Pavitra's Notebook

Monday, March 1, 1926

During the last week there has not been much progress. I can't manage to get out of my prison and my mind doesn't want to yield. There are two inner movements which I practise successively: first, whilst keeping the mind as calm as possible, I try hard to open myself to a higher perception, to become aware of the supra-mental reality; the other is to detach my inner being from action and from the mental level, to establish myself, as we say, in the supra-mental region. Are these two movements both right?

They seem to me to be two aspects, active and passive, of the same effort. But it is always with the mind that you make this effort. It is unavoidable in the beginning; but the calm which comes is not an effort, it is a substance, "a mental stuff".

I understand it mentally, but I do not yet realise it. I have always to make an effort, quite a strenuous one, for it takes up even my physical brain, in which I feel it. When I lift this pressure, the waves resume their movement. I am also very easily disturbed by outside noises. Even when they don't start any thought in me, they draw my attention sharply which gets riveted to them.

You will feel them occurring somewhere in your widened consciousness, but without their disturbing you. Indeed everything will seem to you as though outside you. That's my experience. When I began yoga, I came to an impasse, unable to go any further. My brother then directed me to a yogi (Vishnu Bhaskar Lele, whom Sri Aurobindo met towards the end of 1907.) who had certain powers. I remained with him ten days. He told me to sit beside him and to drive away with deliberation any thought which would appear. I did it and after three days my mind was calm and peaceful, unchangeable. Thoughts floated before me, I saw them and was aware of them, but was no longer their toy. When I left, as I was the political leader I was asked to make a speech somewhere. I refused, saying I hadn't a single thought in my head. But the yogi told me to go, for the thoughts would come of themselves. And it was true. So too I had to write in the papers. And I went back home to Bengal; at several places I had to speak. And always the mental work was done of itself without my being its plaything, in detachment and peace.
This calm is at first mental; there are two parts in the mind, one which reflects the activity of Prakriti, the other which shares the calm of Purusha.

I understand quite clearly. The only result reached so far is more calmness and a deeper peace, less easily disturbed by the little things of life, more intuitiveness and a greater facility in uniting myself with what is around me.

This is already something important. Continue, and develop also this feeling of union with nature which you have.

Monday, March 8, 1926

This week there has not been much progress. My mind is sometimes tamasic, sometimes rajasic, at times outside noises are the cause of difficulties; they resound with as much greater a force as my mind is more quiet and empty.

What are your inner movements?

Always the following two movements: either, having quietened the mind, to remain attentive to the influence from above; or, to separate myself from the calmed mental being and try to realise my existence above the mind, as in the swift experience glimpsed by me once.

If you succeed in shutting out all thought, in reaching absolute passiveness, three things in fact can happen. Either a profound calm descends and takes hold of one; or the consciousness separates from the outer world and attains another level; or, lastly, the invasion of outside impressions becomes all-powerful. And if the first two are not realised, the third in that case supervenes. Hence the importance of making all quiet whilst remaining attentive to the higher influence, open towards the heights, so to say.

It is difficult for me to keep this attitude and this aspiration when I silence my thought—for it is thought which helps me to rouse them.

Why ? Because you think it is difficult and because you are not used to it. But it is important. Practise this. If your consciousness leaves the physical level, this can in itself shut out all sensation. But at any rate you will have to develop this. Might as well do it now.

I suppose these difficulties are common. Like the one of the mind's trying by every means to keep its hold upon me. And it tosses me violently hither and thither.

Quite common.

It would seem easier to overcome the causes of agitation by retiring from the world. It is this feeling which, undoubtedly, has given rise to the sannyasin's aversion for the world. But I understand that there is another way, that of mental control.

Yes—besides, the shrunken world in which the sannyasin moves becomes very often a theatre of the same difficulties and the same struggles—and it is the smallest things which take on an importance. It is altogether futile to cut oneself off like this. Many have felt it. An old yogi at Benares told me that if he could start all over again, he would change his whole method in this way; but he was too old. And those who have thus left the world for a long time can scarcely come back to it. They have lost the faculty, and there is something in them which would not be able to bear it. If we, here, retire a little from human contact, it is not for the same reason, but mainly in order to avoid the shock and pressure of the thoughts of others directed towards us.

Is this experience which I am preparing in myself that which has been described as the second birth?

Yes— but in this yoga one must pass through many new births!

Wednesday, March 10, 1926

In meditation the entire mind is quiet. The faculty of forming images disappears and also that of reasoning, of putting out ideas. And I remain immobile, incapable of any inner movement. There is no change in the consciousness, only in the instruments of this consciousness. What should I do in meditation? Should this new state be brought into the ordinary life?

In the first analysis, the mind is divided into two parts: one, whose movements are aroused by Nature; the other which shares the nature of the Purusha and remains immobile. It is now necessary to extend the power of this immobile part to remain the witness of the changes of the other. Thought will seem to occur in front of it, and it will become aware that it is universal Nature which raises the play of thoughts. One must go towards this universalisation. Thoughts will come from outside and you will see them taking shape in you. You will also experience that you have power over them : you will be able to make a choice, refuse a movement, etc. This is the beginning of mastery. The part of the immobile mind will also have to be seen as the reflection of a vaster, more universal Purusha above you. From both sides you must free yourself from the self. You must relax the pressure you have put on the mind to succeed in mastering thought and being free from it. Insist on the witness attitude. When a thought comes, examine it, see from where it comes, follow it.
The two parts which you are thus separating will have to be later united once again.

I have the feeling that there is only one part, with two possible states, one active, the other passive and inactive.

At first it is necessary to emphasise the division before making the synthesis. You will experience that it is not you who are thinking, but Prakriti; this is the first liberation. The faculty of thought has not been taken away from you; but thought seems to you to be outside yourself.

There is no change in the consciousness and this state has nothing spiritual about it.

True. But it is a preparation of the instruments, and as such it is very important.

Saturday, March 13, 1926

Master, there is something I don't understand very well. Suppose I am meditating. At first there is quite a large action of the semiautomatic mind, which continues the original movement. Little by little this action becomes calm and stops. I find myself then face to face with the quiet mind: but there is another activity of the mind, a kind of inner language which seems to be aroused by myself. It is with this thought that I tell myself, for instance : "Now I am observing my thoughts... whence does this one come?... now all is calm... I must also stop talking to myself thus, etc. etc." It is possible to stop this activity also, absolutely. Where does it come from ? Its laws are those of the mind, but it seems to reflect some purpose of the Purusha, or to serve him as an instrument of knowledge and action. If it were aroused by Prakriti, Prakriti would be struggling against herself. On the other hand, how can Purusha who is calm, immutable, bring about a change? If really there is no change in him, this would be impossible, wouldn't it?

At first it so happens that Prakriti does struggle against herself—certain parts against certain others. But Purusha is not totally inactive. This inactivity, reduced to the single role of passive witness, is that of Sankhya (System of Philosophy and spiritual practice founded on a detailed analysis of nature and consciousness). Purusha is Sakshi (Witness). But even then he can either give or refuse his consent, he is the giver of sanction: anumantä. And Prakriti does not work only for herself, she works for Purusha also—she executes. But Purusha is more than that. It is not he who executes, his activity is not effective, but he is also the Knower and Lord (Ishwara). And what he decides, Prakriti executes. In most people Purusha is hidden behind all mental action. There is certainly a consent to the Play of Prakriti. But Purusha is not free then: Prakriti casts her action on Purusha. Purusha must first recover his attitude of witness. Then he experiences that he has a certain power over the activities of Prakriti.

Is this consent of the Purusha conscious? Or is it something much more profound?

It is not in the mental ego, that is why it seems unconscious. But when Purusha is free it becomes conscious.

This part which I call myself, which looks at the calmed mind, not sharing in its activities, is this Manomaya Purusha?


Is the consent of the Purusha individual, is it not the universal which determines it?

There is the universal Purusha as there is the individual Purusha, and there is that which transcends them both. This individual Purusha is distinct, though not separate—he does not feel himself separate—from the whole. And when he is fully conscious, he has direct access to the transcendent. Without this individual Purusha, no organised action would be possible. For instance, there are many sadhaks who try to wipe out this action. The stage of Paramhamsa—in which one is absolutely unconscious of one's activities, be it as a child or one inert, carried away as a leaf in the wind—is a phase preparatory to the total cessation. When the given impulsion ceases, there is a final rejection, at the time of the dissolution of the body. But we, we want not cessation, but the replacing of limited action circumscribed by a limited consciousness, by the true action, governed by the knowledge of the truth. Thought is a means of knowledge, but it is the lowest. When Purusha is freed from Prakriti, he has all knowledge in him, direct. He knows directly by a sort of vision, a direct contact with the truth (for example, when you are angry you don't need to think "I am angry", you know it without that. Direct knowledge is like that). Even when, later, he translates this knowledge into mental terms, it remains independent of them. Besides, only a part, fragmentary and deformed, can be translated. That is why I find it so difficult to express myself in words. If you had developed this faculty in yourself, I could have shown you the truth directly without putting it in words.

I am aware that I exist independently of my thoughts, but I am then weak and feeble, without knowledge and action.

It is a new state you must attain. You will see that your knowledge is not limited by thought.

So too, I do not see that thoughts are aroused in me by Prakriti. I know that the mind is not,my self, but the thoughts seem to be born in the mind.

Yes, but in the universal mind, which formulates them in you. So long as you are confined to the physical brain, naturally you cannot have this understanding. But later, you will be able to discern this action of the universal mind which projects them into your mental field.

How can one attain that?

Continue to stress the separation. You say that you can silence even the inner language, governed by the Purusha. Can you also separate yourself from him?

Yes, I observe him as outside myself.

Stress the separation still more. There are stages like this to pass. People remain more or less long at one stage or another.

Contd. Page 4

-Sri Aurobindo

Let the divine doors swing wide open for him who is not attached,
who increases in himself the Truth.
- Sri Aurobindo