.
This is the calm of the Atman, the Self above, silent, immutable and infinite.
Peace is more positive than calm – there can be a negative calm which is merely an absence of disturbance or trouble, but peace is always something positive bringing not merely a release as calm does but a certain happiness or Ananda of itself.
There is also a positive calm, something that stands against all things that seek to trouble, not thin and neutral like the negative calm, but strong and massive.
In peace there is besides the sense of stillness a harmony that gives a feeling of liberation and full satisfaction.
Shanti is peace or calm – it is not Ananda. There can of course be a calm Ananda.
Peace is a sign of mukti – Ananda moves towards siddhi.
The peace need not be grave or joyless – there should be nothing grey in it – but the gladness or joy or sense of lightness that comes in the peace must be necessarily something internal, self-existent or due to a deepening of experience – it cannot like the laughter of which you speak be conveyed by an external cause or dependent upon it, e.g. something amusing, exhilarating etc.
The joy also should be deep within, then it will not conflict with the deeps of peace and inner consciousness.
They [peace and patience] go together. By having patience under all kinds of pressure you lay the foundations of peace.
It [purity] is more a condition than a substance. Peace helps to purity – since in peace disturbing influences cease and the essence of purity is to respond only to the Divine Influence and not to have an affinity with other movements.
Purity is to accept no other influence but only the influence of the Divine.
Purity means freedom from soil or mixture. The divine Purity is that in which there is no mixture of the turbid ignorant movements of the lower nature. Ordinarily, purity is used to mean (in the common language) freedom from sexual passion and impulse.
The Divine Purity is a more wide and all-embracing experience than the psychic.
Purity or impurity depends upon the consciousness; in the divine consciousness everything is pure, in the ignorance everything is subject to impurity, not the body only or part of the body, but mind and vital and all. Only the self and the psychic being remain always pure.
A pure mind means a mind quiet and free from thoughts of a useless or disturbing character.
A quiet mind is a mind that does not get disturbed, is not restless and always vibrating with the need of mental action.
What you are talking about is a concentrated mind, concentrated on something or on a subject. That is quite different.
Do you imagine that a quiet mind cannot reject anything and it is only the unquiet mind that can do it? It is the quiet mind that can best do it. Quiet does not mean inert and tamasic.
That is absurd. Doing nothing with the mind is not quiet or silence. It is inactivity that keeps the mind thinking mechanically and discursive instead of concentrating on an object – that is all.
Passive peace is not supposed to do anything. It is by the complete solid presence of peace alone that all disturbance is pushed out to the surface or outside the consciousness.
It is not the usual character of passive peace that it can only concentrate in inaction. It can be there and concentrate in or behind action also.
It is this quiet and spontaneous action that is the characteristic divine action. The aggressive action is only, as you say, when there is resistance and struggle. This does not mean that the quiet force can't be intense. It can be more intense than the aggressive, but its intensity only increases the intensity of the peace.
Yes, certainly, there is a mental peace, a vital peace, a peace of the physical Nature. It is the peace of a higher consciousness that descends from above.
It is the same peace – but is felt materially in the material substance, concretely in the physical mind and nervous being, as well as psychologically in the mind and vital or subtly in the subtle body.
Certainly, peace, purity and silence can be felt in all material things – for the Divine Self is there in all.
It is on the Silence behind the cosmos that all the movement of the universe is supported.
It is from the Silence that the peace comes; when the peace deepens and deepens, it becomes more and more the Silence.
In a more outward sense the word Silence is applied to the condition in which there is no movement of thought or feeling etc., only a great stillness of the mind.
But there can be an action in the Silence, undisturbed even as the universal action goes on in the cosmic Silence.
The passive silence is that in which the inner consciousness remains void and at rest, makes no reaction to outer things and forces.
The active silence is that in which there is a great force that goes out on things and forces without disturbing the silence.
Rest of the being from effort, disturbance etc. The Spirit is eternally at rest even in the midst of action – peace gives this spiritual rest. Tamas is a degradation of it and leads to inaction.
In the entirely silent mind there is usually the static sense of the Divine without any active movement. But there can come into it all the higher thought and aspiration and movements. There is then no absolute silence but one feels a fundamental silence behind which is not disturbed by any movement.
You always seem to think that because the silence is there in the consciousness, the whole consciousness must be equally affected by it. The human consciousness is not of one piece like that.
It is not possible for the spontaneous silent condition to last always at once but that is what must grow in one till there is a constant inner silence – a silence which cannot be disturbed by any outward activity or even by any attempt at attack or disturbance.
The condition you describe shows precisely the growth of this inner silence. It has to fix itself eventually as the basis of all spiritual experience and activity. It does not matter if one does not know what is going on within behind the silence. For there are two conditions in the yoga, one in which all is silent and there is no thought, feeling or movement even though one is acting outwardly as others do – another in which a new consciousness becomes active bringing knowledge, joy, love and other spiritual feelings and inner activities, but yet at the same time there is a fundamental silence or quietude. Both are necessary in the development of the inner being. The absolutely silent state, which is one of lightness, voidness and release, prepares the other and supports it when it comes.
Yes, a settled peace and strength supporting the intensity and poise in which everything foreign falls off, is the true basis.
That is of course how it should be. It should go so far indeed that you will feel this peace and vastness as your very self, the abiding stuff of your consciousness – unchangeably there.
It is very good indeed. The peace and silence must settle deep in, so deep that whatever comes from outside can only pass over the surface without troubling the settled calm within. It is good also that the meditation comes of itself – it means that the yoga Force is beginning to take up the sadhana.
When the peace is fully established everywhere in the being, these things [reactions of the lower vital] will not be able to shake it. They may come first as ripples on the surface, then only as suggestions which one looks at or does not care to look at but in either case they don't get inside, affect or disturb at all.
It is difficult to explain, but it is something like a mountain at which one throws stones – if conscious all through the mountain may feel the touch of the stones, but the thing would be so slight and superficial that it would not be in the least affected. In the end even that reaction disappears.
If the peace or silence is once absolutely established, no amount of movements on the surface can impair or abolish it. It can bear all the movements of the universe and yet be the same.
Of course. It is quite usual to feel an established peace in the inner being even if there is disturbance on the surface. In fact that is the usual condition of the yogi before he has attained the absolute samatā in all the being.
Even when there is the peace and the wideness, these things [vital physical ego-movements] can float on the surface and try to come in – only then they do not occupy the consciousness but touch it merely. It is what was regarded by the old yogis as a mechanical remnant of Prakriti, a continuation of its blind habit which remained after the essential liberation of the self. It was treated lightly as of no importance – but that view is not tenable in our sadhana which aims not only at a liberation of the Purusha but at a complete transformation of the Prakriti also.
Yes, the inward move is the right one. To live within in the peace and silence is the first necessity. I spoke of the wideness because in the wideness of silence and peace (which the yogins recognise as the realisation of self at once individual and universal) is the basis for harmonising the inward and the outward. It will come.
When the peace is deep or wide it is usually in the inner being. The outer parts do not ordinarily go beyond a certain measure of quietude – they get deep peace only when they are flooded with it from the inner being.
Yes, certainly – the peace starts in the inner being – it is spiritual and psychic but it overflows the outer being – when it is there in the activity, it means either that the ordinary restless mind, vital, physical has been submerged by the flood of the inner peace or, at a more advanced stage, that they have been partially or wholly changed into thoughts, forces, emotions, sensations which have in their very stuff an essence of inner silence and peace.
The inner spiritual progress does not depend on outer conditions so much as in the way we react to them from within – that has always been the ultimate verdict of spiritual experience. It is why we insist on taking the right attitude and persisting in it, on an inner state not dependent on outer circumstances, a state of equality and calm, if it cannot be at once of inner happiness, on going more and more within and looking from within outwards instead of living in the surface mind which is always at the mercy of the shocks and blows of life. It is only from that inner state that one can be stronger than life and its disturbing forces and hope to conquer.
To remain quiet within, firm in the will to go through, refusing to be disturbed or discouraged by difficulties or fluctuations, that is one of the first things to be learned in the Path. To do otherwise is to encourage the instability of consciousness, the difficulty of keeping experience of which you complain. It is only if you keep quiet and steady within that the lines of experience can go on with some steadiness – though they are never without periods of interruption and fluctuation; but these, if properly treated, can then become periods of assimilation and exhaustion of difficulty rather than denials of sadhana.
A spiritual atmosphere is more important than outer conditions; if one can get that and also create one's own spiritual air to breathe in and live in it, that is the true condition of progress.
You should realise that while quiet surroundings are desirable, the true quiet is within and no other will give the condition you want.
Aspire, concentrate in the right spirit and, whatever the difficulties, you are sure to attain the aim you have put before you.
It is in the peace behind and that "something truer" in you that you must learn to live and feel it to be yourself. You must regard the rest as not your real self, but only a flux of changing or recurring movements on the surface which are sure to go as the true self emerges.
Peace is the true remedy; distraction by hard work is only a temporary relief – although a certain amount of work is necessary for the proper balance of the different parts of the being. To feel the peace above and about your head is a first step; you have to get connected with it and it must descend into you and fill your mind and life and body and surround you so that you live in it – for this peace is the one sign of the Divine's presence with you, and once you have it all the rest will begin to come.
Truth in speech and truth in thought are very important. The more you can feel falsehood as being not part of yourself, as coming on you from outside, the easier it will be to reject and refuse it.
Persevere and what is still crooked will be made straight and you will know and feel constantly the truth of the Divine's presence and your faith will be justified by direct experience.
When the light and peace are full in the vital and physical consciousness, it is this that remains always as a basis for the right movement of the whole nature.
To remain within, above and untouched, full of the inner consciousness and the inner experience, – listening when need be to one or another with the surface consciousness, but with even that undisturbed, not either pulled outwards or invaded – that is the perfect condition for the sadhana.
What you have written about your condition seems to be correct as a whole. There is certainly a greater calm within and a freedom of the inner being which was not there once. It is this which gives you the equality you feel there and the capacity to escape from the more serious disturbances. When one has this basis of inner calm, the difficulties and imperfections of the surface can be dealt with without upset, depressions, etc. The power to go among others without any invasion is also due to the same cause.
As for the second question, there is no general rule, but your attitude is the right one for you – for you have not the need of any particular development of capacity, having behind a sincere attitude of a more general and penetrating and pervasive character. Others who feel the need of a particular development actually ask for it and get it.
The silence is the silence of the inner consciousness and it is in that silence unmoved by outward things that the true activity of the consciousness can come without disturbing the silence – true perceptions, will, feelings, action. There also one can feel more easily the Mother's working. As for the heat, it must be the heat of Agni, the fire of purification and tapasya; it often feels like that when the inner work is going on.
What you feel about dealing with people is quite correct. It is the psychic way of looking at these things.
I have read again the message of the yogi quoted in your letter but apart from the context nothing much or very definite can be made out of it. There are two statements which are clear enough:
"In silence is wisdom" – it is in the inner silence of the mind that true knowledge can come; for the ordinary activity of the mind only creates surface ideas and representations which are not true knowledge. Speech is usually the expression of the superficial nature; therefore to throw oneself out too much in such speech wastes the energy and prevents the inward listening which brings the word of true knowledge.... "In listening you will win what you are thinking of" means probably that in silence will come the true thought-formations which can effectuate or realise themselves. Thought can be a force which realises itself, but the ordinary surface thinking is not of that kind; there is in it more waste of energy than in anything else. It is in the thought that comes in a quiet or silent mind that there is power.
"Talk less and gain power" has essentially the same meaning; not only a truer knowledge, but a greater power comes to one in the quietude and silence of a mind that, instead of bubbling on the surface, can go into its own depths and listen for what comes from a higher consciousness.
It is probably this that is meant; these are things known to all who have some experience of yoga.
The peace liberates from all dependence on outer contacts – it brings what the Gita calls the ātmarati. But at first there is a difficulty in keeping it intact when there is the contact with others because the consciousness has the habit of running outwards in speech or external interchange or else of coming down to the normal level. One must therefore be very careful until it is fixed; once fixed it usually defends itself, for all outer contacts become surface things to a consciousness full of the higher peace.
You have attained the silent inner consciousness, but that can be covered over by disturbance – the next step is for calm and silence to be established as the basis in the more and more outward consciousness.... Then the play of the ordinary forces will be only on the surface and can be more easily dealt with.
That is the right way – to keep the peace of the higher consciousness; then even if there is vital disturbance, it will only be on the surface. The foundation will remain till the Force can release the true vital.
If you get peace, then to clean the vital becomes easy. If you simply clean and clean and do nothing else, you go very slowly – for the vital gets dirty again and has to be cleaned a hundred times. The peace is something that is clean in itself, so to get it is a positive way of securing your object. To look for dirt only and clean is the negative way.
How can you have peace and quiet when you are always thinking of "lower forces" and "attacks" and "possessions" etc.? If you can look at things naturally and quietly, then only you can have quiet and peace.
The depression and vital struggle must have been due to some defect of over-eagerness and straining for a result in your former effort – so that when a fall in the consciousness came, it was a distressed, disappointed and confused vital that came to the surface giving full entry to the suggestions of doubt, despair and inertia from the adverse side of Nature. You have to move towards a firm basis of calm and equality in the vital and physical no less than in the mental consciousness; let there be the full downflow of Power and Ananda, but into a firm Adhara capable of containing it – it is complete equality that gives that capacity and firmness.
The failure is due not to want of capacity but to want of steadiness – a restlessness in the vital and a sort of ardent hastiness that lacks in care of detail and in perseverance. What you need is the inner silence and the solid strength and force that can act through this inner silence, making the vital its instrument but not allowing it to condition the action by its defects.
It [peace] has to be brought down to the heart and navel first. That gives it a certain kind of inner stability – though not absolute. There is no method other than aspiration, a strong quiet will and a rejection of all that is not turned towards the Divine in those parts into which you call the peace – here the emotional and higher vital.
The movement of universality by itself cannot prevent the vital from disturbing – it is the complete surrender and the complete descent of peace into all the being down to the most material that can do it.
The mind and vital are always more open to universal forces than the material. But they can be more restless than the material so long as they are not subjected to the peace from Above.
The calm from above came to you and established your connection with the Above, and if you hold firmly to it, you will be able to remain calm. But to be rid of these vital disturbances, you have to get down the Power and Will that is also there above – or at least so to be connected with it that it will act whenever you call upon it against the forces of the Ignorance.
Equanimity and peace in all conditions, in all parts of the being is the first foundation of the yogic status. Either Light (bringing with it Knowledge) or Force (bringing strength and dynamism of many kinds) or Ananda (bringing love and joy of existence) can come next according to the trend of the nature. But peace is the first condition without which nothing else can be stable.
It is true that through whatever is strongest in him a sadhak can most easily open to the Divine. But... peace is necessary for all; without peace and an increasing purity, even if one opens, one cannot receive perfectly all that comes down through the opening. Light too is necessary for all – without light one cannot take full advantage of all that comes down.
When the mind is silent there is peace and in the peace all things that are divine can come. When there is not the mind, there is the Self which is greater than the mind.
The silence and peace are themselves part of the higher consciousness – the rest comes in the silence and peace.
It is the Vaishnava feeling that the Vedantic peace is not enough, the love and joy of the Divine is more precious. But unless the two things go together, the love and joy felt is perhaps intense, but impermanent, and it is also true that it gets easily mixed, misdirected or turns to something that is not the true thing at all. Peace and purity must be got as the foundation of the consciousness, otherwise there is no firm standing ground for the divine play.
At last you have the true foundation of the sadhana. This calm, peace and surrender are the right atmosphere for all the rest to come, knowledge, strength, Ananda. Let it become complete.
It does not remain when engaged in work because it is still confined to the mind proper which has only just received the gift of silence. When the new consciousness is fully formed and has taken entire possession of the vital nature and the physical being (the vital as yet is only touched or dominated by the silence, not possessed by it), then this defect will disappear.
The quiet consciousness of peace you now have in the mind must become not only calm but wide. You must feel it everywhere, yourself in it and all in it. This also will help to bring the calm as a basis into the action.
The wider your consciousness becomes, the more you will be able to receive from above. The Shakti will be able to descend and bring strength and light as well as peace into the system. What you feel as narrow and limited in you is the physical mind; it can only widen if this wider consciousness and the light come down and possess the nature.
The physical inertia from which you suffer is likely to lessen and disappear only when strength from above descends into the system.
Remain quiet, open yourself and call the divine Shakti to confirm the calm and peace, to widen the consciousness and to bring into it as much light and power as it can at present receive and assimilate.
Take care not to be over-eager, as this may disturb again such quiet and balance as has been already established in the vital nature.
Have confidence in the final result and give time for the Power to do its work.
If not aspiration, at least keep the idea of what is necessary – (1) that the silence and peace shall become a wideness which you can realise as the Self – (2) the extension of the silent consciousness upwards as well so that you may feel its source above you – (3) the presence of peace etc., all the time. These things need not all come at once, but by realising what has to be in your mind, any falling towards a condition of inertia can be avoided.
Wideness and calmness are the foundation of the yogic consciousness and the best condition for inner growth and experience. If a wide calm can be established in the physical consciousness, occupying and filling the very body and all its cells, that can become the basis for its transformation; in fact, without this wideness and calmness the transformation is hardly possible.
It is the right fundamental consciousness that you have now got. The tamas and other movements of the lower universal nature are bound to try to come in, but if one has the calm of the inner being which makes them felt as something external to the being and the light of the psychic which instantly exposes and rejects them, then that is to have the true consciousness which keeps one safe while the more positive transformation is preparing or taking place.
The transformation comes by the descent of the Force, Light, Knowledge, Ananda, etc. from above. So you are right in your feeling that you should open with a quiet aspiration or invocation for the descent of the Light from above. Only it must be an aspiration in this calm and wideness, not disturbing it in the least – and you must be prepared for the result being not immediate – it may be rapid, but also it may take some time.
The experience of this "solid block" feeling indicates the descent of a solid strength and peace into the external being – but into the vital-physical most. It is this always that is the foundation, the sure basis into which all else (Ananda, light, knowledge, Bhakti) can descend in the future and stand on it or play safely. The numbness was there in the other experience because the movement was inward; but here the Yogashakti is coming outward into the fully aware external nature, – as a first step towards the establishment of the yoga and its experience there. So the numbness which was a sign of the consciousness tending to draw back from the external parts is not there.
Nirodbaran ▪ Full text of the letter
To be full of peace, the heart quiet, not troubled by grief, not excited by joy is a very good condition. As for Ananda, it can come not only with its fullest intensity but with a more enduring persistence when the mind is at peace and the heart delivered from ordinary joy and sorrow. If the mind and heart are restless, changeful, unquiet, Ananda of a kind may come, but it is mixed with vital excitement and cannot abide. One must get peace and calm fixed in the consciousness first, then there is a solid basis on which the Ananda can spread itself and in its turn become an enduring part of the consciousness and the nature.
A great wave (or sea) of calm and the constant consciousness of a vast and luminous Reality – this is precisely the character of the fundamental realisation of the Supreme Truth in its first touch on the mind and the soul. One could not ask for a better beginning or foundation – it is like a rock on which the rest can be built. It means certainly not only a Presence, but the Presence – and it would be a great mistake to weaken the experience by any non-acceptance or doubt of its character.
It is not necessary to define it and one ought not even to try to turn it into an image; for this Presence is in its nature infinite. Whatever it has to manifest of itself or out of itself, it will do inevitably by its own power, if there is a sustained acceptance.
It is quite true that it is a grace sent and the only return needed for such a grace is acceptance, gratitude and to allow the Power that has touched the consciousness to develop what has to be developed in the being – by keeping oneself open to it. The total transformation of the nature cannot be done in a moment; it must take long and proceed through stages; what is now experienced is only an initiation, a foundation for the new consciousness in which that transformation will become possible. The automatic spontaneity of the experience ought by itself to show that it is nothing constructed by the mind, will or emotions; it comes from a Truth that is beyond them.
If you keep the wideness and calm and also the love for the Mother in the heart, then all is safe, for it means the double foundation of the yoga: the descent of the higher consciousness with its peace, freedom and serenity from above and the openness of the psychic which keeps all the effort or all the spontaneous movement turned towards the true goal.
The quietude and silence which you feel and the sense of happiness in it are indeed the very basis of successful sadhana. When one has got that, then one may be sure that the sadhana is placing itself on a sound footing. You are also right in thinking that if this quietude is fully established all that is concealed within will come out. It is true also that the happiness of this peace is far greater than anything outer objects can bring – there can be no comparison. To become indifferent to the attraction of outer objects is one of the first rules of yoga, for this non-attachment liberates the inner being into peace and the true consciousness. It is only when one sees the Divine in all things that objects get a value for the yoga, but even then not for their own sake or as objects of desire, but for the sake of the Divine within and as a means of the divine work and manifestation.
Equality is to remain unmoved within in all conditions.
Equality is the chief support of the true spiritual consciousness and it is this from which a sadhak deviates when he allows a vital movement to carry him away in feeling or speech or action. Equality is not the same thing as forbearance, – though undoubtedly a settled equality immensely extends, even illimitably, a man's power of endurance and forbearance.
Equality means a quiet and unmoved mind and vital, it means not to be touched or disturbed by things that happen or things said or done to you, but to look at them with a straight look, free from the distortions created by personal feeling, and to try to understand what is behind them, why they happen, what is to be learnt from them, what is it in oneself which they are cast against and what inner profit or progress one can make out of them; it means self-mastery over the vital movements, – anger and sensitiveness and pride as well as desire and the rest, – not to let them get hold of the emotional being and disturb the inner peace, not to speak and act in the rush and impulsion of these things, always to act and speak out of a calm inner poise of the spirit. It is not easy to have this equality in any full perfect measure, but one should always try more and more to make it the basis of one's inner state and outer movements.
Equality means another thing – to have an equal view of men and their nature and acts and the forces that move them; it helps one to see the truth about them by pushing away from the mind all personal feeling in one's seeing and judgment and even all the mental bias. Personal feeling always distorts and makes one see in men's actions, not only the actions themselves, but things behind them which, more often than not, are not there. Misunderstanding, misjudgment which could have been avoided are the result; things of small consequence assume larger proportions. I have seen that more than half of the untoward happenings of this kind in life are due to this cause. But in ordinary life personal feeling and sensitiveness are a constant part of human nature and may be needed there for self-defence, although, I think, even there, a strong, large and equal attitude towards men and things would be a much better line of defence. But for a sadhak, to surmount them and live rather in the calm strength of the spirit is an essential part of his progress.
The first condition of inner progress is to recognise whatever is or has been a wrong movement in any part of the nature, – wrong idea, wrong feeling, wrong speech, wrong action, – and by wrong is meant what departs from the truth, from the higher consciousness and higher self, from the way of the Divine. Once recognised it is admitted, not glossed over or defended, – and it is offered to the Divine for the Light and Grace to descend and substitute for it the right movement of the true Consciousness.
There can be no firm foundation in sadhana without equality, samatā. Whatever the unpleasantness of circumstances, however disagreeable the conduct of others, you must learn to receive them with a perfect calm and without any disturbing reaction. These things are the test of equality. It is easy to be calm and equal when things go well and people and circumstances are pleasant; it is when they are the opposite that the completeness of the calm, peace, equality can be tested, reinforced, made perfect.
It is very good that you have had this experience; for this kind of consciousness full of equality (samatā) is just the thing that has to be acquired and the very basis on which a sound yogic consciousness full of the Mother can be built up. If it can be fixed, then most of the trouble and difficulty of sadhana disappears – all necessary changes can proceed quietly without these disturbances and upsettings which break and hamper the progress. Also in it there can grow a right and clear understanding of people and things and how to deal with them without friction which can make work and action much more easy. Once this consciousness has come, it is bound to return and increase.
It is no use listening to what people say or to suggestions. Both are things by which one must learn not to be affected. A certain samatā in these matters is needed in order to get the firm poise. The one thing that matters is the realisation of the Divine.
It [the true activity of the senses] is to record the divine or true appearance of things and return to them the reaction of an equal Ananda without dislike or desire.
Complete samatā takes long to establish and it is dependent on three things – the soul's self-giving to the Divine by an inner surrender, the descent of the spiritual calm and peace from above and the steady, long and persistent rejection of all egoistic, rajasic and other feelings that contradict samatā.
The first thing to do is to make the full consecration and offering of the heart – the increase of the spiritual calm and the surrender are the condition for the rejection of ego, rajoguṇa, etc. to be effective.
When the peace of the higher consciousness descends, it brings always with it this tendency towards equality, samatā, because without samatā peace is always liable to be attacked by the waves of the lower nature.
Equality is a very important part of this yoga; it is necessary to keep equality under pain and suffering – and that means to endure firmly and calmly, not to be restless or troubled or depressed or despondent, to go on with a steady faith in the Divine Will. But equality does not include inert acceptance. If, for instance, there is temporary failure of some endeavour in the sadhana, one has to keep equality, not to be troubled or despondent, but one has not to accept the failure as an indication of the Divine Will and give up the endeavour. You ought rather to find out the reason and meaning of the failure and go forward in faith towards victory. So with illness – you have not to be troubled, shaken or restless, but you have not to accept illness as the Divine Will, but rather look upon it as an imperfection of the body to be got rid of as you try to get rid of vital imperfections or mental errors.
Full version of the letter see here
Yogic samatā is equality of soul, equanimity founded on the sense of the one Self, the one Divine everywhere – seeing the One in spite of all differences, degrees, disparities in the manifestation. The mental principle of equality tries to ignore or else to destroy the differences, degrees and disparities, to act as if all were equal there or to try and make all equal. It is like Hridaya, the nephew of Ramakrishna, who when he got the touch from Ramakrishna began to shout, "Ramakrishna, you are the Brahman and I too am the Brahman; there is no difference between us", till Ramakrishna, as he refused to be quiet, had to withdraw the power. Or like the disciple who refused to listen to the Mahout and stood before the elephant, saying, "I am Brahman", until the elephant took him up in his trunk and put him aside. When he complained to his Guru, the Guru said, "Yes, but why didn't you listen to the Mahout Brahman? That was why the elephant Brahman had to lift you up and put you out of harm's way." In the manifestation there are two sides to the Truth and you cannot ignore either.
No doubt, hatred and cursing are not the proper attitude. It is true also that to look upon all things and all people with a calm and clear vision, to be uninvolved and impartial in one's judgments is a quite proper yogic attitude. A condition of perfect samatā can be established in which one sees all as equal, friends and enemies included, and is not disturbed by what men do or by what happens. The question is whether this is all that is demanded from us. If so, then the general attitude will be of a neutral indifference to everything. But the Gita, which strongly insists on a perfect and absolute samatā, goes on to say, "Fight, destroy the adversary, conquer." If there is no kind of general action wanted, no loyalty to Truth as against Falsehood except for one's personal sadhana, no will for the Truth to conquer, then the samatā of indifference will suffice. But here there is a work to be done, a Truth to be established against which immense forces are arranged, invisible forces which can use visible things and persons and actions for their instruments. If one is among the disciples, the seekers of this Truth, one has to take sides for the Truth, to stand against the forces that attack it and seek to stifle it. Arjuna wanted not to stand for either side, to refuse any action of hostility even against assailants; Sri Krishna, who insisted so much on samatā, strongly rebuked his attitude and insisted equally on his fighting the adversary. "Have samatā," he said, "and seeing clearly the Truth, fight." Therefore to take sides with the Truth and to refuse to concede anything to the Falsehood that attacks, to be unflinchingly loyal and against the hostiles and the attackers, is not inconsistent with equality. It is personal and egoistic feeling that has to be thrown away; hatred and vital ill-will have to be rejected. But loyalty and refusal to compromise with the assailants and the hostiles or to dally with their ideas and demands and say, "After all, we can compromise with what they ask from us", or to accept them as companions and our own people – these things have a great importance. If the attack were a physical menace to the work and the leaders and doers of the work, one would see this at once. But because the attack is of a subtler kind, can a passive attitude be right? It is a spiritual battle inward and outward; by neutrality and compromise or even passivity one may allow the enemy forces to pass and crush down the Truth and its children. If you look at it from this point, you will see that if the inner spiritual equality is right, the active loyalty and firm taking of sides is as right, and the two cannot be incompatible.
I have, of course, treated it as a general question apart from all particular cases or personal questions. It is a principle of action that has to be seen in its right light and proportions.