One can always start simply by trying out whatever teachings one is attracted to, but always while observing what effect(s) it has on one’s being and one’s life. If after some time one notices one lives in fear rather than quiet inner joy and obvious progress, something is wrong.
It can be for example like what happened to me in 1971, when as a young adult and still in France I was desperately looking for some satisfactory meaning to Life, and found a book, ‘Fragments of an Unknown Teaching’ (my translation of the French title: “Fragments d’un Enseignement Inconnu”), by someone named Ouspensky about his Master, Gurdjieff. My mind at once got totally fascinated by the intricate notions presented in that book, it was a mighty and very impressive mental edifice I kind of lost myself into for two months, until suddenly I realized that if indeed our human consciousness could evolve further as was said in that book, this was momentous news, no doubt, but if that further evolution had to happen in the manner and through the means described and practiced by that Gurdjieff, I was not interested at all, thanks: I looked within myself and saw that only my mind had been caught by the prospects, then totally new to me, of a possible Conscious Evolution; the rest of my being in the meantime had been shocked and horrified by the downright dangerous methods used to make it happen, based on the sheer willpower and personal determination of the solitary individual human being, under the watching eye of an indifferent and not helping sort of God in an equally indifferent cosmos.
Nothing in me was actually attracted to such an evolutive possibility, if such was the context and the conditions in which it had to happen. These teachings, I could see, hadn’t sparked in me an interest real enough to translate itself as a will to live, so I simply dropped them then and there.
Once this book was rejected as definitely not what I was looking for, I realized the only two things I had really discovered thanks to it were, the first one, Consciousness, and the other one, Evolution. I could feel somehow that those two discoveries were important: essential keys that were not to be thrown out like the proverbial baby together with the dirty bath-water.
Another important result of my rejecting that book as ‘not making Life worth living for me’, was that suddenly for the first time I actually asked myself:
“But then, WHAT exactly would make Life worth living for you?…”
Instantly, something started happening within me, which I can only describe, not explain: something started stirring deep within me, and from everywhere in my being I felt it coalesce towards some center about my heart, shining like a bright gem that had suddenly taken shape there to answer my question. And the answer given by this shining Gem within was:
“If everything there is, is actually based on Joy and Love, then THAT will make Life worth living!…”
And indeed, I must have been somehow ready, for hardly a few weeks later, another book came to me, brought by a young fellow seeker: ‘The Life Divine’, by a certain Sri Aurobindo; the title itself was intriguing, so still standing, I read the very first para of the first chapter… and that did it:
At once the inner power in Sri Aurobindo’s words (although in a mere French translation!) gave me my first illumination, a complete overall understanding of what the whole thing was about, accompanied by a vision: right in the air in front of me, a little above my head, I saw the innumerable pieces of a gigantic Cosmic Puzzle assembling in a flash, and the Picture they made up together was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen: I saw the Future of the Earth, the Future we are going towards, and it was more beautiful than all the fairy-tales of my childhood.
In that one moment my destiny was sealed: I finally sat down, telling inwardly the Divine “If THIS is the Purpose of Life here, then yes, I’m staying…”.
As I kept reading the rest of Chapter One, and leafed through the full book, Consciousness and Evolution again jumped up out of the pages, but this time as part of a totally different Universe, born of Joy and Love as I had intuitively known it really had been, and evolving further and further under the loving eye and caring guidance of a God who, I learned later, was not exclusively masculine as we believed in the West, but was also our Divine Mother.
There it was, the secret Knowledge I longed for, that finally made Life worth living!… It gave me at last the desire to live, as to go on living in this physical dimension would be to use this lifetime for a Conscious Evolution process in which I would have the constant help of that divine Presence while growing towards a joyful and loving existence, right here on Earth, and in a better body… ‘The Life Divine’ indeed!…
That book propelled me towards the Future my whole being instantly recognized as the one it wanted, when I read the very first lines of its first page, containing already the full splendor of the whole thing, like the Overture contains and announces the full splendor of the entire Symphony.
Not only the Goal, but the Way towards it have to be your own, the ones your whole being rejoices in… even if you know it is also going to be hard work, and it indeed is!…
It turned out that simply reading Sri Aurobindo’s writings was for me a big part of the Way, as this tremendous first contact with Him was followed by many other similar occurrences: his words kept having a powerful evocative effect either on my mind, my heart or even my body sometimes. Several of his ‘Thoughts & Glimpses’ particularly, followed by ‘Thoughts & Aphorisms’, less known usually than his ‘big books’, soon became my first spontaneous mantras, making me feel in myself already some presence of what they were describing; the more I repeated those wonderful words, the more this effect grew… And I don’t even mention ‘Savitri’, his mantric book par excellence! It did take me some time for becoming able to read it in the original English, but what a reward!…
So for a long while Sri Aurobindo was leading my sadhana, more than Mother did, although She gave me my first and most momentous experiences once in Auroville: actual dimensional breakthroughs into the Higher Realms, and into the Psychic Realm within. Only from 1978 on, when her ‘Agenda’ was finally, one volume a year, year after year, for thirteen years, published in full by Satprem, did I really discover Her at last for the incredible Being She too was in all She had done, like Savitri, ‘for Earth and Men’… Well, I could say both have been and still are very much my spiritual parents, with all the deep reciprocal tenderness and love that this implies, and utmost gratitude on my part…