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Yoga In Business


- Tape recorded Conversation Between Karmayogi and an American executive

February 6, 1974

(The following is the explanation given regarding a trouble-some employee in the office who frequently became angry, irritated and swore, disturbing the other employees in the office).

If a person has a certain amount of nervous energy and if for some reason or another his mind is more developed, he is placed in a social situation far higher. Because of the mental development, because of the higher social placement, he works, he succeeds. He does his job well. What happens, all his nervous energy is expended on his work which becomes a success. If there is a family tradition of perfection or a work tradition of perfection, and if he succeeds, he comes back home and a split personality develops - a work personality, a non-work personality. The available energy is required not merely for the work, but when he travels back home he must have enough perseverance and patience to drive his automobile. He must be in a position to deal with his wife, children, the family situation. He is so organised that he can't accept anything less than perfection in his work and unfortunately he is intelligent enough and he has the necessary energy to make it successful. He spends all the energy, the rest becomes a blank. He gets irritated.

There are other people who are in positions where all their energies are not drawn by their work. People need intensity. If they don't have positive intensity, unfortunately they seek negative intensity. If a man can't be dear to another person, wife, child, friends, if he can't be nice, dear and there is nobody around him, there is emotional energy and he wants to relate to people. He does not like to be insipid. So one day somehow or other, he gets angry with someone. During the course of the expression of his anger he feels the need of his intensity being met. He is capable of energy, but positive circumstances being absent, a negative circumstance comes. He makes a vested interest of it. He is waiting for the next occasion, and each time at the slightest opportunity, he gets angry. Some people spend their time in argumentation like that. Some people spend their time in complaining. Some people spend their time in getting irritated, going into their room, closing the door and immersing themselves in depression. So once this habit unfortunately forms over a period of a month or two in some situation, the habit forms and he goes back unconsciously to that. If he is placed in a fortunate circumstance where nobody will anger him or irritate him, he creates circumstances, he compels people to get angry at him, to get irritated. When everybody is nice, he feels insipid, he breaks down, he goes into hysteria. "I am not given an occasion to be angry", he says subconsciously. Consciously he creates something and he creates the pattern. Such a person needs to be examined. Either without his knowledge he can be relieved of that misfortune or if he is somewhat reasonable, accessible to some person, he can be told, he can be shown that he is thriving on this intensity. He can be given a positive intensity and he can be relieved of this situation.

Q: Another problem I have struggled with at length is the image of being the boss, or the administrator, the kind of image I project in the office. People like myself in the same kind of position feel they have to maintain a certain aloofness in relation to their employees. They can't be too friendly or let their barriers down or reveal their humanness. In other words, through their actions they have to maintain the respect of the staff. My inclination is that each person has his own contribution to make to the organisation regardless of his position, whether he's the boss or the secretary or whatever. In our organisation there needn't be any levels, so to speak.

A: There is a truism in saying you should not mix too close and those who believe in that follow it because that is convenient for them. And it is the only way in which they can function. If they mix too much they are likely to lose their authority over the people. In itself that truism is valid. On the other side, there is a truism in saying each man has a contribution to make. It is not the next higher ideal. It is an ideal that belongs to the next higher plane. Just like saying, in the 6th grade, there is the next lesson. For a child who is in the 10th lesson in the 6th grade, the 11th lesson is difficult. But the 11th lesson in the next grade is unthinkable. If one wants to follow that ideal, it is perfect. But the ideal has a certain condition of implementation. If one, either by virtue of endowment, strength, clarity, exercise of authority, discernment of the exercise of that authority, is capable of doing that, it is a far higher ideal. It is not the next ideal, but it's an ideal which belongs to the next higher plane. All people cannot follow it. It is safe for most people not to follow it. But when one wants to follow that he can't follow it as a single idea. Along with that goes a number of other conditions or stipulations. The first condition is, the person who wants to follow that, in this case yourself, must really belong to the next higher plane of idealism in most of the essential aspects of the work which he does. It is not enough that in the management only you have this ideal which belongs to the next higher plane. In the social development in which your department is engaged, in the administrative function of which you are a part, as an individual in your domestic life, as a citizen and a colleague to a number of other people, in the appreciation of your human values and the implementation of them, your own image as a human individual, the placement you have on the scale of human values, must belong to that level where the truism that each man in a department has a contribution to make, belongs. Without essentially functioning at that level, in all the essential strands of that functioning, if you take it up at one level, if you appreciate the truism and would like to follow, you may successfully follow if you are strong enough but it will be a source of disharmony. You must correspondingly upgrade the department, the ideal of the functioning of the department, the receptivity of the public to which you are catering the service. All that must be correspondingly lifted. And you must untiringly work for that. You can't give freedom to everyone in the department and come home and say, "You be my wife as my mother was to my father". You can't deny her the freedom. That would extend and spill over into your domestic life.

Q: I believe this about all levels of life. I was 46 years old before I became an administrator. I'm trying to apply my ideas which I had formed during the first forty years of my life to my job now. But it's interesting that you really have to believe in this and not just apply it to one area of your life.

A: You have to live by that. If it was any other thing involved, it could be narrowly practised. You bring in a certain element of freedom, freedom of mixing, freedom of contribution. You give people say, people who do not otherwise have a say in the administration. You grant them the freedom to have a say. Freedom is a very wide principle. As a matter of fact, freedom is the ultimate principle of human existence. When you bring in such a high ideal to bear upon a certain plane of life, even in a small measure, you have to rise to that occasion.

A: Many of these problems that I have outlined to you bother me so much that I am constantly worrying about them and thinking how to solve them. Is that part of being an administrator who is concerned about the way things operate or is there some way to become detached and not be so emotionally affected?

A: Yes. Worry issues out of incomplete understanding being implemented. Worry issues out of insecurity. When we are implementing a principle or a work, if we don't have the mastery over the situation, we are worried about what is happening. There are a number of other strands. If you understand this I don't have to explain.

To be free from worry there are two methods: (1) You can be detached. That is a higher method; (2) The other is regarding a person who does not come into yoga. If you take a problem or project, first you understand what theoretically the project is, what it practically is - the translation of that project from the paper to the field, what is the mental strength, nervous, physical energy called for by the department or if it is your project, by you. With your experience you would know what is expected of your nerves, of your mind. You first examine whether you have it. If you don't have it, first acquire it before you start implementing. If the theoretical basis of a project is fully understood, and its practical necessities are fully conceived, and if they are made full-proof in the consideration, during the course of the consideration, the mind suddenly says, "Yes, I understand all about it. It is not difficult". The moment the mind gives that unseen signal and there is full understanding of that, the necessary nervous energy comes to us, the mental, nervous or physical energy needed to put it into practise, comes to us. Once that happens, if you initiate the project - anything may go wrong, anything may go right, it may be withdrawn, it may be done, everybody may be worried, everybody may panic, but worry cannot enter you. Everybody will be asking you, "Why are you not worried? How is it you are not worried? Do you have an alternative? You're going to be in soup! The whole scheme has come to ruin. What are you going to do?" It is impossible for you to worry. Once the mind is so fully convinced, what happens, the moment the mental comprehension is complete, it slightly overflows into the next higher level. It begins to have some contact with the next higher level which we call spirit, which one can call the inner being. The strength comes from there and then you feel a relief in the mental consideration of it. The whole thing will go right, it won't go wrong. Even if it goes wrong, you won't be worried. Later it will come right. When the mental understanding is just theoretical, paper understanding, mind consents to that 75% or 80%. As long as the mental consent or agreement or understanding is 99%, worry is possible. The moment it is 100%, you turn over in the mind, wait until that signal is given by the mind and a happy relief will be felt. And then you initiate. Nothing will go wrong. And even if it goes wrong it will not give you worry.

Q: Except the kinds of things I am worried about are personal problems between staff members. What you are saying applies to that kind of personal, psychological, social problem also?

A: There, there is one more element. First, what you mentioned was a project, work. Here, when another man's trouble touches you, it is not the other man's trouble that touches you. We have got so many troubles, we have a frame of reference. When somebody's trouble, the pattern, the witnessing of it, the consideration of it, the management of it, touches some of your problem, the worry comes from your problem, not from his problem. We are apparently worried by what he is. Really we are worried by what we are. Unfortunately, his problem touches me at a point where I have a problem.

Q: What happens is, two people in the office will have a conflict. One of them will come to me and say, "You have to do something about this person. He's always picking on me". My theory is that the only way these two people are going to solve this problem is face to face, that if I step in as a third person, it will probably worsen the situation. The only real change which can come in their relationship is if they talk to each other. But they come to me and I am expected to do something. But I say no, and the people are very unhappy over it and lose their respect for me. This kind of problem bothers me.

A: You want a solution to the problem or do you want a relief from the bother?

Q: I would be interested in both.

A: If it bothers you it must touch you somewhere in your own personal make-up. If you see the point and then relieve it, you would never be bothered. You can receive it objectively in a very detached manner. You can be concerned genuinely about their disharmony but it won't bother you. You will have sympathy, you will have concern, it will tell upon the efficiency of the office. All that will be there. Somewhere it bothers you means, it bothers you from inside.

In the ordinary administrative process, the problems exist at different levels. If in an office, where say 25-30 people work, the work can be so arranged that they have a certain expression of their energies, the work has a requirement, the man has a requirement. If the requirement of the man, personal, psychological, mental, is disregarded and the work requirement is just insisted upon, the man adjusts to the work, but a friction develops. Out of this these problems come. There are two ways of doing things. One is, to find the man, study his capacities, orient him to the work, reorganise the work so that each man will properly express himself in the work and recruit him like that, the right man for the right job. About 90% of these problems will not be there. Much simpler thing is, provide certain recreations, or certain possible meeting grounds, where one person meets another person in a different area in the same office, where the pent up energies are exchanged in pleasantries. About 50% of the troubles will be over. This is an ordinary administrative problem. We have a solution for that, according to the yogic solution based on spirituality. It is so easy. Two people quarreling does not come out of anything the two people do to each other. It is out of pent up energy, it requires a little readjustment.

Q: Can we go to Sri Aurobindo and pursue that?

A: Without going into the very details of Sri Aurobindo's yoga I can state a few postulates, say three to five. If those postulates are conceded by you, on the basis of that I can review the whole situation of yours, give you a yogic approach.

Normally, man lives in the mind. Or he says he lives in the mind. Mind is his ultimate reference. Beyond the mind he does not postulate anything, either in practise, or belief. Practically man lives in his impulses which we call vital here. It is very hard to see a man who is reasonable, patient, observing, discriminating, using mental faculties. Discrimination is a mental faculty. Where do you find a man discriminating? Patience is of the mind. Where do you find a man patient? You find people flaring up. Mind does not flare up. It is the vital that flares up. Mind is ideative. Impulse is impulsive! It just grabs at things.

Above the mind, or behind the mind (when we say deeper, we say below the mind, when we say higher we say above the mind, when we say witness, we mean behind the mind) there are other levels. Mind is not the last term of evolution. Man is not just governed by the mind. We postulate soul, the spirit. We consider that mind is an expression of the soul. If that is conceded, take a sub-man in a primitive area. He has no mind to use. When he is hungry, he runs. When he is afraid, he runs. He is governed by the nervous center. If you look at that man and if you look at a sophisticated educated man, his mental behaviour and the other's vital behaviour, you see a vast difference. That man looks ridiculous compared to this man. Tomorrow he has nothing to eat. He refuses to think. Unless he feels hunger he cannot think. When the hunger pinches, he gets up and asks the first man he sees if he can give any food. Till then, foresight is not there. Foresight is in the mind. Animals? They act on impulses, they act from the vital motives. If you take an animal behaviour and compare it with man's behaviour, there is a vast difference. Man plans, thinks, generates ideas, translates the ideas into acts, and practices that act, develops a social institution, mental institution, brings it into a human institution and through the institution expresses himself. Where is the animal, where is the man? Such a difference, such a distance, we postulate and we see between the man who functions in his mind and the man who functions in his soul. For man, thought and idea is the ultimate. To go to the sub-man, fear, hunger and sex are the ultimates. Man begins to be human only when he overcomes fear, hunger and sex and when he begins to use his head. So also, for the spiritual man, thought is a disturbance, silence is the source of ideas. Where thought ends, knowledge begins. For the man, plan is important. Plan is the source of action, plan is the governing motive, governing framework of action. For the spiritual man, where the plan ends action begins. As long as you plan, you prevent action, the higher action. When you want to do a thing, you must stop thinking, you must stop acting.

Man, when he wants to build a house, fixes a plan, buys the materials, buys the plot, puts up the house. If he wants to start an institution, he finds out what is the basic idea, and goes about planning. He goes to life, dominates life, makes life yield, expresses himself through that field of life. That part of it we describe as mind dominating the vital. For us, through life not only the vital or mind can come, but through life Spirit also can come. When you want to start an institution, you withdraw the thought, wait at the doors of life, withdraw the ideas of planning. The mental man goes to life, sits on life, makes life yield. We wait upon the response of life, what life has to give us. We are not drawing from life, we are waiting upon life for the Spirit to steal through life to us. And that we take as the ultimate knowledge, as the ultimate truth. We have unquestioning faith in that.

Q: That you will be shown the way?

A: That we will be guided, constantly. As long as you withdraw your guidance, you will be guided constantly. Based upon these postulates and similar things, if Sri Aurobindo's force can be used, it can be used either in winning the President's election, or in losing the President's election, or in achieving world unity, or realising the Supramental heights of yoga. All grades of life are inclusive in this effort.

Q: I cannot disagree with anything you have said. I've never tried it, but I am willing to say, you have tried it and you know it will work.

A: Yes, I work like that. I refuse to work in any other way.

Q: Obviously getting to the level where you are at is an extremely difficult thing. But if you could show me how to start, I would be willing to try to reach that level and try what you say and see if it works for me.

A: These are the general principles of yoga and we are devotees of Sri Aurobindo. To effectuate this, we draw upon the force of Sri Aurobindo and the force of Mother's consciousness. These principles can be worked outside the yoga of Sri Aurobindo because they are spiritual truths, common to all spiritual traditions all over the world, expressed or implied. And when you follow the spiritual truism, the spiritual force flows, from which spiritual point you do not know. But being the devotees of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, we constantly invoke their force and their consciousness for our work. It is not enough the principle alone is true. It needs a dynamism to manifest. That dynamism comes from that.

Q: Are you willing to tell me how to start?

A: Yes. Then I will state in brief the yogic aims and ideals of Sri Aurobindo as he has generally adumbrated.

For Sri Aurobindo, earth and the universe is a creation in progress. Behind each material object, behind earth, behind every mental idea, behind every movement of action, behind every act, behind every moment of time, there is a personality, they are not abstract things. They are not mere concepts. The house is not a mere building, behind that is a personality, behind that is a vibration of a live personality which has created it, which presides over it. Earth is a being, humanity is a being which has so many sub-units of being. Every person, every act, every thing has behind them a personality, a being. And those beings have been created through the evolutionary effort of nature. And those beings are working towards a harmony, trying to evolve a higher being, a being of a higher grade. If war comes society progresses; Sri Aurobindo sees it as a movement of these forces. Coming to your work, he would say, the United States has a soul composed of the united souls of all the individuals who are there. He would say that the department in which you are working is an instrument of consciousness expressing a dynamic movement of progress in the agricultural field, in the social field. If you are presiding over the department he would consider you as a point of consciousness spearheading this movement, over which the national soul presides, over which the soul of the earth presides, over which the Divine presides. There is a whole of which many things are a part. The work that you are doing is to make, in his language, unconsciousness be replaced by consciousness, division by unity, incomprehension by knowledge, by awareness. This is the general movement which has local expressions. When you make a farmer use better methods of agriculture, produce more, in Sri Aurobindo's language, the farmer becomes socially more conscious. When you make him devise better farming techniques he becomes mentally more conscious. When he cooperates with the other farmers, with the other departments, with the other segments of the society, he becomes vitally more conscious. The consciousness of the people is increased. It is called development of consciousness. We call it social development, Sri Aurobindo calls it development of consciousness. The development of consciousness goes hand in hand with the development of comprehension. When he says comprehension of these movements, it goes hand in hand with the movement of unity. Division makes for incomprehension, makes for unconsciousness. When more departments of life, more walks of life come together, unconsciousness gives way, incomprehension gives way. If you make for unity, there is more of consciousness. If you make for consciousness, there is more knowledge. If you make for knowledge there is more of other things. In the light of this guiding principle, all the work that we do according to him, is what the Divine does. We are instruments. We conceive a work, and we execute it; that is our way of doing it. When a work has to be done, all that we have to do is to invoke him. He is a source of all consciousness. We invoke him into our plane and make him express. We allow ourselves willingly to be an instrument in his hands. He gives the guidance through life, through mind, through impulses, through sensations, through feeling.

The mind has two parts - the psychological part, the physical part. When a man walks there is the physical skill of walking. When a man takes pride in walking, is proud of his gait, that is the psychological part. The psychological part of the mental skills have to be surrendered to the Divine. The physical part of the mental skills, physical skills, are to be made a field of expression, are to be offered as an instrument for the incoming consciousness. The consciousness expresses through the instrumentation of the individual. All knowledge is there and it comes to you in silence, expresses through the instrumentation. You are to deliver it. If you take the concrete problems that you have expressed, I can illustrate it. Take the knottiest problem. Suppose I am in your place, and that irritable offensive employee is there. There is another truism. Each man gets his problem according to what he is, is another principle of Sri Aurobindo. Suppose you are a devotee of Sri Aurobindo, a fully devoted member who believes in Sri Aurobindo's force. How you would deal with this man is like this. You would give a full reasonable consideration to his ideas and try to understand in the normal sense. After that, you withdraw all your understanding. To exhaust the abilities of the mind, you try to understand. Then you completely offer each understanding of yours to the Divine, meaning, the mental abilities are replaced by the consciousness forces. That is called consecration. You think of this problem quietly, without psychological interest, as a problem. From the moment you met this man, till this moment, all that comes to your mind, you think of that, without positive or negative reaction and you offer it to the force of Sri Aurobindo. You would feel a certain relief in your mind. If for three or four days in the morning before you go to work, in the course of your reliving or reviewing this process, you will see at what points this man touches your own psychological fabric. That is more important. If you take that psychological fabric when it is ready and offer it to Sri Aurobindo, to the Divine, you will see a tremendous change in the man's behaviour initially. Either he will be removed, or he will change his behaviour, or his entire behavioural capacity will be there but no complaints will be there because he won't be swearing anymore. Initially it shows, the force works. For a complete eradication of that problem, you must work on yourself in the same pattern and work on him. Having removed the top layer the process is the same. You must remove it to the very roots. It is a question of time. It doesn't need 20 days or 100 days. It depends on effort, the man will change. But things are not changed or solved isolated. If this man stops swearing, you will see people who have been complaining about it will go to him, talk with him, try to provoke him and they won't stop until he starts swearing! That is because the swearing gives satisfaction not only to him. The swearing meets a psychological need in the other people who have been constantly complaining. Now they have no basis for complaining. Life will become insipid, they will organise.

You start with him and then go on to another man. All this will be related to a certain type of demonstration going on at a particular place. With that, this relationship will be connected. It will be connected, it will have its source in a previous staff meeting. You take your department. Think about the history of your department, as far as you know. Think about the being that presides over the department. Take every individual and your association with the department for 3, 4 or 5 years. Continually offer it to the Divine. Your life drawn from your family, your life projected into the department, take all of a piece, the whole of it, offer it to the Divine, aspire for more harmony, greater purity. Layer after layer of how all of you needed this man will come out. What if he was not there? Suppose he wanted to resign today and go, all of you would join together and request him not to go and would offer him a promotion. It is not he that troubles us. It's he that entertains us negatively.

Every problem must be taken in the social context, in the psychological context of the organisation, of the individual, of the communal growth, your past behaviour. You will be seeing many sides of your surface personality. When the surface personality completely reveals itself, you will laugh at yourself. Granting that you shed those behaviours and organise for greater harmony, you will see the real problems coming to the surface. At that time most people close up - "Enough of this nonsense! Who wants this growth. Let me go and play tennis or go to a party". If a man wants it to go, all the psychological stuff is shed in a matter of months. Man becomes a pure source of energy from inside. His aims become greater than humanity. His aim becomes the source from which humanity issues. Then yoga begins. It has many turnings, many plateaus, many ups and downs, but these are some of the basic territories I wanted to cover.

Q: As I understand it, you take all your memories and experiences and ideas about the problem and you bring them all together and offer them up. Are you saying that solutions will reveal themselves?

A: No. What happens, all that forms as a top dressing. Our actions are not actions. Our actions are reactions. When I am in a happy mood, somebody comes and asks what is the time. I answer. When I am in a bad mood, and somebody asks, I frown. My happy reaction or unhappy reaction is in response to what I am, not what he asks; he provides an occasion. Most of our actions, without exception, are reactions to what we are. Yoga is called self-discovery. We must first know what we are. This is a process called self-knowledge. What's the idea of becoming a slave to our memory. Memory is not man. Memory is a little portion of man. We are a slave to our memory. We are a slave to the social and mental customs we have inherited. Most of these problems we speak of in our daily life issue out of this memory pattern. If you take the memory, think of one of the pictures of Sri Aurobindo and hang it before your mental eye, if you then just think of your high school days, the whole thing will come; it is so interesting. Especially when you have a problem, if you just think of it and offer the thoughts that come to the Divine, he makes the slate of memory cleaner and cleaner. Most of these problems issue out of this memory layer. As the memory goes away, the problems also will go away. Some temporary solution will present or it will strike and you will just work it out. In no time it will be settled. There are deeper problems than memory. Memory is not the complete man. Behind the memory is the mind. The mind has patterns. When problems issue out of your mental patterns, the same method can be followed. The mind can be offered to the Divine and the problems issuing out of the mind can be taken out. When both go away, yoga begins. The soul comes out and seeks union with the Divine. That union is called yoga.

But 90% of our domestic problems, official problems, public problems issue out of the memory. If the memory can be offered to the Divine, the best part will go. Once that takes place in one's life, it reveals one's basic mental endowments, emotional endowments and physical endowments. Then it is the second chapter which is to be considered in the light of how the memory revealed to you.

Q: Honestly I would feel that I am on the spot if I try to do this. You would ask me what happened and I may say 'nothing'. I don't see how you can do this correctly except with practise. It's a technique that I've never done before.

A: It is simple recollection with a greater intensity. Just a recollection. You have left the United States and traveled to India. Can you not recollect that area, the travel? Like that if there is any problem even positive things also; suppose you recollect in future, that is, think how you will travel back, that becomes this practise. It is a very simple thing. All that is necessary is you must physically sit quiet. The body must be quiet. The normal interaction of sound, people must not be there. You must be somewhat relaxed.

Q: Is this part of meditation or separate from meditation?

A: Meditation begins after all these things end. They are separate. These are very simple things on the surface of yoga. Yoga means, in fact, in its full reality, one has to relive the human memory, the memory of life from the moment life began on earth. It is stored in our cells. It is there in our minds. The whole thing has to be deconditioned so that the Divine will come out, the soul will come out. In the measure the deconditioning takes place, the Divine force is accessible to us. Meditation means all these thoughts that can interfere through the memory and through the mind, must be brushed aside. When all the thoughts run and exhaust themselves, the meditation starts. In practice, it doesn't happen like that. What happens, meditation has a personality. When you aspire for meditation, it moves towards you, it comes to you as peace, as silence, as a calm. It powerfully brushes these thoughts aside. It is in communion with your mind, your being, for ten minutes, twenty minutes, half an hour. During that time, enormous amount of force enters into your being and it spills over into the different parts of the being like thinking faculties, emotional faculties. Silently, your memory records are just dissolved layer after layer in the force of the Spirit. It goes on unconsciously. After sometime of meditation one feels he is a free man. It does happen to people who meditate after three or four years of yoga, one day suddenly when he is lying in bed, the mind runs over the whole of life in about 5 or 7 minutes. It is said in the spiritual tradition, before a man dies (all doctors know, it is a simple physiological fact) his mind reviews his whole life in a brief period. When that takes place the face has a certain look, his eyes have a certain look. At that time the face brightens. The doctors know that the man will be alive only another 5 or 6 hours, maximum 24 hours. At that time, if he is in a coma, he begins to speak. That's why before death, people look very bright. That is the moment the soul reviews the life so that it could choose the location of its next life. It takes stock. Such a thing happens to people here after two or three years of yoga. One day it happens in the meditation, one day it happens in the sleep. One day it happens when he is lying down. That means, what life experience he has to gather in the eighty years of life, he has gathered in three years of yoga. And he takes a new birth. The soul, instead of going to a new body takes a rebirth here itself. It is a second life. I know personally cases who have skipped many births within a period of seven years, ten years. Each time when they come to the transition, the mind goes like this. What I suggest is to activate that process in your mind. If it ever triggers like that, that is the period when man has drawn all life experience one should take in this birth. The subsequent period is an extra lease of life which he gets from the Divine because the soul has taken birth.

Q: One other clarification: you suggested when I had specific problems that I should gather together all the information and knowledge about them in my mind and offer them to The Mother or Sri Aurobindo. The assumption was, as I understand it, in offering the problem, life or in some way a response would be forthcoming which would either suggest some way to solve the problem or life would solve it without my intervention. My question is, if a solution suggests itself to me, how do I know that it's not my own mind suggesting it, a solution on a mental level instead of a spiritual solution?

A: Have you ever been in moments which we can call elevating or uplifting, not necessarily spiritual, where you say, "It was truly elevating" (not exciting which is a different thing) and where you felt uplifted for a few minutes? When we do a work mentally, conceive of a plan, execute it, an enthusiasm is generated, sometimes an excitement is released. When we achieve it there is a satisfaction. This is my idea, this is my planning, my execution, it has come to a 't', to a complete perfection. There is perfect satisfaction. There are moments in life where we can use a different word, elevating moments: "It is an elevating moment. I feel fulfilled. I feel this half an hour today I spent is worth having lived all the years of my life". There is a difference between excitement and elevation, between satisfaction and fulfillment. If it is a mental idea, however appealing to you it is, you'll feel the excitement or satisfaction. If it is the other solution we spoke of, you'll feel the elevation. That decides which side it is on.

Q: Can you explain what happens to us after we die?

A: There is an answer from our Indian tradition, from yogic knowledge as Sri Aurobindo gives, and there is a set answer for that. Without giving the answer, if I answer the questioner, why this comes into her mind, whether it comes as a quest, whether it comes as a fear, what is the reality of this coming to the surface. What I would do, I would ask her since when this question has come. I would try to find out the character of this quest. And the question and answer is used as a medium for what we call 'growth in consciousness'. Her question serves that purpose. My answer serves that purpose, otherwise it becomes a philosophical question, for which any textbook has the answer.

Normally in our yoga as we understand, the human being is composed of many sheaths, the physical sheath, life sheath, mental sheath, supramental sheath and the sheath of bliss. What we say death is the shedding of the physical sheath. For each of these items there is a subtle item behind that. There is a physical and a subtle physical, there is a life portion which we call vital and there is a subtle vital, mental and subtle mental. In the tradition they have fixed up days - in 22 days the vital sheath dissolves itself in the atmosphere. In so many months the mental sheath dissolves itself and the Supramental sheath and finally the core, which we call the soul, the evolving part of the soul, goes back to its place, takes rest, waits for the next suitable occasion to be born and decides at the time of parting what is the type of experience it needs in the next birth, and it awaits the circumstances and takes birth to continue its life experience.

I can answer this question in relation to you, why this question about death does not present itself to you, since you are here. It presents itself to her but such a question never presents itself to you. There are different vehicles in us which we call parts of the being. There is a physical vehicle, vital vehicle, emotional, mental, spiritual. If the energy which issues out of that vehicle is less than the receptacle can contain, one searches to fill it up. If the mental energy is less than the mental vehicle can contain, it leads to a great mental enquiry about everything. If the vital vehicle contains slightly less energy, the person wants to arrange for food, arrange for his house, for three generations he wants to secure things, there is insecurity, he exercises himself about life problems. If the energy spills over a little more, overflows slightly, the mental part of that vehicle is not permitted to function. It lives, it can't function. It can't think. So also if the mental energy is more than the mental vehicle can contain, instantaneously the mind understands the situation and loses itself in the moment, never exercises itself. You have more vital energy than your constitution, so you live. Living is the end of it.

Q: That leads into the question, that is, we are to attempt to leave the vital behind and also the mental to reach if possible the spiritual level of existence. What do you consider the best method of doing that?

A: The first condition is, one must need it. The need must be felt. The felt need must develop into an urge. If that is there, any other technique is meaningful. One must be drawn to the Spirit, the spiritual aspect of any part of the being. No man can exert himself for what he does not need. If there is a felt need, if every third day or one week that need presents itself, well, he can make a beginning. The need must become an insistent urge. That is the primary condition. If that is there then the question of need arises.

Q: What I feel an urge for may not be spiritual. If I were to try to describe it, I would use words like peace of mind, and joy. I've always felt a great need for joy which implies to me an ability to merge with the moment, without analysing it in terms of some past behaviour or worrying about the implications for the future, a spontaneous ability to react creatively and yet with confidence that whatever the reaction is it will not be self-seeking as much as a kind of unleashing of all my creative potential.

A: It is an aspect of spirituality that touches the vital or the mental. It is a spiritual aspect. What you seek for you may think you seek for the sake of life or your personal sake or the sake of the public. It is an element of spirituality. It can be called by extension or by stretching the argument, a spiritual urge, in that field. If you give the necessary effort which the urge calls for it can be achieved. It can be achieved and fulfilled.

Q: If this is so, if this is a slight urge for spirituality, then how do you implement it or expand it to start on the road?

A: One of the truisms in spiritual life is, all that you want is immediately around you; you don't have to seek walking 20 thousand miles or going into a cave. If the need is real and it becomes genuine, it is just around the corner. Even if it is not around the corner, it will come to you. This is one of the basic truisms of spiritual life. As far as you are concerned, for anybody who comes here the visit is not casual. Each man may think that for certain reasons he is coming here. Ordinarily you think that because your children are here you have come. It is not like that. There is the Divine intention of your coming here and living in this atmosphere. If the right indication is followed by the shortest route, one can reach this. Normally what man does, if he wants to read economics or mathematics, he need not go away from Madras. Economics does not need a laboratory. He feels going to London or New York is prestigious. It is an irrelevant consideration. He brings in an irrelevant consideration, finally seeks the irrelevant consideration in the name of an irrelevant consideration and learns less mathematics by going to Cambridge than he could have learned by staying in Madras. Such a consideration enters in every man's life. Whatever a man needs almost is around him. Before he becomes aware of the urge things come to him and he is led to things. Such a situation always develops. If he becomes perceptive, if he consciously discourages the irrelevant elements in his mind and does not interfere, normally things are just at the doorstep.

For you, I can give my opinion. You can make your work spiritual from your point of view without discussing with a second person. Your work is ideally spiritual for you. If you take to that you will see the progress in your life. The progress will be felt at different stages. In your terms, you will see greater joy, greater peace of mind. You will forget the past much more, never think of the future at all. Every line you move into will flower with further opportunities. You will be ten times more intense in your life; the Spirit will come out during more occasions than if you lived in an Ashram. Suppose you lived in an Ashram, the only thing you would get is boredom. You would learn a set of exercises, a set of routine, try to sit in a few postures, get bored, irritated, and try to find an explanation for your irritation. Your work is your Ashram. Your healthy, happy attitude of giving yourself to the work is spirituality for you. And if you just take it one step higher (in its idealism, in its ideal implementation) than where it is, centrally relate yourself to the spiritual element, that is the line I see which will suit you best. Suppose you take to that. I can make a wild prophecy. Your work in agriculture will have a nationwide impact within less than 12 months. I won't be surprised if your work in agriculture finds wider expansion than the borders of the United States. You can go through your work spiritually. The emphasis must be, you don't have to canvass anyone, you don't have to convince anyone. You don't have to speak about spirituality, use the word spiritual with a second person. In the measure, in the jurisdiction that is given to you, you can start functioning, shifting your center from the mind to spirituality. That will be a tremendous thing. I will be very much interested in associating myself with your experiment.

Q: You make it sound very exciting.

A: You can't sleep at night for more than two hours! You will be overflowing with so much energy, you won't be able to sleep, or sit down, you will stand up. Can I suggest something to you? If you are amenable to my mischief I can suggest a hundred things to you and give you a list of things to be done. I always get interested in associating people with Indian conditions, Indian work, Indian departments. If the work that you do is really for more scientific production in the agricultural field, ultimately the result is, you produce a better farmer. By making the farmer produce more and more organisedly on his farm, you develop the personality of the farmer. The prosperity that you create on the field results in the psychological prosperity of the man. If you can correspond with some of the agricultural senior scientists in India, initiate some movements in coordination with them, that will have a relevance for some of the ideas I have in mind. It will be very interesting and exciting. It is an international movement which is taking place on its own without its being organised by people. Such a movement takes place in different ways at different layers of the society. All that I suggest is a conscious spearheading of such a movement, from two points, one point from each country. If the idea is acceptable, how to work it out, the details, will come.

Q: You notice I always ask for specific answers. Is this because I am new to this subject or because I am a Westerner?

A: Neither. People ask for specific irrelevant answers. People ask for specific answers which they have in mind. People don't want answers. When a question is given many people don't ask for answers. There are different levels of the mind or the being that are touched. Each responds in a different way. If one is drawn to something higher, say, take football. We say football is vital. Art is the higher vital. When a man wants to draw a picture he is just possessed by the inspiration of drawing a particular vision which has formed in him. He doesn't plan what will be the cost of the drawing; what will be the time required; will he get his next meal. He is possessed by that inspiration. So also people who go for a game or a tour - mostly they arrange for things, it is there in the set-up - they are carried away by their excitement. Any man who wants to do something more valuable than he is, does not ask for anything specific. But in the measure the mind is organised they ask for specific answers. To ask for specific answers is one way of fulfillment. Not to ask for them is another way of fulfillment. Both ways can be used positively and both can be used negatively. I am used to people who ask a question and are determined to say "no" to whatever I say. I finish my answer and they say, "What will you do when this happens or that happens?" I don't answer their questions. I make them see themselves. They get angry. "You want me to see my dirty face?" They throw chairs at me.

In these matters the cultural pattern and social habits of the country, age, all play their part. But when you move to the essential area, all of them are meaningless. The man counts, his urge counts.

Q: I have the feeling that when you reach a certain level of consciousness you never worry about how to handle a life experience, you just handle it, and you don't need any answers to anything. You are not concerned about what should or should not be done according to ordinary judgment or duty.

A: Yes, it's a flow. When a person is capable of delivering more than what his duty compels him, he does not care for duty. When he is not capable of delivering more than what the duty expects of him, it is better for him to care for duty.

Q: How far is it possible for people at certain levels to move upward in a lifetime?

A: I would cite one parallel in your country - how the United States was built up in 200 years. What Continental civilisation has achieved in 500 or 700 years has been abridged - it has been transferred and on top of that a further thing was developed and it has overtaken the Continental civilisation. In a country like that where dynamism and enterprise is almost in evidence in all fields, opportunity was there -- natural opportunity, political opportunity, physical opportunity, life opportunities were there in abundance. All that was needed was, man should want to prosper. In one sense we can say the United States being a new country 200 years ago provided greater opportunity than set civilisations like Germany or Italy, where ways of functioning have fallen into grooves. One is not accustomed even to thinking in a different way. One follows the rut. The mind was free. Complete political freedom was there. The natural conditions provided enough opportunity for exploitation, innovation, enterprise.

If you take a period of 50 years in a man's life, and see a cross-section of people, you can take two points - the lowest point at which a person has started and the highest point to which he has risen, and in the same range of five decades. The opportunities are there, it is limited only by each man's aspirations. But if a man in India has the aspiration he doesn't have the same facilities as in the United States today. Human consciousness, was not as developed as today 1000 years ago. Mind is developed, emotions are developed. More things are settled today across the table than at the point of the gun. The social organisation is developed. Means of learning and communication have developed. Not only that, the basic stuff of the spiritual consciousness is more developed. Sri Aurobindo has worked for the descent of the Supramental consciousness on earth which had not manifested so far. He worked all his life. In 1956 it descended into earth's consciousness. In 1967 it manifested in earth's consciousness. And now the superman's consciousness is active in the earth's atmosphere, Mother says. The spiritual effort man could take 500 years ago is abridged thousands of times today. The same effort will yield greater results today. As the United States provides all the facilities, natural, political, social, for a personal enterprise to develop, which India does not have by its inhibiting conditions here, in this period, after 1956, according to our understanding, spiritually the opportunity is there. Any man can make in months what he cannot make in centuries. What is necessary is he should need it. One should have the need, have the aspiration, urge. In the measure of his urge there is no person who cannot achieve within his life time in the modern conditions after the advent of the Supramental consciousness. The difference between the high and the low is much abridged. What Sri Aurobindo has done is a colossal spiritual achievement. He has prepared the conditions for all of us so that any of us can do it. Today any engineer can build an aircraft, not in 1910. So also, in terms of spiritual consciousness things have far developed. The higher consciousness has descended on the earth, manifested itself, organised itself and is awaiting round the corner for man to knock at the door. It is limited only by man's aspiration.

Q: So how do we awaken his aspirations?

A: By awakening our own aspiration. If I am interested in him and my own aspiration is awakened, I will suddenly find his aspiration awakened and he will find it awakened. It is communicated.

Q: So we don't go out and preach?

A: No, definitely! We should not, it is better not.

story | by Dr. Radut