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A way for heroes, not for weaklings – Sri Aurobindo

by on April 24, 2012

[From a letter to Motlilal Roy, Circa 1919]

If you want discipline, the first thing of that kind I would impose on you or ask you to impose on yourselves is self-discipline, ātma-samyama, and the first element in that is obedience to the law of the Yoga I have given to you. If you bring in things which do not belong to it at all and are quite foreign to it, such as “hunger-strikes” and vehement emotional revolt against the divine Will, it is idle to expect any rapid progress. That means that you insist on going on your own bypath and yet demand of me that I shall bring you to my goal. All difficulties can be conquered, but only on condition of fidelity to the Way that you have taken. There is no obligation on anyone to take it, – it is a difficult and trying one, a way for heroes, not for weaklings, – but once taken, it must be followed, or you will not arrive.

Remember what is the whole basis of the Yoga. It is not founded upon the vehement emotionalism of the Bhaktimarga to which the temperament of Bengal is most prone, though it has a different kind of Bhakti, but on samatā and ātma-samarpana. Obedience to the divine Will, not assertion of self-will, is the very first mantra. But what can be a more violent assertion of self-will than to demand the result you desire, whether external or internal, at once, (Written in Bengali.) [ei muhūrtte, ei kşane] and not in God’s Muhurta, God’s moment? You say that there is complete utsarga, but it cannot be complete, if there is any kind of revolt or vehement impatience. The revolt and impatience mean always that there is a part of the being or something in the being which does not submit, has not given itself to God, but insists on God going out of his way to obey it. That may be very well in the Bhaktimarga, but it will not do on this Way. The revolt and impatience may come and will come in the heart or the Prana when these are still subject to imperfection and impurity; but it is then for the will and the faith in your Buddhi to reject them, not to act upon them. If the will consents, approves and supports them, it means that you are siding with the inner enemy. If you want rapid progress, the first condition is that you should not do this; for every time you do it, the enemy is strengthened and the śuddhi postponed. This is a difficult lesson to learn, but you must learn it. I do not find fault with you for taking long over it. I myself took full twelve years to learn it thoroughly, and even after I knew the principle well enough, it took me quite four years and more to master my lower nature in this respect. But you have the advantage of my experience and my help; you will be able to do it more rapidly, if you consciously and fully assist me, by not associating yourself with the enemy Desire; jahi kamam dura-sadam, remember that utterance of the Gita, it is a keyword of our Yoga.

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