The pursuit of a genuinely spiritual life is often fraught with difficulty, obstacles and periods of doubt and darkness. Thankfully, there exists the possibility of a “Sunlit Path”, whereon the spiritual seeker can make swift strides to the goal and keep his faith and serenity intact through the inevitable challenges and delays that life confronts us with.
It is the way of this “Sunlit Path” which Mirra Alfassa, affectionately known as the Mother, pointed out throughout her life in her teachings, and she hoped that all her students would be able to follow it.
In this book of 250 pages, the various aspects of this “Sunlit Path” of genuine spirituality and self-perfection are elucidated through small passages compiled from the Mother’s collected talks and writings. Most of these talks were with disciples and young students and therefore the language is straightforward and easily understandable, speaking more to the awakened heart than to the philosophical mind.
The passages in this book are thematically arranged under the following headings, including a sketch of the Mother’s life and a glossary of Sanskrit and other terms:
- The Call
- The Value of Education
- Morality, Religion, Yoga
- Surrender, Self-offering, Humility
- Sincerity, Vigilance, Willpower
- Other Persons and Forces
- Courage, Endurance, Effort
- Receptivity and Aspiration
- Concentration, Meditation, Work
- The Divine Work
- Peace and Quiet
- The Spirit and the Psychic Being
- The Ego and Self-giving
- Faith and the Grace
- Controlling One’s Thoughts
- Developing the Mind and Senses
- Mundane Affairs
- Words, Opinions, Judgements
- Virtue, Purity, Freedom
- Effort, Patience, Progress
- The Divine, the World and Man
Two Paths of Yoga
There are two paths of Yoga, one of tapasyā (discipline), and the other of surrender. The path of tapasyā is arduous. Here you rely solely upon yourself, you proceed by your own strength. You ascend and achieve according to the measure of your force. There is always the danger of falling down. And once you fall, you lie broken in the abyss and there is hardly a remedy. The other path, the path of surrender, is safe and sure. It is here, however, that the Western people find their difficulty. They have been taught to fear and avoid all that threatens their personal independence. They have imbibed with their mothers’ milk the sense of individuality. And surrender means giving up all that. In other words, you may follow, as Ramakrishna says, either the path of the baby monkey or that of the baby cat. The baby monkey holds to its mother in order to be carried about and it must hold firm, otherwise if it loses its grip, it falls. On the other hand, the baby cat does not hold to its mother, but is held by the mother and has no fear nor responsibility; it has nothing to do but to let the mother hold it and cry ma ma.
“What is the fundamental virtue to be cultivated in order to prepare for the spiritual life?”
I have said this many times, but this is an opportunity to repeat it: it is sincerity.
A sincerity which must become total and absolute, for sincerity alone is your protection on the spiritual path. If you are not sincere, at the very next step you are sure to fall and break your head. All kinds of forces, wills, influences, entities are there, on the look-out for the least little rift in this sincerity and they immediately rush in through that rift and begin to throw you into confusion.
Therefore, before doing anything, beginning anything, trying anything, be sure first of all that you are not only as sincere as you can be, but have the intention of becoming still more so.
For that is your only protection.
[We must have] faith that always what is for the best happens. We may for the moment not consider it as the best because we are ignorant and also blind, because we do not see the consequences of things and what will happen later. But we must keep the faith that if it is like that, if we rely on the Divine, if we give Him the full charge of ourselves, if we let Him decide everything for us, well, we must know that it is always what is best for us which happen. This is an absolute fact. To the extent to which you surrender, the best happen to you. This may not be in conformity with what you would like, your preference or desire, because these things are blind: it is the best from the spiritual point of view, the best for your progress, your development, your spiritual growth, your true life. It is always that. And you must keep this faith, because faith is the expression of a trust in the Divine and the full self-giving you make to the Divine. And when you make it, it is something absolutely marvelous. That’s a fact, these are not just words, you understand, it is a fact. When you look back, all kinds of things which you did not understand when they happened to you, you realise as just the thing which was necessary in order to compel you to make the needed progress. Always, without exception. It is our blindness which prevents us from seeing it.
Change Yourself First
You can do nothing for others unless you are able to do it for yourself. You can never give a good advice to anyone unless you are able to give it to yourself first, and to follow it. And if you see a difficulty somewhere, the best way of changing this difficulty is to change it in yourself first. If you see a defect in anyone, you may be sure it is in you, and you begin to change it in yourself. And when you will have changed it in yourself, you will be strong enough to change it in others. And this is a wonderful thing, people don’t realise what an infinite grace it is that this universe is arranged in such a way that there is a collection of substance, from the most material to the highest spiritual, all that gathered together into what is called a small individual, but at the disposal of a central Will. And that is yours, your field of work, nobody can take it away from you, it is your own property. And to the extent you can work upon it, you will be able to have an action upon the world. But only to that extent. One must do more for oneself, besides, than one does for others.
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