The Ascent towards Supermind, Part II, Chapter XXVI - Session iii

I had come to a very crucial point last time on the subject of individuation. And I said that at the level of human growth, the deepest experience at the mental level of individuality is obtained in the exercise of will, particularly when you feel the experience of free will. This subject of free will is very important, so I shall go into detail. There are 3 or 4 main stages of the development of will. Imagine a child, who is put into a beautiful room where there are 20-25 beautiful objects around. You are only watching the child’s movements and you will find that the child jumps from one object to the other and the child is happy. Every object gives him pleasure, suddenly at a certain stage you are watching and just say to the child, ‘don’t touch this’. The child doesn’t like it, doesn’t like your stopping him and he says, ‘no, I want this object’ and again you stop him, there is a tug of war between you and the child. At that time the child is not aware of what is happening, what he is doing. He is simply expressing an impulse to touch what he really wants to touch, to grapple with the object that he wants to. He doesn’t say that, ‘well, I am free to touch or not to touch,’ because he is not conscious of what freedom means. There is no consciousness of freedom, but when he fights with you it means that he is objecting to your control over his freedom. He may not be aware to articulate it, but what is happening is that he is objecting to the infringement of his freedom. He wants to do what he wants to do. An impulsive selection of an object out of many objects which are present is what he enjoys and any control coming from outside he resists. This is the earliest experience of what we call the problem of freedom, when the child himself is not aware what freedom means. He is not conscious that he is freely choosing one or the other. He is impulsively attracted to certain objects and he wants it. So anything that is obstructing from outside is considered by him impulsively, not consciously as an infringement of his freedom. This one of the earliest experiences, at a later stage of development, the child begins to have choice before him. In the sense several alternatives are placed before him of which he becomes conscious as alternatives. When he was playing in the room he was not aware that he would have so many alternatives present before him but now as he grows a little more, he becomes aware of the presence of alternatives. You take him to a hotel, a variety of foods are available. Let us say he is having a buffet lunch, so many items are available on the table and he is aware that so many alternatives are there and he goes on selecting one after the other. You happen to be present with the child and when he selects one thing then you say, ‘don’t take this’. Then he says, ‘no, I must have it’ then there is a tug of war. The difference between the tug of war at a younger age and now is that there is a consciousness. He feels resentment against you, saying that you are not allowing him the freedom. He feels freedom consists in choosing anything that is presented to him; out of so many alternatives, he can choose anything.

So his definition of freedom is—presentation of alternatives that is the first thing, if there is no alternative then the question of freedom doesn’t arise. If you only give one thing and you say that you take it. The only alternative is either to take it or not to take it, so only two alternatives. So, very often the experience of freedom is not experienced so much. It is when several alternatives are presented that expression of the idea of freedom becomes more articulate in his mind. So the presence of alternatives and the presence of a will, which can make a choice, so that there is presentation of alternatives confronting which there is a will, which has the tendency to make a choice and then there is an act of choice. When he is making an act of choice, he still doesn’t understand that this is freedom. But when somebody says don’t take this he suddenly feels that now he is being stopped and he might even be able to tell you, ‘why did you stop me, I like it and I want to have it and I should be free to have it’. You come as a kind of barrier and opposer of freedom. This is the beginning of the child’s experience of freedom. As far as this particular table for buffet is concerned maybe that all the articles which are there are equally good, only mother felt that this particular article is not good for him but basically all the article are really good because in food basically everything is wholesome, healthy, fine, well cooked, so there is no problem as far as that is concerned.

But now we come to a higher level and this is the kind of problem which many mothers face while dealing with the children. A simple example is the choice between play and study, this is a very frequent experience, the child wants to play and the child has to study also. Let us examine this psychologically, what exactly happens. The child has a great interest normally to go for play, it is one of the alternatives before him and he likes impulsively to choose play. He doesn’t choose the study because of two reasons,—one is that there is more labour involved in it, then there is a further problem of retaining what is studied. It is more difficult than mere play. Even in the case of play, if the play is new, if the game is new then he might feel the same kind of problem as there is between play and study, but he knows a game then there is a tendency to repeat it. Whenever that alternative is presented to the child, he immediately picks up that particular choice, wherever there is a little hard labour then this problem arises. Between the alternatives, it's not that one is good another is bad—both are good, play is good and study is good, but in the evaluation of the mother the play has less importance than study in the present circumstances.

Although a more enlightened mother would say that both are equally good and according to the choice of child, if he feels more like playing—perfectly alright. But normally, our present situation being what it is, we begin to assign more value to study than to play, so we advice the child that don’t play and come to the room and attend to your mathematics or your English. Let him study and the child resents it, and really feels that I should not be restrained and he begins to ask you also why do you restrain me, what is wrong with this, what is right in this. This question of right and wrong good and better begins to take shape. There is a stage, where the choice is between all equals. In the other words the choice is neutral and whether it takes this or that makes no difference at all. At a later stage there is a difference between at least good and better—you might say to the child, “look, play is very fine, I don’t object to it but study is better. You must come out of this play and begin to concentrate on studies.”

So you have a situation where you may distinguish between good and better and you try to appeal to the child to choose the better, instead of choosing the good. But at a still later stage the child begins to manifest a greater choice, not between good and better but good and less good in the opposite direction, in the sense that something may be positively bad. A certain kind of food, which is harmful to my health, I like to have it as against another article of food which is very good for my health and when both are present on the table. When guests have come many items of this kind are available and the child has the habit of choosing besides that which he likes but may not be good for his health. At that time we explain to the child look this is not a good choice you are making, it is bad for you. So he starts making a distinction between good and bad. It is at this stage that we call a moral problem arises.

Starting point of an ethical problem is when you make a distinction between good and bad, good and evil. When there is only a choice between everything that is good there is no ethical problem involved, it is not the question of inclination. When the ethical problems begin to dawn in the mind of a child, he is obliged to reflect. Until now there was no need to reflect but now when you say this bad and this is good, you are obliging the child to reflect,—what is bad, what is good. Then he is explained what is good, what is bad or he understands himself, what is good and what is bad in his own way. In the first place you may say that what may be pleasant may in certain circumstances be really bad. It may be pleasant but may be bad. I like to eat ice cream which is good, which is pleasant but then I go on eating ice cream beyond my limits then you say that it is pleasant I understand but it is bad for your health. It’s too much for you, you shouldn’t take it. This is at this minimum level the ethical problem reduces itself between pleasant and good, pleasant and bad. Something may be pleasant and yet good, something may be pleasant but bad.

At a little higher stage you make a further distinction. You may say that “look, this is pleasant for you but bad for you.” The same pleasant given to another is good for him and you give up your pleasure so that it can be enjoyed by another. Now that becomes a more complicated state of affairs when somebody else comes into the picture in consideration. You might be told that although something may be pleasant for you, if you do it, it will reduce the pleasure of others, so don’t do it. Here the criterion of deciding what is good and evil changes. It’s not only pleasant that is good, you can now say that even something that is not pleasant may be good because it helps many other people. This is called the criterion of maximum happiness of maximum number of people. You try to explain to the child that you should choose that which is beneficial or that which is conducive to pleasure for the maximum number of people. Whenever you do any action, ask yourself will it be conducive to the maximum pleasure of maximum number of people, if so, do that if not, don’t do that and sacrifice something which is not conducive to that.

At a still higher stage a further consideration comes in, which has nothing to do with the criterion of pleasure. That which gives you more knowledge you might argue is better for you than that which simply gives you pleasure. So a new argument starts that which gives you more knowledge is better than that which simply gives you pleasure. That which teaches you endurance is better for you then which gives you only pleasure. You should learn how to endure that which makes you noble by self-giving makes you a better man, gives you a better character, not only knowledge but greater character that is better for you than the other one. So when the alternatives that are presented are not all equally good or all good but of lesser degree, or greater degree, where the question of good and evil doesn’t arise, this is the second stage.

Third stage is where you have a distinction between good and bad and there also we distinguish three stages. When one is pleasant and good, pleasant and not good, pleasant for others unpleasant for you and yet good for you and it may be that you like it but it is not conducive to the happiness of others; until you come to a point where you say that, that is conducive to the maximum happiness to the maximum number of people is really good. And for doing it, you may sacrifice your pleasure or your good then you come to another stage, where you say that pleasure is not the only way by which you can decide whether it is good or not. There is something like pursuit of knowledge. If something is better for gaining knowledge even though it may not be pleasant, it is good for you and that which simply gives you pleasure is not good for you. That which develops your character is better then that which does not.

Then you come to a still higher stage, where what you call dharma and adharma becomes a very important problem even in lower stages. It is a very complex subject about what is dharma and what is adharma, where you arrive at a distinction between something that is good because of its consequences and something that is good because it is good in itself. We are told to speak the truth. It is a very simple proposition, speak the truth and if somebody says that why should we speak the truth? Very often, the answer is that truth is good in itself. The consequences of speaking the truth may not be pleasant but truth is good in itself therefore, you must speak the truth. Honesty is good. Why? Because it is good in itself. I must do my duty, why? Because duty is for its own sake, whether it's pleasant for you or not, whether it's pleasant for others or not. Your duty is what is prescribed to you and it is good because it is good in itself.

That which is not good in itself, is very often considered to be adharma. That which is good in itself is called dharma. This is one view of dharma and very often it is found that which is prescribed as dharma is more difficult to practice than that which is adharma. Consider the situation where an individual faces alternatives, some of which are part of dharma, some of which are part of adharma, but the consciousness moves towards adharma by natural inclination. At a lower stage there is a choice for that adharma but one does not know it is adharma. But now at this higher stage you are aware that this is adharma and this is dharma and you are told that you should choose dharma instead of adharma. Very often, in experience you will find a person who chooses adharma says, ‘I am freely choosing adharma.’ He uses the word I am free. One who is drinking says that ‘let me drink, it is my freedom, it’s my choice. I want to drink.’ And he feels freedom in choosing drink against not drinking. Both are alternatives before him but he feels psychologically that he feels freedom when he chooses this and not choosing the other one. Sometimes he might even make an effort to choose the dharma against the adharma. But like Dhuryodhana he says:

जानामि धर्मं न च मे प्रवृत्ति र्जानामि पापं न च मे निवृत्तिः ।

Janami dharmam na cha me pravrittih, Janami adharmam na cha me nivrittih

He says that I know what dharma is but I have no inclination for it. I know what adharma is but I can’t come out of it, I don’t have nivritti from it. I know what dharma is but have no pravritti, I have no inclination towards it. I repeat the words, I know what is adharma but I cannot come out of it, I am so inclined towards it that when both are presented to me I automatically choose this. Why not, this is the important point. He feels freedom in choosing adharma against dharma and when you tell him that you choose dharma, he says that don’t compel me. Do not bind my freedom; my freedom is what I want to do.

At a higher level of experience you find and this is the most important experience in human life. Somebody is drinking and the doctor says, ‘look, it is ruining your health, so you realize that drinking is bad really. It is adharma, I will not do it, he really does not want to do it. But whenever he sees the glass full of liquor he is tempted to it and then he takes it. He does not choose it; he takes it because the inclination is so great. It is here that he feels that he is compelled to take it. Here he does not say that I am free to take it. He experiences that although he does not want to drink he is feeling compulsion to do it, so now he does not claim that he is free to take it but he claims a compulsion. This is a new stage.

In the certain stage of consciousness that which you do not like, which you do not want, yet you feel such an attraction towards it that you want it and you feel you are compelled to take it. This is called passion in English language; you cannot avoid it although you may not approve of it. It is called passion because you become passive to it. That impulsion is so great that you become completely passive to it and you are unable to exercise your will. That is why you feel that you are not free, you are compelled. Then you ask a question: can I be free from this compulsion?

Now you begin to change your point of view, of freedom. Previously when you were drinking, you were feeling free to do it. At this stage you are feeling that while you take it you are bound, you are not free and you want to become free. You realize that when you are choosing by inclination, by passion it’s not really choosing, you are not free and choosing. So now, your idea of freedom is changed and you make an effort, a real effort to choose the other one that is good for you. Abstain from drinking or doing something much better, not only abstaining from drinking but doing something positively not only by negative action but even positive action, which may be better. You may develop such a good interest in something which is noble that you forget all other passions altogether. You may become extremely interested in the cause of animals for example; it may become a great habit with you to spend your time in the protection of animals, in propagating the idea of protection of animals. And that becomes such a positive action in you that you forget drinking all together.

It is not a battle in your consciousness whether to drink or not to drink, you just do the right thing,—a good cause that you had taken into your heart and you are engaged in that action. When you abstain you are struggling to become free, you are not really free, although you may abstain and succeed in abstaining but it is the result of your struggle. It is an effort to gain freedom, freedom from drinking. But when you really don’t even think of drinking, the battle is all over. Then you can really say that I have become free from drinking. It has gone. It’s no more there and then when you are doing your action choosing the cause of animals, you really feel free, you really feel that now no more that thing, which was compelling you, is there. Something is lifted away from you in a sense here you don’t even have a choice. Previously there was a choice between this and that and that but here there is only good for you and you choose automatically the good, in a sense that you don’t have a choice even.

There is a state of freedom, where there is no choice and yet you feel freedom. Not only when you have alternatives and you choose one but here you have a condition, where there are no options before you and when you do that thing which is before you, which is really good, you really feel that you are free, It’s the freedom without choice because it’s a choice for the good. When there is a good, which is done by you, you really feel free.

At a still higher level you find that there are so many things, which have to be done, all of them are equally good. If you are engaged in ten good activities, looking after children, studying, going to health clubs, going to help poor children, going to a school, many good things you are doing, so many things and all of them are good. It is only a question of time available to you. In every activity that you do you’ll feel freedom, each one is good and each one gives you experience of freedom but now you have a real choice. When you have ten activities to do and you don’t have time for all the activities then what do you do—then you have a real choice. Whether you choose these five, or those five, makes no difference to you, you can do any five that you like because of your timing. This is the condition, which is the most enjoyable condition. When you have so many and consciously you may decide that I will take this. It’s a wonderful experience of freedom.

If you have thousands of such alternatives before you and you can really choose so many or all that is a supreme freedom. The supreme freedom is the state of condition where all alternatives are equally best, not only good are equally best. When you have the possibility of doing all of them or any of them, or some of them, or many of them, when you are in this state it is perfect freedom,—such a freedom exists. It exists at the very root of creation, at the root of everything in the world that is here. At a human level, we have only all those freedoms of which I have spoken. A few alternatives before you, each one of them may be best, but thousands of alternatives, all equally best and possibility of choosing all, or many, or some or any, this also exists.

A human consciousness is at a certain stage capable of attaining that. When that condition is obtained, it is called realization of your true individuality. From our present level of individuality which starts at the small stage, which I described. At each stage of freedom wherever you have the problem of freedom, you experience something of your individuality but the highest experience of the individuality arises when this freedom is available to you. That is obtained in the stage of supramental consciousness. At the mental level this freedom is not available but as you make an ascent towards Supermind you ascend towards that freedom. At a lower level we may have the idea of freedom. We may have a sense of freedom but not actuality of freedom or there may be some actuality of freedom, as when I find that between evil and good. When I choose the good and when I do it, I really feel freedom. So some kind of actuality of freedom you experience but it can grow more and more, as you rise higher and higher. But until you reach the supramental manifestation, first of all until you reach the supramental consciousness, you don’t have the full freedom of which I spoke. Where all alternatives are equally best and you can choose freely, simply pick one and it is equally best rather than the other one, which is also equally best. Since this freedom exists ultimately even at lower levels, we have some kind of shadow of it. Every human being feels in his heart that he is really free. He may not really be able to articulate his sense of freedom in the way in which I have articulated just now.

A true freedom means presentation of alternatives which are equally best, all are equally good, equally best and a possibility of a will which can choose all or many or some or any of them. Why not, because one is better than the other but because each one is equally best. Why you choose one rather than the other is because you are free. There is no compulsion that you have to choose this rather than the other. That experience is the experience of true freedom and that is attained when the Supermind is attained, that is where true individuality is experienced. Till that time all our sense of individuality is somewhat tainted by egoism in some measure or the other therefore, ego is never free. Basically, all egoistic actions are compelled actions. Even though you may feel that I am free, you are not really free because egoism is only a small machine in the totality of things and your decisions will depend upon the totality. It is totality which determines your will that’s why Sri Aurobindo says,—that our notion of free-will is apt to be tainted by the idea that you are independent of all the rest and that you are acting absolutely determined by yourself as you choose without any compulsion whatsoever. But it is like you feel as if you are doing it like the drunkard who says I want to drink freely, I am not compelled by anybody, without realizing that his choosing for drink itself is a compulsion. His habits have compelled to choose it, which he says I am free even, he uses the word freedom. He feels the sense of freedom but actually he is not free, he is compelled. So, he finds it impossible to curb himself. He is not free to choose the other when he says that I am free to drink, you tell him that if you are really free then choose the other one, not drinking which he cannot do. He is not capable of choosing the other one. So at a lower level of consciousness, we only use the word freedom, but actually it is not free. Basically you may say that our human life is a state of compulsion of some kind or the other. The kind of freedom that we have is only because choices are presented to us and we happen to choose one. We may feel that we are free but actually we are compelled and yet something of that supreme freedom is present in us basically. Although this experience is explicitly at the supramental level, our true individuality comes from there. Therefore, wherever we are this freedom actually obtains, we are not aware of it but each one of us is really free. Even when the drunkard drinks under compulsion even at that stage actually speaking his psychology has some freedom which he can exercise. It's not as if he is fully compelled. There is still in him something by which he can control it because of that freedom there is a possibility of coming out of that compulsion,—freedom to right choice which gives you the sense of freedom. This degree of freedom that we have increases, as you begin to make a right choice in which you begin to express the freedom.

We have the answer to the basic question that we often raise—Is man free? Is there really Free-Will in this world and the answer is,—‘yes’. There is a very great thinker in the Ashram at Pondicherry, who was so much troubled at one stage in regard with the problem of free will that whenever he thought of free will, he found everywhere—compulsion. Whenever he analyzed anything he found there was compulsion. Even when he choose a good thing he felt that he was choosing the good thing because he had education of certain kind, circumstances were favorable, He was told, he was influenced by other people’s views, he had developed liking for it. It was that liking, he chose good because he could not choose another thing that also is a compulsion. The other side of the compulsion, I chose good because I was compelled to choose good. When he analyzed everything, he found that there was everywhere compulsion, which is called the theory of determinism, everything is determined. Then he was so confused in his consciousness because there is experience of freedom also. But when you analyze everything there is compulsion and yet there is a sense of freedom sometime. So he went to the Mother and said: ‘Mother tell me, no argument, I simply want to know is there really freedom, does Free-Will exists? Just tell me yes or no. Mother said that ‘yes, it exists’. Then he thought over the whole problem and he wrote an article afterwards on Free-Will and he sent it to Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo himself said that it is a very good article on free will by K.D. Sethna, It’s a very good article on this subject, but there are three point in this whole subject that normally we live a life of compulsions, but while living the life of compulsions, it is a fact that before an individual—alternatives begin to appear. The very appearance of alternatives before us, gives rise to the sense of freedom. If no alternatives are present before us at all then the sense of freedom would not arise. Secondly even though we may be compelled to choose one against the other because we are choosing one against the other, some kind of sense of freedom is experienced. Thirdly at a given stage, I really experience freedom from the clutches of passions that gives me a further experience of freedom. Fourthly and this is the most important point in your ascent from your present level, you do find a condition in which on one side you are compelled in one direction, on the other side you are compelled on the other side, in that stage of consciousness if you choose one, you will experience the freedom of which I spoke earlier,—freedom from passion. But when you choose that you really find that there is no compulsion. It was a real choice, you were really free. When somebody says, ‘I am so addicted to drinking, I am helpless, I can’t do without it, what can I do’. The true answer is that even then there is freedom in you, you just can take a decision; make a real choice, for you are capable of it.

That is why Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita ‘atmana atmanam udharet’,—by yourself, you should raise yourself. You have a self, which is inclined to the lower but there is a self in you by means of which you can raise that self to a higher level. There is something in you by means of which you can choose really, you can make a choice. If this secret is known that there is something in you by which you can really make a choice between so called two compulsions then you begin to experience your true self, true individuality. This is the earliest experience of your true individuality. A true Free-Will exercised between true compulsions—one for the lower, one for the higher. Both are compulsions in you and there is a real tug of war, one compulsion against the other compulsion, in between lies your real choice. This is important, what you may call pin-point freedom in you.

What is that freedom and from where does it come? It comes actually from that supreme freedom of which I spoke. A freedom where thousands of alternatives are before you, each one of which is equally best and in regard to which you can choose all, or many, or some, or any that supreme freedom is somehow present in you. Even in a pin point maybe only this much, why only this much, because all the rest is shadowed by compulsions of various kinds. If there is a spark which is covered by ashes the spark remains. Similarly, your individuality is truly a centration of the Divine. Therefore, all the freedom that exists in the Divine, for the Divine, is your individuality. Because your individuality is nothing but the centration of the Divine, of the infinite but that centration is now covered with all kinds of compulsions—compulsions of ego, compulsion of sattva, rajas and tamas and many others because there is a covering of that compulsion. You normally experience only compulsions but if you go deeper, you will find that spark there and the moment you can touch it, you will really experience real freedom. Even if you don’t experience it, it is not abolished, it is there, it is present there. Actually it is because of that spark that you feel at all, the sense of freedom because whatever may happen there is still in you a consciousness, it could be otherwise. The sense of it could be otherwise, gives you a real sense of choice and real free choice.

The mark of freedom is that whenever you do something, there is an accompanying consciousness that I could do something else. I could have done something else that is a real mark of freedom and in regard to all our moral activities you will find that you always feel that it could have been something else. I could have done something, I become angry, I feel afterwards this was not right, why, because I feel that I could have done otherwise, there is a sense that I could have done otherwise. You did not do it, is another matter but the fact is that you feel inwardly that you could have done otherwise. The closer you are to this spark, the greater is the feeling. The nearer you are to this pin-point, the greater is your feeling that it could have been otherwise. There is a very nice sentence of the Mother when she was asked a question she said, ‘all that happens had to happen.’ Because of the conditions and circumstances in which that event occurred and yet it could have been better, this you can say with regard to any event in the world, anything that happens had to happen, yet it could have been better. There was still a possibility of changing it. This you can say even about such a great event like the Mahabharata war. If you examine such a big event like the Mahabharata war, you can say that it had to happen. Even in all the circumstances it had to happen and yet there is a sense in which you can say, it could have been avoided. If it was not avoidable at all then why did Shri Krishna try his best to prevent it? This is also a fact that if the Mahabharata war was absolutely something which had to happen, Shri Krishna would have known it; he would not have made any effort to avoid it. He even put himself in a precarious condition of risk by going to Dhuryodhana’s court to plead for peace,—there was a possibility of avoiding it. Shri Krishna could have said at the end that the Mahabharata war was to happen, yet it could have been avoided even after its occurrence. It is because something else can happen that we can think that next time I can avoid it. Therefore, next time when the same kinds of conditions arise, I try to avoid it. If this was not there, every time I could have said, ‘what is to happen will happen’. My effort has no meaning because whatever has to happen will happen, but because it could be better, even last time when it happened it had to happen but it could have been better, therefore, next time when it is starting to happen, I can exercise my will and can say freely, it could happen otherwise. That’s why from here a good attitude arises, if something has happened, do not grieve, it had to happen. Realize that it could have been avoided, which you could not avoid because what you were, given the conditions of life, of yourself and of everything, it did not happen. But if you make a choice, which you did not, if you had to make a choice, a free choice, you could have avoided it therefore, next time when similar events begin to occur, realize that it could have been changed. Last time also, you could not do it but this time you just exercise your will and it could be different.

When this kind of consciousness develops the progression of the world occurs. When this does not happen, the old cycles go on repeating there is no progression. But when our consciousness really makes a choice, which is always possible for you to choose because it is always there—you make a choice and it will be different. Therefore, in the progression from our present level to the Supermind this element becomes more and more prominent. This is also called a battle with destiny. In fact this is the theme of the great epic Savitri—Satyavan must die, it was a compulsion and yet Savitri made the decision. She chose this shall not happen and as a result of the battle, she arrived at a point that even when the event took place, Satyavan died, but she could change that situation and make Satyavan alive. There was a destiny in which Satyavan was to die and that was the end of the matter, whereas here she changed the whole situation and conquered the situation. This is what is called the mastery of the individual over fate.

The whole of the Vedic teaching is that you can change fate, there is no fatalism in the Vedic teaching. The fate is there as long as you choose it you are free to choose it. But you can also change it if you choose it. How to choose it and what is to be done is the whole secret of the Veda. In the entire Veda the main subject is how to change the destiny, the fate. The true experience of the individual is when you exercise your true Free-Will. At any stage you make an effort to cling to the truth—it’s a choice to be made. Even when there is a compulsion on you, you just say that I really want to cling to the truth. This choice will make it possible. Mother had hung a small board just near her door, ‘Cling to the truth’. That is the greatest message for every individual, you just decide to cling to the Truth, take a decision, all kinds of compulsions will be there in your life and you will be able to justify everything that happens and you can surely say that what happens had to happen. Still continue to say, it could have been better and next time you can do it better by taking a decision to cling to the truth. As you progress in this individuation, you make a distinction between the ego and the individual. Ego does not have this choice therefore, when you try to choose egoistically, you will always be the puppet of the circumstances.

It is only when you go deeper than the egoistic consciousness that you really find the possibility of changing, of doing otherwise, of realizing a alternative which was present, but which was impossible to realize and the more you bring it out the more you experience your true individuality and is greatly helped by the psychic consciousness. The psychic consciousness is a delegate of the Divine. It is a spark which has sprung from the divine fire itself. If you visualize Divine as fire, a huge fire then each one of us is a spark of that fire that fire is giving rise to sparks and each one of us is that spark. And that spark is a gift of the Divine to us. The individual who has now been covered by all kinds of compulsions is helped by this boon. And each spark is actually in the image of your true individuality; your true individuality is ‘Jivatman’. This spark is your psychic entity and as it goes on expressing the Free-Will, it goes on changing your compulsion, more and more, newer and better alternatives begin to arise in your life. A new life is born and as that happens, the psychic entity begins to develop as a psychic being, it grows into the image of the true individuality and this being goes on into our personality and thus it goes on creating greater and greater freedom. The original freedom of which I spoke begins to grow more and more in your life.

At the highest level of course there are thousands of alternatives, each one of which is equally best, but even at this level more and more alternatives of that kind begin to arise in your life. You become like a musician, who is a master of ten or twelve different instruments and he can play on all of them equally well and then he can only choose whether he wants to play this way, or that way, or that way and each one is as beautiful as the other one. Each piece of music that he will produce will be equally good, so this kind of possibility goes on increasing as psychisization takes place.

So, for your ascent to the Supermind this entire process is a prerequisite. When it reaches its climax the true individual is uncovered, that is only the spark under the shadow of ashes. Now he himself becomes the fire and melts or unites with the Supreme and therefore, partakes of the freedom that is in the Supreme because he is only the centration of this freedom, of that free spirit. So for him same possibilities arise as God possibilities and whatever he wills is willed by God and whatever God wills is willed by him, there is no conflict between the two. To reach this point the greatest instrument is progressive surrender, to come out of egoism and to enter into this consciousness the greatest method is that of surrender our present condition, egoistic condition. Let this egoism surrender knowing well its real position is the real puppet in the whole drama it is easier to surrender. When you know that you are only a puppet and this individual which is a spark is unable to convert our lower being and moves forward towards the Supreme making sacrifice of all the lower being into the Divine and purifies all that is below us in the lower consciousness and this has to be aided and this will be aided by the supreme freedom which is above and which will pour down. A descent from above and ascent from below by progressive surrender,—when there is a junction of the two, there will be a miraculous transformation. Unimaginable transformation takes place when the two unite. Merely effort from below is not enough—there can be a movement by your effort, something of the higher can be drawn into you, but that which is drawn into you will be modified by the lower. Only that which is brought down by your effort will be subject to this modification but that which descends on its own, the Supreme that will not be modified. All other levels of consciousness between Mind and Supermind can be modified, but Supermind is the greatest power which when it comes down on its own, it will not be subject to modification. It comes with the Supreme omnipotent power that’s the specialty of Supermind because it is the comprehensive power; it’s a power of complete freedom. This is the first condition of which Sri Aurobindo speaks,—for ascent from Mind to Supermind. This whole gamut of experience of individuality, where a true individual becomes the master and the lower is offered to the Divine and the Supermind begins to descend in completion of it, this is one aspect of ascent to the Supermind.

There is a second aspect and that is the individual, in this process begins to live more and more inwardly. He begins to discover his inner life, his inner consciousness, inner body, inner mind and the psychic being. You remember once we have spoken of subliminal consciousness. Subliminal consciousness is this inner consciousness. It is a larger consciousness, vaster consciousness, the center of our life shifts from outer to the inner. This is the mark of any progress in yoga that you become less and less superficial, you become more and more inward, more ingathered, deeply interested in your inner life. Even Bhagavad Gita says the mark of the yogi is that he likes solitude automatically. Even when he is in the company, he remains solitary or even when he partakes with others, he is not lost in superficiality, he doesn’t gossip. He does not mean that he loses humour, or wit, or anything of that kind but the superficiality is lost and even the outer life is lived as if it is inner life. It has the same depths, same seriousness, same purposiveness, same sense of responsibility. Nothing happens in the outer life which is irresponsible, which is purely superficial, which is unpurposive. As Mother said that even in a joke you should not tell a lie because there is so much seriousness in your activities, it may be a superficial joke but it must be expressive of the truth because your inner life is pursuer of the truth.

A stage is reached where the distinction between outer and inner altogether disappears. Your inner life becomes so deep and outer life is so much drenched with your inner life that to call that outer and to call this inner that whole wall is broken. Your whole life is an inner life. This is the second condition. The third condition of ascent toward the Supermind is to recognize more and more the direct operation and experience of the law of evolution. We recognize that in any movement in which you are moving upwards there will be a rhythm and it is good to know that rhythm and the law of the rhythm. That law of the rhythm is the law of evolution.

What is that law, you have to recognize that in your movement upwards there is no direct jump from where you are to the highest. If there was no evolution you could do that but there is law of evolution and the law of evolution is that there is a gradual development. All evolution means a graded and gradual development from grade to grade and as you rise from one grade to the other, there is a further evolutionary law. By gradual steps you reach a certain peak of that particular grade and for some time you will be able to dwell in it, until this part of the law becomes firm in you. You rise upwards to a grade then there will be an effort automatically helpful to you, which will stabilize you on that certain height of that consciousness. Having become firm on that point you will develop activities appropriate to that grade. These activities will become more and more varied, more and more subtle, more and more complex. Just as for example we have evolved from animal consciousness to human consciousness. It is one grade; animal consciousness is one grade, human consciousness is another grade. When you rise to the mental consciousness, which is the proper human consciousness then what happens? Your activities of the mind begin to develop, what are the activities of the mind, activities of observation, activities of judgment, activities of understanding, activities of analysis, activities of synthesis, activities of rational philosophy, activities of ethical action and activities of aesthetic, creativity and enjoyment these are the activities proper to mind of man. These activities will become more and more developed; they will become more and more subtle; they will become more and more complex.

The same law applies when you go beyond mind, you reach the next grade. Having reached the next grade the activities appropriate to that grade will become more and more subtle, more and more numerous and more and more complex. Then there is a further movement of what is called integration, this is the movement first of ascent, stabilization of reaching that particular point of ascent then there is a movement of integration, you move downward. All that you were doing earlier will again be repeated, you might feel that you are falling down from the higher level. But actually it is not a fall it’s a natural tendency to integrate what is left behind, you have ascended. What was left behind is again taken up by the higher level of consciousness, you descend down gradually to lower and lower activities. During that period you might find that you are collapsing. You have lost the height which you had reached but what is happening actually is that you are embracing the lower in the light of the higher. At every stage you are giving the contagion of the higher to the lower. There is a kind of a decent and there is therefore, the process of integration will be quite long. Then there is a further upward movement after integrating, you again move upwards but now in moving upward your peak point is not your earlier peak point. You will have made an ascent to another grade, the higher peak point. Again you multiply the activities of that peak point, make it more complex, more numerous, more subtle, having reached there, again you come down, again you move upward, this law of gradations is a part of evolutionary process. It is here therefore, we have to realize that whenever the higher descends into the lower, there is the modification of the higher, diminution of the power of the higher because you have come down. But the higher the power which you have reached the lesser the diminution therefore, constantly we move upwards until you reach the Supermind and when Supermind begins to integrate all the rest there is diminution. It can sovereignly integrate all the others. A very rapid progress takes place, what can be done in a million years can be done in a hundred years. That is the rapidity of that movement.

Now the question is what are the gradation that you come across between the Mind and the Supermind? Sri Aurobindo describes—first the gradation of Higher Mind, then the Illumined Mind, Intuitive Mind, Overmind and then the Supermind. It is when the entire process is completed then you attain to Supermind and you are able to live in the Supermind. You reach that peak point then you bring down little by little on lower plains and that can be computed only when it descends right into the Inconscient, the lowest level and that is converted, transformed then there is the fixing of Supermind in the Inconscient base, transformation of the Inconscient into the Supermind that is the mark of the victory. It’s a long process of development, a very, very long process, a very difficult process. But if you know the law of evolution and likely experiences then we are guided properly.

What is the nature of these gradations, what is Higher Mind, what is Illumined Mind, what is Intuitive Mind, how to distinguish between them? This is an extremely difficult task because all these gradation are so alien to our present level of mentality that it is very difficult to understand them. So, I will suggest that you just read them even if you don’t understand them. It does not matter because these are pertaining to experiences of which we are not immediately capable but for the sake of some glimpse it may be useful, at least to know how humble we should be, because all these things are still to be conquered yet, and a lot of work has to be done. So that we know that what we are doing is nothing as compared to what is to be done. I suggest that during the time that we do not meet for some time, you read these passages from the book.