Three Necessary Conditions to Receive and Act Under the Impulsion of the Divine Force

As long as we identify with the individual ego-personality, we remain bound to the limits of the body-life-mind complex. The action of the Divine Force under such conditions is necessarily diffused and diluted. The energy is mixed with the much more fragmentary and limited goals and objectives of the human individual and the result is thereby very much weakened.

The three conditions noted by Sri Aurobindo have the effect of minimizing the reactivity of the outer nature, focusing the attention on the higher force, and opening the receptivity to its action. As long as we are moved by the events of the outer life and shift our attention there, we are unable to break free of the framework that holds us captive to them. Quietude and equality are the foundations therefore to allow ourselves to move beyond this reactive state. Faith is required because we are necessarily giving up the “tried and true” methods and actions that accompany the normal human state of existence. Without faith, we will continuously fall back into the habitual and comfortable patterns that we have grown to rely on. The new mode and source of action is unproven to us, and thus, faith represents our willingness to trust that it will bring about the right result. Receptivity is the ability to open to the higher force and let it act through the nature.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “To be able to receive the Divine Power and let it act through you in the things of the outward life, there are three necessary conditions: (i) Quietude, equality — not to be disturbed by anything that happens, to keep the mind still and firm, seeing the play of forces, but itself tranquil. (ii) Absolute faith — faith that what is for the best will happen, but also that if one can make oneself a true instrument, the fruit will be that which one’s will guided by the Divine Light sees as the thing to be done — kartavyam karma. (iii) Receptivity — the power to receive the Divine Force and to feel its presence and the presence of the Mother in it and allow it to work, guiding one’s sight and will and action. If this power and presence can be felt and this plasticity made the habit of the consciousness in action, — but plasticity to the Divine force alone without bringing in any foreign element, — the eventual result is sure.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 6, Sadhana Through Work, Meditation and Love and Devotion, Work pp. 129-145

Advanced Methods for Converting Work into Karma Yoga

Sri Aurobindo explores the methods of converting work into ‘karma yoga’ with several additional ways to approach this. The development of an inner ‘witness consciousness’, the purusha which is separate from the outer active nature, prakriti, is an intermediate stage beyond those which involve the individual remembering before and after the work takes place. Cultivation of this inner separation can aid both in developing a sense of constant peace as well as in being able to manage the reactions and responses of the outer nature eventually.

Another way is to move beyond the limits of the mind-life-body complex through the process of aspiration, focus and receptivity which reorients the motive force from within the normal human framework as a link is established for the higher divine Force to become active and undertake the work to be done from that standpoint.

Each method has its potential positive aspects, but in any case, time is needed for the needed changes in standpoint and reference center to occur and to become stable and solid as the modus of action of the individual nature.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “If you can’t as yet remember the Divine all the time you are wokring, it does not greatly matter. To remember and dedicate at the beginning and give thanks at the end ought to be enough for the present. Or at the most to remember too when there is a pause. Your method seems to me rather painful and difficult, — you seem to be trying to remember and work with one and the same part of the mind. I don’t know if that is possible. When people remember all the time during work (it can be done), it is usually with the back of their minds or else there is created gradually a faculty of double thought or else a double consciousness — one in front that works, and one within that witnesses and remembers. There is also another way which was mine for a long time — a condition in which the work takes place automatically and without intervention of personal thought or mental action, while the consciousness remains silent in the Divine. The thing, however, does not come so much by trying as by a very simple constant aspiration and will of consecration — or else by a movement of the consciousness separating the inner from the instrumental being. Aspiration and will of consecration calling down a greater Force to do the work is a method which brings great results, even if in some it takes a long time about it. That is a great secret of sadhana, to know how to get things done by the Power behind or above instead of doing all by the mind’s effort. I don’t mean to say that the mind’s effort is unnecessary or has no result — only if it tries to do everything by itself, that becomes a laborious effort for all except the spiritual athletes. Nor do I mean that the other method is the longed-for short cut; the result may, as I have said, take a long time. Patience and firm resolution are necessary in every method of sadhana. … Strength is all right for the strong — but aspiration and the Grace answering to it are not altogether myths; they are great realities of the spiritual life.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 6, Sadhana Through Work, Meditation and Love and Devotion, Work pp. 129-145

Two Introductory Methods to Develop Remembrance in Work

Development of the inner attitude of dedication, and remembrance of the Divine in work is a progressive process. Initially, most people are unable to actively keep the focus and remembrance while concurrently concentrating on the work at hand. Sri Aurobindo introduces two methods to begin to integrate the aspiration and focus on the Divine into the daily work that one undertakes. These initial steps prepare for the deeper integration of work and consecration that come thereafter.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “All the difficulties you describe are quite natural things common to most people. It is easy for one, comparatively, to remember and be conscious when one sits quiet in meditation; it is difficult when one has to be busy with work. The remembrance and consciousness in work have to come by degrees, you must not expect to have it all at once; nobody can get it all at once. It comes in two ways, — first, if one practices remembering the Mother and offering the work to her each time one does something (not all the time one is doing, but at the beginning or whenever one can remember,) then that slowly becomes easy and habitual to the nature. Secondly, by the meditation an inner consciousness begins to develop which, after a time, not at once or suddenly, becomes more and more automatically permanent. One feels this as a separate consciousness from that outer which works. At first this separate consciousness is not felt when one is working, but as soon as the work stops one feels it was there all the time watching from behind; afterwards it begins to be felt during the work itself, as if there were two parts of oneself — one watching and supporting from behind and remembering the Mother and offering to her and the other doing the work. When this happens, then to work with the true consciousness becomes more and more easy.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 6, Sadhana Through Work, Meditation and Love and Devotion, Work pp. 129-145

The Process of Turning Work into Yogic Practice

The Bhagavad Gita proclaims that ‘yoga is skill in works’. The type of focused concentrated effort that comes about through a yogic practice is an essential aspect of completing any task skillfully. It does not imply, however, that all ‘skill in works’ is necessarily yoga, unless by that one includes the secret yoga of nature that prepares the being for union with the Divine through the long, slow process of evolutionary development. We can easily recognise that there are people who are extraordinarily skillful in their work, but the work is purely for negative or retrogressive activities for self-aggrandisement and the expansion of the ego. For work to be transformed into conscious yoga, there must be a conscious intention to turn that work into yoga, with the consecration of the effort and the application of the entire being’s energies and focus on that effort.

There is no type of work that is ‘better’ than another in terms of making the work itself a yogic process. There is frequently a misidentification of certain types of service as being expressions of yoga, with other forms of work relegated to a need to earn one’s living or support one’s family and community. This is an artificial duality that actually detracts from the ability of the seeker to turn work into yoga. That is not meant to denigrate the value of works of service or support of humanity’s needs for food, clothing, health, comfort etc.; yet the activities that support such generally positive results are not necessarily done from the yogic perspective with the inner dedication and attitude that converts even the smallest action into an expression of dedication to the Divine Presence.

The determining factor is the inner relationship of the individual to the work and an inner connection to the consecration needed to stay in contact with and focused on the Divine at all times. This process is progressive. The more one does it, the easier it gets to hold the remembrance and focus and stay ‘tuned’ to the Divine at all times.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “There should be not only a general attitude, but each work should be offered to the Mother so as to keep the attitude a living one all the time. There should be at the time of work no meditation, for that would withdraw the attention from the work, but there should be the constant memory of the One to whom you offer it. This is only a first process; for when you can have constantly the feeling of a calm being within concentrated in the sense of the Divine Presence while the surface mind does the work, or when you can begin to feel always that it is the Mother’s force that is doing the work and you are only a channel or an instrument, then in place of memory there will have begun the automatic constant realisation of Yoga, divine union, in works. … It is not at first easy to remember the presence in work; but if one revives the sense of the presence immediately after the work is over it is all right. In time the sense of the presence will become automatic even in work.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 6, Sadhana Through Work, Meditation and Love and Devotion, Work pp. 129-145

The Role of Work in the Sadhana of the Integral Yoga

There is a famous story in the Upanishads which illustrates both the role and the power of work in spiritual practice and realisation. A youth approached a teacher to learn the spiritual truths of existence. The teacher handed over to him 2 head of cattle and said that he would take him up as a formal disciple when he returned with a herd of 1000 cattle. The youth went into the forest, living an isolated life, and focused on how to build the herd up, facing all the difficulties, obstacles and issues, both internal and external, over a number of years that it took to accomplish this feat. Eventually he returned with the requisite number and the teacher looked at him and asked him to take the seat of the teacher, and he would be the disciple! The teacher saw the radiance of the Eternal in the countenance of the youth, now turned into a realised seer of the Divine through his intensive sadhana through work.

Work done in the proper spirit, not to feed the ego or the vital desires, but as an offering to the Divine and for the purpose of carrying out the Divine purpose in the world, engages all the faculties of the being, mind, life and body to accomplish the action, and thereby incorporates at a deeper level than purely mental seeking or thought, the spiritual intensity and aspiration of the seeker. It brings together the powers of concentration, devotion and action in order to bear its fruit.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “Work is part of the Yoga and it gives the best opportunity for calling down the Presence, the Light and the Power into the vital and its activities; it increases also the field and the opportunity of surrender. … Yoga through work is the easiest and most effective way to enter into the stream of this Sadhana. … to quiet the mind and get the spiritual experience it is necessary first to purify and prepare the nature. This sometimes takes many years. Work done with the right attitude is the easiest means for that — i.e. work done without desire or ego, rejecting all movements of desire, demand or ego when they come, done as an offering to the Divine Mother, with the remembrance of her and prayer to her to manifest her force and take up the action so that there too and not only in inner silence you can feel her presence and working.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 6, Sadhana Through Work, Meditation and Love and Devotion, Work pp. 129-145

Human Motives and Divine Motives in Action

There is a difference between action undertaken with the usual motives in the normal course of human life, and actions undertaken by the spiritual seeker attempting to achieve spiritual growth and realisation of the Divine. The outer form of action, in and of itself, does not make an action ‘spiritual’ in nature. The true test of spiritual action is the inner driving force and motive. At a certain point, the seeker also recognises that the egoistic motives can remain active even undertaking socially valuable, altruistic efforts. As the insight becomes more subtle, the wiles of the vital ego are exposed to reveal ego-gratification even in self-sacrifice — ‘martyr syndrome’ — or in a form of bargaining or expectation of returned benefits later in life or in a future existence, turning the ‘selfless action’ into a type of business transaction, storing up karmic benefits to be cashed in later. The progress is progressive and becomes more powerful as the reference for the action moves inward to the psychic, soul-motives and away from the vital desire-soul on the surface of the being. Eventually, it becomes complete only with the shift from the ego-standpoint to the divine standpoint.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “Men usually work and carry on their affairs from the ordinary motives of the vital being, need, desire of wealth or success or position or power or fame or the push to activity and the pleasure of manifesting their capacities, and they succeed or fail according to their capability, power of work and the good or bad fortune which is the result of their nature and their Karma. When one takes up the yoga and wishes to consecrate one’s life to the Divine, these ordinary motives of the vital being have no longer their full and free play; they have to be replaced by another, a mainly psychic and spiritual motive, which will enable the sadhak to work with the same force as before, no longer for himself, but for the Divine.”

“The only work that spiritually purifies is that which is done without personal motives, without desire for fame or public recognition or worldly greatness, without insistence on one’s own mental motives or vital lusts and demands or physical preferences, without vanity or crude self-assertion or claim for position or prestige, done for the sake of the Divine alone and at the command of the Divine. All work done in an egoistic spirit, however good for people in the world of the Ignorance, is of no avail to the seeker of the yoga.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 6, Sadhana Through Work, Meditation and Love and Devotion, Work pp. 129-145

The Nature and Practice of Karmayoga in the Integral Yoga

We frequently hear about the practice of ‘karma yoga’ in connection with feeding people, or providing medical care and support. These and other ‘good works’ are clearly beneficial to the social body and to the numerous individuals who receive real and substantial benefits from them. These functions, in and of themselves, however, do not constitute ‘karma yoga’ in the truest sense of the word. The Bhagavad Gita sets a standard for karma yoga which does not define it as specific works carried out for social benefit or to fit an artificial standard of what constitutes ‘good works’; rather, it is the inner attitude of the individual and the consecration, dedication and offering to the Divine inwardly that determines whether something is ‘karma yoga’ or not!

In an arguably very extreme case, Arjuna was asked to fight a war and kill respected elders, teachers and relatives in upholding the Dharma of the society and furthering its progress against forces of oppression and egoistic self-gratification which were flaunting basic principles of rightness and fairness. Society held that peacefulness and harmlessness were high principles and represented ‘good works’ as opposed to the conduct of any kind of warfare, even ‘righteous’ warfare. This conflict between what society would say is ‘good works’ and what he was actually asked to accomplish in his role at that time under those circumstances, is what led to his confusion, dejection and prayer for guidance. The goal here was not to justify ‘holy war’ but to show that in the battle of life, an individual may be called to stand up against forces of deceit, oppression or dishonesty and meet them head on, by not abandoning the outer action in favor of an artificially constructed peacefulness that allowed oppression to continue to rule unabated.

Good works may have external value but not provide the yogic growth and progress for the seeker if the inner poise and attitude is still based in the ego-consciousness and its satisfactions, including subtle satisfactions obtained through the praise and support one receives through those good works, or through an expected karmic benefit to be received in return, either in this life, or in some future life or abode in heaven after departure..

Sri Aurobindo observes: “I do not mean by work action done in the ego and the ignorance, for the satisfaction of the ego and in the drive of rajasic desire. There can be no Karmayoga without the will to get rid of ego, rajas and desire, which are the seals of ignorance. … I do not mean philanthropy or the service of humanity or all the rest of the things — moral or idealistic — which the mind of man substitutes for the deeper truth of works.”

“I mean by work action done for the Divine and more and more in union with the Divine — for the Divine alone and nothing else. Naturally that is not easy at the beginning, any more than deep meditation and luminous knowledge are easy or even true love and bhakti are easy. But like the others it has to be begun in the right spirit and attitude, with the right will in you, then all the rest will come. … Works done in this spirit are quite as effective as bhakti or contemplation. One gets by the rejection of desire, rajas and ego a quietude and purity into which the Peace ineffable can descend; one gets by the dedication of one’s will to the Divine, by the merging of one’s will in the Divine Will the death of ego and the enlarging into the cosmic consciousness or else the uplifting into what is above the cosmic; one experiences the separation of Purusha from Prakriti and is liberated from the shackles of the outer nature; one becomes aware of one’s inner being and sees the outer as an instrument; one feels the universal Force doing one’s works and the Self or Purusha watching or witness but free; one feels all one’s works taken from one and done by the universal or supreme Mother or by the Divine Power controlling and acting from behind the heart. By constant referring of all one’s will and works to the Divine, love and adoration grow, the psychic being comes forward. By the reference to the Power above, we can come to feel it above and its descent and the opening to an increasing consciousness and knowledge. Finally, works, bhakti and knowledge go together and self-perfection becomes possible — what we call the transformation of the nature.”

“These results certainly do not come all at once; they come more or less slowly, more or less completely according to the condition and growth of the being. There is no royal road to the divine realisation.”

“This is the Karmayoga laid down in the Gita as I have developed it for the integral spiritual life. It is founded not on speculation and reasoning but on experience. it does not exclude meditation and certainly does not exclude bhakti, for the self-offering to the Divine, the consecration of all oneself to the Divine which is the essence of this Karmayoga are essentially a movement of bhakti. Only it does exclude a life-fleeing exclusive meditation or an emotional bhakti shut up in its own inner dream taken as the whole movement of the yoga. One may have hours of pure absorbed meditation or of the inner motionless adoration and ecstasy, but they are not the whole of the integral yoga.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 6, Sadhana Through Work, Meditation and Love and Devotion, Work pp. 129-145

A Change of Consciousness Is Necessary for Solving the Issues of Human Existence

Since the Renaissance, the Western world has put its faith in, and based its goals on the power of the human intellect and vital drive to uplift humanity and solve the problems we face. Tremendous changes have taken place and humanity has made progress in fields as diverse as atomic physics, biochemistry and quantum theory, as well as gaining insight into the need for hygiene and dietary sufficiency, and fields relating to energy, transport, communication, education, and other subject areas too numerous to mention. Hundreds of years have gone by and we can now fly to the moon, explore the universe, and make modifications to the genetic code of all life. One would expect, if this focus was indeed the way to solve humanity’s problems, that we would be seeing a real and substantial upliftment of human life and a reduction in the problems that we have faced since time immemorial. And indeed, we have seen, in certain directions, clear signs of improvement.

Yet if we look at the state of humanity and the world today, we can see also the downsides to this exclusive concentration and many unintended consequences of the progress we have made in this endeavour. Scientists tell us that we are in the midst of the sixth major species die-off that the planet has experienced, the prior one being the demise of the dinosaurs due to the external cause of an asteroid hitting the planet. The current die-off is clearly due to human activity. We see massive pollution, climate change on a global scale, increasing disease vectors, destruction of eco-systems throughout the world, loss of biodiversity, wars that are far more deadly than at any time in the past, weapons that can destroy the entire planet, mass migrations, fear and tension leading to genocidal action, and opposition of ideas so intense that it brings society to a state of gridlock and inability to act, despite the urgency of the need to act.

If our sole reliance on the power of the human intellect and vital action has been misplaced, it is time to seek for a different form of solution that can address the common thread that underlies all of these crises that we are facing. Sri Aurobindo indicates that the true solution to the current crisis is a change of consciousness. There is an evolutionary development of consciousness and it has become clear that we have reached the limits of what the physical-vital-mental evolution can successfully accomplish on its own. It is therefore time for the next phase of evolution to manifest, the supra-mental phase. What is required is a consciousness that is not based in the limited framework and processes of existing human knowledge and action, but which sees and acts from a new standpoint, a global, wholistic perspective. It is only from such a change that the disharmony of the current world situation can be resolved. Put simply, human consciousness and development has not kept pace with the external powers that we have put in play, and those powers now threaten to destroy all life unless we undertake the quest within and focus our attention on the need to receive and manifest a new conscious awareness based in oneness, not separation and fragmentation.

If we observe closely we can already recognise signs that this new consciousness is in the process of manifesting. We see an increasing awareness of the failures of human mind, vital energy and physical capability to address the problems we face. We see an increase in focus on spirituality and exploration of consciousness, and a recognition of the need for such a change. We see people striving to go beyond the fixed and limited ideas of the religious tradition to which they belong, the political system within which they operate or the economic system that controls their society. We see people reaching out to bring forth an understanding of unity and harmony on a global scale, as well as the development of an ecological sense that all life is one and unified and needs to be kept in balance. These and many other signs indicate that humanity is beginning to respond to a new power of consciousness that has the potential to overcome the limitations and the fragmentation that have taken us to the desperate and grave threats before which we stand.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “All this insistence upon action is absurd if one has not the light by which to act. ‘Yoga must include life and not exclude it’ does not mean that we are bound to accept life as it is with all its stumbling ignorance and misery and the obscure confusion of human will and reason and impulse and instinct which it expresses. The advocates of action think that by human intellect and energy making an always new rush, everything can be put right; the present state of the world after a development of the intellect and a stupendous output of energy for which there is no historical parallel is a signal proof of the emptiness of the illusion under which they labour. Yoga takes the stand that it is only by a change of consciousness that the true basis of life can be discovered; from within outward is indeed the rule. But within does not mean some quarter inch behind the surface. One must go deep and find the soul, the self, the Divine Reality within us and only then can life become a true expression of what we can be instead of a blind and always repeated confused blur of the inadequate and imperfect thing we were. The choice is between remaining in the old jumble and groping about in the hope of stumbling on some discovery or standing back and seeking the Light within till we discover and can build the Godhead within and without us.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 6, Sadhana Through Work, Meditation and Love and Devotion, Work pp. 129-145

The Process of Establishing Equality in the Being

As Sri Aurobindo has indicated, the practice of yoga is a science of applied psychology. The normal and habitual patterns of response that we exhibit need to be both understood and modified, energies redirected, and new forces allowed to intervene and exert their influence in our lives. Establishment of a state of equality in the being is one aspect of the psychological change required. There is also a balance required to avoid extremes that actually defeat the intention and purpose, either with too strident a suppression of the nature, or with a sense that a mental idea of non-involvement is actually the achievement of the state of equality. There may be, early in the yogic development, a mental control exerted and the idea that “I am not affected”. At the same time, we may find that if we look more closely, or even measure the subtle reactions of the nervous system or the body, that we are being affected. Blood pressure goes up, tension headaches, indigestion, ulcers, insomnia, depression, anxiety, or escape from pressure through consuming comfort foods, binge eating, alcohol or other drugs, or through mindless distraction or entertainment, all of these (and a host of other symptoms) evidence the actual impact on the being, and show the imperfect nature of the equality that the mind feels it has achieved. True equality eventually needs to work its way down from the mind, into the emotions, the vital being and even the physical body. It may start with a mental idea or discipline, and even this needs substantial time and effort to come to full fruition.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “Complete samata takes long to establish and it is dependent on three things — the soul’s self-giving to the Divine by an inner surrender, the descent of the spiritual calm and peace from above and the steady, long and persistent rejection of all egoistic, rajasic and other feelings that contradict samata. The first thing to do is to make the full consecration and offering of the heart — the increase of the spiritual calm and the surrender are the conditions for the rejection of ego, rajoguna, etc. to be effective.”

“To be free from all preference and receive joyfully whatever comes from the Divine Will is not possible at first for any human being. What one should have at first is the constant idea that what the Divine wills is always for the best even when the mind does not see how it is so, to accept with resignation what one cannot yet accept with gladness and so to arrive at a calm equality which is not shaken even when on the surface there may be passing movements of a momentary reaction to outward happenings. If that is once firmly founded, the rest can come.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 5 Bases of Yoga, Equality, pp. 124-127

Developing the Inner Poise of Equality in the Practice of the Integral Yoga

The more reactive we are to people and events, the more dispersed our awareness is and this draws away from the ability of the practitioner of the yoga to create and maintain the inner connection to the spiritual force that is pressing to manifest the next phase of the evolutionary development. Thus, it is an essential part of the sadhana to develop, cultivate and stabilize the inner being in a focused status that does not let itself be drawn out into the normal physical, vital, emotional or mental reactions that are experienced in our interactions with the outer world.

This does not imply that we do not participate in the actions in the world, but that the participation is driven by the inner being which remains in constant touch with and tuned to the needs of the spiritual purpose and development. One of the major methods used to do this is the inward separation of the ‘witness” from the ‘doer” in the being. We then begin to observe our thoughts, reactions, feelings, perceptions and all events and activities in the outer world from the status of the witness. With this standpoint, one can remain inwardly calm and dedicated regardless of what is taking place externally. The Bhagavad Gita exemplified this with a teaching that took place on a battlefield. Sri Krishna counseled Arjuna on how to maintain his focus and carry out his divinely ordained action in the world even in the midst of the worst possible conditions under the extremes of warfare, along with all the emotional issues that arose in confronting teachers, respected elders and relatives in the war. The Gita provides an allegory for the inner struggles that we face in all circumstances of life, and provides a comprehensive outline of how to achieve the poise needed to shift from the human to the divine standpoint in one’s interactions in the world.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The inner spiritual progress does not depend on outer conditions so much as in the way we react to them from within — that has always been the ultimate verdict of spiritual experience. It is why we insist on taking the right attitude and persisting in it, on an inner state not dependent on outer circumstances, a state of equality and calm, if it cannot be at once of inner happiness, on going more and more within and looking from within outwards instead of living in the surface mind which is always at the mercy of the shocks and blows of life. It is only from that inner state that one can be stronger than life and its disturbing forces and hope to conquer.”

“To remain quiet within, firm in the will to go through, refusing to be disturbed or discouraged by difficulties or fluctuations, that is one of the first things to be learned in the Path. To do otherwise is to encourage the instability of consciousness, the difficulty of keeping experience of which you complain. It is only if you keep quiet and steady within that the lines of experience can go on with some steadiness — though they are never without periods of interruption and fluctuation; but these, if properly treated, can then become periods of assimilation and exhaustion of difficulty rather than denials of sadhana.”

“A spiritual atmosphere is more important than outer conditions; if one can get that and also create one’s own spiritual air to breathe in and live in it, that is the true condition of progress.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 5 Bases of Yoga, Equality, pp. 124-127