by Ashesh Joshi
“When all is in agreement with the one Truth or an expression of it, that is harmony.”
(Letters on Yoga, SABCL, Vol.23, p. 560)
We understand from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother that each individual carries a spark, a unique aspect of the Divine Truth within, and it is our work here to realise our mode of divinity and its expression here in harmony with others. Similarly, a well-formed group, a community, a culture, a nation or race carries a unique aspect of the Divine and needs to find and express it for the sake of a complete manifestation in harmony with the other groups.
Sri Aurobindo called this indwelling divine element the psychic being, the evolving seed of divinity in each individual. This being is actually the hidden leader of our journey here and has the capacity to purify, integrate and turn all our parts and personalities towards the Divine. It is also inherently aware of our real purpose and role in the world and our relations with it, and to realise it is given to us as our first priority. To work in the world is largely a means to work within ourselves and make this discovery first before our works begin to truly reflect the Divine Will in the world. To work collectively, to create a place or an environment or a community can help towards this only when each one understands that each has its own truth to live and express and while asserting one’s mode of being, respects the modes of others. To exercise respect, humility and sincerity towards others further helps in the realisation of the inner divine. And to learn to accommodate others’ views and ways while growing in one’s own helps one’s own growth and contributes towards developing a greater harmony for the collectivity.
This being our aspiration we also need to consider our limitations and frequent failures and find ways to deal with them. For as our inmost being, the Psychic being is determined to work towards the fulfilment of our highest aspiration, our outer and instrumental being — mind, life and body —has usually a long way to go before becoming responsive to the inner guidance; and unless there is a strong and lasting realisation of the Psychic being, which also necessitates a general purification of our egoistic nature, it is next to impossible that our outer being will be able to express the inner truth, or be able to appreciate the truths of others and work out things in the required harmony!
Therefore, when we are actually struck by disharmony amongst ourselves, we need to step back in consciousness, at times to step back from life and action, to concentrate, contemplate and find a guiding principle, a light that can harmonise all viewpoints and lead us further. As this stepping back to seek a higher harmony is an indispensable part of each one’s inner work so also, to respond to the developing situations, each collectivity needs to step back, contemplate and contribute towards a harmonising solution.
To a growing consciousness differences are not perceived as problems as they challenge us to find a greater harmony, provide an opportunity to discover greater depths and heights of our being and uncover subconscious elements influencing our life which otherwise would remain hidden from our conscious mentality.
For all problems of existence are essentially problems of harmony. They arise from the perception of an unsolved discord and the instinct of an undiscovered agreement or unity. To rest content with an unsolved discord is possible for the practical and more animal part of man, but impossible for his fully awakened mind, and usually even his practical parts only escape from the general necessity either by shutting out the problem or by accepting a rough, utilitarian and unillumined compromise. For essentially, all Nature seeks a harmony, life and matter in their own sphere as much as mind in the arrangement of its perceptions. The greater the apparent disorder of the materials offered or the apparent disparateness, even to irreconcilable opposition, of the elements that have to be utilised, the stronger is the spur, and it drives towards a more subtle and puissant order than can normally be the result of a less difficult endeavour.
(The Life Divine, pp. 4-5)
There are stages to the conflicts and the resulting disharmony — difference, argument, quarrel, war etc. These roughly correspond to the descending levels of our psychology — perception, ideology, sentiments, physicality — and at each descending level our involvement in the gross and unconscious nature increases. Thus, as the disharmony grows and the consciousness slips to the lower levels it becomes more difficult to step back from the raging energy, to look at the situation from the depth of our being or from the height of our consciousness where reigns a greater unity, to find and introduce into the conflict a truer solution that can harmonise all the viewpoints. However, as the Yoga proceeds, the need to step back and concentrate in order to contact the higher consciousness grows less for, through successive stages of development one is able to experience the higher and higher grades of spiritual consciousness, allowing each to descend, to get established and express itself in and through one. For each ascending grade of the higher consciousness is also a greater and more powerful witnessing and a uniting consciousness.
The perception of difference is an indication that the interest of a party is not in harmony with that of another or life in general. Tuning interests by the contact and influence of the soul-uniqueness of each one can solve the difference; and this already asks of us for an effort to turn inwards. The levels of argument, quarrels and war are respectively levels of mind, vital and physical and on each level the impurities of that particular plane come into action.
Difficult as this may be, at any given stage of a conflict, it is wise to avoid nurturing the sprouts of the next degrading stage; the solution is to remain turned to a higher way and to a growing harmony. By getting agitated or excited, by losing one’s temper and one’s faith, by getting hurt or by being aggressive and thus throwing ourselves to the mercy of our surface nature, we only close ourselves from the influence of the higher workings and open ourselves to the ordinary or lower forces.
The true basis of progress
Harmony and not strife is the law of yogic living.
(Letters on Yoga, p. 803)
I take this opportunity to assure you that spiritual progress and the service of Truth are based on harmony and not on division and criticism.
(CWM ,Vol. 12, p. 184)
Only in an environment of harmony and not in an aggressive, distrustful and mutually painful atmosphere can the greater harmony evolve. The aim of a divine life upon earth can be reached progressively only when the individual and the collectivity are both able to grow together and support each other. It is to learn to give space, encouragement and means to others to develop in their own modes that we are here together, and also to find the same for ourselves.
And when one or the other person or some action is perceived as compromising one’s freedom of movement, it is not by creating a greater disharmony that we fix the out-of-tune movement, but by contemplating, living and suggesting harmonious solutions that can set things right for one and all.
In fact, I insist that the more difficult things are, the more you must remain quiet, and the more should you have an unshakeable faith. Of all things this is the most important. Usually, as soon as things become difficult, human beings get agitated, become irritated, get terribly excited and they make the difficulties ten times more difficult. So I am warning you right away that this is not to be done, that you must do the opposite. . .
(CWM,Vol. 6, p. 453-54)
Choosing the side of the Divine:
In the same talk, the Mother next reads her next year’s message:
No human will can finally prevail against the Divine’s Will. Let us put ourselves deliberately and exclusively on the side of the Divine, and the Victory is ultimately certain.
We are asked to choose the Divine and be on His side! Essentially it means that we are here to concentrate on the Divine, to consecrate our life to his presence and service, to live only for the Divine, win his victory in ourselves and work for his unity and harmony in the world. And yet, since life is all about making right choices, we often find ourselves on one or the other side of a conflict. In such a case one needs to understand what it means to choose the side of the Divine!
The choice is there at every minute; every minute you are faced with a choice: the choice to climb up or go down, the choice to progress or go backwards. But this choice does not imply that you prefer things to be like this or like that; it is a fact of every moment, an attitude you take.
(CWM, Vol.08, p. 407)
If we choose to make the inner discovery, it should be an unflinching choice because it refers to changing the way we aspire to experience life and contribute to the world. But the choice made regarding any external motive cannot be held on to as the ultimate choice, for it would then become a bias and a preference and in the scenario of an ever-changing situation we are required to choose freely, again and again, the side of the Truth!
The Mother further explains,
. . . if you have preferences, you will choose through preference in one way or another, your preference will distort your choice: it will be calculation, bargaining, you will act with the idea that a particular thing must happen because this is what you prefer and not because that is the truth, the right thing to do. Preference is attached to the result, acts with a view to the result, wishes things to be in a particular way and acts to bring about its wish; and so this opens the door to all kinds of things. Choice is independent of the result. And certainly, at every minute you can choose, you are faced with the necessity of choosing at every second. And you do not choose really well, in all sincerity, unless it is the truth of the choice which interests you, and not the result of your choice. If you choose with the result in view, that falsifies your choice.
(CWM, Vol.8, p.407)
Having a consciousness free from preferences is a state of inner freedom from the narrowness of mind and having it, the inner consciousness can freely perceive the situation and call down the higher consciousness and its alchemy and find the appropriate applications of the higher truth.
The Mother adds,
You may — or you ought to if you can’t — aspire to have the same deep attitude of understanding, unity, love, perfect compassion for all that is in the universe; but this very attitude will be applied to each case in a different way, according to the truth of that case and its necessity. What could be called the motive or rather the origin of the action is the same, but the action may even be totally and diametrically opposite in accordance with the case and the deeper truth of each case.
(CWM, Vol. 8, p. 408)
The rules of the game:
While it is true that at times one has to speak up and stand up by the deeply-felt truth, the way one takes to bridge the gap will determine one’s relation with the Divine Mother and will facilitate or hamper the manifestation of her will in the world.
From the point of view of a spiritual life, it is not what you do that matters most, but the way in which it is done and the consciousness you put into it.
(CWM ,Vol.14, p. 36)
To be able to choose, to be sincere, inwardly to put oneself on the side of the Divine! This also means that one will be able to come out of one’s preferences and seek the truth, be able to perceive the concerns of each and what aspect of the Divine each represents, be able to place all the viewpoints in the true perspective and be able to find a harmonising solution .
It [harmony, delight and love] is in you and when it is like that it spreads out in the atmosphere — but naturally only those can share who are open and sensitive to the influence. Still everyone who has peace or love in him becomes an added influence for its increase in the atmosphere.
(Letters on Yoga, p. 835)
The Integral Yoga is challenging, the practice is on the individual as well as the collective level. Spirituality turning towards life is a novel adventure, the treading of the Yoga is in unknown territories and we are still to develop the tools to work with the problems that were never faced before. But, if for any reason, if we find ourselves in the middle of a conflict and must find the way to a greater harmony, we will need to take care to see that the energy we use, the means we employ, the attitudes we take to create such tools are also true and pure! We have to build on the deeper qualities of our consciousness — invocation, sincerity, truthfulness, humility, respect, openness, generosity, forgiveness, love, compassion, wisdom, surrender etc. And these cannot be compromised.
The words of the Mother, explaining an aphorism of Sri Aurobindo give us a guiding light to work in this direction:
‘Only those thoughts are true the opposite of which is also true in its own time and application; indisputable dogmas are the most dangerous kind of falsehoods.’
If one element of this totality is taken separately and affirmed as the only true one, however central or comprehensive it may be, it necessarily becomes a falsehood, since it denies all the rest of the Total Truth.
This is precisely how indisputable dogmas are created and this is why they are the most dangerous kind of falsehood — because each one asserts that it is the sole truth to the exclusion of all other truths which, in their innumerable and complementary totality, express progressively, in the becoming, the infinite, eternal, absolute Truth.
(CWM, Vol. 10, p. 66)
To open ourselves only to the Divine
Many things deemed true and high from an ordinary viewpoint cannot stand the test of the vision of the Life Divine. For instance, the known phrase, “all is fair in love and war”, may have a validity in normal life but when the choice is not just about the result but also and mainly about the growth into the higher consciousness, it will not do to indulge in the ways of the ordinary or lower consciousness! The experience, vision and discipline of keeping always in front the truth of harmony for the sake of the Divine’s work allows us to keep adjusting, even losing and sacrificing, if that is required, in order to gain the ultimate victory for the Divine. In fact, most of the time it is those who know how to sacrifice their interests and lose their personal battles do really help secure victory for the Divine Mother!
To grow in an all-inclusive unity and harmony is our goal and our life a means of service to the Supreme Mother. We are also asked to grow in the one self, in unity with all by the growth of consciousness and to replace our lower Nature by the Higher Nature. An exclusive concentration on the Supreme Consciousness is given to us as our means to grow in the higher consciousness.
It is a fact always known to all yogis and occultists since the beginning of time, in Europe and Africa as in India, that wherever yoga or Yajna is done, there the hostile Forces gather together to stop it by any means. It is known that there is a lower nature and a higher spiritual nature — it is known that they pull different ways and the lower is strongest at first and the higher afterwards. It is known that the hostile Forces take advantage of the movements of the lower nature and try to spoil through them, smash or retard the siddhi.
(Letters on Yoga, p. 1730)
Apart from ignorance and ego, it is the influence and action of the subtle adverse forces that are at the root of the quarrels. And it is important to note that wherever there is an attack of the hostile forces, all the people involved in the quarrel and those who are able to influence it, directly or indirectly are under attack and will manifest forces of disintegration whenever anyone from any side is careless and insincere in following the purest truth.
However, there is always something to be done from our end, and for the most part, that alone must be our concern.
I have noticed one thing, that in at least ninety-nine cases out of a hundred this [attack by adverse forces] is an excuse which people give to themselves. I have seen that practically almost all who write to me: “I am violently attacked by adverse forces”, give this as an excuse. It is because there are many things in their nature which do not want to surrender, so they put all the blame on the adverse forces.
(CWM, Vol.15, p. 345)
Reliance on the Grace
Fortunately, the Grace of the Divine Mother is with us and it is always possible to go to the root of the problem or simply offer the entire problem to her while focusing our energies in her service, preferably through selfless work. Though it becomes difficult in the later stages of quarrels, if we can open to the Mother, we can always find a way to a lasting peace and unity.
This too the supreme Diplomat can use,
He makes our fall a means for greater rise.
(Savitri, p. 34)
By surrendering our will to the Mother, we are actually invoking Her Will and power to deal with our situation. And that also prepares an environment in us to receive her consciousness in us. It is seen that whenever there is a conflict and the play of restless subconscious energies, in the absence of a decisive and permanent psychic or spiritual realisation, it is safer to turn exclusively towards the Mother and open to her influence, to rely on her care, offer selflessly our works to her, love her, contemplate her presence and service in the world, read the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in order to come in contact with their consciousness and transforming power etc; this done and allowed its time, the answers gradually emerge from them. It is also seen that the answers can be in the form of words, but most of the time they come as a presence and a grace and an influence that remoulds our consciousness and gives us the experience of a deep and vast harmony that begins from within ourselves.
When one feels the Divine and feels others in the Divine, then the real harmony comes. Meanwhile what there can be is the goodwill and unity founded on the feeling of a common divine goal and the sense of being all children of the Mother. . . . Real harmony can come only from a psychic or a spiritual basis.
(Letters on Yoga, p. 814)
~ Ashesh Joshi
(1st published in the march 2013 issue of mother india)