Cycles of growth

Almost every one of us will remember the inner and outer circumstances that led us to Mother and the Ashram. In many cases the first visit is striking. One sees things in a new light, life opens into a new dimension, something deep down comes to the surface and almost in half-trance things move, decisions are taken, experience crowds on experience. There is freshness, strength, a feeling of birth. One knows that this culmination was long prepared for either overtly by reading, etc. or unseen, but not unfelt, in the depths of the being. What has been received centrally in this period gradually spreads to the different corners of the being and becomes stabilized. Life has reached a higher level of consciousness. As soon as work at that level is over, the surface routine, for a time brushed aside, insists on returning and re-establishes itself at the higher level. Enthusiasm flags, energy wanes, one forgets to consecrate and life again settles down to routine habitual movements.

Our psychological existence is composed of many layers and on each of these layers is present a vast number of interrelated habits and traits. Normally in meditation and work for the Divine the traits and habits of a level dissolve without conscious effort and a sudden freshness or burst of growth occurs followed by a leveling-off and period of slackened progress. By discipline it is possible to hasten the dissolution of the old consciousness and to prevent this tendency to level off. It is possible to make the entire process conscious.

By self-observation one must become aware of the layers of personality in which one normally lives and moves and the corresponding habitual tendencies dominant at these levels. By becoming so self-aware, by tracing back each of these elements to its origin in our own lives or its inheritance from our parents, social background, etc., by then detaching from each trait as it arises in our daily experience and offering it, consecrating it to the Divine, one effectively frees the being on the present level of personality and experiences a wonderful flow of energy, joy and freshness into the daily activity, a widening of consciousness, and a rising to the next higher level. After this burst of growth there is usually the relaxation of effort, the stabilization on the new level of consciousness and the gradual emergence of habits and traits from the next deeper level of our psychological heritage, which dampen the intensity of the freshness and establish themselves as a new routine. Our receptivity and aspiration subside, growth temporarily slackens or ceases.

But if one is patient, vigilant, and maintains the conscious discipline of observation in the period following a rapid progress, one is able to anticipate and consciously experience the rising of the next deeper level, the reassertion of old habits, and the appearance of previously unobserved traits whose foundation extends into this deeper domain. This mental anticipation must be free from any element of anxiety, any fear of a fall in consciousness, or waning of enthusiasm, which might precipitate these very experiences. An alert will can offset the tendency for relaxation, prevent the normalization of consciousness and effect a continued movement of progress. Instead of a decline in growth one can establish an increasing momentum of expansion, utilizing the energies of each conquest to free the personality at the next deeper level.

Yet there is still another phenomenon responsible for a lowering of the level of consciousness following a period of rapid growth and this is simply the incapacity of the parts of our being to maintain a constant intensity or effort without fatigue and the need for rest and assimilation. This movement may occur by itself or in association with the rising of deeper levels described above. The attitude required is one of patience which does not get upset at the temporary decline in aspiration or clarity of concentration or thoroughness of consecration. Some room must be left for a period of quiet before renewing intensive efforts, but without allowing the rest to be degraded into inertia, laziness or other tamasic movements. Sincerity and a quiet constant remembrance of one’s aspiration will help this interval to pass swiftly and smoothly. Eventually one learns to judge the intensity of efforts during periods of expansion which is most conducive to rapid progress and yet not so taxing as to exhaust the system and require prolonged intervals of rest. A rhythm and balance can be established so as to reduce the cycles of fluctuating energy and promote a continuous upward advance. Furthermore, with each new conquest the system gains an added strength and capacity, lessening the need for restraint.

By these means, ever widening concentric circles of higher consciousness open up, each making possible progress to the next higher level. If the discipline is maintained, eventually the Presence behind our personality actively takes control of the work, bringing higher realizations, siddhis, to the sadhak. Our growth, instead of being an alternate series of spurts and stabilizations, becomes a rapid movement from joy to greater joy.