"One can progress through meditation, but through work, provided it is
done in the right spirit, one can progress ten times more."
THE IRON CHAIN*
How many of you have been here since the beginning, I mean from the
Kindergarten classes- any? One, two, three, four... Oh, a good many.
Very creditable, very creditable indeed, that so many have continued
so long and passed through. This is something really creditable.
I will tell you a story in this connection. A young man who was an aspirant, a seeker of spiritual or
religious life, once upon a time went to Gandhiji. He wanted to remain there. He said, “I am a seeker
of spiritual life. I want to remain with you.” Gandhiji saw the person and accepted him. “It is all right,
you may try,” he said. He remained there sometime, pretty long time, perhaps even more than a
year. But at the end of the year he approached Gandhiji and said, “Please permit me to go away
from here. Somehow I feel I cannot remain any longer.” Then he came away, he came away, where
do you think? Here to the Ashram. The Ashram he liked very much and remained here. After some
years Gandhiji thought of the young man. “Where is he? He was a nice man. Where is he gone?”
Then he learnt that the young man was here in Sri Aurobindo Ashram. How many years? “Seven
years!” Gandhiji was astounded. “How is it? I know the young man. I knew he was a restless person,
so uncertain about himself, about his movements- he could not stick to one place or one occupation
for long. And he has been in Sri Aurobindo Ashram for seven years! It is a great credit to Sri
Aurobindo Ashram being able to keep him so long!” And I may add: he is still there! So I may say
those of you who have continued to remain here may claim some credit for their performance, or
does the credit goes to the Ashram?
I have an idea. You have heard very much of the golden chain that the Mother puts on whoever
comes near her and touches her- an unbreakable eternal chain we all knew and experienced, the
golden chain with which she ties everyone whoever comes in her embrace. Now I feel she has
another chain also in her wallet- handcuffs and fetters- with which she binds some people physically
to her, to her material Presence. She takes up the physical destiny also of the person. The golden
chain belongs of course to the soul that is eternal, beautiful and glorious and all that: it is another
matter. But even the very body, this material carcase can belong equally to the Mother. With the
golden chain you are the beloved of the Mother, or her lover, but with the iron chain you become a
physical slave. Yes, I am trying to hint that those who have been here for long years, many from their
infancy, have earned a particular merit: from the spiritual point of view this continuance, this
continuity, I may add, is itself something significant, it is an achievement. Even if you do not pass any
examination, that is, move up, promoted from class to class after a hard test, instead, even if you
simply glide through, pass along ambling and at ease, that is sufficient. There is something that
remains, something very valuable sticks to the consciousness- of which you may not be aware now,
but one day you are sure to know and recognise. So I congratulate you all for your happy
achievement which is indeed the sign of a signal grace of Her.
*A talk to the outgoing students of the Centre of Education (Sri Aurobindo
Ashram) on 29-10-1977
DIFFICULTIES IN YOGA
The most difficult thing in our difficulties is the sense they give us that they stand in stark
opposition to the workings of the Divine. They seem to come from outside the Divine’s intention and
plan and make us feel that they are there wholly by some devilish power within or without us, bent
on dragging us away from the Light. The Light appears to pull one way, the Darkness the other, and
between the two we are torn.
But, if the Divine is the one ultimate reality, can anything be utterly independent of His Will?
No doubt, a Darkness keeps opposing the Light and it must be rejected as an enemy. To forget this is
to overlook the entire meaning of the process of evolution, the constant urge to rise from the animal
to the godlike and to make Nature an instrument, an expressive form, of the soul. But, on the other
hand, if we forget that the very process of evolution, the struggle itself towards godhead, is set by
the Divine, we let the Darkness seem more dense than it really is. For we then see it as it shows itself
to our frailty rather than as it can be revealed to us by the power of the Light.
What the Light reveals within, behind, above each difficulty is the figure of Sri Aurobindo.
And this is what one may hear Sri Aurobindo say:
"Difficulties are part of the cosmic plan. I would wish to lift you beyond all need of them, so
that yours may be a spontaneous flowering into divinity. But there a thousand checks put by you and
by the world to my Grace. Even so, it can reach you- through the very difficulties where you see the
opposite of my face. Since only by their stroke can you be awakened to all that has to be changed in
yourself, I choose to come to you in their stroke. Invite not the Darkness; but, when it is there, let
not your mind be troubled or your heart burdened. Everything I weave into my pattern of
perfection. Do not feel as if some incomprehensible devilry were dooming you: feel as if I with one
hand were giving the difficulty and with the other the will and the power to overcome it. Safely you
may take even the Darkness as part of my own workings, provided you recognise that I send it not to
be accepted but to help your growth by being mastered at once with my love’s ever-pouring Light.
Keep this double vision clear, and you will not be torn as between two enemies, nor sink into the
despair of human weakness."
DO NOT SEE FAULTS
Do not see faults,
Do not see faults,
Do not ever see others’ faults.
Do not see mistakes,
See, see always, your own mistakes and faults.
If you truly aspire
To lead a higher life,
Do not blame others,
Never blame others.
By the Gracious Mother’s abundant Grace alone
We shall be free, we shall be free from this.
She alone will free us.
Always invoke the Compassionate Mother’s Grace,
Always, the Compassionate Mother’s Grace.
Om the Supreme Mother of Ananda,
Consciousness and Truth.
THERE’S A DIVINITY
There’s a Divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will.
-Hamlet, Act V, Sc.ii
That is what man can do at his best, and even at his worst, rough-hew. Ignorant as he is, crude
as his instruments are, he can do no better (and happily, no worse either). The ideals he has do
not go very far, not much beyond his nose- they are limited by his senses, by his notions, by his
immediate reactions to the circumstances of the moment. Even when the ends are
commendable, the purposes decent, even when he is happily inspired, the material and means
at his disposal are crude and he uses them in a rough and ready manner. What he can achieve
in this direction is not even a near but a very far approximate. And when he is otherwise
inspired, when suggestions and impulsions come to him from the Hostiles, well, he hews his
way, as Hitler did- and some others are doing now- to wrong ends; even there he does not
succeed wholly, realizes his design very partially, grosso modo. The stone club in the hand of
the palaeolithic man and the atom bomb in the hand of the modern are equally rough
instruments, and the ends which they serve, whether for good or for evil, are also gross, neither
far-visioned nor deep-inspired, but superficial, strait and narrow, blindly immediate. In either
case, however, the Divine remains unaffected, firmly seated behind and in and through both, in
and through their ignorant and perverse wills, it is His Will that works itself out and finds
fulfillment in the end. Whether one is for or against the Divine, whether one is a God or an
Asura, each in his own way contributes to the progressive realization of the Cosmic Purpose.
From a certain point of view it may seem as though nothing helps or hinders, all are like a straw
in a rushing current.
In our human reckoning, we seem to help the evolutionary course sometimes and sometimes
hamper it with our efforts in so far as they are well directed or ill directed. In the practice of
spiritual life too, one may be tempted to find a measurable proportion between the personal
endeavour and the attainment. However that may be, at the end of all human efforts, the
finishing touch always comes from the Divine Grace. Whether we succeed or fail, whatever be
the human judgment of the situation, the Grace is sure to intervene in the final stage: to
success it will bring more success giving it the peak of fulfillment, and failure too it will
transmute into a glorious triumph.
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