Purity is at the top of the list at the bottom of which is the order found in confusion. Even in confusion there is an order. In the disorder in which we live, mentally or physically, there is a certain order. We put things in so many places, but still we know where they are. We throw things down at so many places, but still, if you see, after four or five days, dirty linen fall at one place, typewriter materials at another. There is a certain kind of order. In a long list, purity occupies the top place at the bottom of which is the order in confusion. I used to speak about cleanliness, orderliness, punctuality, regularity, the advantages of law as the next best alternative to conscience. If you take them and put them in a correct graded list, Purity comes at the top. I will explain.

Order is a material organization. Orderliness is the virtue of a small mind. Orderliness hurts many sensitive people. People full of enthusiasm, vitality, achievement to their credit, will throw away punctuality. Punctuality serves as long as the organization is confined to lower levels of achievement. When the Prime Minister takes a political tour, there can be no punctuality. That is the highest political activity of the nation. Suppose there is a subject country. On the day it attains freedom, on that day you cannot maintain punctuality, you should not maintain punctuality, even if it is a country like the US or England where punctuality is valued. Punctuality must recede in preference to the pure emotions of the people. Punctuality serves when the organization is wide. When the organization is limited it serves at lower levels. Punctuality in individual cases is represented by regularity in wider cases. That regularity has a rhythm, not a punctuality. Punctuality loses its sharpness when it becomes regularity, upgraded to the next higher level. It follows a sequence, it follows a rhythm, with a flow and an ebb. It cannot have the sharp effectiveness of punctuality. Punctuality matures into regularity.

Physical cleanliness is purity at the material level. Psychological cleanliness is purity at the ethical level. The purity that we talk of is the purity of consciousness. The consciousness that is capable of receiving light and bliss is the purity that we talk of. But purity is a manifested condition. It is not the unmanifested greatness of consciousness. If you take a list from purity downwards and go through in your mind the different stages, there are two to three lines of evolution. We’ll start with confusion. That is the lower most level.

Confusion develops or matures into orderliness. Confusion on your level is an advance over the confusion of the next lower level. From the next lower level of existence if a man advances and arrives at the first level of success there is confusion. Looked at from the lower level of existence, confusion is a great advance. Take a poor man having three acres of land and seven children. There will be no confusion at all in his house. Before the rice is cooked it will be eaten. There will be no wastage of food, no confusion. Everybody will be waiting for food. No clothes can be lost because all the clothes will be on their bodies. Suppose from having three acres and seven children, where there is absolutely no possibility of theft, no possibility of waste, no possibility of confusion, if he acquires 40 acres, and plenty comes into his house, there will be an enormous amount of vessels, furniture, lots of clothes, lots of food, enough wastage, everything will be in pell-mell, because there is no attending culture for him to organize things. It will take one generation. This confusion is a great advance from the previous level of existence.

If you look at it in the consciousness, there are people who have no confusion in their minds because there are no ideas. There are other people who read so many things, mind is completely confused, they don’t know what to do. That is why I say confusion is a great state of advancement. If you look at confusion like that and if you want to bring order into that confusion, as I said in the beginning, there is an inherent order in the disorder. That is where you have to begin. If that order is to completely organize itself into a regular shape of orderliness, what should exercise is the Will at that level of consciousness. Will can function only when there is clarity, only when there is purity, only when there is orderliness. Unless Will comes, orderliness will not come. It is a complementary movement. The little Will has to exercise itself in the confusion, restore a little order and fortify itself. It is a complementary process. A certain minimum order has to be created and that order has to organize itself to the utter exclusion of confusion. From confusion you arrive at a certain complete order. This is the efficiency of the small man. You can see such people, with limited education and limited culture, everything completely polished, house completely organized, everything in its right place. There will be no aesthetic sense, no freedom in the mind, no joy in keeping the house, but everything will be in its right place. All the house will be in complete order. The strain that has gone into making that order will be on his mind. Orderliness, when it is achieved, can be achieved through strain or through a movement of development. When it is a movement of development, orderliness does not come by itself, it comes accompanied by further confusion at a wider level. The central confusion is removed and at a wider level there will be confusion. This orderliness, when the consciousness matures, must give place to harmony or a rhythm. The orderliness should lose its sharp edges, should lose its character of being organized, must fall into a self-adjusting harmony or rhythm. Then consciousness becomes rich, ordinary consciousness becomes rich. When such a rhythm is there, you will see, it will become creative, but the general level of consciousness, if you look at it from the point of view of purity, will be impure. Because the consciousness is coarse.

To upgrade that consciousness, to relieve the plane of consciousness from that coarseness, it has to be uplifted to wider levels. Newer elements from the mental side, ideas, should come. From the emotional side, refinement should come. From the vital side, impulsiveness must become enthusiasm. From the physical side, wideness should enter. If these things enter, the consciousness gets elevated. Then the first elements of purity appear, here and there as a dot. When purity increases and completely informs the plane, knowledge becomes light. It is not a formulated knowledge or even a mature wisdom. It becomes pure light. Knowledge is manifested light. Light is consciousness manifested. When that purity completely informs the whole plane of existence, knowledge becomes light, emotion becomes bliss, existence becomes wideness, impulse becomes power, those four terms. Those elements come. When that purity is established it can either be concentrated or not. If action is to be initiated at that plane of purity it must make for concentration. Purity is passive consciousness, concentration is will, active consciousness. At that plane of pure consciousness, if concentration is attempted, Will begins to zoom, like Kundalini released.

For us to take this exercise, we have to weigh each act of ours during the day in the light of this: “What act of mine during the day is orderly, what act is punctual, what is mechanical, where is the rhythm, where is the harmony?” First a long wide comprehensive observation is necessary. When you completely observe your emotions, feelings, thoughts, impulses, acts, ideas, movements, when self-awareness at the given moment is complete, comprehensive, all-inclusive, then you move along these lines. In each act there will be different grades as I said. From one end to the other, certain acts will be at the level of orderliness, from there you move to purity. Certain acts will be at the level of harmony, from there you move to purity. In moving you move only one step. That movement will call for great concentration. First observe yourself, assess the position. The concentration that is called for will be available if the mind is willing. When that concentration is given, you will grow towards a further level of purity. That will in turn make greater concentration possible.

You can see things as they are; you can see material order. Can you not see the orderliness of your emotion? Can you not see the order of ideas in your mind? There are emotions which move in an orderly fashion. There are movements when the impulses just jump and brush aside all orderliness. That is confusion at the level of impulses, at the level of feelings. Take any act, any simple act – eating, going to the Mother’s center. During the course of the act observe yourself. Can you not see all these parts in a single act? You write a letter. Writing a letter means, taking the paper, finding a pen, sitting down in a particular place, collecting your ideas, putting them into writing, affixing the stamps, going to the Post Office, posting the letter. You can see how the letter gets posted, your movements there. Is it very difficult for you to see? Any act can be observed like that. In the morning in one hour three or four of us take bath. Just observe each individual by himself. Observe yourself. There is an orderly part in it. There is a part which is not under your control. There is a part where you have to put yourself willingly at the disposal of others. When you take bath that 20 minutes – there is a mechanical perfection in it, there is an orderly perfection in it and if you see the evolution of each act and the whole comprehensive act during 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. each morning, how many things can be seen. In most of the houses during the morning hours of 6 and 8 the lady of the house will be the queen, she will fry everything on the man’s head, prop up every child, upset everything. That is the moment when you can see the whole day. As those hours are between six and eight, the whole day will be for the man. Wife is an instrument of perfection for every husband.

All that we can correct is only ourselves, our consciousness and our impressions. There will be tremendous scope for improvement every morning. There are finished products, right complete acts. Even they can be slightly improved. If you have an idea of what purity is at the level of physical order, then when there are no material things involved in it, it can be moved into the ideational level. Order is an ideal we can conceive. From the ideational level if you move into the consciousness level, if you take away even the idea, what remains is purity. At the level of consciousness there is no element of disharmony which creates a wrong rhythm. That is purity.

Purity is passive. It admits of aspiration but it is passive. Sri Aurobindo said that purity is feminine, concentration is masculine. From disorder to order is a movement of purity. From orderliness to a higher order is a movement of purity. From the highest level of orderliness to harmony or rhythm is a further movement. From a rhythm of an act to a rhythm of a movement is further purity. From being a rhythm of movement to a rhythm of consciousness is further purity. It becomes a mere vibration, it becomes further purity. It becomes refined. You review one day’s acts like that. Not the whole day. For each person there will be two or three important hours of the day – one at home, one at the office, one at another place. Those two or three hours, if you review, the whole thing will reveal itself.

Purity in the mind is clarity, in the heart is intensity, in the vital is stability, whereas in the physical it is wideness.

Question: You have been speaking mainly in terms of purity in a physical act. What about purity terms of psychological reactions or attitudes or interactions with a person?

The simple physical purity is impossible to achieve. It is a very simple thing. If you try to make it perfect, if you take a bath or eat, there are points in your body where saliva and other excretions come from. If purity at the physical level is to be perfected, it is next to impossible. The orthodox people in India have almost achieved it. If I touch a tumbler of water, another man with a higher consciousness will not take water from that tumbler. Water is a pure medium. But the metal absorbs my consciousness. If his consciousness is higher, he will not use a metal tumbler which a man of lower consciousness has ever once touched. If it is to be made pure it has to pass through fire. There are certain exemptions to this. Milk, because milk is pure. It cannot be made impure. Grains; But cooked food is more capable of receiving vibrations. That is how this caste system came in India. We don’t have to explain things. If a person of lower consciousness sits outside this room, you get a headache here. If a person of lower consciousness eats in the kitchen, the food that day gives you a sense of vomiting. If there are three towels on the clothesline, and a person of lower consciousness uses one and you use another on the same line, you will see the body will itch. That’s why there is a word called “etchel” in Tamil. Etchel means saliva. The etymological meaning in Tamil is “food which has been touched by another man’s mouth”. If one man’s saliva touches something, the whole thing will be thrown away. Nobody else will touch it. In consciousness it is a completely pure fact; let somebody sit on this chair, somebody of lower consciousness. Tomorrow you come and sit on it – you will ache in two hundred places. You will ask, “What happened?” “Oh, that man sat here, I understand”.

As and when the consciousness goes higher and higher, the physical purity (because the body itself becomes a pure vessel) becomes very difficult. Then… there is psychological cleanliness. You have to follow ethics at the highest level. You have to follow kindliness at the highest level. Anything cruel, strong, vengeful, spiteful, anything mean, sadistic is psychological uncleanliness. Curt, abrupt behaviour is psychological uncleanliness. When you have to deny somebody, something, if you think of your official act or ordinary position: “You don’t have” he asks. If I don’t have, I say no. If the act is to be psychologically clean, you have to relate yourself not to the fact of the question, but to the emotion of the question. You have to deliver the answer without hurting him, without his consciousness being offended. That means you have to get what he wants. If you are not able to get it, you must feel so strongly that he actually gets it. That makes psychological cleanliness, not to speak of consciousness purity.

In the consciousness, any element which is capable of disharmony, discontinuation, coarseness, even a loud voice becomes impurity for psychological cleanliness. If you ask me a question and I don’t answer you for two minutes, I make you wait, I create an expectation in your mind. I become a source of the psychological uncleanliness of expectation in your mind. Irritation, expectation, sharpness, curtness, haste, hurry, anxiety, nervousness, are all psychological uncleanliness. Desire is psychological uncleanliness. Renunciation, desirelessness, equality, sobriety, complete calm, kindliness in voice, feeling and act, all these words which you know make for psychological cleanliness. We have to integrate these elements into our acts.

The word “grace” (not Divine Grace), beauty that upgrades itself into grace, that will enter. That element will enter into functioning. That is why Nirodbaran said, “When Sri Aurobindo spoke, words appeared as if they came from a cave”. I don’t know whether you know the saying of the Englishmen – they don’t say “man”, they say “gentleman”.

When you give another person something, you behave as if you are receiving it. If he receives what you give, you feel thankful to him. “Would you please oblige me by receiving this?” would be the phrase. It is impossible for his emotions to say no. So he says, “I will do it sometime later”. Later it comes a formality and a hypocrisy. But the language itself cannot be used for harsh denials. When you give something to another man, you behave as if you are receiving it. That is courtesy.

If physical purity is maintained and psychological purity is attempted, for a person who has taken to Mother, Mother’s consciousness will invade him. In Mother’s work you don’t have to do everything till the end. If you take three or four steps, you will be pushed by the momentum to the top.

I have to be silent, I am silent. If another man’s talk offends me, that means I am so conscious of my purity. That is psychological impurity.

This way you will end up as the servant of everything and everybody you know. Finally it becomes the consciousness of humility. Mother has said, “I know only one person who is humble”. And she said it was Sri Aurobindo. To be humble means, not to be consciously aware of what you are.

Purity goes with strength. Purity never goes with weakness. Initially before one gets established, these movements of purity can be used in the circumstances and get exploited. I don’t deny that, but real purity will always be accompanied by strength. Strength is inherent in purity. In consciousness, if one moves towards purity, strength automatically emerges from inside. In the initial stages one has to consciously exercise one’s strength to keep from being exploited. Later, life so organizes itself that circumstances in which one can be exploited will themselves be removed. Later means not after 10 years, but after a few weeks.

If you are pure, you must not be proud of that purity, because again through the back door you bring in that weakness. You must be what you are without being aware of it for purposes of psychological satisfaction. Take our simple purity. Do you remember that you took a bath? Do you remember that you brushed your teeth?

When that awareness of the purity is there, it expresses as, “I am pure, I am conscious that I am pure. Not only by comparison, I have absolute purity in this regard”. If you are conscious that you are pure, a person will come to exploit your purity. If that awareness is removed, if you remain simply pure, that is the first step. It is better for you to be pure and your weakness exploited, than for you to be impure and not allow yourself to be exploited. But it does not mean you should allow yourself to be exploited. To allow oneself to be exploited is as wrong as to allow oneself to exploit others.

There is a higher level where you are aware of your purity but not proud of it. Sri Aurobindo said, “All great men are aware of their greatness”.