© Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust

Mind of light

29 December 1954

[...] In fact, you see--I say except for a very few, so few that one can hardly speak about them--all men live in a total ignorance, a total ignorance of the way to live, not of the things [new p. 450]in the universe but simply of the most elementary knowledge of living. They don't know how to live. All the time they do things they should not do, and I am not speaking of satisfying desires and all that, I am speaking simply of the life of each moment, the movement of each instant; because one is in a state of total ignorance, one does exactly the opposite of what one should do to get the result one wants. One tries to follow some aim, whatever it may be--it may be a selfish aim, it may be a disinterested aim, it may be a material aim, it may be a spiritual aim, but one wants to get somewhere--and one does just the opposite of what is necessary to go there, all the time. And if you are simply just a little attentive and are able to look at yourself at any minute, whatever be the thing you have to do, stop for half a second and look at yourself and ask, "Do I know what I have to do?" If you are sincere you will see that you don't know it at all. You do it automatically, instinctively, by habit or else with some kind of impulse, you see; but to know: "Is this what must be done? Is it in this way that it ought to be done?"--I don't think once in a thousand times you can answer.

And then, when the problem of wanting to help someone comes up... If you have goodwill and want to help someone... You don't know how to help yourself to begin with, but still, you are not selfish; at a particular moment you want to help someone, and then comes this question: "What should I do?" You know nothing at all about it. "What does he need?" I mean not only material things but the feeling you must have, the thought you must have, the word you ought to say. If you just take a step backward, you look at yourself, but you know nothing about it; you do it like that, haphazardly, at random, in the hope that it will succeed, but the knowledge is not there. [old p. 451]Without speaking, naturally, about... I am not speaking of people who know nothing at all and who, when they happen to have even a child, don't even know what is to be done to hold it in the right way and keep it healthy. I am not even speaking of this kind of ignorance, because this everybody recognises. I [new p. 451]knew, you see, countless mothers who hadn't the faintest idea of what had to be done to keep their children healthy. I am not even speaking of this. Because this--if one reads a book, works a little, studies, one can at least have a minimum of knowledge.

I am speaking simply of a slightly higher step: morally, your moral, psychological relation with people. You are with someone who is in difficulty. Do you know what you should say to him? Do you even know the cause, the origin of his difficulty? What is going on in him? You may guess, you may imagine it, you may deduce, may reason, but you don't know!

To have this certitude, the knowledge, the knowledge to know: "That's it", this you don't have. "Is it this, is it like that? If I do this, will that happen? And if I do that, is that what will happen?" And you go on, you may go on and on for hours, hesitating, groping, asking yourself.... And this is exactly what Sri Aurobindo has written in his last article which appeared in the Bulletin. He says that if you want to prepare for the descent of the supermind, first of all your mind of ignorance and incapacity must be replaced by a mind of light which sees and knows. And this is the first step! Before this step is crossed, one cannot go forward. It is not to discourage you that I tell you this, but it is for those who believe that one has only to say, "Oh, I want the supramental light", and it will come just like that, as when one says, "I want to drink a glass of water" and drinks it up. Not so easy! There we are.