“Yesterday” – Nolini Kanta Gupta

Yesterday should not be turned into today. It is a sane counsel for everybody, whatever one’s avocation, not to live in the past. To live in the future may yield some dividends to a rare few, but dwelling in the past never. Yet we continually revive bygone movements and in the process give force to those vibrations to form again and again and interfere with the present. This is especially so in the case of a spiritual seeker.

The most common problem is the memory of some past wrong done against us. Each time this recurs, we relive the whole situation and re-experience all the emotional turmoil we went through at that moment. All the resentment, anger, grief rush in in their full intensity and we are thrown off balance. A part of the mind is aware that it is all a thing of the past and it is no use thinking of it in the present. But we are irresistibly carried away by the old movement which, if unchecked, develops into a habit. Very often such a movement repeats itself because somewhere something in us indulges in it. Apart from its psychological damage to ourselves, there is another bad consequence. By perpetuating the old vibration we prevent its replacement by another, happier movement. The Mother asks us not to carry yesterday’s vibration when we meet the offending party today. By remembering it when we meet the person who has hurt us yesterday, we induce in him the same set of vibrations that emanated from him earlier. We are asked to keep the mind blank and meet him afresh. Such an approach is likely to disarm him and initiate a conciliatory movement. Even if it fails, we are the gainers spiritually — for to rise above hurt and offence is a positive victory over our mechanical nature.

This movement is not very difficult if we are earnest about our sadhana. What is more difficult is the memories of the wrongs we have done to others in the past. This difficulty is acute when our effort to purify ourselves is intense and our sensitivity increases. Every little incident in which our less flattering side came to the fore — we lost our temper, hurt others, ill-treated them and did a host of other wrong things — rises up and comes to devour us. This is most poignant when the victims of our indignities happen to be those who loved us, who sacrificed for us, who bore us patiently and, maybe, helplessly. It is an unnerving experience when this happens.

How do we meet these searing returns of the past? By repentance. By a sincere regret for the past, a resolute determination not to repeat the past, and an inner praying for forgiveness from those whom we have hurt. Such a movement in our being puts the past behind and clears the way for a new future, provided we take care not to repeat the old mistakes under any circumstances. Repentance is less a confession of sins than a determination to turn a new leaf. But this too must not be overdone. Confessions and regrets, made too often, turn into indulgences that revive the old memories of our failures and hold us back even when the road is clear. They have the subtle effect of prolonging vibrations which are better left behind and forgotten; and they interfere with the purifying action of the Divine Grace which always responds to sincere appeals for help to start anew.

Published November 1983

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