July 25, 1974
Introduction: There is no shortcut to Yoga, but there are many steps before one reaches the goal. Each step can be consciously taken by those earnest seekers who have a grasp of the labyrinthine ways through which the forces of life and human nature pour themselves. Or one can let life force on oneself the ways of Yoga. After all, in this journey, one begins in LIFE (i.e. in the vital and the mental) and ends in the soul
Freshness in the Planes of Life: In the long evolution of man the vital plane, the emotional plane, and the mental plane have surfaced successively. In the first cycle of each plane the life of humanity lives fresh in that plane. Later, things settle down. In the second stage the life of that plane retains its freshness in the lives of the individuals. When that too is fully established the next higher plane begins to be born in the cycle of evolution. Mankind has passed through such experiences a few times and it is time now for the spiritual plane to emerge in the life of mankind.
Vital freshness in the life of one is commonly known as interest in men, material and generally life. Still one passes through this stage until about 15 years of age. Emotional freshness is understood as human love and is adored as such. Emotion being the higher realm of the vital, it is capable of great heroism and sacrifice. It is at this stage one often comes to the point of sacrificing ones life either for a person or for a cause. Mental freshness is intellectual curiosity that is enamoured of ideas and occasionally ideals. These are usually short-lived in ones life since these are the vigorous periods of the limited parts of the being. The parts of the being like vital or mental are limited and hence the short-lived enthusiasm. The freshness that we speak of is of the soul coming to the surface and crossing the limits of these parts of the being.
Soul being whole, integrated and eternal, its freshness is Everlasting Freshness. To bring this condition within the range of possibility, one needs to overcome the need to function from the main centres of the parts of the being. That is why this exercise is no mere trick or a clue but the whole yoga itself taken at one of the points of human existence. The essential value of this exercise is to make one see that such high aspects of spiritual seeking are not inaccessible to the individual if only he taps the right spot and with right knowledge. The initial rounds of this attempt are likely to yield split seconds of insight that bear the stamp of final victory. Once that is seen the seeker can be assured of full success. Only those who can arrive will have these glimpses. Once the glimpses are seen one can take for granted that he will be rewarded with a full round accomplishment. Either he can multiply the points of insight to broadbase them or endeavor in a wider way towards the goal.
The Exercise: Consider yourself as a second person and observe yourself as you would examine a candidate for a responsible job. Collect the habits learned and the channels through which they are learned. During observation keep yourself detached. Do not frown on yourself or approve of discerned habits. See for yourself how you have acquired your present efficiency, mannerisms, tone of speech, gait, ways of meeting people and problems. One will be pleasantly surprised that he is almost nothing but habits. There is nothing wrong in learning habits or functioning through them. But these habits close after a time and become dead channels of behaviour. They are to be made alive.
The First Step is knowledge of their presence and how they came to be formed. This knowledge is acquired through detached observation. Knowledge of anything soon leads to mastery over it. After a while let this observation gently be at the back of ones general functioning.
The Second Step is to take one habit and sift it into different layers. Some habits are more physical than mental, e.g. walking, whereas others are more mental than physical, e.g. reading. A few are more of the emotion like attending on a pet. But all habits exist in all three layers viz. physical, vital (emotional), mental. Again examine each layer of the chosen habit. This examination must also be through detached observation in that plane and never through the medium of thinking. For detachment gives knowledge that leads to mastery whereas thinking leads to attachment through knowing. This observation and examination gently loosens the hold of the habit on oneself. Loss of a habit means so much freshness in that area.
Note: Modern psychology so far has succeeded in diverting or sublimating an unwanted habit. Or through psychological techniques it is pushed into the subconscious. These habits cannot be dissolved as each habit is a PERSON in the world of human consciousness. They have a mental body, physical body, etc. In ancient Hindu knowledge they are known as samskaras. A physical habit can be mastered by a vital knowledge and the vital one by a mental knowledge. Such mastery is precarious and generates undercurrents of tension. If they are to be dissolved a force greater than the stuff with which they are made is called for. Spirit contains such a force. Yogis of old speak of shedding cycles and cycles of samskaras during a given spiritual realisation. The force of the spirit when unleashed sweeps away the creations of the lower plane. Even this spiritual force can only dissolve them and not do anything more. Mothers Force cannot merely dissolve them but transforms them. By transformation it is meant that the habit loses its psychological hue but not itself. It continues to retain the skills learnt through that habit. These skills are not commissioned for Divine Service. When the skills are overlaid with the psychological satisfaction, the master served is the ego. When they are laid bare the same skills serve the inner Divine.
Before commencing this second step, this sifting of a habit, think of Mother, call HER, offer her all your effort and all that may show up. You withdraw. This is the key step. Mother will respond as either a spot of light, or a feeling, a presence or a figure of hers you most cherish or even a sense of detachment. When SHE is thus established, sift the habit in her presence and offer to her all that comes up. Things often do not move. You meet with a blankness of mind. Persist, it will move. When it moves, it moves in swift short spurts. A slight freedom will be felt. Go about the whole effort gently, do not push yourself. Initially apply yourself to this effort consciously. Later wait for the mood or the right feeling. Attempt as long as this feeling continues and the Presence abides. Stop where things flag.
After a few attempts suddenly one day the attempt will take hold of you and without your effort early life experiences will swiftly flash through before your minds eye. That is the first major result. It will bring the first installment of freshness. Freshness exists in many layers and it is of three qualities, i.e. mental, vital, physical. These types of freshness when they show themselves, one can be sure of a deeper layer, i.e. spiritual freshness, later.
Keep yourself on to this effort gently but totally. Repeat the exercises once in a day or once in a few days or as and when you choose. What is important is that your whole being must gently but surely be on this effort. Proceeding on these lines one day you may see a spot of light while tracing a thought to its root. That is the surest sign of the spirit behind showing in the measure you were after it.
Extension of the Exercise: Once that happens, a fresh higher chapter opens. The spot of light will show itself at intervals if there is continued interest in the effort. The frequency becomes greater and at some time it is possible to reach that light at will. Ones centre of functioning should gradually be moved to that plane. In the measure it is done, the everlasting freshness comes to stay.
Mother has often spoken of such things in various ways and in the chapters on "The Science of Living" she mentions it. For those who can push the depth of concentration to the plane of this light and spread the concentration over the entire plane, all the habits between him and the light will vanish. That is the all inclusive concentration Sri Aurobindo speaks of and it leads to a wide massive opening. These exercises are not meant for those who are capable of such a concentration. This is meant as a stepping stone towards that great ideal which is the beginning of Sri Aurobindos Yoga.
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