© Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust

Aspiration and faith

18 November 1953

Does the intervention of the Grace come through a call?

When one calls? I think so. Anyway, not exclusively and solely. But certainly, yes, if one has faith in the Grace and an aspiration and if one does what a little child would when it runs to its mother and says: "Mamma, give me this", if one calls with that simplicity, if one turns to the Grace and says "Give me this", I believe it listens. Unless one asks for something that is not good for one, then it does not listen. If one asks from it something that does harm or is not favourable, it does not listen.

What is the cause of this effect? of the call?

Perhaps one was destined to call. That is: Did the hen produce the egg or the egg the hen? I don't know whether it is the Grace which makes you call the Grace or whether because the Grace is called the Grace comes. It is difficult to say.

Essentially, it is quite possible that what is most lacking is faith. There is always a tiny corner in the thought which doubts and debates. So that spoils everything. It is only just when one is in an absolutely critical situation, when the mind realises that [old p. 368]it can do nothing, absolutely nothing, when it stands there quite stupid and incapable, then, at that moment, if one aspires for a higher help, the aspiration has exactly that kind of intensity which comes from despair, and that takes effect. But if your thought continues to argue, if it says: "Yes, yes, I have aspired, I [new p. 367]have prayed, but God knows if this is the moment, and whether it will come and whether it is possible", well, then it is finished, it doesn't work. This is one of the commonest of things. People are told: "If you want to advance in the yoga, you must have no desires". One goes even a little further and says: "You must not have any needs." One goes a little further still and says: "Never ask anything from the Divine." Well, I don't know, more than ninety-nine times out of a hundred, people's reaction is: "Ah! if I don't ask, I won't have what I need." They don't see that they cut the whole movement at the very root! They don't have faith. "I need this...."

I am not even discussing the idea of need, for it is quite arbitrary. I knew a Dutch painter who had come here, and done Sri Aurobindo's portrait (it seems this portrait is still existent). This Dutch painter was practising a yoga. And so, one day, he told me this: "Oh! as for me, I think I can do without anything. Truly I believe one can reduce one's needs to a minimum. But all the same, I must have a tooth-brush." I had not yet lived in India at that time, otherwise I would have told him: "There are millions of people who have never had a toothbrush and whose teeth are quite clean. This is not the only way of keeping one's teeth clean." But at that time he was quite convinced that one could do without everything except keeping one's mouth clean. And for him, to keep one's mouth clean meant having a tooth-brush. That gives a very exact picture of what goes on in people's minds. They cling to something and think they need it. And surely it is a complete ignorance, for perhaps there is a real necessity like that of having a clean mouth (that seems to be in any case quite necessary), but that association of the tooth-brush with the necessity of having a clean mouth is [old p. 369]quite arbitrary. For it is not so very long ago that tooth-brushes were invented.

There was someone else also who told me: "Oh! I can absolutely do without anything at all"--we were speaking of a walking-tour with a minimum of baggage on the back (when [new p. 368]you are compelled to carry it for miles on end, four or five kilometres a day, you try to reduce the weight of your bag as much as possible); so we discussed about what was indispensable and had to be put in the bag. He said his tooth-brush. Another told me he needed a piece of soap (usually this spins round very simple tiny things of this kind). But here how many people there are who have never used soap, and that doesn't prevent them from being clean! There are other ways of being clean. That's how it is, one is fixed in all kinds of small ideas and believes these are indispensable needs. And then, if you travel a little around the world, you notice that what is a need for you is for others something they don't even know of, something they have never seen in their life, which doesn't exist and hasn't the slightest importance of any kind. Hence it is not indispensable. It is just the result of an education and life in a particular environment. And these things are quite relative, and not only relative but transitory.