Be Simple

“One must be spontaneous in order to be divine.
One must be perfectly simple in order to be spontaneous.
One must be absolutely sincere in order to be perfectly simple.
To be absolutely sincere is not to have any division, any contradiction in one’s being.”(1)

How simple this all sounds, yet how difficult the path is.
To be constantly on the watch for any little contradiction emerging in one’s being, to be constantly conscious of every little movement in any part of the being, to constantly keep purifying oneself of the numerous little and big imperfections and defects of our nature — this is the path we must tread on.

Walking on the path requires that regardless of any number of failures we may encounter on the way, we must never lose faith, never lose trust in the Divine Grace, never lose the remembrance that The Divine is beside us, with us, holding us, in us, and all around us. It requires that we remember that with every little step we take on the way, the tiny spark of the Divine within us grows, evolving through all the outer experiences and circumstances Life throws at us.

The growth of this tiny spark within to an upward rising flame essentially means to aspire for something beyond the confines and complexities of our ordinary, outer, fragmented, lower nature, nature that we in our ignorance speak of as ‘oh-so-human’. The truest and deepest aspiration must be to rise above that ordinary human nature, perhaps to something like the nature of the divine.
Nature of the Divine is simple and spontaneous. Action of the Divine is simple and spontaneous, though we with our all-too-human and extremely limited vision are unable to even perceive it, let alone comprehend any of it.

“Nature in her attempt at self-expression, was obliged to resort to an unbelievable and almost infinite complication in order to reproduce the primal Simplicity… From this excess of complication arises the possibility of a simplicity which would not be empty but full—a full simplicity, a simplicity that contains everything; whereas without these complications, simplicity is empty…. [a] purely divine action…has a simplicity…that seems childlike. Direct—direct, instead of making absurd and completely useless circumvolutions.”(2)

The simplicity and spontaneity we must seek are not the simplistic or primitive kind, found generally in life forms on the lower rung – lower than the man, the mental being – of the evolutionary ladder. Such simplicity that is predominantly guided by life impulse and instinct works well for the animal world, but to be human means to gradually rise beyond animal. What we must seek and aspire for is a full simplicity, one in which we have developed the inner ability to transcend the mind-created complexity and the disharmony resulting from that complexity.
But from where does this complexity, this disharmony really arise?

“What’s terrible is this organizing mind. It’s terrible! It has us so convinced that we can’t do without it that it’s very difficult to resist. Indeed, it has convinced all humanity. The whole so-called elite of humanity has been convinced that nothing worthwhile can be achieved without this mental organizing power.
[…]
“Essentially, we live with too much tension, don’t we?… it’s true, we are always too tense—always. And I know that as long as we are controlled by that admirable mind, we feel that to relax means to fall into tamas and unconsciousness. All these old notions remain, prolonging themselves; and there’s something like the residue of one of those marvelous censors, telling you: ‘Be careful, tamas, tamas! Be careful, you are dozing off—very bad, very bad.’ And it’s idiotic, because tamas is neither joyous nor luminous…
[…]
“Sri Aurobindo’s answer is always the same: Be simple, be simple, very simple. And I know what he means: to deny entry to regulating, organising, prescriptive, judgmental thought — he wants none of all that. What he calls being simple is a joyful spontaneity; in action, in expression, in movement, in life, — be simple, be simple, be simple. A joyful spontaneity. To rediscover in evolution that condition he calls divine, which was a spontaneous and happy condition. He wants us to rediscover that.”(3)

Simplicity requires sincerity. When we are not truly sincere in our motivations and intentions, we are not spontaneous, we are trying to somehow manipulate or use the situation – any life situation – for our ‘advantage’ or for our ‘pleasure’, for our ‘gain’. It doesn’t have to be a crude personal pleasure or gain, it can be just as easily garbed in any of the high-sounding altruistic or philanthropic terminology, anything that pleases, satisfies, aggrandizes or builds upon one’s ego-self. It is this ego-centric approach and attitude toward the given situation or experience, toward others, toward work, life and world in general that is behind one’s numerous complicated attempts to navigate through the various zigzag curves of life.

The long-term result, most often is some form of disharmony, disorder, inner confusion, conflicting interests, irritation, frustration, anger toward oneself or others or the system or life in general, ill-health etc. All of this is a sure recipe for unhappiness.
Thus a lack of sincerity leads to lack of simplicity, and lack of simplicity leads to unhappiness. And when one is so unhappy, it becomes more difficult to quiet all the noises in the head. The result is more mental chaos, more disorder.

Such a lack of inner quietude prevents one from accurately observing oneself and one’s reactions and movements, and also from accurately grasping the reality surrounding one’s field of experience. The cacophony of noises leads to misjudgment, misunderstanding and misguided actions, eventually resulting in disappointment, disorder, hopelessness and greater unhappiness.
And that sometimes acts as an incentive to go back to the “simpler” times. Because we humans carry in ourselves the evolutionary stuff of all the life forms that appeared before us – animal, plant, as well as the matter itself – the first instinct in us immediately seeks an empty simplicity where one doesn’t have to deal with the complexity of real-life situations, where one doesn’t have to constructively and creatively engage with the clashes and conflicts, with others or more often, within oneself.

But as the Mother guides, it is the higher simplicity, fuller simplicity of the divine that should be our goal and ideal.
How to walk the path toward that truer simplicity? Are we, are you, am I capable of walking that path? Thus the mind does what it always does, starts complicating things once again. But simply speaking, the Mother’s assurance is there.
I must place my complete trust, full faith in Her assurance, and with all the sincerity that I can gather start walking the path, keep aspiring for a truer simplicity, a deeper sincerity and a joyful spontaneity.

“You know, we are surrounded by complications, but there is always a place where it all opens out simple and straight—this is a fact of my experience. You go around in circles, seeking, working at it, and you feel stuck; then something in the inner attitude gives way, and all of a sudden it opens out—quite simply.”(4)

(1) The Mother, Collected Works, Volume 8, p. 283
(2) The Mother, Agenda, Volume 2, September 16, 1961
(3) ibid
(4) ibid

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Beloo Mehra
Beloo Mehra donned the hats of school teacher, university professor and researcher for many years, and is now happy to be doing what she does best – learn. Living in Pondicherry for the last 10 years, she devotes most of her time to studying the works of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo (particularly the ones focusing on educational, social and cultural thought), writing, gardening and just being. She is the author of 'ABC’s of Indian National Education' (Standard Publishers, 2014) and 'The Thinking Indian: Essays on Indian Socio-Cultural Matters in the Light of Sri Aurobindo' (self-published e-book). 

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