© Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust

Will and aspiration

Passivity is not laziness. An active movement is one in which you throw your force out, that is, when something comes out from you--in a movement, a thought, a feeling--something which goes out from you to others or into the world. Passivity is when you remain just yourself like this, open, and receive what comes from outside. It does not at all depend on whether one moves or sits still. It is not that at all. To be active is to throw out the consciousness or force or movement from within outwards. To be passive is to remain immobile and receive what comes from outside. So it is said here... I don't know what is written... (Mother turns the pages of the book.) It is very clear! "Activity in aspiration", that means that your aspiration goes out from you and rises to the Divine--in the tapasya, the discipline you undertake and when there are forces contrary to your sadhana you reject them. This is a movement of activity.

Now, if you want to get true inspiration, inner guidance, the guide, and if you want to have the force, to receive the force which will guide you and make you act as you should, then you do not move any longer, that is--I don't mean not move physically but nothing must come out from you any more and, on the contrary, you remain as though you were quite still, but open, and wait for the Force to enter, and then open yourself as wide as possible to take in all that comes into you. And it is [new p. 113]this movement: instead of out-going vibrations there is a kind of calm quietude, but completely open, as though you were [old p. 113]opening all your pores in this way to the force which must descend into you and transform your action and consciousness.

Receptivity is the result of a fine passivity.

But Mother, to be able to become passive an effort has to be made, hasn't it?

Not necessarily, that depends upon people. An effort? One must, yes, one must want it. But is the will an effort?... Naturally, one must think about it, must want it. But the two things can go together, you see, there is a moment when the two--aspiration and passivity--can be not only alternate but simultaneous. You can be at once in the state of aspiration, of willing, which calls down something--exactly the will to open oneself and receive, and the aspiration which calls down the force you want to receive--and at the same time be in that state of complete inner stillness which allows full penetration, for it is in this immobility that one can be penetrated, that one becomes permeable by the Force. Well, the two can be simultaneous without the one disturbing the other, or can alternate so closely that they can hardly be distinguished. But one can be like that, like a great flame rising in aspiration, and at the same time as though this flame formed a vase, a large vase, opening and receiving all that comes down.

And the two can go together. And when one succeeds in having the two together, one can have them constantly, whatever one may be doing. Only there may be a slight, very slight displacement of consciousness, almost imperceptible, which becomes aware of the flame first and then of the vase of receptivity--of what seeks to be filled and the flame that rises to call down what must fill the vase--a very slight pendular movement and so close that it gives the impression that one has the two at the same time.


I did not understand very well the answer to this question: "Does the power of aspiration vary in different sadhaks according to their natures?" [Note: Sri Aurobindo's answer: "No. Aspiration is the same power in all; it differs only in purity, intensity and object."]

Ah! Yes.

You see, I think the question has been put badly. I believe the one who asked the question wanted to say "the effect of aspiration" and he put "power". That is, aspiration in everyone, no matter who it is, has the same power. But the effect of this aspiration is different. For aspiration is aspiration: if you have aspiration, in itself it has a power. Only, this aspiration calls down an answer, and this answer, the effect, which is the result of the aspiration, depends upon each one, for it depends upon his receptivity. I know many people of this kind: they say, "Oh! But I aspire all the time and still I receive nothing." It is impossible that they should receive nothing, in the sense that the answer is sure to come. But it is they who do not receive. The answer comes but they are not receptive, so they receive nothing.

There are people, you know, who have a lot of aspiration. They call the force. The force comes to them--even enters deeply into them--and they are so unconscious that they don't [new p. 116][old p. 116]know it! That indeed happens quite frequently. It is their state of unconsciousness which prevents them from even feeling the force which enters into them. It enters into them, and does its work. I knew people who were gradually transformed and yet were so unconscious that they were not even aware of it. The consciousness comes later--very much later. On the other hand, there are people who are more passive, so to speak, more open, more attentive, and even if a very slight amount of force comes, they become aware of it immediately and use it fully.

When you have an aspiration, a very active aspiration, your aspiration is going to do its work. It is going to call down the answer to what you aspire for. But if, later, you begin to think of something else or are not attentive or receptive, you do not even notice that your aspiration has received an answer. This happens very frequently. So people tell you: "I aspire and I don't receive anything, I get no answer!" Yes, you do have an answer but you are not aware of it, because you continue to be active in this way, like a mill turning all the time.