The Problem of Equanimity and Action (HH 234)

A Talk by Alok Pandey from the “Tuesday Talks” series (AUDIO)

Among the various paradoxes and contradictions offered to the spiritual seeker one such is ‘whether to accept things as they are as God’s Will or else to strive towards Change.’ It is nearly impossible for the mental consciousness bound by ignorance to resolve this issue. It either plunges blindly into the world striving to bring a change in the scheme of things or else it accepts everything graciously and seeing the imperfect nature of the world eventually withdraws from it through some door of escape. But the moment we rise into a deeper and wider consciousness then both these apparently opposite tendencies begin to resolve and reconcile into a complementarity. Today we read something from the Mother’s luminous words to help and guide us through this journey.

Words of the Mother

May 3, 1963

“The Lord is peaceful resignation, but the Lord is also the struggle and the Victory.

“He is the joyous acceptance of all that is; but also the constant effort towards a more total and perfect harmony.

“Perpetual movement in absolute immobility.”

This isn’t an intellectual reflection, it’s the notation of the experience: the constant, twofold movement of total acceptance of all that is, as an absolute condition to participate in all that will be, and at the same time, the perpetual effort towards a greater perfection. And this was the experience of all the cells.

The experience lasted more than an hour: the two conditions.

That’s exactly what made a sharp division in the whole spiritual thought or spiritual will of mankind. The point doesn’t seem to have been understood. Some, like Buddha and that whole line, have declared that the world is incorrigible, that the only thing to do is to get out of it, and that it can never be otherwise – it changes, but really remains the same. The result is a certain attitude of perfect acceptance. So, for them, the goal is to get out – that is, you escape: you leave the world as it is and escape. Then there are the others, who sense a perfection towards which men strive indefinitely and which is realized progressively. And I see more and more that the two movements complement each other, and not only complement each other but are almost indispensable to each other.

In other words, the change that arises from a refusal to accept the world as it is has no force, no power: what is needed is an acceptance not only total but comprehensive, joyous – to find supreme joy in things in order to have (it’s not a question of right or power) … in order to make it possible for things to change.


February 10, 1968

It’s absolutely obvious, absolutely indisputable that all this, that is, all the circumstances of life, all that happens, has been willed, decided on, organized. And it’s the best possible training for the body. It’s to give it three things:

The first is (one more English word) a reliance – that is, it should lean on the Divine ALONE for support, for the source of its strength, its health, its capacity; it means that all material rules and laws are rejected and must cease to have any importance.

That’s the body’s experience almost every minute.

This first: the only support is the Divine – food, rest, etc., none of those things exist anymore. They no longer exist – in fact, they don’t exist, but they no longer exist as a factor of importance.

Then, two things, which seem to be contradictory (in the ordinary consciousness they are), but which in fact are only complementary. A surrender (there’s no other word), a total abdication – total, immediate, complete. That is to say, equality and acceptance – not even “acceptance”: everything, everything is good, everything is good. Which means that if death were to come tomorrow, it would cause no trouble, and if life must last forever, it causes no trouble – like that, you understand (perfectly equal and sovereign gesture): SPONTANEOUS, spontaneous, effortless acceptance, without reasoning, without … spontaneous and total, like that (same gesture). That’s the second point.

And the third: a tremendous will! Every moment it expresses itself as … For instance, something is thrown out of gear, it hurts; then, with that background … it isn’t a “background,” it’s a BASE, a base of equality ( equality is still seen from the other side! It’s not that, it is … an adherence, a spontaneous adherence), on that base, there is a tremendous will – tremendous – to be … WHAT THE DIVINE WILLS, but not with the idea that it might be like this or like that. Well, to express it truly, we should say, “To be divine” – to be divine. That is, to dominate all situations, all wills, all circumstances, like that (same perfectly equal and sovereign gesture).

So those three things are simultaneous and constantly present. And all that is going on in the body.


February 6, 1962

These past few days I have been reading Perseus it was performed here, so I knew a little of it but it never much interested me. But reading it the way I read now, I have found it VERY interesting, I have discovered all kinds of things, all kinds.

Yes, I have noticed that in the space of (I don’t remember when we performed it, you were already here) … between then and now there is at least a good fifty years’ difference – a fifty-year change in consciousness.

But in practice, I am always up against the same problem.

Looking at it as a difference in attitude, the question is readily cleared up. But if I want the truth – the true truth behind this difference, it becomes very difficult.

And that is exactly what I have seen in the light of the events described in Perseus. If you don’t take the problem generally but specifically, down to the least detail…. But it evaporates as soon as you formulate it. Only when you feel it concretely, when you get a grip on it, can you grasp both things….

The problem is roughly this: nothing exists that is not the result of the divine Will.

Always the same problem. Always the same problem.

Generally speaking, the antidivine is easily understood, but in the minute details of daily life, how do you choose between this and that?… What is the truth behind the thing you choose and the one you don’t choose? And you know, my standpoint is totally beyond any question of egoistic, individual will – that isn’t the problem here. It’s not that….

Perhaps the problem is the opposition (if it is an opposition) between two attitudes, both of which should express our relationship with the Supreme. One is the acceptance – not only voluntary but perfectly content – of everything, even the “worst calamities” (what are conventionally called “the worst calamities”). I won’t use this story as an example because it’s self-explanatory, but if Andromeda were a yogi (with “ifs” you can build castles in the air, but I am trying to explain what I mean), she would accept the idea of death readily, easily. Well, it’s precisely this conflict between an attitude quite ready to accept death (I am not talking about what happens in the story itself, but merely giving a case in point to make myself clear) because it is the divine Will, for this reason alone – it’s the divine Will, so it’s quite all right; since that’s how it is, it’s quite all right – and at the same time, the love of Life. This love of Life. Following the story, you would say: she lived because she had to live – and everything is explained. But that’s not what I mean. I am looking at this outside the context of the story…..

Automatically, everything that exists is a natural expression of divine Joy, even the things human consciousness finds most horrifying – this is understandable. But at the same time there is this aspiration, so intense that it’s almost anguish, for a perfection of creation to come. And it does seem that this intense aspiration and anguish in the material world is a necessary preparation for this perfection to come. Yet at the same time, whatever exists is perfect at each moment, since it is ENTIRELY the Divine. There is nothing other than the Divine. So there is simultaneously this plenitude of Divine Joy in each second, in whatever exists, and the aspiration, the anguish – and the difficulty lies in joining the two, there you have it.

Practically, you go from one to the other, or one is in front and the other behind, one active and the other passive. With the feeling of perfect joy comes an almost static state (certainly the joy of movement is also there, but all anticipation of the goal stays in the background). Then, when the aspiration of the Becoming is there, the joy of divine perfection at each moment withdraws into a static state…..

At my fullest and most intense moments – moments when truly what exists is the universe (by universe I mean the Becoming of the Supreme) with the utmost active awareness of the Supreme – at such moments I am suddenly caught by that [the static, nirvanic aspect]. It’s not a matter of choosing between the two, but rather a question of priorities from the standpoint of action on the lowest level. Instinctively (the instinct of this body, this material base), the choice is aspiration, because this being was built for action; but this cannot be taken as an absolute rule, it’s almost like a casual preference.

One feels that life Is this aspiration, this anguish, while bliss leads most naturally to the nirvanic side – I don’t know….

But then how to help people? … You can recommend neither one nor the other. And if you say both, you are plunged into this same dilemma.

A problem like that reaches a point of such acute tension that you feel you know nothing, understand nothing, you will never understand anything, it’s hopeless. When I reach that point, I always tilt in the same direction, it’s always: “All right, I adore the Lord, as for the rest, it doesn’t matter to me!” I enter into a … marvelous adoration … and let Him do what He wants! That’s how it all ends up for me….


We have to be patient. You can’t imagine how, as you go forward and as all that Consciousness, in fact, grows more and more alive, true and constant, how at first you feel you are a rotten bundle of insincerity, hypocrisy, lack of faith, doubt, stupidity. Because as (how can I explain?…) as the balance changes between the parts of the being and as the luminous part increases, the rest grows more and more inadequate and intolerable. Then you are really utterly disgusted (there was a time when it used to hurt me, long ago – not so long ago, but anyway long enough, a few years ago), and more and more there is the movement (a very spontaneous and simple movement, very complete): “I can’t do anything about it. It’s impossible, I can’t, it’s such a colossal work that it’s impossible – Lord, do it for me.” And when you do this with the simplicity of a child (gesture of offering), really like this, you know, really convinced that you cannot do it, “It’s not possible, I’ll never be able to do it – do it for me,” it’s wonderful! … Oh, He does it, mon petit, you’re dumbfounded afterwards: “How come! …” There are lots of things that … prrt! vanish and never come back again – finished.

After a time, you wonder, “How can that be?! It was there….” Just like that, prrt! in a second.

But as long as there is personal effort, it’s … oof! it’s like the man who rolls his barrel uphill, and down it rolls again every minute.

But it must be spontaneous, not as a calculation, it mustn’t be done with the idea, “It’s going to work.” It must truly be done with the sense of your complete helplessness and of the very formidable dimension of the task that … “Oh, please do it Yourself; I can’t – it’s not possible.”

Of course, very philosophical or learned people will pity you, but personally I don’t care! I don’t care. I am not a philosopher, I am not a scholar, I am not a savant, and I declare it very loudly: neither a philosopher nor a scholar nor a savant. And no pretension. Nor a littérateur, nor an artist – I am nothing at all. I am truly convinced of this. And it’s absolutely unimportant – that’s perfection for human beings.

There is no greater joy than to know that you can do nothing and are absolutely helpless, that you’re not the one who does, and that what little is done – little or big, it doesn’t matter – is done by the Lord; and the responsibility is fully His. That makes you happy. With that, you are happy.


But there is one thing you must know. I am surrounded with people, even people who are considered great yogis – it’s only with you that I can talk. So this isn’t to make you inflate (!), it’s simply to tell you that there is obviously something there that can receive. And if you have that trust, the trust that THERE IS something and IT IS for this something that you are here, then all will be well.

It’s a question of adjustment (gesture of connection).

There’s no need to be in a hurry – no need to be in a hurry, no need to be impatient; there’s no use. No use in being impatient, it only makes the heart go sour – perfectly useless.

When the time has come, it will have come; when the Lord wants it, He will want it: it will be, and that’s that. We always worry too much – or rather, all our worries are an onion skin over His work.


June 11, 1955

My dear child,

Your case is not unique; there are others (and among the best and the most faithful) who are likewise a veritable battlefield for the forces opposing the advent of the truth. They feel powerless in this battle, sorrowful witnesses, victims without the strength to fight, for this is taking place in that part of the physical consciousness where the supramental forces are not yet fully active, although I am confident they soon will be. Meanwhile, the only remedy is to endure, to go through this suffering and to await patiently the hour of liberation.

While reading your prayer, I too prayed that it be heard.

With my blessings.

Signed: Mother


On a small scale, in very small details, I feel that of all the forces, this is the strongest. And it’s the only one with a power over hostile wills. Only … for the world to change, it must manifest here in all its fullness. We have to be up to it …

Sri Aurobindo had also written to the effect, ‘If Divine Love were to manifest now in all its fullness and totality, not a single material organism would but burst.’ So we must learn to widen, widen, widen not only the inner consciousness (that is relatively easy – at least feasible), but even this conglomeration of cells. And I’ve experienced this: you have to be able to widen this sort of crystallization if you want to be able to hold this Force. I know. Two or three times, upstairs (in Mother’s room), I felt the body about to burst. Actually, I was on the verge of saying, ‘burst and be done with.’ But Sri Aurobindo always intervened – all three times he intervened in an entirely tangible, living and concrete way … and he arranged everything so that I was forced to wait.

Then weeks go by, sometimes even months, between one thing and another, so that some elasticity may come into these stupid cells.

So much time is wasted. We are … oh! We are so hard! (Mother hits her body) As hard as a rock.

But three times now, I’ve really felt that I was on the verge of … falling apart. The first time it brought a fever, a fever so … I don’t know, as if I had at least 115°! – I was roasting from head to toe; everything became red hot, and then … it was over. That was the day when suddenly – suddenly – I was … You see, I had said to myself, ‘All right, you must be peaceful, let’s see what happens,’ so then I brought down the Peace, and immediately I was able to pass into a ‘second of unconsciousness – and I woke up in the subtle physical, in Sri Aurobindo’s abode.’ There he was. And then I spent some time with him, explaining the problem.

But that was really an experience, a decisive experience (it was many months ago, perhaps more than a year ago).

So I explained the problem to Sri Aurobindo, and he replied (by his expression, not with words, but it was clear), ‘Patience, patience – patience, it will come.’ And a few days after this experience, ‘by chance’ I came upon something he had written where precisely he explained that we are much too rigid, coagulated, clenched for these things to be able to manifest – we must widen, relax, become plastic.

But this takes time.

I don’t really see what we can do … I mean, it’s you who does, of course, but I don’t see what we can do to help change things.

Nor do I!

I have quite the feeling that I myself ‘do’ nothing at all, absolutely nothing. The only thing I do is this (gesture of offering upwards), constantly this, in everything – in thoughts, feelings, sensations, in the body’s cells, all the time: ‘You, You, You. It’s You, it’s You, it’s You …’ That’s all. And nothing else.

In other words, a more and more complete, a more and more integral assent, more and more like this (gesture of letting herself be carried). That’s when you have the feeling that you must be ABSOLUTELY like a child.

If you start thinking, ‘Oh, I want to be like this! Oh, I ought to be like that!’ you waste your time.


How well I understand all those who don’t know or to whom it hasn’t been shown or revealed that we are GOING towards something else, that it WILL BE something else! … Such a feeling of futility, stupidity, uselessness, and absolutely devoid of any … any intensity, any life, any reality, any ardor, any soul – bah! It’s disgusting.

While it was all coming up, I thought,’ How is this possible? …’ For during those years of my life (I’m now outside things; I do them but I’m entirely outside, so they don’t involve me – whether it’s like this or like that makes no difference to me; I’m only doing my work, that’s all), I was already conscious, but nevertheless I was IN what I was doing to a certain extent; I was this web of social life (but thank God it wasn’t here in India, for had it been here I could not have withstood it! I think that even as a child I would have smashed everything, because here it’s even worse than over there). You see, there it’s … it’s a bit less constricting, a bit looser, you can slip through the mesh from time to time to breathe some air. But here, according to what I’ve learned from people and what Sri Aurobindo told me, it’s absolutely unbearable (it’s the same in Japan, absolutely unbearable). In other words, you can’t help but smash everything. Over there, you sometimes get a breath of air, but still it’s quite relative. And this morning I wondered … (you see, for years I lived in that way … for years and years) just as I was wondering, ‘How was I AsLE to live that and not kick out in every direction?’, just as I was looking at it, I saw up above, above this … (it is worse than horrible, it is a kind of … Oh, not despair, for there isn’t even any sense of feeling – there is NOTHING! It is dull, dull, dull … gray, gray, gray, clenched tight, a closed web that lets through neither air nor life nor light – there is nothing) and just then I saw a splendor of such sweet light above it – so sweet, so full of true love, true compassion something so warm, so warm … the relief, the solace of an eternity of sweetness, light, beauty, in an eternity of patience which feels neither the past nor the inanity and imbecility of things – it was so wonderful! That was entirely the feeling it gave, and I said to myself, ‘THAT is what made you live, without THAT it would not have been possible.’ Oh, it would not have been possible – I would not have lived even three days! THAT is there, ALWAYS there, awaiting its hour, if we would only let it in.

And it’s still the same thing; only now I’m up here (Mother gestures above the head), I’m here, so it’s quite another matter.

I am no longer looking out at the sky from below, but from up above … I am looking, as if each look at each thing seen established the Contact.

It was like that this morning at the balcony.

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