© Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust

Healthy humility

25 August 1954

Doesn't ascetic discipline help us to overcome attachment?

No, it inflates and strengthens your pride.

But you said, "Renounce pleasure." Then...

Renounce pleasure... but it isn't through an ascetic discipline that one renounces pleasure! It is through an inner illumination and a kind of sublimation of the being which makes you feel all that is gross and obscure and unpleasant in pleasure.

If we are living in gross pleasures, how should we overcome them?

But you are not living exclusively in gross pleasure; otherwise, I suppose you wouldn't be here.

But everything is pleasure, isn't it? Pleasure, that means... pleasure. We live comfortably, we eat, etc. All that, isn't that pleasure?

(Surprised) You do all that for pleasure? (Laughter) That's perhaps your conception, I have nothing to tell you. If you can't feel the difference between something that aspires to a higher life and something which finds itself altogether comfortable in the ordinary life, well, I cannot help you. You must first have found that in yourself. [new p. 302]

But doesn't some outer discipline help? [old p. 302]

If you impose a discipline upon yourself and if it isn't too stupid, it may help you. A discipline, I tell you--disciplines, tapasyas, all ascetic disciplines are, as ordinarily practised, the best means of making you proud, of building up in you such a terrific pride that never, never will you be converted. It will have to be broken down with hammer-strokes.

The first condition is a healthy humility which makes you realise that unless you are sustained, nourished, helped, enlightened, guided by the Divine, you are nothing at all. There now. When you have felt that, not only understood it with your mind, but felt it down to your very body, then you will begin to be wise, but not before.