February Darshan at the Sri Aurobindo Center of Los Angeles

Sri Aurobindo Center

of Los Angeles

The Quest
Quarter One, 2023

Theme - Self-Reflection
  1. Events & Activities
  2. Introduction
  3. To Contemplate
  4. Contradictory Wills
  5. Know Thyself
  6. Mental Honesty
  7. Sadhana of the Body
  8. Sri Aurobindo’s Humor
  9. Empowering Lines from Savitri

Events & Activities          Home

We welcomed the New Year with a collective aspiration to grow towards the Divine. A few weeks later devotees came together in an inspiring and enthusiastic offering of Karma Yoga that included a thorough cleaning of the premises and the garden and ended with shared Prasad. The Center hosted devotees for overnight stays, and some for longer durations.

The February Darshan saw new faces. The atmosphere immersed everyone with Their Presence. The program turned out to be an extended one exceeding 2 hours with the one vibrant note, the Mother’s love, keeping us enveloped every minute.

The cottage was thoroughly cleaned and rearranged to make it an even more joyful experience for the devotees’ overnight stays. The garden too took on a new look from flowers being planted to bloom in spring. All this making for a joyful feeling!

This month’s theme of self-reflection is of immense importance for the seeker. The Mother calls upon us to reflect upon our movements, our disparate personality. In Her words:

To be conscious, first of all. We are conscious of only an insignificant portion of our being; for the most part we are unconscious. It is this unconsciousness that keeps us down to our unregenerate nature and prevents change and transformation in it. It is through unconsciousness that the undivine forces enter into us and make us their slaves. You are to be conscious of yourself, you must awake to your nature and movements, you must know why and how you do things or feel or think them; you must understand your motives and impulses, the forces, hidden and apparent, that move you; in fact, you must, as it were, take to pieces the entire machinery of your being. Once you are conscious, it means that you can distinguish and sift things, you can see which are the forces that pull you down and which help you on. And when you know the right from the wrong, the true from the false, the divine from the undivine, you are to act strictly up to your knowledge; that is to say, resolutely reject one and accept the other. The duality will present itself at every step and at every step you will have to make your choice. [CWM, Volume 3, Page 2]
Lily Pond at the Sri Aurobindo Center of Los Angeles
All are invited to join us for the following virtual events taking place via Zoom video and teleconferencing calls.

Aspiration for the Divine – Tuesdays, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm Pacific Time

Savitri Reading - Thursdays, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm Pacific Time

Readings from The Mother by Sri Aurobindo - Saturdays,
4:30 pm- 6:00 pm Pacific Time

Click here for the Zoom Meeting details.
Introducing the Podcast


Dear Fellow Seekers,

Our theme this time is Self-Reflection. It is an important tool in Sadhana and in any other valuable endeavor in life.

Self-Reflection is the practice of reviewing one’s life, action, and thoughts against the backdrop of the aim of life, that one has chosen.  A sincere seeker as he progresses on his path, becomes aware of his conflicting parts. Then he has to pause to reflect and organize his life, to understand which elements he will nourish and identify the ones that are to be rejected. Often the parts to be eliminated are quite stubborn and one goes through a period of purification, usually the path is not linear, but when the aspiration is awake the seeker ultimately reaches his destination overcoming the boundaries of time. One intensifies his efforts based on the readings from self-reflection. Though effort is necessary, but one cannot do the yoga only by self-effort, aspiration and prayer are necessary to transcend the limited self, ultimately it is only the Divine Grace, that determines the fruit of the Sadhana.

The Mother spoke about self-reflection to the children in the Ashram School. One can dedicate a time, towards the end of the day to review the day passed, project the actions, and thoughts of the day on the screen of the reviewing mind, look at them dispassionately to consider whether one acted from the summit of his consciousness. It is important not to self-criticize or get impacted if one seeks something negative. The purpose of the exercise is to be conscious of the different parts of self, and work to chisel oneself in line of the aim that one has chosen. One need not artificially reject if he finds something unpleasant as one can grow through the positive path of love and aspiration. One should nourish the positive qualities such as creativity, faith, devotion, and aspiration as they blossom their growing light will push out darkness that one wants to eliminate.

Quest team has worked through the works of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo to prepare this bouquet for you.  The artworks are carefully chosen to express the ideas, freeing them from the realm of words. Let us take this opportunity to reflect and intensify our efforts for the Sadhana.

From the Quest Team
To Contemplate

When you have nothing to do, you become restless, you run about, you meet friends, you take a walk, to speak only of the best; I am not referring to things that are obviously not to be done. Instead of that, sit down quietly before the sky, before the sea or under trees, whatever is possible (here you have all of them) and try to realise one of these things — to understand why you live, to learn how you must live, to ponder over what you want to do and what should be done, what is the best way of escaping from the ignorance and falsehood and pain in which you live.

16 May 1958
The Mother, CWM Volume 3, Page 250
Contradictory Wills
Let your highest aspiration organize your life.

The Mother, CWM Volume 15, Page 222


Sadhak: In oneself, there are contradictory wills.

The Mother: Yes, many. That is one of the very first discoveries. There is one part which wants things this way; and then at another moment, another way, and a third time, one wants still another thing! Besides, there is even this: something that wants and another which says no. So? But it is exactly that which has to be found if you wish in the least to organise yourself. Why not project yourself upon a screen, as in the cinema, and then look at yourself moving on it? How interesting it is!

This is the first step.

You project yourself on the screen and then observe and see all that is moving there and how it moves and what happens. You make a little diagram, it becomes so interesting then. And then, after a while, when you are quite accustomed to seeing, you can go one step further and take a decision. Or even a still greater step: you organise — arrange, take up all that, put each thing in its place, organise in such a way that you begin to have a straight movement with an inner meaning. And then you become conscious of your direction and are able to say: “Very well, it will be thus; my life will develop in that way, because that is the logic of my being. Now, I have arranged all that within me, each thing has been put in its place, and so naturally a central orientation is forming. I am following this orientation. One step more and I know what will happen to me for I myself am deciding it....” I do not know, I am telling you this; to me it seemed terribly interesting, the most interesting thing in the world. There was nothing, no other thing that interested me more than that.

And I am so convinced that anybody who does it in that way, with the same freshness and sincerity, will obtain most interesting results.... To put all that on a screen in front of yourself and look at what is happening. And the first step is to know all that is happening and then you must not try to shut your eyes when something does not appear pleasant to you! You must keep them wide open and put each thing in that way before the screen. Then you make quite an interesting discovery. And then the next step is to start telling yourself: “Since all that is happening within me, why should I not put this thing in this way and then that thing in that way and then this other in this way and thus wouldn’t I be doing something logical that has a meaning? Why should I not remove that thing which stands obstructing the way, these conflicting wills? Why? And what does that represent in the being? Why is it there? If it were put there, would it not help instead of harming me?” And so on.

And little by little, little by little, you see clearer and then you see why you are made like that, what is the thing you have got to do — that for which you are born. And then, quite naturally, since all is organised for this thing to happen, the path becomes straight and you can say beforehand: “It is in this way that it will happen.” And when things come from outside to try and upset all that, you are able to say: “No, I accept this, for it helps; I reject that, for that harms.” And then, after a few years, you curb yourself as you curb a horse: you do whatever you like, in the way you like and you go wherever you like.

It seems to me this is worth the trouble. I believe it is the most interesting thing.

29 July 1953
CWM Volume 5, Page 197
Know Thyself
Sadhak: “To know oneself and control oneself” what does this mean?

The Mother: This means to be conscious of one’s inner truth, conscious of the different parts of one’s being and their respective functions. You must know why you do this, why you do that; you must know your thoughts, know your feelings, all your activities, all your movements, of what you are capable, etc. And to know oneself is not enough: this knowledge must bring a conscious control. To know oneself perfectly is to control oneself perfectly.

But there must be an aspiration at every moment. It is never too early to begin, never too late to continue. That is, even when you are quite young, you can begin to study yourself and know yourself and gradually to control yourself. And even when you are what is called “old”, when you are quite aged, it is not too late to make the effort to know yourself better and better and control yourself better and better. That is the Science of Living.

To perfect oneself, one must first become conscious of oneself. I am sure, for instance, that the following situation has arisen many times in your life: someone asks you suddenly, “Why have you done that?” Well, the spontaneous reply is, “I don’t know.” If someone asks you, “What are you thinking of?” You reply, “I don’t know.” “Why are you tired?” — “I don’t know.” “Why are you happy?” — “I don’t know”, and so on. I can take indeed fifty people and ask them suddenly, without preparation, “Why have you done that?” and if they are not inwardly “awake”, they will all answer, “I don’t know.” (Of course I am not speaking here of those who have practised a discipline of self-knowledge and of following up their movements to the extreme limits; these people can, naturally, collect themselves, concentrate and give the right answer, but only after a little while.) You will see that it is like that if you look well at your whole day. You say something and you don’t know why you say it — it is only after the words are out of your mouth that you notice that this was not quite what you wanted to say. For instance, you go to see someone, you prepare beforehand the words you are going to speak, but once you are in front of the person in question, you say nothing or it is other words which come from your mouth. Are you able to say to what extent the atmosphere of the other person has influenced you and stopped you from saying what you had prepared? How many people can say that? They do not even observe that the person was in such or such a state and that it was because of this that they could not tell him what they had prepared. Of course, there are very obvious instances when you find people in such a bad mood that you can ask nothing of them. I am not speaking of these. I am speaking of the clear perception of reciprocal influences: what acts and reacts on your nature; it is this one does not have. For example, one becomes suddenly uneasy or happy, but how many people can say, “It is this”? And it is difficult to know, it is not at all easy. One must be quite “awake”; one must be constantly in a very attentive state of observation.

There are people who sleep twelve hours a day and say the rest of the time, “I am awake”! There are people who sleep twenty hours a day and the rest of the time are but half awake!

To be in this state of attentive observation, you must have, so to say, antennae everywhere which are in constant contact with your true centre of consciousness. You register everything, you organise everything and, in this way, you cannot be taken unawares, you cannot be deceived, mistaken, and you cannot say anything other than what you wanted to say. But how many people normally live in this state? It is this I mean, precisely, when I speak of “becoming conscious”. If you want to benefit most from the conditions and circumstances in which you find yourself, you must be fully awake: you must not be taken by surprise, you must not do things without knowing why, you must not say things without knowing why. You must be constantly awake.

You must also understand that you are not separate individualities, that life is a constant exchange of forces, of consciousnesses, of vibrations, of movements of all kinds. It is as in a crowd, you see: when everyone pushes all go forward, and when all recede, everyone recedes. It is the same thing in the inner world, in your consciousness. There are all the time forces and influences acting and reacting upon you, it is like a gas in the atmosphere, and unless you are quite awake, these things enter into you, and it is only when they have gone well in and come out as if they came from you, that you become aware of them. How many times people meet those who are nervous, angry, in a bad mood, and themselves become nervous, angry, moody, just like that, without quite knowing why. Why is it that when you play against certain people you play very well, but when you play against others you cannot play? And those very quiet people, not at all wicked, who suddenly become furious when they are in a furious crowd! And no one knows who has started it: it is something that went past and swept off the consciousness. There are people who can let out vibrations like this and others respond without knowing why. Everything is like that, from the smallest to the biggest things.

To be individualised in a collectivity, one must be absolutely conscious of oneself. And of which self? — the Self which is above all intermixture, that is, what I call the Truth of your being. And as long as you are not conscious of the Truth of your being, you are moved by all kinds of things, without taking any note of it at all. Collective thought, collective suggestions are a formidable influence which act constantly on individual thought. And what is extraordinary is that one does not notice it. One believes that one thinks “like that”, but in truth it is the collectivity which thinks “like that”. The mass is always inferior to the individual. Take individuals with similar qualities, of similar categories, well, when they are alone these individuals are at least two degrees better than people of the same category in a crowd. There is a mixture of obscurities, a mixture of unconsciousness, and inevitably you slip into this unconsciousness. To escape this there is but one means: to become conscious of oneself, more and more conscious and more and more attentive.

Try this little exercise: at the beginning of the day, say: “I won’t speak without thinking of what I say.” You believe, don’t you, that you think all that you say! It is not at all true, you will see that so many times the word you do not want to say is ready to come out, and that you are compelled to make a conscious effort to stop it from coming out.

I have known people who were very scrupulous about not telling lies, but all of a sudden, when together in a group, instead of speaking the truth they would spontaneously tell a lie; they did not have the intention of doing so, they did not think of it a minute before doing it, but it came “like that”. Why? — because they were in the company of liars; there was an atmosphere of falsehood and they had quite simply caught the malady!

It is thus that gradually, slowly, with perseverance, first of all with great care and much attention, one becomes conscious, learns to know oneself and then to become master of oneself.

The Mother, CWM Volume 4, Page 33
Mental Honesty
Question: Sweet Mother, what does “mental honesty” mean exactly?

The Mother: It is a mind that does not attempt to deceive itself. And in fact it is not an “attempt”, for it succeeds very well in doing it!
It would seem that in the ordinary psychological constitution of man, the almost constant function of the mind is to give an acceptable explanation of what goes on in the “desire being”, the vital, the most material parts of the mind and the subtlest parts of the body. There is a kind of general complicity in all the parts of the being to give an explanation and even a comfortable justification for everything we do, in order to avoid as far as possible the painful impressions left by the mistakes we commit and undesirable movements. For instance, unless one has undergone or taken up a special training, whatever one does, the mind gives itself a favourable enough explanation of it, so that one is not troubled. Only under the pressure of outer reactions or circumstances or movements coming from other people, does one gradually consent to look less favourably at what one is and does, and begins to ask oneself whether things could not be better than they are.

Spontaneously, the first movement is what is known as self-defense. One puts oneself on one’s guard and quite spontaneously one wants a justification... for the smallest things, absolutely insignificant things — it is a normal attitude in life.

And explanations — one gives them to oneself; it is only under the pressure of circumstances that one begins to give them to others or to another, but first one makes oneself very comfortable; first thing: “It was like that, for it had to be like that, and it happened because of this, and...”, and it is always the fault of circumstances or other people. And it truly requires an effort — unless, as I say, one has undergone a discipline, has acquired the habit of doing it automatically — it requires an effort to begin to understand that perhaps things are not like this, that perhaps one has not done exactly what one ought to have done or reacted as one should. And even when one begins to see it, a much greater effort is needed to recognise it... officially.

When one begins to see that one has made a mistake, the first movement of the mind is to push it into the background and to put a cloak in front of it, the cloak of a very fine little explanation, and as long as one is not obliged to show it, one hides it. And this is what I call “lack of mental honesty”.

First, one deceives oneself by habit, but even when one begins not to deceive oneself, instinctively there is a movement of trying, trying to deceive oneself in order to feel comfortable. And so a still greater step is necessary once one has understood that one was deceiving oneself, to confess frankly, “Yes, I was deceiving myself.”

All these things are so habitual, so automatic, as it were, that you are not even aware of them; but when you begin to want to establish some discipline over your being, you make discoveries which are really tremendously interesting. When you have discovered this, you become aware that you are living constantly in a... the best word is “self-deception”, a state of wilful deceit; that is, you deceive yourself spontaneously. It is not that you need to reflect: spontaneously you put a pretty cloak over what you have done so that it doesn’t show its true colours... and all this for things which are so insignificant, which have so little importance! It would be understandable, wouldn’t it, if recognising your mistake had serious consequences for your very existence — the instinct of self-preservation would make you do it as a protection — but that is not the question, it concerns things which are absolutely unimportant, of no consequence at all except that of having to tell yourself, “I have made a mistake.”

This means that an effort is needed in order to be mentally sincere. There must be an effort, there must be a discipline. Of course, I am not speaking of those who tell lies in order not to be caught, for everybody knows that this should not be done. Besides, the most stupid lies are the most useless, for they are so flagrant that they can’t deceive anyone. Such examples occur constantly; you catch someone doing something wrong and tell him, “That’s how it is”; he gives a silly explanation which nobody can understand, nobody can accept; it is silly but he gives it in the hope of shielding himself. It is spontaneous, you see, but he knows this is not done. But the other kind of deception is much more spontaneous and it is so habitual that one is not aware of it. So, when we speak of mental honesty, we speak of something which is acquired by a very constant and sustained effort.

You catch yourself, don’t you, you suddenly catch yourself in the act of giving yourself somewhere in your head or here (Mother indicates the heart), here it is more serious... giving a very favourable little explanation. And only when you can get a grip on yourself, there, hold fast and look at yourself clearly in the face and say, “Do you think it is like that?”, then, if you are very courageous and put a very strong pressure, in the end you tell yourself, “Yes, I know very well that it is not like that!”

It sometimes takes years. Time must pass, one must have changed much within oneself, one’s vision of things must have become different, one must be in a different condition, in a different relation with circumstances, in order to see clearly, completely, how far one was deceiving oneself — and at that moment one was convinced that one was sincere.

21 May 1958
The Mother, CWM Volume 9, Page 327
Sadhana of the Body
Very few people understand this, and generally those who are against this outer discipline of sports, this concentration on the material realisation, are people who completely lack control over their physical being. And to realise the integral yoga of Sri Aurobindo the control of one's body is a first indispensable step. Those who despise physical activities are people who won't be able to take a single step on the true path of integral yoga, unless they first get rid of their contempt. Control of the body in all its forms is an indispensable basis.

The Mother, CWM Volume 9, Page 82

About Hatha Yoga

From our experience we have found that a particular system of exercises cannot be stamped as the only yogic type of exercises and we cannot definitely say that participation in those exercises only will help to gain health because they are yogic exercises.

Any rational system of exercises suited to one's need and capacity will help the participant to improve in health. Moreover it is the attitude that is more important. Any well-planned and scientifically arranged programme of exercises practised with a yogic attitude will become yogic exercises and the person practising them will draw full benefit from the point of view of physical health and moral and spiritual uplift.

The Mother, CWM Volume 12, Page 285
Sri Aurobindo’s Humor
Sadhak: I have again the same chronic trouble. At Pranam I felt, Mother, that you were serious with me and the reason was, I thought, you did not like my comparing the sadhaks in the way I did yesterday. I have no intention of belittling anyone. It is a quite natural human curiosity to want to know what would be the intellectual manifestation of an uneducated sadhak after realisation ...

Sri Aurobindo: Rubbish! Mother did not think anything about it at all. Why the hell or heaven or why on earth or why the unearthly should she be displeased? You all seem to think of the Mother as living in a sort of daylong and nightlong simmering cauldron of displeasure about nothing and anything and everything under the sun. Lord! what a queer idea!

Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo – by Nirodbaran, Page 238
Empowering Lines from Savitri
In moments when the inner lamps are lit
And the life’s cherished guests are left outside,
Our spirit sits alone and speaks to its gulfs.
A wider consciousness opens then its doors;
Invading from spiritual silences
A ray of the timeless Glory stoops awhile
To commune with our seized illumined clay
And leaves its huge white stamp upon our lives.

Savitri, Page 47
Book 1: The Book of Beginnings,
Canto 4: The Secret Knowledge

A Collective Offering by The Sri Aurobindo Center of Los Angeles.

Editorial Team
Anna Polishchuk
Ashwin Prakash
Hansa Sehgal
Jishnu Guha
Lakshman Sehgal
Nina N Namednina
Vikas Bamba
Vishal Bamba

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