Aspiration, Yes; Obsession, No


The Call Beyond
15 Jul 2020

You will progress when it is decided that the time has come to progress and not because you desire it.

— The Mother (‘The Great Adventure’ p. 338)

Catharanthus roseus

(Popular names: Madagascar periwinkle, Old maid, Cayenne jasmine, Rose periwinkle)

Spiritual significance: PROGRESS. This is why we are on earth.

Small to medium-sized salver form flowers with a narrow green corolla tube and limb divided into five separated spatulate lobes; in white and shades of pink and red, often with a contrasting eye; borne singly in the leaf axils. A long-blooming perennial herb.

Progress is one of those seemingly simple topics that seem beyond debate. Who can question the value of a process that takes us from where we are now to something better, something higher, something more desirable? That is what everybody wants, although in different spheres. A school teacher wants to be the principal, a Major wants to be a Colonel, one living in a two-bedroom house dreams of a four-bedroom house, a manager may switch jobs to add zeroes to his income and bank balance, and so on. Anyone who knows that life levels everybody understands the ultimate futility of chasing roads to progress. In spite of the understanding, he may walk these roads, but possessing the knowledge that in the long run material progress would mean nothing adds a sense of proportion to the pursuit, and introduces morals into the means adopted to gain speed or handle hurdles. Senseless and unscrupulous material progress has ruined individuals; spectacular but shortsighted material progress followed by the human race during the last few centuries is threatening to drive life on planet earth to extinction.

There is another type of progress, however, that is risk-free. The progress that adds joy and purpose to life is spiritual progress. Spiritual progress means growth of consciousness. As human beings, we are born at a certain level of consciousness. Consciousness basically means awareness. Most of us are born with a consciousness that enables us to see ourselves as distinct individuals with a characteristic personality. As individuals we identify ourselves with our body and mind, but also have a dim awareness of a Reality deeper, wider and higher than the body-mind complex which is not only a part of our being but also has a universal presence. To move from dim awareness to vivid awareness of that Reality is a movement towards a better awareness, a more complete awareness. Since awareness is consciousness, expansion of awareness is growth of consciousness. Growth of consciousness is spiritual progress.

Why should one be interested in spiritual progress? For reasons more than one. First, as human beings we are born with the urge for spiritual progress. Secondly, only human beings seem to have the capacity for spiritual progress. Finally, working towards spiritual progress is the only way to get what everybody is looking for but does not know where to find it. Paradoxically, the dictum in spiritual progress is not to look for anything, not even for spiritual progress. Everything, including spiritual progress is a by-product, not something to be pursued. Instead of looking for anything, what one needs to do is to see through the superficial perception of separation from others. Doing so enables one to see the oneness that unites us at a deeper level. A feeling of oneness leads to love. Cultivating love leads to intimacy. Love and intimacy get expressed through giving what one has to those who need it. The by-products of giving are joy, peace, harmony, health, fulfillment and, of course, spiritual progress. What else does anybody want? But how many look for what they want at the right place? Instead, most people look for it in material progress, and eventually get disappointed. Then they may start looking for it in meditation. Again, they are disappointed. Then they start looking for someone who will teach them exactly how to meditate. What one has to realise is that meditation is good, but it is neither necessary nor sufficient for spiritual progress. The simplest, safest and surest way to progress spiritually is through work, selfless work that is inspired by love. That is why, the Mother has advised us “to devote part of our time each day to some impersonal action; every day, we must do something useful for others.” If we do our bit, the Mother takes care of the rest, including our spiritual progress. We need neither worry about spiritual progress nor try to monitor how much we have progressed, or how fast we are progressing. In short, we should aspire to progress, but not be obsessed with it. The Mother has assured us that all what is expected of us is to be simple, happy and quiet; to do our work as well as we can; and to remain open to Her. Remaining open to Her means not letting mental afflictions such as doubts about progress and anxiety for progress block the work that Her Grace is doing on us out of Her Infinite Love for us.

When they come out of their meditation, they are no better than they were before. All their defects are there which come back as soon as they come back into their waking consciousness; and they never make any progress because they do not establish a relation between their deeper consciousness, the truth of their being, and their outer being. You see, [during meditation] they take off their outer being as though they were taking off a cloak, and they put it in a corner. [And after meditation, they put on the cloak again.

— The Mother (‘The Great Adventure’, p. 153)