© Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust

4 January 1956

There are human beings also who indulge in vice--one vice or another, like drinking or drug-injections--and who know very well that this is leading them to destruction and death. But they choose to do it, knowingly.

They have no control over themselves.

There is always a moment when everyone has self-control. And if one had not said "Yes" once, if one had not taken the decision, one would not have done it.

There is not one human being who has not the energy and capacity to resist something imposed upon him--if he is left free to do so. People tell you, "I can't do otherwise"--it is because in the depths of their heart they do not want to do otherwise; they have accepted to be the slaves of their vice. There is a moment when one accepts.

And I would go even further; I say, there is a moment when one accepts to be ill. If one did not accept to be ill, one would not be ill. Only, people are so unconscious of themselves and their inner movements that they are not even aware of what they do.

But it all depends on the way one looks at things. From a certain point of view there is nothing that is totally useless in the world. Only, things which were tolerable and admissible at a certain time are no longer so at another. And when they become no longer admissible, one begins to say they are bad, because then a will awakes to get rid of them. But in the history of the universe--one can even say in the history of the earth, to limit the problem to our little planet--I think everything that exists had its necessity and importance at a given moment. And it is as one advances that these things are rejected or replaced by others which belong to the future instead of the past. So, of things which have no further purpose one says, "They are bad", because one tries to find within oneself a lever to push them out, to break with the habit. But perhaps at one [old 6]time they were not bad, and other things were.[new p. 6]

There are ways of being, ways of feeling, ways of doing, which you tolerate in yourself for quite a long time, and which don't trouble you, don't seem to you at all useless or bad or to be got rid of. And then all of a sudden one day, you don't know why or what has happened, but the outlook changes, you look at things and say, "But what is this? This is in me! Am I carrying this in myself? But it is intolerable, I don't want it any longer." And suddenly it seems bad to you because it is time to reject these things, for they do not harmonise with the attitude you have taken or the progress you have made in your march forward in the world. These things should be elsewhere, they are no longer in their place, therefore you find them bad. But perhaps the same things which seem bad to you would be excellent for other people who are at a lower level.

There is always someone more dull, more unconscious, more ignorant or worse than oneself. So the state which is intolerable for you, which you can no longer keep, which must disappear, would perhaps be very luminous for those who are on the lower rungs. By what right are you going to say, "This is bad"? All you can say is, "I don't want it any longer. I don't want it, it's not in keeping with my present way of being, I want to go where these things have no place any more; they are no longer in their place, let them go and find their place elsewhere!" But one cannot judge. It is impossible to say, "This is bad." At the most one can say, "This is bad for me, it is no longer in its place with me, it must go." That's all. And one drops it on the way.

And this makes the progress much, much easier, to think and feel like that instead of sitting down in despair and lamenting about things and what you are like, and the misery you endure and the defects you have and the impossibilities which beset you and all that. You say, "No, no, those things are no longer in their place here, let them go elsewhere, where they will be in their place and welcome. As for me, I am going forward, I am going to climb a step, I shall go towards a purer and [old 7]better [new p. 7]and more complete light; and so all these things which like the darkness must go away." But that's all.

Each time one sees in oneself something which seems really nasty, well, that proves that one has made progress. So, instead of lamenting and falling into despair, one should be happy; one says, "Ah! that's good. I am getting on."