A slightly revised version of this article was published in Sri Aurobindo’s Action: Journal of Resurgence of India (August 2018 issue)
Once again I am reminded of the need for constantly becoming aware of those countless little, pesky flaws in my nature that stand in the way of making the inner aspiration more sincere and true and complete.
Once again I am reminded that the path to becoming self-aware and gaining even a tiny bit of self-mastery is pitted with immense difficulties.
Once again I feel immensely grateful for the ever-helpful, ever-compassionate advice from Sri Aurobindo, what he wrote in a letter to a sadhak –
“… for the sadhak outward struggles, troubles, calamities are only a means of surmounting ego and rajasic desire and attaining to complete surrender” (Letters on Yoga).
How difficult it can be to take all that comes up as an opportunity to grow in one’s will to surrender and not get my “I” involved in it!
I am reminded of all those little and not-so-little tiffs, and often-inconsequential conflicts with family members and friends, all those times when I did get my “I” involved in the situation, and it ended up creating trouble, disharmony, uneasiness for everyone involved. In some of those situations I think a part of me was uncomfortably aware that I was not surrendering to the moment (to the other person’s opinion which he or she felt very strongly at the moment).
That discomfort was perhaps there because while on the outer surface I was trying to convince myself (pretending?) that I shouldn’t be obstinate or rigid, on the inside I was getting upset as to why my view isn’t accepted by all. What insincerity! And many times afterwards I would physically feel a strange discomfort, sort of like what happens when one has eaten some bad food.
Maybe that’s how we are supposed to learn, to experience the consequence of our every little insincerity.
Often when we come face to face with yet another opportunity or situation and one of the many obstacles in our nature surfaces itself once again, we are not helped much by our mental analysis or mental-talking to ourselves. What can really help us in rejecting are the absolute sincerity and steadfastness that are somewhere deeper in us.
All these obstacles of our nature – either in our full awareness or hidden somewhere and waiting to be revealed at a little opportunity – are all these little and big nasty things we carry within, the burden of which we must get rid of if we want to develop a sense of inner ease and light-ness. These things to be rejected could be numerous, including mind’s rigid ideas, opinions, preferences etc., demands, cravings and desires etc. of our vital nature, and laziness, doubt, disbelief etc of our physical nature.
We get attached to a certain idea or opinion of ours and that is what causes us the pain because we can’t let go of what we see as the most right idea. We get attached to a certain desire or we get selfish about something and that is what brings up difficulty in dealing with situations in which that desire is not met or when we have to let go of our self-interest. Or we begin to doubt, or are unwilling to change, or we get lazy about really changing a habit that is not working for us. These are the real causes of the difficulties we face on the path.
Some obstacles may (at least ideally) pose less of a challenge than others in our process of rejection. But they are still obstacles because we aren’t yet ready to let go of them. Inertia and carelessness could be two possible reasons for this.
But could it also be that we have gotten attached to some of these bad habits? They feel familiar in the sense because we feel (wrongly, of course) that these little habits of how we react, how we deal with a situation etc. are what give us our individuality. The method about nipping these obstacles at the very moment of their sprouting and not to brood upon them is a good one, I am learning.
I am also learning that it takes immense courage to confront the various obstacles in our nature. Confronting them means not to manifest in action any movements that occur within resulting from some of the weaknesses and defects of our nature. It also means using our willpower to reject these movements, not to rationalize or give excuses for these weaknesses in nature, to remember to aspire for the light, and to turn to the Divine for help. Personal effort at rejecting the weaknesses is also possible only when we call in the Divine help to give us courage to even exert personal effort.
Once again I am grateful to have had a moment of awareness that the goal is to develop a healthy plasticity and flexibility in all our parts so that we can let go of whatever is not working for us and whatever is causing us difficulty. This may certainly be easier said than done, but then if we can remember that the process of rejection is also dependent upon our aspiration, we can aspire and pray for Divine help in this process of rejection. We recognize that we are not alone doing it all by ourselves, we can’t do it by ourselves alone.