In today’s world we are confronted by politicians and business leaders who act aggressively, beat their chests, berate others, bully and otherwise exhibit behavior that proclaims “might is right” and therefore, due to their financial power or physical strength, they have the right to control others. These aggressive behaviors are frequently mixed up with racism or misogynistic tendencies where they can pick on those weaker than themselves, and rape, torture and sadistic actions are often part of their repertoire. When someone disagrees with them, they frequently react with anger, outbursts of rage, and attempts to avenge themselves on the person who had the audacity to challenge them. They create for themselves a cult of “strength” and believe that these behaviors show their strength. They have no control over these emotional and vital outbursts and frequently wind up with maladies such as high blood pressure, strokes or ulcers as a result of their abusive behaviors, and they also find in many cases the need to rely on drugs or alcohol to bring their raging energies under control after such outbursts. We see these behaviors everywhere around us, whether it is schoolyard bullying, road rage, physical or sexual abuse activities, manager actions in business or political leaders.
What is obvious to those who reflect for a moment, however, is that these behaviors, while seemingly effective in enforcing dominance short-term, take a serious toll on long term results as well as the health and well-being of both the perpetrator and the victim of the abuse. The Mother makes it clear that the real strength is gaining control over one’s actions such that one can maintain peace under severe conditions and provocations. If one tries this it becomes clear that to maintain peace instead of exploding in anger is indeed a more difficult task, and thus, requires a greater strength. It is also true that this concept is recognised in both the martial arts teachings and military doctrine when they say that an angry opponent makes mistakes and thus, one should keep calm, observe and take advantage of the anger of the other party to capitalize on the mistakes he makes.
The Mother observes: “Quietude is a very positive state; there is a positive peace which is not the opposite of conflict — an active peace, contagious, powerful, which controls and calms, which puts everything in order, organises. It is of this I am speaking; when I tell someone, ‘Be calm’, I don’t mean to say ‘Go to sleep, be inert and passive, and don’t do anything’, far from it! … True quietude is a very great force, a very great strength. In fact one can say, looking at the problem from the other side, that all those who are really strong, powerful, are always very calm. It is only the weak who are agitated; as soon as one becomes truly strong, one is peaceful, calm, quiet, and one has the power of endurance to face the adverse waves which come rushing from outside in the hope of disturbing one. This true quietude is always a sign of force. Calmness belongs to the strong.”
“And this is true even in the physical field. I don’t know if you have observed animals like lions, tigers, elephants, but it is a fact that when they are not in action, they are always so perfectly still. A lion sitting and looking at you always seems to be telling you, ‘Oh, how fidgety you are!’ It looks at you with such a peaceful air of wisdom! And all its power, energy, physical strength are there, gathered, collected, concentrated and — without a shadow of agitation — ready for action when the order is given.”
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter IV Growth of Consciousness First Steps and Foundation, pg. 77