Back to top

Series Eight

Letters to a Young Captain

To a young captain in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Department of Physical Education.

Sweet Mother,

What is the difference between the psychic change and the spiritual change?

The psychic change is the change that puts you in contact with the immanent Divine, the Divine who is at the centre of each being and of whom the psychic being is the sheath and the expression. By the psychic change one passes from the individual Divine to the universal Divine and finally to the Transcendent.

The spiritual change puts you directly in contact with the Supreme.

9 September 1959


Sweet Mother,

How can one make one’s psychic personality grow?

It is through all the experiences of life that the psychic personality forms, grows, develops and finally becomes a complete, conscious and free being.

This process of development goes on tirelessly through innumerable lives, and if one is not conscious of it, it is because one is not conscious of one’s psychic being—for that is the indispensable starting-point. Through interiorisation and concentration one has to enter into conscious contact with one’s psychic being. This psychic being always has an influence on the 222outer being, but that influence is almost always occult, neither seen nor perceived nor felt, save on truly exceptional occasions.

In order to strengthen the contact and aid, if possible, the development of the conscious psychic personality, one should, while concentrating, turn towards it, aspire to know it and feel it, open oneself to receive its influence, and take great care, each time that one receives an indication from it, to follow it very scrupulously and sincerely. To live in a great aspiration, to take care to become inwardly calm and remain so always as far as possible, to cultivate a perfect sincerity in all the activities of one’s being—these are the essential conditions for the growth of the psychic being.

10 September 1959


Sweet Mother,

How can one draw energy into oneself from outside?

That depends on the kind of energy one wants to absorb, for each region of the being has a corresponding kind of energy. If it is physical energy, we absorb it principally through respiration, and all that facilitates and improves respiration increases at the same time the absorption of physical energy.

But there are many other kinds of energies, or rather many other forms of Energy, which is one and universal.

And it is through the various yogic exercises of breathing, meditation, japa and concentration that one puts oneself in contact with these various forms of Energy.

10 September 1959


Sweet Mother,

What are these other forms of Energy and how do they help us in our sadhana?

Each region of the being and each activity has its energies. We 223may classify them generally into vital energies, mental energies, spiritual energies. Modern science tells us that Matter is ultimately nothing but energy condensed.

Our yoga being integral, all these various forms or kinds of energy are indispensable to our realisation.

12 September 1959


Sweet Mother,

What is meant by “a subtle physical prolongation of the superficial form of the mental envelope”?

It means that the ghost one sees and wrongly takes for the departed being itself, is only an image of it, an imprint (like a photographic imprint) left in the subtle physical by the superficial mental form, an image that can become visible under certain conditions. These images can move about (like cinema images), but they have no substantial reality. It is the fear or emotion of those who see these images that sometimes gives them the appearance of a power or an action they do not possess in themselves. Hence the necessity of never being afraid and of recognising them for what they are—a deceptive appearance.

14 September 1959


Sweet Mother,

How can one silence the mind, remain quiet, and at the same time have an aspiration, an intensity or a widening? Because as soon as one aspires, isn’t it the mind that aspires?

No; aspiration, as well as widening and intensity, comes from the heart, the emotional centre, the door of the psychic or rather the door leading to the psychic.


The mind by its nature is curious and interested; it sees, it observes, it tries to understand and explain; and with all this activity, it disturbs the experience and diminishes its intensity and force.

On the other hand, the more quiet and silent the mind is, the more can aspiration rise up from the depths of the heart in the fullness of its ardour.

17 September 1959


Sweet Mother,

How can one eliminate the will of the ego?

This amounts to asking how one can eliminate the ego. It is only by yoga that one can do it. There have been, throughout the spiritual history of humanity, many methods of yoga—which Sri Aurobindo has described and explained for us in The Synthesis of Yoga.

But before eliminating the will of the ego, which takes a very long time, one can begin by surrendering the will of the ego to the Divine Will at every opportunity and finally in a constant way. For this, the first step is to understand that the Divine knows better than we what is good for us and what we truly need, not only for our spiritual progress but also for our material well-being, the health of our body and the proper functioning of all the activities of our being.

Naturally, this is not the opinion of the ego, which thinks it knows better than anyone else what it needs, and claims for itself independence of judgment and decision. But it thinks and feels this way because it is ignorant, and gradually one has to convince it that its perception and understanding are too limited for it truly to be able to know and that it judges only according to its desires, which are blind, and not according to truth.


For the desires are not the expression of needs but of preferences.

19 September 1959


Sweet Mother,

Why has the Divine made His path so difficult? He can make it easier if He wants, can’t He?

First of all, one should know that the intellect, the mind, can understand nothing of the Divine, neither what He does nor how He does it and still less why He does it. To know something of the Divine, one has to rise above thought and enter into the psychic consciousness, the consciousness of the soul, or into the spiritual consciousness.

Those who have had the experience have always said that the difficulties and sufferings of the path are not real, but a creation of human ignorance, and that as soon as one gets out of this ignorance one also gets out of the difficulties, to say nothing of the inalienable state of bliss in which one dwells as soon as one is in conscious contact with the Divine.

So according to them, the question has no real basis and cannot be posed.

21 September 1959


Sweet Mother,

You have written that to enter into conscious contact with one’s psychic being, one must “aspire to know it and feel it, open oneself to receive its influence, and take great care… to follow it very scrupulously and sincerely”. But, Sweet Mother, I don’t know how to do this. I find it easier when I think of you, try to enter into contact with you and open to you.

This too is a way which is certainly as good as the other.


There are many ways to attain self-realisation, and each one must choose the way that comes to him most naturally.

But each way has its demands in order to be truly effective.

In thinking of me, you must think not only of the outer person, but of what she represents, what stands behind her. For you must never forget that the outer person is only the form and symbol of an eternal Reality, and through the physical appearance, it is to this higher Reality that you must turn. The physical being cannot become truly expressive of the eternal Reality until it is completely transformed by the supramental manifestation. And until then, it is through it that you must find the Truth.

22 September 1959


Sweet Mother,

Is it possible to have control over oneself during sleep? For example, if I want to see you in my dreams, can I do it at will?

Control during sleep is entirely possible and it is progressive if you persist in the effort. You begin by remembering your dreams, then gradually you remain more and more conscious during your sleep, and not only can you control your dreams but you can guide and organise your activities during sleep.

If you persist in your will and your effort, you are sure to learn how to come and find me at night during your sleep and afterwards to remember what has happened.

For this, two things are necessary, which you must develop by aspiration and by calm and persistent effort.

(1) Concentrate your thought on the will to come and find me; then pursue this thought, first by an effort of imagination, afterwards in a tangible and increasingly real way, until you are in my presence.


(2) Establish a sort of bridge between the waking and the sleeping consciousness, so that when you wake up you remember what has happened.

It may be that you succeed immediately, but more often it takes a certain time and you must persist in the effort.

25 September 1959


Sweet Mother,

What is the role of the soul?

But without the soul we wouldn’t exist!

The soul is that which comes from the Divine without ever leaving Him, and returns to the Divine without ceasing to be manifest.

The soul is the Divine made individual without ceasing to be divine.

In the soul the individual and the Divine are eternally one; therefore, to find one’s soul is to find God; to identify with one’s soul is to unite with the Divine.

Thus it may be said that the role of the soul is to make a true being of man.

29 September 1959


Sweet Mother,

Is there anything like good luck and bad luck, or is it something that one creates for oneself?

There is nothing that can truly be called luck. What men call luck are the effects of causes they do not know.

Nor is there anything that in itself is good or bad luck; each one characterises circumstances as good or bad depending on whether they are more or less favourable to him; and this estimation itself is very superficial and ignorant, for one must 228already be a great sage to know what is truly favourable or unfavourable to oneself.

Moreover, the same event may be very good for one person and at the same time very bad for another. These estimations are purely subjective and depend on each one’s reaction to contacts coming from outside.

Finally, the circumstances of our life, the surroundings in which we live and the way in which people regard us are the expression, the objective projection of what we ourselves are, within and without. So we may say with certainty that what we carry in ourselves in all our states of being, mentally, vitally and physically, is that which constitutes our life objectified in what surrounds us.

And this is easily verifiable, for in proportion as we improve ourselves and advance towards perfection, our circumstances also improve.

Likewise, in the case of those who degenerate and fall back, the circumstances of their lives also worsen.

5 October 1959


Sweet Mother,

What do you give us in the morning at the balcony,fnDuring this period the Mother stood for a while every morning on a balcony facing the street and gazed at the sadhaks assembled below. and what should we try to do in order to receive what you are giving?

Every morning at the balcony, after establishing a conscious contact with each of those who are present, I identify myself with the Supreme Lord and dissolve myself completely in Him. Then my body, completely passive, is nothing but a channel through which the Lord passes His forces freely and pours upon all His Light, His Consciousness and His Joy, according to each one’s receptivity.


The best way to receive what He gives is to come to the balcony with trust and aspiration and to keep oneself as calm and quiet as one can in a silent and passive state of expectation. If one has something precise to ask, it is better to ask it beforehand, not while I am there, because any activity lessens the receptivity.

12 October 1959


Sweet Mother,

What is meant by the “silence of the physical consciousness”fnSri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, SABCL, Vol. 19, p. 906. and how can one remain in this silence?

The physical consciousness is not only the consciousness of our body, but of all that surrounds us as well—all that we perceive with our senses. It is a sort of apparatus for recording and transmission which is open to all the contacts and shocks coming from outside and responds to them by reactions of pleasure and pain which welcome or repel. This makes in our outer being a constant activity and noise that we are only partially aware of, because we are so accustomed to them.

But if through meditation or concentration we turn inward or upward, we can bring down into ourselves or raise up from the depths calm, quiet, peace and finally silence. It is a concrete, positive silence (not the negative silence of the absence of noise), immutable so long as it remains, a silence one can experience even in the outer tumult of a hurricane or battlefield. This silence is synonymous with peace and it is all-powerful; it is the perfectly effective remedy for the fatigue, tension and exhaustion arising from that internal over-activity and noise which generally escape our control and cease neither by day nor night.


This is why the first thing required when one wants to do Yoga is to bring down and establish in oneself the calm, the peace, the silence.

15 October 1959


Sweet Mother,

How can one enter into the feelings of a piece of music played by someone else?

In the same way that one can share the emotions of another person—by sympathy, spontaneously, by an affinity more or less deep, or else by an effort of concentration which ends in identification. It is this latter process that we adopt when we listen to music with an intense and concentrated attention, to the point of stopping all other noise in the head and obtaining a complete silence into which fall, drop by drop, the notes of the music whose sound alone remains; and with the sound all the feelings, all the movements of emotion can be captured, experienced, re-felt as if they were produced in ourselves.

20 October 1959


Sweet Mother,

How can one distinguish between good and evil in a dream?

In principle, to judge the activities of sleep one needs the same capacity of discrimination as to judge the waking activities.

But since we usually give the name “dream” to a considerable number of activities that differ completely from one another, the first point is to learn to distinguish between these various activities—that is, to recognise what part of the being it is that “dreams”, what domain it is that one “dreams” in, and what the nature of that activity is. In his letters, Sri Aurobindo has given 231very complete and detailed descriptions and explanations of all the activities of sleep. Reading these letters is a good introduction to the study of this subject and to its practical application.

2 November 1959


Sweet Mother,

How should we read your books and the books of Sri Aurobindo so that they may enter into our consciousness instead of being understood only by the mind?

To read my books is not difficult because they are written in the simplest language, almost the spoken language. To get help from them, it is enough to read with attention and concentration and an attitude of inner good-will, with a desire to receive and live what is taught.

To read what Sri Aurobindo writes is more difficult because the expression is highly intellectual and the language far more literary and philosophic. The brain needs a preparation to really be able to understand and generally this preparation takes time, unless one is specially gifted with an innate intuitive faculty.

In any case, I always advise reading a little at a time, keeping the mind as quiet as one can, without making an effort to understand, but keeping the head as silent as possible and letting the force contained in what one reads enter deep inside. This force, received in calm and silence, will do its work of illumining and will create in the brain, if necessary, the cells required for understanding. Thus, when one re-reads the same thing some months later, one finds that the thought expressed has become much clearer and closer and even at times quite familiar.

It is preferable to read regularly, a little every day and at a fixed hour if possible; this facilitates the brain’s receptivity.

2 November 1959



Sweet Mother,

Why does meditation in front of different photos of you give different experiences?

It is because each photo represents a different aspect, sometimes even a different personality of my being; and by concentrating on the photo, one enters into relation with that special aspect or different personality which the photo has captured and whose image it conveys.

The photo is a real and concrete presence, but fragmentary and limited.

4 November 1959


Sweet Mother,

Why is the photo a fragmentary and limited presence?

Because the photo catches only the image of a moment, an instant of a person’s appearance and of what that appearance can reveal of a passing psychological condition and fragmentary soul-state. Even if the photograph is taken under the best possible conditions at an exceptional and particularly expressive moment, it cannot in any way reproduce the whole personality.

5 November 1959


Sweet Mother,

What exactly are the subconscient and the inconscient?

The inconscient is that part of Nature which is so obscure and asleep that it seems to be wholly devoid of consciousness; at any rate, as in the stone, the mineral kingdom, the consciousness there is entirely inactive and hidden. The history of the earth begins with this inconscience.


We too carry it in ourselves, in the substance of our body, since the substance of our body is the same as that of the earth.

But by evolution, this sleeping and hidden consciousness gradually awakens through the vegetal and animal kingdoms, and in them subconscience begins; this subconscience, with the appearance of mind in man, culminates in consciousness. This consciousness likewise is progressive, and in proportion as man evolves, it will change into superconscience.

We too, then, carry in ourselves the subconscience which links us to the animal, and the superconscience which is our hope and assurance of future realisation.

7 November 1959


Sweet Mother,

What should one try to do when one meditates with your music at the Playground?

This music aims at awakening certain profound feelings.

In listening to it, one should make oneself as silent and passive as possible. And if, in the mental silence, a part of the being can take the attitude of the witness who observes without reacting or participating, then one can notice the effect that the music produces on the feelings and emotions; and if it produces a state of deep calm and semi-trance, that is very good.

15 November 1959


Sweet Mother,

What is the work of the Overmind?fnThis question and the three that follow are based on terms used by Sri Aurobindo in The Life Divine, especially in its final chapters.

The overmind is the region of the gods, the beings of divine origin who have been charged with supervising, directing and 234organising the evolution of the universe; and more specifically, since the formation of the earth they have served as messengers and intermediaries to bring to the earth the aid of the higher regions and to preside over the formation of the mind and its progressive ascension. It is usually to the gods of the overmind that the prayers of the various religions are addressed. These religions most often choose, for various reasons, one of these gods and transform him for their personal use into the supreme God.

In the individual evolution, one must develop in oneself a zone corresponding to the overmind and an overmind consciousness, before one can rise above it, to the Supermind, or open oneself to it.

Almost all the occult systems and disciplines aim at the development and mastery of the overmind.

27 November 1959


Sweet Mother,

What is meant by “a zone corresponding to the overmind” and how can one develop it in oneself? What is meant by the “mastery of the overmind”?

The individual being is made up of states of being corresponding to cosmic zones or planes, and it is as these inner states of being are developed that one becomes conscious of those domains. This consciousness is double, at first psychological and subjective, within oneself, expressing itself through thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations; then objective and concrete when one is able to go beyond the limits of the body in order to move about in the various cosmic regions, grow conscious of them and act freely in them—it is this that is called “mastery”; it is this that I spoke of when I mentioned the mastery of the overmind.

It goes without saying that all this is not done in a day, nor even in a year. This mastery, in whatever domain it may be, vital, mental, overmental, demands assiduous effort and a great 235concentration. These masteries are no easier than the mastery of the physical world; and everyone knows how much time and effort are needed merely to learn the things indispensable for leading one’s life properly, not to speak of “mastery”, which is truly something exceptional on earth.

28 November 1959


Sweet Mother,

What is Supernature?

Supernature is the Nature superior to material or physical Nature—what we usually call “Nature”. But this Nature that we see, feel and study, this Nature that has been our familiar environment since our birth upon earth, is not the only one. There is a vital nature, a mental nature, and so on. It is this that, for the ordinary consciousness, is Supernature.

Very often the word “Nature” is used as a synonym for Prakriti, the executive force of Purusha. But to answer your question more precisely, the context would be needed in order to know on what occasion Sri Aurobindo spoke about Supernature.

15 December 1959


Sweet Mother,

Sri Aurobindo has written in The Life Divine: “There is as yet no overmind being or organised overmind nature, no supramental being or organised supermind nature acting either on our surface or in our normal subliminal parts.”fnSABCL, Vol. 19, p. 921. Sweet Mother, now after the descent of the Supermind,fnOn 29 February 1956 there took place, in the Mother’s words, “the manifestation of the Supramental upon earth”; “Then the supramental Light and Force and Consciousness rushed down upon earth in an uninterrupted flow.” is it still like that?


What Sri Aurobindo means is that only a few exceptional beings who do not belong to the ordinary humanity, have a conscious and organised overmind being and overmind life, and still fewer are those who have an organised supramental being and supramental life, even admitting that there are any at all. Certainly the very recent descent of the first elements of the Supermind into the earth’s atmosphere (not yet quite four years ago) cannot have changed this state of things.

We are still only in a period of preparation.

18 December 1959


Sweet Mother,

What is meant by the yoga of devotion and the yoga of knowledge?

The yoga of knowledge is the path that leads to the Divine through the exclusive pursuit of the pure and absolute Truth.

The yoga of devotion is the path that leads to union with the Divine through perfect, total and eternal love.

In the integral yoga of Sri Aurobindo, the two combine with the yoga of works and the yoga of self-perfection to make a homogeneous whole, culminating in the yoga of supramental realisation.

5 February 1960


Sweet Mother,

What are the “supreme faculties”?

It is difficult to reply without having the context. Which “supreme faculties” are being referred to here? Those of man on the way to becoming superman, or those that the supramental being will possess when he appears on earth?

In the first case, they are the faculties that develop in man as he opens to the higher mind and overmind, and through those 237regions he receives the light of the Truth. These faculties are not a direct expression of the supreme Truth, but a transcription, an indirect reflection of it. They include intuition, foreknowledge, knowledge by identity and certain powers such as that of healing and, to an extent, of acting upon circumstances.

If it refers to the supreme faculties of the supramental being, we cannot say much about them, for all we can say at the moment belongs more to the realm of imagination than to the realm of knowledge, since this supramental being has not yet manifested on earth.

23 April 1960


Sweet Mother,

What are “the different psychological divisions of the human being”?

These divisions are merely arbitrary. They have been established in order to facilitate the study of human nature and especially to constitute a definite basis for the various methods of self-development and self-discipline. That is why each philosophic, educational or Yogic system has, as it were, its own division based on the experience of its founder. Nevertheless, despite these divergences, there is a sort of tradition which, behind the different terms, makes for an essential analogy. This analogy can be expressed by a quaternary: the physical, the vital, the mental and the psychic or soul.

Sri Aurobindo has written on this subject in great detail in some of his letters, in The Synthesis of Yoga and in Essays on the Gita.

30 May 1960



Sweet Mother,

Is it possible to have a correct conception of the Divine?

No conception of the Divine can be correct; for conceptions are mental activities, and no mental activity is fit to manifest the Divine.

It is only by experience that one can know Him, and the experience cannot be translated into words.

20 June 1960