Today is Sri Aurobindo’s birthday. He completes his fifty-fourth year, having been born in 1872. It has been a long custom to celebrate this event of his physical birth. Formerly the celebration was in a vital manner. From 1923 it is being observed as it should be in keeping with the truth it symbolizes.
The whole house was thoroughly cleaned and whitewashed; today it is bedecked with fresh leaves and flowers. All the attached houses have been cleaned and washed and everybody puts up a smart appearance. There have been some new-comers. A special attempt — a joint attempt — is to be made today to bring down the Truth. Individually this day is for stock-taking in sadhana, laying out a programme for the future. This day is to be a landmark, a turning-point as Sri Aurobindo fully explained in the afternoon.
Sri Aurobindo came out at about 11 a.m. and one by one the sadhaks went up (there were only two pairs — husband and wife), and offered their pranams and asked his blessing. When I went up I saw Sri Aurobindo — an embodiment of the Truth he is trying to bring down for us. To me it seemed that his appearance was that of barābhaya [bestower of boon and protection]. I worshipped his feet with a few roses and placed a small sum of money (Rs. 5) at his feet. He touched my head. I sat down at his feet, meditated for a minute and then said, “Many kinds of hostile forces are trying to distract me. May I be able to surrender myself completely to you.” He blessed me with a nod of his head, then with the palm of his hand pressed on my head; I felt as if I had got the truth, my whole being became filled with hope and faith, with force and light. I came down after touching his feet and getting his touch again.
Then I went up to Mirra [the Mother] and for the first time entered into Sri Aurobindo’s room, his place of sadhana and rest. I went through the same ceremony before Mirra — but sitting at her feet I meditated for a longer time, about 5 minutes.
From the morning a great calm has descended on me. I can easily surrender myself and open myself to the Higher Truth. This has been a day of consecration for me. I have got my programme of sadhana. Henceforth, I am to give up the ordinary human standpoint and live from the standpoint of the higher light.
The vital forces are trying to seduce me — they seem to say, “Follow us and we give you intense enjoyment.” With the help of the blessings of Gurudev, I expect to know their tricks and withdraw my consent from their play.
At 5 p.m. Sri Aurobindo again came out and sat on his chair; Mirra also came with him and sat by his left side beneath the chair. We were altogether 20 sadhaks present including several ladies. Sri Aurobindo spoke for half an hour about the significance of the 15th August; the speech has been fully recorded by Purani. Then there was group meditation for about half an hour after which Sri Aurobindo and Mirra went inside.
During the course of the meditation, I felt a fundamental calm — the mechanical and habitual thoughts, which disturb me at other times, could not enter into my mind and I intimately felt the light above and a flaming aspiration towards it. It was such a delightful experience that I felt shocked when the group was dissolved abruptly.
Sitting silently in my place, I drew up the following programme for my future sadhana.
The fundamental principle to be followed in life is to give up the ordinary way of living from the standpoint of the ordinary human being. I have to take my stand on the higher Truth and shape my life according to the light received from above.
As to the mind: The mechanical and habitual thoughts are to be discarded or thrown outside. The action of the Buddhi to go on — to receive and interpret the light from above and regulate the acts of life accordingly.
As to the vital: Give up all acts which involve a violent interchange with the vital forces. Observe the play of the vital impulses and the vital forces. See that the lower movement “is coming from below and then withdraw your consent from it and wait keeping yourself open to the higher power to work. It knows better than you what is your need and how to eliminate and transform your nature.”
Cease to act from desire: See your needs with the help of the higher light and exert your will to fulfil them, always depending on, and leaving the consequences to, the higher power.
As to the physical: Try to keep the body in health and fit to carry out any work that may be required of it.
Establish the higher calm throughout the ādhāra and for this stand on the Purusha-Prakriti attitude of the Gita.
Take Sri Aurobindo as the representative of the higher Truth, the higher power and surrender yourself wholly to him as to the higher Truth.
Have a constant aspiration towards the higher Truth.
Go on with zeal and resolution but be not impatient or hasty.
15 August 1926 (Evening)
(In the evening Sri Aurobindo came out at 7.45 p.m. The following is the substance of some of the talks.
X raised the question whether this year Sri Aurobindo was more sure than before about the success of the attempt at divine life.)
Sri Aurobindo: I am both sure and not sure. I am sure morally, I am not sure practically. Morally sure because the Truth is coming more and more. Practically not sure because the material world is still unrepentent.
Disciple: What do you mean by “unrepentent”?
Sri Aurobindo: The material world does not believe in the possibility of divine life. The European mentality is a great obstacle, though there are other obstacles.
Disciple: Is that obstacle insuperable?
Sri Aurobindo: If it does not change but continues to remain as it is, it will be an insuperable obstacle.
Disciple: How can the change be brought about?
Sri Aurobindo: You will not understand if I say.
Disciple: We shall try — let us hear the answer.
Sri Aurobindo: It will begin to change when it has open connection with the world of Gods.
Disciple: We do not understand unless you explain every word.
Sri Aurobindo: So I said.
In Europe those who have not the European mentality, go to the opposite extreme; instead of opening themselves to the Gods, they resort to the vital forces.
Disciple: What is exactly meant by saying that European science is materialistic?
Sri Aurobindo: That is what I have been so long explaining. They regard matter as wholly inconscient or without consciousness of any kind and they do not believe that matter can be made to become conscious. They do not believe that the laws of matter can be changed. They accept the miracles that have been accomplished but they do not believe that miracles may happen in the future. Matter by itself could never have changed. It is the vital and the mental principle pressing from above which has made possible life and mind in the material world. Now, it is the turn of the supramental pressing from above and transforming the very nature of matter.
Disciple: If the laws of matter are changed, will not matter cease to be matter?
Sri Aurobindo: Why?
Disciple: Because, the laws define the nature of matter.
Sri Aurobindo: The laws are only statements of the habits of things, and a thing may change its habits without ceasing to be itself. If you change your habits, you will still be X.
Disciple: Can a few persons by their sadhana change the laws of the material world?
Sri Aurobindo: We do not mean that the whole universe is going to be changed. Only the capacities of matter can be proved in certain cases.
When I speak of the resistance of the material world, I do not mean the external material world, but the subtle material world. The cells of the material body possess a consciousness. That consciousness has to open itself to the higher Truth before the real transformation can take place. It is the material mind which does not believe in divine possibilities and does not care for it.
Disciple: What is the difference between the physical and the material?
Sri Aurobindo: As I explained before, in the physical plane there is the mental, the vital and the material. (To Y) Do you remember what I said about the physical mind?
Disciple: It is the mind which presses upon the material plane and organizes it.
Sri Aurobindo: No, it is not that. It is the end which comes into contact with the physical world and sees only the physical aspects of things and nothing beyond it; it takes matter as being simply matter and nothing more — it does not see the consciousness inherent in matter. It depends on the material structure of the body and is confined to it, to the material brain.
Similarly, the vital in the physical plane is the life which is bound with matter, with the nervous system; it cannot exist apart from a material body. But the vital proper is quite independent of matter, it is a universal force. There is force in matter, but that force is not life-force. The real life-force is something quite apart from the material world, it exists for its own sake and its possibilities are not bound down by material conditions. When Napoleon said that there was nothing impossible, the term “impossible” was to be erased from the dictionary, it was the vital which was speaking through Napoleon; to the vital nothing seems impossible.
Then the material in the physical is the pure material part of it which is the basis of the rest.
Disciple: The vital plane, the vital being, the vital Prakriti — these are the three things and they all have to open themselves to the higher power?
Sri Aurobindo: What do you mean by the vital being? If by it you mean the vital Purusha — it is there supporting the universal vital Prakriti. Apart from the Purusha, there is a vital personality — which may be the combination of many personalities — and this personality is to be changed. This personality is under the influence of the various forces coming from the universal vital Prakriti; it has to be opened to the higher power and thus transformed.
originally published in the Sri Aurobindo Circle from 1977 to 1986