One of the ways that surrender expresses itself is the ability to leave the past behind, to make oneself like a clean slate, something that we find so beautifully in the Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s life. Even the highest experiences were seen by Them not as some high achievement to be lauded over but simply as stages of the great ascent. For the sake of the Work, They readily descended even into the dark and obscure states so as to bring the Light into the abysses of human nature. This is so well described in “God’s Labour”.
We, instead, cling. We cling to ideas, to preferences, opinions, positions, course of action, results and what not. By clinging and this wish to remain in our comfort zones, we stop progressing. The ego-self then sticks to us even as we get stuck to it, until some blow of life shows us the work that is left undone. That is why, one of the things that the Mother advised as being very helpful to the Yoga is not to cling to anything except the Divine and His Truth. Clinging to anything except the Divine is the very opposite of surrender, if one may say so.
This tendency to cling is there because of the great hold of the material mind that fixes things in groves of habit and the subconscious parts that keep throwing up a tendency or a movement again and again even after persistent efforts at rejection. It is here that the crux of the problem lies. One has to persist and work steadily upon these obscure parts of nature which is where the inner battle is the most painstaking and exacting. Yet, if the psychic can take the lead and there is a fundamental trust in the Divine and His Grace then this difficult journey becomes a bit easier and faster.
Words of Sri Aurobindo
It is because your consciousness in the course of the sadhana has come into contact with the lower physical nature and sees it as it is in itself when it is not kept down or controlled either by the mind, the psychic or the spiritual force. This nature is in itself full of low and obscure desires, it is the most animal part of the human being. One has to come into contact with it so as to know what is there and transform it. Most sadhaks of the old type are satisfied with rising into the spiritual or psychic realms and leave this part to itself – but by that it remains unchanged, even if mostly quiescent, and no complete transformation is possible. You have only to remain quiet and undisturbed and let the higher Force work to change this obscure physical nature.
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The opportunity for these contrary forces is given when the sadhak descends in the inevitable course of the sadhana from the mental or the higher vital plane to the physical consciousness. Always this is accompanied by a fading of the first deep experiences and a descent to the neutral obscure inertia which is the bed-rock of the unredeemed physical nature. It is there that the Light, the Power, the Ananda of the Divine has to descend and transform everything, driving away for ever all obscurity and all inertia and establishing the radiant Energy, the perfect Light and the unchanging Bliss. There and not in the mind or the higher vital is all the difficulty, but there too must be the victory and the foundation of the new world. I do not wish to disguise from you the difficulty of this great and tremendous change or the possibility that you may have a long and hard work before you, but are you really unwilling to face it and take your share in the great work? Will you reject the greatness of this endeavour to follow a mad irrational impulse towards some more exciting work of the hour or the moment for which you have no true call in any part of your nature?
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There is no true reason for despondency; in nothing that has passed do I find any good ground for it. The difficulties you experience are nothing to those that others have felt and yet conquered them, others who were not stronger than you. All that has happened is that by this descent into the physical consciousness the ordinary external human nature has come to the front with its elemental imperfections and subconscient unsatisfied impulses and it is to these that the contrary force is appealing. The mind and the higher vital have put away from them the ideas and illusions which gave them a sanction, an illusion of legitimacy and even nobility in their satisfaction. But the root of them, their inherent irrational push for satisfaction, has not yet gone – this, for instance, is the reason for the sexual movements which you have recently felt in sleep or in waking. This was inevitable. All that is needed is for your psychic being to come forward and open you to the direct and real and constant inner contact of myself and the Mother. Hitherto your soul has expressed itself through the mind and its ideals and admirations or through the vital and its higher joys and aspirations; but that is not sufficient to conquer the physical difficulty and enlighten and transform Matter.
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Cast away from you these movements of doubt, depression and the rest which are no part of your true and higher nature. Reject these suggestions of inability, unfitness and all these irrational movements of an alien force. Remain faithful to the Light of your soul even when it is hidden by clouds. My help and the Mother’s will be there working behind even in the moments when you cannot feel it. The one need for you and for all is to be, even in the darkness of the powers of obscurity of the physical consciousness, stubbornly faithful to your soul and to the remembrance of the Divine Call. Be faithful and you will conquer.
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When I spoke of being faithful to the light of the soul and the divine Call, I was not referring to anything in the past or to any lapse on your part. I was simply affirming the great need in all crises and attacks, – to refuse to listen to any suggestions, impulses, lures and to oppose to them all the call of the Truth, the imperative beckoning of the Light. In all doubt and depression, to say, “I belong to the Divine, I cannot fail”; to all suggestions of impurity and unfitness, to reply, “I am a child of Immortality chosen by the Divine; I have but to be true to myself and to Him – the victory is sure; even if I fell, I would rise again”; to all impulses to depart and serve some smaller ideal, to reply, “This is the greatest, this is the Truth that alone can satisfy the soul within me; I will endure through all tests and tribulations to the very end of the divine journey”. This is what I mean by faithfulness to the Light and the Call.
Sri Aurobindo: Letters on Yoga