During my early years in Auroville, my outer work was teaching in the school as it existed then.
But my inner work was going on most earnestly as well, my involvement with the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother having started already in 1971, that is, even before I came to Auroville.
Being the too serious and worrying type, whatever my actual inner efforts might be I always felt it wasn’t enough and I wasn’t progressing fast enough, and it was all my fault, etc, etc.
So I was making my own life a hell of guilt and remorse for every stray thought or action or activity that wasn’t entirely enough focused on practicing the Yoga.
Until one day in school…
It was some years after the end of 1973, the Mother wasn’t there anymore physically to do this usual bit of work, so for those special occasions called ‘Darshan Days’ that kept being celebrated at the Ashram in Pondicherry, it was by the senior disciples in the Ashram that a text by Sri Aurobindo or by the Mother was selected, printed on cards as the Message for that occasion, and distributed to all persons interested, also in Auroville.
I don’t remember which year and which darshan day it was, but I remember I was in school when it happened.
At the end of that morning, the school in which I worked got as always the Darshan Message cards for all of us. I opened mine immediately.
On the right side was a nice photo of Mother’s face, a kind, indulgent, deeply compassionate smile on her lips and in her eyes, which made me smile also at once, as in spontaneous answer to her smile.
On the left side were only a few lines handwritten and signed by her:
Do your work as well as you can,
Keep yourself always open towards me –
This is all that is asked from you.
I read it twice to make sure I had understood properly, and my heart leaped with astonished joy.
What?!… It was possible to do the Yoga, the Integral Yoga, like this?!… ‘This is all that is asked from you’, Mother was saying. Could it be really as simple as that?!?
It was as if a multi-ton burden was taken off my weary shoulders.
I suddenly felt as light, as free of responsibilities as if I were a little child again. How wonderful…
I sighed with contentment and relief; having no classes in the afternoon, instead of staying on for lunch I hastened immediately back to my little home nearby, almost running, clutching on my chest the precious card on which this practically life-saving Message was written, which I wanted to read and read again at leisure when alone!!!
This particular Message probably helped thousands of other people with the same problem as me, but to me on that day it came as a Message directly for me, to help me out of my stupid tendency to try and do things unaided, with my own desperate efforts only. My heart was melting with gratitude for the Mother, so unbelievably caring for the little child I indeed still was.
Over the years, I have kept that card with me, well protected, taking it out to read it again from time to time, so as to remember and not relapse into my old habits of being, so detrimental actually to my very inner purpose.
The precise but rich meaning of each of the things Mother said there became more and more perceptible to me as time passed:
The contrary of complicated, the contrary of puffed up. It is the ego which complicates things, which tries to make us want to feel important and dignified. What for?… To impress whom?… My fellow human beings?… What is the use of trying to impress them? What does their opinion of me matter actually?And as for the Divine, better not try to impress the Divine, it will not work!!!
Be simple is like the tip of the pin which deflates at once the ego’s grotesque balloon… Ouf! What a relief to be again simply oneself!…
Yes. Happy. Why always put the accent on what is not pleasant, on what seems not to go well, on the risks, the dangers of the future, or the already past and present catastrophes?… Why not rather trust the Divine, have faith always, and by that very faith help bring about the happy result the Divine wanted for us? Happiness is much more efficient, even for changing the world, than unhappiness… Let’s go for it!
The happiness to be felt at all times is not of the excited type at all, it is very calm. This quietness within us is absolutely indispensable and must be kept as much as possible unaltered; it is only in this quietness that our emotions, like water, will remain transparent enough for us to perceive the answer, be it solution to a problem, or command for an action, coming from our deepest Self, our Psychic Being.
Do your work as well as you can:
Here comes the ‘Karma Yoga’ aspect of this Yoga, and how to integrate into our spiritual and transformational endeavor all our outer activities too. We must first of all offer each of them, dedicate each of them to the Divine when we start, and then train ourselves gradually to keep that conscious inner attitude of dedication during the whole time of that activity. It makes it as holy and spiritual and profitable to our inner progress as the same amount of time sitting in meditation, for then the activities themselves become more and more a meditation too, inside of us, even if outside we are going full speed in whatever we are doing.
Keep yourself always open towards me:
Towards the end of 1973, quite unexpectedly, I had been given the tremendous direct experience of why this remarkable lady had been called ‘The Mother’ by Sri Aurobindo, and what the real dimension of her being was, behind the human superficial appearances the outer senses only see. Thanks to the totally unlooked for and undeserved, incredible gift of that inner revelation, that Cosmic Darshan I had of her, when I read this last sentence I knew why she could indeed put it that way in that Message: to be open to her was to be open indeed to the saving grace and purifying action of the Divine Mother herself in that human body. Those who haven’t had that personal experience are perfectly free to keep themselves open to the Divine Mother in that form, or in any other form that they may feel closer to inwardly, the effect will be just the same. It is the sincerity and the intensity of the relationship with whatever form of Her, that facilitate the work of the Divine Mother within us for our evolution.
Voilà! This little text by the Mother, I realized it later, constitutes actually a summary of the perfect inner attitude for this evolutive ‘Sadhana’, or spiritual discipline: it is the Way of the Psychic Being, the Way of our Self as the happy Child of the Divine. By keeping ourselves inwardly in the condition described through these Five Points, we are in fact keeping ourselves under the influence of our Psychic Being, and our path becomes then the Sunlit Path that is the best thing we can give to ourselves for realizing our evolutive future.
To watch our thoughts, then, is not something to be necessarily done as such, as a separate exercise or constant ‘severe’ discipline, which is only one way of doing it; what Sri Aurobindo, just like Mother here, actually advocates as even better for those whose temperament will allow it, is rather that Sunlit Path, which using these Five Points translates practically as something like this: one keeps to the overall inner attitude of the Psychic Being, by checking all the time within oneself if one is simple, happy, quiet, etc, and gently rectifying the inner state whenever needed; in this sort of constant ‘scanning’ process, which soon becomes kind of automatic, our consciousness will also catch our stray thoughts and see instantly if they are of the helpful kind, or not… If the thoughts aren’t right, one also does a quick ‘delete’ operation, or, even better, says a few words to one’s mind as to the different thoughts one really wants to have, so that little by little the mind too understands and starts to change its own wrong habits… A most rewarding re-education process, both for you, and for your mind too after a while, when it starts appreciating its own silence and receptivity to more luminous thoughts, even in the middle of the metro crowd!…
I myself still forget from time to time these Five Points, and again find myself for some time going through my old hard and worrying way of trying to do this Yoga. Two years ago, when that happened, it was through an innocent lady guest that I received from the Divine, on a card again, another Message, this time by Sri Aurobindo, but saying basically the same so important thing:
‘What one cannot do oneself one can get done by calling the Mother’s force.
To receive that and let it work in you is the true means of success in the Sadhana.’