The Double Renunciation (HH 103)


Yoga implies a renunciation, a renunciation of the lower for the higher, of the material for the spiritual. The object achieved through this renunciation is possession of the true Self. It leads us out of ignorance and multiplicity and bondage towards knowledge, unity and freedom, termed as liberation. This liberation ensures for the individual soul a freedom from the need to take birth and thereby be done with the whole cycle of birth, death and rebirth. But the Supramental Yoga takes the goal one step higher, a rather radical step as it were. We are called upon to make a double renunciation, – a material renunciation and a spiritual renunciation, that is to say our attachment not only to the material but also to the spiritual way of life as we conventionally understand it.


Words of the Mother

March 27, 1961

Yesterday I had such a strong feeling that ALL constructions, all habits, all ways of seeing, all ordinary reactions, were all crumbling away – completely. I felt I was suspended in something … entirely different, something … I don’t know.

(silence)

And truly, with the feeling that ALL one has lived, all one has known, all one has done, all of it is a perfect illusion – that’s what I was living yesterday evening.

And then….

It’s one thing to have the spiritual experience of the illusion of material life (some find this painful, but I found it so wonderfully beautiful and happy that it was one of the loveliest experiences of my life); but now the whole spiritual construction as one has lived it is becoming … a total illusion! Not the same illusion, a far more serious illusion.

If That was not there…. Obviously, That [divine Love] is here, like a mattress placed so you won’t break your neck when you fall. That’s precisely the feeling: this experience of the vibration of divine Love is the mattress … so you don’t break your neck!

So, petit, don’t brood; whatever your difficulties may be (laughing), you can tell yourself they are only beginning!

And I’m not exactly a baby; I have been here forty-seven years, and for something like … yes, certainly for sixty years I have been doing a conscious yoga, with all that memories of an immortal life can bring – and see where I am! When Sri Aurobindo says you must have endurance, I think he is right!

This path is not for the weak, that’s for sure.

I believe this body has suffered as much as a body can bear without going to pieces, and it keeps going, it has never asked for mercy – not once has it said, ‘No, it’s too much,’ not once. It says, ‘As You will, Lord: here I am.’

And so it continues.

(Mother gets up to leave)

Well, I’m never going to tell people that it’s just a promenade! No, it’s nothing like a promenade. Some say, ‘Oh, you’re too severe!’ But too bad for them; it’s better to tell the truth, isn’t it?

We mustn’t get discouraged.

* * *

January 12, 1962 

(Concerning Satprem’s question on the experience of the “supramental ship”:)

Did you get my note, petit?

I’ve said something on the subject somewhere…. Do you remember that gentleman from Madras who had asked a question? There was an indication there….

Because I followed the thread, I put myself back in contact with the experience of the supramental ship, and I noticed that it had a DECISIVE effect on my position: the required conditions were established quite clearly, precisely, and definitively by that experience. In that respect, it was interesting.

Once and for all it has swept away all these notions – not merely ordinary moral notions, but everything people here in India consider necessary for the spiritual life. In that respect, it was very instructive. And first and foremost, this so-called ascetic purity…. Ascetic purity is merely the rejection of all vital movements. Instead of taking these movements and turning them towards the Divine, instead of seeing, that is, the supreme Presence in them (and so letting the Supreme deal with them freely), He is told (laughing): “No – it’s none of Your business! You have no say in it.”

As for the physical, it’s an old and well-known story – ascetics have always rejected it; but they also reject the vital. And they’re all like that here, even … X may have changed somewhat by now, but at the beginning he was no different either. Only things classically recognized as holy or admitted by religious tradition were accepted – the sanctity of marriage, for example, and things like that…. But a free life? Not a chance! It was wholly incompatible with religious life.

Well, all that has been completely swept away, once and for all.

This doesn’t mean that what’s being asked of us is easier! It’s probably far more difficult.

I mentioned the principal psychological requirement in my answer to that American: a state of perfect equality. This is an ABSOLUTE condition. Over the years since that experience I have observed that no supramental vibration whatsoever can be transmitted without this perfect equality. The slightest contradiction of that equality – in other words, the least movement of ego, of egoistic preference – and everything is blocked, transmission stops. This is already quite a large stumbling block.

* * *

February 13, 1962

Actually, I have noticed one thing: nowadays if I spontaneously say something the way I see it, without trying to adapt myself to people, they don’t understand – it’s difficult to understand. And I am not speaking of people who know nothing, but of those who have lived and thought with me.

My vision of things – the SAME things – has become very, very different. Very different. When you read these Talks to me it’s exactly as though I were listening to someone else saying things – I am transported back into a different person’s consciousness. But at least it’s accessible, while now….

At that time, I had the sense of a “higher way of living”: I used to make a distinction between different ways of life. Now this so-called higher way of living seems so miserable to me – so petty, mean, narrow – that I very often find myself in the same position as those who ask, “But is there really something to it?” And I understand them (even though I have a different will and vision of something to come that is not yet here), I understand the feeling of those who came into contact with spiritual life and asked, “What good is it – what good is it? Is there anything worth living in it?” We are NECESSARILY hemmed in, bound to live in narrowness and pettiness simply to keep alive, for the sake of all the body’s needs.

It takes such an effort to bring Light into this poverty, to bring a Force, a Reality, a Power, something, good Lord, something TRUE! Through constant effort and will, constant tension, suddenly, ah! I get two or three seconds … and then it all ebbs away again.

In that former illusion, there were noble actions, generous actions, great, heroic actions, all adding color to life and capable of giving you some interesting hours. Now that too is gone: I see it all as childishness.

I understand very well that this present state is necessary for getting out of it. For as long as something seems normal, natural, acceptable, there’s no escaping it. You have one life on the side and then “this” [the life in the body], that’s the way people with a spiritual life always lived: they had their spiritual life and let “this” continue on automatically, without attaching any importance to it – it’s very easy.

But what a relief to live the Truth at each instant! …

* * *

March 6, 1962

…..You know, all those little rules we’re enjoined to follow: “Above all, don’t do that; and be sure to do this, don’t forget that….” Like ablutions, for instance, or attitudes, or what to eat – there’s no dearth of them. A mountain of do’s and don’ts – all completely swept away! And swept away to the point where sometimes a rule, something highly recommended (“Be sure to do this, be careful to do that” – an attitude or an action) becomes an obstacle. I hardly dare say it, but one example is having a regular schedule – always making ablutions at the same hour, always doing japa in the same manner and so on. And I am perfectly aware that Sri Aurobindo himself puts all sorts of trivial obstacles in my way – obstacles I could hurdle with a single second of reflection; he sets them up as if in play. Do you remember the aphorism where he says he was quarreling with the Lord and the Lord made him fall in the mud?63 That’s just what I feel. He puts a stick in my spokes and laughs. So I say, “All right, that’s enough, I don’t give a hoot! I’ll do whatever You want, it’s not my problem; I can do it or not do it, do it this way or that….” It has all gone up in smoke now.

What has become constant, though…. I shouldn’t say it, because it’s going to get me into trouble again! But anyway, what’s trying to be constant is DISCRIMINATION: taking all circumstances, vibrations, relationships, what comes from the people around me, what responds, and putting each in its proper place. A second-to-second discrimination. I know where things are coming from, why they come, their effect, where they’re going to lead me, and so on. It’s growing more and more frequent, constant, automatic – like a state of being.

…..You can lie down on a mat, look at a flower or a patch of sky if there’s any to see; if need be (teasingly), smoke a cigarette to keep yourself busy, and just stay like that, relaxed. And if you do your pranayama along with this “relaxation” you will notice yourself growing extremely strong – storing, storing, storing up energies. And then if you have to make an effort, there’s nothing to it – it’s as easy as pie.

It’s that old habit, the old fear of being lazy. It took me…. But Sri Aurobindo cured me of that rather quickly. That’s how it was before I met him. And that’s the first thing he did: he gave me a tap on the head, and all activity ceased – total silence, all mental constructions and habits swept away … in the blink of an eye.

I was very careful not to let it come back. Then, afterwards, well….

He mentions it when he explains mental equality – that a state is reached where one is unable to initiate any activity; only the stimulus of an impulsion from above can move you. So you do nothing, you just stay like that, perfectly immobile in your mind (not only physically – especially in your mind): you don’t initiate anything.

Before, the mind was always creating, setting actions, wills and movements into motion, producing consequences; and it’s very frightening when that stops – you feel you’re becoming an idiot. But it’s quite the opposite! No more ideas, no more will, no more impulsions, nothing. You act only when something makes you act, without knowing why or how.

This “something” doesn’t come from below, of course, it mustn’t come from below. But that condition can truly be achieved only when all the work below has been completed.


The talk was recorded on 27th August 2013 at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, India.

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