On Vital Force with Ques & Ans - 12 and 13 January 2000

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Question: what is the ultimate level of Consciousness?

Answer: I have great difficulty answering this question, because when you use the word ultimate it means that there is nothing beyond. But that which is beyond, beyond, beyond everything that you can conceive is itself something which points to the beyond. That is to say there is a level of consciousness which is not limited. Normally when you speak of the "ultimate" there is a feeling that it is limited to something – it is a summit. But that which is limitless? It can be called "ultimate", but not in the sense given to the word: that it is the highest limit. It is limitless and therefore in Sanskrit it is called aneer vachaniya. Vachaniya means "expressed" or "expressible"; are vachaniya means "that which cannot be expressed". It is called inexpressive, it is also called "ineffable" – you cannot express it.

So the ultimate level of Consciousness is first of all something which has no limit. It is not ultimate in the sense that it has a limit, but in the sense that it is beyond every limit in that sense, it is ultimate. Secondly, that Consciousness, being the only consciousness, cannot be compared with anything else. If there are two similar things you can compare the one with the other, but this is the only Consciousness without parallel, because it is the ultimate – if there were parallels, then there would be two ultimates. This is the only ultimate Consciousness, it has no limits, there is nothing to compare to it – and when you cannot compare it to anything else, how can you describe it?

Whenever you describe something, you understand, you describe it by showing something similar to it. Take any description... If someone asks you the question, "What is a table?" – How do you describe it? You describe it by showing something which is similar to the table: "If you have seen that, well, it is similar to that." very often you use synonyms – you describe a thing by comparing it with something similar to it, or something that is identical but separate. But as its consciousness is the ultimate one and there is no comparing it with anything else, then how do you describe it? You can only say that it is indescribable, that it is ineffable.

So that is my first answer to your question. What is the ultimate level of Consciousness? My answer is that there is a level of Consciousness which is not a level. It is limitless, unbounded: There is a word in English: Absolute. "Absolute" is that which is not relative. Relative is something related to the other, but Absolute is something quite different. Take the example of what is called "ether": You take any solid and heat it, it will become liquid; heat it further and out of the liquid you get vapor; heat it further and it becomes ether. Now if you compare the ether to the solid you started with, you will see that there is no comparison between the two, although the ether is the parent of the solid – because when you cool it down again, it can become that. (Like ice, water, vapor – if you cool the vapor it will become liquid, if you cool it more it will become solid.) But if you try to connect the ether with the solid, you cannot imagine how the ether contains the solid. Similarly, when you think of the Absolute, it is so different from anything that is relative. Yet all relatives come out of it.

The Absolute is called "the formless", and yet all forms come out of it. It's something like clay: You take a piece of clay and you ask, "How many forms does it contain?" All possible forms are in the clay, which has no form at present. Any clod of clay contains innumerable forms, but you don't see any form at all in the clod.

Similarly what is the ultimate level of Consciousness? It is the Absolute, which is formless and which contains and expresses itself in all kinds of forms; it is quite different from the relative, and yet it contains all relations – such is the nature of the ultimate Consciousness. Or the ultimate level – you might like to say "level", but only provided that you say that it is limitless. It is not really a level, since it is limitless.

When this kind of a question was raised in India in early times, there was a demand: "Although we understand that it is limitless, that it is ineffable, that it is Absolute – still, kindly give us some indication of what it is!" The Vedic and Upanishadic Rishis discovered a name for it, a very peculiar name: Satchidananda. The word itself contains three words, and each one is quite different from the other. Three terms are given – Sat, Chit, Ananda – and each one has a special meaning. Sat means "that which exists"; Chit means "that which is conscious"; Ananda means "that which is blissful".

So: Existent Conscious-Force and Delight. These three words are put together, and we are told, "It is one" They are three, and yet Sat is Chit and Chit is Ananda, Ananda is Chit, Chit is Sat... It's a very peculiar term that has been evolved by the Rishis of the Vedas and the Upanishads that in itself shows that when you knock at the door of that ultimate, when you try to grasp and seize it, it is so difficult! But still it can give you some idea, because everyone has an experience of being, every one of us has some experience of consciousness; everyone has some experience of happiness. You can indicate to somebody that Satchidananda is a being, that it is a conscious being, and that it has delight. These three words are not absolutely incomprehensible. "Absolute" is incomprehensible, but "being" is not because you have some experience of being; "consciousness" is not incomprehensible, because we have some experience of it; and Ananda – we know it to some extent because we are happy sometimes.

And then we are told that that Being, that Consciousness, that Bliss is of such a nature that you cannot compare it with the experience that you have of being, of consciousness, or of bliss. So the Rishis said that it is Satchidananda and then they added a word: neti neti, "not that, not that." You can say that it is Satchidananda, but the moment that you try to seize it and say, " I have understood It!" – then the Rishis say, "It is not that, not that." Whatever you understand, it is not that. Don't think that it is a condition of happiness like yours: The kind of happiness that you have is very fragile, ephemeral – the next moment, that happiness turns to misery – but this is not that, this kind of happiness can never vanish, it is such an intensity of happiness that you can't even conceive of it, even the dancer who dances from joy – even that joy is not comparable to this Ecstasy. The kind of consciousness you have, the highest level of consciousness you can think of – it is still beyond it, so don't compare your consciousness with that Consciousness. The sense of being that you have now is ephemeral, it is nothing, it is unsubstantial but that Being you can call substance. It is something solid. Even the most solid thing here is not comparable to that Solidity. Sometimes when you have the experience of peace descending upon you, you feel as if a big column or pillar, a solid pillar that goes straight from your head to your toes – such is the experience of peace that many people have when they attain to a higher level of consciousness but even that solidity is as nothing compared to that Solidity. It is so great that there is no solidity here comparable to it.

But through these three words – Sat, Chit, Ananda, you can enter into the understanding of that Consciousness to some extent. Although you have to say every time, "Neti neti, not that, not that", still you can gain entry.

So if you ask me the question, "What is the ultimate level of Consciousness?" then my answer is: "Satchidananda... Neti neti."

Question: Newton's Third Law states that "every action has an equal and opposite reaction". What will happen if you try to bring down the Supramental Force? Will there be any force opposing it, and what is that force?

Answer: First of all, Newton's Law is valid within the field of Matter, valid to some extent in the field of Life and valid to some extent in the field of Mind but in the Supermind there is no opposition, everything is harmonized. You might say therefore that the Supramental Force is the meeting of contraries, all opposites melt. In a certain sense you can say that the Supramental Force does not evoke opposition, it only evokes Harmony, Love, Joy. So Newton's Law will not be applicable to the Supermind in its true nature.

But wherever there is Matter, there Newton's Law will apply. In Matter that is not supramentalised there, there will be a reaction. And it is true that when the Supramental Force has been brought down, there has been an opposition, a tremendous opposition, a tremendous reaction. We say, "No, no, no, I don't want it!" Matter does not want this awakening which comes with the Supermind, it wants to remain what it is. Gradually Matter understands that what it is seeking can be fulfilled only by the Supermind then it opens up. By a gradual contact with the Supermind it begins to melt, as it were; it mellows, the resistance is evaporated, and Matter becomes a vehicle that can receive and embrace the Supermind. And it can retain it in a way that nothing else can. Therefore, the greatest friend of the Supermind, is Matter.

So, as Mother says, it is in Matter that the Divine becomes perfectly Divine. Matter opposes at first, but if the Divinity is to be perfectly Divine in the manifestation, nothing can hold the Supermind as securely as Matter. So with the Supramental descent and manifestation, the laws will change. Newton's Laws are valid only within a very limited field. Einstein came and he showed that Newton's Laws are not final and now, in what is called the "post-Einsteinian period", we have a further development, and it is said that the discoveries of Einstein are not entirely valid. So as we progress we find that what is valid in a small field may not be valid in a larger field. The Law of Opposition is valid only at a certain level of development. At that level there is opposition, but below it there is no opposition, above it there is no opposition. It will not apply at the higher levels.

Question: Looking into the future, when all human beings and living things have attained to immortality, what will come next?

Answer: There is a level of experience where there is Joy. Normally, once you attain to joy, there is a fear that that joy may be lost, but this is a state of Joy that is not lost. It is a state where you say... Suppose that you are able to retain Joy forever, and you ask this question, "What next?" There is no fear of a lapse into misery now, you have attained to Joy – what next?

But this Joy is such a state that next to Joy you only need to have Joy. It is such a state that once you have it, your next step to have anything, is to have Joy. It is such a state that the continuance of it gives you more Joy, and it is as satisfactory as before. This Joy is perfect, the next Joy is perfect, the next Joy is perfect, the next Joy is perfect and there is no demand that "Now there should be something else!" The demand is that it should continue forever and ever.

Continuation forever and ever is Immortality, it doesn't die. So, supposing that all human beings become Immortal, just supposing – what will you have to have next? Immortality. Next to Immortality is Immortality because Immortality means what? That, which does not vanish, that which does not have a "next". So Immortality is such a state that after it there is nothing else, except for Immortality, which continues on and on and doesn't die. When something dies, you need to have a next, then you can say, "This is over, now what next?" But the very nature of Immortality is such that, once you have it, it goes on and on and on and on and on. As far as Joy is concerned, it will always be Joy. As I've told you, the Joy in that state goes from Joy to greater Joy, from Light to greater Light but the greater Light does not cancel the previous Light.

Satchidananda, of which I spoke just now, is the state of Immortality. It can never die, it is inextinguishable, once you have it, you have it. It doesn't die, and you don't want anything else because there is nothing else. It is the ultimate; there is nothing else but That.

Now this is under the assumption that every human being becomes Immortal. "What next?" The answer is: Immortality. And then next is: Immortality. The very nature of Immortality is that it doesn't die, and so there is no "next". When you put the question: What is next? It means that you have not understood the meaning of the word Immortality. Right? The question itself is not relevant.

"When all human beings and living things have attained to Immortality..." This is a goal which may take millions of years. You can have a few beings who will be the pioneers. Mother has spoken of the next race, the Supramental race, and all the members of that race can be Immortal but there are so many people who have still to go further, to evolve, which will take millions of years. And when everybody attains it? The answer is that it will be a complete Joy forever and ever and ever. This is what Sri Aurobindo has called the "Everlasting Day". What is next? It is Everlasting Day, no night will come at all. It is daylight all the time, without interruption, which is full of Joy. And you won't need anything else and you won't ask for anything else, because that is the highest that you can have.

Question: What is Time?

Answer: This was one of the greatest discoveries of Einstein. There are a number of philosophers who, when they reach the height of their philosophy, they come to this question as to what is time. There is a philosopher called Alexander who wrote a book called Space, Time & Deity. A philosopher called Bergson, from France, said that Time is Life that the urge of Life is Time.

Einstein said that Time is the fourth dimension of Space. Space, you know, it is experienced by all of us in three dimensions: length, breadth and height, you take any piece of Space, or the whole of Space, it is nothing but length, breadth and height. Einstein pointed out that corresponding to any piece of Space, to any point in Space, there is a fourth dimension – the three-dimensional view is not correct. According to Einstein, for any particular point in Space, there is Time, Time is the fourth dimension. So he said that we should not use the words Space and Time, he changed the language; he said we should say Space-Time.      .

This is a very difficult concept to grasp, because normally we measure Space by extension. We can see Space physically, but Time we can't see physically. Have you seen Time? You can see Space, but Time, who sees Time? So to combine something that is physically seen and something that is not, is very difficult. You know that since Einstein wrote his books on Space-Time, and many educators have tried to make books for children from them. But how do you explain to children what Space-Time is? You draw a platform in a station, it is Space but how to then show and explain that this platform is Time? How do you explain to children that every physical Space has a dimension of Time? It is a mind-boggling idea, the mind fails to understand it.

But let us now come to something that you can understand. I'll give you a definition which can be used to understand Time: Time is a succession of moments. One moment is followed by another moment, and that is followed by another moment and that is followed by another moment – this sequence is what we understand as Time.

This, we think, we understand quite well but when you examine this idea, you are immediately confronted by a question. If one moment is followed by another moment, then there should be a gap between the two, otherwise how could we say "This is one moment" and "This is a second moment"?

The question is: Is there Time in that gap or not?

Answer: You've got to say that there must be Time, because Time is a constant movement. So if there is a gap between one moment and another moment then there must be Time in that gap, in which again there must be one moment followed by another moment and again there is a gap, and again Time filling up that gap.

So Time is not a succession of moments, but an uninterrupted flow but "flow" means succession!

This is the riddle of Time. This is why philosophers have said that it is impossible to say what Time is. The moment you try to define it, there is a problem. The answer to this question is: Time is a flow in which there is no gap, but, wherever you want to make a gap, by thought you can make it. You can make a gap in it according to your idea. It is such a material that wherever you want to break it you can break it. If somebody says to you, "I had a very pleasant talk with Deepti, when I talked to her, it was as if Time did not pass." (This is an experience that many of you must have when talking to Deepti, no?) So here Time doesn't flow. Time is a flow in which there is no gap anywhere, but if you want to make a gap you can make it, you can stop anywhere you like.

In other words, Time is a concept of the Mind. The real Time has no gap, but the kind of Time that you experience, in which there is a succession of moments, is simply a mental concept. For the convenience of the Mind, you say that one moment is over and that a second moment starts − but in reality there is no such thing as the first or the second moment. In reality there is only one flow. It is not even Time which has a beginning. It is said, "the beginning-less and endless flow of Time". The gaps you make in it are according to your convenience. For a child; to talk for five minutes may seem very-very-very-very long, but to those who talk to Deepti it will not be long at all!

It depends upon your mental consciousness, your mental state. If your mind is tired, then two minutes may seem very long; if I have a strong pain in my arm, the passage of two minutes is very long − this is our experience, no? But if you don't have the pain, and you're eating ice cream, having a pleasant experience then it is over so soon! There is no time at all! You took the ice cream cone, and before you could even experience the full joy of it, it was over, there was no gap in it. The gap in Time is entirely dependent upon our mental state. Therefore it is said that Time is not really successive in nature.

I gave you a first definition, Time is a succession of moments, and now I am revising it. I am saying now that Time is a constant flow of such a nature that you can make a succession according to your mental convenience. That is why in India we have the concept that a long period of millions of years for us is only one day for Brahma. It is because His Consciousness works at such a high level. When exam time comes near, then even five days seems to you to be such a short period, you want seven days, not only five days of preparation time but it's not a short period. The "short" and "long" are according to your convenience, according to your reference. Your reference gives you a measure for cutting up Time. That is why the Vedic Rishis said that you should have trikala gyana − the three times, past, present and future should all be simultaneous in your consciousness. You should be so wide, you should have so much work to do, that days and years are only a little time. When you don't have much work to do the time hangs on you, but when you have so much to do, the time flies. It depends upon your state of consciousness.

We human beings all have some common mental reference that is why we have clocks. This is because we all have one Consciousness that is common. If that common reference did not exist clocks would have no relevance. And actually, many people, lovers for example, have no clock-time at all. Time passes "just like that". When you see a film which is very beautiful, very delightful, the clock doesn't work, you are surprised that three hours have passed. If human beings were all of different consciousnesses, there would be no clocks at all, but because we share some kind of common consciousness, clocks are possible.

But if you look into Reality, then Time is a flow that you can cut according to your mental convenience. What is "before" and what is "after" depends on where you stand, wherever you put yourself, wherever the Mind positions itself, that is the gap.

It is said that when you talk of Time, you are bound to finish dissatisfied. You cannot hold it, or say, "Now I understand." That is the nature of Time. You cannot understand it. Time and Space are not understandable. What I've said is only an attempt to understand and to make you realize that it is not understandable.    

 We'll talk more of this later on, when you've all become philosophers then we shall better define Time. This is only the first lesson.

So, my conclusion is: If anybody asks you the question, "What is Time?" then the answer is: "A succession of moments". If nobody asks a further question, then keep quiet! But if somebody asks a second time, then you can say that Time is a flow in which succession is determined by the Mind.

Question: How do you control and rule over feelings, such as fear, pain, joy, and happiness? How does one control one’s will, wishes and desires?

Answer: The first step in control is self-awareness. To be aware of fear, pain, joy, happiness, desire, will and wishes is the first step. You should be aware. You must understand what fear is, what pain is, what joy is, what happiness is, what desire is, what a wish is, what will is.

These words are actually quite difficult to define. If somebody says, "Define happiness", it is very difficult to do. You simply say, "Happiness is happiness! Don't you know that? Don't you understand? Happiness is happiness!" You refer to an experience of happiness. At the most you can say that happiness is a state where suffering is not present. But then if somebody asks, "What is suffering?" The answer is: "Suffering is suffering! Don't you understand that...?"

You understand these psychological states by your internal experience. Yesterday, when somebody asked about fear, I said that fear is a "state of trembling." But all trembling is not fear, so we must make a distinction between different kinds of trembling. Somebody may have Parkinson's disease, in which the hands constantly shake, it's not out of fear, it's a deficiency in the body, the muscles have become weak and cannot hold the energy flowing through them, so there is a shaking. Parkinson's disease and fear therefore have a common element: trembling. But the trembling arises out of what?

There are different kinds of fears. There is fear of the unknown: When you have to meet someone you do not know, then there is fear of the unknown; when you go to an examination hall, there is a fear because you do not know which questions will be asked of you. There is also a fear of the known: If you have a teacher that constantly scolds you, you are afraid, because you know that whenever you come across this teacher the vibrations of scolding will start; there are many people who are of a critical nature, and you fear them, because the moment they come into the field they will always say, "Here, this is not correct, that is not correct! This is not perfect! This is not clean!"

The essence of fear is: the expectation of an invasion or an attack. Very often when the attack comes you are able to face it, but when you are expecting it to come you immediately shrink. In Sanskrit it is called jugupsa, "the shrinking". You want to become gupta "hidden", you want to run away so that nobody can attack you. The desire to run away, the desire to become invisible, the desire to hide yourself, it comes from the expectation of an attack. When you are not able to meet the attack, or the expectation of what is going to come in the form of an attack, then is the birth of fear. All attacks do not give you fear, some attacks you like very much. When you have prepared for an exam very well, when you can say, "Any question can come, I can answer it", then you have no fear at all.

The way to master fear is to be sure that no attack can come upon you which you are incapable of answering. This is the answer to this question, how do you control fear? Mother has said that the universe is so constituted that nobody is given a question that he cannot answer − this is the first assurance of the Divine economy. The economy of the Divine in the world is such that nobody is asked a question for which he has no answer, and for which he has no capacity to answer. Such a question won't be put at all. Animals don't have the kinds of examination papers that we have, because an animal cannot answer the questions. You won't give an exam to the animal. The Divine economy is so constituted that everybody is given a question he has the potential to answer. So one way of controlling fear is to have this assurance first: Be sure that no attack will come to which you have no capacity to answer. You should always tell children this. When you say, "Don't fear" you should add, "There will be nothing or nobody in the world who will attack you to whom you have no strength to reply, be sure of it." Whenever you have fear you should say to yourself, "Let me face it. Whatever comes to me comes only if I have the ability to answer to it. Maybe I will not find the answer immediately, but I have the potential to find an answer, and I will give that answer." This is the first step to controlling fear. The second is to develop in yourself the capacity not only the potential to answer. It becomes clear to you that whenever X comes into your field you are afraid. "All right, I am afraid of X. Now I will learn why I am afraid of X."

When I was a child I was always afraid to go up a certain street. From my house to my school it was about a mile, and I used to walk this mile every day. On the way there was a small street where some big boys used to stand with knives. Their only joy was to intimidate younger boys. Compared to them I was a tiny little thing, and I was so afraid that I didn't want to go to school. How to control this fear? How to overcome this fear? Because this is a real fact, such huge boys! (To my mind they were huge.) The moment you tried to pass they would come forward with knives and say, "We will stab you!" What do you do? You don't have the capacity to deal with these boys. Of course, sometimes you can tell your parents of the problem you have but maybe your parents are all the time scolding you: "You can't face this? What is this? Why are you afraid? Don't be afraid!" If this is your parents' answer, then what do you do? Their saying this doesn't control your fear. If the parents really want to help you they should come with you personally, they should face those boys.

Very often you have no answer. You turn this way, there's no help; you turn that way, there's no help and here is the attack! You should therefore try to find out yourself how to meet this attack. Be aware that this is the nature of the attack, and find out how you can meet it.

Ultimately I did this myself, because I knew that my mother would scold me. She was a very strong woman and she would say, "What is this timid boy? You are so timid and afraid!" My father – I had no access to him because he was very busy, you could not talk to him at all, you had no access to him.

I decided to simply walk, in spite of the knives. Once I did it, nothing happened because even those boys were afraid, actually. I learned that afterwards: Those boys were afraid that if they hurt me, there would be consequences for them. They were only trying to make me frightened, that's all, and taking joy in it. The big boy says, "Here is this little boy, he is timid, and I am playing with him. He wants to go this way and I stop him, he wants to go that way and I stop him." I learned that in fact he was afraid of me, afraid of the consequences. So once I walked through – it was so easy afterwards, l went through every day. It lasted for two days, three days, and the boys went away afterwards, disappeared, because there was no fun anymore.

Mother has said that when you have fear you should look into the object of fear, that which emanates fear. Just look straight at it, and that object will melt away. That is the best way of controlling fear. Just look straight into it and be sure that nobody can hurt you. This is the first thing that has to be understood: Nobody can hurt you. This world is so constituted that it cannot hurt you. This world is basically a Divine world, a very kind world, a world full of delight. All that is not kind is only a bubble, which can burst. So face it, it's a bubble – face it, and be sure that nobody can hurt you, you won't be hurt. If you do get hurt, don't worry, you got hurt because there was something in you which was still afraid, which did not have trust. Don't worry; it's a part of experience. If you still get hurt it means that you have to understand in depth how to overcome fear.

So this is my answer: If you are afraid, try to understand from where the fear starts, what the nature of the attack is, how you can fortify yourself so that it cannot attack you. Then on the contrary you will want the attack, like a wrestler. When you are a wrestler, you like to have a challenge from someone. He says, will throw you down!" You say, "All right, I will also throw you down!" Then it's joy, not fear.

Basically you have to have this assurance that the world is a very kind world. Although the world may seem to be fierce, ferocious full of anger, remember that it is a very kind world, because God exists. There is a Divine Consciousness which is present everywhere, and He is there to help you at all times. You are not alone. Mother said, "Remember: You are not alone. The Divine is always with you and helping you."

There's a very beautiful story about Gopal, written by Sister Nivedita. It's one of the cradle stories of Hinduism. There was a woman who had a small child. She was very poor, but she wanted her child to be educated. The school was very far, and between the house and the school was a forest, full of trees and dark places where no light penetrated, through which the child had to pass. The first day the mother took the child to school, so it was all right. The next day the child was told, "Now you go to school alone," but he turned to his mother and said, "Mother, it is so dark, I get frightened! What shall I do?" The mother could not go with the child every day; she had a lot of work to do to earn her small livelihood. The child had to go to school alone − what to do?

Finally the mother said, "Your elder brother lives in the forest. Whenever you're afraid, you just call him and he will come and take you. He will always be there for you."

This child was very simple-hearted. As he went along in the forest he passed through a dark place and immediately he became frightened, so he shouted, "Elder Brother! Elder Brother! Come!" And lo and behold the Elder Brother came: He had a flute in his hand and a peacock feathers on his head, and was clad in a beautiful dhoti. He took the child's hand and said, "Don't worry, I am with you," and he took him across the forest to school. And then he disappeared.

The child had assurance, he was not afraid. The Elder Brother was so sweet, so loving, that afterwards, only for the sake of love would the child shout out, not out of fear. Just to have the sweet company of the Elder Brother. Day after day he would call him only to have his company. He enjoyed going to school just for this.

One day there was a big problem: It was the teacher's birthday, and every child was to bring him a gift. The boy went to his mother and said, "Mother, I know that we are very poor, and that we have no money to buy something with which I can please my teacher." The mother agreed: "Yes, my child, you are right, I don't have anything to give you." And the child said, "Should I ask Elder Brother then?" The mother was surprised, because she knew that there was no brother in the forest. And so she said, "Yes, you go ask your brother."

And so the child went on his way. He called Elder Brother and explained his problem, and Elder Brother replied, "Don't worry. I'll give you a small jug of milk, and you can give that as a present." The boy was very happy. The jug was very small, but it didn't matter – at least he had something! So he took the jug and went to the teacher.

But everybody had brought such wonderful gifts! Compared to them such a small gift was nothing and so he kept it hidden for quite some time, but then the teacher said, "Now you, what have you brought?" He gave the small jug to the teacher. The teacher looked at it – such a little thing! And then simply gave it to his servant, saying, "Pour this in my own milk jug."

So the servant went inside and began to pour the milk – but it went on and on and on and on and on and on! It would not finish! Such a small jug! The whole big jug was full now and the little jug was still not empty!

So the servant ran back to his master and said, "It is terrible! This little jug won't empty!" $o the teacher went himself to see what was happening. Again the little jug was poured, but it would not empty, it would go on and on. Many bigger jugs were brought, and still it went on and on.

The teacher said to the child "What is this? Where did you get this?" The child said, "Elder Brother gave it to me."

"Who is your elder brother?"

"He lives in the forest. He takes me to school every day."

So the Teacher said, "This is something tremendous. Your elder brother must be magical. Let me come with you and I will see him for myself."

So he went to the forest with the teacher and he called out: "Brother! Brother! Come!" And Elder Brother came.

But the teacher only said. "Where is your brother?"  He couldn't see him.

The child said, "He is here! Here is my Brother!" The teacher said again, "But I can't see him!" And the child: "But here he is!"

But then Elder Brother said, "Your teacher cannot see me because his heart is not as pure as yours. Only the pure in heart can see me."

The teacher was ashamed of himself, and he said, "You have taught me a great lesson. You are my teacher, I must become as pure as you are, and then I'll be able to see your Elder Brother."

Now you see, this story is told to almost all children in India. Maybe in Auroville you are not told this story or maybe you are, and I would be very happy but in India this is one of the best ways of overcoming fear. If you know that Elder Brother, who can help you in every condition, is available to you, then there is no fear. You are not alone. You are always in the company of the Lord.

This is my answer to your question about fear, but this is not a complete answer, for fear is a very vast subject.

And then there is the control of pain. There are two kinds of pain: psychological pain and there is physical pain. It has been said that the whole world is nothing but an experience of pain. There is a point of view that says that the whole world is nothing but one experience of pain, it is a miserable world, and that there is constant suffering. This is an exaggeration, because it is not true that everything in the world is nothing but pain. There is also neutrality, there is also pleasure. Pleasure, pain and neutrality these are the three currents in the world. All three are temporary, they succeed one another. It is only because the experience of pain is comparatively smaller than the experience of pleasure and neutrality that we think pain to be rather exceptional, and that we want to concentrate on pain as a phenomenon to be conquered. But in fact, we also need to conquer pleasure; we also need to conquer neutrality. All three need to be conquered.

And all three can be conquered, gradually, by a principle that is called equality In Sanskrit it is called samatwam, a state of equality.

Equality is a state of consciousness that is developed through three stages: the stage of forbearance or endurance, the stage of philosophical understanding of the world, and the stage of resignation. These three stages prepare us to enter into a true state of equality that is higher than all three. As a result, what we call the object of pain can also be transformed into an object of bliss. That which seems to be painful today can also be looked upon and experienced as an object from which there emanates bliss.

Briefly speaking, let us say what the state of endurance is... You have seen for example when you do gymnastics in physical education, you have these exercises for endurance, endurance tests. When you run, as a result of running there is pain in your body on the first day, your muscles feel pain. You suffer that pain, and you do not say that because running is painful you will not run the next day. You suffer it, you endure – that is a state of forbearance, you accept to undergo the experience of pain and to master it. There are people who do this kind of endurance in very extreme forms. The very thing which gives them pain, they do it again and again and again and again, until they feel that that thing does not give pain anymore. There is a word that has become very well-known: stoicism. A Stoic is someone who can endure every kind of emotion and who has the power to suffer any kind of experience. Then you become equal to it. In any condition, it does not make any difference to you if it gives you pleasure or pain or neutrality. This is one way of controlling pain: to develop this stoic condition, a state of endurance.

The second is the method of understanding. You realize that this world is so constituted that the experience of pain is a part of the totality. There are things which are bitter in this world, there are things which are sweet – once you understand this, the sting of pain is reduced. As long as you don't understand, pain is very painful, but when you understand it the sting of pain is reduced. If you look at the whole world, at the totality of its processes; you realize that pain is a process through which you have to pass in order to attain higher and higher levels of being and experience. If you understand this then pain becomes more easily acceptable, and you begin to control pain.

The third is resignation. You become in your consciousness so very docile, and you say, "Whatever comes to me, I accept faithfully. Whatever comes, pain pleasure or neutrality, I accept." At a higher level of resignation you come into contact with a Master. If you are a good student, and you have found a good teacher, then whatever lessons are given to you by the teacher you accept with a sense of resignation. If the teacher says, "Do this lesson!" you will do it, even though you might not be absolutely comfortable with it. You resign yourself: Whatever comes from your teacher you accept. Even if it is very hard work, even if it is painful, you accept. This very attitude of acceptance gives you control over pain. In due course you will find that this very thing gives you great happiness.

These are the three methods by which you can control – I am not yet speaking of mastering pain. That is a further question. If you were to ask how to master pain, that would be a much more difficult answer to give. At present I am only telling you how you can control pain: by stoicism, by philosophical understanding, or by resignation.

There is a beautiful aphorism by Sri Aurobindo in which he says that there are four stages by which pain can ultimately be transformed into bliss. It is said that when Sri Aurobindo went to the jail in Alipore, the conditions of living were very adverse. It was hot, in summer; the cell in which Sri Aurobindo was living had no windows; the blanket on which he had to sleep was on the soil, directly it was not cemented. He was given only a bowl, which he has said was like his ICS officer – an ICS officer is supposed to be capable of doing everything and anything; meaning thereby that the bowl was meant for holding dahl and water, but was also used for toilet, the same bowl. Because it was very hot, all kinds of insects were coming out of the soil; we normally complain only of mosquitoes, but if all kinds of insects come out, and red ants particularly. They would sting Sri Aurobindo's body, and he transformed the pain of the stings of those red ants into delight.

Sri Aurobindo says that our experience of pain is due to the nervous habits. Our body is ruled by nerves, and these nerves have habits. If you are born in Siberia, where there is very extreme cold, you can bear that cold. But if I go to Siberia, I might not even be able to bear the cold of France, forget Siberia! There are many people living in southern India who cannot bear the cold of Delhi but those who live in Delhi enjoy the cold season very much. It is a question of habits. If the nerves can be controlled and mastered, then the same things can be turned into a great delight. In any case, Sri Aurobindo's analysis of pain is that underlying pleasure, pain and neutrality there is a current of delight – underlying all three. And if you can deal with each of them rightly and go beyond the ordinary current, if you can catch the current which is behind them, then every experience will be an experience of delight. There is nothing which is painful, the question is whether we can go deep enough to catch that current of delight.

Sometimes you will find, psychologically that an experience that has given you great pain, but when you look back you find that that experience was extremely useful in your life, and if it had not occurred your life would not be as meaningful or as fruitful as it is now. I fail a given examination: At the time I read the result "failed" it gives me great pain; but because I failed to have to learn certain things, and later when I look back I see that if I had not failed and if I had not earned those things, my foundations would have remained weak and I could never have done as well in my life as I have done.

So when you look back, painful experiences are found to be doors to a greater happiness. If you therefore understand the world at deeper and deeper levels, then pain can be conquered. The experience of delight can be obtained in a better and better way.

This is my brief answer to your question as to how to control pain. Controlling joy and happiness – I am very happy that you mentioned this also, for it is true that joy and happiness also need to be controlled. Very often joy and happiness mean excitement, and excitement is as dangerous or as wrong as the experience of pain. Sri Aurobindo has said that excitement actually invites forces that are adverse to you – you become forgetful in excitement, you become overconfident, you begin to develop pride. And therefore we need to experience and to work out how to control this.

The rules are the same as for pain: stoicism, philosophical understanding, resignation and then an entering into deeper levels of consciousness from where you can gain the true experience, not of happiness, but of bliss, of delight. Delight is something quite different from happiness. Real delight is not actually understood by us, the kind of thrill you get in an experience of delight we don't ordinarily get at all. It is only by going to a deeper level of consciousness that you can control, and as I told you we can prepare ourselves for that by these three steps.

Your second question is: "how does one control one's will, wishes and desires?' First, about desire, this is a subject that has been deeply explored in the Bhagvad Gita. Perhaps you have not read it; it is one of the greatest books in the world which deals with the question of desire. How does one control desire? In fact the Bhagvad Gita says that you must slay the desire. Ultimately, you must come to a state where desire can be destroyed not only controlled, but destroyed. And to arrive at this stage where you can really eliminate desire altogether from your consciousness, again you can prepare by following three steps.

The strongest desire in us is the desire to enjoy the fruits of action. Our enjoyment is not in action, but in the fruits of action, and therefore the first thing is to find out what are the fruits you are seeking as a result of your action, which is motivated by desire. There is a desire, there is an action, and there is a result of the action. First of all you find out what is the result that you are seeking, and what is the enjoyment that you are seeking from the result – this is the strongest hold of desire on us. If you therefore say, "I will act, but I will not enjoy the fruits of action" – that is the first step. You are still not giving up desire, you desire action, you are only giving up the enjoyment of the fruits of the action. This is the first step of controlling desire.

The second step is to offer your action not only the fruits of the action but the action itself as a sacrifice to the universe, to the Cosmic Forces. Realize that your action is a part of the whole Cosmos, and that your action is a kind of sacrifice done to the whole Cosmos. That is the second step.

The third step is when you see your action as an instrument. Now what is the meaning of being an instrument? If you are a servant in the house, you look up to the Master of the house and await his orders. Whatever he orders, you perform that action. This is the state of being an instrument: You do not initiate the action, you do not decide how you will do the action, but you will await the order and work out the order faithfully. When you are able to wait for the order from the Highest and work out that order, then there is no desire left. This is the third step.

So the first step is to not desire to enjoy the fruits of action; the second is that you offer your action as a sacrifice to the Cosmic Forces; the third is when you begin to await the order from the Highest and to work out that order as an instrument. These are three ways by which your desires can be controlled.

You have spoken here of will, wishes and desire, there is a difference between all three. Take for example the word will. The difference between desire and will is this... In desire you try to grasp something from outside, and appropriate it for yourself, to possess it. What you lack you try to get, to fill a gap in you that is how desire operates. There is awareness of something that you don't possess but that you want to possess, and you grasp at it this is a movement of desire. I desire to take first place in a competition. This is because I know that I am not recognized as the best, and I want recognition, I want to acquire it from all the people. Maybe I even know that I am not really the best, but I want to become it. So when you know that you are not or have not, and you want to be or have that is the starting point of desire.

Now with the case of will there is an opposite movement: When you have something and when you want to express it, when you have decided that you have got a power in you, and that that power must be expressed then there is the beginning of will. Even here there is some element of desire. That is to say, you have not yet expressed your power and you want to – there is an element of desire. 

But there is a Higher Will, in which you have a will and want to express it but you are also content if it is not expressed. If whether it is expressed or not makes no difference to you, and yet you express it – that is Will. If the fulfillment of the will does not constitute the motivation of will, if it is simply an exercise of your freedom − this is what is called "free will". There is a will at a lower level still tainted with desire, but there is a free will, a state in which you may or may not express it and it makes no difference to you, and yet you express it. Not because you must express it, you are really free to express or not to express. In other words, there is a delight in the expression, but there's no compulsion for you to express. When you can arrive at this kind of a will, then you have controlled will and not only controlled, but mastered.

To arrive at the mastery of the will, the same principles I described earlier for the control of desire are to be followed. When you become the instrument that is a very high level already desire is gone but when you become identified with the Master, then you are actually in this state of free will. It is by becoming yourself the Master that the free will is expressed.

So the first condition is to give up the enjoyment of the fruits of action; the second is to sacrifice the action; the third is to await the order and to carry out the order and the fourth is a state where you attain free will. You become one with the Master, so that you yourself will freely. That is the highest condition.