There is no rule excluding emotion from the field of Yoga unless of course it is a Yoga of pure knowledge and nothing else. Emotion is necessary for Bhakti, so it must find a place in any Yoga in which Bhakti is a necessary element. So your increase of emotion does not disqualify you for Yoga. Also cold calm is not the thing aimed at by the sadhak or attained by the siddha [accomplished yogi]. Cold calm is possible to certain kinds of Asuras, but the divine Calm is not cold; it is a basis for Light, Power, Love, Ananda and these are not things that take root in the ice. So there too fear is groundless.
What happened is a thing that often happens and—taking your account of it—it reproduced in your case the usual stages. First, you sat down in prayer—that means a call to the Above, if I may so express it. Next came the necessary condition for the answer to the prayer to be effective—"little by little a sort of restfulness came", in other words, the quietude of the consciousness which is necessary before the Power that has to act can act. Then the rush of the Force or Power, "a flood of energy and sense of power and glow", and the natural concentration of the being in inspiration and expression, the action of the Power. This is the thing that used to happen daily to the physical workers in the Ashram. Working with immense energy and enthusiasm with a passion for the work they might after a time feel tired—then they would call the Mother and a sense of rest come into them and with or after it a flood of energy so that twice the amount of work could
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be done without the least fatigue or reaction. In many there was a spontaneous call of the vital for the Force, so that they felt the flood of energy as soon as they began the work and it continued so long as the work had to be done.
The vital is the means of effectuation on the physical plane, so its action and energy are necessary for all work—without it, if the mind only drives without the co-operation and instrumentation of the vital, there is hard and disagreeable labour and effort with results which are usually not at all of the best kind. The ideal state for work is when there is a natural concentration of the consciousness in the special energy, supported by an easeful rest and quiescence of the consciousness as a whole. Distraction of the mind by other activities disturbs this balance of ease and concentrated energy—fatigue also disturbs or destroys it. The first thing therefore that has to be done is to bring back the supporting restfulness and this is ordinarily done by cessation of work and repose. In the experience you had that was replaced by a restfulness that came from above in answer to your station of prayer and an energy that also came from above. It is the same principle as in sadhana—the reason why we want people to make the consciousness quiet so that the higher peace may come in and on the basis of that peace a new Force from above.
It is not effort that brought the inspiration. Inspiration comes from above in answer to a state of concentration which is itself a call to it. Effort on the contrary fatigues the consciousness and therefore is not favourable to the best work; the only thing is that sometimes—by no means always— effort culminates in a pull for the inspiration which brings some answer, but it is not usually so good and effective an inspiration as that which comes when there is the easy and intense concentration of the energy in its work. Effort and expenditure of energy are not necessarily the same thing— the best expenditure of energy is that which flows easily without effort at all—when the Inspiration or Force (any Force) works of itself and the mind and vital and even body
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rowing instruments and the Force flows out in an intense and happy working—an almost labourless labour.
The Mother has no trust in this tenant, Banerji—he has shown himself to be a rogue and in any dealing with him we are sure to burn our fingers. The rent of 200 Rs. for the two houses is much too low and if we leave the repairs, etc. to them, there is no surety as to what they will do or whether they will keep the house in good condition. We don't think his proposition is worth looking at—it is too much to his own advantage and too little to ours.If you answer him, it would be best to let him know that you have given a power of attorney to Prithwisingh for all matters related to the houses and ask him to place the proposition before him.
Shall one be right if one says that Bengali language is richest in songs and that such songs (or rather such a wealth of it, si vous voulez) does not exist in English or French or German ? At least I was peculiarly struck while in Europe by their comparative poverty of songs. But I may here be guilty of partiality to my own language. But will you then give me some information as to which poets in English e.g. have composed such lovely songs—I mean songs sung—not poems, that is. lam curious to know. For when I was learning songs in Europe I found them com- paratively speaking unsatisfying qua songs though with harmonic setting they sounded to me beautiful enough qua music, if you know what I mean. But in Bengali the tradition of songs from the extremely rich lore of Vaishnava Kirtanists and developed gloriously in this age by Tagore, Atulprasad,27 my father,28 etc. (there are heaps of the lesser fry) is a spectacle somewhat difficult not to be proud of nationalistically, forgive me. And now I see in Nishikanta such an ease in writing songs that I can't help thinking that a long background of songs is partly responsible for it. Tagore you must know has written more than four thousand songs, my father well over thousand, Atulprasad two thousand29 and many others will contribute a good anthology of at least five hundred songs. Of these
if a selection is made at least one thousand extremely fine songs can be collected leaving out the marvels of the Vaishnava poets altogether. I want you to compare English and French songs (and German too, if possible) with this achievement and enlightenment. I ask not to dogmatise but to know as a jignāsu [an inquirer].
About French or German songs I know nothing—but as for the English, except for a few like Cardinal Newman's30 hymn "Lead, kindly Light" they don't exist so far as I know—I mean of course as regards their contents, manner, style. I believe in European music the words are of a very minor importance, they matter only as going with the music. But I am not an expert on the subject, so I can't go farther into it. When religious songs were written in medieval Latin, they were very fine, but with the use of the modern languages the art was lost—the modern European hymnals are awful stuff.
As you have opened yourself to the Force and made yourself a channel for the energy of work, it is quite natural that when you want to do this work the Force should flow and act in the way that is wanted or the way that is needed and for the effect that is needed. When one has made oneself a channel, the Force is not necessarily bound by the limitations or disabilities of the instrument; it can disregard them and act in its own power. In doing so it may use the human instrument simply as a medium and leave him as soon as the work is finished just what he was before, incapable in his ordinary moments of doing such good work; but also it may by its action set the instrument right, accustom it to the necessary intuitive know- ledge and movement so that it can at will command the action of the Force. As for the technique, there are two different
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things, the intellectual knowledge which one applies and the intuitive cognition which acts in its own right, even if it is not actually possessed by the worker. Many poets, for instance, have little knowledge of metrical or linguistic technique and cannot explain how they write or what are the qualities and elements of their success, but they write, all the same, things that are perfect in rhythm and language. Intellectual know- ledge of technique helps of course, provided one does not make of it a mere device or a rigid fetter. There are some arts that cannot be done well without technical knowledge, e.g. painting, sculpture.
What you write is your own in the sense that you have been the instrument of its manifestation—that is so with every artist or worker.
You need have no scruple about putting your name, though of course for sadhana it is necessary to recognise that the real Power was not yourself and you were simply the instrument on which it played its tune.
The Ananda of creation is not the pleasure of the ego in having personally done well and being somebody, that is something extraneous which attaches itself to the joy of work and creation. The Ananda comes from the inrush of a greater Power, the thrill of being possessed and used by it, the āvésa, the exultation of the uplifting of the consciousness, its illumination and its greatened and heightened action and also the joy of the beauty, power or perfection that is being created. How far one feels it depends on the condition of the consciousness at the time, the temperament, the activity of the vital; the Yogi, of course, (or even certain strong and calm minds) is not carried away by the Ananda, he holds and watches it and there is no mere excitement mixed with the flow of it through the mind, vital or body. Naturally the Ananda of samarpan [surrender] or spiritual realisation or divine love is something far greater, but the Ananda of creation has its place.
Yesterday morning I was reading Krishnaprem's article in the Aryan Path on the Seventh Chapter of the Gita where he says: (I give you the gist) that meditation can't be fruitful for most and that is because a high degree of inner development and purification has not been achieved, one of the conditions being that most men are not yogis whom "the pairs of opposites that torment other people will have no power to disturb/' etc. He posits a host of other conditions for a successful meditation which well nigh drive me to despair. It is no joke, it seems. One must become perfect first before one can hope for any result in meditations. No wonder my attempts were fruitless.
Last evening as I lolled on the pier alone I felt sad: what is this path I have taken where one has to be a Hercules to be able to do anything—even to try meditation. My cherished preconception that prayer, meditation, etc. purify received such a blow! Then how on earth is one to arrive ? By writing notations to music and songs and poems ? I wonder if anyone ever realised the Divine through such a way! I was really very much disheartened. No doubt you have been encouraging us—but Krishnaprem has at last blurted out the home truth. Look at me: I have been working hard enough in all conscience—but with no consciousness at all of the least sense of illumination within. What can such work do! But then again meditation is useless d'aprés Krishnaprem unless one were thoroughly purified and stationed in the perfect yogic poise. Today I have been struggling against this despondency: for us it is perhaps impossible to arrive by any path. Then why do yoga ? Work ? Only to ward off the depression that comes from repose ?
I do not know what Krishnaprem said or in which article, I do not have it with me. But if the statement is that nobody can
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have a successful meditation or realise anything till he is pure and perfect, I fail to follow it, it contradicts my own experience. I have always had realisation by meditation first and the purification started afterwards as a result. I have seen many get important, even fundamental realisations by meditation who could not be said to have a great inner development. Are all Yogis who have meditated to effect and had great realisations in their inner consciousness perfect in their nature ? It does not look like it to me. I am unable to believe in absolute generalisations in this field, because the development of spiritual consciousness is an exceedingly vast and complex affair in which all sorts of things can happen and one might almost say that for each man it is different according to his nature and that the one thing that is essential is the inner call and aspiration and the perseverance to follow always after it, no matter how long it takes or what are the difficulties or impediments, because nothing else will satisfy the soul within us.
It is quite true that a certain amount of purification is indispensable for going on, that the more complete the purification the better, because then when the realisations begin they can go on without big difficulties or relapses and without any possibility of fall or failure. It is also true that with many purification is the first need—certain things have to be got out of the way before one can begin any consecutive inner experience. But the main thing is a certain preparation of the consciousness so that it may be able to respond more and more freely to the higher Force. In this preparation many things are useful—the poetry and music you are doing can help, for it acts as a sort of śravana [hearing] and manana [thinking], even if the feeling roused is intense, a sort of natural nididhyāsana. Psychic preparation, clearing out of the grosser forms of mental and vital ego, opening mind and heart to the Guru and many other things help greatly—it is not perfection that comes or a complete freedom from the dualities or ego, but preparedness, a fineness of the inner being which makes spiritual responses and receiving possible.
There is no reason therefore to take as gospel truth these demands which may have been right for Krishnaprem on the way he has trod, but cannot be imposed on all. There is no around for despondency of that ground—the law of the spirit is not so exacting and inexorable.
Glad to learn you may write something on the Hinduism problem. I have written to Dhurjati quoting this—hoping this may induce you to write after all—to preclude shelving (or rather to attempt it abortively ?)
It will give us much light. We are all very eager for it. For such a long time I have not got anything from you— working at this ten hour-a-day—dry notation business with no sense of Divine contact. Off and on the dejection- surge came saying, "What were you doing ? Do you think that by such ayukta karma [work inharmonious with yoga] your consciousness will change—fool !" Again and again I rejected it. But when except for the joy of creation—vital one of course—I could not get at last I succumbed, and in the grip of sadness and suffering and doubt and what not. So a letter on Hinduism and spirituality will be like rain to thirsty sere earth. For I see no way to turn to for relief.
I shall see what can be done. For some time however it has been difficult for me to put myself to any sustained intellectual work, because I am strongly taken up by a push to finish inwardly in myself what remained to be done in the way of transformation of the consciousness and, though this part of it is terribly difficult and arduous, I was making so unexpected a progress that the consciousness was unwilling to turn away from it to anything else. So much hangs on this, the decisive mastery, the power to receive the difficulties of others as well as my own (those that are still there, physical and other) that I was pushing for it like Mussolini for Addis Ababa before the rains. However, any night when there is a lull, I will see.
May 20, 1936
I cannot candidly say that the Mother and I approve of the idea of your going to Calcutta for a fortnight for relief from your sufferings : if we ever sanction such a movement, it is against our own seeing of things because no choice is left to us owing to circumstances or the state of mind of the Sadhak. We have never found that such absences do any spiritual good : they usually relax or lower the consciousness or renew old movements that must go. It is much better to face the difficulty however sticky it is till the conquest is there.
It is a pity that this movement of depression has come back with its painful and irrational circle. It must be thrown away for good: these movements go round in a circular repetitionary way characteristic of these things. It is lent force by the reasonings of the physical mind which are specious but of no value. It is not true of spiritual things that experience must come within a certain number of years or not at all. There are some who begin to succeed after a few years some who take longer, succeeding only in work but not in meditation or activity of the inner consciousness, but finally the veiled inner preparation of so many years has prevailed and they begin to get the psychic change, the inner opening of head and heart, the descents, the growth through frequent though not uninterrupted experience. This has happened even to those who are troubled by these circular movements and have been again and again on the point of rushing away in despair. There is nothing more futile than to despair in the spiritual path and throw up the game: it is to break a working which would have led one to the realisation asked for if one had persevered. I have always said that since your soul wants the Divine truly, you are sure to reach Him.
There is only one logic in spiritual things—when a demand is there for the Divine, a sincere call, it is bound one day to have its fulfilment. It is only if there is a strong insincerity somewhere, a hankering after something else—power, ambition, etc.—
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which counterbalances the inner call that the logic is no longer applicable. Supramental realisation is another matter: I am speaking now of the realisation of the Divine, of the contact with the Divine, through whatever lever, heart or mind or both. In your case it is likely to come through the heart, through increase of bhakti or psychic purification of the heart: that is why I was pressing the psychic way upon you. I do not mean that nothing can come through meditation for you, but probably—barring the unexpected—only after the heart experience.
Do not allow these wrong ideas and feelings to govern you or your state of depression to dictate your decisions : try to keep a firm central will for the realisation—you can do so if you make up your mind to it—these things are not impossible for you; they are within the scope of your nature which is strong. You will find that the obstinate spiritual difficulty disappears in the end like a mirage. It belongs to the maya and, where the inner call is sincere, cannot hold even the outer consciousness always: its apparent solidity will dissolve.
May 29, 1936
It is a little difficult for me to answer your letter in view of what you have written there. I have certainly persuaded you to remain here because I did not think that going away was the right solution, nor do I think so now. But from what you wrote last time after this came on you, I understood that you did not really want to go and were glad that I had persuaded you, that in fact you would have suffered greatly if I had given my consent. Here you write very differently and in such a way that if I am to take what you say in its full sense I would have to reply at once "Yes, go, since there is no other alternative". Let me say at once that persuasion is not force. Last time I
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don't think I even used persuasion; I simply gave my opinion against your proposal. My opinion remains the same, but that is not binding on you. I have also never thought of cutting you off if you go to Cape Comorin for a time or to Calcutta. Everyone here is free to follow his own decision in these matters. But when I am asked for a full consent, I take it as an invitation to give my own view on what is proposed and I give it. There is no question there of detaining or refusing a bitter need or cutting you off for a time to Calcutta or to Cape Comorin, and therefore there can be no reason for your being driven to the extremes of which you speak in your letter.
As for the way out of the impasse, I know only of the quieting of the mind which makes meditation effective, purification of the heart which brings the divine touch and in time the divine presence, humility before the Divine which liberates from egoism and the pride of the mind and of the vital, the pride that imposes its own reasonings on the ways of the spirit and the pride that refuses or is unable to surrender, sustained persistence in the call within and reliance on the Grace above. These things come by the inner discipline which you had begun to practise some time ago but did not continue. Meditation, japa, prayer or aspiration from the heart can all succeed, if they are attended by these or even some of these things. But I do not know that you can be promised what you always make the condition of any inner endeavour, an immediate or almost immediate realisation or beginning of concrete realisation. I fully believe on the other hand that one who has the call in him cannot fail to arrive if he follows patiently the, way towards the Divine.
Frankly this is my view of the matter. I have never seen that anyone by changing place arrived at any spiritual realisation— it always comes by a change of mind and heart. I put before you what I can see. The rest is for you to consider.
May 30, 1936
I have surely never said that you should not want the Divine Response. One does Yoga for that. What I have said is that you should not expect or insist on it at once or within an early time. It can come early or it can come late, but come it will if one is faithful in one's call—for one has not only to be sincere but to be faithful through all. If I deprecate insistence, it is because I' have always found that it creates difficulties and delays owing to a strain and restlessness which are created in the nature and the despondencies and revolts of the vital when the insistence is not satisfied. The Divine knows best and one has to have trust in His wisdom and attune oneself with His will. Length of time is no proof of an ultimate incapacity to arrive—it is only a sign that there is something in oneself which has to be overcome and if there is the will to reach the Divine, it can be overcome.
Suicide solves nothing—it only brings back to life with the same difficulties to be faced in worse conditions. If one wishes to escape from life altogether, it can only be by the way of complete inner renunciation and merging oneself in the Silence of the Absolute or by a bhakti that becomes absolute or by a Karmayoga that gives up one's own will and desires to the will of the Divine.
I have said also that Grace can at any moment act suddenly, but over that one has no control, because it comes by an incalculable Will which sees things that the mind cannot see. It is precisely the reason why one should never despair—that and also because no sincere aspiration to the Divine can fail in the end.
Mother does not remember having said to Sahana what you report—it may have been something in another sense which Sahana understood in that way. For it cannot be said that you have never received force from us, you have received it to any extent, it can only be said that you were not conscious of it, but that happens with many. Certainly none of the
sadhaks receives and uses all the Force the Mother sends, but that is a general fact and not peculiar to you.
I hope you will not carry out your idea of going suddenly g^ay—if you have to go for a time, it should be with our knowledge and our protection around you. I hope it will not be necessary at all, but certainly it should not be in that way. Whatever else you doubt, you should not doubt that our love and affection will be always with you. But I still hope that you will be able to overcome this despair and this impulse of flight and develop the quiet force of intense call which brings the Light that is sure to come.
Last evening at Meditation with Mother I had a feeling of suffering because I could find no solace, no knowledge, no relief anywhere, because it was such a shame that I understood nothing. Then I came back and prayed to Krishna and the prayer that issued with profusion was: "0 Krishna, you know I wanted you and nothing but you, still I feel I am so ignorant and find myself in an impasse. Do shed on me your grace" etc. At once I felt a velvety softness and a feeling of plasticity within and the sense of friction and chafing vanished. I felt that there was no ignominy in not understanding it all, and that one was utterly impotent. I felt very humble and then there came a sense of release born of a surrender in this unconditional humility. Kanai says it is a psychic experience and an important one. Please let me know if it is.
It was certainly an experience and as Kanai33 very accurately described it an experience of great value, a psychic experience Par excellence. A feeling of velvety softness within—an ineffable plasticity within is a psychic experience and can be
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nothing else. It means a modification of the substance of the consciousness especially in the vital-emotional part, and such a modification prolonged or repeated till it became permanent would mean a great step in what I call the psychic transformation of the being. It is just these modifications in the inner substance that make transformation possible. Further, it was a modification that made a beginning of knowledge possible—for by knowledge we mean in Yoga not thought or ideas about spiritual things but psychic understanding from within and spiritual illumination from above. Therefore the first result was this feeling "that there was no ignominy in not ; understanding it, that the true understanding would come only when one realised that one was completely impotent". This was itself a beginning of true understanding; a psychic understanding, something felt within which sheds a light or' brings up a spiritual truth that mere thinking would not have given, also a truth that is effective in bringing both the enlightenment and solace you needed—for what the psychic brings with it always is light and happiness, an inner under- standing and relief and solace.
Another very promising aspect of this experience is that it came as an immediate response to an appeal to the Divine. You asked for the understanding and the way out and at once Krishna showed you both—the way out was the change of the consciousness within, the plasticity which makes the Knowledge possible and also the understanding of the condition of mind and vital in which the true knowledge or power of knowledge could come. For the inner knowledge comes from within and above (whether from the Divine in the heart or from the Self above) and for it to come, the pride of the mind and vital in the surface mental ideas and their insistence on them must go. One must know that one is ignorant before one can begin to know. This shows that I was not wrong in pressing for the psychic opening as the only way out. For as the psychic opens, such responses and much more also become common and the inner change also proceeds by which they are made possible.
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The poems are very beautiful and certainly they come from a sincere feeling and experience—in view of what you felt there can be no doubt of that.
But one question: what is the difference between a "feeling" and an "experience” ? Is every feeling an experience ? Or an intensely emotional one only an experience ? Anyhow since I understand nothing please enlighten the crass ignorant who sees himself to be so.
I doubt whether I am able to answer your question—or whether I quite understand it. There is no law that a feeling cannot be an experience; experiences are of all kinds and take all forms in the consciousness. When the consciousness undergoes, sees or feels anything spiritual or psychic or even occult, that is an experience (in the technical yogic sense, for there are of course all sorts of experiences that are not of that character). Feelings themselves are of many kinds. The word feeling is often used for an emotion, and there can be psychic or spiritual emotions which are numbered among Yoga
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experiences, such as a wave of suddha bhakti [pure bhakti] or the rising of love towards the Divine. A feeling also means a perception of something felt—a perception in the vital or psychic or in the essential substance of the consciousness. Even I find often a mental perception when it is very vivid described as a feeling. If you exclude all these feelings and kindred ones and say that they are feelings, not experiences, then there is very little room left for experiences at all. Feeling and vision are the main forms of spiritual experience. One sees and feels the Brahman everywhere—one feels a force enter or go out from one; one feels or sees the presence of the Divine within or around one; one feels or sees the descent of light; one feels the descent of peace or Ananda. Kick all that out on the ground that it is a feeling, not an experience (what the deuce then is an experience ?) and you make a clean sweep of most of the things that we call experience. Again, we feel a change in the substance of the consciousness or the state of consciousness. We feel ourselves spreading in wideness and the body only as a small thing in the wideness (this can be seen also)—we feel the heart-consciousness being wide instead of narrow, soft instead of hard, illumined instead of obscure, the head-consciousness also, the vital, even the physical also—we feel thousands of things of all kinds and why are we not to call them experiences ? Of course it is an inner sight, an inner feeling, subtle feeling, not material, like the feeling of a cold wind or a stone or any other object, but as the inner consciousness deepens it is not less vivid or concrete, it is even more so.
In this case what you felt was not an emotion, though something emotional came with it; you felt a condition on the very substance of consciousness—a softness, a plasticity, even a velvety softness, an ineffable plasticity. Any fellow who knows anything about Yoga would immediately say, "What a fine experience", a very clear psychic and spiritual experience.
Your letter this morning was perfectly crystal-clear. And I felt also like that. I will now start revising my long [ ?]. Yesterday I was extremely busy correcting proofs from 7.30p.m. till 2.30 a.m. at a stretch, fancy! Today too I had to work hard at it.
Jyoti has sent me another poem, which I like very much but I find the last verse rather cryptic. I understand you opined it was perfectly clear to you. But what idea did it convey to you ?
A propos, a question. I was reading in your Future Poetry to-day that mysticism comes "When either we glimpse but do not intimately realise the now secret things of the spirit, or, realising, yet cannot find their direct language, their intrinsic way of utterance, and have to use obscurely luminous hints or a thick drapery of symbol, when we have the revelation, but not the inspiration, the sight but not the word." This, I think, I follow
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heartily and applaud lustily. For I have had a feeling often (though not always) that mystic poetry hides behind the symbols the author's comparative inability to find a proper expression for what he has vaguely felt. I have often seen that when the feeling is very concrete I can express what I can't if it isn't concrete enough. Much of the mystic poetry of Tagore during the last few years we are all altogether baffled by and can't but set down to his comparative failure to seize what loomed before him. It suggests but only faintly—glimmers but does not illumine. His prose- poetry of late are often altogether cryptic.... And now I find you say also something kindred in the passage I quoted—calling the source of much mystic poetry (though not all, mind you) "revelation” but not "inspiration”. Apropos, does not inspiration mean something more intimate to our conscious than a visioned "revelation” which is perforce somewhat remote, I gather or rather infer from your passage ? In Jyoti's poem the last verse will, happily, exemplify what I mean. I don't doubt she felt something but has she adequately conveyed it with a more adequate power of expression ? I am not unsympathetic to mystic poetry (I can't possibly be) but I am, I fear, a little fond of clarity and as such perhaps a little apathetic to symbolic esotericism. But enough. Now do say something radiant to dissipate my hazes, O please Guru—for god's sake—.
I find no difficulty in the last stanza of Jyotirmayi's poem nor any in connecting [it] with the two former stanzas. It is a single feeling and subjective idea or vision expressing itself in three facets : In the full night of the spirit there is a luminosity from above in the very heart of the darkness—imaged by the moon and stars in the bosom of the Night. (The night- sky with the moon (spiritual light) and the stars is a well-known symbol and it is seen frequently by sadhaks even when they do not know its meaning.) In that night of the spirit is the Dream to which or through which a path is found that in the
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ordinary light of waking day one forgets or misses. In the night of the spirit are shadowy avenues of pain, but even in that shadow the Power of Beauty and Beatitude sings secretly and unseen the strains of Paradise. But in the light of day the mystic heart of moonlight sorrowfully weeps, suppressed, for even though the nectar of it is there behind, it falters away from this garish light because it is itself a subtle thing of dream, not of conscious waking mind-nature. That is how I understand or rather try mentally to express it. But it is putting a very abstract sense into what should be kept vague in outline but vivid in feeling—by mentalising one puts at once too much and too little in it.I do not remember the context of the passage you quote from The Future Poetry, but I suppose I meant to contrast the veiled utterance of what is usually called mystic poetry with the spiritual clarity of the fully expressed experience. I did not mean to contrast it with the mental clarity which is aimed at usually by poetry. The concreteness of intellectual imaged description is one thing and spiritual concreteness is another. "Two birds perched on one tree, but one eats the fruit, the other eats not but watches his fellow"37—that has an illumining spiritual clarity and concreteness to one who has had the experience, but mentally and intellectually it might mean anything or nothing. Poetry uttered with the spiritual clarity may be compared to sunlight, poetry uttered with the mystic veil to moonlight. But it was not my intention to deny beauty, power or value to the moonlight. Note that I have distinguished between two kinds of mysticism, one in which the realisation is vague, the other in which the realisation is revelatory and intimate, but the utterance is veiled by the image, not thoroughly revealed by it. I do not know to which Tagore's recent poetry belongs, I have not read it. But the latter kind of poetry (where there is the intimate experience) can be of great power and value—witness Blake. Revelation is greater than inspiration—it brings the direct knowledge and seeing, inspiration gives the expression. If there is inspiration without revelation, one may get the word while the
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thing remains behind the veil; it is better to get the sight of the thing itself than merely express it by an inspiration which comes from behind the veil. Of course both together is the best... Mark also that the inspiration I speak of is the coming of intrinsic word, the spiritual mantra—it would not do to say that the mystic poetry has no inspiration, no inspired word at all. No inspiration, no poetry.
(Written in great hurry—hope it is not impossible to follow.)
I have read the "admirer's" letter. I don't suppose he has any definite idea of what is meant by seeking the Divine or the Yoga. I don't know whether it is any use telling him that Yoga is not an easy thing and one has much to face and much to conquer and therefore it is not right to hurry to it. He should allow time for the consciousness to grow and become clear about its [aim] and the true urge behind before any step is taken ? Things like that to stave him off ? There is too much of a rhetorical turn in his epistle.
Prithwisingh wants to know whether Shankar paid the rent not only up to October (which P.S. knows) but up to December as Sen avers. I suppose he did pay, since he says so ? He has agreed to pay by installments but claims a deduction of Rs. 300 for the garage. Prithwisingh is not inclined to concede more than Rs. 75. Sorry to intrude this on you, but I have to answer him about the rent payment up to December, so have to trouble you.
July 6, 1936
Thirst for the Divine is one thing and depression is quite another, nor is depression a necessary consequence of the thirst being unsatisfied; that may lead to a more ardent thirst or to a fixed resolution and persistent effort or to a more and more yearning call or to a psychic sorrow which is not at all identical with depression and despair. Depression is a clouded grey state in its nature and it is more difficult for light to come through clouds and greyness than through a clear atmosphere. That depression obstructs the inner light is a matter of general experience. The Gita says expressly, "Yoga should be practised persistently with a heart free from depression"— anirvinnacetasā. Bunyan in The Pilgrim's Progress symbolises it as the Slough of Despond, one of the perils of the way that has to be overcome. It is no doubt impossible to escape from attacks of depression, almost all sadhaks go through these attacks, but the principle is that one should react against them and not allow them by any kind of mental encouragement or acceptance of their suggestions to persist or grow chronic.
It is hardly a fact that sorrow is necessary in order to make the soul seek the Divine. It is the call of the soul within for the Divine that makes it turn, and that may come under any circumstances—in full prosperity and enjoyment, at the height of outward conquest and victory without any sorrow or disappointment, but by a sudden or a growing enlightenment, by a flash of light in the midst of sensuous passion, as in Bilwamangal42, by the perception that there is something greater and truer than this outward life lived in ego and ignorance. None of these turns need be accompanied by sorrow and depression. Often one turns saying, "Life is all very well and interesting enough as a game, but it is only a game, the spiritual reality is greater than the life of the mind and senses." In whatever way it comes, it is the call of the Divine or the soul's call to the Divine that matters, the attraction of it is something far greater than the things that usually hold
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the nature. Certainly if one is satisfied with life, entranced by it so that it shuts out the sense of the soul within or hampers the attraction to the Divine, then a period of vairagya, sorrow, depression, a painful breaking of the vital ties may be necessary and many go through that. But once the turn made, it should be to the one direction and a perpetual vairagya is not needed. Nor when we speak of cheerfulness as the best condition, do we mean a cheerful following of the vital life, but a cheerful following of the path to the Divine which is not impossible if the mind and heart take the right view and posture. At any rate, if positive cheerfulness is not possible in one's case, still one should not acquiesce in or mentally support a constant depression and sadness. That is not at all indispensable for keeping turned to the Divine.
In speaking of the Buddhist and his nine years of the wall and other instances, the Mother was only disproving the view that not having succeeded in seven or eight years meant unfitness and debarred all hope for the future. The man of the wall stands among the greatest names in Japanese Buddhism and his long sterility did not mean incapacity or spiritual unfitness; but apart from that there are many who have gone on persisting for long periods and finally prevailed. It is a common, not an uncommon experience.I answer about the psychic and vital love tomorrow.
It is certainly easier to have friendship between man and man or between woman and woman than between man and woman, because there the sexual intrusion can be easily absent. In the friendship between man and woman the sexual turn can at any moment come in in a subtle or a direct way and produce perturbations. But there is no impossibility of friendship between man and woman pure of this element;
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such friendships can exist and have always existed. All that is needed is that the lower vital should not look in at the back door or be permitted to enter. There is often a harmony between a masculine and a feminine nature, an attraction or an affinity which rests on something other than any open or covert lower vital (sexual) basis—it depends sometimes predominantly on the mental or on the psychic or on the higher vital, or on a mixture of these for its substance. In such cases friendship is natural and there is little chance of other elements coming in to pull it downwards or break it.
It is also a mistake to think that the vital alone has warmth and the psychic is something frigid without any flame in it. A clear limpid goodwill is a very good thing and desirable— [one has only to consider what a changed place the Ashram would be if all had it for each other.]43 But that is not what is meant by psychic love. Love is love and not merely goodwill. Psychic love can have a warmth and a flame as intense and more intense than the vital, only it is a pure fire, not dependent on the satisfaction of ego-desire or on the eating up of the fuel it embraces. It is a white flame, not a red one; but white heat is not inferior to the red variety in its ardour. It is true that the psychic love does not usually get its full play in human relations and human nature, it finds the fullness of its fire and ecstasy more easily when it is lifted towards the Divine. In the human relation the psychic love gets mixed up with other elements which seek at once to use it and overshadow it. It gets an outlet for its own full intensities only at rare moments. Otherwise it comes in only as an element, but even so it contributes all the higher things in a love that is predominantly vital—all the finer sweetness, tenderness, fidelity, self-giving, self- sacrifice, reachings of soul to soul, idealising sublimations that lift up human love beyond itself, come from the psychic. If it could dominate and govern and transmute the other elements, mental, vital, physical of human love, then love could be on the earth some reflection or preparation of the real thing, an integral union of the soul and its instruments in a dual life. But even some imperfect appearance of that is rare.
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[Here we do not talk of psychic love between sadhaks, for the reason that that comes usually to be employed as a cover and excuse for things that are not at all psychic and have no place in the spiritual life.] Our view is that the normal thing is in Yoga for the entire flame of the nature to turn towards the Divine and the rest must wait for the true basis : to build higher things on the sand and mire of the ordinary consciousness is not safe. That does not necessarily exclude friendships or comradeships, but these must be subordinate altogether to the central fire. If anyone makes meanwhile the relation with the Divine his one absorbing aim, that is quite natural and gives the full force to the sadhana. Psychic love finds itself wholly when it is the radiation of the diviner consciousness for which we are seeking; till then it is difficult for it to put out its undimmed integral self and figure.
P.S. Mind, vital, physical are properly instruments for the soul and spirit; when they work for themselves then they produce ignorant and imperfect things—if they can be made into conscious instruments of the psychic and the spirit, then they get their own fulfilment—that is the idea contained in what we call transformation in this Yoga.
The woman of the photograph is certainly genuine, that is to say she is sincere and her trances are genuine. The Mother could follow her through the trance experience reflected in the photograph and find that she went into a sort of static Sachidananda consciousness, that is a broad release of peace and quietude, behind the vital—for into this kind of state one can withdraw on almost any level, in the physical conscious- ness, in the vital as well as in the higher mental or overmental. Wherever entered into, it is, though rather negative, yet a very happy state and it is probably the light of that happiness that creates the radiance, they speak of. It is a withdrawn and disinterested condition; one always wants to be in it and has no wish for anything else. Hence her refusal to be bothered with disciples and her frequent samadhi.
As for her question about her bereavement do let me have at least a few lines which I will convey to her. I don't relish the idea of philosophising about it when I am so far from the attitude of a nirdvandva [equable] yogi. Even a sentence or two from you will, I am sure, immensely help her, as you have both the knowledge and the grace which make the blind see.
It is a very intricate and difficult question to tackle and it can hardly be done in a few words. Moreover it is impossible to give a general rule as to why there are these close inner contacts followed by a physical separation through death— in each case it differs and one would have to know the persons and be familiar with their soul history to tell what was behind their meeting and separation. In a general way, a life is only
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one brief episode in a long history of spiritual evolution in which the soul follows the curve of the line set for the earth, passing through many lives to complete it. It is an evolution out of material inconscience to consciousness and towards the Divine Consciousness, from ignorance to divine Know- ledge, from darkness through half-light to Light, from death to Immortality, from suffering to the Divine Bliss. Suffering is due first to the Ignorance, secondly to the separation of the individual consciousness from the divine Consciousness and Being, a separation created by the Ignorance—when that ceases, when one lives in the Divine and no more in one's separated smaller self, then only suffering can altogether cease. Each soul follows its own line and these lines meet, journey together for a space, then part to meet again perhaps hereafter—often they meet to help each other on the journey in one way or another. As for the after-death period, the soul passes into other planes of existence, staying there for a while till it reaches its place of rest where it remains until it is ready for another terrestrial existence. This is the general law, but for the connections of embodied soul with embodied soul that is a matter of personal evolution of the two on which nothing general can be said as it is intimate to the soul stories of the two and needs a personal knowledge. That is all I can say, but I don't know that it will be of much help to her as these things are helpful usually only when one enters into the consciousness in which they become not mere ideas but realities. Then one grieves no longer because one enters into the Truth and the Truth brings calm and peace.
Your letter this morning is beautiful and written in such a soft humanistic tone almost! I am sure it will help her. The other day you quite floored me by as good as saying that when one wants the Divine all friendship, etc. is little better than nonsense. I agreed though, as I don't really like terrestrial life and evolution, still the only thing I rather like still in this darkish world is friendship and affection and art and music and poetry. But as all friendship, you pointed out, are stigmatised by some vital warmth or other, well, I told myself (willingly), "Better be cold to all when it is such a trouble and never a help, almost always a hindrance at worst a downfall at best a tolerable thing." But in this letter you suggest humans do help each other— their destinies meeting and re-meeting to that end. Well, I like this attitude better as, alas, I have had too many friends in my life and still have a soft corner in my heart even for men like Dhurjati, the atheist and Subhash the patriot. However I am babbling to no purpose. This is only to say that some part of my heart was touched by your tone in this letter in contradistinction to that of your other letter where you practically threw freezing water on the fuels of all friendships as their psychic is so little [absurd].
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Well, I was speaking in this answer not of Yoga but of the process of human lives in previous stages of development. In Yoga friendship can remain, but attachment has to fall away or any such engrossing affection as would keep one tied to the ordinary life and consciousness—human relations must take quite a small and secondary place and not interfere with the turn to the Divine.
(...) I quite agree about the language. It is an exquisitely beautiful translation.Yes, keep the literature valve open. As to the 15th, well, it has its advantages, but also its disadvantages. Among the latter is the afflux of people full of the consciousness of the outside world—bringing an oppressive weight of dullness and ordinariness into the atmosphere—also as the adverse forces know that something is to be attempted at this period they become active to stop it. Don't lay too much stress on the 15th which is after all more a general than a personal occasion— for the individual any day in the year may be the 15th—that is the birthday or a birthday of something in the inner being. It is with that feeling that one should do the sadhana.
(...) I quite agree about the language. It is an exquisitely beautiful translation.Yes, keep the literature valve open. As to the 15th, well, it has its advantages, but also its disadvantages. Among the latter is the afflux of people full of the consciousness of the outside world—bringing an oppressive weight of dullness and ordinariness into the atmosphere—also as the adverse forces know that something is to be attempted at this period they become active to stop it. Don't lay too much stress on the 15th which is after all more a general than a personal occasion— for the individual any day in the year may be the 15th—that is the birthday or a birthday of something in the inner being. It is with that feeling that one should do the sadhana.
August 24, 1936
There is no reason to think that the movement of strength and purity was a make-believe. No, it was a real thing. But with these strong forward movements the vital enthusiasm often comes in with a triumphant "Now it is finished", which is not quite justified, for "Now it will be soon finished" would be nearer to it. It is at these moments that the thrice-damned Censor comes in with a jog, raises up a still shaky bit of the nature and produces a result that is out of all proportion to the size of the little bit, just to show that it is not finished. I have had any number of times that experience myself. All this comes from the complexity and slowness of our evolutionary nature which Yoga quickens but not as a whole at one stroke. But in fact, as I said, these crises are out of all proportion to their cause in the nature. One must therefore not be discouraged, but see the exaggeration in the adversary's successful negation as well as in the exaggeration in our own idea of a complete and definite victory already there.
That too explains Puranmal's condition. His experiences
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are quite sound and have brought a considerable part of his nature into the Light, but the physical and nervous man (by nervous I mean vital-physical) was unrefined, hard and obscure, indulging in grossnesses of many kinds. It is that part of him which is still giving trouble because it is still not enough purified and has acquired sensitiveness at the cost of a nervous excitement caused by the crude elements not yet accepting to change.
Sahana is no longer working about the past events (only seeking for the inner causes of her stumble), so I don't write about them either. She is recovered a little, enough to think of her taking to music again. We will see when she is quite all right.
Yes, that is the bother of these attachments—the reason why the Yogis were so down on them—the Vedantists especially with their insistence on the breaking of the heart-knots. They must have known from their own difficulties in the matter.
I am pondering over what to say and not to say about this spiritism—so many people find solace in it like Raihana. And yet well, it is a damnably mixed sort of thing and not safe. Tomorrow.
(Re: Attachment between Raihana and the Gujarati girl Saroj)
About spiritism, I think, I can say this much for the present. It is quite possible for the dead or rather the departed—for they are not dead—who are still in regions near the earth to have communication with the living. Sometimes it happens automatically, sometimes by an effort at communication on one side of the curtain or the other. There is no impossibility of such communication by the means used by the spiritists; usually, however, genuine communications or a contact can only be with those who are yet in a world which is a sort of idealised replica of the earth-consciousness in which the same personality, ideas, memories persist that the person had here. But all that pretends to be communications with departed souls is not genuine—especially when it is done through a paid professional medium. There is there an enormous amount of mixture of a very undesirable kind—for apart from the great mass of unconscious suggestions from the sitters or the contributions of the medium's subliminal consciousness, one gets into contact with a world of beings which is of a very deceptive or self-deceptive illusory nature. Many of these come and claim to be the departed souls of relatives, acquaintances, well-known men, famous personalities, etc. There are also beings who pick up the discarded feelings and memories of the dead and masquerade with them. There are a great number of beings who come to such séances only to play with the consciousness of men or exercise their powers through this contact with the earth and who dope the mediums and sitters with their falsehoods, tricks and illusions. (I am supposing, of course, the case of mediums who are not themselves tricksters.) A contact with such a plane of spirits can be harmful (most mediums become nervously or morally unbalanced) and spiritually dangerous. Of course, all pretended communications with the famous dead of long-past times are in their very nature deceptive and most of those with the recent ones also—that is evident from the character of these communications. Through conscientious mediums one may get sound results (in the matter of the dead), but even these are very ignorant of the nature of the forces they are handling and have no discrimination which can guard them against trickery from the other side of the veil. Very little genuine knowledge of the nature of the after-life can be gathered from these séances; a true knowledge is more often gained by the experience of individuals who make serious contact or are able in one way or another to cross the border.
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[When Mother said that it was not good to try to meet the dead, she was speaking from a spiritual standpoint which is not usually known or regarded by the spiritists.
I have written so much in answer to your question (and V's), but I do not know that it would be right to let all that go to R. Her experiences conducted by herself in person are probably genuine and it would not be helpful to trouble her with all these general considerations which would not be relevant to her own case.]
I went to the pier for a short walk. The Queen Mother ofDewas59 was there and pranamed me—almost sent her little son to me. I had to speak to her. She was very nice and cordial. I had never seen her before her Princesses told me. They were very vivacious. Said; they were six brothers and sisters. Talked as we were coming back just for a few minutes. Said they didn't care for Pondicherry. Well. I felt very easy today however: I suppose because I was inoculated by another Princess. But they were very friendly all the same and spoke beautiful Hindi. They were Marathi they said however. The Queen Mother has a gentle face but does not look a mother of six children: she looks rather as the eldest sister. So that is that.
Now adieu, I have to finish this article quick to do
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meditation. A little coffee has revived me. I was a little tired at last this evening after long hours of work. Trying to dedicate but still getting absorbed in work. Help me there please. Or do I worry too much hereanent ? But then without offering the work becomes undedicated, does it not? And such work can't help the sadhana, can it? Hein ?
Absorption in work is inevitable. It is enough to offer it when beginning and ending and to encourage the attitude to grow= for You and by You.
It is quite impossible for the descent of the Divine Grace to produce nausea and nervousness and a general disturbance like that—to think so is self-contradictory and foolish. Sometimes when one has pulled or strained, there is a headache or sensation as if of headache or if one pulls down too much force then there may be a giddiness, but one has only to remain quiet and that sets itself right by an assimilation of what has come down or otherwise. There is never any adverse or troublesome after-consequence. What seems to have happened is that Saurin's finding the Force he had called down much more than what he was accustomed to, got nervous and went from nervousness into a panic—with the result of an upsetting of his stomach and circulation. If it is not that then it must have been an attack of illness which he associated with the descent, but the attack seems to be of a nervous character. Probably if he had had the experience of this increased descent sometime ago, he would not have been frightened and nothing would have happened, but the madness of Premshankar following on the death of Dahi Lakshmi65 has created a panic and at the least thing each person thinks he is going to go mad or die. As nothing upsets the organism more than fear, they create by this general atmosphere of panic danger, where there was none.
The idea that Premshankar was sent mad by a descent of Divine Force is an absurdity and an irrational superstition. People go mad because they have a physical predisposition due either to heredity (as in the case of Premshankar and T.) or to some kind of organic cause or secret illness, syphilis gone to the head or colon bacillis similarly misdirected or brain lesion or other material cause, the action being often brought up by some psychological factor (ambition turning to megalomania, hypochondria, melancholia, etc.) or on the contrary itself bringing these to the surface. All that happens in ordinary life and not only in Yoga; the same causes work
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here. The one thing is that there may be an invasion of an alien Force bringing about the upsetting, but it is not the divine Force, it is a vital Force that invades. The Divine Force cannot by its descent be the cause of madness any more than it can be of apoplexy or any other physical illness. If there is no predisposition, one may have all kinds of attacks from vital or other forces or from one's own movements of the lower nature, as violent as possible, but there will be no madness.
(Padmaja, daughter of Sarojini Naidu, bore a tale to Dilipda,
which troubled him no end, as it concerned two of his great
friends: Subhash Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru.)
I would certainly not hang anybody on the testimony of Padmaja; she has too much of a delight in scandal-mongering of the worst kind; but I suppose she would not cite Jawaharlal as a witness if there were nothing in it. The question is : how much exaggeration ? I am afraid it is not at all impossible that Subhash should say one thing to Jawaharlal and quite another to somebody else. Politics is like that, a dirty and corrupting business full of "policy", "strategy", "tactics", "diplomacy", in other words, lying, tricking, manœuvring of all kinds. A few escape the corruption but most don't. It has after all always been a trade or art of Kautilya from the beginning, and to touch it and not be corrupted is far from easy. For it is a field in which people fix their eyes on the thing to be achieved and soon become careless about the character of the means, while ambition, ego and self-interest come Pouring in to aid the process. Human nature is prone enough to crookedness as it is, but here the ordinary restraints put upon it fail to be at all effective. That however is general—in
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a particular case one can't pronounce without knowing the circumstances more at first hand or before having seen the documents cited.
I hope this attack prolonged by so many outward circum-¦ stances heaping themselves on each other, will now pass. As you have got over the pressure of the vital longing and of the will to doubt (though the doubt of yourself continues), I hope that you will get over all the emotional weakness of over- sensitiveness (don't misunderstand, I don't mean getting over the emotions, for the emotional being is a necessity of the Yoga) and be able to present a quiet front to the speech and action and event that disturb it. The will to do so was growing and where the will affirms itself, success in the end must come. Then the fixing of the quiet mind will provide the ground that is needed for peace and silence. It is the sensitiveness and the self-doubt that come across now and bring the relapse into despondency. If these can go, the way will become clear.
October 21, 1936
I pointed out last evening that the idea that emotion was not allowed in this yoga, the idea you put forward for going away was not and could not be true. But there are certain other notions connected with it which come readily in your mind in periods of depression which are equally unfounded. I lay stress on these as these suggestions are used by the Force that wants to drive you away as its chief supports and reasons for departure. There is for instance the notion that tears of bhakti are disapproved of. It is strange that it should ever be supposed that tears of bhakti or true emotion are discouraged by us: the Mother has always spoken appreciatively of the feeling from which they come and never discouraged them. Tears of bhakti or tears of a high or pure emotion are not looked down upon by us. We have always spoken of psychic sorrow also as a thing to be respected, an emotion which is helpful and true in its place. Why then should it be supposed that emotion is discouraged and an empty heart is demanded of the spiritual seeker ? Then there is the question of personal relations. But what personal relations of yours have been discouraged ? Your friendships have always been respected: when you have called your friends here, they have been allowed and encouraged. I have not discouraged your friendship with Subhash or with Jawaharlal or with others. Your idea that I did not like your
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friendship with Vidya or the Yuvaraj is a sheer imagination for which I gave no cause. There are many friendships in the Ashram between sadhaks and some are supported, with the others there has been no interference. The only exception is when a certain vital relation comes in which is of a character inconsistent with the sadhana altogether. But there in your case you yourself have recognised the necessity of the elimination of this element and it is with your full consent that you have been helped and encouraged to eliminate/ but there has been no impatience or hard inhuman insistence. What then becomes of these grievances against the Yoga ? They have no existence except in the suggestions by which the despondency tries to support itself in periods of depression.
What I have spoken of as desirable to eliminate, is the over- sensitiveness of feeling which brings the sadness and depression, but it is because they come across and give you unnecessary trouble and suffering. You yourself have spoken of hyper-sensitiveness as a weakness you do not want and would like to get rid of. My wish to help you out of that cannot be regarded as an attack of the Yoga on your emotional being. On the other hand to affirm that the fact that you have it is a reason why you should not go on with the Yoga is not reason- able either. It is something that is no essential part of your vital being which has plenty of reserves of strength in it, but a small tendency of a small part which has unduly magnified itself owing to past struggles and comes up strongly in periods of depression. When you have even an ordinary quietude, you are master of it and with the affirmation of the will to be free of it, it can and will go.
"There is no love lost between me and the Mother,” said Saurin to me.
Well, you know Mother was not at all willing to have Saurin back here and would have sent him away—only very reluctantly gave him a chance. But she did not believe in his entire sincerity—in fact she saw in him something of hypocrisy which repelled her. He knew very well what he was saying when he spoke of the "no love lost". He was no doubt in earnest about sadhana, but only in the sense of wanting to succeed and being prepared to make some sacrifices for that—but on a basis of ego. Yet he wrote that he was feeling Mother's presence in him whenever he was having his experiences— a thing she did not find very credible. How could it be if there was "no love lost" etc. ? The disturbance that came was not illness, Nirod could find no sign of illness anywhere. Fear of madness ? He had it no doubt because of Premshankar's affair. But in fact the fear was in the insincere part of his being, the fear of the descent. Because the Force was something beyond his personal control, because he felt that "something greater than himself was there, it got terribly frightened. Mark that except this fear and nervous upheaval, there was nothing in the experience itself that was inconsistent with the experience being in true descent of Force, nothing that others have not had and had with joy and spiritual profit. But if he felt Mother's presence so much, why this fear ? It was the fear of this insincere part of him, partly in terror lest it might really be seized by the Divine Force and made to change, partly lest its insincerity and egoistic, ignorant self-sufficiency might have pulled down a wrong Force which would upset his balance altogether. All that was wrong within him was this fear and its results in the nerves and body. As soon as he knew he could go, this part at once threw its fear away and became exultant and all the trouble ceased. It seems to me that all that
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is clear. Of course the fear if it had remained might have produced anything, so strong it was; but up to the time of his going there was no sign of any real illness or disturbance of the brain—the body was sound, the brain clear. Of course, too, there was a part that regretted to have to go, but this was pushed behind by the part that gladly accepted the departure.
It is a little difficult for the wider spiritual outlook to answer your question in the way you want and every mental being wants, with a trenchant "Thou shalt" or "Thou shalt not", especially when the "thou" is meant to cover "all". For while there is an identity of essential aim, while there are general broad lines of endeavour, yet there is not in detail one common set of rules in inner things that can apply to all seekers. You ask: "Is such and such a thing harmful ?" But what is harmful to one may be helpful to another; what is helpful at a certain stage may cease to be helpful at another; what is harmful under certain conditions is helpful under other conditions, what is done in a certain spirit may be disastrous, the same thing done in a quite different spirit would be innocuous or even beneficial. I asked the Mother [?] what she would say
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to your question about pleasures and social experiences (put as a general question) and she answered, "Impossible to say like that; it depends on the spirit in which it is done." So there are so many things, the spirit, the circumstances, the person, the need and cast of the nature, the stage. That is why it is said so often that the Guru must deal with each disciple according to his separate nature and accordingly guide his sadhana; even if it is the same line of sadhana for all, yet at every point for each it differs. That also is the reason why we say the Divine's way cannot be understood by the mind, because the mind acts according to hard and fast rules and standards, while the spirit sees the truth of all and the truth of each and acts variously according to its own comprehension and complex vision. That also is why we say that no one can understand by his personal mental judgment the Mother's actions and reasons for action: it can only be understood by entering into the larger consciousness from which she sees things and acts upon them. That is baffling to the mind because it loses its small measures, but it is the truth of the matter.
To come down to hard facts and it may make the doctrine a little more comprehensible. You speak of retirement and you say that if it is good why not impose it—you couple together Anilbaran, Radhananda, Nolini, Jyoti, Kanai, Nolineshwar! Well, take that last name, Nolineshwar and add to it Nolinbehari for he also "retired" and went headlong for an intense and solitary sadhana. Anilbaran and Radhananda profited by their seclusion, what happened to Nolineshwar and Nolinbehari ? We forbade Nolinbehari to retire—he was always wanting to give up work, withdraw from all intercourse and spend all his time in meditation; but he did it as much as he could—result, collapse. Nolineshwar never asked permission and I cannot say what his retirement was like; but I hear he boasted that by his intense sadhana he had conquered sex not only for himself but all the sadhaks! He had to leave the Ashram owing to his unconquerable attachment to his wife and child and he is there living the family life and has Produced another child—what a success for retirement.
Where the retirement is helpful and fits the need or the nature, we approve it, but in the face of these results how can you expect us to follow what the mind calls a consistent course and impose it as the right thing on everybody ? You have spoken of your singing. You know well that we approve of it and I have constantly stressed its necessity for you as well as that of your poetry. But the Mother absolutely forbade Harm's singing ? So music for some again she is indifferent or discourages it, for others she approves as for Romen, Chandra and others. For some time she encouraged the concerts, afterwards she stopped them. You drew from the prohibition to Harin and the stopping of the concerts that Mother did not like music or did not like Indian music or considered music bad for sadhana and all sorts of strange mental reasons like that. Mother prohibited Harin because while music was good for you, it was spiritually poison to Harin—the moment he began to think of it and of audiences, all the vulgarity and unspirituality of his nature rose to the surface. You can see what he is doing with it now! So again with the concerts though in a different way—she stopped them because she had seen that wrong forces were coming into their atmosphere, which had nothing to do with the music in itself; her motives were not mental. It was for similar reasons that she drew back from big public displays like Udayshankar's. On the other hand she favoured and herself planned the exhibition of paintings at the Town Hall. She was not eager for you to have your big audiences for your singing because she found the atmosphere full of mixed forces and found too you had afterwards usually a depression; but she has always approved of your music in itself done privately or before a small audience. If you consider them, you will see that here there is no mental rule, but in each case the guidance is determined by spiritual reasons which are of a flexible character and look only at what in each case are the spiritual conditions, results, possibilities. There is no other consideration, no rule. Music, painting, poetry and many other activities which are of the mind and vital can be used as part of spiritual
development or of the work and for a spiritual purpose—"it depends on the spirit in which they are done".
That being established—that these things depend on the spirit, the nature of the person, its needs, the conditions and circumstances. I will come to your special question about pleasure and especially the pleasure in society of an expressive vital nature.
Well, I have said already that quarrels, cuttings are not a part of sadhana; the clashes and friction that you speak of are, just as in the outside world, rubbings of the vital ego. Antagonisms, antipathies, dislikes, quarrellings can no more be proclaimed as part of sadhana than sex-impulses or acts can be part of sadhana. Harmony, goodwill, forbearance, equanimity are necessary ideals in the relation of sadhak with sadhak. One is not bound to mix, but if one keeps to oneself, it should be for reasons of sadhana, not out of other motives— moreover it should be without any sense of superiority or contempt for others. The cases of friction you speak of seem to me to arise from ordinary motives of discord and they are certainly not the results of any spiritual Force working to heal the dangers of social or vital attraction by the blessings (!) of personal discord. If somebody finds that association with another for any reason raises undesirable vital feelings in him or her he can certainly withdraw from that association as a matter of prudence until he or she gets over the weakness. But ostentation of avoidance, public cuttings, etc. are not included in the necessity and betray feelings that equally
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ought to be overcome. There is a great confusion of thought about these things—for the vital gets in the way and disturbs the right view of things. It is only what is done sincerely with a sound spiritual motive that is proper to Yoga. The rest cannot be claimed as the working of a spiritual force mysteriously advancing its ends by ways contrary to its own nature.
The idea that all sadhaks must be aloof from each other and at daggers drawn is itself a preconceived idea that must be abandoned. Harmony and not strife is the law of Yogic living. This preconceived idea arises perhaps from the old notion of Nirvana as the aim; but Nirvana is not the aim here. The aim here is fulfilment of the Divine in life and for that, union and solidarity are indispensable. [I find it difficult to see in the mind's eye Sotuda developing an aversion for you and it would not be easy for you to develop an aversion for Sotuda; so these nightmares of the vital imagination ought not to emerge. Aversion and quarrelling are unyogic, not yogic tendencies; the fact that this Ashram is full of quarrels only shows that it is still an Ashram of very imperfect sadhaks, not yet an Ashram of Yogis—it does not at all mean that aversion and quarrelling is the dharma of the spiritual seeker.]69
The ideal of the Yoga is that all should be centred in and around the Divine and the life of the sadhaks must be founded on that firm foundation, their personal relations also should have the Divine for their centre. Moreover, all relations should pass from the vital to the spiritual basis with the vital only as a form and instrument of the spiritual—this means that from whatever relations they have with each other, all jealousy, strife, hatred, aversion, rancour and other evil vital feelings should be abandoned, they can be no part of the spiritual life. So also all egoistic love and attachment will have to disappear—the love that loves only for the ego's sake and as soon as the ego is hurt and dissatisfied ceases to love or even cherishes rancour and hate. There must be a real living and lasting unity behind the love. It is understood of course
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that such things as sexual impurity must disappear also.
That is the ideal, but as for the way of attainment, it may differ for different people. One way is that in which one leaves everything else to follow the Divine alone. This does not mean an aversion for anybody any more than it means aversion for the world and life. It only means absorption in one's central aim, with the idea that once that is attained it will be easy to found all relations on the true basis, to become truly united with others in the heart and the spirit and the life, united in the spiritual truth and in the Divine. The other way is to go forward from where one is, seeking the Divine centrally and subordinating all else to that, but not putting everything else aside, rather seeking to transform gradually and progressively whatever is capable of such transformation. All the things that are not wanted in the relation—sex impurity, jealousy, anger, egoistic demand—drop away as the inner being grows purer and is replaced by the unity of soul with soul and the binding together of the social life in the hoop of the Divine. [Your eagerness to bring your friends into the Yoga was perhaps in reality due to a dim recognition some- where in the being that this was the safest way to preserve the relation, to found it on the common search for the Divine. If quarrels intervene and there is strife, it is because the old ego basis stuck still and brought in old reactions not of a yogic character; but for that the Yoga is not to blame.]69
It is not that one cannot have relations with people outside the circle of the sadhaks, but there too if the spiritual life grows within, it must necessarily affect the relation and spiritualise it on the sadhak's side. And there must be no such attachment as would make the relation an obstacle or a rival to the Divine. Attachment to family etc. often is like that and, if so, it falls away from the sadhak. That is an exigence which, I think, should not be considered excessive. All that, however, can be progressively done; a severing of existing relations is necessary for some; it is not so for all. A transformation, however gradual, is indispensable—severance where severance is the right thing to do.
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P. S. I must repeat also that each case differs—one rule for all is not practical or practicable. What is needed by each for his spiritual progress is the one desideratum to be held in view.
On the contrary, much progress has been made in the change of the nature—only it seems to be covered over and forgotten when there is the difficulty and the whole attention is on the things unchanged and still to be changed so that these seem alone to exist. The over-sensitiveness which makes you suffer by the smallest things in the contact with others is the present obstacle—it has to be changed into a sensibility which will be the means of the deep and sensitive realisation of the Divine. All parts of nature have a spiritual use, once the change can be brought about. I hope the trouble will now pass and you will be able to get back the poise. These things are only dust-storms on the way and one must try to pass quickly through. To see them for what they are and not to dwell on the thought of them is best. Shake away the dust and go forward.
As for Krishna, why not approach simply and straight ? The simple approach means trust. If you pray, trust that He hears. If the reply takes long in coming, trust that he knows and loves and that he is wisest in the choice of the time. Meanwhile quietly clear the ground, so that He may not have to trip over stone and jungle when he comes. That is my suggestion and I know what I am saying—for whatever you may say, I know very well all human difficulties and struggles and I know of the cure. That is why I press always on the things that would minimise and shorten the struggles and difficulties—the psychic turn, faith, perfect and simple confidence and reliance. These, let me remind you, are tenets of the Vaishnava yoga. Of course, there is the other Vaishnava way which swings between yearning and despair—ardent seeking and the pangs of viraha. It is that you seem to be following and I do not deny that one can arrive by that as one can by almost any way, if followed sincerely. But then those who follow it find a rasa even in viraha, in the absence and the caprice of the Divine Lover. Some of them have sung that they have followed after Him all their lives but always he has slipped away from their vision and even in that they find a rasa and never cease following. But you find no rasa in it. So you cannot expect me to approve of that for you. Follow after Krishna by all means, but follow with the determination to arrive: don't do it with the expectation of failure or admit any possibility of breaking off half-way because there is as yet no answer.
For I, for one, feel myself a veritable "underling" to have to think, say, that it had been sidereally decided that Dilip would read a book at midnight on the fifteenth of December in the year of Grace, 1936, and would on the morrow write to his Guru of his deep dejection whereupon the latter would write off a deep reply the next day couched in words of wisdom. And then tell me, did these stars know what your Wisdom is going to write tomorrow ?
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Your extracts taken by themselves are very impressive, but when one reads the book, the impression made diminishes and fades away. You have quoted Cheiro's successes, but what about his failures ? I have looked at the book and was rather staggered by the number of prophecies that have failed to come off. You can't deduce from a small number of predictions, however accurate, that all is predestined down to your putting the questions in the letter and my answer. It may be, but the evidence is not sufficient to prove it. What is evident is that there is an element of the predictable, predictable accurately and in detail as well as in large points, in the course of events. But that was already known; it leaves the question still unsolved whether all is so predictable, whether destiny is the sole factor in existence or there are other factors also that can modify destiny—or, destiny being given, there are not different sources or powers or planes of destiny and we can modify the one with which we started by calling in another destiny source, power or plane and making it active in our life. Metaphysical questions are not simple that they can be trenchantly solved either in one sense or in another contradictory to it—that is the popular way of settling things, but it is quite summary and inconclusive. All is free-will or else all is destiny—it is not so simple as that. This question of free-will or determination is the most knotty of all metaphysical questions and nobody has been able to solve it—for a good reason, that both destiny and will exist and even a free-will exists somewhere—the difficulty is only how to get at it and make it effective.
Astrology ? Many astrological predictions come true, quite a mass of them, if one takes all together. But it does not follow that the stars rule our destiny; the stars merely record a destiny that has been already formed, they are a hieroglyph, not a Force—or if their action constitutes a force, it is a transmitting energy, not an originating Power. Someone is there who has determined or something is there which is Fate, let us say; the stars are only indicators. The astrologers themselves say that there are two forces, daiva and pumshartha,
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fate and individual energy, and the individual energy can" modify and even frustrate fate. Moreover, the stars often indicate several fate-possibilities; for example that one may die in mid-age, but that if that determination can be overcome, one can live to a predictable old age. Finally, cases are seen in which the predictions of the horoscope fulfil themselves with great accuracy up to a certain age, then apply no more. This often happens when the subject turns away from the ordinary to the spiritual life. If the turn is very radical, the cessation of predictability may be immediate; otherwise certain results may still last on for a time, but there is no longer the same inevitability. This would seem to show that there is or can be a higher power or higher plane or higher source of spiritual destiny which can, if its hour has come, override the lower-power, lower-plane or lower source of vital and material fate of which the stars are indicators. I say vital because character can also be indicated from the horoscope much more completely and satisfactorily than the events of the life.
The Indian explanation of fate is Karma. We ourselves are our own fate through our actions, but the fate created by us binds us; for what we have sown, we must reap in this life or another. Still we are creating new fate for the future even while undergoing old fate from the past in the present. That gives a meaning to our will and action and does not, as European critics wrongly believe, constitute a rigid and sterilising fatalism. But again, our will and action can often annul or modify even the past Karma, it is only certain strong effects, called utkat karma [excessive or strong, powerful karma], that are non-modifiable. Here too the achievement of the spiritual consciousness and life is supposed to annul or give the power to annul Karma. For we enter into union with the Will Divine, cosmic or transcendent, which can annul what it had sanctioned for certain conditions, new-create what it had created, the narrow fixed lines disappear, there is a more plastic freedom and wideness. Neither Karma nor Astrology therefore point to a rigid and for ever immutable fate.
As for prophecy, I have never met or known of a prophet,
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'however reputed, who was infallible. Some of their predictions come true to the letter, others do not—they half-fulfil or misfire entirely. It does not follow that the power of prophecy is unreal or the accurate predictions can be all explained by probability, chance or coincidence. The nature and number of those that cannot is too great. It may be explained either by an imperfect power in the prophet sometimes active, sometimes failing or by the fact that things are predictable in part only, they are determined in part only or else by different factors or lines of power, different series of potentials and actuals. So long as one is in touch with one line, one predicts accurately, otherwise not—or if the lines of power change, one's prophecy also goes off the rails. All the same, one may say, there must be, if things are predictable at all, some power or plane through which or on which all is foreseeable; if there is a divine Omniscience and Omnipotence, it must be so. Even then what is foreseen has to be worked out, actually is worked out by a play of forces—spiritual, mental, vital and physical forces—and in that plane of forces there is no absolute rigidity discoverable. Personal will or endeavour is one of those forces. Napoleon when asked why he believed in Fate, yet was always planning and acting, answered, "Because it is fated that I should work and plan," in other words, his planning and acting were part of Fate, contributed to the results she had in view. Even if I foresee an adverse result, I must work for the one that I consider should be; for it keeps alive the force, the principle of Truth which I serve and gives it a possibility to triumph hereafter, becomes part of the working of a future favourable Fate, even if the fate of the hour is adverse. Men do not abandon a cause because they have seen it fail or foresee its failure; and they are spiritually right in their stubborn perseverance. Moreover, we do not live for outward result alone; far more, the object of life is the growth of the soul, not outward success of the hour or even of the near future. The soul can grow against or even by a material destiny that is adverse.
Finally, even if all is determined, why say that Life is, in
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Shakespeare's phrase or rather Macbeth's, "a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" ? Life would rather be that if it were all chance and random incertitude. But if it is something foreseen, planned in every detail, does it not rather mean that it does signify something, that there must be a secret Purpose that is being worked up to, power- fully, persistently, through the ages, and ourselves are a part of it and fellow-workers in the fulfilment of that invincible Purpose.