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Sri Aurobindo on Himself

Part One

Section Four

Sadhana for the Earth-Consciousness

Sri Aurobindo and Superman

I don't know that I have called myself a Superman. But certainly I have risen above the ordinary human mind, otherwise I would not think of trying to bring down the Supermind into the physical.


The Supramental and the Truth1

The Truth manifesting on all the planes is one thing, the Supramental is another, although it is the source of all Truth.


Object of Seeking the Supermind

These egoistic terms are not those in which my vital moves. It is a higher Truth I seek, whether it makes men greater or not is not the question, but whether it will give them truth and peace and light to live in and make life something better than a struggle with ignorance and falsehood and pain and strife. Then, even if they are less great than the men of the past, my object will have been achieved. For me mental conceptions cannot be the end of all things. I know that the Supermind is a truth.

It is not for personal greatness that I am seeking to bring down the Supermind. I care nothing for greatness or littleness in the human sense. I am seeking to bring some principle of inner Truth, Light, Harmony, Peace into the earth-consciousness; I see it above and know what it is – I feel it ever gleaming down on my consciousness from above and I am seeking to make it possible for it to take up the whole being into its own native power, instead of the nature of man continuing to remain in half-light, half-darkness. I believe the descent of this Truth opening the way to a development of divine consciousness here to be the final sense of the earth evolution. If greater men than myself have not had this vision and this ideal before them, that is no reason why I should not follow my Truth-sense and Truth-vision. If human reason regards me as a fool for trying to do what Krishna did not try, I do not in the least care. There is no question of X or Y or anybody else in that. It is a question between the Divine and myself – whether it is the Divine Will or not, whether I am sent to bring that down or open the way for its descent or at least make it more possible or not. Let all men jeer at me if they will or all Hell fall upon me if it will for my presumption,– I go on till I conquer or perish. This is the spirit in which I seek the Supermind, no hunting for greatness for myself or others.



My point about my sadhana was that my sadhana was not done for myself but for the earth-consciousness as a showing of the way towards the Light, so that whatever I showed in it to be possible – inner growth, transformation, manifesting of new faculties, etc. – was not of no importance to anybody, but meant as an opening of lines and ways for what had to be done. The question of degree of greatness does not come in at all.

May, 1933

Ananda on Earth

My own experience is not limited to a ‘radiant peace’; I know very well what ecstasy and Ananda are from the brahmānanda down to the śarīrānanda, and can experience them at any time. But of these things I prefer to speak only when my work is done – for it is in a transformed consciousness here and not only above where the Ananda always exists that I seek their base of permanence.

Conditions for Supramentalisation

I have no intention of achieving the Supermind for myself only – I am not doing anything for myself, as I have no personal need of anything, neither of salvation (Moksha) nor supramentalisation. If I am seeking after supramentalisation, it is because it is a thing that has to be done for the earth-consciousness and if it is not done in myself, it cannot be done in others. My supramentalisation is only a key for opening the gates of the supramental to the earth-consciousness; done for its own sake, it would be perfectly futile. But it does not follow either that if or when I become supramental, everybody will become supramental. Others can so become who are ready for it, when they are ready for it – though, of course, the achievement in myself will be to them a great help towards it. It is therefore quite legitimate to have the aspiration for it – provided:

1. One does not make a too personal or egoistic affair of it turning it into a Nietzschean or other ambition to be a superman.

2. One is ready to undergo the conditions and stages needed for the achievement.

3. One is sincere and regards it as a part of the seeking of the Divine and consequent culmination of the Divine Will in one and insists on no more than the fulfilment of that will whatever it may be, psychicisation, spiritualisation or supramentalisation. It should be regarded as the fulfilment of God's working in the world, not as a personal chance or achievement.

April, 1935


It is true that I want the supramental not for myself but for the earth and souls born on the earth, and certainly therefore I cannot object if anybody wants the supramental. But there are the conditions. He must want the Divine Will first and the soul's surrender and the spiritual realisation (through works, bhakti, knowledge, self-perfection) on the way.


Effect of Supramental Descent on Earth-life

Q: When I hear people talking about the supramental descent it makes me somewhat sceptic. They expect that when the descent happens everything will soon be spiritualised and even in the most outward political life all that is now wrong will be immediately set right – and this expectation creates in them a great curiosity and flutter.

A: All that is absurd. The descent of the supramental means only that the Power will be there in the earth-consciousness as a living force just as the thinking mental and higher mental are already there. But an animal cannot take advantage of the presence of the thinking mental Power or an undeveloped man of the presence of the higher mental Power – so too anybody will not be able to take advantage of the presence of the supramental Power. I have also often enough said that it will be at first for the few, not for the whole earth,– only there will be a growing influence of it on the earth-life.



Q: When the Supermind descends into the earth-consciousness will all the sadhaks be aware of it – the descent into the earth, I mean, not in themselves?

A: It would not necessarily be known by everybody. Besides, even if the descent were here one would have to be ready before one could get the final change.

Sri Aurobindo's Sadhana, Avatarhood and Laws of Nature

My sadhana is not a freak or a monstrosity or a miracle done outside the laws of Nature and the conditions of life and consciousness on earth. If I could do these things or if they could happen in my Yoga, it means that they can be done and that therefore these developments and transformations are possible in the terrestrial consciousness.



No, the supramental has not descended into the body or into Matter – it is only at the point where such a descent has become not only possible but inevitable; I am speaking, of course, of my experience. But as my experience is the centre and condition of all the rest, that is sufficient for the promise.

My difficulty is that you all seem to expect a kind of miraculous fairy-tale change and do not realise that it is a rapid and concentrated evolution which is the aim of my sadhana and that there must be a process for it, a working of the higher in the lower and a dealing with all the necessary intervals – not a sudden feat of creation by which everything is done on a given date. It is a supramental but not an irrational process. What is to be done will happen – perhaps with a rush even – but in a workmanlike way and not according to Faerie.



The question was whether new faculties not at all manifested in the personality up to now in this life could appear, even suddenly appear, by force of Yoga. I say they can and I gave my own case as proof. I could have given others also. The question involved is also this – is a man bound to the characters and qualities he has come with into this life – can he not become a new man by Yoga? That also I have proved in my sadhana, it can be done. When you say that I could do this only in my case because I am an Avatar (!) and it is improbable in any other case, you reduce my sadhana to an absurdity – and Avatarhood also to an absurdity. For my Yoga is done not for myself who need nothing and do not need salvation or anything else, but precisely for the earth-consciousness, to open a way for the earth-consciousness to change. Has the Divine need to come down to prove that he can do this or that or has he any personal need of doing it? Your argument proves that I am not an Avatar but only a big human person. It may well be so as a matter of fact, but you start your argument from the other basis. Besides, even if I am only a big human person, what I achieve shows that that achievement is possible for humanity. Whether any street-beggar can do it or has done it, is a side issue; it is sufficient if others who have not the economic misfortune of being street-beggars can do it.



I was pointing out that in the essentiality all things are possible – so you ought not to say the Divine cannot do this or that. But at the same time I was pointing out too that the Divine is not bound to show his omnipotence without rhyme or reason when he is working by his own will under conditions. For by arguing that the Divine cannot, that he is impotent, that he cannot do what has never yet been done etc., you deny the possibility of changing things and thus of evolution, of the realisation of the unrealised, of the action of the Divine Power, of Divine Grace, and reduce all to a matter of rigid and unalterable status quo, which is an insolent defiance to both fact and reason (!) and suprareason. See now?

About myself and the Mother,– there are people who say, “If the supramental is to come down, it can come down in everyone, why then in them first? Why should we not get it before they do? Why through them, not direct?” It sounds very rational, logical, very arguable. The difficulty is that this reasoning ignores the conditions, foolishly assumes that one can get the supramental down into oneself without having the least knowledge of what the supramental is and so supposes an upside-down miracle – everybody who tries it is bound to land himself in a most horrible cropper – as all have done hitherto who tried it. It is like thinking one need not follow the Guide, but can reach up to the top of the mountain from the narrow path one is following on the edge of a precipice by simply leaping into the air. The result is inevitable.



I had no urge towards spirituality in me, I developed spirituality. I was incapable of understanding metaphysics, I developed into a philosopher. I had no eye for painting – I developed it by Yoga. I transformed my nature from what it was to what it was not. I did it by a special manner, not by a miracle and I did it to show what could be done and how it could be done. I did not do it out of any personal necessity of my own or by a miracle without any process. I say that if it is not so, then my Yoga is useless and my life was a mistake – a mere absurd freak of Nature without meaning or consequence. You all seem to think it a great compliment to me to say that what I have done has no meaning for anybody except myself – it is the most damaging criticism on my work that could be made. I also did not do it by myself, if you mean by myself the Aurobindo that was. He did it by the help of Krishna and the Divine Shakti. I had help from human sources also.



I don't know about Avatars. Practically what I know is that I had not all the powers necessary when I started, I had to develop them by Yoga, at least many of them which were not in existence in me when I began, and those which were I had to train to a higher degree. My own idea of the matter is that the Avatar's life and actions are not miracles. If they were, his existence would be perfectly useless, a mere superfluous freak of Nature. He accepts the terrestrial conditions, he uses means, he shows the way to humanity as well as helps it. Otherwise what is the use of him and why is he here?

I was not always in the Overmind, if you please. I had to climb there from the mental and vital level.



Let me remind you of what I wrote about the Avatar. There are two sides of the phenomenon of Avatarhood, the Divine Consciousness and the instrumental personality. The Divine Consciousness is omnipotent but it has put forth the instrumental personality in Nature under the conditions of Nature and it uses it according to the rules of the game – though also sometimes to change the rules of the game. If Avatarhood is only a flashing miracle, then I have no use for it. If it is a coherent part of the arrangement of the omnipotent Divine in Nature, then I can understand and accept it.



I have never said anything about how I choose people. I was answering the argument that what has not been or is not in manifestation, cannot be. That was very clearly the point in the discussion,– that the Divine cannot manifest what is not yet there – even he is impotent to do that. He can only manifest what is either already manifest or else latent in the field (person) he is working in. I say no – he can bring in new things. He can bring it in from the universal or he can bring it down from the transcendent. For in the Divine cosmic and transcendent all things are. Whether he will do so or not in a particular case is quite another matter. My argument was directed towards dissipating this ‘can't, can't’ with which people try to stop all possibility of progress.



Let me make it clear that in all I wrote I was not writing to prove that I am an Avatar! You are busy in your reasonings with the personal question, I am busy more with the general one. I am seeking to manifest something of the Divine that I am conscious of and feel – I care a damn whether that constitutes me an Avatar or something else. That is not a question which concerns me. By manifestation, of course, I mean the bringing out and spreading of that Consciousness so that others also may feel and enter into it and live in it.


Sri Aurobindo, the Divine Incarnation

Q: I have a strong faith that you are the Divine Incarnation. Am I right?

A: Follow your faith – it is not likely to mislead you.


Place of Humanity in Sri Aurobindo's Work

But you are surely mistaken in thinking that I said that we work spiritually for the relief of the poor. I have never done that. My work is not to intervene in social matters within the frame of the present humanity but to bring down a higher spiritual light and power of a higher character which will make a radical change in the earth-consciousness.



As to the extract about Vivekananda,2 the point I make there does not seem to me humanitarian. You will see that I emphasise there the last sentences of the page quoted from Vivekananda, not the words about God the poor and sinner and criminal. The point is about the Divine in the world, the All, sarva-bhūtāni of the Gita. That is not merely humanity, still less, only the poor or the wicked; surely, even the rich or the good are the part of the All and those also who are neither good nor bad nor rich nor poor. Nor is there any question (I mean in my own remarks) of philanthropic service; so neither daridrer sevā is the point. I had formerly not the humanitarian but the humanity view – and something of it may have stuck to my expressions in the Arya. But I had already altered my viewpoint from the ‘Our Yoga for the sake of humanity’ to ‘Our Yoga for the sake of the Divine’. The Divine includes not only the supracosmic but the cosmic and the individual – not only Nirvana or the Beyond but Life and the All. It is that I stress everywhere.



I can say little about the method X speaks of for getting rid of dead concepts. Each mind has its own way of moving. My own has been a sort of readjustment or rectification of positions and I should rather call it discrimination accompanied by a rearrangement of intuitions. At one time I had given much too big a place to ‘humanity’ in my scheme of things with a number of ideas attached to that exaggeration which needed to be put right. But the change did not come by doubt about what I had conceived before, but by a new light on things in which ‘humanity’ automatically stepped down and got into its right place and all the rest rearranged itself in consequence. But all that is probably because I am constitutionally lazy (in spite of my present feats of correspondence) and prefer the easiest and most automatic method possible. I have a suspicion however that X's method is essentially the same, as mine, only he does it in a more diligent and conscientious spirit. For his remark about the concepts as flags and not the means of advance seems to indicate that.


The Burden of Love

It is only divine Love which can bear the burden I have to bear, that all have to bear who have sacrificed everything else to the one aim of uplifting earth out of its darkness towards the Divine. The Gallio-like ‘Je m'en fiche’-ism (I do not care) – would not carry me one step; it would certainly not be divine. It is quite another thing that enables me to walk unweeping and unlamenting towards the goal.

April, 1934


I use the language of the mind because there is no other which human beings can understand,– even though most of them understand it badly. If I were to use a supramental language like Joyce, you would not even have the illusion of understanding it; so, not being an Irishman, I don't make the attempt. But, of course, anyone who wants to change earth-nature must first accept it in order to change it. To quote from an unpublished poem3 of my own:

He who would bring the heavens here,

Must descend himself into clay

And the burden of earthly nature bear

And tread the dolorous way....


The Plunge in the Abyss

No, it is not with the Empyrean that I am busy: I wish it were. It is rather with the opposite end of things; it is in the Abyss that I have to plunge to build a bridge between the two. But that too is necessary for my work and one has to face it.


Life of Struggle and Battle

But what strange ideas again! – that I was born with a supramental temperament and that I know nothing of hard realities! Good God! My whole life has been a struggle with hard realities, from hardships, starvation in England and constant dangers and fierce difficulties to the far greater difficulties continually cropping up here in Pondicherry, external and internal. My life has been a battle from its early years and is still a battle: the fact that I wage it now from a room upstairs and by spiritual means as well as others that are external makes no difference to its character. But, of course, as we have not been shouting about these things, it is natural, I suppose, for others to think that I am living in an august, glamorous, lotus-eating dreamland where no hard facts of life or Nature present themselves. But what an illusion all the same!


You think then that in me (I don't bring in the Mother) there was never any doubt or despair, no attacks of that kind. I have borne every attack which human beings have borne, otherwise I would be unable to assure anybody ‘This too can be conquered’. At least I would have no right to say so. Your psychology is terribly rigid. I repeat, the Divine when he takes on the burden of terrestrial nature, takes it fully, sincerely and without any conjuring tricks or pretence. If he has something behind him which emerges always out of the coverings, it is the same thing in essence even if greater in degree, that there is behind others – and it is to awaken that that he is there.

The psychic being does the same for all who are intended for the spiritual way – men need not be extraordinary beings to follow it. That is the mistake you are making – to harp on greatness as if only the great can be spiritual.


The Help of Difficulties

As for faith, you write as if I never had a doubt or any difficulty. I have had worse than any human mind can think of. It is not because I have ignored difficulties, but because I have seen them more clearly, experienced them on a larger scale than anyone living now or before me that, having faced and measured them, I am sure of the results of my work. But even if I still saw the chance that it might come to nothing (which is impossible), I would go on unperturbed, because I would still have done to the best of my power the work that I had to do, and what is so done always counts in the economy of the universe. But why should I feel that all this may come to nothing when I see each step and where it is leading and every week and day – once it was every year and month and hereafter it will be every day and hour – brings me so much nearer to my goal? In the way that one treads with the greater Light above, even every difficulty gives its help and has its value and Night itself carries in it the burden of the Light that has to be.

December, 19364

Living Dangerously

There is a coward in every human being – precisely the part in him which insists on ‘safety’ – for that is certainly not a brave attitude. I admit however that I would like safety myself if I could have it – perhaps that is why I have always managed instead to live dangerously and follow the dangerous paths dragging on many poor Xs in my train.


Storms and the Sunlit Way

I quite agree with you in not relishing the idea of another attack of this nature. I am myself, I suppose, more a hero by necessity than by choice – I do not love storms and battles, at least on the subtle plane. The sunlit way may be an illusion,– though I do not think it is,– for I have seen people treading it for years; but a way with only natural or even only moderate fits of rough weather, a way without typhoons surely is possible – there are so many examples; durgam pathastat may be generally true and certainly the path of Laya or Nirvana is difficult in the extreme to most (although in my case I walked into Nirvana without intending it or rather Nirvana walked casually into me not so far from the beginning of my Yogic career without asking my leave). But the path need not be cut by periodical violent storms, though that it is so for a great many is an obvious fact. But even for these if they stick to it, I find that after a certain point the storms diminish in force, frequency, duration. That is why I insisted so much on your sticking – for if you stick, the turning-point is bound to come. I have seen some astonishing instances recently of this typhoonic periodicity beginning to fade out after years and years of violent recurrence.


The Gospel of Faith

Fits of depression and darkness and despair are a tradition in the path of sadhana – in all Yogas, oriental or occidental, they seem to have been the rule. I know all about them myself – but my experience has led me to the perception that they are an unnecessary tradition and could be dispensed with if one chose. That is why whenever they come in you or others I try to lift up before them the gospel of faith. If still they come, one has to get through them as soon as possible and get back into the sun.


Q: No joy, no energy. Don't like to read or write – as if a dead man were walking about. Do you understand the position? Any personal experience?

A: I quite understand; often had it myself devastatingly. That's why I always advise people who have it to cheer up and buck up.

To cheer up, buck up and the rest if you can, saying, ‘Rome was not built in a day’ – if you can't, gloom it through till the sun rises and the little birds chirp and all is well.

Looks however as if you were going through a training in vairāgya. Don't much care for vairāgya myself, always avoided the beastly thing, but had to go through it partly, till I hit on samatā as a better trick. But samatā is difficult, vairāgya is easy, only damnably gloomy and uncomfortable.


The Adversary's Exaggeration

There is no reason to think that the movement of strength and purity was a make-believe. No, it was a real thing. But with these strong forward movements the vital enthusiasm often comes in with a triumphant ‘Now it is finished’ which is not quite justified, for, ‘Now it will be soon finished’ would be nearer to it. It is at these moments that the thrice-damned Censor comes in with a jog, raises up a still shaky bit of the nature and produces a result that is out of all proportion to the size of the little bit, just to show that it is not finished. I have had any number of times that experience myself. All this comes from the complexity and slowness of our evolutionary nature which Yoga quickens, but not as a whole at a stroke. But in fact, as I said, these crises are out of all proportion to their cause in the nature. One must therefore not be discouraged, but see the exaggeration in the adversary's successful negation as well as the exaggeration in our idea of a complete and definite victory already there.


Exacerbation of Vital Movements

The exacerbation of certain vital movements is a perfectly well-known phenomenon in Yoga and does not mean that one has degenerated, but only that one has come to close grips instead of to a pleasant nodding acquaintance with the basic instincts of the earthly vital nature. I have had myself the experience of this rising to a height, during a certain stage of the spiritual development, of things that before hardly existed and seemed quite absent in the pure Yogic life. These things rise up like that because they are fighting for their existence – they are not really personal to you and the vehemence of their attack is not due to any ‘badness’ in the personal nature. I dare say seven sadhaks out of ten have a similar experience. Afterwards when they cannot effect their object, which is to drive the sadhak out of his sadhana, the whole thing sinks and there is no longer any vehement trouble.


Rising of Anger

There is nothing peculiar about retrogression. I was also noted in my earlier time before Yoga for the rareness of anger. At a certain period of the Yoga it rose in me like a volcano and I had to take a long time eliminating it. I was speaking of a past phase. I don't know about the subconscient, must have come from universal nature.


Drops in Sadhana

Q: Suddenly to drop without doing anything wrong – why such a setback?

A: Everybody drops. I have dropped myself thousands of times during the sadhana. What rose-leaf-princess sadhaks you all are!


Temporary Stopping of Sadhana

The worst thing for sadhana is to get into a morbid condition, always thinking of lower forces, attacks, etc. If the sadhana has stopped for a time, then let it stop, remain quiet, do ordinary things, rest when rest is needed – wait till the physical consciousness is ready. My own sadhana when it was far more advanced than yours used to stop for half a year together. I did not make a fuss about it, but remained quiet till the empty or dull period was over.


The Plunge into the Physical

Q: What did you imply when you wrote to me: “You are in the physical consciousness”? Did you mean that I am living like an animal or vegetating like a plant and did you suggest that I should come out of the ‘physical consciousness’ and live on the mental level?

A: I am myself living in the physical consciousness and have been for several years. At first it was a plunge into the physical – into all its obscurity and inertia, afterwards it was a station in the physical open to the higher and higher consciousness and slowly having fought out in it the struggle of transformation of the physical consciousness with a view to prepare it for the supramental change.

It is possible to go back to the mental level where one receives all the mental realisations readily enough if the mind is open and bright. But it is not the course that the sadhana usually follows.


The Way out of the Physical Passivity

Q: Was there in me a continuous real sadhana in 1933? Was it not rather only a mental experience without any real solidity in it? Otherwise why should such a fall have come during these two years?

A: There was certainly a real sadhana then and a very persistent preparation on the mental and vital planes. If that had not been there the descent of peace would not have begun. The fall came because when you descended into the physical consciousness to complete the preparation there, you became too passive, not continuing your will of Tapasya, with the result that the sex-force took advantage of the inertia of the physical consciousness to assert itself fully. That kind of passivity to the forces comes upon many when there is the descent into the physical; one then feels different forces playing in the consciousness without having the same power of reaction as one had in the mind and the vital – sometimes peace etc. from above, sometimes disturbing forces. I had to pass through the same stage myself and it took me two years at least to get out of it. To develop in the physical itself a constant will for the drawing down of the higher consciousness – especially the Peace and Force from above, is the best way out of it.



Something prevents the ascension in spite of the fact that the lower nature can best be dealt with from above.

A: It happened in the same way with myself. I had to come down into the physical to deal with it instead of keeping the station always above. Of course if you can keep the station above so much the better, but as almost everybody is down in the physical, it is a little difficult perhaps.


Change of Method for Transforming the Body-Consciousness

Q: If the progress of the transformation of the body is so slow that it cannot keep pace with that of the higher parts then it is clear that at all stages it would always be lagging behind the higher parts. For example, when the higher parts are overmentalised the body would be just beginning to be intuitivised. In the same way, when the higher parts are supramentalised, the physical consciousness would be just beginning to receive the overmental influence. Would not this disparity be unavoidable unless one leaves the body for dealing with it later or at each stage one stops till the body is completely transformed before proceeding farther?

A: That is hardly possible. The body-consciousness is there and cannot be ignored, so that one can neither transform the higher parts completely leaving the body for later dealing nor make each stage complete in all its parts before going to the rest. I tried that method but it never worked. A predominant over-mentalisation of mind and vital is the next step, for instance, when overmentalising, but the body-consciousness retains all the lower movements unovermentalised and until these can be pulled up to the overmental standard, there is no overmental perfection, always the body-consciousness brings in flaws and limitations. To perfect the Overmind one has to call in the supramental force and it is only when the Overmind has been partially supramentalised that the body begins to be more and more overmental. I do not see any way of avoiding this process, though it is what makes the thing so long.


Effort at Supramental Intervention

I have never told you that the power that works here is absolute at present; I have, on the contrary, told you that I am trying to make it absolute and it is for that that I want the Supermind to intervene. But to say that because it is not absolute therefore it does not exist, seems to me a logical inconsequence.


Crossing of a Border

The last Darshan [15th August 1936] was good on the whole. I am not now trying to bring anything sensational down on these days, but I am watching the progress in the action of the Force and Consciousness that are already there, the infiltration of a greater Light and Power from above, and there was a very satisfactory crossing of a difficult border which promises well for the near future. A thing has been done which had long failed to accomplish itself and which is of great importance. I don't explain now, because it forms part of an arranged whole which is explicable only when it is complete. But it gives a sort of strong practical assurance that the thing will be done.


Impossibility of Fixing Precise Dates

I am surprised at Tagore's remark5 about the two years; he must have misunderstood or misheard me. I did tell him that I would expand only after making a perfect (inner) foundation here, but I gave no date. I did give that date of two years long before in my letter to B, but I had then a less ample view of the work to be done than I have now – and I am now more cautious about assigning dates than I was once. To fix a precise time is impossible except in the two regions of certitude – the pure material which is the field of mathematical certitudes and the supramental which is the field of divine certitudes. In the planes in between where life has its word to say and things have to evolve under shock and stress. Time and Energy are too much in a flux and apt to kick against the rigour of a prefixed date or programme.


Action of the Supramental Truth-Power

You have created your own bewildering problem by supplying your own data! There is nothing nebulous about the supramental; its action depends on the utmost precision possible. As for solidity, since I once have got many solid things from much lower forces, I do not see why the highest ones should only give us nebulosities. But that seems to be the human mind's position: that only what is earthy is solid, what is high must be misty and unreal – the worm is a reality, the eagle only a vapour!

However, I have not told X that I have been scaling and winging – on the contrary, I have been dealing with very hard practical facts. I only told him I had got the formula of solution for the difficulty that had been holding me up since last November and I am working it out.

To return to the supramental: the supramental is simply the direct self-existent Truth-Consciousness and the direct self-effective Truth-Power. There can therefore be no question of jugglery about it. What is not true is not supramental. As for calm and silence, there is no need of the supramental to get that. One can get it even on the level of Higher Mind which is the next above the human intelligence. I got these things in 1908, 27 years ago, and I can assure you they were solid enough and marvellous enough in all conscience without any need of supramentality to make it more so. Again, ‘a calm that looks like action and motion’ is a phenomenon of which I know nothing. A calm or silence that is what I have had – the proof is that out of an absolute silence of the mind I edited the Bande Mataram for 4 months and wrote 6 volumes of the Arya, not to speak of all the letters and messages etc. I have written since. If you say that writing is not an action or motion but only something that seems like it, a jugglery of the consciousness,– well, still out of that calm and silence I conducted a pretty strenuous political activity and have also taken my share in keeping up an Ashram which has at least an appearance to the physical senses of being solid and material! If you deny that these things are material or solid (which, of course, metaphysically you can), then you land yourself plump into Shankara's Illusionism, and there I will leave you.

You will say, however, that this is not the supramental but at most the Overmind that helped me to these non-nebulous motions and action. But the Supermind is by definition a greater dynamic activity than mind or Overmind. I have said that what is not true is not supramental; I will add that what is ineffective is not supramental. And, finally, I conclude by saying that I have not told X that I have taken complete possession of the supramental – I only admit to be very near to it. But ‘very near’ is – well, after all – a relative phrase like all human phrases.

I don't know how you are to answer Y. You might perhaps by my two formulas, but it is doubtful. Or perhaps you might tell him that the supramental was silence – only, it would be untrue! So I leave you in your fix – there is no other go. At least until I have firm physical hold of the supramental and can come and tell the mentals and humans,– no doubt in a language which will be intelligible to them,– I must be somewhat dumb, since they have wholly misunderstood even the little that has found voice through my writings up till now.


The Present Business

Q [Nirodbaran]: Why not write something about the Supermind which these people find it so difficult to understand?

A: What's the use? How much would anybody understand? Besides the present business is to bring down and establish the Supermind, not to explain it. If it establishes itself, it will explain itself – if it does not, there is no use in explaining it. I have said some things about it in past writings, but without success in enlightening anybody. So why repeat the endeavour?



Supramental nature can only be understood if one understands what Supermind is and that is not altogether possible for mind so long as it does not open to the higher planes. So far as a mental account can be given, I have done it in the Arya.

The True Way to Understand Sri Aurobindo's Action

Q: Since it is the Divine which does everything, what is the difference between ordinary happenings and those in which you are consciously active?

Is there any essential difference between one happening which you simply foresee, and one happening which you consciously direct? Since all happenings take place in the Divine Consciousness, to foresee is for you simply to turn your attention towards them in such a way as to become conscious of them in the most external consciousness – and then what is the nature of your conscious action on them?

A: To answer your question I would have to speak in the terms of a consciousness to which the mind has no key and at the same time try to explain its relations to the lower consciousness in which things are now happening. What is the use of doing this? The mind will either understand nothing or misunderstand or think it has understood when really it has understood nothing.

Or I would have to make up a mental answer to the question which would not be the real thing, but just something to keep the questioning mind quiet.

The true way to enter into these things is to still the mind and open to the consciousness from which things are done. Then you would first have a direct experience of the way the divine consciousness acts on different planes and secondly a light of knowledge about the experience. This is the only true way – all the rest is only words and sterile mental logic.


Disappointing World-Condition and New Creation

Q: I am disconcerted at what is happening in the world. Everywhere misery is rampant, people are losing faith in everything and even the intellectuals like Tagore, Russell and Rolland are clamouring for an end of the age. How is it that things should be marching headlong into a quagmire such as this? I sometimes fear that eventually you and the Mother will retire into an extra-cosmic Samadhi leaving the wicked world to sink or swim as best it can. Perhaps that would be the wisest course – who knows?

A: I have no intention of doing so – even if all smashed, I would look beyond the smash to the new creation. As for what is happening in the world, it does not upset me because I knew all along that things would happen in that fashion, and as for the hopes of the intellectual idealists I have not shared them, so I am not disappointed.


Amendment to Bergson Plan

Q: Bergson writes that the progress of Life is marked by tensions succeeded by flowerings. What do you think of that, since the great philosopher too agrees with our way of marching to Beatitude through struggles and sufferings?

A: Humph! Such a method is all very well, but one has so much of it in life and in this Ashram that I yearn for some other non-Bergsonian evolution. Even if Lord God and Bergson planned it together, I would move an amendment.

World's Readiness to Receive the Supramental

Q: I am disgusted with the world and would have preferred to go away from it to some subtler existence had it not been for your programme of changing the world and bringing some better things into it. But does the world want to change and buy your wares at the heavy cost of giving up all it is and has and does?

A: It wants and it does not want something that it has not got. All that the supramental could give, the inner mind of the world would like to have, but its outer mind, its vital and physical do not like to pay the price. But, after all, I am not trying to change the world all at once but only to bring down centrally something into it it has not yet, a new consciousness and power.


Something Better for the Woe-Begone Planet

Q: It seems that wherever one turns one sees the same humanity – with all its ignorance and incapacity.

A: Of course. That is what I have been telling all along. It is not without reason that I am eager to see something better in this well-meaning but woe-begone planet.


The Certitude of Supramental Advent

I have already spoken about the bad conditions of the world; the usual idea of the occultists about it is that the worse they are, the more is probable the coming of an intervention or a new revelation from above. The ordinary mind cannot know – it has either to believe or disbelieve or wait and see.

As to whether the Divine seriously means something to happen, I believe it is intended. I know with absolute certitude that the supramental is a truth and that its advent is in the very nature of things inevitable. The question is as to the when and the how. That also is decided and predestined from somewhere above; but it is here being fought out amid a rather grim clash of conflicting forces. For in the terrestrial world the predetermined result is hidden and what we see is a whirl of possibilities and forces attempting to achieve something with the destiny of it all concealed from human eyes. This is, however, certain that a number of souls have been sent to see that it shall be now. That is the situation. My faith and will are for the now. I am speaking of course on the level of the human intelligence – mystically-rationally, as one might put it. To say more would be going beyond that line. You don't want me to start prophesying, I suppose? As a rationalist, you can't.


The Issue for the Present Human Civilisation

About the present human civilisation. It is not this which has to be saved; it is the world that has to be saved and that will surely be done, though it may not be so easily or so soon as some wish or imagine, or in the way that they imagine. The present must surely change, but whether by a destruction or a new construction on the basis of a greater Truth, is the issue. The Mother has left the question hanging and I can only do the same. After all, the wise man, unless he is a prophet or a Director of the Madras Astrological Bureau, must often be content to take the Asquithian position. Neither optimism nor pessimism is the truth: they are only modes of the mind or modes of the temperament.

Let us then, without either excessive optimism or excessive pessimism, ‘wait and see’.

September, 1945

Preparation Under Veil

I know that this is a time of trouble for you and everybody. It is so for the whole world. Confusion, trouble, disorder and upset everywhere is the general state of things. The better things that are to come are preparing or growing under a veil and the worse are prominent everywhere. The one thing is to hold on and hold out till the hour of light has come.


The Light of Victory

As regards Bengal, things are certainly very bad; the conditions of the Hindus there are terrible and they may even get worse in spite of the Interim mariage de convenance at Delhi. But we must not let our reaction to it become excessive or suggest despair. There must be at least 20 million Hindus in Bengal and they are not going to be exterminated,– even Hitler with his scientific methods of massacre could not exterminate the Jews who are still showing themselves very much alive and, as for Hindu culture, it is not such a weak and fluffy thing as to be easily stamped out; it has lasted through something like 5 millenniums at least and is going to carry on much longer and has accumulated quite enough power to survive. What is happening did not come to me as a surprise. I foresaw it when I was in Bengal and warned people that it was probable and almost inevitable and that they should be prepared for it. At that time no one attached any value to what I said, although some afterwards remembered and admitted, when the trouble first began, that I have been right; only C.R. Das had grave apprehensions and he even told me when he came to Pondicherry that he would not like the British to go out until this dangerous problem had been settled. But I have not been discouraged by what is happening, because I know and have experienced hundreds of times that beyond the blackest darkness there lies for one who is a divine instrument the light of God's victory. I have never had a strong and persistent will for anything to happen in the world – I am not speaking of personal things – which did not eventually happen even after delay, defeat or even disaster. There was a time when Hitler was victorious everywhere and it seemed certain that a black yoke of the Asura would be imposed on the whole world; but where is Hitler now and where is his rule? Berlin and Nuremberg have marked the end of that dreadful chapter in human history. Other blacknesses threaten to overshadow or even engulf mankind, but they too will end as that nightmare has ended. I cannot write fully in this letter of all things which justify my confidence – some day perhaps I shall be able to do it.


Darkness before Dawn

The extreme acuteness of your difficulties is due to the Yoga having come down against the bed-rock of Inconscience which is the fundamental basis of all resistance in the individual and in the world to the victory of the Spirit and the Divine Work that is leading toward that victory. The difficulties themselves are general in the Ashram as well as in the outside world. Doubt, discouragement, diminution or loss of faith, waning of the vital enthusiasm for the ideal, perplexity and a baffling of the hope for the future are the common features of the difficulty. In the world outside there are much worse symptoms such as the general increase of cynicism, a refusal to believe in anything at all, a decrease of honesty, an immense corruption, a preoccupation with food, money, comfort, pleasure, to the exclusion of higher things, and a general expectation of worse and worse things awaiting the world. All that, however acute, is a temporary phenomenon for which those who know anything about the workings of the world-energy and the workings of the Spirit were prepared. I myself foresaw that this worst would come, the darkness of night before the dawn; therefore I am not discouraged. I know what is preparing behind the darkness and can see and feel the first signs of its coming. Those who seek for the Divine have to stand firm and persist in their seeking; after a time, the darkness will fade and begin to disappear and the Light will come.


The Present Effort

If I had been standing on the Supermind level and acting on the world by the instrumentation of Supermind, that world would have changed or would be changing much more rapidly and in a different fashion from what is happening now. My present effort is not to stand up on a high and distant Supermind level and change the world from there, but to bring something of it down here and to stand on that and act by that; but at the present stage the progressive supramentalisation of the Overmind is the first immediate preoccupation and a second is the lightening of the heavy resistance of the Inconscient and the support it gives to human ignorance which is always the main obstacle in any attempt to change the world or even to change oneself. I have always said that the spiritual force I have been putting on human affairs such as the War is not the supramental but the Overmind force, and that when it acts in the material world is so inextricably mixed up in the tangle of the lower world forces that its results, however strong or however adequate to the immediate object, must necessarily be partial. That is why I am getting a birthday present of a free India on August 15, but complicated by its being presented in two packets as two free Indias: this is a generosity I could have done without, one free India would have been enough for me if offered as an unbroken whole.


Call to Remain Firm

Remain firm through the darkness; the light is there and will conquer.


Peace Born of Certitude

You must make grow in you the peace that is born of the certitude of victory.

The Present, Darkness and the New World

I am afraid I can hold out but cold comfort – for the present at least – to those of your correspondents who are lamenting the present state of things. Things are bad, are growing worse and may at any time grow worst or worse than worst if that is possible – and anything however paradoxical seems possible in the present perturbed world. The best thing for them is to realise that all this was necessary because certain possibilities had to emerge and be got rid of, if a new and better world was at all to come into being; it would not have done to postpone them for a later time. It is, as in Yoga, where things active or latent in the being have to be put into action in the light so that they may be grappled with and thrown out or to emerge from latency in the depths for the same purificatory purpose. Also they can remember the adage that night is darkest before dawn and that the coming of dawn is inevitable. But they must remember too that the new world whose coming we envisage is not to be made of the same texture as the old and different only in pattern, and that it must come by other means – from within and not from without; so the best way is not to be too much preoccupied with the lamentable things that are happening outside, but themselves to grow within so that they may be ready for the new world, whatever form it may take.



You have expressed in one of your letters your sense of the present darkness in the world round us and this must have been one of the things that contributed to your being so badly upset and unable immediately to repel the attack. For myself, the dark conditions do not discourage me or convince me of the vanity of my will to ‘help the world’, for I knew they had to come; they were there in the world-nature and had to rise up so that they might be exhausted or expelled so that7 a better world freed from them might be there. After all, something has been done in the outer field and that may help or prepare for getting something done in the inner field also. For instance, India is free and her freedom was necessary if the Divine Work was to be done. The difficulties that surround her now and may increase for a time, especially with regard to the Pakistan imbroglio, were also things that had to come and to be cleared out.... Here too there is sure to be a full clearance, though unfortunately, a considerable amount of human suffering in the process is inevitable. Afterwards the work for the Divine will become more possible and it may well be that the dream, if it is a dream, of leading the world towards the spiritual light, may even become a reality. So I am not disposed even now, in these dark conditions, to consider my will to help the world as condemned to failure.



1 this text was omitted in Sri Aurobindo Birth Century Librarry in 30 Volumes. It was present, however, in Sri Aurobindo International Univercity Centre Collection .- Vol.1.- Pondicherry, 1953.- p.213.


2 “I have lost all wish for my salvation, may I be born again and again and suffer thousands of miseries so that I may worship the only God that exists, the only God I believe in, the sum-total of all souls,– and above all, my God the wicked, my God the miserable, my God the poor of all races, of all species is the special object of my worship. He who is the high and low, the saint and the sinner, the god and the worm. Him worship, the visible, the knowable, the real, the omnipresent; break all other idols. In whom there is neither past life nor future birth, nor death nor going nor coming, in whom we always have been and always will be one, Him worship; break all other idols.”

(From a letter of Swami Vivekananda; quoted by Sri Aurobindo in The Synthesis of Yoga (Centenary Edition, 1972), pp. 257-58.)


3 ‘A God's Labour’, subsequently published in Poems Past and Present. See Collected Poems (Centenary Edition, 1972), p. 99.


4 December, 1933 (earlier publication)


5 Tagore said to BK that Sri Aurobindo had told him in 1928 that he would ‘expand’ after two years.


6 28-12-1934 (earlier edition)


7 and (later edition)