January 2, 1934
There is no other cause of these fits of despair than that you allow a certain kind of suggestions to lay hold of you instead of rejecting them and, once they get in they rage there for a time. Why not, instead of indulging and entertaining them, recognise that they are inimical to your aim, things that rush on you from outside, and refuse to give them hospitality—as you would treat now a strong sex attitude or other disturbing force? It is precisely because it is foreign to your real tem- peramnent and nature that you ought to recognise it as an enemy attack and repulse it.
You need not imagine that we shall ever lose patience or give you up—that will never happen. Our patience, you will find, is tireless because it is based on an unbounded sympathy and love. Human love may give up, but divine love is stable and does not falter. We know that the aspiration of your psychic being is sincere and the falterings of the vital cannot affect the support that we shall always give to it. It is because the sincere aspiration is there that we have no right and you have no right to disbelieve in your adhikara [fitness] for the Yoga.
To stop coming to Pranam would be quite the wrong thing _it is a suggestion that always comes to push people away from the helping Force. Do not yield to it.
These difficulties do not last for ever—they exhaust them- selves and disappear. But to reject them always when they come is the quickest way to get rid of them for ever.
January 26, 1934
The doubt about the possibility of help is hardly a rational one, since all the evidence of life and of spiritual experience in the past and of the special experience of those, numerous enough who have received help from the Mother and myself, is against the idea that no internal or spiritual help from one to another or from a Guru to his disciple or from myself to my disciples is possible. It is therefore not really a doubt arising from the reason but one that comes from the vital and physical mind that is troubling you. The physical mind doubts all that it has not itself experienced and even it doubts what it has itself experienced if that experience is no longer there or immediately palpable to it—the vital brings in the suggestion of despondency and despair to reinforce the doubt and prevent clear seeing. It is therefore a difficulty that cannot be
effectively combated by the logical reason alone, but best by the clear perception that it is a self-created difficulty—a self-formed or mental formation which has become habitual and has to be broken up so that you may have a free mind and vital, free for experience.
As for the help, you expect a divine intervention to destroy the doubt, and the divine intervention is possible, but it comes usually only when the being is ready. You have indulged to a great extreme this habit of the recurrence of doubt, this mental formation or samskar, and so the adverse force finds it easy to throw it upon you, to bring back the suggestion. You must have a steady working will to repel it whenever it comes and to refuse the tyranny of the samskar of doubt—to annul the force of its recurrence. I think you have hardly done that in the past, you have rather supported the doubts when they come. So for some time at least you must do some hard work in the opposite direction. The help (I am not speaking of a divine intervention from above but of my help and the Mother's) will be there. It can be effective in spite of your physical mind, but it will be more effective if this steady working will of which I speak is there as its instrument. There are always two elements in spiritual success—one's own steady will and endeavour and the Power that in one way or another helps and gives the result of the endeavour.
I will do what is necessary to give the help—you must receive. To say you cannot would not be true, for you have
received times without number and it has helped you to recover.
Your idea that the Mother was displeased with you was an idea and nothing more. "Probably she has looked upon my sadness as a delinquency"—well, that is just the thing I want you to get rid of—imaginations like these which have no
shadow of foundation whatever and which you yet persist in indulging each time you get out of wits—spiritually. What I want of you besides aspiring for faith? Well, just a little thoroughness and persistence in the method! Don't aspire for two days and then sulk into the dumps, evolving a gospel of earthquake and Schopenhauer plus the jackal and all the rest of it. Give the Divine a full sporting chance. When he lights something in you or is preparing a light, don't come in with a wet blanket of despondency and throw it on the poor flame. You will say, "It is a mere candle that is lit—nothing at all!" But in these matters, when the darkness of human mind and life and body has to be dissipated, a candle is always a beginning—a lamp can follow and afterwards a sun—but the beginning must be allowed to have a sequel—not get cut off from its natural sequelae by chunks of sadness and doubt and despair. At the beginning, and for a long time, the experiences do usually come in little quanta with empty spaces between—but, if allowed their way, the spaces will diminish, and the quantum theory give way to the Newtonian continuity of the spirit. But you have never yet given it a real chance. The empty spaces have been peopled with doubts and denials and so the quanta have become rare, the beginnings remained beginnings. Other difficulties you have faced and rejected, but this difficulty you have dandled too much for a long time and it has become strong—it must be dealt with by a persevering effort. I do not say that all doubts must disappear before anything comes—that would be to make sadhana impossible, for doubt is the mind's persistent assailant. All I say is, don't allow the assailant to become a companion, don't give him the open door and the fireside seat. Above all, don't drive away the incoming Divine with that dispiriting wet blanket of sadness and despair!
To put it more soberly—accept once and for all that this thing has to be done, that it is the only thing left for yourself or the earth. Outside are earthquakes and Hitlers and a collapsing civilisation and, generally speaking, the jackal in the flood. All the more reason to tend towards the one thing to
be done, the thing you have been sent to aid in getting done. It is difficult and the way long and the encouragement given meagre ? What then ? Why should you expect so great a thing to be easy or that there must be either a swift success or none? The difficulties have to be faced and the more cheer- fully they are faced, the sooner they will be overcome. The one thing to do is to keep the mantra of success, the determination of victory, the fixed resolve, "Have it I must and have it I will." Impossible? There is no such thing as an impossibility—there are difficulties and things of longue haleine [long haul], but no impossibles. What one is deter- mined fixedly to do, will get done now or later—it becomes possible.
There—that is my counter blast to your variation on Schopenhauer. To come to less contentious matters—of course Bindu can come—he will always be welcome; there is a good downstairs room—he might take that? I will consider the application of force to your tenant and your (or your father's) translator. Tough things though—tenants and [?] translators (I suppose too both in these days of depression are short of cash)—but, well there is nothing impossible!!
Your fable and your transformation of the Sanskrit apophthegm are entertaining. I conclude—drive out dark despair and go bravely on with your poetry, your novels—and your Yoga. As the darkness disappears, the inner doors will open.
February 11, 1934
Krishnaprem's letters as usual are interesting and admirable in substance and expression—and, in addition, there is an immense increase in comprehensiveness and wideness. His point about the intellect's misrepresentation of the Tormless7' (the result of a merely negative expression of something that is inexpressibly intimate and positive) is very well made and hits the truth in the centre. No one who has had the Ananda of the Brahman can do anything but smile at the charge of coldness; there is an absoluteness of immutable ecstasy in it, a concentrated intensity of silent and inalienable rapture that it is impossible even to suggest to anyone who has not had the experience. The eternal Reality is neither cold nor dry nor empty—you might just as well talk of the mid- summer sunlight as cold or the ocean as dry or perfect fullness as empty. Even when you enter into it by elimination of form and everything else, it surges up as a miraculous fullness that is truly the Pūrmam—when it is entered affirmatively as well as by negation, there can obviously be no question of emptiness or dryness! All is there and more than one could ever dream of as the All. That is why one has to object to the intellect thrusting itself in as the sab-janta [all-knowing] judge; if it kept to its own limits, there would be no objection to it. But it makes constructions of words and ideas which have no application to the Truth, babbles foolish things in its ignorance and makes its constructions a wall which refuses to let in the Truth that surpasses its own capacities and scope.
(This is but a part of Krishnaprem's letter to Dilip, dated February 1st, 1934. We hope this is enough to give the reader an insight into Sri
You raise some interesting points in regard to "expression"
and "silence," but at the same time., you seem to have slightly misunderstood me. I was urging that poetic expression can sometimes deal with realms in which philosophy cannot breathe. To me, at least it is a necessity which I can scarcely avoid. But I did want to emphasise that our philosophic dialectic, logic etcetera are far too coarse to deal with the higher levels of Reality. It is easy to cut things with the snip-snap of one's philosophical arguments, but too often we are merely cutting the air. Even the scientists are now finding that reality eludes them. And what is the significance of the square root of minus one which plays so essential a part in modern physics? To my mind it suggests most emphatically that there is a fundamental supra-rational element that enters in at the conversion or zero point between appearance and reality or, to be more exact, between appearance on this level and one level "higher up". I make this last qualification because I do not believe that the absolute Reality lies, as it were, next door to the world—except in a certain very ultimate sense, but there are many grades of "reality" (or appearance) in between. To the intellect the square root of minus one has no meaning (at least none to my intellect) but certainly it must have a meaning or it would not be as useful as it is to modern physics.
You speak of the "silence" of the Buddha which you contrast with "expression". But if Buddha had not "expressed", then we should not have five hundred million (or whatever it is) Buddhists living today. In truth he expressed a great deal and it was only on certain ultimate problems that he remained silent because they cannot be expressed in words—not at least in logical words. Symbolism is an- other matter. You say: "Suppose Buddha were a formless being under a formless tree in a formless Gaya; would we feel the same thrill at his silence?"
Well, in reality, that is just what He is m one aspect. This is the meaning of the doctrine of the Dharmakaya and of the "docetism" that marked so many Mahayana and also
Christian Gnostic schools. But for most this Formless remains a mere matter of words and is, consequently, a falsity. Without experience, the "formless" is an empty abstraction, cold like all such, and sot through with the falsity and unreality that pervades all our purely intellectual concepts. We must use them but thy only gain significance when life flows into them. In reality, they are neither cold nor abstract. It is our process of acquiring and using them that makes them so. We abstract by a process of negation and then wonder that the results cold and negative. Our whole process stays on the purely intellectual level. When we say that Krishna is nirākāra we have only said what He is not. But our positive statements are equally delusive. When we say that He is ānadamaya we equally miss the reality because most men do not know what ananda is. They only know pleasure They try to under- stand ananda in terms of pleasure and hence you get the materialising of the spiritual that mark so much of ordinary Vaishnava thought just as from the misuse of negation you get the coldness of so much Vedantic thought. The root of the trouble is just the mistaking of intellectual concepts for reality. When a man has seen something even of the Reality—call him Krishna or Buddha or Brahman—he then knows what is meant. He knows how He is nirākāra but not cold and how He is ānandanaya but not mere pleasure. Till we get experience and knowledge we shall always be in unreality however lofty our conceptions may be. The Vedantin despises the Vaishrava for the tatter's concreteness and the Vaishnava spits it the Vedantin saying it is all cold. One says "I don't want" and the other says "I want." Damn all their "wants" and "don't wants"; they are quite irrelevant. These "wants" and "don't wants" do all the damage. It is not what we want that matters but what He wills, which is quite a different thing. All these concepts are so many suits of clothes. unless we reach up to the Reality and fill them, they only serve for endless debate. What did the Rishi mean by saying He is nirākāra ?
What did the Buddha mean by anātman ? What did the Vaishnavas mean by saying He is nikhilarasāṃrta mūrti ?4 The answer to this question must be sought in experience, not in mere dialectic. When the light of experience streams in and fills the empty concepts, then and then only does recognition flow in like a sea and we can know why the above words are used. āścaryavat paśyati kaścidenam [as wonderful, few see Him. Gita 2.29]. Then we can know why the atma of the Upanishad means the same thing as the anātma of the Buddha and in a flash be free from the empty scholastic disputes that have filled the millennia. "Oh, but these are contradictions"—peevishly explains the intellect to which the only answer is: "Very likely they are, but you have dam' well got to put up with them!"
I don't mean at all to urge the contempt for the intellect which most Christians and some Vaishnavas have taught, but I do mean to say that the intellect is in itself a sort of formative or shaping machine. It can only work if it is supplied with material to shape and that material must come either from the sense-world below or from the spiritual world above.
In the meanwhile it seems to me as foolish to lose one's emotion in the coldness of abstract negation as to fuddle one's mind in the warmth of a (fundamentally) sensuous Goloka.5
These thoughts were suggested to me by the contrast you drew between the emotional singing pf Chaitanya Deva and the silent meditation of the Buddha. Needless to say that the remarks in the paragraphs immediately above do not apply to these great Teachers but only to some of their followers.
You speak of a certain "shakiness at the idea of being immersed in a Timeless mute Aksara Brahman" 6; but surely that is only because of our ignorance of what is meant by that experience and of a consequent misconception in terms of worldly experiences. That is where so many Vaishnavas as well as Vedantins go wrong. They quarrel
furiously about words, about the expression, instead of bending their whole energy on an attempt to realise what is meant by the expression. In the words of an old Buddhist writer, "that is called confusing the moon with the finger that points to it." (...)
In the last resort, this whole cosmos is but expression— Divine Expression, and in proportion as He, the kavih puranah7 is able to manifest in us, we shall ourselves automatically become centres of expression. Till then, our productions whether in the realm of poetry, philosophy or art, are but the play of children, funerals where none is dead and marriage where there is no bride. (...)
February 17, 1934
I had no intention of sarcasm or banter, but simply meant to say that such deprivations can be used as opportunities for evolving the necessary capacity of the inner being.
I have not wantonly stopped the books8 or free letter-writing nor have I become impatient with you or anyone. I am faced with a wanton and brutal attack on my life-work from out- side9 and I need all my time and energy to meet it and do what is necessary to repel it during these days. 1 hope that I can count not only on the indulgence but on the support of those who have followed me and loved me, while I am thus occupied, much against my will.
I do hope you will not misunderstand me, I have not altered to you in the least and if I wrote laconically it was because I had no time to do otherwise.
My prohibition of long letters was of a general character and I had to issue it so that the stoppage of the books might not result in a flood of long letters which would leave me no time for making the concentration and taking the steps I have to take. I have said that you can send your poems and write too when you feel very urgent need—1 had no feeling to the contrary at all.
March 13, 1934
You have missed my rather veiled hint about wealth of "any kind of experiences" and the reference to the intermediate zone which, I think at least, I made. I was referring to the wealth of that kind of experience of which Govindabhai's MS abounds and of which Bejoy, to give only one example, had some hundred every day. I do not say that these experiences are always of no value, but they are so mixed and confused that if one runs after them without any discrimination at all they end by either leading astray—sometimes tragically astray—or by bringing one into a confused nowhere.10 [There have been so many instances in the Ashram itself that I would have only the embarras du choix 11 if I wanted to give examples.] That does not mean all experiences are useless or without value. There are those that are sound as well as those that are unsound; those that are helpful, in the true line, sometimes sign-posts, sometimes stages on the way to realisation, sometimes stuff and material of the realisation. These
naturally and rightly one seeks for, calls, strives after—or at n t one opens oneself in the confident expectation that they ea sooner or later arrive. Your own main experiences may have been few or not continuous, but I cannot recollect any that were not sound or were unhelpful. I would say that it is better to have a few of these than a multitude of others. My only meaning in what I wrote was not to be impressed by mere wealth of experiences or to think that that is sufficient to constitute a great sadhak or that not to have this wealth is necessarily an inferiority, a lamentable deprivation or a poverty of the one thing desirable.
There are two classes of things that happen in Yoga— realisations and experiences. Realisations are the reception in the consciousness and the establishment there of the fundamental truths of the Divine, of the Higher or Divine Nature, of the world-consciousness and the play of its forces, of one's own self and real nature and the inner nature of things, the power of these things growing in one till they are a part of one's inner life and existence. As for instance, the realisation of the Divine Presence, the descent and settling of the higher Peace, Light, Force, Ananda in the consciousness, their workings there—the realisation of the divine or spiritual love, the perception of one's own psychic being, the discovery of one's own true mental being, true vital being, true physical being, the realisation of the overmind or the supramental consciousness, the clear perception of the relation of all these things to our present inferior nature and their action on it to change that lower nature. The list, of course, might be infinitely longer. These things also are often called experiences when they only come in flashes, snatches or rare visitations; they are spoken of as full realisations only when they become very positive or frequent or continuous or normal.
Then there are the experiences that help or lead towards he realisation of things spiritual or divine or bring openings or progressions in the sadhana or are supports on the way. Experiences of a symbolic character, visions, contacts of one kind or another with the Divine or with the workings of
higher Truth, things like the waking of the Kundalini, the opening of the chakras, messages, intuitions, openings of the inner powers, etc. The one thing that one has to be careful about is to see that they are genuine and sincere and that depends on one's own sincerity—for if one is not sincere, if one is more concerned with the ego or being a big Yogi or becoming a superman than with meeting the Divine or get- ting the Divine consciousness which enables one to live in or with the Divine, then a flood of pseudos or mixtures comes in, one is led into the mazes of the intermediate zone or spins in the grooves of one's own formations. There is the truth of the whole matter.
Then why does Krishnaprem say that one should not hunt after experiences, but only love and seek the Divine? It simply means that you have not to make experiences your main aim, but the Divine only your aim—and if you do that, you are more likely to get the true helpful experiences and avoid the wrong ones. If one seeks mainly after experiences, his Yoga may become a mere self-indulgence in the lesser things of the mental, vital and subtle physical worlds or in spiritual secondaries, or it may bring down a turmoil or maelstrom of the mixed and the whole or half-pseudo and stand between the soul and the Divine. That is a very sound rule of sadhana. But all these rules and statements must be taken with a sense of measure and in their proper limits—it does not mean that one should not welcome helpful experiences or that they have no value. Also when a sound line of experience opens, it is perfectly permissible to follow it out, keeping always the central aim in view. All helpful or supporting contacts in dream or vision, such as those you speak of, are to be welcomed and accepted. I had no intention of discouraging, nor do I think Krishnaprem had any idea of discouraging such things at all. Experiences of the right kind are a support and help towards the realisation; they are in every way acceptable.
P.S. I fear this is as illegible as ever—especially as the ink turned confoundedly faint which I did not notice in the heat of composition and the haste of finishing in time. I shall get
Nolini to type it, so as to save as much bewilderment as possible.
March 25, 1934
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 in a silent country—the quiet mind observes them or does not care to observe them but does not become active or lose its quietude. Silence is more than qui- etude; it can be gained by banishing thought altogether from the inner mind keeping it quite outside; but more easily it comes by a descent from above—one feels it coming down entering and occupying or surrounding the personal consciousness.
As for the subconscient that is best dealt with when the opening of the consciousness to what comes down from above is complete. Then one becomes aware of the subconscient as a separate domain and can bring down into it the Silence and all else that comes from above.