The Triple Labour – Aspiration Rejection Surrender

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Editor’s note: A small selection of excerpts from letters of Sri Aurobindo guiding us on the three central processes of Integral Yoga – Aspiration, Rejection and Surrender.

The effort demanded of the sadhak is that of aspiration, rejection and surrender. If these three are done the rest is to come of itself by the Grace of the Mother and the working of her force in you.

But of the three the most important is surrender of which the first necessary form is trust and confidence and patience in difficulty. There is no rule that trust and confidence can only remain if aspiration is there.

On the contrary, when even aspiration is not there because of the pressure of inertia, trust and confidence and patience can remain. If trust and patience fail when aspiration is quiescent, that would mean that the sadhak is relying solely on his own effort—it would mean, “Oh, my aspiration has failed, so there is no hope for me. My aspiration fails, so what can Mother do?”

On the contrary, the sadhak should feel, “Never mind, my aspiration will come back again. Meanwhile I know that the Mother is with me even when I do not feel her; she will carry me even through the darkest period.” That is the fully right attitude you must have.

To those who have it depression can do nothing; even if it comes it has to return baffled. That is not tamasic surrender. Tamasic surrender is when one says, “I won’t do anything; let Mother do everything. Aspiration, rejection, surrender even are not necessary. Let her do all that in me.” There is a great difference between the two attitudes.

One is that of the shirker who won’t do anything, the other is that of the sadhak who does his best, but when he is reduced to quiescence for a time and things are adverse, keeps always his trust in the Mother’s force and presence behind all and by that trust baffles the opposition force and calls back the activity of the sadhana.”

~ Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, 32: 139-140

In the early part of the sadhana—and by early I do not mean a short part—effort is indispensable. Surrender of course, but surrender is not a thing that is done in a day.

The mind has its ideas and it clings to them; the human vital resists surrender, for what it calls surrender in the early stages is a doubtful kind of self-giving with a demand in it; the physical consciousness is like a stone and what it calls surrender is often no more than inertia.

It is only the psychic that knows how to surrender and the psychic is usually very much veiled in the beginning.

When the psychic awakes, it can bring a sudden and true surrender of the whole being, for the difficulty of the rest is rapidly dealt with and disappears. But till then effort is indispensable. Or else it is necessary till the Force comes flooding down into the being from above and takes up the sadhana, does it for one more and more and leaves less and less to individual effort—but even then, if not effort, at least aspiration and vigilance are needed till the possession of mind, will, life and body by the Divine Power is complete.

~ Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 29, pp. 83-84

The Greatest Yoga of Our Age

~ Cover image: Painting by Priti Ghosh

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