Work has played a big part in my sadhana. In my early life in the Ashram, before becoming conscious of what Yoga or Yoga of Works was, I took up work and did it as simply and innocently as a child plays and studies, without in the least knowing that by this one’s body and mind are automatically developed. The Divine acts best in us when we least intercept Him with our minds. The work proved a good field for the Mother to prepare and lift up my inner being. A little later, when I did become aware of the sadhana, it was a surprise to find myself suddenly touching depths and heights. The Mother’s Force acts, of course, in all states and not in the work only. The question is: to what extent can we offer it a more or less total receptivity? In solitary meditation the outer being becomes vague to one and is either dormant or quiescent while the inner reigns supreme. In work, although the exterior self is predominant, the inner is there just behind it, if not with it supporting it with the Mother’s Force, Light and Peace. Thus the whole being is dynamised in the work, and whatever change comes is made permanent. On the other hand, all that is achieved in meditation has to be projected into the outer and fixed there before it becomes part of ourselves. What then is this thing called Work in the Ashram? There is no fixed activity that is stamped as work, the rest condemned as non-work. Anything — big or small — given us by the Mother is work for the Divine here. For the students study, the playground-movements and all recreation activities can be made part of the work.
The year 1933
While doing the work I was puzzled as to the motive of it. Kindly enlighten me about the attitude I should have during the work.
The work is for the Mother and should be offered to the Mother.
All work given you must be felt as the Mother’s and done with joy, opening yourself for the Mother’s force to work through you.
You can be absorbed (in the work) without throwing yourself out — that means a silent concentration.
During work I am so much entangled by unnecessary thoughts that I don’t know how to escape from them.
Reject the thoughts and remember the Mother and ask for consciousness of her force doing the work.
While working I become too weak to stop the physical mind from thinking all sorts of useless things.
That is very usual. The really active part of the mind is engaged in the work. It is the mechanical mind that is left to itself to think and its way of thinking is just that.
Before becoming conscious of the Mother in all the being, cannot one offer mentally to Her one’s personal actions like eating, sleeping etc.?
One can always offer with the mind, but that is only a beginning. It is a step towards a fully conscious surrender, but it will not do to stop there and say, “Now all my actions are hers, she is doing everything; so nothing else matters.” There is a transformation to be made and it can be made only by becoming conscious.
You say, “There is a transformation to be made.” In the actual work, how are our actions to be transformed?
It is first by having the true consciousness in it, — the true consciousness would give the action the right form. You are always asking how, as if everything could be done by a device or mental or other method. It is only by a change of consciousness that all these things can be done.
You said that the transformation could only be made by becoming conscious. I would like to know, “conscious” of what?
Conscious with the inner and higher consciousness.
It is true that everything one does should be offered to the Mother. But how is one to consecrate to her one’s personal actions? Of what one does for oneself (eating, sleeping, etc.) it cannot obviously be said, “It is for the Mother that I do it.”
If you remove ego and desire, it is as easy to do the personal work for the Mother as to do any other.
Varnishing Amiya’s chest of drawers I felt, “How nicely I have applied the varnish! How pretty it looks!” Evidently such feelings are not acceptable. But what then am I to think in such a case, when the work is actually well performed?
To observe whether it is really well done or not and feel the Ananda of work done for the Mother. Get rid of the “I”. If it is well done, it is the Force that did it and your only part was to be a good or a bad instrument.
During the work, is it preferable to think that it is the Mother who acts through us?
If it is work, you can always do that, provided you realise that it depends on the instrument whether the Mother’s force works freely or not.
But in that case, will not a wrong movement lurk disguised in the Mother’s work?
If you think that all your actions come from the Mother, then of course it will have that effect — the actions come from Prakriti. Work is a different matter, for it is the Mother’s work you are doing.
Someone says, “In the beginning one cannot remember to offer one’s work throughout to the Mother. It is very difficult to do it; the inner being may not be ready.” Is the remembering really impossible?
It is perfectly possible. There are people who do it. Difficult it is, but that is because of the outer, not because of the inner being.
The year 1934
During the working period the useless thoughts intrude and interrupt the contact of the outer with the inner being. To what special difficulty do you attribute this?
There is no special difficulty beyond what everybody feels, that of reconciling work with the inner concentration. It is a difficulty that has to be conquered, but for most it takes time to conquer.
You must be able to work and keep the silence of the inner being.
You wrote, “But when you concentrate what is the need of attending to the things of the exterior plane?” While concentrating, is not my attention to be maintained all the time — during the intellectual pursuits as well as during the physical work?
For that a double concentration is needed, and it is successful when either the inner or the outer concentration becomes automatic.
The inner concentration and quietude seem to be extending outwards. I feel quietness and I am now able to concentrate with the eyes open. When one leads an inner life, how does one deal with the outer things?
They are dealt with by the Force that works through the being.
May I request you to elaborate your above answer?
When one is concentrated within, the body can go on doing its work by the Force acting within it. Even the external consciousness can work separately under the motion of the Force while the rest of the consciousness is in concentration.
During all my physical activities, there is probably a quietness but not the same inner contact or experience as during meditation.
That comes with more difficulty in the outer activity than in the inward concentration, but it can become quite as vivid there also.
Particularly when something descends from above, my consciousness feels an exclusive need of inwardness and withdrawal from all actions.
Work has not to be given up — the consciousness must be kept in the work.
When the personal consciousness is silent whatever actions are carried out seem to be mechanical. No conscious orientation by our will should be there. There is only a spontaneous attitude of self-offering.
Yes, that is what often happens for a time until there is a new consciousness taking up the actions.
Before the dynamic self pours itself down into me, is there no possibility to start the actions from the “true consciousness”?
Activity would mean either directing work by the ordinary vital or mental consciousness or else handing it over to the Mother’s Force. But for that you must be conscious of the Mother’s Force doing things through you.
You wrote, “Rasa must be there in the work.” But I am not able to get this rasa, this enjoyment.
For the perfect condition in the work rasa must be there — but the perfect condition is not always at once possible.
What are these other things that are more important for the present than rasa?
Strength in the peace — higher power in the will (tapas); extension of continuity of peace and self-realisation; if possible descent of a Force removing the tamas and the vital difficulty.