The Complexity and Difficulty of Achieving Complete Sincerity in the Spiritual Path

Sincerity is not as simple as believing in and meaning what we say to others. This is what we ordinarily consider to be sincerity. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have a much more far-reaching idea of sincerity relating to the practice of yoga in the furtherance of spiritual growth. Sincerity represents the coherence of the entire being around the central focus of the spiritual practice, such that our thoughts, emotions, vital impulses and physical responses all adhere to and support this focus.

This becomes complicated because the human being is made up of different parts which each have their own function, their own habits and their own long-standing genetic and race-memory to contend with. Thus, physical wants and needs, vital desires, the heart’s emotional responses, the mind’s processes all try to achieve their own ends, and they do not always agree with one another. The mind and the heart may agree on a spiritual sadhana, but this does not mean that the vital desires will suddenly agree to give way and support the process.

Further, even if the mind generally agrees or the heart generally supports the spiritual sadhana, this does not mean that it always and in all situations responds the same way. What further complicates this is the role of the vital and its desires. The vital is able to manipulate the mind into supporting just about anything and coming up with plausible rationales for why one does what one does, even if it, at bottom, contradicts the true spiritual aspiration.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “Men are always mixed and there are qualities and defects mingled together almost inextricably in their nature. What a man wants to be or wants others to see in him or what he is sometimes on one side of his nature or in some relations can be very different from what he is in the actual fact or in other relations or on another side of his nature. To be absolutely sincere, straightforward, open, is not an easy achievement for human nature. It is only by spiritual endeavour that one can realise it — and to do it needs a severity of introspective self-vision, an unsparing scrutiny of self-observation of which many sadhaks and yogis even are not capable….”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter III Growth of Consciousness Basic Requisites, pg. 39

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