© Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust

Overcoming Difficulties
21 July 1954

With the touch of the divine Grace, how do difficulties become opportunities for progress?

Opportunities for progress? Yes! Well, this is something quite obvious. You have made a big mistake, you are in great difficulty: then, if you have faith, if you have trust in the divine Grace, if you really rely on It, you will suddenly realise that it is a lesson, that your difficulty or mistake is nothing else but a lesson and that it comes to teach you to find within yourself what needs to be changed, and with this help of the divine Grace you will discover in yourself what has to be changed. And you will change it. And so, from a difficulty you will have made great progress, taken a considerable leap forward. This, indeed, happens all the time. Only, you must be truly sincere, that is, rely on the Grace and let It work in you--not like this: one part of you asking to be helped and another resisting as much as it can, because it doesn't want to change... this is the difficulty.

All that he is saying, all the time, is: completely, totally, sincerely, without reserve. For there is one part of the being which has an aspiration, there is one part of the being which gives itself, and there are other parts--sometimes a small part, some times a big one which hides nicely, right at the bottom, and keeps absolutely quiet so that it may not be found out, but which resists with all its might, so as not to change.

And so one wonders... with, "Oh, I had such a beautiful aspiration, I had so much goodwill, I had such a great desire to change, and then, see, I cannot! Why?" Then, of course, your mental arrogance comes in and says, "I didn't get the response I deserved, the divine Grace doesn't help me, and I am left all alone to shift for myself", etc., etc.

It is not that. It is that hidden somewhere there is a tiny something which is well coiled up, in there, doubled up, turned in upon itself and well hidden, right at the bottom, as at the bottom of a box, which refuses to stir. (Mother speaks very softly.) So when the effort, the aspiration wane, die down, this springs up like that, gently, and then it wants to impose its will and it makes you do exactly what you did not want to do, what you had decided you would not do, and which you do without knowing how or why! Because that thing was there, it had its turn--for small things, big things, for the details, even for the direction of life.

There are people who see clearly, who know so well what they ought to do, and who feel that they can't.... They don't know why. It is nothing else but that. There is a little spot which doesn't want to change and this little spot awaits its hour. And the day it is allowed, through laxity, fatigue, somnolence, through a little inertia, allowed to show itself, it will show itself with all concentrated, accumulated energy, and will make you do, will make you say, make you feel, make you act ex-act-ly contrary to what you had decided to do! And you will stand there: "Ah, how discouraging this is!... " Then some people say, "Fate!" They think it is their fate. It is not fate, it is themselves!... It is that they don't have, haven't used, the light, the searchlight. They have not turned the searchlight into the small hidden corners of their being, they haven't discovered what was well hidden. They have left it there, and then have done this (Mother turns away her head) so as not to see it. How many times one suddenly feels one is on the point of catching something, "Hup!" It hurts a little.... It is troublesome.... So one thinks of something else, and that's all! The opportunity has gone. One must wait for another occasion, again commit a few stupidities, before being able to find an opportunity to catch the thing by the tail, like this, or by the ear or the nose, and hold it firmly and say, "No! You won't hide any longer now, I see you as you are, and you must either get out or change!"

One must have a strong grip and an unshakable resolution. As in our Japanese story of the other day, that soldier who had a knife in his knee in order to make sure of not falling asleep...and when he felt very sleepy, he turned the knife in such a way that it hurt him still more. One must have something like that. This, this is determination: to know what one wants and to do it. There we are!