Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, The Triple Transformation

Track Running Questions & Answers – Exercise of human-will

Questions & Answers – Exercise of human–will

 This is something which is common to everybody and very simple you might say. There is a very profound statement of Indian thought that the situation in which you are placed is the result of the ‘will’ of the observer.

Question: The will maybe unconscious?

Maybe unconscious, it is the result of the will of the observer. In other words, in philosophical language it is said that Prakriti executes what Purusha decides. If this proposition is to be tested; in our ordinary consciousness we do not find it to be true because normally, we find that the situation we are in is rather unfavourable Usually, apart from a few situations which may be very favourable, many situations of our life are quite unfavourable. So how can we prove that the situations which are unfavourable could be the results of my will?

Question: Does that mean that whatever we keep feeding into our subconscious, is actually what happens?

That is also one of the propositions, I will come to that. Not only do you put it in the subconscious but you also put it in the higher levels of consciousness, of which you are not aware now. Supposing you sit very quietly and aspire that this situation should change and repeat it again and again, then it is claimed by this philosophy that the situation will change according to what you have fed into your consciousness, because it is said that each situation is a result of your will. Prakriti executes what Purusha has decided.

Question: But in many cases, the will may not be all that strong.

Quite true, then it will not happen. But if the will is strong, it will happen. This is the truth of what is called the Sankhya philosophy. According to Sankhya philosophy, Prakriti executes what Purusha demands and it says that what you are now is a result of what your Purusha had decided and demanded from Prakriti. This is the Sankhya thought. It may be right, it may be wrong, we are just exploring. Normally human beings may be materialistic, idealistic, spiritualist ” whatever their predilection, one thing remains very true, that everybody is called upon to deal with situations and everyone wants to be master of the situations. This is the fundamental urge in every human being. Their mastery may come in the form of harmony with nature or the situation, it may come in the form of control of the situation, it may come under the form of mastery over the situation. In either of the three forms it may come, either with harmonising or by controlling or by mastering.

Actually speaking if we ask ourselves, what the aim of our life is; the usual answer is that it is to enjoy. This is a very common answer. I ask the next question "What is it that really gives you enjoyment?" Normally people answer that they really enjoy when they can have a situation which is full of sensations, which are pleasant. Then they feel they are enjoying. But we will find gradually that an individual truly enjoys when he can stand back from a situation, when the situation is under his control and he can change the situation according to his will, and he has even mastery over the situation such that whether that situation remains or does not remain, he is not affected at all. When he can arrive at this condition then he really enjoys. The first is called the Sakshi bhava, when you can witness the situation, the second is called the state of anumanta, when you give the sanction, and the third is called the condition or bhokta, the real enjoyer. You can really enjoy an object when whether that situation remains or does not remain; it has no effect on you. That is why Isha Upanishad said, "tena tyaktena bhunjithaha", i.e. you enjoy by renouncing. When you arrive at that condition in which you are in delight whether the situation is there or not, then only can you really enjoy.

Question: But in order to renounce, you do have to first experience it?

Quite true, that is why the first stage is witnessing. You first of all become the Sakshi, then you become an Anumanta, and then you become a Bhokta. These developments of becoming a Sakshi, of becoming an Anumanta or becoming the Bhokta are the beginnings of what we call spiritual experiences. This is not a mental experience. This is not a method merely of conceiving, you are not merely relating concepts, this is the field of experience. Spirituality is a field of experience, an experience which is not merely physical but something that brings you nearer to your true self consciousness.

This is said very briefly but actually to be able to witness, to be able to give the consent and to be really the enjoyer, it takes a long long period of experience. It takes a very, very long period of experience. A series of experiences and masteries of various kinds are needed to arrive at that point. But all these exercises are what may be called spiritual exercises. As a result of these exercises, you gain two basic experiences. One is that if you so like or so decide, you can escape from any situation that is given to you. You just withdraw from the situation and then withdraw completely away and you can be absorbed in self consciousness to such an extent that even if the situation remains there before you, it has no effect on you at all. The other capacity you get is that you bring a will on the situation and change it and the circumstance itself is changed. Now both these experiments have been done for thousands of years in India and both have been found to be valid. By making repeated experiments, it can be shown that both these possibilities exist.

Question: Is escaping from a situation such a good idea? Is not it better to face it, not escape from it and then rise above it?

From my point of view, controlling and changing the situation is much more valuable than escaping, but psychologically I am only presenting all the possibilities, which include the possibility for you to escape.

Question: And be aware that you escaped.

Yes. It is possible psyschogically to be aware that you can escape and then you really feel that that situation has no effect on you at all. The situation remains the same, but it now has no effect on you. You have not changed the situation. The situation remains the same, what you have done is that you have withdrawn from it to such an extent that you arrive at a point that it has no effect on you at all.

So that is one positive use of escaping that you can afterwards come back to the situation and change it. The other possibility is that you can withdraw from it forever.  This is a very important statement I am making. You do not come back to improve it. Here also many experiments have been made.  These experiments have shown to some of the people that even when they come back to the situation and try to change them, they do not change. They change to some extent but not to the degree to which they ought to change. So they have come to the conclusion that the situations are bound to remain more or less like this.

Question: That means the change has come in the person himself?

Their conclusion is that the world is such, it is like a dog's curly tail, however much you try to straighten it, it comes back to its curve, so you can never change it. This is the conclusion some people have arrived at that however much you try to change, it does not change. It is argued that Christ has come and gone, the world has remained as it is; Buddha has come and gone, the world has remained as it is.

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