© Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust


30 November 1955

How can one become indifferent to criticism?

By climbing somewhere up on the ladder--in one's own consciousness--looking at things a little more vastly, a little more generally. For example, if at a particular moment there is something which holds you, grips you like that, holds you tight, close pressed, and you absolutely want it to happen, and you are fighting against a terrible obstacle, you see, something which is preventing it from happening; if simply just at that moment you begin to feel, to realise the myriads and myriads of years there were before this present moment, and the myriads and myriads of years there will be after this present moment, and what importance this little event has in relation to all that--there is no need to enter a spiritual consciousness or anything else, simply enter into relation with space and time, with all that is before, all that is after and all that is happening at the same time--if one is not an idiot, immediately he tells himself, "Oh, well, I am attaching importance to something which doesn't have any." Necessarily so, you see. It loses all its importance, immediately.

If you can visualise, you know, simply the immensity of the creation--I am not now speaking of rising to spiritual heights--simply the immensity of the creation in time and space, and this little event on which you are concentrated with an importance... [old p. 397] as though it were something of some importance... immediately it does this ( gesture) and it dissolves, if you do it sincerely. If, naturally, there is one part of yourself which tells you, "Ah, but for me it has an importance", then, there, you [new p. 392]have only to leave that part behind and keep your consciousness as it is. But if sincerely you want to see the true value of things, it is very easy.

There are other methods, you know. There is a Chinese sage who advises you to lie down upon events as one floats on one's back upon the sea, imagining the immensity of the ocean and that you let yourself go floating upon this... upon the waves, you see, like something contemplating the skies and letting itself be carried away. In Chinese they call this Wu Wei? When you can do this all your troubles are gone. I knew an Irishman who used to lie flat on his back and look outside, as much as possible on an evening when stars were in the sky, he looked, contemplated the sky and imagined that he was floating in that immensity of countless luminous points.

And immediately all troubles are calmed.

There are many ways. But sincerely, you have only to... have the sense of relativity between your little person and the importance you give to the things which concern you, and the universal immensity; this is enough. Naturally, there is another way, it is to free oneself from the earth consciousness and rise into a higher consciousness where these terrestrial things take their true place--which is quite small, you see.

But... indeed, once, very long ago, when I was still in Paris and used to see Mme. David-Neel almost every day, she, you see, was full of her own idea and told me, "You should not think of an action, it means attachment for the action; when you want to do something, it means that you are still tied to the things of this world." Then I told her, "No, there is nothing easier. You have only to imagine everything that has been done before and all that will be done later and all that is happening now, and you will then realise that your action is a breath, like [old p. 398]this, one second in eternity, and you can no longer be attached to it." At that time I didn't know the text of the Gita. I had not read it completely yet, you see... (some words inaudible here)... not this verse which I translate in my own way: "And detached from [new p. 393]all fruit of action, act." It is not like this, but still that's what it means. This I did not know, but I said exactly what is said in the Gita.

But it is not because you believe in your action that you ought to act; you act because you must act, that's all. Only, it is a condition which can sometimes be a little dangerous from the external point of view, because instead of willing with a sovereign authority that the rain should stop, one looks on at what is happening. There we are. But I tell you, "If you like to pray, pray."