The Conquering Attitudes

Faith and trust, cheerfulness and persistence are the attitudes which can help us to go through all obstacles and failures and emerge victorious in the battle of life.

Faith and Trust

All men of action, discoverers, inventors, creators of knowledge proceed by faith and, until the proof is made or the thing done, they go on in spite of disappointment, failure, disproof, denial because of something in them that tells them that this is the truth, the thing that must be followed and done. Ramakrishna even went so far as to say, when asked whether blind faith was not wrong, that blind faith was the only kind to have, for faith is either blind or it is not faith but something else – reasoned inference, proved conviction or ascertained knowledge.

Faith is the soul’s witness to something not yet manifested, achieved or realised, but which yet the Knower within us, even in the absence of all indications, feels to be true or supremely worth following or achieving. This thing within us can last even when there is no fixed belief in the mind, even when the vital struggles and revolts and refuses.

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To aspire is indispensable. But some people aspire with such a conflict inside them between faith and absence of faith, trust and distrust, between the optimism which is sure of victory and a pessimism which asks itself when the catastrophe will come. Now if this is in the being, you may aspire but you don’t get anything.

Well, when one aspires for the Force, when one asks the Divine for help, if one asks with the unshakable certitude that it will come, that it is impossible that it won’t, then it is sure to come. It is this kind… yes, this is truly an inner opening, this trustfulness. And some people are constantly in this state. When there is something to be received, they are always there to receive it. There are others, when there is something to have, a force descends, they are always absent, they are always closed at that moment; while those who have this childlike trust are always there at the right time.

And it is strange, isn’t it, outwardly there is no difference. They may have exactly the same goodwill, the same aspiration, the same wish to do good, but those who have this smiling confidence within them, do not question, do not ask themselves whether they will have it or not have it, whether the Divine will answer or not – the question does not arise, it is something understood… “What I need will be given to me; if I pray I shall have an answer; if I am in a difficulty and ask for help, the help will come – and not only will it come but it will manage everything.” If the trust is there, spontaneous, candid, unquestioning, it works better than anything else, and the results are marvellous. It is with the contradictions and doubts of the mind that one spoils everything….

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Cheerfulness and Perseverance

… the more you advance, the more vigilant must you become. And the most essential quality is perseverance, endurance, and a… what shall I call it? – a kind of inner good humour which helps you not to get discouraged, not to become sad, and to face all difficulties with a smile. There is an English word which expresses this very well – cheerfulness. If you can keep this within you, you fight much better, resist much better, in the light, these bad influences which try to hinder you from progressing.

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Generally speaking, man is an animal who takes himself terribly seriously. To know how to smile at oneself in all circumstances, to smile at one’s sorrows and disillusions, ambitions and sufferings, indignation and revolt – what a powerful weapon with which to overcome oneself!

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Surely it is not necessary to be always laughing; but liveliness, serenity, good humour are never out of place. And how helpful they are! With them the mother makes the home happy for her children; the nurse hastens the recovery of her patient; the master lightens the task of his servants; the workman inspires the goodwill of his comrades; the traveller helps his companions on their hard journey; the citizen fosters hope in the hearts of his countrymen.

Never grumble. All sorts of forces enter you when you grumble and they pull you down. Keep smiling. I seem always to be joking but it is not mere joking. It is a confidence born from the psychic. A smile expresses the faith that nothing can stand against the Divine and that everything will come out all right in the end.

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Let endurance be your watchword: teach the life-force in you – your vital being – not to complain but to put up with all the conditions necessary for great achievement… The very essence of endurance is that the vital should learn to give up its capricious likes and dislikes and preserve an equanimity in the midst of the most trying conditions. When you are treated roughly by somebody or you lack something which would relieve your discomfort, you must keep up cheerfully instead of letting yourself be disturbed….

Nothing great is ever accomplished without endurance. If you study the lives of great men you will see how they set themselves like flint against the weaknesses of the vital. Even today, the true meaning of our civilisation is the mastery of the physical through endurance in the vital. The spirit of sport and of adventure and the dauntless facing of odds which is evident in all fields of life are part of this ideal of endurance. In science itself, progress depends on the countless difficult tests and trials which precede achievement… What you must do is to give your vital good beating as soon as it protests; for, when the physical is concerned, there is reason to be considerate and to take precautions, but with the vital the only method is a sound “kicking”. Kick your vital the moment it complains, because there is no other way of getting out of the petty consciousness which attaches so much importance to creature comforts and social amenities instead of asking for the Light and the Truth.

* * *

To put it more soberly – accept once and for all that this thing has to be done, that it is the only thing left for yourself or the earth. Outside are earthquakes and Hitlers and a collapsing civilisation and, generally speaking, the ass and the flood. All the more reason to tend towards the one thing to be done, the thing you have been sent to aid in getting done.

It is difficult and the way long and the encouragement given meagre? What then? Why should you expect so great a thing to be easy or that there must be either a swift success or none? The difficulties have to be faced and the more cheerfully they are faced, the sooner they will be overcome. The one thing to do is to keep the mantra of success, the determination of victory, the fixed resolve, “Have it I must and have it I will.” Impossible? There is no such thing as impossibility – there are difficulties and things of longue haleine, but no impossibles. What one is determined fixedly to do will get done now or later – it becomes possible. Drive out dark despair and go bravely on with your yoga. As the darkness disappears, the inner doors will open.

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Q: No joy, no energy. Don’t like to read or write – as if a dead man were walking about. Do you understand the position? Any personal experience?

A: I quite understand; often had it myself devastatingly. That’s why I always advise people who have it to cheer up and buck up.

To cheer up, buck up and the rest if you can, saying, “Rome was not built in a day” – if you can’t, gloom it through till the sunrises and the little birds chirp and all is well.

Looks however as if you were going through a training in vairagya. Don’t much care for vairagya myself, always avoided the beastly thing, but had to go through it partly, till I hit on samata as a better trick. But samata is difficult, vairagya is easy, only damnably gloomy and uncomfortable.

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What I want of you besides aspiring for faith? Well, just a little thoroughness and persistence in the method! Don’t aspire for two days and then go into the dumps, evolving a gospel of earthquake and Schopenhauer plus the ass and all the rest of it. Give the Divine a full sporting chance. When he lights something in you or is preparing a light, don’t come in with a wet blanket of despondency and throw it on the poor flame. You will say, “It is a mere candle that is lit – nothing at all!” But in these matters, when the darkness of human mind and life and body has to be dissipated, a candle is always a beginning – a lamp can follow and afterwards a sun…

Sri Aurobindo & the Mother

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