This paper was presented at
Psychology: The Indian Contribution
National Conference on
Indian Psychology, Yoga and Consciousness
organised by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research
at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education
Pondicherry, India, 10-13 December 2004

(click to enlarge)

Managing self by detached Involvement

Ranjana Madan

According to Mother and Sri Aurobindo a human being has five parts – physical, mental, vital, psychic and spiritual. We as human beings are here to evolve; but we get so caught up in daily mundane routine of life that this basic purpose is lost to us.

Most of us live on the surface of our being, exposed to the touch of external influences. We are caught in the web of anxieties, worries, depression, dejection etc. punctuated with fleeting moments of happiness and bliss.

Let us look at a few tools that they have given us to lead a peaceful, harmonious life- a life focusing on individual development with a Divine touch. In the “integral yoga” suggested by them, there has to be “Psychicisation”, which means bringing the mind, the vital and the physical under the domination of psychic. Few exercises that help doing that are:

Stepping back into yourself: Learn to go deep within and you will be safe. If in a hurry step back for a while and you will discover to your surprise how much sooner and with what greater success your work can be done. If someone is angry, don’t be caught in his vibrations but simply step back and his anger -finding no support- will vanish. Always keep your peace, resist all temptation to lose it. Never throw yourself into action without stepping back.

All that belongs to the ordinary world is impermanent and fugitive, so there is nothing in it worth getting upset about. What is lasting, eternal, immortal and infinite – that indeed is worth having, worth conquering, worth possessing. It is Divine Light, Divine Love, Divine Life – it is also supreme Peace, Perfect Joy and All-Mastery upon earth with the Complete Manifestation as the crowning. When you get the sense of the relativity of things, then whatever happens you can step back and look; you can remain quiet and call on the Divine Force and wait for an answer. Then you will know exactly what to do. Remember, therefore, that you cannot receive the answer before you are very peaceful. Practice that inner peace by making a small beginning and go on in your practice until it becomes a habit with you.

Self-observation: If you can observe yourself in your mind, you will see that as soon as you do something which disturbs you little, the mind immediately gives you a favourable reason to justify yourself – this mind is capable of gilding everything. In these conditions it is difficult to know oneself. One must be absolutely sincere to be able to do it and to see clearly into all the little falsehoods of the mental being.

If in your mind you go over the various movements and reactions of the day you will not progress. If this reviewing is to make you progress, you must find something within you in whose light you can yourself be your own judge, something which represents for you the best part of yourself, which has some light, some goodwill and which precisely is in love with progress, place that before you and first pass across it as in a cinema all that you have done, all that you have felt, your impulses, your thoughts etc. ; then try to coordinate them, that is, find out why this has followed that. And look at the luminous screen that is before you: certain things pass by well, without throwing a shadow; others, in contrary, throw a little shadow; others yet cast a shadow altogether black and disagreeable. You must do this very sincerely, as though you were playing a game: under such circumstances I did such and such a thing, feeling like this and thinking in this way; I have before me my ideal of knowledge and self-mastery, well, was this act in keeping with my ideal or not? What was there in this act that was contrary to the will to self-knowledge and self mastery?

Becoming aware of the shadow: If you look at yourself carefully, you will see that one always carries in oneself the opposite of the virtue one has to realize (I use “virtue” in its widest and highest sense). You have a special aim, a special mission, a special realization which is your very own, each ones’ individually, and you carry in yourself all the obstacles necessary to make your realization perfect. Always you will see that within you the shadow and the light are equal: you have an ability, you also have the negotiation of this ability. But if you discover a very black hole, a thick shadow, be sure there is somewhere in you a great light. It is up to you to know how to use the one to realize the other.

So, do not despair if you find in yourself the greatest weakness, for perhaps it is the sign of the greatest divine strength. Do not say, “I am like that, I can’t be otherwise.” It is not true. You are “like that” because, precisely, you ought to be the opposite. And all your difficulties are there just that you may learn to transform them into the truth they are hiding.

Once you have understood this, many worries come to an end and you are very happy. If one finds one has very black holes, one says, “This shows I can rise very high”, if the abyss is very deep, “I can climb very high.”

Mastery through attitude: For each one it is the best and most favourable conditions which are given. It is only to those who are full of hope, who will pass through this purifying flame, that the conditions for attaining the maximum results are given. And the human mind is made in such a way that you may test this; when something extremely unpleasant happens to you, you may tell yourself “Well, this proves I am worth the trouble of being given this difficulty, this proves there is something in me which can resist difficulty”, and you will notice that instead of tormenting yourself, you rejoice – you will be so happy and so strong that even the most unpleasant things will seem to you quite charming! This is a very easy experiment to make. Whatever the circumstance, if your mind is accustomed to look at it as something favourable it will no longer be unpleasant for you. Te minute the mind says, “Good, this is what has to come, it is thus that it must happen”, whatever happens, you are content.

Widening the consciousness: There are many ways of making the consciousness vast. The easiest way is to identify yourself with something vast. For instance, when you feel that you are shut up in a completely narrow and limited thought, will, consciousness, when you feel as though you were in a shell, then if you begin thinking about something very vast, as for example, the immensity of the waters of an ocean, and if really you can think of this ocean and how it stretches far, far, far, far in all directions. Then you can widen your consciousness a little.

Another way is to identify yourself with all things upon earth. For example, when you have a small narrow vision of something and are hurt by others’ vision and point of view, you must begin by shifting your consciousness, try to put it in others, and try gradually to identify yourself with all the different ways of thinking of all others. When they are in disagreement with someone, in order to widen their consciousness thy try to put themselves in the place of the other and see the thing not from their own point of view but from the point of view of the other. This widens the consciousness.

Picture the little person one is, in the little earth where one is, and the tiny second of consciousness which for the moment is hurting you or is unpleasant for you, just this – which in itself is only a second in you existence, and that you yourself have been many things before and will be many things afterwards, that what affects you now you will have probably completely forgotten in ten years, or if you remember it you will say, “How did I happen to attach any importance to that?”

Well, then suddenly you sense the utter ridiculousness of the importance you attach to what has happened to you…. Truly you feel… to what an extent it id absurd to attach any importance to one’s life, to oneself, and to what happens to you. And in the space of three minutes, if you do this properly, all unpleasantness is swept away. Simply a concentration like this, and to place oneself in infinity and eternity, everything goes away. One comes out cleansed. One can get rid of all attachments and even, I say, of the deepest sorrows – of everything, in this way – if one knows how to do it in the right way. It immediately takes you out of your little ego.

A perfect equality: When things happen which are not what we expect, what we hope for, what we want, which are contrary to our desires, in our ignorance we call them misfortunes and lament. But if we were to become a little wiser and observe the deeper consequences of these very same events, we would find that they are leading us rapidly towards the Divine, the Beloved; whereas easy and pleasant circumstances encourage us to dally the path, to stop along the way to pluck the flowers of pleasure which present themselves to us and which we are too weak or not sincere enough to reject resolutely, so that our march forward is not delayed.

One must already be very strong, very far along the way, to be able to face success and the little enjoyments it brings without giving way. Those who can do this, those who are strong, do not run after success; they do not seek it, and accept it with indifference. For they know and appreciate the value of the lashes given by unhappiness and misfortune.

But ultimately the true attitude, the sign and proof that we are near the goal, is a perfect equality which enables us to accept success and failure, fortune and misfortune, happiness and sorrow with the same tranquil joy; for all these things become marvelous gifts that the Lord in his infinite solicitude showers upon us.

Create your own atmosphere: It is by, precisely by inner discipline; you can create you own atmosphere by controlling your thoughts, turning them exclusively towards the sadhna, controlling your actions, turning them exclusively towards sadhna, abolishing all desires and all useless, external, ordinary activities, living a more intense inner life, and separating yourself from ordinary things, ordinary thoughts, ordinary reactions, ordinary actions; then you can create a kind of atmosphere around you.

For example, instead of reading any odd thing and chatting and doing anything whatever, if you read only what helps you to follow the path, if you act only in conformity with what can lead you to the Divine realization, if you abolish in yourself all desires and impulses turned towards external things, if you calm your mental being, appease your vital being, if you shut yourself against suggestions coming from outside and become immune to the action of people surrounding you, you create such a spiritual atmosphere that nothing can touch it, and it no longer depends at all on circumstances or on whom you live with or on the conditions you live in, because you are enclosed in your own spiritual atmosphere ,by doing only what leads to your spiritual life, and so on. Then you create your own atmosphere.