© Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust

Merging one's ego in the Divine

28 July 1954

How can one [...] dissolve in the Divine, and lose one's ego?

First of all, one must will it. And then one must aspire with great perseverance, and each time the ego shows itself, one must give it a little rap on the nose (Mother taps her nose) until it has received so many raps that it is tired of them and gives up the game.

But usually, instead of rapping it on the nose, one justifies its presence. Almost constantly, when it shows itself, one says, "After all, it is right." And mostly one doesn't even know that it is the ego, one thinks it is oneself. But the first condition is to find it essential not to have the ego any longer. One must really understand that one doesn't want it. It is not so easy. It is not so easy! For one can very well turn words over in the head and say, "I don't want the ego any more, I no longer want to be separated from the Divine." All this goes on inside, like that. But it remains just there, it hasn't much effect on your life. The next moment you do something purely egoistic, you see, and find it quite natural. It doesn't even shock you.

One must first begin to understand truly what this means. The first method... you see, there are many stages... first, one must try not to be selfish--which is something quite different, isn't it?... If you take the English words you understand the difference. In English, you see, there is the word "selfish", and there is also the word "egoism". The ego--"ego"--exists in English, and "selfish". And these are two very different things; in French there is not this distinction. They say, "I don't want [old p. 255]to be selfish", you see. But this is a very small thing, very small! People, when they stop being selfish, think they have made tremendous [new p. 255]progress! But it's a very small thing. It is simply, oh, it is simply to have a sense of its ridiculousness. You can't imagine how ridiculous these selfish people are!

When one sees them thinking all the time about themselves, referring everything to themselves, governed simply by their own little person, placing themselves in the centre of the universe and trying to organise the whole universe including God around themselves, as though that were the most important thing in the universe. If one could only see oneself objectively, you know, as one sees oneself in a mirror, observe oneself living, it is so grotesque! (Laughing) That's enough for you to... One suddenly feels that he is becoming--oh, so absolutely ridiculous!

I remember I read in French--it was a translation--a sentence of Tagore's which amused me very much. He was speaking of a little dog. He said... he compared it with something... I don't remember the details now, but what struck me was this: the little dog was sitting on its mistress's lap and fancying itself the centre of the universe! This struck me very strongly. It is true! I used to know a little dog like this! But there are many like that, almost all are like that. You see, they want everybody to pay attention to them, and in fact they succeed very well. Because when there is a little dog, as when there is a little child--it's almost the same thing--everyone attends to them.

Haven't you noticed that when a child of this height (Mother indicates the height) comes along, everything else stops? Before that, people could speak, say interesting things, be busy with something higher; but as soon as a child comes along, everybody begins to smile, to mimic a baby, to try to make it speak, to attend to it. One can't bring along a child without everybody fussing over it, wanting to take it, to make it speak. So naturally the child feels itself the centre of the universe! It is quite natural!

For a puppy it is the same thing, for a kitten it is the same. It is a kind of... it is a very poor deformation of a kind of need [old p. 256]to protect something that's smaller than oneself. And this is one of the forms, one of the earliest forms of unegoistic manifestation of [new p. 256]the ego! It feels so comfortable when it can protect something, busy itself with something much smaller, much weaker than itself, which is almost at its mercy, almost--even entirely--at its mercy, which has no power to resist. And so one feels good and generous because one doesn't crush it!

This is the first manifestation of generosity in the world. But all this, when one can see behind it and a little above, it cures you from being selfish, for truly it is ridiculous! It is truly ridiculous!

So there is a long, long, long way to go before merging one's ego in the Divine.

Merge one's ego in the Divine! But first, one can't merge one's ego in the Divine before becoming completely individualised. Do you know what it means to be completely individualised? Capable of resisting all outer influences?

Some days ago I received a letter from someone who told me that he was very hesitant about reading books of ordinary literature, for example, novels or dramas, because his nature had an almost insuperable tendency to receive imprints of the characters in these books and to begin living the feelings and thoughts of these characters, the nature of these persons. There are many more people than one would think who are like that. They read a book and while they are reading it they feel within themselves all kinds of emotions, thoughts, desires, intentions, plans, even ideals. They are simply just absorbed in the reading of the book. They are not even aware of it, because at least ninety-nine parts of an individual's character are made of soft butter--inedible of course... but on which if one presses one's thumb, an imprint is made.

Now, everything is a "thumb": an expressed thought, a sentence read, an object looked at, an observation of what someone else does, and of one's neighbour's will. And all these wills... you know, when one sees them they are all there, like this, intermingled [old p. 257](Mother intercrosses her fingers), each one trying to get the uppermost and causing a kind of perpetual conflict within, [new p. 257]outside.... It goes in and out of people like that, you see, like electric currents. One is not at all aware of all this, and it is a perpetual conflict of all the wills which are trying to express themselves; and the strongest one will succeed. But as there are many of these and as one has to fight alone against a great number, it is not easy.

So one is tossed like a cork on the waves of the sea.... One day one wants this, the next day one wants that, at one moment one is pushed from this side, at another from that, now one lifts one's face to the sky (Mother makes the movement), now one is sunk deep in a hole. And so this is the existence one has!

First one must become a conscious, well-knit, individualised being, who exists in himself, by himself, independently of all his surroundings, who can hear anything, read anything, see anything without changing. He receives from outside only what he wants to receive; he automatically refuses all that is not in conformity with his plan and nothing can leave an imprint on him unless he agrees to receive the imprint. Then one begins to become an individuality! When one is an individuality, one can make an offering of it.

For, unless one possesses something, one cannot give it. First, one must be, and then afterwards one can give oneself.

So long as one does not exist, one can give nothing. And for the separative ego to disappear, as you say, one must be able to give oneself entirely, totally without reservation. And to be able to give oneself, one must first exist. And to exist one must be individualised.

If your body were not made in the rigid form it is--for it is terribly rigid, isn't it?--well, if all that were not so fixed, if you had no skin, here, like this, solid, if externally you were the reflection of what you are in the vital and mental fields, it would be worse than being a jelly-fish! Everything would fuse into everything else, like this.... Oh, what a mess it would be! That [old p. 258]is why it was at first necessary to give a very rigid form. Afterwards we complain about it. We say, "The physical is fixed, [new p. 258]it is a nuisance; it lacks plasticity, it lacks suppleness, it hasn't that fluidity which can enable us to merge into the Divine." But this was absolutely necessary, for without this... if you simply went out of your body (most of you can't do it because the vital being is hardly more individualised than the physical), if you came out of your body and went into the vital world, you would see that all things there intermingle, they are mixed, they divide; all kinds of vibrations, currents of forces come and go, struggle, try to destroy one another, take possession of each other, absorb each other, throw each other out... and so it goes on! But it is very difficult to find a real personality in all this. These are forces, movements, desires, vibrations.

There are individualities, there are personalities! But these are powers. People who are individualised in that world are either heroes or devils!

And now, in the mind... (Silence) If only you become conscious of your physical mind in itself... Some people have called it a public square, because everything comes there, goes across, passes, comes back.... All ideas go there, they enter at one place, leave by another, some are here, some there, and it is a public square, not very well organised, for usually ideas meet and knock into one another, there are accidents of all kinds. But then one becomes aware: "What can I call my mind?" or "What is my mind?"

One needs years of very attentive, very careful, very reasonable, very coherent work, organisation, selection, construction, in order to succeed simply in forming, oh, simply this little thing, one's own way of thinking!

One believes he has his own way of thinking. Not at all. It depends totally upon the people one speaks with or the books he has read or on the mood he is in. It depends also on whether you have a good or bad digestion, it depends on whether you are shut up in a room without proper ventilation or whether you [old p. 259]are in the open air; it depends on whether you have a beautiful landscape before you; it depends on whether there is sunshine or [new p. 259]rain! You are not aware of it, but you think all kinds of things, completely different according to a heap of things which have nothing to do with you!

And for this to become a coordinated, coherent, logical thought, a long thorough work is necessary. And then, the best of the business is that when you have succeeded in making a beautiful, well-formed, very strong, very powerful mental construction, the first thing you will be told is, "You must break this so that you can unite with the Divine!" But so long as you haven't made it, you cannot unite with the Divine because you have nothing to give to the Divine except a mass of things which are not yourself! One must first exist in order to be able to give oneself. I am repeating what I said a while ago.

Truly, in the present state of the world, the only thing one can give the Divine is one's body. But that's what one doesn't give Him. Yes, one can try to consecrate one's work! But still, here there are so many elements which are not true!

You want to merge your body in the Divine, eh? Just try! How are you going to do this? You can merge your mind, you can merge your vital, you can fuse all your emotions, you can fuse all your aspirations, you can fuse all that, but your body--how are you going to do that? You are not going to melt it in a boiling-pot! (Laughter) And yet it is the only thing about which you can say with certitude, "It is", and give a name to it; yet even your name is a convention... but still, you are in the habit of calling yourself by a certain name--say, "This, this is I." You look at yourself in a mirror, and although what you were twenty years ago is very different from what you are now... it is unrecognisable... still something makes you say all the same, "Yes, this is I." Yes? "I am so-and-so"--Peter, Louis, Jack, Andre, whoever it may be....

(After a silence) And even this, if one were to look at oneself, every seven years all the cells are changed, and it is only [old p. 260]by a kind of habit that it remains the same. Does it remain the same? Do you have photographs of the time you were very young? And [new p. 260]the photographs when you were ten, twenty, thirty years old--it is because one very much wants to do so that one recognises oneself; otherwise, truly, one is not at all the same.... When you were this height and now when you are this height, that makes a considerable difference! So, there we are...

All this... it is not in order to swamp you that I tell you all this. It is only in order to tell you that before speaking of merging one's ego in the Divine, one must first know a little what one is. The ego is there. Its necessity is that you become conscious, independent beings, individualised--I mean in the sense of independent--that you may not be the public square where everything goes criss-cross! That you may exist in yourselves. That is why there is an ego. It is like that; that is why also there is a skin, like that... though truly, even physical forces pass through the skin. There is a vibration which goes a certain distance. But still, it's the skin that prevents us from blending into one another. But everything else must be like that too.

(After a silence) And then, later, one offers all this to the Divine. Years of work are needed. You must not only... silence)... become conscious of yourself, conscious in all details, but you must organise what you call "yourself" around the psychic centre, the divine centre of your being, so that it would make a single, coherent, fully conscious being. And as this divine centre is itself already consecrated (Mother makes a gesture of offering) entirely to the Divine, if everything is organised harmoniously around it, everything is consecrated to the Divine. And so, when the Divine thinks it proper, when the time has come, when the work of individualisation is complete, then the Divine gives you permission to let your ego merge in Him, to live henceforward only for the Divine.

But it is the Divine who takes this decision. You must first have done all this work, become a conscious being, solely and exclusively centred around the Divine and governed by Him. [old p. 261]And after all that, there is still an ego; because it is [new p. 261]the ego which serves to make you an individual. But once this work is perfect, fully accomplished, then, at that moment, you may tell the Divine, "Here I am, I am ready. Do you want me?" And the Divine usually says, "Yes." All is over, everything is accomplished. And you become a real instrument for the Divine's work. But first the instrument must be constructed.

You think that you are sent to school, that you are made to do exercises, all this just for the pleasure of vexing you? Oh, no! It is because it's indispensable for you to have a frame in which you can learn how to form yourself. If you did your work of individualisation, of total formation, by yourself, all alone in a corner, nothing at all would be asked of you. But you don't do it, you wouldn't do it, there's not a single child who would do it, he wouldn't even know how to do it, where to begin. If a child were not taught how to live, he could not live, he wouldn't know how to do anything, anything. I don't want to speak about disgusting details, but even the most elementary things he would not do properly if he were not taught how to do them. Therefore, one must, step by step... That is to say, if everyone had to go through the whole experience needed for the formation of an individuality, he would be long dead before having begun to live! This is the advantage of those--accumulated through centuries--who have had the experience and tell you, "Well, if you want to go quickly, to know in a few years what has been learnt through centuries, do this!" Read, learn, study and then, in the material field, you will be taught to do this in this way, that in that way, this again in this way ( gestures). Once you know a little, you can find your own method, if you have the genius for it! But first one must stand on one's own feet and know how to walk. It is very difficult to learn it all alone. It's like that for everyone. One must form oneself. Therefore, one needs education. There we are!